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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 279 pages of information about Saint's Progress.

“And you’ll sit to him, won’t you?”

“My dear—­I?”

“He’s lonely, you know, and people aren’t nice to him.  Isn’t it hateful that people should hurt others, because they’re foreign or different?”

She saw his eyes open with mild surprise, and went on:  “I know you think people are charitable, Daddy, but they aren’t, of course.”

“That’s not exactly charitable, Nollie.”

“You know they’re not.  I think sin often just means doing things differently.  It’s not real sin when it only hurts yourself; but that doesn’t prevent people condemning you, does it?”

“I don’t know what you mean, Nollie.”

Noel bit her lips, and murmured:  “Are you sure we’re really Christians, Daddy?”

The question was so startling, from his own daughter, that Pierson took refuge in an attempt at wit.  “I should like notice of that question, Nollie, as they say in Parliament.”

“That means you don’t.”

Pierson flushed.  “We’re fallible enough; but, don’t get such ideas into your head, my child.  There’s a lot of rebellious talk and writing in these days....”

Noel clasped her hands behind her head.  “I think,” she said, looking straight before her, and speaking to the air, “that Christianity is what you do, not what you think or say.  And I don’t believe people can be Christians when they act like others—­I mean, when they join together to judge and hurt people.”

Pierson rose and paced the room.  “You have not seen enough of life to talk like that,” he said.  But Noel went on: 

“One of the men in her hospital told Gratian about the treatment of conscientious objectors—­it was horrible.  Why do they treat them like that, just because they disagree?  Captain Fort says it’s fear which makes people bullies.  But how can it be fear when they’re hundreds to one?  He says man has domesticated his animals but has never succeeded in domesticating himself.  Man must be a wild beast, you know, or the world couldn’t be so awfully brutal.  I don’t see much difference between being brutal for good reasons, and being brutal for bad ones.”

Pierson looked down at her with a troubled smile.  There was something fantastic to him in this sudden philosophising by one whom he had watched grow up from a tiny thing.  Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings—­sometimes!  But then the young generation was always something of a sealed book to him; his sensitive shyness, and, still more, his cloth, placed a sort of invisible barrier between him and the hearts of others, especially the young.  There were so many things of which he was compelled to disapprove, or which at least he couldn’t discuss.  And they knew it too well.  Until these last few months he had never realised that his own daughters had remained as undiscovered by him as the interior of Brazil.  And now that he perceived this, he was bewildered, yet could not imagine how to get on terms with them.

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