“Sometimes others have been here when she has come, and other times I’ve felt too weak to talk; but—it is very strange!—I never have that tired feeling in my back when she is here, and she is always so bright and cheery I forget the pain and feel so happy and—and rested. Oh! must you go. Uncle Phillip?” she concluded, regretfully, as he arose and took up his hat.
“Yes, dear, I’ve made you a long call, and now I really must get back to the office,” he said, as he bent his lips to hers for his accustomed farewell.
The girl twined her arms around his neck.
“You are very good to me, Uncle Phillip, and I love you,” she murmured, softly, “and when you go away I always count the hours ’til you come again.”
“Well! well! I begin to think I am a person of considerable importance,” he rejoined, in a playful tone.
“You ‘begin to think,’” she retorted, roguishly; “haven’t you ever thought it before? I’m not quite sure that you are as modest as you pretend to be. But, Uncle Phil—”
“Will you look up those verses and tell me what you think, the next time you come?”
“I promise you I will, Dorrie; and now au revoir!”
He touched the bell to call the nurse, then waved her a last good-by and quietly left the room.
Phillip Stanley did not, indeed, “know his Bible very well,” and had spent very little time conning its pages since starting out in life for himself. Like many another who has been rigidly reared under the vague doctrines of “old theology,” he had, at an early age, become both restive and skeptical. This state of mind had grown more pronounced as he had advanced in his profession and been brought in such close touch with suffering and dying humanity. Thus he had long since ceased to attend church, and, having found no comfort in the Scriptures—which seemed to him to portray a stern dictator and relentless judge rather than a merciful and loving Father—he had resolved to live his life as nearly in accord with his own highest conception of honor and rectitude as possible, become an ornament to and an authority in his profession, do what good he could along, the way, and not puzzle his brain trying to solve the perplexing problems of this life and of an unknowable future.
But to-day, on his way back to the city, he found himself thinking more seriously of these things than for many years, and, upon reaching his office and finding no one awaiting him, his first act was to take from an upper shelf his long neglected Bible and read the passages which Dorothy had named to him.
They appealed to him as never before. Every word bristled with a new meaning, and, becoming deeply interested after reading the last two verses of Matthew, he began the book of Mark and did not leave it until he reached the end.
“H-m! I begin to see what Mrs. Minturn founded some of her arguments upon,” he said, as the striking of the clock warned him of his dinner hour. “Well, I wonder, were those cases ’miracles’— just supernatural wonders, performed merely to prove Jesus’ authority to preach a new gospel? or were they ’governed by a demonstrable Principle,’ as she affirms, brought to earth for suffering humanity to learn and practice, and so be redeemed from its sin-cursed bondage?