“Thank you, sir,” after a pause.
“Had this troubled you?”
“Yes,” said John; “I couldn’t stand doubt there. I would rather break stones on the road than set myself doubting!”
“Why should you think that there is danger?”
“It seems to be so with others.”
“Depend upon it, Doubting Castle never lay on the straight road. If men run into it, it is not simple study of the works of creation that leads them there; but either they have only acquiesced, and never made their faith a living reality, or else they are led away by fashion and pride of intellect. One who begins and goes on in active love of God and man, will find faith and reverence not diminished but increased.”
“But aren’t there speculations and difficulties?”
“None which real active religion, and love cannot regard as the mere effects of half-knowledge-the distortions of a partial view. I speak with all my heart, as one who has seen how it has been with many of my own generation, as well as with myself.”
Johnny bent his head, and the young physician, somewhat surprised at finding himself saying so much on such points, left that branch of the subject, and began to talk to him about his uncle.
Presumptuous maid, with looks intent,
Again she gazed, again she bent,
Nor knew the gulf between.
“Hurrah! It’s Johnny!”
“Georgie. Recollect yourself.”
“But, mamma, it was Johnny.”
“Johnny does not come till evening. Sit still, children, or I shall have to send you to dine in the nursery.”
“Somebody did pass the window, mamma, but I thought it was Rob,” said Jessie, now grown into a very fine-looking, tall, handsome maiden, with a grandly-formed head and shoulders, and pleasant soft brown eyes.
“It was Johnny,” reiterated little George; and at that moment the dining-room door opened, and the decorum of the luncheon dinner entirely giving way, the three little ones all precipitated themselves towards the entering figure, while Jessie and her mother rose at their two ends of the table, and the Colonel, no luncheon eater, came in from the study.
“What, Johnny, already!”
“The tidal train was earlier than I expected, so I have another half-day. “Well! are you all well?”
“Quite well. Why-how you are grown! I thought it was Rob when you passed my window,” said his father.
“So did I at first,” added Jessie, “but Rob is much broader.”
“Yes,” said his mother. “I am glad you are come back, Johnny; you look thin and pale. Sit down. Some mutton or some rabbit-pie? No, no, let Jessie help you; you shan’t have all the carving; I’m sure you are tired; you don’t look at all well.”
“I was crossing all night, you know,” said Johnny laughing, “and am as hungry as a hunter, that’s all. What a blessing to see a nice clean English potato again without any flummery!”