‘You may wait here till I come back’?”
“He didn’t say ‘Oo may,'” Bruno explained. “He said, ‘Oo will.’
Just like Sylvie says to me ‘Oo will do oor lessons till twelve o’clock.’
Oh, I wiss,” he added with a little sigh, “I wiss Sylvie would say ‘Oo
may do oor lessons’!”
This was a dangerous subject for discussion, Sylvie seemed to think.
She returned to the Story. “But what became of the Man?”
“Well, the Lion springed at him. But it came so slow, it were three
weeks in the air–”
“Did the Man wait for it all that time?” I said.
“Course he didn’t!” Bruno replied, gliding head-first down the stem of
the fox-glove, for the Story was evidently close to its end.
“He sold his house, and he packed up his things, while the Lion were
coming. And he went and he lived in another town. So the Lion ate
the wrong man.”
This was evidently the Moral: so Sylvie made her final proclamation to
the Frogs. “The Story’s finished! And whatever is to be learned from
it,” she added, aside to me, “I’m sure I don’t know!”
I did not feel quite clear about it myself, so made no suggestion: but
the Frogs seemed quite content, Moral or no Moral, and merely raised a
husky chorus of “Off! Off!” as they hopped away.
“It’s just a week,” I said, three days later, to Arthur, “since we
heard of Lady Muriel’s engagement. I think I ought to call,
at any rate, and offer my congratulations. Won’t you come with me?”
A pained expression passed over his face.
“When must you leave us?” he asked.
“By the first train on Monday.”
“Well–yes, I will come with you. It would seem strange and unfriendly
if I didn’t. But this is only Friday. Give me till Sunday afternoon.
I shall be stronger then.”
Shading his eyes with one hand, as if half-ashamed of the tears that
were coursing down his cheeks, he held the other out to me.
It trembled as I clasped it.
I tried to frame some words of sympathy; but they seemed poor and cold,
and I left them unspoken. “Good night!” was all I said.
“Good night, dear friend!” he replied. There was a manly vigour in his
tone that convinced me he was wrestling with, and triumphing over,
the great sorrow that had so nearly wrecked his life–and that, on the
stepping-stone of his dead self, he would surely rise to higher things!
There was no chance, I was glad to think, as we set out on Sunday
afternoon, of meeting Eric at the Hall, as he had returned to town the
day after his engagement was announced. His presence might have
disturbed the calm–the almost unnatural calm–with which Arthur met
the woman who had won his heart, and murmured the few graceful words of
sympathy that the occasion demanded.
Lady Muriel was perfectly radiant with happiness: sadness could not
live in the light of such a smile: and even Arthur brightened under it,
and, when she remarked “You see I’m watering my flowers, though it is
the Sabbath-Day,” his voice had almost its old ring of cheerfulness as
he replied “Even on the Sabbath-Day works of mercy are allowed.
But this isn’t the Sabbath-Day. The Sabbath-day has ceased to exist.”
“I know it’s not Saturday,” Lady Muriel replied; “but isn’t Sunday
often called ‘the Christian Sabbath’?”
“It is so called, I think, in recognition of the spirit of the Jewish
institution, that one day in seven should be a day of rest.
But I hold that Christians are freed from the literal observance of
the Fourth Commandment.”
“Then where is our authority for Sunday observance?”
“We have, first, the fact that the seventh day was ‘sanctified’,
when God rested from the work of Creation. That is binding on us as
Theists. Secondly, we have the fact that ‘the Lord’s Day’ is a
Christian institution. That is binding on us as Christians.”
“And your practical rules would be–?”
“First, as Theists, to keep it holy in some special way, and to make
it, so far as is reasonably possible, a day of rest. Secondly, as