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Thomas Wingfold, Curate V2   By: (1824-1905)

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Charles Franks, Charles Aldarondo, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.


By George MacDonald, LL.D.






It was nearly dark when they arrived again at the lodge. Rachel opened the gate for them. Without even a THANK YOU, they rode out. She stood for a moment gazing after them through the dusk, then turned with a sigh, and went into the kitchen, where her uncle sat by the fire with a book in his hand.

"How I should like to be as well made as Miss Lingard!" she said, seating herself by the lamp that stood on the deal table. "It MUST be a fine thing to be strong and tall, and able to look this way and that without turning all your body along with your head, like the old man that gathers the leeches in Wordsworth's poem. And what it must be to sit on a horse as she does! You should have seen her go flying like the very wind across the park! You would have thought she and her horse were cut out of the same piece. I'm dreadfully envious, uncle."

"No, my child; I know you better than you do yourself. There is a great difference between I WISH I WAS and I SHOULD LIKE TO BE as much as between a grumble and a prayer. To be content is not to be satisfied. No one ought to be satisfied with the imperfect. It is God's will that we should bear, and contentedly because in hope, looking for the redemption of the body. And we know he has a ready servant who will one day set us free."

"Yes, uncle; I understand. You know I enjoy life: how could I help it and you with me? But I don't think I ever go through the churchyard without feeling a sort of triumph. 'There's for you!' I say sometimes to the little crooked shadow that creeps along by my side across the graves. 'You'll soon be caught and put inside!' But how am I to tell I mayn't be crooked in the next world as well as this? That's what troubles me at times. There might be some necessity for it, you know."

"Then will there be patience to bear it there also; that you may be sure of. But I do not fear. It were more likely that those who have not thanked God, but prided themselves that they were beautiful in this world, should be crooked in the next. It would be like Dives and Lazarus, you know. But God does what is best for them as well as for us. We shall find one day that beauty and riches were the best thing for those to whom they were given, as deformity and poverty were the best for us."

"I wonder what sort of person I should have been if I had had a straight spine!" said Rachel laughing.

"Hardly one so dear to your deformed uncle," said her companion in ugliness.

"Then I'm glad I am as I am," rejoined Rachel.

"This conscious individuality of ours," said Polwarth, after a thoughtful silence, "is to me an awful thing the one thing that seems in humanity like the onliness of God. Mine terrifies me sometimes looking a stranger to me a limiting of myself a breaking in upon my existence like a volcanic outburst into the blue Sicilian air. When it thus manifests itself, I find no refuge but the offering of it back to him who thought it worth making. I say to him: 'Lord, it is thine, not mine; see to it, Lord. Thou and thy eternity are mine, Father of Jesus Christ.'"

He covered his eyes with his hands, and his lips grew white, and trembled. Thought had turned into prayer, and both were silent for a space. Rachel was the first to speak.

"I think I understand, uncle," she said. "I don't mind being God's dwarf. But I would rather be made after his own image; this can't be it. I should like to be made over again."

"And if the hope we are saved by be no mockery, if St. Paul was not the fool of his own radiant imaginings, you will be, my child. But now let us forget our miserable bodies. Come up to my room, and I will read you a few lines that came to me this morning in the park... Continue reading book >>

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