"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."
"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 Christians, to attend public worship."
"And what of amusements?"
"I would say of them, as of all kinds of work, whatever is innocent on a week-day, is innocent on Sunday, provided it does not interfere with the duties of the day."
"Then you would allow children to play on Sunday?"
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