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- Scenes and Characters - 15/54 -

peace? Did Lily herself show any of her much valued love, by the sharp manner in which she scolded the boys for roughness towards herself? or for language often used by them on purpose to make her displeasure a matter of amusement? She saw that her want of command of temper was a failure both in love and duty, and when irritated, the thought of duty came sooner to her aid than the feeling of love.

And Maurice and Reginald were really very provoking. Maurice loved no amusement better than teasing his sisters, and this was almost the only thing in which Reginald agreed with him. Reginald was affectionate, but too reckless and violent not to be very troublesome, and he too often flew into a passion if Maurice attempted to laugh at him; the little girls were often frightened and made unhappy; Phyllis would scream and roar, and Ada would come sobbing to Emily, to be comforted after some rudeness of Reginald's. It was not very often that quarrels went so far, but many a time in thought, word, and deed was the rule of love transgressed, and more than once did Emily feel ready to give up all her dignity, to have Eleanor's hand over the boys once more. Claude, finding that he could do much to prevent mischief, took care not to leave the two boys long together with the elder girls. They were far more inoffensive when separate, as Maurice never practised his tormenting tricks when no one was present to laugh with him, and Reginald was very kind to Phyllis and Ada, although somewhat rude.

It was a day or two after they returned that Phyllis was leaning on the window-sill in the drawing-room, watching a passing shower, and admiring the soft bright tints of a rainbow upon the dark gray mass of cloud. 'I do set my bow in the cloud,' repeated she to herself over and over again, until Adeline entering the room, she eagerly exclaimed, 'Oh Ada, come and look at this beautiful rainbow, green, and pink, and purple. A double one, with so many stripes, Ada. See, there is a little bit more green.'

'There is no green in a rainbow,' said Ada.

'But look, Ada, that is green.'

'It is not real green. Blue, red, and yellow are the pragmatic colours,' said Ada, with a most triumphant air. 'Now are not they, Maurice?' said she, turning to her brother, who was, as usual, deep in entomology.

'Pragmatic, you foolish child,' said he. 'Prismatic you mean. I am glad you remember what I tell you, however; I think I might teach you some science in time. You are right in saying that blue, red, and yellow are the prismatic colours. Now do you know what causes a rainbow?'

'It is to show there is never to be another flood,' said Phyllis, gravely.

'Oh, I did not mean that,' said Maurice, addressing himself to Ada, whose love of hard words made him deem her a promising pupil, and whom he could lecture without interruption. 'The rainbow is caused by--'

'But, Maurice!' exclaimed Phyllis, remaining with mouth wide open.

'The rainbow is occasioned by the refraction of the rays of the sun in the drops of water of which a cloud is composed.'

'But, Maurice!' again said Phyllis.

'Well, what do you keep on "but, Mauricing," about?'

'But, Maurice, I thought it said, "I do set my bow in the cloud." Is not that right? I will look.'

'I know that, but I know the iris, or rainbow, is a natural phenomenon occasioned by the refraction.'

'But, Maurice, I can't bear you to say that;' and poor Phyllis sat down and began to cry.

Ada interfered. 'Why, Maurice, you believe the Bible, don't you?'

This last speech was heard by Lilias, who just now entered the room, and greatly surprised her. 'What can you be talking of?' said she.

'Only some nonsense of the children's,' said Maurice, shortly.

'But only hear what he says,' cried Ada. 'He says the rainbow was not put there to show there is never to be another flood!'

'Now, Lily,' said Maurice, 'I do not think there is much use in talking to you, but I wish you to understand that all I said was, that the rainbow, or iris, is a natural phenomenon occasioned by the refraction of the solar--'

'You will certainly bewilder yourself into something dreadful with that horrid science,' said Lily. 'What is the matter with Phyl?'

'Only crying because of what I said,' answered Maurice. 'So childish, and you are just as bad.'

'But do you mean to say,' exclaimed Lily, 'that you set this human theory above the authority of the Bible?'

'It is common sense,' said Maurice; 'I could make a rainbow any day.'

Whereupon Phyllis cried the more, and Lily looked infinitely shocked. 'This is philosophy and vain deceit,' said she; 'the very thing that tends to infidelity.'

'I can't help it--it is universally allowed,' said the boy doggedly.

It was fortunate that the next person who entered the room was Claude, and all at once he was appealed to by the four disputants, Lily the loudest and most vehement. 'Claude, listen to him, and tell him to throw away these hateful new lights, which lead to everything that is shocking!'

'Listen to him, with three ladies talking at once?' said Claude. 'No, not Phyl--her tears only are eloquent; but it is a mighty war about the token of peace and LOVE, Lily.'

'The love would be in driving these horrible philosophical speculations out of Maurice's mind,' said Lily.

'No one can ever drive out the truth,' said Maurice, with provoking coolness. 'Don't let her scratch out my eyes, Claude.'

'I am not so sure of that maxim,' said Claude. 'Truth is chiefly injured--I mean, her force weakened, by her own supporters.'

'Then you agree with me,' said Maurice, 'as, in fact, every rational person must.'

'Then you are with me,' said Lily, in the same breath; 'and you will convince Maurice of the danger of this nonsense.'

'Umph,' sighed Claude, throwing himself into his father's arm-chair, ''tis a Herculean labour! It seems I agree with you both.'

'Why, every Christian must be with me, who has not lost his way in a mist of his own raising,' said Lilias.

'Do you mean to say,' said Maurice, 'that these colours are not produced by refraction? Look at them on those prisms;' and he pointed to an old-fashioned lustre on the chimney-piece. 'I hope this is not a part of the Christian faith.'

'Take care, Maurice,' and Claude's eyes were bent upon him in a manner that made him shrink. And he added, 'Of course I do believe that chapter about Noah. I only meant that the immediate cause of the rainbow is the refraction of light. I did not mean to be irreverent, only the girls took me up in such a way.'

'And I know well enough that you can make those colours by light on drops of water,' said Lily.

'So you agreed all the time,' said Claude.

'But,' added Lily, 'I never liked to know it; for it always seemed to be explaining away the Bible, and I cannot bear not to regard that lovely bow as a constant miracle.'

'You will remember,' said Claude, 'that some commentators say it should be, "I HAVE set my bow in the cloud," which would make what already existed become a token for the future.

'I don't like that explanation,' said Lily.

'Others say,' added Claude, 'that there might have been no rain at all till the windows of heaven were opened at the flood, and, in that case, the first recurrence of rain must have greatly alarmed Noah's family, if they had not been supported and cheered by the sight of the rainbow.'

'That is reasonable,' said Maurice.

'I hate reason applied to revelation,' said Lily.

'It is a happier state of mind which does not seek to apply it,' said Claude, looking at Phyllis, who had dried her tears, and stood in the window gazing at him, in the happy certainty that he was setting all right. Maurice respected Claude for his science as much as his character, and did not make game of this observation as he would if it had been made by one of his sisters, but he looked at him with an odd expression of perplexity. 'You do not think ignorant credulity better than reasonable belief?' said he at length.

'It is not I only who think most highly of child-like unquestioning faith, Maurice,' said Claude--'faith, that is based upon love and reverence,' added he to Lily. 'But come, the shower is over, and philosophers, or no philosophers, I invite you to walk in the wood.'

'Aye,' said Maurice, 'I daresay I can find some of the Arachne species there. By the bye, Claude, do you think papa would let me have a piece of plate-glass, eighteen by twenty, to cover my case of insects?'

'Ask, and you will discover,' said Claude.

Accordingly, Maurice began the next morning at breakfast, 'Papa, may I have a piece of plate-glass, eighteen by--?'

But no one heard, for Emily was at the moment saying, 'The Westons are to dine here to-day.'

Scenes and Characters - 15/54

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