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WINGFOLD AND BARBARA.
Barbara went yet oftener to Mr. and Mrs. Wingfold. By this time, through Simon Armour, they knew something about Richard, but none of them all felt at liberty to talk about him.
Barbara had now a better guide in her reading than Richard. True reader as he had been, Wingfold's acquaintance both with literature and its history, that is, its relation to the development of the people, was as much beyond the younger man's as it ought to be. What in Barbara Richard had begun well, Wingfold was carrying on better.
With his help she was now studying, to no little advantage, more than one subject connected with the main interest common to her and Richard: and she thought constantly of what Richard would say, and how she would answer him. Hence, naturally, she had the more questions to put to her tutor. Now Wingfold had passed through all Richard's phases, and through some that were only now beginning to show in him; therefore he was well prepared to help her--although there was this difference between the early moral conditions of the two men, that Wingfold had been prejudiced in favour of much that he found it impossible to hold, whereas Richard had been prejudiced against much that ought to be cast away.
Richard suffered not a little at times from his enforced silence: what might not happen because he must not speak? But hearing nothing discouraging from his grandfather, he comforted himself in hope. He knew that in him he had a strong ally, and that Barbara loved the hot-hearted blacksmith, recognizing in him a more genuine breeding, as well as a far greater capacity, than in either sir Wilton or her father. He toiled on doing his duty, and receiving in himself the reward of the same, with further reward ever at the door. For there is no juster law than the word, "To him that hath shall be given."
"Why do I never see you on Miss Brown?" asked Wingfold one day of Barbara.
"For a reason I think I ought not to tell you."
"Then don't tell me," returned the parson.
But by a mixture of instinctive induction, and involuntary intuition, he saw into the piece of domestic tyranny, and did what he could to make up for it, by taking her every now and then a long walk or drive with his wife and their little boy. He gave her strong hopeful things to read--and in the search after such was driven to remark how little of the hopeful there is in the English, or in any other language. The song of hope is indeed written in men's hearts, but few sing it. Yet it is of all songs the sorest-needed of struggling men.
Heart and brain, Wingfold was full of both humour and pathos. In their walks and drives, many a serious subject would give occasion to the former, and many a merry one to the latter. Sometimes he would take a nursery-rime for his theme, and expatiate upon it so, that at one instant Barbara would burst into the gayest laughter, and the next have to restrain her tears. Rarely would Wingfold enter a sick-chamber, especially that of a cottage, with a long face and a sermon in his soul; almost always he walked lightly in, with a cheerful look, and not seldom an odd story on his tongue, well pleased when he could make the sufferer laugh--better pleased sometimes when he had made him sorry. He did not find those that laughed the readiest the hardest to make sorry. He moved his people by infecting their hearts with the feeling in his own.
Having now for many years cared only for the will of God, he was full of joy. For the will of the Father is the root of all his children's gladness, of all their laughter and merriment. The child that loves the will of the Father, is at the heart of things; his will is with the motion of the eternal wheels; the eyes of all those wheels are opened upon him, and he knows whence he came. Happy and fearless and hopeful, he knows himself the child of him from whom he came, and his peace and joy break out in light. He rises and shines. Bliss creative and energetic there is none other, on earth or in heaven, than the will of the Father.
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