government of the school. They accused him of expecting too much of them; of forbidding innocent amusements; of insisting on their repeating a catechism devised by himself, which they could not understand. They even insinuated (and this was what had made him so angry) that he treated them with severity because they were poor girls, brought up on charity. "If we had been young ladies," they dared to say, "more indulgence would have been shown to us; we should have been allowed to read stories and to see plays."
All this time I had been asking myself what papa meant when he told us we could not have come to the schoolroom at a better time. His meaning now appeared. When he spoke to the offending girls, he pointed to Helena and to me.
"Here are my daughters," he said. "You will not deny that they are young ladies. Now listen. They shall tell you themselves whether my rules make any difference between them and you. Helena! Eunice! do I allow you to read novels? do I allow you to go to the play?"
We answered "No,"--and hoped it was over. But he had not done yet. He turned to Helena.
"Answer some of the questions," he said, "from my Manual of Christian Obligation, which these girls call my catechism." He asked one of the questions: "If you are told to do unto others as you would they should do unto you, and if you find a difficulty in obeying that Divine precept, what does your duty require?"
It is my belief that Helena has the materials in her for making another Joan of Arc. She rose, and answered without the slightest sign of timidity: "My duty requires me to go to the minister, and to ask for advice and encouragement."
"And if these fail?"
"Then I am to remember that my pastor is my friend. He claims no priestly authority or priestly infallibility. He is my fellow-Christian who loves me. He will tell me how he has himself failed; how he has struggled against himself, and what a blessed reward has followed his victory--a purified heart, a peaceful mind."
There papa released my sister, after she had only repeated one out of the many pages of religious instruction which we first began to learn when we were children. He then addressed himself again to the girls.
"Is what you have just heard a part of my catechism!