Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/259

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A Study in Temptations.

he could call to mind one, even one, scholar who was able to show gumption at a crisis and keep a family in comfort, he would let the boy go his own gait. He was searching his experience for such a prodigy when a doubt assailed him: was not learning sinful? He consulted the third chapter of Genesis and read no further. Evidently, knowledge was not for man.

The farmer's relief was unbounded: he could not only make a virtue of his own ignorance, but stand opposed to his nephew on the vantage-ground of a great moral principle. He had a text—Ye shall not eat of it; he could not be held responsible for the hard sayings of Scripture, his only duty was to expound, and, when necessary, enforce them. His mind was fixed: he had settled the matter for ever—there should be no more weak relenting, no more teasing of conscience. He knelt down by his bed, and, thanking God for giving him light on the subject, was studiously careful not to ask Him for more: he even besought the Almighty to restrain his eyes from wandering to other texts, which might seem to contradict the sound doctrine of the one before him. He wound up by hinting, that if the Almighty saw fit to remove the Rev. Fitz Ormond O'Nelligan to another parish—or sphere—he (Samuel Battle) could only admire His divine wisdom and clemency. Strengthened and refreshed by this prayer, he rose from his knees, and, almost smiling, opened the door at which Miss Caroline had been softly tapping for some seconds.

"Well?" he said.

Miss Caroline studied his face with a half-fearful,