So much theology was bred in the bone of all the young Mesuriers; and the youngest of them could as readily have capitulated these articles of belief as their father, who once more briefly summarised them to-night for the benefit of his daughter. He ended with something of a personal appeal. It had been one of the griefs of his life that Henry and Esther had both refused to join their father’s church, though Esther always dutifully attended it every Sunday morning; and it was thinking of them, though without naming them, that he said,—
“I met Mr. Trotter yesterday,”—Mr. Trotter was the local Baptist minister, and Dot remarked to herself that her father was able to pronounce his name without the smallest suspicion that such a name, as belonging to a minister of divine mysteries, was rather ludicrous, though indeed Baptist ministers seemed always to have names like that!—“and he asked me when some of my young ladies were going to join the church. I confess the question made me feel a little ashamed; for, you know, my dear, out of our large family not one of you has yet come forward as a Christian.”
“No, father,” said Dot, at last.
“I hope, my dear, you are not going to disappoint me in this matter.”
“No indeed, father,” said Dot, whose nature was pliable and sympathetic, as well as fundamentally religious; “but I’m afraid I haven’t thought quite as much about it as I should like to, and, if you don’t mind, I should like to have a few days to think it out.”
“Of course, my dear. That is a very right feeling; for the step is a solemn one, and should not be taken without reverent thought. You cannot do better than to talk it over with Mr. Trotter. If you have any difficulties, you can tell him; and I’m sure he would be delighted to help you. Isn’t it so, mother? Well, dear,” he continued, “you can run away now; but bear in mind what I have said, and I shall hope to hear that you have made the right choice before long. Kiss me, dear.”
And so, with something of a lump in her throat, Dot returned to the interrupted “Jane Austen.”
“Whatever did father want?” asked the two girls, looking up as she entered the room.
“What do you think?” said Dot. “He wants me to be baptised!”