From that day forward a great trust came upon her. She ceased to fret, and never again recalled what had been. Just as the chill of winter is forgotten in the glory of the springtide, and just as the child in the posied meadow sports in unconsciousness of the nipping frost that a few weeks before forced the tears to his eyes, so Amanda, playful, gladsome, and full of wonder in the new world in which she found herself, knew no more her old self, nor remembered any more her old life. The day had broken and the shadows flown, and God’s child was like a young hart on the mountains of Bether.
* * * * *
‘Mother, dun yo’ think they’d put my name on th’ Church register agen at Rehoboth?’
‘I cornd say, mi Jass, I’m sure. But why doesto ax me?’
‘Becose I should like to dee a member of th’ owd place. Yo’ know I were a member once. Sin’ I’ve been lyin’ here I’ve had some strange thoughts. Dun yo’ know, I never belonged to God then as I do naa, for all I were baptized and a communicant. It’s queer, isn’t it?’
’Ey, lass; thaa’d better tell that to Mr. Penrose. I know naught abaat what yo’re talkin’ on. Bud it does seem, as thaa ses, quare that thaa belongs more to God naa nor thaa did when thaa went away.’
‘Nay, mother, it’s noan exactly as yo’ put it. I durnd mean as God’s changed; it’s me as has changed, durnd yo’ see? I never knew or loved Him afore, and I know and love Him naa.’
That afternoon, when Mr. Penrose called, Amanda’s mother told him all her daughter had said, and made known to him as the pastor of the Church the request for readmission and the administration of the sacrament.
Mr. Penrose, however, shook his head. As far as he was concerned, no one would have been more willing. But the deacons ruled his Church, and many of them were hard and exacting men—men with the eye and heart of Simon of old, who, while they would welcome Christ to meat, would put the ban upon ’the woman who was a sinner.’ Nor dared Mr. Penrose administer the sacrament to one whose membership was not assured, for he ministered to those of a close sect, and a close sect of the straitest order. As the mother pleaded for her child, he saw rising before him a difficulty of which he had often dreamed, but never before faced—a difficulty of ministering to a Church fenced in by deeds, the letter of which he could not in his inner conscience accept.
The mother was importunate, however, and eventually the pastor promised to bring the matter before his deacons.
What the decision of these deacons was will be told in another Idyll of Rehoboth.
THE COURT OF SOULS.
‘I’m noan for bringin’ th’ lass back into th’ Church. Hoo’s noan o’er modest, or hoo would never ax us to tak’ her back.’
‘Same here, Amos! What does hoo want amang dacent Christian fo’k?’ And so saying, Elias Bradshaw opened a large pocket-knife and closed it again with a sharp click, and then toyed with it in his hand.