“Yes, it was a great wrong. Thee has sinned much, but much shall be forgiven if thee is penitent, and I think thee is. No love nor pardon should be withheld from those who mourn their sins. Our God is love! And we are so ignorant and frail. It is a sad story, as thee says, but it is better to be led astray by our good passions than by our bad. I have noticed that it is sometimes by our holiest instincts that we are betrayed into our darkest sins! It was heaven’s brightest light—the light of love—that led thee astray, my child, and even love may not be followed with closed eyes! But thee does not need to be preached to.”
Astonished at such an almost divine insight and compassion, Pepeeta exclaimed, “How came you to know so much of the tragedy of human life, so much of the soul’s weakness and guilt; you who have lived so quietly in this happy home?”
“By consulting my own heart, dear. We do not differ in ourselves so much as in our experiences and temptations. But thee has talked enough about thy troubles. Tell me thy name? What shall we call thee?”
“My name is Pepeeta.”
“And mine is Dorothea.”
“Oh! Dorothea,” Pepeeta exclaimed, “do you think we shall ever see him again?”
“I cannot tell. We had made many inquiries and given up in despair. And now when we least expected news, thee has come! We will cherish hope again. We were discouraged too easily.”
“Oh! how strong you are—how comforting. Yes, we will cherish hope, and when I am well I will start out, and search for him everywhere. I shall find him. My heart tells me so.”
“But thee is not well enough, yet,” Dorothea said, with a kind smile, “and until thee is, thee must be at rest in thy soul and, abiding here with us, await the revelation of the divine will.”
“Oh, may I stay a little while? It is so quiet and restful here. I feel like a tired bird that has found a refuge from a storm. But what will your husband say, when he hears this story?”
“Thee need not be troubled about that. His door and heart are ever open to those who labor and are heavy laden. The Christ has found a faithful follower in him, Pepeeta. It was he who first divined thy story.”
“Then you knew me?”
“We had conjectured.”
“Then I will stay, oh, I will stay a little while, and perhaps, perhaps—who knows?” she clasped her hands, her soul looked out of her eyes, and a smile of genuine happiness lit up her sad face.
“Yes, who knows?” said Dorothea, gently, rearranging the pillows and bidding the invalid fall asleep again.
THE LITTLE LAD
“Better to be
driven out from among men, than to be disliked of
Pepeeta took her place in this hospitable household as an orphan child might have done. Just as a flower unfolding from a plant, or a bird building its nest in a tree is almost instantly “at home,” so it was with Pepeeta.