Never before, it was true, had she knelt and prayed, but from this time no nun in her convent knelt oftener or prayed more ardently, and her prayer was ever that the past might be forgiven her, the future blessed, and she taught how to so live that there should be no faintest shadow in the years to come.
“I know not What is above me,” she said. “I cannot lie and say I love It and believe, but if there is aught, sure It must be a power which is great, else had the world not been so strange a thing, and I—and those who live in it—and if He made us, He must know He is to blame when He has made us weak or evil. And He must understand why we have been so made, and when we throw ourselves into the dust before Him, and pray for help and pardon, surely—surely He will lend an ear! We know naught, we have been told naught; we have but an old book which has been handed down through strange hands and strange tongues, and may be but poor history. We have so little, and we are threatened so; but for love’s sake I will pray the poor prayers we are given, and for love’s sake there is no dust too low for me to lie in while I plead.”
This was the strange truth—though ’twas not so strange if the world feared not to admit such things—that through her Gerald, who was but noble and high-souled man, she was led to bow before God’s throne as the humblest and holiest saint bows, though she had not learned belief and only had learned love.
“But life lasts so short a while,” she said to Osmonde. “It seems so short when it is spent in such joy as this; and when the day comes—for, oh! Gerald, my soul sees it already—when the day comes that I kneel by your bedside and see your eyes close, or you kneel by mine, it must be that the one who waits behind shall know the parting is not all.”
“It could not be all, beloved,” Osmonde said. “Love is sure, eternal.”
Often in these blissful hours her way was almost like a child’s, she was so tender and so clinging. At times her beauteous, great eyes were full of an imploring which made them seem soft with tears, and thus they were now as she looked up at him.
“I will do all I can,” she said. “I will obey every law, I will pray often and give alms, and strive to be dutiful and—holy, that in the end He will not thrust me from you; that I may stay near—even in the lowest place, even in the lowest—that I may see your face and know that you see mine. We are so in His power, He can do aught with us; but I will so obey Him and so pray that He will let me in.”
To Anne she went with curious humility, questioning her as to her religious duties and beliefs, asking her what books she read, and what services she attended.
“All your life you have been a religious woman,” she said. “I used to think it folly, but now—”
“But now—” said Anne.
“I know not what to think,” she answered. “I would learn.”