Such were the doctor’s thoughts. But hark! Whose voice was that? The congregation seemed to hold their breath as the glorious singer warbled forth the bird-like strain, “Thou that takest away the sins of the world.” She sang those words as if she felt them every one, and Dr. Richards’ heart thrilled with an indefinable emotion us he listened. “Thou that sittest on the right hand of God the Father;” how rich and full her voice as she sang that alone; and when the final Amen was reached, and the grand old chant was ended, Dr. Richards sat like one entranced, straining his ear to catch the last faint echo of the sweetest music he had ever heard.
Could Alice sing like that, and who was this nightingale? How he wished he knew; and when next the people arose, obedient to the organ’s call, he was of their number, and turning full about, looked up into the gallery, starting as he looked, and half uttering an exclamation of surprise. There was no mistaking the Russian sable fur, the wide blue ribbons thrown so gracefully back, the wealth of sunny hair, or the lustrous eyes, which swept for an instant over the congregation below, taking in him with the rest, and then were dropped upon the keys, where the snowy, ungloved hands were straying. The organist was Alice Johnson! There were no more regrets now that he had come to church, no more longings to be away, no more maledictions against Mr. Howard’s drawling manner, no more invectives against the poor old woman, listening like himself with rapt attention, and wondering if the music of heaven could be sweeter than that her bonny Alice made. The doctor, too, felt better for such music, and he never remembered having been more attentive to a sermon in his life than to the one, which followed the evening service.
When it was ended, and the people dismissed, she came tripping down the stairs, flooding the dingy vestibule with a world of sunshine.
“Here, Aunt Densie, here I am. Martin is waiting for us,” the doctor heard her say to the old lady, who was elbowing her way through the crowd, and who at last came to a standstill, apparently looking for something she could not find. “What is it, auntie?” Alice said again. “Lost something, have you? I’ll be with you in a minute.”
Two hours ago, and Dr. Richards would not have cared if fifty old women had lost their entire wardrobe. As an attache of some kind to Alice Johnson, Densie was an object of importance, and stepping forward, just as Alice had made her way to the distressed old lady’s side, he very politely offered to assist in the search.
“Ah, Dr. Richards, thank you,” Alice said, as the black kid was found, and passed to its anxious owner.
The doctor never dreamed of an introduction, for his practiced eye saw at once that however Alice might auntie her, the woman was still a servant. How then was he surprised when Alice said:
“Miss Densmore, this is Dr. Richards, from Terrace Hill,” adding, in an aside to him: “My old nurse, who took care of both mother and myself when we were children.”