He knelt before her in the quiet, dim, half light, his hands clasped, and an intense earnestness in his easily moved Italian soul, that floated up to his face. It looked like beautiful penitence and faith to Mae. Here was a soul in sympathy with hers, one which met her harmoniously in every mood, slid into her dreams and wild wishes, sparkled with her enjoyment, and now knelt as she knelt, and asked for one of her prayers.
She stood a minute irresolute. Then she smiled down on him a full, rich smile, and said in English: “God bless you,” The next moment she was gone.
Bero made no movement to follow her, but remained quietly on his knees, his head bowed low.
* * * * *
“I looked in at St. Andrea’s, at vespers,” said that dear, bungling fellow, Eric, at dinner that night, “and saw you Mae, but you were so busy with your prayers I came away.” There was a pause, and Mae knew that people looked at her.
“Yes, I was there; the music was wonderful.”
“Mae,” asked Mrs. Jerrold, “Do you have to go to a Roman Catholic Church to say your prayers?” For Mrs. Jerrold was a Puritan of the Puritans, and had breathed in the shorter catechism and the doctrine of election with the mountain air and sea-salt of her childhood. Possibly the two former had had as much to do as the latter with her angularity and severe strength.
“Indeed,” cried Mae, impulsively, “I wish I could always enter a church to say my prayers. There is so much to help one there.”
“Is there any danger of your becoming a Romanist?” enquired Mrs. Jerrold, pushing the matter further.
“I wish there were a chance of my becoming anything half as good, but I am afraid there isn’t. Still, I turn with an occasional loyal heart-beat to the great Mother Church, that the rest of you have all run away from.” “Yes, you have,” Mae shook her head decidedly at Edith. “She may be a cruel mother. I know you all think she’s like the old woman who lived in a shoe, and that she whips her children and sends them supperless to bed, and gives them a stone for bread, but she’s the mother of all of us, notwithstanding.”
“What a dreadful mixture of Mother Goose and Holy Bible,” exclaimed Eric, laughingly, while Mae cooled off, and Mrs. Jerrold stared amazedly, wondering how to take this tirade. She concluded at last that it would be better to let it pass as one of Mae’s extravagances, so she ended the conversation by saying: “I hope, Eric, you will wait for your sister, if you see her alone, at church. It is not the thing for her to go by herself.”
“No,” added Albert, “we shall have to buy a chain for you soon.”
“If you do,” said Mae quietly, “I’ll slip it.” And not another prayer did she say that night.