Dear Mr. Gregory:
“I have been thinking about what you said yesterday, and I have to tell you something. Then you can do what is right for both of us; you will know better than I can. But I want you to understand that if I go with you in your missionary life, I shall do it for you, and not for anything else. I would go anywhere and live anyhow for you, but it would be for you; I do not believe that I am religious, and I know that I should not do it for religion.
“That is all; but I could
not get any peace till I let you know just
how I felt.
The letter went early in the morning, though not so early but it was put in Gregory’s hand as he was leaving his hotel to go to Mrs. Lander’s. He tore it open, and read it on the way, and for the first moment it seemed as if it were Providence leading him that he might lighten Clementina’s heart of its doubts with the least delay. He had reasoned that if she would share for his sake the life that he should live for righteousness’ sake they would be equally blest in it, and it would be equally consecrated in both. But this luminous conclusion faded in his thought as he hurried on, and he found himself in her presence with something like a hope that she would be inspired to help him.
His soul lifted at the sound of the gay voice in which she asked, “Did you get my letta?” and it seemed for the instant as if there could be no trouble that their love could not overcome.
“Yes,” he said, and he put his arms around her, but with a provisionality in his embrace which she subtly perceived.
“And what did you think of it?” she asked. “Did you think I was silly?”
He was aware that she had trusted him to do away her misgiving. “No, no,” he answered, guiltily. “Wiser than I am, always. I—I want to talk with you about it, Clementina. I want you to advise me.”
He felt her shrink from him, and with a pang he opened his arms to free her. But it was right; he must. She had been expecting him to say that there was nothing in her misgiving, and he could not say it.
“Clementina,” he entreated, “why do you think you are not religious?”
“Why, I have never belonged to chu’ch,” she answered simply. He looked so daunted, that she tried to soften the blow after she had dealt it. “Of course, I always went to chu’ch, though father and motha didn’t. I went to the Episcopal—to Mr. Richling’s. But I neva was confirmed.”
“But-you believe in God?”
“And in the Bible?”
“Why, of cou’se!”
“And that it is our duty to bear the truth to those who have never heard of it?”
“I know that is the way you feel about it; but I am not certain that I should feel so myself if you didn’t want me to. That’s what I got to thinking about last night.” She added hopefully, “But perhaps it isn’t so great a thing as I—”