“Baby and I would like the privilege of praising the Lord with you,” she said simply, “and we would like to do our share in keeping up this church and congregation to His honour and glory. There’s some water. Can’t you baptize us now?”
The minister turned to the pitcher, which always stood on his desk, filled his palm, and asked: “What is the baby’s name?”
“Katherine Eleanor Peters,” said Kate.
“Katherine Eleanor, I baptize thee,” said the minister, and he laid his hand on the soft curls of the baby. She scattered the flowers she was holding over the altar as she reached to spat her hands in the water on her head and laughed aloud.
“What is your name?” asked the minister.
“Katherine Eleanor Holt,” said Kate.
Again the minister repeated the formula, and then he raised both hands and said: “Let us pray.”
Kate turned and placing the baby on the front seat, she knelt and put her arms around the little thing, but her lips only repeated the words: “Praise the Lord for this precious baby!” Her heart was filled with high resolve. She would rear the baby with such care. She would be more careful with Adam. She would make heroic effort to help him to clean, unashamed manhood. She would be a better sister to all her family. She would be friendlier, and have more patience with the neighbours. She would join in whatever effort the church was making to hold and increase its membership among the young people, and to raise funds to keep up the organization. All the time her mind was busy thinking out these fine resolves, her lips were thanking the Lord for Little Poll. Kate arose with the benediction, picked up the baby, and started down the aisle among the people she had known all her life. On every side strong hands stretched out to greet and welcome her. A daughter of Adam Bates was something new as a church member. They all knew how she could work, and what she could give if she chose; while that she had stood at the altar and been baptized, meant that something not customary with the Bates family was taking place in her heart. So they welcomed her, and praised the beauty and sweetness of the baby until Kate went out into the sunshine, her face glowing.
Slowly she walked home and as she reached the veranda, Adam took the baby.
“Been to the cemetery?” he asked.
Kate nodded and dropped into a chair.
“That’s too far to walk and carry this great big woman,” he said, snuggling his face in the baby’s neck, while she patted his cheeks and pulled his hair. “Why didn’t you tell me you wanted to go, and let me get out the car?”
Kate looked at him speculatively.
“Adam,” she said, “when I started out, I meant only to take some flowers to Mother and Polly. As I came around the corner of the church to take the footpath, they were singing ’Rejoice in the Lord!’ I went inside and joined. I’m going to church as often as I can after this, and I’m going to help with the work of running it.”