‘Well, if Dora will not come,’ said Katherine, ’there is no use in staying.—Come, Winifred and Edward.’
Elizabeth was sure that Dora had reasons of her own for choosing to remain with her, but she thought it best to ask no questions; and the reasons appeared, when, as they came into the Alms-house Court after evening service, Dora pressed her hand, saying, in a low mysterious tone, ‘Lizzie, will you shew me what you promised?’
Elizabeth knew what she meant, and returning through the church into the church-yard, led the way to the east end, where, close beside a projecting buttress, Dora beheld a plain flat white stone, with three small crosses engraven on it, and with a feeling between awe and wonder, read the simple inscription.
Wife of the Rev. Horatio Woodbourne,
Vicar of Abbeychurch st. Mary’s,
It was the first time that Elizabeth and Helen had stood together at their mother’s grave, for Helen was but three years old at the time she had been deprived of her, and, after their father’s second marriage, a kind of delicacy in Elizabeth, young as she was, had prevented her from ever mentioning her to her younger sisters.
After a few minutes, during which no one spoke, the three sisters turned away, and re-entered the church. Helen and Dora had reached the north door, and were leaving the church, when they missed Elizabeth, and looking round, saw her sitting in one of the low pews, in the centre aisle, her face raised towards the flamboyant tracery of the east window. Dora, who seemed to have a sort of perception that her presence was a restraint upon her sisters, whispered, ’I am going to feed the doves,’ and hastened across the quadrangle, while Helen came back to Elizabeth’s side. Her sister rose, and with her own bright smile, said, ’Helen, I could not help coming here, it was where I sat at the day of the funeral, and I wanted to look at that flame-shaped thing in the top of the window, as I did all through the reading of the Lesson. Do you see? What strange thoughts were in my head, as I sat looking at that deep blue glass, with its shape like an angel’s head and meeting wings, and heard of glories celestial! I never hear those words without seeing that form.’
With these words Elizabeth and Helen left the church; Helen put her arm into her sister’s, a thing which Elizabeth very seldom liked anyone to do, even Anne, but now the two girls walked slowly arm-in-arm, through the quadrangle, and along the broad gravel path in the Vicarage garden.
‘Then you were at her funeral?’ was the first thing Helen said.
‘Yes,’ said Elizabeth; ’Papa wished it, and I am sure I am very glad they let me go.’
No more was spoken till Helen began again. ’When I was at Dykelands, Mrs. Staunton used often to talk to me about our mother, and I began to try to recollect her, but I had only an impression of something kind, some voice I should know again, but I could not remember her in the least.’