“Don’t,” said Armine, with an accent of pain that made Jock cry, hugging him tighter. “There, never mind, Armie; I’ll let you say all you like. I don’t know what made me stop you, except that I’m a beast, and always have been one. I’d give anything not to have gone on playing the fool all my life, so as to be able to mind this as little as you do.”
“I don’t seem awake enough to mind anything much,” said the little boy, “or I should trouble more about Mother and Babie; but somehow I can’t.”
“Oh!” wailed Jock, “you must! You must get out of it, Armie. Come closer. Shove in between me and the rock. Here, Chico, lie down on the top of us! Mother must have you back any way, Armie.”
The little fellow was half-dozing, but words of prayer and faith kept dropping from his tongue. Pain, and a stronger vitality alike, kept Jock free from the torpor, and he used his utmost efforts to rouse his brother; but every now and then a horrible conviction of the hopelessness of their condition came over him.
“Oh!” he groaned out, “how is it to be if this is the end of it? What is to become of a fellow that has been like me?”
Armine only spoke one word; the Name that is above every name.
“Yes, you always cared! But I never cared for anything but fun! Never went to Communion at Easter. It is too late.”
“Oh, no, no!” cried Armine, rousing up, “not too late! Never! You are His! You belong to Him! He cares for you!”
“If He does, it makes it all the worse. I never heeded; I thought it all a bore. I never let myself think what it all meant. I’ve thrown it all away.”
“Oh! I wish I wasn’t so stupid,” cried Armine, with a violent effort against his exhaustion. “Mother loves us, however horrid we are! He is like that; only let us tell Him all the bad we’ve done, and ask Him to blot it out. I’ve been trying-trying-only I’m so dull; and let us give ourselves more and more out and out to Him, whether it is here or there.”
“That I must,” said Jock; “it would be shabby and sneaking not.”
“Oh, Jock,” cried Armine, joyfully, “then it will all be right any way;” and he raised his face and kissed his brother. “You promise, Jock. Please promise.”
“Promise what? That if He will save us out of this, I’ll take a new line, and be as good as I know how, and-”
Armine took the word, whether consciously or not: “And manfully to fight under His banner, and continue Christ’s faithful soldiers and servants unto our lives’ end. Amen!”
“Amen,” Jock said, after him.
After that, Jock found that the child was repeating the Creed, and said it after him, the meanings thrilling through him as they had never done before. Next followed lines of “Rock of Ages,” and for some time longer there was a drowsy murmur of sacred words, but there was no eliciting a direct reply any more; and with dull constern-ation, Jock knew that the fatal torpor could no longer be broken, and was almost irritated that all the words he caught were such happy, peaceful ones. The very last were, “Inside angels’ wings, all white down.”