The two girls went to church with grandpapa on the feast of the Epiphany, and strange it was to them to see again the wreaths which their own hands had woven, looking as bright and festal as ever, the glistening leaves unfaded, and the coral berries fresh and gay. A tear began to gather in Beatrice’s eye, and Henrietta hung her head, as if she could not bear the sight of those branches, so lately gathered by her brother. As they were leaving the church, both looked towards the altar at the wreath which Henrietta had once started to see, bearing a deeper and more awful meaning than she had designed. Their eyes met, and they saw that they had the same thought in their minds.
When they were taking off their bonnets in their own room, Queen Bee stretched out a detaining hand, not in her usual commanding manner, but with a gesture that was almost timid, saying,
“Look, Henrietta, one moment, and tell me if you were not thinking of this.”
And hastily opening the Lyra Innocentium, she pointed out the verse—
“Such garland grave and fair,
His church to-day adorns,
And—mark it well—e’en there
He wears His Crown of Thorns.
“Should aught profane draw near,
Full many a guardian spear
Is set around, of power to go
Deep in the reckless hand, and stay the grasping foe.”
“They go very deep,” sighed Henrietta, raising her eyes, with a mournful complaining glance.
Beatrice would have said more, but when she recollected her own conduct on Christmas Eve, it might well strike her that she was the “thing profane” that had then dared to draw near; and it pained her that she had even appeared for one moment to accuse her cousin. She was beginning to speak, but Henrietta cut her short by saying, “Yes, yes, but I can’t stay,” and was flying along the passage the next moment.
Beatrice sighed heavily, and spent the next quarter of an hour in recalling, with all the reality of self-reproach, the circumstances of her recklessness, vanity and self-will on that day. She knelt and poured out her confession, her prayer for forgiveness, and grace to avoid the very germs of these sins for the future, before Him Who seeth in secret: and a calm energetic spirit of hope, in the midst of true repentance, began to dawn on her.
It was good for her, but was it not selfish in Henrietta thus to leave her alone to bear her burthen? Yes, selfish it was; for Henrietta had heard the last report of Frederick since their return, and knew that her presence in his room was quite useless; and it was only for the gratification of her own feelings that she hurried thither without even stopping to recollect that her cousin might also be unhappy, and be comforted by talking to her.