“They were a very kind, gentle, good people; quite unchanged by prosperity and unaffected in their manners. Even in their poverty the children had all looked clean and neat; now they were prettily, but not expensively, dressed. Their religious devotion was great; and I endeared myself to them by sometimes joining in their household prayers. And I said to myself: If there is no God—as the miserable philosophers tell us—there surely ought to be one, if for nothing else than to listen to the supplications of these loving and grateful hearts. And I could not believe that such tender devotions could ascend and be lost forever in empty and unresponsive space. The impulse of prayer, it seems to me, presupposes a God.”
MAX’S STORY CONTINUED—THE DARK SHADOW
“But a cloud was moving up to cover the fair face of this pleasant prospect; and yet the sun was shining and the birds singing.
“Christina was very busy during the day with her teachers. She loved music and was anxious to excel. She had her lessons on the piano; she improved her mind by a judicious course of reading, in which I helped her somewhat; she went twice a week to a grand Italian maestro, who perfected her in her singing. And she took long walks to the poor neighborhood where she had formerly lived, to visit the sick and wretched among her old acquaintances, and she never left them empty-handed.
“At the theater she grew more and more popular. Even the rudest of the audience recognized instinctively in her the goodness which they themselves lacked. Every song was an ovation. Her praises began to resound in the newspapers; and she had already received advances from the manager of one of the grand opera-houses. A bright future opened before her—a vista of light and music and wealth and delight.