And in the study below Rev. John Meredith walked the floor with rapt face and shining eyes, thinking out his message of the morrow, and knew not that under his own roof there was a little forlorn soul, stumbling in darkness and ignorance, beset by terror and compassed about with difficulties too great for it to grapple in its unequal struggle with a big indifferent world.
The manse children took Mary Vance to church with them the next day. At first Mary objected to the idea.
“Didn’t you go to church over-harbour?” asked Una.
“You bet. Mrs. Wiley never troubled church much, but I went every Sunday I could get off. I was mighty thankful to go to some place where I could sit down for a spell. But I can’t go to church in this old ragged dress.”
This difficulty was removed by Faith offering the loan of her second best dress.
“It’s faded a little and two of the buttons are off, but I guess it’ll do.”
“I’ll sew the buttons on in a jiffy,” said Mary.
“Not on Sunday,” said Una, shocked.
“Sure. The better the day the better the deed. You just gimme a needle and thread and look the other way if you’re squeamish.”
Faith’s school boots, and an old black velvet cap that had once been Cecilia Meredith’s, completed Mary’s costume, and to church she went. Her behaviour was quite conventional, and though some wondered who the shabby little girl with the manse children was she did not attract much attention. She listened to the sermon with outward decorum and joined lustily in the singing. She had, it appeared, a clear, strong voice and a good ear.
“His blood can make the violets clean,” carolled Mary blithely. Mrs. Jimmy Milgrave, whose pew was just in front of the manse pew, turned suddenly and looked the child over from top to toe. Mary, in a mere superfluity of naughtiness, stuck out her tongue at Mrs. Milgrave, much to Una’s horror.
“I couldn’t help it,” she declared after church. “What’d she want to stare at me like that for? Such manners! I’m glad stuck my tongue out at her. I wish I’d stuck it farther out. Say, I saw Rob MacAllister from over-harbour there. Wonder if he’ll tell Mrs. Wiley on me.”
No Mrs. Wiley appeared, however, and in a few day the children forgot to look for her. Mary was apparently a fixture at the manse. But she refused to go to school with the others.
“Nope. I’ve finished my education,” she said, when Faith urged her to go. “I went to school four winters since I come to Mrs. Wiley’s and I’ve had all I want of that. I’m sick and tired of being everlastingly jawed at ’cause I didn’t get my home-lessons done. I’d no time to do home-lessons.”
“Our teacher won’t jaw you. He is awfully nice,” said Faith.