CHAPTER XI. A VOICE FROM THE GRAVE.
He hath a word for thee to speak.
No difference was made to Aurelia’s visits to Mr. Belamour on Sunday evenings, but he respected her scruples against indulgence in profane literature, and encouraged her to repeat passages of Scripture, beginning to taste the beauty of the grand cadences falling from her soft measured voice. Thus had she come to the Sermon on the Mount, and found herself repeating the expansion of the Sixth Commandment ending with, “And thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, thou shalt not come out thence until thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.”
A groan startled her. Then came the passage and the unhappy man’s history with a sudden stab. A horror of the darkness fell on her. She felt as if he were in the prison and she reproaching him, and cried out—“O sir, forgive me. I forgot; I did not say it on purpose.”
“No, my child, it was Mary speaking by your voice. No, Mary, I shall never come out. It will never be paid.”
She shook with fright as Jumbo touched her, saying, “Missee, go; mas’r bear no more;” but, as she rose to go away, a sweet impulse made her pause and say, “It is paid, He paid. You know Who did—in his own Blood.”
Jumbo drew her away almost by force, and when outside, exclaimed, “Missee never speak of blood or kill to mas’r—he not bear it. Head turn again—see shapes as bad as ever.”
The poor child cried bitterly, calling herself cruel, thoughtless, presumptuous; and for the next few days Jumbo’s eyes glared at her as he reported his master to be very ill; but, on the third day, he came for her as usual. She thought Mr. Belamour’s tones unwontedly low and depressed, but no reference was made to the Sunday, and she was glad enough to plunge into the council of Olympus.
A day or two later, Dame Wheatfield sent her husband with an urgent invitation to Miss Amoret with her sisters and cousin to be present at her harvest home. Mrs. Aylward, with a certain tone of contempt, gave her sanction to their going with Molly, by the help of the little pony cart used about the gardens. Aurelia, in high glee, told Mr. Belamour, who encouraged her to describe all her small adventures, and was her oracle in all the difficult questions that Fidelia’s childish wisdom was wont to start.