“First, that our friendship should be complete, such as ought to exist between a loving father and son, a friendship without reservations. Secondly—this is a condition that I fear you may find harder—but, although fortune has led me into stony paths, and I fear some doubtful expedients, there was always one thing which I have striven to cherish and keep pure, and that in turn has rewarded me for my devotion in many a dangerous hour, my religious belief. Now I am Catholic, and I could wish that my son should be Catholic also; these horrible errors, believe me, are as dangerous to the soul as just now they happen to be fatal to the body. May I hope that you, who were brought up but not born in heresy, will consent to receive instruction in the right faith?”
“Certainly you may,” answered Adrian, almost with enthusiasm. “I have had enough of conventicles, psalm-singing, and the daily chance of being burned; indeed, from the time when I could think for myself I always wished to be a Catholic.”
“Your words make me a happy man,” answered Ramiro. “Allow me to unbolt the door, I hear our hosts. Worthy Simon and Vrouw, I make you parties to a solemn and joyful celebration. This young man is my son, and in token of my fatherly love, which he has been pleased to desire, I now take him in my arms and embrace him before you,” and he suited the action to the word.
But Black Meg, watching his face in astonishment from over Adrian’s shoulder, saw its one bright eye suddenly become eclipsed. Could it be that the noble Master had winked?
MARTHA PREACHES A SERMON AND TELLS A SECRET
Two days after his reconciliation with his father, Adrian was admitted as a member of the Catholic Church. His preparation had been short; indeed, it consisted of three interviews with a priest who was brought to the house at night. The good man found in his pupil so excellent a disposition and a mind so open to his teaching that, acting on a hint given him by Ramiro, who, for reasons of his own not altogether connected with religion, was really anxious to see his son a member of the true and Catholic Church, he declared it unnecessary to prolong the period of probation. Therefore, on the third day, as the dusk of evening was closing, for in the present state of public feeling they dared not go out while it was light, Adrian was taken to the baptistry of the Groote Kerke. Here he made confession of his sins to a certain Abbe known as Father Dominic, a simple ceremony, for although the list of them which he had prepared was long, its hearing proved short. Thus all his offences against his family, such as his betrayal of his stepfather, were waived aside by the priest as matters of no account; indeed, crimes of this nature, he discovered, to the sacerdotal eye wore the face of virtue. Other misdoings also, such as a young man might have upon his mind, were not thought weighty. What really was considered important proved to be the earnestness of his recantation of heretical errors, and when once his confessor was satisfied upon that point, the penitent soul was relieved by absolution full and free.