‘Then I have told a falsehood whenever I said the Catechism!’ burst out Sophy. Lucy would have laughed, and Albinia could almost have been amused at the turn her displeasure had taken.
‘It was not your fault,’ said Mr. Kendal, quietly.
He evidently wished the subject to be at an end, excepting that in silence he laid before Albinia’s eyes the certificate of the baptism of the twin-brothers, not long after the first arrival in India. He then put the book in his pocket, and began, as usual, to read aloud.
‘Oh, don’t go, mamma,’ said Sophy, when she had been carried to her own room at bed-time, and made ready for the night.
Albinia was only too glad to linger, in the hope to be admitted into some of the recesses of that untransparent nature, and by way of assistance, said, ‘I was not at all prepared for this discovery.’
Sophy drew a long sigh, and said, ’If I had never been christened, I should have thought there was some hope for me.’
’That would have been too dreadful. How could you imagine your papa capable—?’
’I thought I had found out why I am so horrid! exclaimed Sophy. ’Oh, if I could only make a fresh beginning! Mamma, do pray give me a Prayer Book.’
Albinia gave it to her, and she hastily turned the pages to the Order for Private Baptism.
‘At least I have not made the promises and vows!’ she said, as if her stern conscientiousness obtained some relief.
‘Not formally made them,’ said Albinia; ’but you cannot have a right to the baptismal blessings, except on those conditions.’
’Mamma, then I never had the sign of the cross on my forehead! It does not feel blest!’ And then, hastily and low, she muttered,’ Oh! is that why I never could bear the cross in all my life!’
’Nay, my poor Sophy, yon must not think of it like a spell. Many bear the cross no better, who have had it marked on their brows.’
‘Can it be done now?’ cried Sophy, eagerly.
’Certainly; I think it ought to be done. We will see what your father says.’
‘Oh, mamma, beg him, pray him!’ exclaimed Sophy. ’I know it will make me begin to be good! I can’t bear not to be one of those marked and sealed. Oh! and, mamma, you will be my godmother? Can’t you? If the gleams of goodness and brightness do find me out, they are always from you.’
‘I think I might be, dear child,’ said Albinia, ’but Mr. Dusautoy must tell us whether I may. But, indeed, I am afraid to see you reckon too much on this. The essential, the regenerating grace, is yours already, and can save you from yourself, and Confirmation adds the rest—but you must not think of any of these like a charm, which will save you all further trouble with yourself. They do not kill the faults, but they enable you to deal with them. Even baptism itself, you know, has destroyed the guilt of past sin, but does not hinder subsequent temptation.’