‘Not quite,’ said Mr. Ferrars. ’He knows that your low spirits are the effect of temperament and health, and that you are not able to prevent yourself from feeling unhappy and aggrieved. And perhaps you reckoned on too much sensible effect from Church ordinances. Now joy, help, all these blessings are seldom revealed to our consciousness, but are matters of faith; and you must be content to work on in faith in the dark, before you feel comfort. I cannot but hope that if you will struggle, even when you are hurt and annoyed, to avoid the expression of vexation, the morbid temper will wear out, and you will both be tempted and suffer less, as you grow older. And, Sophy—forgive me for asking—do you pray in this unhappy state?’
‘I cannot. It is not true.’
’Make it true. Take some verse of a Psalm. Shall I mark you some? Repeat them, even if you seem to yourself not to feel them. There is a holy power that will work on you at last; and when you can truly pray, the dark hour will pass.’
‘Mark them,’ said Sophy.
There was some space, while she gave him the book, and he showed her the verses. Then he rose to go.
‘I wish I had not spoilt the visit,’ she said, wistfully, at last.
‘We shall see you again, and we shall know each other better,’ he said, kindly. ’You are my godchild now, Sophy, and you know that I must remember you constantly in prayer.’
‘Yes,’ she faintly said.
’And will you promise me to try my remedy? I think it will soften your heart to the graces of the Blessed Comforter. And even if all seems gloom within, look out, see others happy, try to rejoice with them, and peace will come in! Now, goodbye, my dear godchild, and the God of Peace bless you, and give you rest.
Mr. Dusautoy had given notice of the day of the Confirmation, when Mr. Kendal called his wife.
‘I wonder,’ he said, ’my dear, whether Sophia can spare you to take a walk with me before church.’
Sophy, who was well aware that a walk with him was the greatest and rarest treat to his wife, gave gracious permission, and in a few minutes they were walking by the bright canal-side, under the calm evening sunshine and deep blue sky of early autumn.
Mr. Kendal said not a word, and Albinia, leaning on his arm, listened, as it were, to the stillness, or rather to the sounds that marked it—the gurgling of the little streams let off into the water-courses in the meadows; the occasional plunge of the rat from the banks, the sounds from the town, softened by distance, and the far-off cawings of the rooks, which she could just see wheeling about as little black specks over the plantations of Woodside, or watching the swallows assembling for departure sitting in long ranks, like an ornament along the roof of a neighbouring barn.
Long, long it was before Mr. Kendal broke silence, but when at length he did speak, his words amazed her extremely.