‘Sophy is your greatest work.’
‘Not mine!’ cried Albinia. ’The noblest by nature, the dearest, the most generous.’
’Great qualities; but they would have been only wretched self-preying torments, but for the softening of your affection,’ said Maurice.
‘Dear, dear friend and sister and child in one,’ cried Albinia. And then meeting her brother’s eyes, she said, ’Yes, you know to the full how noble she is, and how—’
‘I can guess how imprudent a young step-mother can be,’ said Maurice, smiling.
’It is very strange. I don’t, know how to be thankful enough for it; but really her spirits have been more equal, her temper more even than ever it had been, and that just when I thought my folly had been most ruinous.’
’Yes, Albinia. After all, it is more than man can hope or expect to make no blunders; but I do verily believe that while an earnest will saves us, by God’s grace, from wilful sins, the effects of the inadvertences that teach us our secret faults will not be fatal, and while we are indeed honestly and faithfully doing our best, though we are truly unprofitable servants, that our lapses through infirmity will be compensated, both in the training of our own character and the results upon others.’
‘If we are indeed faithfully doing our best,’ repeated Albinia.