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his elder niece had always been chosen as sponsor, even by those who felt the deepest love for her young sister. Lilian's timidity made her appear cold and reserved excepting to the very few who shared her confidence, but no one could doubt the uncompromising sense of right which caused her to shrink from neglecting any claim that she had once assumed. Already since their sojourn on the island she had more than once been called to fill the blessed office, but it seemed never to occur to the inhabitants of farm or cottage to select .for that responsibility the little brilliant restless being who was nevertheless so closely entwined around their hearts. Mabel went in and out among them with the fluttering grace of a wild bird impatient to be on the wing, whilst Lilian sat serene and gentle at their hearths, the patient listener to every household care, and the efficient counsellor where her advice was sought, although she seldom volunteered, never obtruded it. Diffident of her own powers she might be, but she knew well her duty, and was steadfastly resolved in God's might to perform it. The grace with which she seemed peculiarly endowed was that of perseverance, and this fact had not escaped the notice of the shrewd though friendly dwellers of S. Mary.
The Vicar had unhesitatingly yielded consent to each request for Lilian's services as godmother, but Mabel's fitness for the same charge was a question far less easy for him to determine. On the one hand he felt his highest obligation was towards the unconscious infant; on the other, he shrank from the thought of keeping back his darling child from any of those works of love and mercy which seem part of the essential birthright of the Christian. He desired to lead her ever on and upward, and he hoped the consciousness that an immortal spirit was committed to her to be trained for heaven, might prove not only an incentive to personal holiness, but also the very ballast which a character so volatile required. Still Mr. Harland did not venture to decide at once, and the delay was deeply humbling to Mabel. She should know soon, he said, in full time to return an answer to the Bungalow, but he must first consider the point very closely, and intreat the help of God in prayer. Two days elapsed, and on the morning of the third, which happened to be Sunday, Mabel was summoned to her uncle's study as she was preparing to set out for church. The Vicar's words were very few, and his consent unmixed with warning or upbraiding. He simply said, that as a priest of God he authorized her to accept a sacred trust, one which should lead her to aspire to an angel's life of purity and fervour. He had invoked God's blessing on herself and on her precious charge, and she might rest assured he would earnestly intercede for her at the Holy Communion, as would also Lilian, and the friend to whom she was most dear. He added that the christening was to take place upon that day week, and he had meanwhile made an arrangement for her to return home with the Major after Morning Service, and deliver her reply in person. He strongly advised her to remain till Evensong that she might read to Mrs. Verney, and try to devise some Sunday occupation for the children, who were otherwise likely to desecrate the hallowed hours.
Poor Mabel! the arrangement involved a great sacrifice to her, namely, the loss of those two quiet hours with Geraldine, which were to both friends a source of happy anticipation during the entire week. She said nothing, however, beyond cheerfully expressing acquiescence, for she had of late felt that the very first condition of the Christian life is self-denial, if we would indeed be followers of Him of whom we are expressly told that He pleased not Himself. It was amongst the earliest lessons she should have to teach her godchild, and she knew it would be valueless except it were supported by the more convincing testimony of example.
That afternoon spent at the Bungalow, Mabel recalled with hearty satisfaction on retiring the same evening to her chamber, for she felt that it had shed much light on her probable duties in connection with the Major's family. The children were not docile certainly, but they possessed affection and intelligence, and she had been gladdened by their assurances that they should learn to love Sunday if Miss May Bird would always teach them between the services. Mabel who had learned foresight from experience, wisely refrained from any hasty promise, though she inwardly pledged herself to a performance of the duty. Doubly sweet had appeared to her the evening hour of rest with Geraldine, from a sense that no work of love had been neglected to obtain it. Mabel however felt fatigued and feverish from the variety of thoughts to which the occupations of the day had given rise. Her head throbbed with excitement as she knelt to offer her nightly devotions. It was difficult not to revert in fancy to the course of study she was to com. mence upon the morrow, but she now reaped the advantage of the Vicar's training in habits of mental reverence and order. To mark out the details of mere secular pursuits, however she might seek to ennoble them by the infusion of a higher aim, was not compatible with
the sanctity of God's Day. The ideas which intruded might be innocent as the doves in the temple, but like them they must unsparingly be driven forth. Mabel's endeavours to avoid distraction might be weak, and perchance, through infirmity, only in part successful, but they were at least humble, untiring, and sincere. When she arose from prayer the feverish excitement had subsided, she felt calmed and soothed, and it was in unbroken peace that she lay down to rest. Tender and lovely were the images that mingled with her slumbers : visions of white-robed babes and angel-guardians, of dim church-aisles, and ministering priests, and kneeling people, while soft holy lights were shed around, and sounds of ohoral prayer fell on her ear in tender changeful cadences.
“In the Name of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, crucified for us, I arise to do Him service." Such were the solemn words in which Mabel was wont to consecrate each day to God, and very early on the following morning they rose to her lips, as she awoke refreshed in body and mind, and full of holy energy in the pursuits of her: vocation. When her spiritual reading, meditation, and other private devotions were concluded, she felt free to bend her mind to the one subject which had so engrossed it for the past twenty-four hours. She had prayed with fervour for her little pupils, and she now prepared to act for them aecording to the best of her ability. She had exactly half an hour at command, and she employed it in setting eopies and easy sums, and in collecting the various appliances of study which she should be likely to require, intending to despatch the parcel to the Bungalow directly after breakfast, although she herself was not to follow till eleven o'clock. It was her first experience in teaching young persons of her own rank, and Mabel found rather to her surprise that much hard work would be requisite before she could successfully impart even the rudiments of those accomplishments in which she most excelled. French she had spoken in the nursery, and for that reason was less thoroughly grounded in the grammar than she would have been had she when learning been dependent upon rules for the formation of her sentences. German she had acquired in the same manner, namely, by conversation, and although she spoke both languages correctly she did not write them with ease, and hence doubted her power to convey knowledge of them to others. She felt perfectly mistress of Latin, so far as she had advanced, and she could say the same of music, drawing, and the English branches usually taught in parish schools, for as regards the latter she the way
had certainly had the advantage of continued practice. That was a very profitable half hour to Mabel; a kind of intellectual self-exanination, which dragged to light the weak points of her education, in
that her sins were disclosed by the more solemn heart-searching to which the Vicar had accustomed her. Mabel set about the correction of the one class of defects with the same childlike simplicity that made her aim at the uprooting of the other.
Geraldine joined the vicarage party that day at dinner, impatient as were all the rest, to hear about the opening of the educational campaign. There was much to recount, and the young governess felt somewhat elated by the marked success which bad attended the beginning of her labours. She had finally resolved to give a lesson of two hours every alternate day, and for the present to teach English, French and music to the whole group, with the addition of Latin to Harry. When the afternoons grew longer, she also intended to walk with the children twice a week, and introduce them to practical botany, as a desirable substitute for entomology, that branch of science to which boyhood's taste most naturally inclines.
“ You may do much good if you persevere, my love,” said Mr. Harland with his warm, approving smile, “but do you realize how often you will be forced to relinquish Geraldine's society?"
“Yes," answered Mabel quietly, though with a glistening eye, "but I think the being fond of people in the way I am of Geraldine, should not keep one from doing right things, but help one to do them better.”
“In a word you have counted the cost,” said Mr. Harland as they rose from table, “and if that be so, my dearest child, far be it from me to attempt dissuading you."
To Mabel the remainder of that week appeared to speed even more rapidly than usual, and Sunday dawned almost before she felt prepared to welcome its return. It proved a rainy morning, but the air was soft and full of balmy odours, still when Mr. Harland and his nieces went to church, they were informed by Major Verney that the christening must be postponed, since Dr. Lawson had peremptorily declared that he should not allow mother or babe to venture forth at the risk of exposure to a drenching shower. During the Litany however, the spring sunshine began streaming in its mellowed glow over the kneeling congregation, and when they left the house of prayer, the sky was of the mildest and most tender April blue, while fresh yet gentle breezes played around, betokening fair weather for the afternoon. Dr. Lawson relented as he looked upon the eager countenance of the young godmother elect, and he gave the permission which she had forborne to seek. Full of delight she hastened to the Bungalow with Major Verney, feeling convinced her presence would be needed to ensure tranquillity, and to prepare the invalid for the exertion and fatigue awaiting her.
There are times when spiritual truths before dimly discerned, stand out before us revealed in the soft glow of some inward illumination, and such a moment came to Mabel when she knelt at evensong to thank God for His mercy shown upon the infant whose salvation must thenceforth be one main object of her hopes and prayers. And when she joined in the Apostles' Creed each glorious old familiar clause seemed instinct with new meaning--the Holy Catholic Church-the Communion of Saints-the forgiveness of sins—the wondrous chain of truths which form the summary of our Christian faith—how had they not become living realities viewed in the light shed over them by the Baptismal Service ?
ONLY too soon the lengthening April days of which the brightness had so weighed on Mabel's spirits, ripened into “ the summer's richer wealth” of warmth and beauty, to be shortly in its turn succeeded by the gold and purple glories of October. Many events had marked the intervening months, casting alternately sunshine or shade over the various members of the little community of which the vicarage was the acknowledged centre. Mabel tried to recall the period in detail as she sat beside the blazing fire in the drawing-room on the afternoon of S. Luke's Festival, watching the yellow leaves as they strewed the Parade, and when the dusky twilight made all lines and forms grow indistinct, listening with eagerness for Geraldine's familiar ring.
The scenes through which she had so lately passed seemed dream-like as she sought to live them once again in memory. Dimly she beheld a long vista of sunny days spent in cruising among the off-isles, or more quiet rainy hours devoted to the charms of literature and art. All these pursuits had been enjoyed in moderation ; they were in themselves and in their measure also, lawful, nay, even commendable, and Mabel could look back upon them unsaddened by self-reproach, yet such were not the memories which could now bring her comfort. It was otherwise