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15. CHAPTER XV (continued)
"I am afraid I'm going to Hell, Sir," says the sick woman with a whine. "Oh, Sir, save me, save me, don't let me go there. I couldn't stand it, Sir, I should die with fear, the very thought of it drives me into a cold sweat all over."
"Mrs Thompson," says Theobald gravely, "you must have faith in the precious blood of your Redeemer; it is He alone who can save you."
"But are you sure, Sir," says she, looking wistfully at him, "that He will forgive me--for I've not been a very good woman, indeed I haven't--and if God would only say 'Yes' outright with His mouth when I ask whether my sins are forgiven me--"
"But they ARE forgiven you, Mrs Thompson," says Theobald with some sternness, for the same ground has been gone over a good many times already, and he has borne the unhappy woman's misgivings now for a full quarter of an hour. Then he puts a stop to the conversation by repeating prayers taken from the "Visitation of the Sick," and overawes the poor wretch from expressing further anxiety as to her condition.
"Can't you tell me, Sir," she exclaims piteously, as she sees that he is preparing to go away, "can't you tell me that there is no Day of Judgement, and that there is no such place as Hell? I can do without the Heaven, Sir, but I cannot do with the Hell." Theobald is much shocked.
"Mrs Thompson," he rejoins impressively, "let me implore you to suffer no doubt concerning these two cornerstones of our religion to cross your mind at a moment like the present. If there is one thing more certain than another it is that we shall all appear before the Judgement Seat of Christ, and that the wicked will be consumed in a lake of everlasting fire. Doubt this, Mrs Thompson, and you are lost."
The poor woman buries her fevered head in the coverlet in a paroxysm of fear which at last finds relief in tears.
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