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delicate a subject; but I must be permitted to hope that, as members of the true church, we shall one day meet in those mansions of eternal blessedness, where, I have no doubt, your virtues will procure you that crown of glory which is the reward of piety and good works."
My virtues! oh! say not so, I beseech you!" exclaimed Emily, clasping her hands, in the energy of her feelings. "I should not dare to risk my soul on the best action I ever did, for I know there is so much sin in it, that it could only ensure my condemnation."
A glance of pity, and almost of contempt, were exchanged be. tween Madame d'Elfort and the priest; and then the latter, giving up the argument, mentioned the purport of his visit to the house, and added, "that he doubted not Mademoiselle Mortimer would show her usual liberality to his poor little communicants." Emily felt that she was not at liberty to refuse; she therefore gave a small donation, observing, "that she was happy to contribute to the clothing of the poor children."
She was then permitted to withdraw, which she did with sensations of a very mixed nature. When she looked at the venerable figure of the abbe, his white locks, and the benignant expression of his countenance, she felt quite inclined to love and respect him; but when she remembered, that he was one of those false teachers who delude the ignorant, by inculcating doctrines which they must know to be erroneous, she almost shuddered at the idea of the fearful guilt he incurred.
"And this priest," she mentally exclaimed, "this old man, who has been so long in England, surrounded by gospel light, who is at liberty to read the Bible, and must, therefore, be aware of the awful risk he runs,-does he thus wilfully lead the blind to the brink of the pit? or is he, too, the dupe of these dangerous falsehoods ?"
This was a question which it was impossible to resolve; but it was a painful one to the feelings of Emily, for it alternately excited pity, indignation, and sorrow.
Wo unto the world, because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come but wo unto that man by whom the offence cometh.-MATTHEW xviii. 7.
THE English party at Madame d'Elfort's received a new addition, by the arrival of a young lady about sixteen, the daughter of a clergyman. Emily hoped, from her father's profession, that she would be found, at least, seriously disposed; but she was doomed to be disappointed. Eliza Devereux was one of those every-day characters of whom little can be said; and she seemed to have no idea of religion, beyond that of a compliance with its most general outward observances.
The Sunday morning arrived, and the weather was beautiful. A universal feeling of delight pervaded every bosom, as the Protestant girls beheld the cloudless atmosphere, and anticipated their pleasant, quiet walk to church, with no Roman Catholic companions to throw a restraint on their conversation, or mar the harmony of their sentiments. It was one of those lovely mornings in early spring, when, without well knowing why, the heart seemed to bound with joyous exultation, and an unaccountable buoyancy is imparted to the before languid spirits. Emily felt its invigorating influence, and her pleasurable feelings were not a little enhanced by the sparkling glances that greeted her, whenever she encountered the eyes of her companions. Breakfast was over, and the usual business, so unsuitable to the Sabbath, of paying the weekly allowances of pocket-money, was also concluded, when Madame d'Elfort addressed Emily.
"Mademoiselle Mortimer, have you sufficient room at the chapel for Miss Devereux, or shall I send the church-warden notice that we want an additional pew?"
Emily replied, that she believed they might find room for her, but that the pews were nearly full already.
At this moment, Mademoiselle St. André informed Madame d'Elfort, that Miss Devereux did not wish to attend the Protestant chapel. A half-suppressed exclamation of surprise burst from every lip, and every eye was instantly fixed on the young lady in question. Madame d'Elfort inquired her reasons for so singular a declaration and she replied, that her father had enjoined her to attend the Catholic service at the cathedral.
But, wherefore, my dear child, should you do so?" inquired the governess. "Are you not a Protestant? and is not your father a Protestant minister?"
"Yes, madam, but papa wishes me to attend the French service, because he thinks it will help me to acquire the language."
This curious reason was received with a general smile of ridicule, from which even Madame d'Elfort could not refrain; but perceiving that the poor girl was very much confused, she replied, with a look at her pupils, which awed the rising merri
"You must surely, my dear, be mistaken in what you say: your papa cannot but be aware that our church-service is not in French, but in Latin. But, however that may be, I cannot allow you to depart so seriously from the customs of your religion, without clearer authority, and more conclusive reasons. I shall write to your father on this subject;-in the mean time, you will attend the Protestant chapel, with your English companions."
The whole company then dispersed, to prepare for their respective places of worship; but the subject of that morning's conversation was not so easily dismissed. It furnished matter for much indignant and sorrowful discussion, among the English girls, and gave occasion to many sneers and taunts from the French. Rose de Liancourt was, perhaps, the only one who made no ungenerous remark; but Mademoiselle St André seemed to triumph in the advantage it gave them. "So much for the religion of a Protestant minister!" she exclaimed, while the scornful curl of her lip spoke even more loudly than her words. "Did you ever hear of a Catholic priest's authorizing, or even allowing, any member of his family to attend a Protestant church, for any consideration whatever? No, never! he would not even countenance the meanest member of his flock in such an action! But your ministers are so indifferent on the subject, or rather so little convinced of the truth of their own doctrines, that they send their children to a Catholic church, to learn French from a Latin service!-thus displaying at once their irreligion and their ignorance!"
If the French pupils did not all say so much, they evidently enjoyed the malicious observations of their superior; and the serious English party found that it was indeed " a day of trouble, of rebuke, and blasphemy," and of triumph to their relentless adversaries. They felt that it was a time of humiliation, when they were called upon to "take up the cross," and follow their Saviour through "evil report, as well as good report." And they trembled, when they thought of the fearful responsibility incurred, by those who thus cast a stumbling-block in the way of their Redeemer's
Their pleasant walk to the church was rendered unusually sad and silent, by this painful occurrence. The presence of Miss Devereux, of course, prevented any general or audible expression of their sentiments on the subject, and there was an almost involuntary feeling of reserve in their intercourse with her. Some of
them indeed seemed even to shrink from her; but Lydia took pity on the poor girl, and drew her into conversation. Emily and Helen always walked together; for the latter had exacted that promise from the former, and would not relinquish her claim, unless on very particular occasions; and this opportunity for unreserved confidence was very sweet to both parties.
When they assembled in the afternoon, they were again surprised by the discovery that Miss Devereux had no Bible! Lydia's indignation burst forth at this announcement, and she asked how it was possible that a Protestant clergyman could send his child anywhere, and more especially to such a place, without furnishing her with the book he professed to regard as the foundation of nis faith?
"Do you never read the Bible?" she inquired, while Emily and Caroline strove in vain to check her, by their looks of disapprobation.
"Oh! yes," replied Miss Devereux, "we always read it at home, on the Sunday afternoon, and sometimes during the week; but I was so careless as to forget to bring one."
"Your father ought to have attended to it," rejoined the impetuous Lydia; but her sister prevented her saying more, and it was arranged that she should read with one of the others. The poor girl seemed much mortified at the situation in which she was placed, and annoyed by the feeling of disapprobation so evident in her companions. She expressed her intention of writing to her father for a Bible, and seemed anxious to conciliate esteem, by paying great attention to the service.
Weeks rolled on, and Madame d'Elfort received an answer to the letter she had written to the Rev. Mr. Devereux. In it, that gentleman again expressed his wish, that his daughter should attend the Roman Catholic service, as he considered she might be benefited by hearing French sermons. That lady, however, with a firmness which did her honor, refused to allow this arrangement, unless the young lady openly abjured her present faith, and professed herself a convert to Popery. The reasons she alleged were, the necessity of consistency in matters of religion, and the danger of her compliance in this particular being misin terpreted, and so becoming the means of injuring her establishment in the opinion of Protestants. Her good sense and resolution prevailed, and the divine at length consented that his daughter should continue to attend the English chapel.
This decision was followed by another startling incident. Little Agnes Beverley had long manifested an increased partiality for the doctrines and customs of Popery, and she one day confided to Mademoiselle Laval her desire of attending confession, and entering on a preparatory course of instruction, with a view of her becoming, at a proper age, a member of the church of Rome. The
teacher communicated this intelligence to Madame d'Elfort, who, with a prudence highly commendable, refused to let the child take a single step in the affair, and insisted that she should dismiss all thoughts of such a change, until she had either attained to years of discretion, or succeeded in obtaining the consent of her parents. The wisdom of this decision was soon apparent; for the volatile girl's whim, not being encouraged, or fostered by flattery, gradually yielded to the influence of time and other fancies, and she lost all desire of becoming a Roman Catholic, though she too frequently followed their customs and example. These circumstances were known to but few of the English boarders, and they thought it best to be as silent as possible on the subject; but Lydia, and one or two others, undertook to reason with Agnes, and succeeded so well, that she was thoroughly ashamed of her conduct.
It now began to be rumored in the school, that Mademoiselle Laval was going to resign her charge; and the report was soon after confirmed. That young lady had for some time wished to embrace a religious life, and was now about to put her design into execution, by joining a society of Grey sisters in the south of France. Her gentle manners, and benevolent disposition, peculiarly fitted her for the work she was undertaking; but Emily and her friends sincerely regretted her approaching departure; for her kindness and indulgence had endeared her to their hearts. They were surprised to find, however, that this was not the case with the generality of the boarders; for her very mildness and lenity had had the too common effect of inspiring contempt, rather than affection. As she had not been feared, so neither had she been respected; her conduct was familiarly canvassed, and the charges of favoritism and partiality frequently, though very unjustly, brought against
Lydia was so incensed at the ingratitude of many of the boarders, who repaid the indulgence of Mademoiselle Laval by expressions of pleasure at her approaching departure, that with her usual warmth, she told them she hoped they would be punished as they deserved, by being subjected to the rule of a tyrant, instead of the gentle and ill-requited teacher they so little appreciated. And her indignant prediction was soon fulfilled.,
Mademoiselle Laval departed, followed by the sincere and undisguised regrets of a few, who knew her amiable qualities, and had learned to estimate her worth. Among these were Rose de Liancourt, and the serious English party. The next day a lady arrived to fill her situation, whose appearance and manners presented a perfect contrast to those of her kind-hearted predecessor. Pride, bigotry, and reserve, were the characteristics of Mdlle. Mornay; and the startling severity with which she began her