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and all my family are Protestants, and that I will not change my religion to please any one."
"You are an obstinate little girl," said the father, with a portentous frown, "but, if milder measures will not do, you must be compelled to your duty. It is out of pure love and charity to your soul, that we do it; so, Mademoiselle, remember, I shall expect you at the confessional to-morrow."
"I will not come," said Clara, boldly; "you have no right to compel me, and I am sure papa will take me away from this place, as soon as he knows how I have been treated."
"We shall see, mademoiselle," said the priest, almost choked with passion; "in the mean time, retire to your own room, and I shall give orders that you are kept there till you choose to obey." Clara retired, somewhat terrified by his menaces, but still resolved to persist in her refusal.
The priest had a conference with la mère Sainte Hélène, the directress of the school, who, in obedience to his orders, spent a great part of the day in endeavoring to soothe, persuade, or coax, the refractory Clara to submission. But her efforts were all unavailing, for, with a firmness and consistency indicative of great decision of character, the child continued to resist both promises and threats, and, to the great annoyance of the nun, remained unshaken in her determination.
The morning came, and Father Saville enshrined himself in the confessional. La mère Sainte Hélène was fully engaged in giving Ellen the last instructions preparatory to confession, and sister St. Anne was similarly occupied with Fanny and Mary. Sister Constance was, therefore, deputed to try a last attempt at persuading Clara, as the winning sweetness of her manner generally gave her great power over the minds of young persons. But, in this instance, the amiable nun exerted her influence in vain. Clara remained obstinately inflexible, and her instructors were reduced to despair.
In the meantime, Fanny and Mary were led to the confessional, and, after going through their parts in a manner that did great credit to their teachers, received the priest's absolution, and were dismissed with praises. It was now Ellen's turn, and she approached, though not without evincing some reluctance. She knelt, however, in the place appointed, at the side of the priest, and duly repeated the prescribed form,
"I confess to God Almighty, to the blessed Mary, always a virgin, to St. Michael the archangel, St. John the Baptist, St. Peter, St. Paul, and all the saints, and to you, my father, because I have greatly sinned, in thought, word, and deed. It is my fault,-it is my fault,-it is my very great fault; wherefore, I pray the blessed Mary, always a virgin, St. Michael the archangel, St. John the Baptist, St. Peter, St. Paul, all the saints, and you, my father, to intercede for me with the Lord our God.
The child went through this blasphemous confession exactly in the manner she had been taught, crossing herself at the beginning and the end, and striking on her breast at the repetition of the words," It is my fault, it is my fault, it is my very great fault."
The priest spoke a few words of approbation to her, and then began to question her as to the sins which he supposed she might have committed, such as disobedience to the nuns, quarrelling with her companions, lying or deceit, acts of childish dishonesty, excess in eating, passion, or evil tempers, idleness, inattention to her studies, neglect of religious observances, &c. &c. To most of these Ellen pleaded guilty. He then proceeded to examine her on the subject of her thoughts, feelings, and imaginations, and, in so doing, asked some questions which suggested ideas that had never before entered her mind, and some which it was happy for her that she did not understand. As far, however, as she comprehended them, she frankly acknowledged her faults, and detailed many little circumstances which were exceedingly amusing, from the childish simplicity with which they were told.
The confessor now asked her one more question,-" whether she could remember any other sin, which she had omitted in her previous confession ?"
Ellen paused, as he imagined, to collect her thoughts; but observing that she did not reply, and that she seemed disconcerted, he repeated his question. At length she said, with some embarrasment,
"Yes, father, there is another sin which I have committed, but I cannot confess it."
This sin, of which Ellen's conscience accused her, was, her having sprinkled some soot and dust in the holy water, which was always kept in the bénetier, at the head of each bed, for the purpose of being used, morning and evening, to make the sign of the cross on the forehead. Her childish propensity to mischief had led her to do it, in order that she might enjoy the amusement of seeing la mère Sainte Hélène, and several of the young ladies, with black crosses on their foreheads. Inquiries had been made, to ascertain who was the culprit, but, as she denied it as positively as any of the others, all attempts had proved unsuccessful. Since then, however, the notions which had been instilled into her mind, had led her to consider this profane interference with so sacred a thing as holy water, as a very great crime. So perverted had been her ideas of right and wrong, that she thought it even a greater sin, than the falsehood of which she had been guilty, in order to conceal it. She had been taught to consider auricular confession as so solemn and important a duty, that she durst not tell another untruth, when the priest asked her if she had omitted any sin, but she was fully determined not to tell him what she had done
as she was persuaded that he would call it sacrilege, and punish her accordingly.
Father Saville was rather startled by her refusal, but endeavored, in the blandest manner he could assume, to overcome her reluc
"My daughter," said he, "you are fully aware, that it is your duty to confess every sin to your spiritual director. Tell me, therefore, what this sin is, in order that I may appoint you a gentle penance, and then give you absolution. Be assured that you will not find me a harsh or tyrannical judge; I promise not to be severe to you."
"Indeed, father, you must excuse me. I could not tell it you on any account. I am willing to do penance for it, but I will not tell you what it is."
He now suggested several sins, either of which, he thought, might be the one in question, and, when this method failed, endeavored to entangle her into an involuntary confession, by means of artful questions; but she had sufficient penetration to perceive his design, and remained equally proof against all his artifices and exhortations.
The father was both displeased and disconcerted, by the obstinacy of his young convert; but he did not wish to frighten her. A great point had been gained, by her coming to confession, and he wisely thought it best to go cautiously to work, and not press the subject too far at present. He, therefore, addressed her in his kindest manner,
"Well, my daughter, the holy church loves to imitate the example of the Great Shepherd, who is kind and indulgent to the lambs of his flock. I shall, therefore, take it for granted, as you assure me, that you are truly penitent for this great sin, whatever it may be, and shall not question you any further about it, trusting that you will, on some future occasion, see the necessity and benefit of freely divulging it to me. In the meantime, you will, as a slight penance, repeat, every morning and evening this week,, fifteen Ave Marias, and six pater-nosters; and now I will give you ab solution."
He did so, and Ellen was very glad to be dismissed; but she afterwards repeated the substance of their conversation to Emily, and was very much astonished, when the latter told her that the falsehood of which she had been guilty, in the transaction which she confessed to her, though she would not do so to the priest, was a much greater sin in the sight of God, than putting dust in the holy water.
Father Saville was now waiting for the refractory Clara, but all the exertions of the nuns had hitherto failed in persuading her to come. At length, their patience was exhausted, and the priest gave orders that she should be carried to the confessional. The
lay-sisters were accordingly called; and, though she struggled, screamed, and resisted with all her might, her prayers and tears were disregarded, and she was placed by force in the right hand division of the confessional. But it was in vain that the priest exhorted, entreated, or commanded her to confess. Her only answer was, "You have compelled me to come hither; it you cannot compel me to speak; I will never confess to you or to any one but God; and as soon as my father returns, he will remove me from the convent, for I shall certainly tell him how I have been treated by you all."
The father was almost convulsed with passion, but all his threats were unavailing; and, after spending a part of the morning in vainly endeavoring to conquer her determination, he at last ordered her back to her room, where he commanded her to be kept a close prisoner for the present.
Oh! how little do Protestant parents know, when they so far forget all Christian principle as to send their children to a convent for education, the evils to which they expose them, or the consequences that may result from their folly!
AN UNWELCOME GUEST.
He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house.-PSALM ci. 7.
THE excitement and agitation which poor Clara Somers had undergone, during the last month, and especially on the day of confession, had produced such an effect upon her nerves, that she was alarmingly ill the next morning. She was seized with a nervous fever, and became so delirious, that the physician who attended the convent was summoned in the evening, and the supérieure began to repent that she had gone so far in the case of a pupil. Her father, indeed, was absent, travelling on the continent, and might not return for some time; but it was probable that he would remove his daughter, as soon as he did return, and the nuns, therefore, resolved to obliterate, if possible, by kindness, the unfavorable impression produced on the mind of Clara, as the only possible means of averting the exposure they dreaded.
Clara was very ill for several days, but, at the end of that pe riod, she began to recover rapidly. Before she was quite well, however, the unexpected arrival of her father came like a thunderbolt, to crush the hopes of the supérieure. She went down to the parlor to receive him, and informed him that his daughter had been some days indisposed, but that she hoped she would soon be quite recovered. Anxious to see his child, Mr. Somers proposed taking her in a carriage to his hotel, as he thought the change might do her good; but the supérieure, fearful of an interview, in the present state of Clara's mind, before she could win her to a promise of silence on the subject of the late events, hastily replied, that she was not well enough to be removed. He then entreated to be allowed to see his child, if only for two minutes, that he might be able to judge of her state, but was informed by the lady, with great dignity, that it was a permission not granted even to mothers, and, of course, still less to gentlemen. He was at length induced to take his leave, hoping to hear a better ac count on the morrow.
That evening the supérieure spent several hours with Clara endeavoring, by every blandishment she could devise, to captivate her affections, and eradicate any feeling of resentment that might still be lurking in her mind. She did not inform her of her father's arrival, resolving not to allow them to meet, till she had obtained a promise that every unpleasant occurrence should for ever be buried in oblivion.
The next morning, however, the anxious father presented himself at the gate of the convent, and inquired after his daughter's health. The portress, who did not expect him so early, and had received no orders, stammered, and was confused by his ques tions. At length, not knowing what answer to give, she requested him to walk into one of the parlors, while she sent for Madame la supérieure. At the moment when she stepped aside, to send a message to that lady, the baker arrived, with a large basket-full of bread, and one of the lay-sisters opened the inner door to receive it. There were circular boxes placed near the door, which were so contrived as to turn on a pivot, so that anything placed in them from outside, might, by means of the box being made to revolve on this axis, be immediately conveyed into the convent. These boxes were called tours, and were generally used for the purpose of taking in the provisions; but, on this occasion, the door had just been opened for Mrs. Brownlow to go out, and the lay-sister took the bread herself from the baker. Mr. Somers was standing unperceived near the entrance, and the uneasiness excited by the unsatisfactory accounts he had received of his daughter, prompted him to seize this opportunity of seeing her. The baker had departed, and the lay-sister, trusting to the portress (whose temporary absence she did not perceive) to shut and fasten the door