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plainly indicated that she had gone purposely to sleep in some other room, no doubt in order to avoid the arguments and entreaties she knew not how to oppose. They felt indignant at the contrivance by which she had thus been induced to avoid her nearest friends; for they doubted not that the infatuated girl had been directed in this action, by those whose interest it was to retain her in the convent.
That night was one of bitter affliction, and sad foreboding, to the cousins. They rose with the dawn, and Emily wrote to Mrs. Fortescue, entreating that kind friend to come as soon as she could, and favor them with her advice. Before the hour of breakfast, the following letter was put into her hand:
"MY DEAREST COUSIN AND Sister,
"You must forgive me for what, I fear, you will call an unkina wish to avoid you. Indeed, indeed, I cannot see you at present; I am not able, I know, to refute your arguments, but my conscience forbids me to dissemble any longer. I think the Protestants are mistaken, and that the Catholic church is the only true one. I shall, therefore, remain here, and I entreat that you will not make any further attempts to dissuade me from my resolution, for I assure you I am quite determined. Henrietta and Julia are willing to stay with me, and I wish I could persuade you both to do the same. Perhaps you will say that I have no right to dispose of either my sisters or myself, without the sanction of my father; but he has consented to our coming hither, and we have a right not to leave the place till he commands us to do so. You need not be alarmed about Henrietta and Julia, on the subject of religion. The supérieure has kindly promised that nothing more shall be required of them, than an outward conformity to the rules of the house.
"Adieu, dear, dear Emily and Lydia; may God bless you with the true knowledge of his will. It is better, much better, for us, not to meet for some time; but restassured of the unalterable love of
"Your own affectionate
"P. S.-I hope soon to hear from dear papa, and if you will leave your address, I shall immediately send you information
Many and bitter were the tears shed by Emily and Lydia, over this letter. There was, however, no remedy for the evil, no hope of extricating Caroline from the toils in which she had suffered herself to be involved. Their only resource was, a final appeal to Mr. Howard, and, if that were not answered, Emily resolved to entreat the interference of her father.
The dinner-hour came, but Caroline did not appear, and as Sophie was also absent, it was most probable that they had been allowed to dine together in private. After dinner, the supérieure addressed the Protestant boarders, and politely requested to know their decision, on the question she had proposed to them the day before.
Mrs. Brownlow briefly replied, that she was a Protestant by birth and education, had been one all her life, and that, as she was resolved never to forsake the religion of her country and her fath. ers, she would depart from the convent on the following day.
The supérieure expressed great regret at her decision, and sorrow for the loss of her society, as she had resided several years with them. She added, with great truth, that a Mahometan, or an idolator, could give quite as good a reason for not changing his creed.
She then turned to Emily, who mildly, but firmly replied, that, as she was fully convinced that the Protestant faith was more agreeable to the revealed will of God than any other, she could not, for one moment, think of abandoning it, or even hesitate about doing anything, or making any sacrifice that might be required, to prove her attachment to the Protestant cause. Lydia added, that her sentiments were in perfect accordance with her cousin's, that they expected Mrs. Fortescue in the course of the day, and should then decide on the time of their departure.
The supérieure frowned angrily at their answer; but, after a moment's reflection, she smoothed her ruffled brow, and observed, that if they would but be persuaded to examine the subject with unprejudiced attention, she was convinced they would find that they had always been, and were still in error, and would, consequently, be induced to change their opinion. She offered to speak to father Saville, and request, for them, the favor of his instruc tions, or to introduce them to an abbé of her acquaintance, a man of profound learning, piety, and zeal, whose arguments, she was certain, could not fail of converting them. Emily and Lydia, however, politely, but coldly, declined her offer, and the party broke up without any further conversation.
Major and Mrs. Fortescue called in the afternoon, and heard the news they had to communicate with undisguised indignation. They tried in vain to see Caroline; she sent word that she was too ill to receive any one. They, however, had an interview with the supérieure, in which they warmly remonstrated on the influence, and protested against the means which, they doubted not, had been used, to induce Caroline and her sisters to remain in the convent, at the expense of a change of religion.
The lady calmly replied, that no compulsion had been used; that Mademoiselle Howard and her sisters had acted entirely from their own free will, and that, as Major Fortescue was neither
their relation nor their guardian, she did not acknowledge his right to interfere.
The Major felt, indeed, that he had no authority to proceed farther in the business; but, having given the cousins an invitation to their house, he and Mrs. Fortescue departed; and the next day Emily and Lydia removed to their hospitable mansion.
Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me.-ACTS v. 39.
MORE than a week had elapsed, since their leaving the convent, and Emily, who had left behind her embroidery frame and one or two other trifling articles, took the opportunity of the pretext they afforded, hoping she might, by that means, obtain an interview with Caroline. Lydia was anxious to accompany her, but was prevented by illness; and Emily, therefore, took with her, besides the servant, a little English girl, the daughter of a neighbor of Major Fortescue's, whose amusing prattle would beguile the loneliness of the walk. On presenting herself at the grate, and inquiring for sister Constance, that amiable nun made her appearance, and received her with marks of sincere affection. Emily asked after Caroline, and was told that she was rather indisposed. Anxious to see her, if possible, yet scarcely knowing how to make the request, she spoke of her embroidery, which she had left unfinished, and told sister Constance, there were two or three stitches which she did not quite understand. This method succeeded; the nun paused a moment, then went to consult la mère Saint Hélène, and, on her return, told Emily that she might
enter the convent.
"I cannot show you how to do the stitches, through this grating," she said, "and, as you have paid for your board and instruction up to next week, and are, therefore, virtually, still a pupil, la mère will allow you to enter for half-an-hour. You can leave your little companion in the parlor, and the servant had better go and perform her devotions in the chapel, while you remain with us."
Emily thanked her with sincere gratitude; and having directed little Laura Stapleton not to leave the parlor, and received a promise from the portress that she would watch over her, she gave the servant leave to await her in the chapel, followed sister Constance through the well-known dark cloisters, and once more heard the ponderous inner door shut and bolted behind her.
She had only spoken truth with regard to her work, and was deeply engaged in receiving the last instructions about its completion, when she was accosted by sister Sainte Anne,
"I have been talking to your little companion," said the smiling nun; "she is a sweet child, but feels very much ennuyée at being left alone so long. I have gathered her this plate of fruit, to amuse her, but I know not how to put it into her hands. I cannot pass it through the grating, and we are not allowed to open the door, except for ingress or egress. Will you, then, do me the favor to return to the outer parlor, and give her the fruit from me?"
Emily thanked her, and complied with her desire; but, as she did so, she could not help reflecting on this little incident, which, though trifling in itself, was a striking exemplification of the hopeless captivity of a convent. The parlor, to which the sister wished to convey the fruit, was not three feet from the door at which she had stood; it was inside of the convent entrance, and, had she but opened the door, and set one foot over its threshold, she could, with the greatest ease, have handed the plate to the child. But this she durst not do; that door was never more to open for her, and her feet were never again to approach the outer entrance. Emily sighed deeply, as she thought of the apostate character of that church, which imposed such unnecessary and unnatural restrictions, and even held them up to its deluded votaries, as meritorious acts of self-denial, which were sure to secure them an everlasting reward in heaven.
Before she left the convent, she entreated to see her cousins; Henrietta and Julia were brought to her, and sister Constance went to ask Caroline if she would see her. Caroline consented, and Emily was introduced into her bed-room, where she found her suffering from a severe cold. Their interview was affecting, but, owing to the presence of Sophie, no confidential conversation could take place. Indeed, Caroline immediately requested that the subject of religion might not be introduced, and Emily at once perceived that there was no present prospect of any change for the better.
Caroline had not heard from her father, and she expressed the greatest anxiety on the subject of his silence. Henrietta and Julia looked shy, and seemed to shrink from Emily, who saw that the pernicious influence of the system was beginning to produce its usual effect on their minds. When she left them, she earn
estly requested to be allowed to see them sometimes at the grate; and Caroline, after some hesitation, assented, observing that she should be glad to see her sister also.
As Emily returned to Major Fortescue's, her heart was oppressed with sorrow for the present, and apprehension for the future; and she found it difficult indeed to follow the injunction of the inspired Psalmist," Cast thy burden on the Lord, and he shall sustain thee." Lydia wept bitterly at the account she gave of her visit; but they endeavored mutually to cheer each other with the promise, that "weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
Emily's spirits were somewhat revived by a letter she received from her friend Rose de Liancourt. They had regularly corresponded, ever since they had left Madame d'Elfort's; but, as the Baron's residence was several miles from S, they had not had the pleasure of meeting. Now, however, Rose informed her friend that she expected to be at S- with her father in three days, and dwelt on the pleasure she should experience in again seeing and embracing her beloved Emily. Her friend was equally delighted at the anticipation, and when the meeting took place, she saw with pleasure that Rose was much improved in health, and looked cheerful and happy.
"I am truly so, my dear friend," she said, in answer to Emily's observation on that subject;-" Yes, I am happier than I ever was, and highly favored by heaven. My dear father is all that is kind and indulgent, and thinks so highly of your poor Rose, that he asks her advice on every occasion. My darling Claire improves daily, and is so amiable and docile, that she is a most delightful companion. In short, I should be perfectly happy, were it not for my beloved mother, who, I fear, will never recover her intellects. She is happy, however, in our society, and enjoys the little pleasures and amusements we procure her, with the eager gaiety and delight of childhood. Oh! my dear, dear friend, what numberless reasons I have to be thankful!"
She then told Emily that the next day would be her eighteenth birth-day. "It was for that reason," she continued, " that I urged papa to come to town. I intend to spend the whole day in the church, for I have abundant cause for thanksgiving, and many, many mercies to ask. Oh! if I could but see my dear father converted to God, I think I should scarcely have one wish ungratified."
In this happy frame of mind Emily left her; the subject of religious controversy was not introduced; and on the second day the Baron and his daughter were to return to their château. Business, however, unexpectedly detained them, and Emily had the pleasure of spending a few hours with Rose. In this conversation, the latter inquired as to the particulars of Caroline's separation