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from her friends, and it was then, after Emily had related the sub stance of all that had occurred since their leaving Madame d'Elfort's that she learned from Rose several circumstances of which she was before entirely ignorant, and which threw considerable light on many occurrences that had before appeared almost inexplicable.
The reader will remember the case of Madame d'Elfort's servant, who died soon after undergoing a surgical operation, and that Caroline's feelings had been greatly affected on the occasion. The poor woman was buried by the parish, and sister Rose, the sœur de la charité already mentioned, having, with unremit ted kindness, attended the unhappy sufferer, from the beginning of her illness to its fatal termination, was actively engaged in preparing the body for its removal to the grave, when Sophie Dorville prevailed on Caroline to accompany her, in a visit to the chamber of death. It has been already said, that the religieuse was a very lovely young woman, elegant in manners, and peculiarly fascinating in address. She was also very sincere in her extraordinary devotedness, and possessed all that fervor of religious enthusiasm, which is so well calculated to dazzle and captivate the youthful mind. Her words made a deep impression on Caroline; and Sophie, who perceived their effect, thought it a good opportunity to attempt the conversion of her friend.
She communicated the circumstance to her mother, who, with a zeal which did honor to her sincerity, seized every occasion of inviting Caroline to her house, and frequently took her to the residence of the Grey Sisters, where sister Rose did all in her power to deepen the impressions so favorable to their purpose.
This accounted for the extreme emotion betrayed by Caroline, on learning that Emily and Lydia had visited sister Rose. Wavering and undecided, her principles shaken, and her mind unsettled, she shrank, with nervous timidity, from the idea of their knowing it, and was only relieved from her agitation, by ascertaining that nothing relating to her had transpired.
Madame Dorville had taken her several times to visit the Grey Sister; had lent her that eloquent and plausible, but most dangerous work, Châteaubriand's "Génie du Christianisme," and several other equally specious books, which had produced the most baneful effects on her mind; and she endeavored to complete her conversion, by employing the abbé Ronceval to bewilder her with his subtle reasonings. A similar attempt had been tried with Lydia, but had been unexpectedly foiled. All these particulars Rose had learned, at different times, from Sophie Dorville; but Emily was sincerely glad to hear, that Madame d'Elfort had known nothing of the scheme, as they were fully aware, that her conscientious adherence to her engagements would prevent her encouraging, or even allowing it. Her opinion of that lady's uprightness of character was, therefore, not shaken.
Rose departed the next day; but Emily soon after received a letter from her, which convinced her that her friend had not given up the hope of her conversion. After several expressions of unabated affection, it continued thus,
"And now, my beloved friend, allow your Rose again to mention a subject which is still, as it has long been, one of the nearest to her heart. My affection for you, and my anxious desire for your welfare, led me, on one occasion, to infringe the laws of the school, and now compels me again to tell you, how painful it is to me, to know that a person whom I love so tenderly is in error, on so important a point as that of her eternal salvation! How hap py should I be, if I could be the means of bringing back to the fold of Christ a strayed sheep, for whom He shed his blood! O my dearest friend! I entreat, I conjure you to forsake a religion reformed by man, and to embrace that which Jesus Christ himself taught us, even the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman religion, which has existed from the beginning, and will endure unto the end! Pardon me, I beseech you, for saying so much; my heart guides my pen. Í have found you so good, so excellent, even under the influence of error-what would you not be under the guid
ance of truth!
"With regard to myself, I am not at all satisfied with my own conduct. I am becoming slothful and careless. I fear I do not sufficiently know myself: I have too much self-love and presumption. Help me, then, my dear Emily, to understand my own deficiencies, that I may be enabled to overcome them. Write to me with perfect candor, and without fearing to offend me. You have much too good an opinion of me;-in your last letter, you spoke of me in terms which I am far, very far, from deserving.
"Adieu.-Believe me ever
"Your sincere and tenderly-attached friend,
Emily answered this request of the amiable girl, by reminding her of the agreement which they had entered into, previous to leaving Madame d'Elfort's; and expressed her willingless to abide by it, if Rose still wished it, and her confessor would undertake the task. She added, that she only consented to enter into a discussion, on the condition which had originally been stipulated,that Rose should read everything that was written on both sides of the question.
Rose's answer was full of joyful anticipation.
"Monsieur de Beauvais," she wrote, "who is grand curé of the town, and my confessor, is a man venerable for his years, wisdom and piety. His time is, at present, too much taken up with preparations for the jubilee, to allow of his attending to anything else. but he has promised me that as soon as he has any leisure,
which will be in about three weeks, he will write to you on this important subject. In the meantime, he strongly recommends for your perusal a work entitled "An Amicable Discussion, on the subject of the Establishment and Doctrine of the Anglican Church, and the Reformation in general." It is in the form of letters, and consists of two volumes. I beseech you, my beloved friend, lose no time in procuring this excellent book; or, if you cannot get it, I will send it you.
"What happiness for me, my dear Emily, if I could one day hail you a member of the true church! you, my friend, in whom I have ever reposed so much confidence! you, whom I love so tenderly! I hope,-yes, I trust, if you are but candid, that I shall have the joy of seeing you abandon error, and embrace truth! I pray God, with all my heart, to enlighten your mind by His Holy Spirit; for, as you justly observe, without his grace we can do nothing.
Monsieur de Beauvais has been my confessor ever since I was nine years old. Under his instructions I attended my première communion, and he has behaved like a father to Claire and myself. He is so good, so kind, so gentle! When you know him, I am sure you will acknowledge the excellence of his character. "Your own affectionate
Having despatched her answer to this letter, Emily waited, with mingled feelings of curiosity and interest, the result of the promise made by the confessor to Rose. She did not, however, neglect the means of preparing herself for the expected contest. She read and searched the Scriptures diligently, especially those parts which bear on the subject; and the more she did so, the more was she convinced, that the doctrines and practice of the Romish church are diametrically opposed to the plainest declara tions, and, indeed, the whole tenor of the Word of God. She also consulted some approved works on the subject of the intended controversy; and, above all, fervently prayed to the "Father of lights," that he would guide her by his Holy Spirit, preserve her from all error, and bless the discussion to the promotion of the eternal welfare of her beloved friend.
In the meantime, she and Lydia had seen Caroline once or twice; but there was a reserve in her manner, and a restraint on their conversation, which rendered these interviews extremely distressing. Not a gleam of light seemed to pierce through the gloom, and Mr. Howard's continued silence became every day more extraordinary. But it was, at length, accounted for, and in a manner as melancholy as it was unexpected.
A letter arrived for Emily, signed by sister Constance, inclosing another, which Caroline had received from an English clergyman.
It was dated from a small and obscure town, in the south of Italy, and contained the account of her father's death. The clergyman stated, that he had been travelling for the benefit of his health, and had been induced, by the peculiar beauty of the scenery, to visit this spot, which was several miles out of the track usually pursued by travellers. The people of the little inn informed him that they had a sick guest, a stranger, who had come to them several weeks before, and, they believed, was in a very dangerous state. He had been delirious till within the last few hours, and was now, though sensible, so weak and reduced, that the village surgeon entertained no hopes of his recovery. Who he was, they had not been able to ascertain, as he had come with post-horses to his carriage, and the only servant he brought with him, having been hired at the last town through which he had passed, could give no information about him. All they knew was, that he was well provided with money; and they thought that il Signor Inglese, being his countryman, might like to converse with him, and would, from a knowledge of the language in which several papers in his portmanteau were written, be able to inform his friends of his situation.
Mr. Mowbray immediately visited the invalid, and found him indeed in a hopeless condition. He resolved to remain at the inn for the present, with the view of being useful to him; and his hopes were not disappointed. Mr. Howard, though on the brink of the grave, was sensible of the comfort his presence was calcu lated to give. Though reduced to the greatest weakness, he was able, at intervals, to converse with him, and to communicate his wishes with regard to his family, which Mr. Mowbray took down in writing.
In these instructions, he committed his children to the care and guardianship of his brother-in-law, Mr. Mortimer. It was well for the tranquillity of his mind, that, owing to his having been for the last three months travelling in different parts of Italy, he had not received the letters which Emily had written; but he seemed to have entertained some apprehension on that very subject, from the message he sent to Caroline. In this communication he told her, that he feared he had acted incautiously, in too hastily indulging her wish to become a boarder at the convent. He entreated her, however, as she valued the last injunctions of her dying father, not to decide on any change of religion, without due deliberation, and, above all, not to take the veil till she was twenty-one, but to visit England, for at least three months, before she made any final arrangement, or took any important step.
Mr. Mowbray added, that he had been enabled to exhibit to his dying friend the gospel way of salvation by Christ alone, and had found him willing to listen to it; that he had every reason to believe that Mr. Howard had embraced that salvation, as his only
hope; and that he had had the satisfaction to see him depart in peace.
The letter of sister Constance, in which this communication was enclosed, informed Emily that Caroline had been so shocked, so totally overcome, by this heart-rending intelligence, that she was now lying seriously ill, and the supérieure had thought it necessary to call in the physician of the establishment.
No words can describe the state of anguish and distress into which Emily and Lydia were plunged, by this double calamity. It was, however, no time to indulge in inactive sorrow; and they were mercifully enabled to recollect that "whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth;" and to take comfort from the assurance that it is "for their profit." Mrs. Fortescue, with her usual kindness, immediately went to the convent, in order to ascertain whether it was possible to have Caroline removed, but was assured that such an attempt would be highly dangerous. She then sought an in terview with the physician, who somewhat allayed her fears, by the information that Caroline's illness, being of a nervous character, was not likely to prove fatal, though her recovery would probably be slow.
Emily and Lydia suffered the most intense anxiety, during the three ensuing weeks. To know that Caroline was ill, suffering, and in sorrow, and yet to be debarred from attending, or even seeing her, was a trial that required the utmost exercise of Christian fortitude, humility, and resignation. At last, they were assured that she was in a state of convalescence, but would not be able, for some time to come, to descend to the parlor, in order to see her friends. In the interim, the Major and his lady were going to Paris for a week, and they took Emily and Lydia with them, hoping that the change would tend to recruit both their health and their spirits.
A MELANCHOLY EVENT.
Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth.-REV. xiv. 13.
On their return to S- the cousins immediately hastened to the convent. They saw Caroline at the grate, but only for a few minutes, and their interview was most affecting. She was pale