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that, for the priest of the village near her father's house was called in to administer the last sacraments to the unconscious sufferer; but I had given her my solemn promise, and I shall not fail to per form it, if you will allow me to write to you on the subject. The present is no time to enter on the discussion; but you must allow me to propose one question for your serious consideration: can it be a false religion, whose influence produces such characters as that of Rose ?"
Emily's tears and sobs almost suffocated her, and she was totally unable to reply to this subtle question, though she felt, and could have wished to say, that it was a higher and holier influence than that of Popery, which had made her friend what she was. Madame d'Elfort, kindly sympathizing in her emotion, drew her away from the house, and they returned to her own residence.
When Emily was somewhat recovered, she took her into the garden, and unwilling to neglect the advantage which she thought had been gained over her feelings, thus addressed her, in the kindest and most affectionate manner:→
"Permit me, my dear young friend, to add a few words to those which our excellent cure has just spoken to you. As long as you were my pupil, you can bear me witness, that I have never interfered with your religious sentiments. But now that our relative situations are changed, the obligation to silence no longer exists. I would, therefore, as a friend, anxious for your spiritual welfare, earnestly and affectionately entreat you to examine the subject with the attention which its importance demands. I neither can, nor will, enter into any controversy with you; but I would beseech you, by every motive that is dear or sacred, not to persist in error. Think of your beloved Rose, and ask yourself, as Monsieur de Beauvais suggested, whether her religion could be false? Be assured, my love, that from the mansions of everlasting blessedness, she is now looking down upon you, with celestial love and compassion, and, if she were permitted, would join her entreaties to mine, to persuade you to be happy. Nay, it is no unwarrantable stretch of the imagination, to believe, that she has obtained permission to attend you, as your guardian angel. Think of her, then, as hovering around you now, and fancy that you hear her addresing you in these tender accents:-'O my Emily! my beloved friend! close not your ears, harden not your heart, against the truth! persist not in an error which must for ever separate us!"'" Emily's tears flowed unrestrainedly, during this dangerous speech. Her judgment was not, in the slightest degree, misled by it; she felt that it did not contain one scriptural or solid argument; yet it produced an effect upon her, which must be felt to be understood. It spoke so powerfully to the feelings, that it almost captivated them; there was a speciousness, a fascination in 't, that dazzled the imagination, and ensnared the affections. She
felt her reason almost overpowered by the spell, her mind bewildered and in tumults. She, however, breathed a silent prayer for divine assistance, and was enabled to perceive that her best safeguard against her excited and overwrought feelings lay in maintaining a total silence. She, therefore, durst not trust herself to reply, for she felt that, had she uttered but a single word, that word might have compromised her.
The arrival of Mrs. Fortescue and Lydia happily relieved her from the embarrassment of her situation, and they soon after took their leave, promising to see Madame d'Elfort again, before they left France.
Be not carried about with strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace.-HEB. xiii. 9.
THE next day, to the great delight of Emily and Lydia, Mr. Mortimer arrived, and their departure was fixed for the third day after. He saw Caroline at the grate, but she was sad and reserved, though she promised to be ready to accompany her friends. Notwithstanding this promise, however, the intervening time was passed in great anxiety by Emily and Lydia; but their fears were dissipated, by Caroline's leaving the convent, with her two sisters, on the day before that fixed for their departure.
Emily called for them, and thought it the best opportunity of bidding the supérieure, and the other nuns of their acquaintance, farewell. Their parting with the former was rather polite than friendly, and Miss Smithson bade them a very formal adieu; but the other nuns spoke kindly, and Emily was particularly affected by the manner of sister Constance. As the door opened for Caroline's egress, that interesting nun embraced them all, and the tears started to her eyes. Emily clasped her neck affectionately and whispered, "I hope, my dear madam, that, if we meet no more on earth, we may be re-united in heaven."
"That must depend entirely on yourself," replied the nun, fix ing on her a look of melancholy interest. Then, after a pause she added, "Could you favor me with a few minutes' of private
conversation? I have something to say to you, which I should much like to have an opportunity of imparting."
Emily bowed assentingly, and, requesting her cousins to pro ceed without her, re-entered the parlor, and was soon joined by
My dear friend," she said, "I have sought this opportunity, i order to speak to you on the all-important topic of religion. Whi you were a pupil in the establishment, I refrained from pressin the subject; but now that you are going away, and I may never see you again, I cannot bear the idea that a person I love sincerely should remain in the most fatal of all errors. Allow me, then, te ask, my dear Emily, why are you not a Catholic? or rather, why do you not become one ?"
"Because, my dear friend, I do not believe your church to be better than mine-nay, I do not even believe its doctrines to be agreeable to scripture."
"But you must be aware that ours is the only true, Catholic, and Apostolic church; and that out of its pale there is no salvation."
The nun uttered this with evident sincerity, and an earnestness that deeply affected Emily. She, however, answered, without a moment's hesitation,
"This is not the first time I have been told so; but it is my duty to declare that I know of no foundation in the Word of God for such an assertion."
Sister Constance looked at her with unaffected surprise, and said,
"I always thought that you Protestants boasted of your superior knowledge of the Bible; yet, if you read it so constantly, how is it that you do not know its contents? The truth I have asserted is contained in that book, and yet you say you are not acquainted with it."
"I have never seen it there," replied Emily, with energy; "and I can assure you confidently that there is no such declaration in the inspired volume."
"You must be greatly mistaken, for I am equally certain, that the very words I have uttered are contained in the Bible."
Perhaps, then, you will be kind enough to point them out to me, or to tell me in which part of the Bible they are to be found.”
"I really cannot, just at this moment," said the nun, looking considerably mortified, “but, if you will favor me with another interview, before you leave France, I shall be able to prove to you that you are altogether wrong."
"I certainly will come again, dear Madam, since you wish it; and if you can show me the words you have mentioned in the Bible, I shall most readily acknowledge that you are right."
"But, if I convince you of your error, will you be willing to
renounce it? Will you consent to be further instructed in the truth, either by our confessor, Mr. Saville, or by some other priest ?"
"My dear friend," said Emily, "I require no further instruction. If you can show me in the Bible, that 'the Roman Catholic church is the only true one, and that out of its pale there is no salvation,' I shall be fully convinced of the validity of its claims to infalli bility, and shall be ready to submit to all its dictates."
"Your conversion, then, is both easy and certain," exclaimed sister Constance, while her eyes, usually so sad and dove-like, sparkled with animation and delight. "The passage you want is in the New Testament, and I will look for it, and show it you to morrow."
"Are you allowed to read the Bible in the convent?" inquired Emily, who had never seen one there, and strongly doubted the permission's being granted.
Certainly," replied the nun, looking, however, somewhat confused, "we have one in the house, and if you will come to-morrow, I shall be prepared to show you the passage in question, and shall also expect you to fulfil your promise to me."
"Farewell, then, till to-morrow," said Emily, and they parted. Emily felt deeply interested in the conversation which had just taken place, and in the result of the next day's meeting. It was evident that the amiable nun firmly believed in the truth of what she had said. She had, probably, never read any part of the Bible herself, except the few extracts in her prayer-book. How would she feel, when she found that the assertion she had made, and which she had, no doubt, heard repeatedly from others, formed no part of the Word of God? But would she be allowed even to look for it? Emily feared not, and she therefore resolved to take with her a French New Testament. She was sincerely attached to sister Constance, and, therefore, prayed earnestly for the divine blessing, on the conversation which was about to take place.
But she was little aware of the constant vigilance exercised in a convent, or of the promptitude of the apostate church, in counteracting everything that might be hostile to its influence.
At the appointed hour, she presented herself at the grate, with a French Testament in her hand. After she had waited some time, sister Constance made her appearance; but she looked hur ried and agitated, and had evidently been weeping.
My dear friend," she said, "I am truly sorry that I have given you the trouble of coming, for I am so very much engaged, that ] cannot stay one moment with you."
Emily felt extremely disappointed, and reminded her of the engagement they had made, and the promise each had given the other. The nun, however, though with evident reluctance, per sisted in pleading her numerous avocations, and the utter impossi bility of her spending even a few minutes with her.
Perhaps," observec Emily, "the present may be an inconvenient time for you; but, though I cannot come to-morrow, as we are to set out early in the morning, I will return at any hour this evening, if you will only grant me five minutes' conversation. Do not refuse me, dear madam, for it is most probable that we shall never meet again on earth."
The sister was affected, and, after a pause, replied,
"Well, my dear Emily, if you can return at six this evening, I shall strain every nerve to have a few moments' conversation with you."
They parted with this understanding; and, precisely as the church clock struck six, Emily was again at the door.
The portress did not invite her to enter the parlor; but as she withdrew from the door, the pale face of sister Constance appeared at the small grating.
"It is in vain, my dear friend," said she, in a dejected tone, "I cannot give you even one moment."
Emily felt unable to urge her request, but her look of entreaty spoke volumes, as she merely said,
"I have brought a New Testament with me."
The color rushed to the cheek of the nun, and in a hurried, and almost imploring voice, she repeated, "It is in vain,-I cannot speak to you!" Then, in a low and suppressed tone, she added, "I have told la mère supérieure how much I wished for a few moments' conversation with you; but it cannot be; I cannot be allowed to speak to you! Farewell! God bless you!" and the tears gushed from her eyes, as she hastily withdrew from the small grating, and the portress drew the shutter across it.
Emily stood for a moment riveted to the spot, with her eyes fixed on the door from which sister Constance had disappeared. She then slowly bent her steps homeward, reflecting on the disappointment she had experienced. It was evident that the nun had confessed, either to the priest, or the inmates of the convent, her conversation with Emily, their intended interview, and its object. She had probably been obliged to ask for a Bible, and the rulers of the convent had become alarmed. They had feared that the prey, so successfully entangled in their net, might struggle to escape, and had, therefore, with the caution so characteristic of their system, wisely resolved to prevent the danger, by forbidding the interview. In what way they had accounted to their victim for the necessity of these precautions, remained, of course, a mystery; but Emily's heart swelled with indignant sorrow, as she thought of the cruel perfidy which marked their conduct, and the melancholy state of spiritual darkness in which the interesting nun was thus retained by their tyranny. They were "blind leaders of the blind;" and she shuddered, as she prayed that they might not *both fall into the pit."