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ten name into notice again, and publish some mischievous letter to say that he never knew happiness before he went to Rome. By such means, when people hear a true story, they remember some that turned out false; and, in the general confusion so skilfully created, men tire of crediting actual facts.” “Then you really are a believer in buried-alive nuns, and in rebellious novices being often shut up as mad?” “Of course! and you were born yesterday, Lady Anne, if you do not know that such things really do occur,” replied Beatrice, boldly. “No one doubts, I believe, about the young orphan-heiress at Friburg, who was persuaded, some years ago, by a Jesuit confessor to take the veil. No more was heard of her during fourteen years, when a public investigation became called for: search was made, and this poor girl was found lying upon filthy straw in a damp cellar, with such food beside her as was unfit for the lowest animal. If you once disappear within the walls of St. Ignatia, Lady Anne, giving up your name, and losing your identity, who on earth can ever afterwards release you from the tyranny of men, and from their vices? Do you never imagine the possibility of being utterly and entirely deceived—utterly wrong?” “You were born to set everything to rights in this world, and you seem deeply read in Mrs. Radcliffe's romances,” observed Lady Anne, laughing heartily. “My dear Miss Farinelli, you really will bring on a fit of the horrors! I see your hair rising on end with consternation, and you must have it smoothed down again. Make your mind quite easy; for Father Eustace has by this time, I hope, given bail to Lady Edith for your re-appearance on Saturday in her little, dull old Protestant home; so fear nothing.”
“Lady Anne, I cannot consent to be caged in that utterly-to-be-abhorred convent for a single night—no, not for an hour!” replied Beatrice, turning her clear, steadfast eye towards her laughing companion. “Those who would shun a fox do not enter his den. How do I know that they will ever let me out? If you were taking me to a lunaticasylum, I should know that twice a-year the law reaches to its inmost recesses, and I should be set at liberty, as being entitled to breathe the free air; but if, by force or fraud, I once became a ‘sister Bridget, or ‘sister Agnes, then who on earth has any right or power to rescue me, if I were thrown into a damp, cobwebbed, subterranean cell, in cold and darkness, on the pretext, perhaps, that I was insane, and kept there till I died? Father Eustace may perhaps never even tell Lady Edith exactly where to look for me; and how then am I ever to escape?”
Lady Anne looked for a moment startled and perplexed, and then added, very seriously, “Miss Farinelli, if this were my death-oath, I could assure you, that not for a minute, or half a minute, shall you be detained here after Saturday. But are you not ashamed of liking that weary world so well as to return to it?”
“No more ashamed than I would be of wishing to awake from a feverish dream,” replied Beatrice. “And I shall say to Father Eustace when we meet—
“‘Come tell me, monk, about your magic gardens,
Meanwhile nothing ever was further from the intentions of Father Eustace than to enlighten Lady Edith as to the whereabouts of Beatrice. His promise to Lady Anne, that he would immediately deliver her note, clearly militated against the interests of his church, and therefore, of course, on no account was it to be performed. Lady Edith had, in fact, (as he argued to himself) no legal right whatever, any more than himself, over a foundling such as Beatrice; and, seeing that it would particularly suit his purposes to detain Miss Farinelli some time in the convent, he resolved that there she should remain.
It might be difficult to pacify Lady Anne, when she discovered that her friendship had been made the means of entrapping Beatrice more seriously than she ever intended; but Father Eustace knew his own power over those who had once confessed to him, and moreover, he knew so well all the little weak sides of his lively, heedless penitent, that he felt a pleasant consciousness of being able to manage her perfectly. Whatever she said or thought, however, his great mind was made up, that the convent of St. Ignatia should be a prison
to Beatrice as long as he could, by fair means or very doubtful ones, keep her in captivity there: as he had very important reasons of his own why, during the few remaining days or hours of Lord Eaglescairn's life, she should be kept from the possibility of seeing the dying peer.
Lady Edith rose that day with a delightful consciousness that the time had come on which it was promised that Beatrice should be restored to her old, cheerful, well-beloved home: and it was a morning of glorious beauty. The blue mountains were lighted up on their dark precipitous sides with patches of sunshine-the trees were putting out their early leaves, it was a perfect flowershow among the crocuses, and a musical festival among the birds.
Lady Edith was in a most unusual fidget of happiness. The day was to be a perfect jubilee of felicity at Heatherbrae, therefore she gave a holiday to her school, an additional watering to her geraniums, and a double feed to her poultry. She adorned Beatrice's writing-table with the choicest flowers, and ordered tea to be brought up the instant her welcome guest arrived. She stirred the sulky slumbering fire into its brightest blaze, drew up all the blinds, and lighted up her own countenance with smiles of anticipated joy. It was impossible to read, and even work was too sedentary for the renewed animation of her spirits, and she wandered as anxiously from window to window as a disappointed sportsman on a rainy day. Hours rolled heavily away,—oh, how heavily! She paced
up and down her little garden with anxious restlessness which could not repose, listening with intense eagerness to every distant sound, and mistaking every noise for the roll of carriage-wheels.
“Anne, sister Anne," did not look out more in vain, however, than Lady Edith that day, who was not even rewarded by seeing a cloud of dust on the road. Hours passed on; but Lady Edith, still sanguine, smiled at her own impatience, and thought Lady Eaglescairn had delayed sending Beatrice till she took her own airing, and could bring her young guest, according to promise, home.
Evening closed in, and twilight had darkened into night: but still Lady Edith would not allow herself to suspect that Beatrice could have been prevailed on to disappoint her without even a message to state the reason; therefore the endless day was followed by an endless evening of frustrated hope, during which every sound seemed to her listening ear like the roll of carriage-wheels. Hope deferred had made the heart of Lady Edith sick indeed; but when twelve o'clock struck, every sanguine promise she had made to herself of Beatrice at last appearing, died out: she therefore retired to rest with a consoling resolution to visit Eaglescairn Castle early next morning, and there to reclaim the beloved child of her adoption.
Lady Edith's whole spirit was now on fire with a just indignation at the conduct of those who were evidently endeavouring to make a final division between herself and her beloved Beatrice, in whose affection she felt the most unalterable confidence.