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worn by nuns for such occasions, an artificial vivacity, most fatiguing to behold.
St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzio wished her nuns to be" as uncultivated as the wild deer," and those in this convent seemed very much on her model, for the object of popery is to wither up all female intellect. As they all clustered eagerly round Lady Anne, Beatrice thought she had never seen so many pallid cheeks, vacant countenances, lacklustre eyes, and attenuated figures. The senior nun, “sister Martha," seemed to be smiler-general for all the others, as she generally led on the little pantomime of pretended cheerfulness, with a smile stereotyped on her lips, and the rest, who followed her lead, filled up the picture to perfection, thus assuming the full-dress uniform for inspection days. The Mother Superior, who had been occupied in opening letters addressed to the nuns and boarders, and in intercepting several which were not to go, now entered last, and as she paid her stately compliments to Lady Anne, Beatrice, with a start of astonishment, recognised in the Abbess of St. Ignatia the every-where-present Mrs. Lorraine.
With her hands buried under the folds of her long serge dress, and distinguished from the nuns only by a heavy gold cross, the Lady Abbess made a deep curtsey to Beatrice, her eyes so fastened to the ground that she quite lost the advantage of seeing a start of utter amazement, with which her young guest contemplated this new metamorphosis. Once in her life Beatrice had seen a pantomime performed at Inverness, and when Grimaldi, acting
the Indian juggler, swallowed a sword, so that the point came out behind, she felt some degree of astonishment, but that was nothing to the amazement with which the unexpected appearance of Mrs. Lorraine in this new character had filled her almost incredulous mind. For a moment their mutual gaze was steadfast and earnest. At length in a calm measured voice, without any change of colour or of a single feature, Mrs. Lorraine said, “You are welcome at last, my daughter, into a house where your presence has long been desired. Here all sin or frivolity are shut out, and you have nothing but quiet for mind and body. Not even a temptation can assail the peaceful unity of my children and their pious exercises.” “Mrs. Lorraine, we have known each other long,” said Beatrice, with a calm intelligent smile, “and you know that I would think religion mere child's play if all its awful difficulties and deep responsibilities could be overcome by merely building ourselves round with a stone wall. It is the battle within ourselves, not the battle around us, that causes the fatal difficulty in attaining peace, and I shall remain but a very few hours in your Agapemone here, where I have been brought contrary to my own wishes.” With a look of benevolent pity at Beatrice, and heaving a sigh which might have driven a ship from its moorings, and went into a second and third edition immediately, the Abbess turned away with Lady Anne, leaving Beatrice to follow them into the recreation-room and garden with sister Martha, one of the most trusted nuns in the establishment, but in the confusion of meeting Beatrice, Mrs. Lorraine had forgotten, apparently, to warn sister Martha that their young visitor was a heretic, not to be trusted with the secrets of the prisonhouse. Sister Martha was evidently a person of the narrowest intellect, and of very uncultivated faculties, who had read little and thought less; but she nevertheless overflowed with abundance of on-forever small talk, and seemed glad that it now found an outlet with one whom she evidently mistook for a convert. When Beatrice, after the Abbess was at a distance, heard the outburst of flimsy nonsense which proceeded from sister Martha, she could scarely wonder, taking this as indeed a fair specimen of the nun species, that there was only a , majority of one, in the council of Cardinals which voted that women have souls. Sister Martha in her determined endeavour to appear happy burst out several times into fits of unaccountable laughter, and talked on without ceasing about the apparitions that had been seen in the convent, the miracles performed there, and the meritorious penances undergone by the sisterhood. “I had to chew a piece of window-glass into a fine powder yesterday,” she whispered confidentially, “in expiation for having rinsed my teeth with water before going to Communion, as nothing must enter the mouth previously.” “Yet does not St. Paul find fault with the Corinthians for coming hungry to the Holy Sacrament, and says, “Have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?” replied Beatrice; “surely there could be no harm in brushing your own teeth.” “Nothing is mine. We never say my, or mine, of anything. All is in common, all is ours, nothing mine.” Beatrice could not but smile at this idea, that even the teeth in her head were not sister Martha's own property, but she began to think it was pretty near the truth as to the use she might make of them, when told that the poor nun had on the previous day been allowed no dinner, as a penance for talking without leave, except the apple parings from the Superior's own dessert, which she had to receive thankfully on her knees. Sister Martha pointed out that over the door of each cell stood an inscription containing but one word, to express the character of each nun who selected it for her motto. Over that intended for Miss Turton, was “Mortificazione!” “I know no more of Latin than your parrot, if you have one,” continued sister Martha, confidentially, “but I can translate the motto over mine, ‘Charitas.’” The last notes of a chant were dying away in the distance, when the chapel gates were thrown open, and a procession of girls passed out close to Beatrice. These young novices had each her hands crossed over her breast and concealed in large white cuffs, and her eyes fastened on the ground, while they all walked with a slow tragedystep, and whimpered outlitanies in Latin, bowing as they passed before a little chapel, or baby-house of glass, containing a waxen image of their patron saint. The smallest irregularity in this childish ceremony was punished as a serious crime, therefore it was with an air of most anxious circumspection that one of the poor disastrous-looking girls carried an image of St. Bridget—a very hideous one, as if it had been her own favourite doll, and the other little girls followed with a perfect pantheon of idols, rosaries, blessed beads, medals, and relics. “There!” whispered sister Martha in a tone of confidential secrecy, for she had a ten-gossip power, “ those are the girls educated here to act elsewhere as Protestant governesses. Our novices receive first-rate tuition with board and lodging for 30l., therefore they can afford to take situations at such a perfect nothing of a salary, that managing mammas are enchanted to get music and languages taught at half-price, without venturing to make very strict inquiries into creeds and doctrines. People are all so fond of jobbing, that in a year or two, these Protestant ladies give their protegées a most flourishing recommendation, and by this means they are started in life without a suspicion or a trace of our teaching discoverable.” “How perfectly honest!” muttered Beatrice to herself, “and how perfectly jesuitical.” “Our pupils have a dispensation to attend any church, and to profess any creed that may be preferred in the families where they serve,” continued sister Martha, delighted to hear the sound of her own voice, as she had been under a dispensation