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parent, and you see how conscientiously she has
endured the slow consuming torture of years to fulfil her duty. The abbess calls Theresa's cell
‘Rome,’ and if any one ever inquired for her, as
Sir Evan once did, they answered that “She is gone to Rome.’” Beatrice covered her face with her hands and wept with overwhelming emotion, while Lady Anne eagerly exclaimed, “But tell me, is not the mother of Miss Farinelli now living near the chapel of St. Bridget at Eaglescairn ? Lady Edith herself recognised her likeness to the person cast ashore.” “I told Theresa this, and she believes it to be a popish sister of her own, brought over from a convent at Corunna to personate her. The object of Father Eustace in trying to detain you now in this nunnery is, that Lord Eaglescairn feels himself dying. The sight of you has long awakened him to a wretched sense of repentance without reformation. He confesses to Father Eustace every day, who knows his crime already, who instigated it, and who gives him unbounded absolution for it. Father Eustace tells him it matters nothing to have obeyed the Church ninety-nine times if he rebel the hundredth; but still death is a close monitor, and will not always be silenced or kept off even by the most plausible confessor. Lord Eaglescairn has dropped some hints of his guilt to his own son, who is endeavouring to unravel the secret, which he is resolved to make known though it would render himself a beggar. Lord Iona is incapable, however, of popish expediency, and longs to see justice done, if he only knew how. The priests are in constant terror that Lord Eaglescairn may send for you in his last hour to betray the whole secret, and therefore he is now beset so assiduously, that his own son never gains access to him alone. He cannot survive above a few days, or if he could, means would be taken to prevent that; and on his demise, every shilling he can dispose of, every piece of plate, every tea-spoon, every picture, every jewel, and every book, goes to Father Eustace for the Church.”
“It is a very clear sweep, when a Jesuit takes the business in hand,” said Lady Anne, shuddering. “What a narrow escape we have all had, and what a blaze of light is thrown on your mysterious history ! It has come like a flash of lightning ! I long now to tell dear mamma that her prayers for me are heard, and that the bird has escaped from the snare.
“‘The visit o'er, with ecstasy we come,
It was on the earliest dawn of a bright and beautiful morning, though the air was fiercely cold, when the travellers came in sight of Eaglescairn castle, with feelings it might be possible to imagine, but quite impossible to describe. Lady Anne, however, the least agitated, was the only talker, and her chief subject was to anticipate the joy with which she should be once more in the arms of her indulgent mother, and once more feel an entire confidence between them restored.
But few of the shutters had yet been opened in the old Castle, and Lady Anne, unwilling to create any disturbance while Lord Eaglescairn was in such an extremity of illness, caused her carriage to draw up beside the glass door, which entered at her mother's sitting-room, and which she was surprised to find wide open. Lady Anne, pointing for her two companions to sit down, smilingly approached the inner door, which led to Lady Stratharden's bed-room, and with a delightful anticipation of all the explanations she was about to give, of all the joy she was about to cause, and of all the glad affection with which she was about to be welcomed, Lady Anne, nodding with her own happy smile to Beatrice, disappeared, exclaiming, “What shall I say to dear mamma! But I never could study a part, and must leave that to the impulse of the moment. What a delightful meeting we shall have I never was so long out of her sight before; and how much I have missed her l”
It might be two minutes, but it seemed not a moment, before Beatrice was startled off her seat by the sound, in Lady Strathar len's room, of a loud and piercing shriek, followed by a heavy fall. She rushed forward, threw open the door, and, in an agony of haste and alarm, nearly fell over the body of Lady Anne, stretched perfectly insensible on the floor. There was a silence in the room that might be felt. It was the silence of death; for when Beatrice looked up, she saw a sight that froze her very blood—the lifeless corpse of Lady Stratharden, stretched on the bed, laid out for interment, and surrounded with all the gloomy paraphernalia of the grave, the snowy shroud, the velvet pall, the glimmering lights It was so solemn and overwhelming a sight, that Beatrice, cold as ice with the shock, remained for several minutes immoveable, and almost turned to stone. . She could neither speak nor move, but her eyes remained fastened on the dead face of Lady Stratharden, with an almost vacant gaze. That venerable countenance had something truly majestic in its silent repose. It bore the stamp of mental suffering, impressed on every wasted feature, and she carried still suspended round her neck, dear even in death itself, the enamelled miniature of Lady Anne, which the heart-broken mother always wore, and on which her tears even now seemed scarcely dry. A Bible lay still open on the table—the brightest sunshine poured its gorgeous light on this mournful scene; and Beatrice, while sprinkling water on the sufferer's face and rubbing her hands, awaited in silent speechless horror, almost fearing the moment when Lady Anne must at last recover to the dreadful consciousness of her misfortune. The whole agony seemed to return at once. Lady Anne, with a groan like death itself, suddenly sat up, and grasping her long hair, and clenching her hands on each side of her forehead, gazed wildly around, while Beatrice raised her up and tried to lead her from the room;-but this was not to be. Lady Anne stood still for a moment after she had risen, while a hundred sounds seemed ringing in her ears, and a hundred figures flitting before her eyes. The blood had rushed from her cheeks, as she riveted her hands over her face in unutterable anguish, and gently pushing Beatrice aside, she advanced to the bed, clasped the cold hand of Lady Stratharden in her own, and kissed her marble forehead. Lady Anne's grief was too deep for tears, but, as she gazed long and mournfully on the rigid features of death, a choking sob broke from her lips, and then in a voice trembling with grief, and scarcely audible, she exclaimed, “My own mother I have broken your heart, and never now can ask your forgiveness—never forgive myself! This is the welcome I deserved.” Again Lady Anne, with heart-torn grief, solemnly kissed that venerable countenance, and seemed as if she were about to sink insensible on the bed. Beatrice was hastening to ring for help, when the door noiselessly opened, and the calm benevolent countenance of Lady Edith appeared there. Her face was pale and wan, but she looked mournfully composed, as she advanced towards Beatrice, and silently clasped her hand. The scene around was too awful for the indulgence of any vehement emotion, and astonished as Beatrice felt at the appearance of her beloved benefactress again in that house, not a word was uttered on either side. They exchanged a single glance of mutual surprise as well as of mutual affection, and then turned their whole thoughts and their