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nead, and we shall stroll through the open fields, as in former days together. The Sheriff, who is in this house, will at once deliver you. At dear happy Heatherbrae, how differently from former days, you and I shall speak together of Convent life. There you must tell me all 22 “Not all, Lady Anne—not all !” interrupted Miss Turton, mournfully. “It is not for your ears to hear all the secrets of the confessional. I must draw a very long black veil over these. If even their printed books on confession be what they are, what shall be said of their secrets?% No: my best consolation for all my recent sufferings is, to find this opportunity of warning you, Lady Anne. Be a beggar in the streets, rather than make yourself what I am.” A momentary pause ensued, not a sound was heard, and at length Lady Anne silently took the hand of Miss Turton, and led her towards the door. When they reached it, she said, “We must claim your liberty instantly. I trust, dear Miss Turton, that you and I each leave this place a wiser and a better Christian than we entered it. Your experience, like that of the Spartan slaves, must be my best lesson and warning.” Sister Agnes, pale as death, closed her eyes, while her quivering lips refused to articulate a word; but, grasping the arm of Lady Anne, with a look of grateful affection, she advanced to meet Mrs. Lorraine; and at once addressing the Sheriff, claimed protection from the law of liberty that is
* Letter to Lord Shrewsbury, by Pierce Connelly, M.A.
yet paramount in Great Britain-Great as long as it is free. · A week had elapsed, and beside the brightlyglowing fire at Heatherbrae sat a cheerful circle of friends, among whom Lord Iona now looked so gay and animated that sunshine itself seemed dull in comparison. The ladies wore no peculiar dress or uniform, but each was actively and agreeably occupied in works of usefulness, fully intent on discharging, with zeal and fidelity, every duty of charity abroad and of domestic life at home. Even Mrs. Clinton, though pale and drooping with smothered anguish, still endeavoured not to cast a gloom on the rest. Though, in the depth of her depression, no bright smile, as in former days, sparkled in her eyes, and her wan cheek spoke of hope departed and of affections blighted, yet even she did not say, with rebellious discontent, “I will sorrow without ceasing, and I will seek no comfort."
“Ah! why need virtue fear the frowns of fate?
Hers what no wealth can win, no power create !
The post arrived,-.and who does not hail its approach with pleasure? There is a hopefulness in the human mind that renders the appearance of a letter almost invariably welcome; and from childhood, when the size of the red seal is the measure of its merit, to old age, when many a black one reminds the aged pilgrim that his friends are pre
ceding him, few ever receive their daily letters without a pleasant anticipation in tearing off the envelope. Lady Edith was this morning the favoured individual to whom the large packet was directed, which M Ronald now brought in on a salver; and as the old veteran delivered it, he (who had carefully studied the hand-writing of all Lady Edith's correspondents) cast an anxious glance towards Mrs. Clinton diligently reading in a distant corner of the room.
Lady Edith started when she had examined the direction ;- she turned to the seal, and it seemed as if every drop of blood in her body glowed in her face with surprise ;- she opened the letter, and rushed through page after page of closelywritten manuscript, till at length having reached the end she heaved a deep sigh, not of sorrow, but of infinite thankfulness. Large tears quivered in the eyes of Lady Edith Tremorne, when she rose from her seat, walked across the room, and kindly laying her hand on Mrs. Clinton's shoulder, looked in her pallid face, saying, in accents of very solemn congratulation, “My dear friend, do you remember what our favourite poet says—The wretch of to-day may be happy to-morrow'? You have borne, with admirable resignation, the greatest weight of sorrow that your spirit could endure and live. Can you bear an equal weight of
Mrs. Clinton, observing that the hand-writing was her husband's, almost shrieked with hysterical excitement, started from her seat in an agony of
suspense, snatched the letter from Lady Edith's hands, tremblingly glanced over the few first lines, and, in a state of almost insane felicity, fainted in the arms of Beatrice. Soon after her restoration to consciousness, Mrs. Clinton felt as if it were a dream from which she never could wish to awake, as her husband's arms were around her, and the two boys were clinging to her side. Yes; the happy wife was a wife still, and the happy mother was still a mother. Her very heart seemed breaking with joy. She leaned her forehead on the shoulder of Mr. Clinton, and they wept together. No questions were asked—not a word could yet be uttered on either side; but it was enough !-he had returned, and what more could she desire !
Mr. Clinton was a worn and altered man. Deep thought and anxious care were marked indelibly on his emaciated countenance; but there was a clear intelligence in his eyes, now looking full at those around him, very different from the practised downcast, lack-lustre aspect which they had of late assumed. He spoke also in a natural tone,-not measured, slow, and sententious, as his recent man. ner had been; and he seemed to have recovered the free use of his limbs, which were no longer kept straight in rigid Pre-Raphaelite attitudes. The very hair on his head had lost its Popish tendency, and had escaped being tonsured.
“Mr. Clinton," said Lady Edith, after some time given to all the incoherences of a joyful surprise, and frankly extending her hand to him, “You look like a Protestant again-and you are one ?”
“Yes; God be praised, I am!—more than ever —heart and soul. Oh, how I long to tell you my history ! Fiction itself may hide her diminished head beside the truths that I must relate to all who have loved me, and mourned for me as dead. How narrowly I have escaped committing a moral suicide; and how little do I deserve this too kind welcome home. Home! how many blessings it comprises, which I, deluded mortal, was about to abandon for ever!”
There were prayers that night at Heatherbrae, conducted by Mr. Clinton, with an intensity of devotion not to be described; while, with sobs and tears of unutterable joy, Mrs. Clinton knelt between her two boys, and in low, earnest accents fervently re-echoed every word as it was spoken, of thankfulness and praise—of faith, hope, and universal charity.
“At the instigation of Father Eustace, I had snapped asunder every chain that binds the heart of one human being to another, and become a perfect fakir in austerities. I left myself no tie but that of headlong obedience to my confessor himself,” observed Mr. Clinton, thoughtfully, while his affectionate wife, with tearful ecstasy, clasped his arm, and his boys clung fondly to his knee. “But when I discovered the use that was to be made of this spiritual despotism, to defend what was obviously sinful,--to make the darkest crimes seem bright, if committed under the colour of obedience,—when falsehood was to be enjoined for the promotion of any Popish object, and when