« PreviousContinue »
The time of her novitiate was nearly expired, and the abbess thought that this melancholy event should rather hasten than retard her taking the veil..
"When Albertina contemplated her lot, her spirits sunk in absolute despair; she was persuaded that the tears which she incessantly shed, flowed only for the loss of her father; but she deceived herself, the idea of renouncing every social tye, and burying her youth and hopes in the gloom of a cloister, cost many pangs; of Di Soranzo she did not suffer herself to think; yet, his idea would intrude, and vainly did she strive to vanish it from her mind her perpetual struggles impaired her health,
her soft cheek lost its bloom, and her eye its lustre, and it became a doubt whether she would live to take the.
"Father Velasquez, the confessor of "the convent, saw and compassionated *the struggles in the soul of the young novice; he communicated to the lady
abbess his fears, that obedience to the will of her deceased father alone influenced her to take the veil.
"But surely, father (cried the abbess), her repugnance to a monastic life will, in time subside; she was destined to it even before her birth, and it is impossible for her to regret a world, to which she is a total stranger.'
"I cannot think (said the father), that she is obliged to fulfil the vow made by her mother; nay, I do not think her mother justifiable in making such a
"Father,' cried the abbess in a tone of astonishment
"No one (returned Velasquez), can, I trust, entertain a greater veneration for religion than myself; but no rational being can suppose that a parent's rights extend to such a length; and if this young creature is decidedly averseto a monastic life, I should advise her to get the church's permission to return to the world,'
"I am sorry, father (said the abbess), that these are your sentiments, for they are not mine; but if Albertina prefers returning a beggar to'
"A beggar!' repeated the father. "Yes (said the abbess, firmly), a beggar; for by the will of her father, the convent where she takes her vows is to possess her fortune; and as she well knows that he never would have sanctioned her returning to the world, she surely cannot think of claiming the deceased signor's property, which it is evident he meant to employ in the service of the church.'
"And can you then (cried the father in a tone of indignation), think of appropriating the possessions of this orphan ở
"No, Father Velasquez (replied the abbess), I call Heaven to witness that, should she prefer any other convent to ours, I would with pleasure resign' the hope of enriching ourselves; but the
Virgin forbid, that when I have the power to punish, I should reward sacrilege; were I to do so, I should consider myself as an abettor in the crime.'
"The benevolent father saw that it would be vain to argue with the abbess ; he knew the disposition of the holy mother of St. Catherine's; but that she should think of enriching the convent, by appropriating to it the whole possessions of the hapless Albertina, was so glaring an act of injustice, that he wondered at her open avowal of it.
"Poor Albertina! (said he, mentally); in a convent thou wilt be miserable; yet what other asylum hast thou? thy youth and loveliness would be but snares. to thee in a world, where without friends. or fortune, thou must be wretched.'
“But when Albertina again knelt at the confessional; when the father saw her lovely form withered by secret sorrow; the resolution he had made to be silent gave way to the emotions of pity
with which his heart was filled; and he mildly asked her the cause of her dejection.
"A burning blush suffused her cheek, but it almost instantly gave place to an ashy paleness, and she hesitated how to reply.
"I fear, my child, that you are not happy in your mind (said Velasquez); the death of your father was I know a severe stab to your tranquillity, but there is something more, I am convinced, that presses upon your spirits.' "Albertina burst into tears: holy father (cried she), I scarcely dare own it even to myself, but though I have from my infancy known that I was destined to a monastic life, yet I feel an unaccountable repugnance to it; yet, what can I do? Alas! I was even before my birth a destined victim'
"She stopped, frightened at what had escaped her.
"I know not what to say to you, my child, (cried Velasquez); I think it