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The stranger cast a glance at the Romish garb of the priest, and a momentary flash of suspicion darkened the expression of his features; but as he fixed his eyes upon the benign countenance of his venerable companion, his distrust passed away as rapidly as it had been engendered. There is a silent intercommunion of the spirit among generous and kindred souls which carries to each a conviction of mutual truth with an effect more rapid and electrical than the fabled touch of Ithuriel's spear, With such an assurance had the heart of the invalid been penetrated, for his face suddenly reflected the benevolent smile of his companion, and merely exclaiming, satisfied and I obey," he swallowed the proffered draught, and again laid himself down, sinking soon after into a doze which, though at first perturbed, and broken by sighs and exclamations, eventually subsided into a heavy continued sleep, that lasted through the night. The priest having stationed himself in an easy chair, alternately watched and dozed by his
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side, until at an early hour in the morning, his patient starting up, demanded in a voice of recovered strength, but still with a look of amazement and agitation, 66 Where am I ? Is this a prison ? and why do I find a Romish priest watching by my side ?”
“ Be composed,” said the Father, gently replacing his companion in a recumbent posture,
you have nothing to apprehend, unless from agitation and an over-exertion of your strength. We are friends, and will watch over you carefully until you are in a condition to pursue your journey, in making you which solemn assurance I am fully warranted by my nobleminded kinsman in whose house you have become an unexpected, but not the less welcome guest. Listen, and you shall learn where you are, and why you were conveyed hither.” He then related the accident by which the stranger had been thrown from his horse and stunned in Goathurst wood, and the circumstance that had enabled Agatha and Edith to get him immediately conveyed to Hales Court.
Ha! am I then at Hales Court ? This explains your Roman robes. What an pected, what a singular chance, that I should be received and succoured here! Here at Hales Court ! I am grateful, truly grateful for your friendly offices; but alas, good father! had you known who, and what I am, I suspect that I should scarcely have experienced so hospitable a reception."
“ What right have you to imagine this? Were our gates ever known to be closed against the weary wayfarer? has our succour ever been denied to those whose need of it was so urgent and imperative
as yours Never, never, as I most firmly believe, if I may judge of your kindness to others by that which I have myself experienced ; and yet culumny has not spared even the benevolent family of the Sheltons.”
“ In this respect,” said the Father crossing his hands upon his bosom, and bowing his head meekly, “ we can only say, God's will be done ! and after all if we have nothing worse
to suffer than the endurance of unmerited obloquy and hatred, we may well possess our souls in patience.”
“ You can hardly deny that some of your persuasion have afforded good grounds for this hostile feeling."
“ Towards themselves they may, but not towards us, not towards the bulk of their fellow Catholics, unless the exception is to form the rule, and a whole community are to be branded for the crimes of a few fanatics, or knaves, whom they themselves stigmatize and disown; were we to reciprocate this injustice, and visit upon our innocent Protestant brethren the offences of their individual devotees and felons, would they not loudly exclaim against a wrong so flagrant and insulting ? God forbid that we should ever cease to respect and love them ! God forbid that our judgments should ever be perverted, or our hearts be hardened by so self-punishing a bigotry!”
Forgive me, father, if I confess myself somewhat surprised at the generosity of such
sentiments, emanating as they do from a Romish Priest."
“ Most freely do I pardon the surprise that springs from ignorance. You have only known us from the libels and lampoons that poison the rank hotbed of political and religious hatred, or your personal acquaintance with our order has been confined to the very worst of its members, and you have found too much pleasure in your prejudice to make any sincere attempts at disproving it. I shall be well repaid for my good offices if they induce you to think more charitably hereafter of the community to which I belong."
“ I am incapable of ingratitude ; never can I forget my preservers, the generous, benevolent, and truly christian inmates of Hales Court! and yet I repeat, you know me not, you know me not, or instead of succour and hospitality you might perhaps view me with aversion.”
“ Let us then not know you, although I am unaware of any disclosure you could make