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124

A JESUIT CONFESSOR.

“I frown not on you, love,' I exclaimed; but on my enemy-my enemies. You are mine. No power on earth shall stand between us and bliss.'

“It may seem strange that I rushed to announce as a certainty, what still depended on the consent of other parties; but the fact is, Lucille was an orphan, and her guardians were intimate friends of my father's. In giving his willing consent, he said, • You may make her happy at once; for her guardians will make no difficulty, I am sure.'

“ To continue. I said to her - Tell me, Lucille, who is my enemy? Who have forced you to promise ?'

“Too soon told,' she replied ; 'your enemy is the son of one of my guardians. He pressed his offer, till I was wearied into consent. My guardians urged the suit, with every possible threat of what they would do if I persisted in my refusal. My confessor, Father Bramand, sided with them. He frightened me with the terrors of the divine judgment on the disobedient. What could I do? I had no friends to take my part. I didn't know you then, dear Emile. I despaired—I yielded; for I cannot resist. I was made to be terrified.

· My love,' said I, “I am glad 't is no worse. ’T is soon managed. My father has great influence -no one will dare to resist him. You shall be mine-you are mine,

“But I have promised, dear Emile.'

“ . But you promised against your will you were forced. You love me; I shall have you in spite of

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your guardians, my rival, and the Jesuits. I defy them all.'

66 6 Oh! shall it be so ?' she exclaimed, looking up in my face. "Yes,' she continued, your boldness gives me hope-makes me strong. You have imparted to me some of your strength—our souls are mingled. Assure me once more that I shall be yours.' “I apprised my father of the difficulty that might

He said he had been aware of the machination, but thought they would yield to him. He met the guardians : they demurred, urging the promise. He grew warm, and left them in anger. A correspondence ensued : they insisted that Lucille, being still under age, should return to the convent whence she had come, on a visit to my mother, .

“ I shall not describe the parting.

“Fatal moment!' she cried, in her anguish; and those were her last words to me. Yes, my friend, I never heard her voice again.

“ Six months after her departure, Lucille wrote me this letter.”

The Count opened the letter, and wept. He continued,

“ How these tears relieve my heart! Thanks, poor Lucille! thanks,-thou hast again melted my heart.”

He paused for a few minutes, and then read as follows:

"All is over !--my doom is sealed! I must leave

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thee, Emile. Thy love has deprived me of mortal life, to give me that which is eternal. Oh, be consoled, my dearest love. I shall pray for thee in Heaven; for, may I not hope to be there, since I have done my penance, and am sorry for

my

sins? Oh, good Heaven! my brain whirls. I am blind

- distracted! So soon to die! Such bliss in store for us! In the flower of my days, and so tenderly beloved! And by my Emile! So good-so generous —so gifted by Heaven with all that my heart desires! Yes, I must away; they have willed it. ’T was the only condition-they would have none other. Could I sacrifice-dishonour my Emile ?my love?-my husband? Oh, my poor brain wanders! Well, I will tell thee all, and then I'll seek my confessor. He will absolve me.”

“ You weep, my friend,” exclaimed the Count; “but you see that my eyes are now dry. 'Tis because I know what is to follow. I am myself again. Revenge is not yet satisfied. What you have heard, is the angel's last whisper of woe; what follows is so clear—so circumstantial—so cool, I may say, that I fancied she must have written it when her

poor brain was calmed by the certainty of bliss in Heaven. I resume,

66 After I returned to the convent, my guardians visited me. They urged my promise. I made but one reply to all their entreaties. The man himself came : I refused to see him. Then his father requested an interview : I was persuaded to see him.

WHAT A COINCIDENCE!

127

He endeavoured to obtain my consent, and made some strange remarks, which went to my heart, fearing I know not what.'

Here the Count stopped, and remarked :

“ Doubtless, you think it strange that I did not take steps to rescue Lucille. Such was my intention; but her guardians had cunningly held out a hope that their consent would be given, if Lucille persisted in her determination, for such a time as should seem to them a guarantee of her final determination. My father urged patience: I foolishly submitted. "'Tis but natural,' said he, that Gramont should covet a large fortune for his beggar-son.'

" Gramont?exclaimed Leonard.

“ Oh, yes, my dear friend,” replied the Count, with a sarcastic smile. “ Yes, that's the name. You have helped in my vengeance. I am infinitely obliged to you. Your charmer ishis betrothed.

“ What a coincidence !"
“ Beautiful! Let me proceed with the letter.

“6 Months passed away : I remained unmolested ; but my anguish, how intense! And yet, my Emile, the certainty of your love only redoubled mine ; for are you not honour itself?

“ Then came the day of anguish. I must tell you that I had gone to confession, and was absolved. Father Bramand seemed all kindness. He told me that repentance and entire submission to the will of Heaven

“ See, my friend, how these villains eke out

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their atrocities through some corner of heaven!" exclaimed the Count, biting his lip.

He told me that repentance and entire submission to the will of Heaven would expiate my sins; and, after urging the necessity of submission in all things to the will of Heaven, whether directly announced to us, or by the force of circumstances such were his words—he gave me absolution. I attended regularly at confession and communion ; for my heart was consoled by Heaven, dear Emile. Yes, Heaven consoled me in your absence. I trusted in God. I hoped He would befriend us; but perhaps-nay, I must be sure-I did not trust enough in God, or He would have made us happy together.

“ At length I was summoned to meet the guardians. Gramont was present.

" His father addressed me: . We have waited six months,' said he, for your final answer. He laid a stress the word underlined ; and I had to suffer the piercing looks of four men-Gramont being one of them. I must have blushed, for his father said:

Well, we now, perhaps, may flatter ourselves with the hope that you will think it expedient, Miss, to fulfil your promise.'

“ I made no reply.

« • This is very strange,' he resumed. · Are we to conclude that you still persist in your determination?'

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