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134

A JESUIT DISCONCERTED.

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the only condition—or I denounce you as a vile corrupter, a false man, a meddling priest, an infamous Jesuit.'

“These are hard words, my young friend. But you are excited : I will not add to

your

causeless sentment, whatever it be, by meeting anger with anger. You have been misled by some enemy of religion. I forgive you.' “6 And do you, sir, imagine I will forgive your

infamous tampering with my father's servant, to gain such facts as would enable you to fabricate a lie, in order to serve your still more infamous project—the ruin of a defenceless girl?'

“You speak a puzzle, my friend ; I do not understand you.'

“«What effrontery! Will you understand this, sir?'

“I unfolded the gardener's paper. I had the pleasure to see a Jesuit disconcerted : he turned pale, trembled visibly. I followed up the attack. « « Now, sir, I think you will obey me.

You must go to the guardians; you must induce them, by your honourable influence, instantly to consent to my marriage. I give you four hours for the enterprise. One-fifth of the time were enough for a Jesuit; but I give you ample time, so that you may serve me without compromising yourself and the Societya consideration that never slumbers.'

“ Bramand did not open his lips; but he gazed in my face, as if considering whether I was as determined as my words implied. I folded up

the

paper, adding:

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“If in four hours the guardians send their consent, this paper shall be returned to you, and I will answer for the secrecy of my servant. mise?'

“I promise,' said the Jesuit, with a hideous smile.

“ I went home. Within the specified time the guardians wrote to my father, consenting to the marriage, “agreeably to the understanding before given, should the lady's determination seem final.' Evidently the Jesuit had saved his credit.

“ Once more my heart melted. The desire of revenge was dispelled by the prospect of happiness. My Lucille would be mine. The certain hope would snatch her soul from death : she would live-she would live for me.

I rushed to the convent, once more the bearer of glad tidings, and as confident of giving joy as on the former occasion.

“ I flew to her room. Lucille was delirious-in the agonies of death. Her screams were dreadful; but as soon as I entered, they ceased-she was silent. She stretched her arms to me; I clasped her to my breast, pressed my lips to hers — she died in my arms! In that embrace she expired; I drank her last breath.

“She was murdered; the Jesuit killed her.

“ After I left the fiend, he went to the poor girl. The nurse was present. He questioned both; they were frightened; they confessed all. He denounced both; and, turning to my poor Lucille, he said,

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You have anticipated the bliss of marriage; you are punished. But your penalty is not yet paid --your crime is not yet expiated. The judgments of Heaven are eternal; I announce them to you in the name of the Eternal!' 66 He left the room.

Poor Lucille was in convulsions.

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Why did I not die, to sleep in the same tomb beside my first and last love?-to be with her in heaven, and thus to realize our dreams? Why did I survive Lucille? I lived for revenge! That ravenous hope stifled grief; scorched up the source of tears; petrified my heart. Eighteen years has my mind been devoted to the work. I have spared no expense of money, no toil of body or mind, to repay the Jesuits for the crime of the infamous Bramand. In their archives you can find my history: the Jesuits can write it better than I could myself; for they only can tell the consequences of my deeds.

“I hunted Bramand out of life. I tempted him to dishonour-he fell. I killed him with grief, and gave

him a monument. “I chastised Gramont for his insult to Lucille. I met the son-your Gramont-in a duel, passed my sword through his body, left him for dead; but he recovered, you see, perhaps to fall by the sword of my friend. I thank you for helping my revenge.”

“Merciful Heaven !” exclaimed Leonard, horrified by these awful sentiments.

The Count went on,

EVEN NOW-BUT LET THAT PASS."

137

“Is it not a splendid destiny, my friend?”
“ Hideous, my dear Count. I am horrified.”

“Oh! I have wounded the Jesuits in every form. They meet me everywhere. I track them out in the most secret places of their machinations. I discover all their doings, they know not how; and I select their most promising scheme always for my reprisal. Even now-but let that pass. I have overmatched the Jesuits-yes, outwitted the cunning Jesuits.”

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It was late when the Count concluded his story. On the following morning an important conversation took place between the friends. It follows.

138

A PECULIAR TONE AND SMILE.

CHAPTER XIII.

A STRANGE PROPOSAL,

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BEFORE retiring, Leonard had explained to the Count his plan of the intended abduction. The Count promised his co-operation.

“ I hope you have passed a pleasant night,” said the Count to Leonard, on his appearance at breakfast. “I hope Bramand didn't play the incubus?

Why, to say truth, it was long before I could fall asleep; but I did not dream of Bramand.”

“Oh, then, you did dream? Well, 't is easily guessed. But, apropos, you don't seriously mean marriage, my friend ?”

Why not?” asked Leonard, with a peculiar tone and smile.

“Ah! now I understand. I thought I knew you. But I must tell you, your heart will soon be as impenetrable as a Jesuit's. I think you exceed me in reckless sang-froid. 'Tis easily explained. You are young, and 't is the young whom we see amusing

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