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A SLIGHT MISGIVING.'

229

CHAPTER III.

CORRESPONDENCE.

FATHER PERCIVAL TO THE PROVINCIAL.

VERY REV. FATHER,

The work is done. Mr. Devigne is a convert.

I found him in the terrors of unbelief, and left him at peace with God, and reconciled to the One True Church.

His happy dispositions were promoted; and the grace from on high descending at the happy moment, he yearned to relieve his conscience of its heavy load. I heard his confession, and absolved him, deeming it expedient to do so, as the penitent's mind was so perfectly contrite, and eager to be reconciled with God.

He confessed with the greatest humility and candour.

The results of this signal conversion will be prodigious. Benedicamus Domino. From the character of the man, 't is possible that he may waver when his health is restored; and he is already much better; but, with proper tenderness and indulgence

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on our part, the difficulties of his new position will be mitigated.

Possessing, as I now do, his unbounded confidence, it will be my endeavour to ensure what we have gained.

With the woman - I have some trouble. She has become sad and gloomy: says very little: the dumb devil has possessed her. But my efforts are incessant. I hope still that she will make no obstacle to the holy work. I have devised a plan which will doubtless be of some effect. It is this, I will persuade Mr. Devigne to write her a letter, bitterly lamenting the disgraceful connection, and advising her to give herself to religion as the best atonement for her past transgressions. In his present state of mind, the thing will be easy; for the sting of the flesh is blunted by bodily weakness.

Even should she refuse to follow the advice,-exasperated, doubtless,—still one point will be gained, the prevention of the marriage-a most important point decidedly. This consideration even throws into shade the danger that might result from the anger of this exasperated woman: but even should she disclose, it will be easy to convict her of falsehood.

Of course the sister's indignation will be great: but her wild denunciations will only serve to irritate her brother into resistance. He will give her arguments which she cannot rebut; for he has a ready wit, and is vain of showing his logical powers.

The result will be a separation, as I premised

SKILFUL HANDLING.

231

before. The sister will go back to her relatives in Scotland, and Ringwood Hall will remain the centre whence the diverging rays of Catholicity shall enlighten this benighted country. Need I expatiate on the results to follow in due time?

With earnest hopes that the work abroad is progressing, and that all will prosper as we trust most confidently, I remain, Your very humble and obedient,

THOMAS PERCIVAL,

II.

FATHER FRASER TO THE ENGLISH PROVINCIAL.

(Important.) VERY Rev. FATHER,

Rome. I Am directed by our Holy Father General to inform you of the progress of the matter in hand, as follows:

The youth has been here a fortnight, having been introduced to the family.

The scheme works well.
He is a constant visitor.

I have had several conversations with him, without, of course, touching on any topic which might seem to have reference to the topic; though it may well be doubted whether any topic can possibly be irrelevant to our object, if skilfully handled. It is an impression that must be made; a charm to be woven; a fascination to be effected. topic answer the purpose ?

Will not any 232

HUMAN FEELINGS SANCTIFIED.

Has the youth not expressed his delight? Does he not court the society of the humble instrument who strives to influence his mind unto good ?

I feel an indescribable interest in the youth; and when in his company, I frequently detect and suppress in my heart those lower human feelings towards him which must be uprooted, in order to do our duty in the right spirit, and in accordance with the grace which has inspired its accomplishment.

My struggle to overcome these human feelings has been great; but the grace of religion enables us, at length, cheerfully to perform all its requirements. I have endeavoured to sanctify these natural sympathies; and whilst unholy nature prompts me to love the man, the perfection of our holy state urges me to cherish his soul. I have gained the victory over myself: I have “chosen the better part.”

He is worthy of our earnest attention. How quick in apprehension-fluent in speech-graceful in manners—and captivating in person !

Thus endowed, he must prove of great service in the cause of the Lord.

Whispers are abroad respecting his profligacy ; but I am of opinion that nothing of moment has occurred here. He was introduced to the Brentons

soon as possible. Father Laplace (the colonel who travelled with him) brought him to us the very next day after his arrival.

Libertinism cannot have made deep inroads in

as

THE JESUIT'S GOAT-SKIN AND MESS OF POTTAGE. 233

his heart; though there is a self-possession in the youth which can be the result of large experience only ;-that experience which gives the wisdom of years to the mind of youth. He is developed: his character is decided.

That Miss Brenton is impressed by him, is quite apparent; though I believe she does not suspect my suspicion—my certainty.

This girl will be of vast service to our project.

Her personal attractions are great; but her mental qualities are greater. Still she has strong passions, but she unites to them considerable tact and discretion; and similar tact and discretion will be necessary to direct her in spinning the web, lest she devour the prey.

I have observed in the girl that singular power of strong minds—that power which enables us to seem what we are not, and not to seem what we are, when high motives prompt the necessity; in fact, the power which effects by mind what Jacob's mother effected by her goat skin and mess of pottage. She's a skilful dissembler: her dissimulation shall be sanctified by a pious purpose.

She has been brilliantly educated; her sunbeam flashes of wit astonish and delight. Of course she has vanity :

-what woman has not? She is vain of her charms and qualifications. I have taken advantage of this, turning it into a laudable channel; using it, in fact, as the Hebrews appropriated the silver and gold of the Egyptians. I hinted to her the prospect of a conversion : she

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