University of Virginia Library


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Agnes returned from the confessional with more sadness
than her simple life had ever known before. The
agitation of her confessor, the tremulous eagerness of his
words, the alternations of severity and tenderness in his
manner to her, all struck her only as indications of the
very grave danger in which she was placed, and the awfulness
of the sin and condemnation which oppressed the soul
of one for whom she was conscious of a deep and strange

She had the undoubting, uninquiring reverence which a
Christianly educated child of those times might entertain for
the visible head of the Christian Church, all whose doings
were to be regarded with an awful veneration which never
even raised a question.

That the Papal throne was now filled by a man who had
bought his election with the wages of iniquity, and dispensed
its powers and offices with sole reference to the aggrandizement
of a family proverbial for brutality and obscenity, was
a fact well known to the reasoning and enlightened orders
of society at this time; but it did not penetrate into those
lowly valleys where the sheep of the Lord humbly pastured,
innocently unconscious of the frauds and violence by which
their dearest interests were bought and sold.

The Christian faith we now hold, who boast our enlightened


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Protestantism, has been transmitted to us through the
hearts and hands of such, — who, while princes wrangled
with Pope, and Pope with princes, knew nothing of it all,
but in lowly ways of prayer and patient labor, were one
with us of modern times in the great central belief of the
Christian heart, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain.”

As Agnes came slowly up the path towards the little
garden, she was conscious of a burden and weariness of
spirit she had never known before. She passed the little
moist grotto, which in former times she never failed to visit
to see if there were any new-blown cyclamen, without giving
it even a thought. A crimson spray of gladiolus leaned
from the rock and seemed softly to kiss her cheek, yet she
regarded it not; and once stopping and gazing abstractedly
upward on the flower-tapestried walls of the gorge, as they
rose in wreath and garland and festoon above her, she felt
as if the brilliant yellow of the broom and the crimson of the
gillyflowers, and all the fluttering, nodding armies of brightness
that were dancing in the sunlight, were too gay for
such a world as this, where mortal sins and sorrows made
such havoc with all that seemed brightest and best, and she
longed to fly away and be at rest.

Just then she heard the cheerful voice of her uncle in the
little garden above, as he was singing at his painting. The
words were those of that old Latin hymn of Saint Bernard,
which, in its English dress, has thrilled many a Methodist
class-meeting and many a Puritan conference, telling, in the
welcome they meet in each Christian soul, that there is a
unity in Christ's Church which is not outward, — a secret,
invisible bond, by which, under warring names and badges
of opposition, His true followers have yet been one in Him,
even though they discerned it not.


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“Jesu dulcis memoria,
Dans vera cordi gaudia:
Sed super mel et omnia
Ejus dulcis præsentia.
“Nil canitur suavius,
Nil auditur jocundius,
Nil cogitatur dulcius,
Quam Jesus Dei Filius.
“Jesu, spes pœnitentibus,
Quam pius es petentibus,
Quam bonus te quærentibus,
Sed quis invenientibus!
“Nec lingua valet dicere,
Nec littera exprimere:
Expertus potest credere
Quid sit Jesum diligere.”[1]

The old monk sang with all his heart; and his voice,
which had been a fine one in its day, had still that power
which comes from the expression of deep feeling. One often


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hears this peculiarity in the voices of persons of genius and
sensibility, even when destitute of any real critical merit.
They seem to be so interfused with the emotions of the soul,
that they strike upon the heart almost like the living touch
of a spirit.

Agnes was soothed in listening to him. The Latin words,
the sentiment of which had been traditional in the Church
from time immemorial, had to her a sacred fragrance and
odor; they were words apart from all common usage, a sacramental
language, never heard but in moments of devotion
and aspiration, — and they stilled the child's heart in its
tossings and tempest, as when of old the Jesus they spake
of walked forth on the stormy sea.

“Yes, He gave His life for us!” she said; “He is ever
reigning for us!

“`Jesu dulcissime, e throno gloriæ
Ovem deperditam venisti quærere!
Jesu suavissime, pastor fidissime,
Ad te O trahe me, ut semper sequar te!'”[2]

“What, my little one!” said the monk, looking over the
wall; “I thought I heard angels singing. Is it not a beautiful

“Dear uncle, it is,” said Agnes. “And I have been so
glad to hear your beautiful hymn! — it comforted me.”

“Comforted you, little heart? What a word is that!
When you get as far along on your journey as your old
uncle, then you may talk of comfort. But who thinks of
comforting birds or butterflies or young lambs?”


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“Ah, dear uncle, I am not so very happy,” said Agnes,
the tears starting into her eyes.

“Not happy?” said the monk, looking up from his drawing.
“Pray, what 's the matter now? Has a bee stung
your finger? or have you lost your nosegay over a rock? or
what dreadful affliction has come upon you? — hey, my little

Agnes sat down on the corner of the marble fountain,
and, covering her face with her apron, sobbed as if her
heart would break.

“What has that old priest been saying to her in the confession?”
said Father Antonio to himself. “I dare say he
cannot understand her. She is as pure as a dew-drop on a
cobweb, and as delicate; and these priests, half of them
don't know how to handle the Lord's lambs. — Come now,
little Agnes,” he said, with a coaxing tone, “what is its
trouble? — tell its old uncle, — there 's a dear!”

“Ah, uncle, I can't!” said Agnes, between her sobs.

“Can't tell its uncle! — there 's a pretty go! Perhaps
you will tell grandmamma?”

“Oh, no, no, no! not for the world!” said Agnes, sobbing
still more bitterly.

“Why, really, little heart of mine, this is getting serious,”
said the monk; “let your old uncle try to help you.”

“It is n't for myself,” said Agnes, endeavoring to check
her feelings, — “it is not for myself, — it is for another, —
for a soul lost. Ah, my Jesus, have mercy!”

“A soul lost? Our Mother forbid!” said the monk,
crossing himself. “Lost in this Christian land, so overflowing
with the beauty of the Lord? — lost out of this fair
sheepfold of Paradise?”

“Yes, lost,” said Agnes, despairingly, — “and if somebody


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do not save him, lost forever; and it is a brave and
noble soul, too, — like one of the angels that fell.”

“Who is it dear? — tell me about it,” said the monk.
“I am one of the shepherds whose place it is to go after
that which is lost, even till I find it.”

“Dear uncle, you remember the youth who suddenly
appeared to us in the moonlight here a few evenings

“Ah, indeed!” said the monk, — “what of him?”

“Father Francesco has told me dreadful things of him
this morning.”

“What things?”

“Uncle, he is excommunicated by our Holy Father the

Father Antonio, as a member of one of the most enlightened
and cultivated religious orders of the times, and as an
intimate companion and disciple of Savonarola, had a full
understanding of the character of the reigning Pope, and
therefore had his own private opinion of how much his
excommunication was likely to be worth in the invisible
world. He knew that the same doom had been threatened
towards his saintly master, for opposing and exposing the
scandalous vices which disgraced the high places of the
Church; so that, on the whole, when he heard that this
young man was excommunicated, so far from being impressed
with horror towards him, he conceived the idea
that he might be a particularly honest fellow and good
Christian. But then he did not hold it wise to disturb
the faith of the simple-hearted by revealing to them the
truth about the head of the Church on earth.

While the disorders in those elevated regions filled the
minds of the intelligent classes with apprehension and alarm,


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they held it unwise to disturb the trustful simplicity of the
lower orders, whose faith in Christianity itself they supposed
might thus be shaken. In fact, they were themselves somewhat
puzzled how to reconcile the patent and manifest fact,
that the actual incumbent of the Holy See was not under
the guidance of any spirit, unless it were a diabolical one,
with the theory which supposed an infallible guidance of the
Holy Spirit to attend as a matter of course on that position.
Some of the boldest of them did not hesitate to declare that
the Holy City had suffered a foul invasion, and that a false
usurper reigned in her sacred palaces in place of the Father
of Christendom. The greater part did as people now do
with the mysteries and discrepancies of a faith which on
the whole they revere: they turned their attention from the
vexed question, and sighed and longed for better days.

Father Antonio did not, therefore, tell Agnes that the
announcement which had filled her with such distress was
far less conclusive with himself of the ill desert of the individual
to whom it related.

“My little heart,” he answered, gravely, “did you learn
the sin for which this young man was excommunicated?”

“Ah, me! my dear uncle, I fear he is an infidel, — an
unbeliever. Indeed, now I remember it, he confessed as
much to me the other day.”

“Where did he tell you this?”

“You remember, my uncle, when you were sent for to
the dying man? When you were gone, I kneeled down to
pray for his soul; and when I rose from prayer, this young
cavalier was sitting right here, on this end of the fountain.
He was looking fixedly at me, with such sad eyes, so full of
longing and pain, that it was quite piteous; and he spoke to
me so sadly, I could not but pity him.”


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“What did he say to you, child?”

“Ah, father, he said that he was all alone in the world,
without friends, and utterly desolate, with no one to love
him; but worse than that, he said he had lost his faith, that
he could not believe.”

“What did you say to him?”

“Uncle, I tried, as a poor girl might, to do him some good.
I prayed him to confess and take the sacrament; but he
looked almost fierce when I said so. And yet I cannot but
think, after all, that he has not lost all grace, because he begged
me so earnestly to pray for him; he said his prayers could
do no good, and wanted mine. And then I began to tell him
about you, dear uncle, and how you came from that blessed
convent in Florence, and about your master Savonarola; and
that seemed to interest him, for he looked quite excited, and
spoke the name over, as if it were one he had heard before.
I wanted to urge him to come and open his case to you; and
I think perhaps I might have succeeded, but that just then
you and grandmamma came up the path; and when I heard
you coming, I begged him to go, because you know grandmamma
would be very angry, if she knew that I had given
speech to a man, even for a few moments; she thinks men
are so dreadful.”

“I must seek this youth,” said the monk, in a musing
tone; “perhaps I may find out what inward temptation
hath driven him away from the fold.”

“Oh, do, dear uncle! do!” said Agnes, earnestly. “I
am sure that he has been grievously tempted and misled, for
he seems to have a noble and gentle nature; and he spoke
so feelingly of his mother, who is a saint in heaven; and
he seemed so earnestly to long to return to the bosom of the


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“The Church is a tender mother to all her erring children,”
said the monk.

“And don't you think that our dear Holy Father the
Pope will forgive him?” said Agnes. “Surely, he will
have all the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who would
rejoice in one sheep found more than in all the ninety-and-nine
who went not astray.”

The monk could scarcely repress a smile at imagining
Alexander the Sixth in this character of a good shepherd,
as Agnes's enthusiastic imagination painted the head of the
Church; and then he gave an inward sigh, and said, softly,
“Lord, how long?”

“I think,” said Agnes, “that this young man is of noble
birth, for his words and his bearing and his tones of voice
are not those of common men; even though he speaks so
humbly and gently, there is yet something princely that
looks out of his eyes, as if he were born to command;
and he wears strange jewels, the like of which I never saw,
on his hands and at the hilt of his dagger, — yet he seems
to make nothing of them. But yet, I know not why, he
spoke of himself as one utterly desolate and forlorn. Father
Francesco told me that he was captain of a band of robbers
who live in the mountains. One cannot think it is so.”

“Little heart,” said the monk tenderly, “you can scarcely
know what things befall men in these distracted times, when
faction wages war with faction, and men pillage and burn
and imprison, first on this side, then on that. Many a son
of a noble house may find himself homeless and landless,
and, chased by the enemy, may have no refuge but the fastnesses
of the mountains. Thank God, our lovely Italy hath
a noble backbone of these same mountains, which afford
shelter to her children in their straits.”


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“Then you think it possible, dear uncle, that this may not
be a bad man, after all?”

“Let us hope so, child. I will myself seek him out; and
if his mind have been chafed by violence or injustice, I will
strive to bring him back into the good ways of the Lord.
Take heart, my little one, — all will yet be well. Come
now, little darling, wipe your bright eyes, and look at these
plans I have been making for the shrine we were talking of,
in the gorge. See here, I have drawn a goodly arch with a
pinnacle. Under the arch, you see, shall be the picture of
our Lady with the blessed Babe. The arch shall be cunningly
sculptured with vines of ivy and passion-flower; and
on one side of it shall stand Saint Agnes with her lamb, —
and on the other, Saint Cecilia, crowned with roses; and on
this pinnacle, above all, Saint Michael, all in armor, shall
stand leaning, — one hand on his sword, and holding a
shield with the cross upon it.”

“Ah, that will be beautiful!” said Agnes.

“You can scarcely tell,” pursued the monk, “from this
faint drawing, what the picture of our Lady is to be; but I
shall paint her to the highest of my art, and with many
prayers that I may work worthily. You see, she shall be
standing on a cloud with a background all of burnished gold,
like the streets of the New Jerusalem; and she shall be
clothed in a mantle of purest blue from head to foot, to represent
the unclouded sky of summer; and on her forehead
she shall wear the evening star, which ever shineth when
we say the Ave Maria; and all the borders of her blue vesture
shall be cunningly wrought with fringes of stars; and
the dear Babe shall lean his little cheek to hers so peacefully,
and there shall be a clear shining of love through her
face, and a heavenly restfulness, that it shall do one's heart


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good to look at her. Many a blessed hour shall I have
over this picture, — many a hymn shall I sing as my work
goes on. I must go about to prepare the panels forthwith;
and it were well, if there be that young man who works in
stone, to have him summoned to our conference.”

“I think,” said Agnes, “that you will find him in the
town; he dwells next to the cathedral.”

“I trust he is a youth of pious life and conversation,”
said the monk. “I must call on him this afternoon; for he
ought to be stirring himself up by hymns and prayers, and
by meditations on the beauty of saints and angels, for so
goodly a work. What higher honor or grace can befall a
creature than to be called upon to make visible to men that
beauty of invisible things which is divine and eternal?
How many holy men have given themselves to this work in
Italy, till, from being overrun with heathen temples, it is
now full of most curious and wonderful churches, shrines,
and cathedrals, every stone of which is a miracle of beauty!
I would, dear daughter, you could see our great Duomo in
Florence, which is a mountain of precious marbles and many-colored
mosaics; and the Campanile that riseth thereby is
like a lily of Paradise, — so tall, so stately, with such an
infinite grace, and adorned all the way up with holy emblems
and images of saints and angels; nor is there any
part of it, within or without, that is not finished sacredly
with care, as an offering to the most perfect God. Truly,
our fair Florence, though she be little, is worthy, by her
sacred adornments, to be worn as the lily of our Lady's
girdle, even as she hath been dedicated to her.”

Agnes seemed pleased with the enthusiastic discourse of
her uncle. The tears gradually dried from her eyes as she
listened to him, and the hope so natural to the young and


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untried heart began to reassert itself. God was merciful,
the world beautiful; there was a tender Mother, a reigning
Saviour, protecting angels and guardian saints: surely, then,
there was no need to despair of the recall of any wanderer;
and the softest supplication of the most ignorant and unworthy
would be taken up by so many sympathetic voices in
the invisible world, and borne on in so many waves of brightness
to the heavenly throne, that the most timid must have
hope in prayer.

In the afternoon, the monk went to the town to seek the
young artist, and also to inquire for the stranger for whom
his pastoral offices were in requisition, and Agnes remained
alone in the little solitary garden.

It was one of those rich slumberous afternoons of spring
that seem to bathe earth and heaven with an Elysian softness;
and from her little lonely nook shrouded in dusky
shadows by its orange-trees, Agnes looked down the sombre
gorge to where the open sea lay panting and palpitating in
blue and violet waves, while the little white sails of fishing-boats
drifted hither and thither, now silvered in the sunshine,
now fading away like a dream into the violet vapor
bands that mantled the horizon. The weather would have
been oppressively sultry but for the gentle breeze which constantly
drifted landward with coolness in its wings. The
hum of the old town came to her ear softened by distance
and mingled with the patter of the fountain and the music
of birds singing in the trees overhead. Agnes tried to busy
herself with her spinning; but her mind constantly wandered
away, and stirred and undulated with a thousand dim
and unshaped thoughts and emotions, of which she vaguely
questioned in her own mind. Why did Father Francesco
warn her so solemnly against an earthly love? Did he not


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know her vocation? But still he was wisest and must know
best; there must be danger, if he said so. But then, this
knight had spoken so modestly, so humbly, — so differently
from Giulietta's lovers! — for Giulietta had sometimes found
a chance to recount to Agnes some of her triumphs. How
could it be that a knight so brave and gentle, and so piously
brought up, should become an infidel? Ah, uncle Antonio
was right, — he must have had some foul wrong, some dreadful
injury! When Agnes was a child, in travelling with her
grandmother through one of the highest passes of the Apennines,
she had chanced to discover a wounded eagle, whom
an arrow had pierced, sitting all alone by himself on a rock,
with his feathers ruffled, and a film coming over his great,
clear, bright eye, — and, ever full of compassion, she had
taken him to nurse, and had travelled for a day with him
in her arms; and the mournful look of his regal eyes now
came into her memory. “Yes,” she said to herself, “he is
like my poor eagle! The archers have wounded him, so
that he is glad to find shelter even with a poor maid like
me; but it was easy to see my eagle had been king among
birds, even as this knight is among men. Certainly, God
must love him, — he is so beautiful and noble! I hope
dear uncle will find him this afternoon; he knows how to
teach him; — as for me, I can only pray.”

Such were the thoughts that Agnes twisted into the shining
white flax, while her eyes wandered dreamily over the
soft hazy landscape. At last, lulled by the shivering sound
of leaves, and the bird-songs, and wearied with the agitations
of the morning, her head lay back against the end of
the sculptured fountain, the spindle slowly dropped from her
hand, and her eyes were closed in sleep, the murmur of the
fountain still sounding in her dreams. In her dreams she


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seemed to be wandering far away among the purple passes
of the Apennines, where she had come years ago when she
was a little girl; with her grandmother she pushed through
old olive-groves, weird and twisted with many a quaint
gnarl, and rustling their pale silvery leaves in noonday
twilight. Sometimes she seemed to carry in her bosom a
wounded eagle, and often she sat down to stroke it and to
try to give it food from her hand, and as often it looked
upon her with a proud, patient eye, and then her grandmother
seemed to shake her roughly by the arm and bid her
throw the silly bird away; — but then again the dream
changed, and she saw a knight lie bleeding and dying in a
lonely hollow, — his garments torn, his sword broken, and
his face pale and faintly streaked with blood; and she
kneeled by him, trying in vain to stanch a deadly wound in
his side, while he said reproachfully, “Agnes, dear Agnes,
why would you not save me?” and then she thought he
kissed her hand with his cold dying lips; and she shivered
and awoke, — to find that her hand was indeed held in that
of the cavalier, whose eyes met her own when first she unclosed
them, and the same voice that spoke in her dream
said, “Agnes, dear Agnes!”

For a moment she seemed stupefied and confounded, and
sat passively regarding the knight, who kneeled at her feet
and repeatedly kissed her hand, calling her his saint, his star,
his life, and whatever other fair name poetry lends to love.
All at once, however, her face flushed crimson red, she drew
her hand quickly away, and, rising up, made a motion to
retreat, saying, in a voice of alarm, —

“Oh, my Lord, this must not be! I am committing deadly
sin to hear you. Please, please go! please leave a poor


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“Agnes, what does this mean?” said the cavalier. “Only
two days since, in this place, you promised to love me; and
that promise has brought me from utter despair to love of
life. Nay, since you told me that, I have been able to pray
once more; the whole world seems changed for me: and
now will you take it all away, — you, who are all I have on

“My Lord, I did not know then that I was sinning. Our
dear Mother knows I said only what I thought was true and
right, but I find it was a sin.”

“A sin to love, Agnes? Heaven must be full of sin, then;
for there they do nothing else.”

“Oh, my Lord, I must not argue with you; I am forbidden
to listen even for a moment. Please go. I will never
forget you, Sir, — never forget to pray for you, and to love
you as they love in heaven; but I am forbidden to speak
with you. I fear I have sinned in hearing and saying even
this much.”

“Who forbids you, Agnes? Who has the right to forbid
your good, kind heart to love, where love is so deeply needed
and so gratefully received?”

“My holy father, whom I am bound to obey as my soul's
director,” said Agnes; “he has forbidden me so much as to
listen to a word, and yet I have listened to many. How
could I help it?”

“Ever these priests!” said the cavalier, his brow darkening
with an impatient frown; “wolves in sheep's clothing!”

“Alas!” said Agnes, sorrowfully, “why will you” —

“Why will I what?” he said, facing suddenly toward her,
and looking down with a fierce, scornful determination.

“Why will you be at war with the Holy Church? Why
will you peril your eternal salvation?”


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“Is there a Holy Church? Where is it? Would there
were one! I am blind and cannot see it. Little Agnes, you
promised to lead me; but you drop my hand in the darkness.
Who will guide me, if you will not?”

“My Lord, I am most unfit to be your guide. I am a
poor girl, without any learning; but there is my uncle I
spoke to you of. Oh, my Lord, if you only would go to
him, he is wise and gentle both. I must go in now, my
Lord, — indeed, I must. I must not sin further. I must do
a heavy penance for having listened and spoken to you, after
the holy father had forbidden me.”

“No, Agnes, you shall not go in,” said the cavalier, suddenly
stepping before her and placing himself across the
doorway; “you shall see me, and hear me too. I take the
sin on myself; you cannot help it. How will you avoid
me? Will you fly now down the path of the gorge? I
will follow you, — I am desperate. I had but one comfort
on earth, but one hope of heaven, and that through you;
and you, cruel, are so ready to give me up at the first word
of your priest!”

“God knows if I do it willingly,” said Agnes; “but I
know it is best; for I feel I should love you too well, if I saw
more of you. My Lord, you are strong and can compel me,
but I beg you to leave me.”

“Dear Agnes, could you really feel it possible that you
might love me too well?” said the cavalier, his whole manner
changing. “Ah! could I carry you far away to my
home in the mountains, far up in the beautiful blue mountains,
where the air is so clear, and the weary, wrangling
world lies so far below that one forgets it entirely, you
should be my wife, my queen, my empress. You should
lead me where you would; your word should be my law.


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I will go with you wherever you will, — to confession, to
sacrament, to prayers, never so often; never will I rebel
against your word; if you decree, I will bend my neck to
king or priest; I will reconcile me with anybody or anything
only for your sweet sake; you shall lead me all my life;
and when we die, I ask only that you may lead me to our
Mother's throne in heaven, and pray her to tolerate me for
your sake. Come, now, dear, is not even one unworthy soul
worth saving?”

“My Lord, you have taught me how wise my holy father
was in forbidding me to listen to you. He knew better than
I how weak was my heart, and how I might be drawn on
from step to step till — My Lord, I must be no man's
wife. I follow the blessed Saint Agnes? May God give
me grace to keep my vows without wavering! — for then I
shall gain power to intercede for you and bring down blessings
on your soul. Oh, never, never speak to me so again,
my Lord! — you will make me very, very unhappy. If
there is any truth in your words, my Lord, if you really
love me, you will go, and you will never try to speak to me

“Never, Agnes? never? Think what you are saying!”

“Oh, I do think! I know it must be best,” said Agnes,
much agitated; “for, if I should see you often and hear
your voice, I should lose all my strength. I could never
resist, and I should lose heaven for you and me too. Leave
me, and I will never, never forget to pray for you; and go
quickly too, for it is time for my grandmother to come
home, and she would be so angry, — she would never believe
I had not been doing wrong, and perhaps she would make
me marry somebody that I do not wish to. She has threatened
that many times; but I beg her to leave me free to go


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to my sweet home in the convent and my dear Mother

“They shall never marry you against your will, little
Agnes, I pledge you my knightly word. I will protect you
from that. Promise me, dear, that, if ever you be man's
wife, you will be mine. Only promise me that, and I will

“Will you?” said Agnes, in an ecstacy of fear and apprehension,
in which there mingled some strange troubled
gleams of happiness. “Well, then, I will. Ah! I hope it
is no sin!”

“Believe me, dearest, it is not,” said the knight. “Say it
again, — say, that I may hear it, — say, `If ever I am man's
wife, I will be thine,' — say it, and I will go.”

“Well, then, my Lord, if ever I am man's wife, I will be
thine,” said Agnes. “But I will be no man's wife. My
heart and hand are promised elsewhere. Come, now, my
Lord, your word must be kept.”

“Let me put this ring on your finger, lest you forget,”
said the cavalier. “It was my mother's ring, and never
during her lifetime heard anything but prayers and hymns.
It is saintly, and worthy of thee.”

“No, my Lord, I may not. Grandmother would inquire
about it. I cannot keep it; but fear not my forgetting: I
shall never forget you.”

“Will you ever want to see me, Agnes?”

“I hope not, since it is not best. But you do not go.”

“Well, then, farewell, my little wife! farewell, till I claim
thee!” said the cavalier, as he kissed her hand, and vaulted
over the wall.

“How strange that I cannot make him understand!” said
Agnes, when he was gone. “I must have sinned, I must


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have done wrong; but I have been trying all the while to
do right. Why would he stay so, and look at me so with
those deep eyes? I was very hard with him, — very! I
trembled for him, I was so severe; and yet it has not discouraged
him enough. How strange that he would call me
so, after all, when I explained to him I never could marry!
— Must I tell all this to Father Francesco? How dreadful!
How he looked at me before! How he trembled and
turned away from me! What will he think now? Ah, me!
why must I tell him? If I could only confess to my mother
Theresa, that would be easier. We have a mother in
heaven to hear us; why should we not have a mother on
earth? Father Francesco frightens me so! His eyes burn
me! They seem to burn into my soul, and he seems angry
with me sometimes, and sometimes looks at me so strangely!
Dear, blessed Mother,” she said, kneeling at the shrine,
“help thy little child! I do not want to do wrong: I want
to do right. Oh that I could come and live with thee!”

Poor Agnes! a new experience had opened in her heretofore
tranquil life, and her day was one of conflict. Do what
she would, the words that had been spoken to her in the
morning would return to her mind, and sometimes she
awoke with a shock of guilty surprise at finding she had
been dreaming over what the cavalier said to her of living
with him alone, in some clear, high, purple solitude of those
beautiful mountains which she remembered as an enchanted
dream of her childhood. Would he really always love her,
then, always go with her to prayers and mass and sacrament,
and be reconciled to the Church, and should she indeed have
the joy of feeling that this noble soul was led back to heavenly
peace through her? Was not this better than a barren
life of hymns and prayers in a cold convent? Then the


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very voice that said these words, that voice of veiled strength
and manly daring, that spoke with such a gentle pleading,
and yet such an undertone of authority, as if he had a right
to claim her for himself, — she seemed to feel the tones of
that voice in every nerve; — and then the strange thrilling
pleasure of thinking that he loved her so. Why should he,
this strange, beautiful knight? Doubtless he had seen splendid
high-born ladies, — he had seen even queens and princesses,
— and what could he find to like in her, a poor little
peasant? Nobody ever thought so much of her before, and
he was so unhappy without her; — it was strange he should
be; but he said so, and it must be true. After all, Father
Francesco might be mistaken about his being wicked. On
the whole, she felt sure he was mistaken, at least in part.
Uncle Antonio did not seem to be so much shocked at what
she told him; he knew the temptations of men better, perhaps,
because he did not stay shut up in one convent, but
travelled all about, preaching and teaching. If only he
could see him, and talk with him, and make him a good
Christian, — why, then, there would be no further need of
her; — and Agnes was surprised to find what a dreadful,
dreary blank appeared before her when she thought of this.
Why should she wish him to remember her, since she never
could be his? — and yet nothing seemed so dreadful as that
he should forget her. So the poor little innocent fly beat
and fluttered in the mazes of that enchanted web, where
thousands of her frail sex have beat and fluttered before.


Jesus, the very thought of thee
With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far thy face to see,
And in thy presence rest!
Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find
A sweeter sound than thy blest name,
O Saviour of mankind!
O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall how kind thou art,
How good to those who seek!
But what to those who find! Ah, this
Nor tongue nor pen can show!
The love of Jesus, what it is
None but his loved ones know.


Jesus most beautiful, from thrones in glory,
Seeking thy lost sheep, thou didst descend!
Jesus most tender, shepherd most faithful,
To thee, oh, draw thou me, that I may follow thee,
Follow thee faithfully world without end!