Page images
[ocr errors]

me, as I dwelt on my father's death, and on the exalted friendship that had always existed between my mother and me. Perhaps nothing bound me to her more than the quickness with which I saw she appreciated my mother's character.

«• How I should love such a woman !-how I wish that I had such a mother ! she touchingly ejaculated.

My embryo passion instantly sprang to life. “ • Marie-dearest Marie ! cried I, presumptuously kissing her hand, you shall have such a mother ! — she shall be a mother to both of us! Listen to me, sweetest Marie !—the convent you have belonged to must now be entirely broken up; the English will never countenance nunneries; believe me, you will not commit any crime in taking advantage of this. My mother's dwelling stands in our own seigniory, you may live there unseen but by ourselves. And even if the nuns of St. Clare are permitted to return to Quebec, and to settle there, they will never think of searching for you, but conclude that you were carried away, and perhaps destroyed by the English soldiers. Come then, Marie, to my mother's home—to her heart! Come—and be her Leloved—and mine. If I were now to lose you I should never be happy more! Life would be unendurable to me!-existence would be a burden!'

“She answered with tears and sighs that if she had not taken the veil, if she had not vowed before heaven to devote herself to a monastic life, she would, yes, she would have listened to me. She confessed to me that after she should return to her convent, she should know no happiness beyond what a prospect of another life might afford her. She never could forget me, no, not

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

for an hour; night and day she should bless my name, and ceaselessly she should pray that I might be happy with some happier being than herself. A more vehement flow of tears accompanied these words, and then I, forgetting the sacred obligations of our catholic church, together with its terrors, losing sight of all and every thing but my new-born passion, embraced her, and, with importunities that would take no denial, entreated her to set forward with me to Rougemont.

“ I obtained my suit, although Marie declared herself unconvinced by my arguments.

“I will not say no again, to you,' she cried ; • take me, Marquis, whither you will; but remember that it is my love for you—Marie's boundless love-and not her reason, which complies. I will shut my eyes on all that may follow the breaking of my vows. My heart is yours entirely-you may direct it as you will. You saved me from death, and I belong to you henceforth.'

“ I was struck by the distress which pervaded her whole manner as she pronounced these passionate words, and hesitated whether I should or not proceed in my rash plan. There was a sudden maturity in Marie's air which also surprised me. An hour ago she was the fair, seraphic, pure child, now she was the devoted, impassioned, decided woman. While I looked on her distractingly, divided between my inclination and my duty, I had sunk on my knee, grasping her hands, which were cold and damp. She suddenly bent forward and kissed my forehead. I gazed on her blue and dewy eyes, they were not withdrawn from my view. A world of everlasting truth and love reposed in their lucid and clear depths. Sanctity shone on every colourless and deli

I was

cate feature, mixed with a wonderful tenderness, conquered then; I sprang up to my feet; I drew the cloak about her—she was passive.

“ « Marie,' said 1, endeavouring to speak with calmness, you shall go to the nearest religious community I can find; I will not leave you in any less secure place—but there I will tear myself from you. Fervently I hope you will regain your peace of mindwould that I had never disturbed it!'

“ We accordingly rode on about ten miles further, to a small monastery, which the tavern-k-eper had described as standing in a village. But we found it deserted, and then we had to deliberate again. I had been anticipating, during our last ride, the moment of parting with Marie, and the turbulence and distress of my feelings surprised even myself. On finding that I could not leave her here, I experienced a singular relief, and determined at least to prolong the fatal pleasure I had in her society. I said to her-Marie, you must now go to Rougemont; I shall ask no more from you there than your friendship-you shall be my hallowed sister-my mother shall be your mother--until that abhorred moment when you may be recalled to your prison—for a prison I shall always consider that convent to be in which


are.' “ And to Rougemout we went. My mother was in her dressing-room ; thither I went to her. Her joy at seeing me in apparent safety was such as only a mother could know. Her countenance fell when I ran over the form tunes of the siege, and its mortifying issue. When 1 described the remarkable deaths of the two heroes of the national armies, she cried, with all the enthusiasm of a

brave soldier's widow— So would my husband have died had he been in their places !!

"' And now, my dear mother,' said I, with something of trepidation, I have to put your kindness of heart to the test.' I then told her of

I then told her of my having saved the nun, of my being wounded subsequently, and recovering in the jesuits monastery, of my second acquaintance with Marie Verche there, and of her guileless interest in my safety, of the flight of the nuns with the remnant of the holy fathers from the captured city, and of my having myself taken Marie away.

“. But,' said my mother, why not have suffered her to go with her companions, Louis ? She would have been safer with them, and surely her holy vows would have suited better with such a step. A young officer might have been no worthy protector of the good sister, though I know my Louis' honour, and his respect for religion so well, that I could have trusted him with such a mission.'

" I saw the difficulty, and at once avowed it. 'I know not, mother,' said I, what could have induced me to take Marie alone from the monastery. I only know that after the battle was over I thought of nothing but of preserving her, and that when I saw her separate from the other sisters before the altar I never stopped a moment to deliberate, but urged her away with me. One thing I know, that she was not to blame; terror had confused her---and--and-altogether she has acted like an angel.

6 - No doubt; but if she had acted like a prudent and pious mortal I should have been better satisfied, said my mother. But what followed her leaving the

jes uits monastery with you? Where did you take her then ??

“ I described our ride to the tavern, and our stoppage there to rest and take refreshments, then paused. It was impossible for me to repeat what had passed between us there without revealing what I feared to reveal even to my maternal friend. She looked at me searchingly, and I felt that I could not deceive her.

“Louis,' said she, very gravely, you know how I value perfect openness in those whom I love, and you know least of all can I endure reserves in my child.'

« « Then you shall hear all, mother, and I trust to your tenderness for me to make excuses on my behalf.' And so I recounted every word as nearly as I could recollect, that Marie and I had spoken to each other, concluding by saying "She is now in the cottage of Paul Levi, on our grounds, waiting the result of this conversation. Will you receive her ? will you be her guardian and her parent until her superior claims her? I shall quit Rougemont as soon as I have seen her safely ludged in the protection of some one on whom I can rely. I must return to Quebec, I wish to learn the fate of some of my fellow officers, and to see what is the condition of the city, and how the conquerors use their power.'

“ My mother reflected; I saw that it was with much pain she heard of my again quitting her, but still she did not oppose my intention, but by her looks approved it. While I stood waiting in extreme anxiety to hear her decision regarding Marie, she arose, and rang for her maid. Then, affectionately kissing me, said, • Ever he thus open with me, Louis, and you shall not

« PreviousContinue »