網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

66

like one of the nuns. How clumsy I was at first! But I do improve, and some time or other I may be allowed to work upon those glorious altar-cloths that you delight to make so beautiful!" It is not merely outward grace that is needed for them," said Sister Theresa; "oftentimes I am not fit to touch that which is set apart for so holy a use. I wait until I have wholly submitted myself, and every thought within me, to the sacred purpose in which I am engaged."

"Ah, me," said Marie, "I shall never learn to submit my thoughts. In the first place, I cannot submit myself. I want to go wandering up and down in the garden. Whenever Sister Ursula calls me into her cloister, I directly think I would rather go into the arbor; and if she tells me to sit in the arbor, I suddenly discover I would rather not be there. I can't even keep my eyes quiet. When I sit on the stone-bench, to an

[ocr errors][merged small]

swer the questions, this way, that way, they go to Sister Lucie's rosary, or Sister Ursula's profile."

66

66

Poor child," said Sister Theresa, ears, and tongue, and eyes, and feet! you cannot keep any of them under control! When, indeed, can the heart and soul come under subjection!"

"As for my thoughts, dear Sister Theresa, how could I ever keep them still?" continued Marie, "I have so many of them, and I like to have them wander about. I love to embroider, better than when I came, because now I can stitch my thoughts into my work. Whenever I come to this ivy-leaf in my pattern, I think of the heavy vine that covers up the dark-gray tower, and of the frolic I had beneath it one day with the porter's little girl when they let her come into the garden. And then this forget-me-not, as I call it, though it doesn't look much the shape of a flower, it reminds me of a little garden-border

[graphic]

Arippin

your hands that were so clumsy when you first came. Now you can, as you say, embroider almost as well as Sister Ursula."

66

That is because the patterns are so beautiful, I love to look at them," said

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

Marie, "I could never learn to weave that delicate hair-work; I should never have the patience to braid all those chains and bracelets that Sister Ursula weaves out of hair. It makes me fidgetty just to look at her. She braids little fine hairs with her fingers, that would break a thousand times in mine. I would not do it for the world; then I couldn't give my thoughts to it. I like to think of the pleasant things that may happen some day; all sorts of fancies come into my head. I like, too, to think of the old times. Oh! Sister Theresa, if you would listen while I tell you of my pretty home by the Hudson!"

"I listen to you, child, already, too much," said Sister Theresa, "I am afraid that I let you carry me back into the world."

[merged small][ocr errors]

had a pony, and everybody was so kind to me, and they all let me do just what I pleased."

"Alas, my child!" said Sister Theresa, "does not everybody let you do as you please?"

"Oh, everybody is kind to me," answered Marie, "and nobody does contradict me, but sometimes the sisters shake their heads at me and look very grave. At least they try to, and seem to think I am often very wicked. Nobody thought I was wicked at home, though I did nothing but laugh and sing. I have not told you what made me think so much of home, nor what I saw the other day. I was in the garden when I saw Barbara go towards the gate that leads to the street. I never looked out of that gate before."

"It is forbidden, Marie," said Sister Theresa.

"Well, dear Sister Theresa," said Marie, "I did the forbidden thing. Barbara was talking with a man with vegetables at the gate, and at first there was nothing better to see than his old

[graphic]

donkey, but presently a young man passed by-"

66

A young man!" exclaimed Sister Theresa.

"He only passed by, though he looked in," said Marie," and he started and looked astonished a minute, at least I think he did; for I was startled, too. I had seen his face once before, three summers ago, at home. Barbara shut the gate directly, and I had only this one glance; but that glance brought back to me the day when my father brought home with him a friend of his from New York. The day, I remember perfectly, was a lovely summer day, and this Mr. Philip admired everything. He admired the smooth lawn, and the flower-border, and me, perhaps, too!" Marie, one forbidden act opens the way for many forbidden thoughts," said Sister Theresa.

66

66

But I may love my father," said Marie, "and I may love his friends, too; and what harm is it, just to look out at the gate once?"

66

Marie, you know when you left the school to live with us here," said Sister Theresa, "you were willing to submit to our rules."

"Oh! dear Sister Theresa," exclaimed Marie, "I am willing to do everything to please you, and to give up everything. I was so tired in that dreary school, where the girls talked nothing but Spanish, and where they were so vain and idle. That day when we came to visit the cloisters, I fell in love with you. How could I help it, when your face looks so like the picture of a beautiful nun! Then they told me it was your voice that I had heard at vespers and in the masses. When the same voice spoke kindly to me, I thought, if I ever should be good in the world, it would be when I should see you all the time."

"I was willing you should come here," said Sister Theresa, "though it seemed a strange thing, that when I was living here still and cold, dead to the world, striving to live only to God, it was strange that I should be willing to let you enter here-to let you be with me at times. You, Marie, are gay and joyful-I am grave and sad; oh! may it not be a sin to me to take you so near my heart-I, who have vowed to have no heart but for One!-I, who believed I had chilled all earthly love! Marie, I close my ears when you are

speaking; I close my eyes when you come before me. Little gay flower, you twine around the gray turret; some day you will be plucked away from me."

66

But you, dear Sister Theresa," cried Marie, "you are not like the gray turret--you will not always be so cold -you have not always been so cold!''

64

What I have been-that matters not," said Sister Theresa, "I know only four years the four years that I have lived on this island. The walls around me have shut me in, and have shut out the world; and beyond the walls the sea cuts me off from other life. You, poor little one, long for a glimpse through the opening of the gate into the little world that is round the convent-walls. Ah, let the stone walls shut you in! There is one way that is not barred: that is upward. The broad heaven is not shut out; you are not fettered from that, except by sin." Four years, dear Sister Theresa," said Marie; "and I have been here only one, and that has seemed very long. It is two years since we left our old home; there it was pleasant a whole year that we lived in France. Not a word of English did I speak that year, for papa would not allow it; and we did not see a single American or Englishman. I suppose he thought it was better for my French, but I would have liked to talk to him in English. Now the French comes so easy, that is why I like to talk to you instead of the Spanish school-girls. And yet I think I know enough Spanish to please papa,

when he comes back for me. I wonder where he will take me next. I would rather not wander any more; I don't care to know any more languages; I believe it is because I speak French that you are willing to listen to me; and yet we never talk about France, your own home! Therese! Therese! ah, now you are not. listening to me; you have gone back unto your visions again. Why did I say anything? why did I not let you go on and talk to me of yourself?"

No, it is better to let your voice go murmuring on," said Sister Theresa; "I must not always listen to it. It comes in like the evening breeze, gently through the window. It woos me, but I do not ask it to caress me.'

99

"So you listen to me no more than to the wind," said Marie; "there go more tears down on my work! I wonder if

66

this handkerchief will ever wipe away as many as I have shed upon it! Sister Theresa, I believe you like me to embroider, because I use this cotton; how pretty it is,, with this mark upon itthe mark of the cross! that is why it is called nun's cotton, I suppose. But I will not work any more or cry any more to-day. Your evening breeze, Sister Theresa, is going down into the garden, to play."

resa,

"My little Marie," said Sister The"I would do all things for your good; this is the way I excuse myself for having you so near me."

66

Ah, yes; and perhaps some day I shall leave off being a butterfly," said Marie, "though that is not the way in the garden; there the ugly worm comes out into the pretty butterfly. But I shall grow into the worm-that is, I shall put on the ugly worm's dress, and cut off my long hair. Now, don't look shocked, dear Sister Theresa, though you did hear those naughty words. If I could be with you more hours a day than I am, I might be better; but you must be either in that tiresome hospital

or "

"I give too little time, now," said Sister Theresa, "to mercy or to devotion. Go away, little child; if you would only pick the flowers alone, and not the weeds!"

"In a convent," thought Marie, as she ran away, "there can be neither flowers nor weeds; but I would like to be good, for Sister Theresa's sake."

She went bounding through a large hall, and found collected there a knot of the sisters. They were eagerly talking over some matter of deep interest. Marie did not mean to linger long, as Sister Theresa had taught her not to join the little gossiping circle that formed itself in the hall whenever the daily news came; for gossip and news of the day penetrate even within the convent walls. The little citadel had its hours of exchange and its moments of prattle. Sometimes the subject was the illness of one of the sisters, its causes, and her probable indiscretion; sometimes it was the bearing of a new -a novice- from the world. There were little quarrels with the porter, little jealousies among each other. Even these little sins the convent walls do not shut out.

comer

[ocr errors]

To-day the talk was of the great news of the peace from Europe, and

[blocks in formation]

Yes. She had come to the convent when her father left France with the army. She was not one of the little circle present, though every one looked round cautiously. Already the mother must be telling her the sad news.

Sister Theresa must be told; she was from France, too. Yet Sister Theresa had never spoken of friends or home. She had often chided these younger ones who had talked lingeringly of father, brothers or sisters left behindeven of mother. You have chosen the Bridegroom; you have left all to follow him," she had said.

66

Marie, after listening to the tale a while, went back to Sister Theresa. She met one of the others who had been to distribute the news; to tell of the peace, or to read out the list of the dead. Marie went in to where she had left Sister Theresa sitting.

She was still in the same spot; leaning back in her seat. Marie went to embrace her, and found her chill and cold! She called her to speak; called, too, for help; but no one heard her. She covered Therese with kisses; she could not bear to leave her.

At last she seemed to breathe a warmth into the cold form; the stiff eyelids relaxed, there was a smile upon the thin lips. Presently, a low voice said: "Speak to no one, Marie; there is

[graphic]

66

no help." Her words came feebly and slowly, but she clung to Marie's hand. Child, child," she said, at last, and interruptedly, "I was trying to turn my soul to God, but it clung to earth; it followed one I loved. They read me of the death of Madeline's father, and of one other, still nearer to me, than he to her. Now we shall pay our vows together before God. Now, I can love him, since he is no longer on earth. I think the summons has come, yet I know not how soon I am to go. Pray for me, Marie! I could not shut him from my heart, though I had turned my heart to ice. I did not know how I still loved him, I did not know how he still lived in my prayers to God, even. Now he has risen up above the walls that separated me from the world. Now can I love him. God has chosen to lift him up to where I should raise my eyes. God forgive me for my unfaithfulness! My heart did not turn towards Him; now has he kindly broken it. Child, I did not mean to deceive you; I deceived myself, also. Forgive my sin, and pray that God, also, will forgive me!

199

The tired eyelids closed, the lips fell into a gentle smile. Marie was terrified by the coldness of the hand that held

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Hoppin

hers still, and ran, at last, for help-it came; but it was unavailing. The physician spoke of a sudden disease of the heart. Sister Therese had always appeared delicate. No one wondered at so sudden a death, though it gave a shock to the quiet community. Marie wept bitterly as the dear, beautiful form was placed beneath the pavement. The gray convent walls appeared more sad and dreary than ever, and she went back-away from them-to her pension.

[blocks in formation]
« 上一頁繼續 »