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Chapter 3

  • > Oh! could I worship aught beneath the skies That earth hath seen or fanc_ould devise, Thine altar, sacred Liberty, should stand, Built by no mercenar_ulgar hand, With fragrant turf, and flowers as wild and fair, As ever dresse_ bank, or scented summer air. Cowper.
  • His whole attention bent upon bringing to justice the Assassins of his Sister, Lorenzo little thought how severely his interest was suffering in anothe_uarter. As was before mentioned, He returned not to Madrid till the evenin_f that day on which Antonia was buried. Signifying to the Grand Inquisito_he order of the Cardinal-Duke (a ceremony not to be neglected, when a Membe_f the Church was to be arrested publicly) communicating his design to hi_ncle and Don Ramirez, and assembling a troop of Attendants sufficiently t_revent opposition, furnished him with full occupation during the few hour_receding midnight. Consequently, He had no opportunity to enquire about hi_istress, and was perfectly ignorant both of her death and her Mother's.
  • The Marquis was by no means out of danger: His delirium was gone, but had lef_im so much exhausted that the Physicians declined pronouncing upon th_onsequences likely to ensue. As for Raymond himself, He wished for nothin_ore earnestly than to join Agnes in the grave. Existence was hateful to him: He saw nothing in the world deserving his attention; and He hoped to hear tha_gnes was revenged, and himself given over in the same moment.
  • Followed by Raymond's ardent prayers for success, Lorenzo was at the Gates o_t. Clare a full hour before the time appointed by the Mother St. Ursula. H_as accompanied by his Uncle, by Don Ramirez de Mello, and a party of chose_rchers. Though in considerable numbers their appearance created no surprize: A great Crowd was already assembled before the Convent doors, in order t_itness the Procession. It was naturally supposed that Lorenzo and hi_ttendants were conducted thither by the same design. The Duke of Medina bein_ecognised, the People drew back, and made way for his party to advance.
  • Lorenzo placed himself opposite to the great Gate, through which the Pilgrim_ere to pass. Convinced that the Prioress could not escape him, He waite_atiently for her appearance, which She was expected to make exactly a_idnight.
  • The Nuns were employed in religious duties established in honour of St. Clare, and to which no Prophane was ever admitted. The Chapel windows wer_lluminated. As they stood on the outside, the Auditors heard the full swel_f the organ, accompanied by a chorus of female voices, rise upon th_tillness of the night. This died away, and was succeeded by a single strai_f harmony: It was the voice of her who was destined to sustain in th_rocession the character of St. Clare. For this office the most beautifu_irgin of Madrid was always selected, and She upon whom the choice fel_steemed it as the highest of honours. While listening to the Music, whos_elody distance only seemed to render sweeter, the Audience was wrapped up i_rofound attention. Universal silence prevailed through the Crowd, and ever_eart was filled with reverence for religion. Every heart but Lorenzo's.
  • Conscious that among those who chaunted the praises of their God so sweetly, there were some who cloaked with devotion the foulest sins, their hymn_nspired him with detestation at their Hypocrisy. He had long observed wit_isapprobation and contempt the superstition which governed Madrid'_nhabitants. His good sense had pointed out to him the artifices of the Monks, and the gross absurdity of their miracles, wonders, and supposititiou_eliques. He blushed to see his Countrymen the Dupes of deceptions s_idiculous, and only wished for an opportunity to free them from their monkis_etters. That opportunity, so long desired in vain, was at length presented t_im. He resolved not to let it slip, but to set before the People in glarin_olours how enormous were the abuses but too frequently practised i_onasteries, and how unjustly public esteem was bestowed indiscriminately upo_ll who wore a religious habit. He longed for the moment destined to unmas_he Hypocrites, and convince his Countrymen that a sanctified exterior doe_ot always hide a virtuous heart.
  • The service lasted, till Midnight was announced by the Convent Bell. Tha_ound being heard, the Music ceased: The voices died away softly, and soo_fter the lights disappeared from the Chapel windows. Lorenzo's heart bea_igh, when He found the execution of his plan to be at hand. From the natura_uperstition of the People He had prepared himself for some resistance. But H_rusted that the Mother St. Ursula would bring good reasons to justify hi_roceeding. He had force with him to repel the first impulse of the Populace, till his arguments should be heard: His only fear was lest the Domina, suspecting his design, should have spirited away the Nun on whose depositio_very thing depended. Unless the Mother St. Ursula should be present, He coul_nly accuse the Prioress upon suspicion; and this reflection gave him som_ittle apprehension for the success of his enterprize. The tranquillity whic_eemed to reign through the Convent in some degree re-assured him: Still H_xpected the moment eagerly, when the presence of his Ally should deprive hi_f the power of doubting.
  • The Abbey of Capuchins was only separated from the Convent by the Garden an_emetery. The Monks had been invited to assist at the Pilgrimage. They no_rrived, marching two by two with lighted Torches in their hands, an_haunting Hymns in honour of St. Clare. Father Pablos was at their head, th_bbot having excused himself from attending. The people made way for the hol_rain, and the Friars placed themselves in ranks on either side of the grea_ates. A few minutes sufficed to arrange the order of the Procession. Thi_eing settled, the Convent doors were thrown open, and again the female Choru_ounded in full melody. First appeared a Band of Choristers: As soon as the_ad passed, the Monks fell in two by two, and followed with steps slow an_easured. Next came the Novices; They bore no Tapers, as did the Professed, but moved on with eyes bent downwards, and seemed to be occupied by tellin_heir Beads. To them succeeded a young and lovely Girl, who represented St.
  • Lucia: She held a golden bason in which were two eyes: Her own were covered b_ velvet bandage, and She was conducted by another Nun habited as an Angel.
  • She was followed by St. Catherine, a palm-branch in one hand, a flaming Swor_n the other: She was robed in white, and her brow was ornamented with _parkling Diadem. After her appeared St. Genevieve, surrounded by a number o_mps, who putting themselves into grotesque attitudes, drawing her by th_obe, and sporting round her with antic gestures, endeavoured to distract he_ttention from the Book, on which her eyes were constantly fixed. These merr_evils greatly entertained the Spectators, who testified their pleasure b_epeated bursts of Laughter. The Prioress had been careful to select a Nu_hose disposition was naturally solemn and saturnine. She had every reason t_e satisfied with her choice: The drolleries of the Imps were entirely throw_way, and St. Genevieve moved on without discomposing a muscle.
  • Each of these Saints was separated from the Other by a band of Choristers, exalting her praise in their Hymns, but declaring her to be very much inferio_o St. Clare, the Convent's avowed Patroness. These having passed, a lon_rain of Nuns appeared, bearing like the Choristers each a burning Taper. Nex_ame the reliques of St. Clare, inclosed in vases equally precious for thei_aterials and workmanship: But they attracted not Lorenzo's attention. The Nu_ho bore the heart occupied him entirely. According to Theodore's description, He doubted not her being the Mother St. Ursula. She seemed to look round wit_nxiety. As He stood foremost in the rank by which the procession past, he_ye caught Lorenzo's. A flush of joy overspread her till then pallid cheek.
  • She turned to her Companion eagerly.
  • 'We are safe!' He heard her whisper; ' 'tis her Brother!'
  • His heart being now at ease, Lorenzo gazed with tranquillity upon th_emainder of the show. Now appeared its most brilliant ornament. It was _achine fashioned like a throne, rich with jewels and dazzling with light. I_olled onwards upon concealed wheels, and was guided by several lovel_hildren, dressed as Seraphs. The summit was covered with silver clouds, upo_hich reclined the most beautiful form that eyes ever witnessed. It was _amsel representing St. Clare: Her dress was of inestimable price, and roun_er head a wreath of Diamonds formed an artificial glory: But all thes_rnaments yielded to the lustre of her charms. As She advanced, a murmur o_elight ran through the Crowd. Even Lorenzo confessed secretly, that He neve_eheld more perfect beauty, and had not his heart been Antonia's, it must hav_allen a sacrifice to this enchanting Girl. As it was, He considered her onl_s a fine Statue: She obtained from him no tribute save cold admiration, an_hen She had passed him, He thought of her no more.
  • 'Who is She?' asked a By-stander in Lorenzo's hearing.
  • 'One whose beauty you must often have heard celebrated. Her name is Virgini_e Villa-Franca: She is a Pensioner of St. Clare's Convent, a Relation of th_rioress, and has been selected with justice as the ornament of th_rocession.'
  • The Throne moved onwards. It was followed by the Prioress herself: She marche_t the head of the remaining Nuns with a devout and sanctified air, and close_he procession. She moved on slowly: Her eyes were raised to heaven: He_ountenance calm and tranquil seemed abstracted from all sublunary things, an_o feature betrayed her secret pride at displaying the pomp and opulence o_er Convent. She passed along, accompanied by the prayers and benedictions o_he Populace: But how great was the general confusion and surprize, when Do_amirez starting forward, challenged her as his Prisoner.
  • For a moment amazement held the Domina silent and immoveable: But no soone_id She recover herself, than She exclaimed against sacrilege and impiety, an_alled the People to rescue a Daughter of the Church. They were eagerl_reparing to obey her; when Don Ramirez, protected by the Archers from thei_age, commanded them to forbear, and threatened them with the severes_engeance of the Inquisition. At that dreaded word every arm fell, every swor_hrunk back into its scabbard. The Prioress herself turned pale, and trembled.
  • The general silence convinced her that She had nothing to hope but fro_nnocence, and She besought Don Ramirez in a faultering voice, to inform he_f what crime She was accused.
  • 'That you shall know in time,' replied He; 'But first I must secure the Mothe_t. Ursula.'
  • 'The Mother St. Ursula?' repeated the Domina faintly.
  • At this moment casting her eyes round, She saw near her Lorenzo and the Duke, who had followed Don Ramirez.
  • 'Ah! great God!' She cried, clasping her hands together with a frantic air; '_m betrayed!'
  • 'Betrayed?' replied St. Ursula, who now arrived conducted by some of th_rchers, and followed by the Nun her Companion in the procession: 'No_etrayed, but discovered. In me recognise your Accuser: You know not how wel_ am instructed in your guilt!—Segnor!' She continued, turning to Don Ramirez;
  • 'I commit myself to your custody. I charge the Prioress of St. Clare wit_urder, and stake my life for the justice of my accusation.'
  • A general cry of surprize was uttered by the whole Audience, and a_xplanation was demanded loudly.n The trembling Nuns, terrifiedat the nois_nd universal confusion, had dispersed, and fleddifferent ways. Some regaine_he Convent; Others sought refugein the dwellings of their Relations; an_any, only sensible oftheir present danger, and anxious to escape from th_umult, ran through the Streets, and wandered, they knew not whither. Th_ovely Virginia was one of the first to fly: And in order that She might b_etter seen and heard, the People desired that St. Ursula should harangue the_rom the vacant Throne. The Nun complied; She ascended the glittering Machine, and then addressed the surrounding multitude as follows.
  • 'However strange and unseemly may appear my conduct, when considered to b_dopted by a Female and a Nun, necessity will justify it most fully. A secret, an horrible secret weighs heavy upon my soul: No rest can be mine till I hav_evealed it to the world, and satisfied that innocent blood which calls fro_he Grave for vengeance. Much have I dared to gain this opportunity o_ightening my conscience. Had I failed in my attempt to reveal the crime, ha_he Domina but suspected that the mystery was none to me, my ruin wa_nevitable. Angels who watch unceasingly over those who deserve their favour, have enabled me to escape detection: I am now at liberty to relate a Tale, whose circumstances will freeze every honest soul with horror. Mine is th_ask to rend the veil from Hypocrisy, and show misguided Parents to wha_angers the Woman is exposed, who falls under the sway of a monastic Tyrant.
  • 'Among the Votaries of St. Clare, none was more lovely, none more gentle, tha_gnes de Medina. I knew her well; She entrusted to me every secret of he_eart; I was her Friend and Confident, and I loved her with sincere affection.
  • Nor was I singular in my attachment. Her piety unfeigned, her willingness t_blige, and her angelic disposition, rendered her the Darling of all that wa_stimable in the Convent. The Prioress herself, proud, scrupulous an_orbidding, could not refuse Agnes that tribute of approbation which Sh_estowed upon no one else. Every one has some fault: Alas! Agnes had he_eakness! She violated the laws of our order, and incurred the inveterate hat_f the unforgiving Domina. St. Clare's rules are severe: But grown antiquate_nd neglected, many of late years have either been forgotten, or changed b_niversal consent into milder punishments. The penance, adjudged to the crim_f Agnes, was most cruel, most inhuman! The law had been long exploded: Alas!
  • It still existed, and the revengeful Prioress now determined to revive it.
  • This law decreed that the Offender should be plunged into a private dungeon, expressly constituted to hide from the world for ever the Victim of Cruelt_nd tyrannic superstition. In this dreadful abode She was to lead a perpetua_olitude, deprived of all society, and believed to be dead by those who_ffection might have prompted to attempt her rescue. Thus was She to languis_ut the remainder of her days, with no other food than bread and water, and n_ther comfort than the free indulgence of her tears.'
  • The indignation created by this account was so violent, as for some moments t_nterrupt St. Ursula's narrative. When the disturbance ceased, and silenc_gain prevailed through the Assembly, She continued her discourse, while a_very word the Domina's countenance betrayed her increasing terrors.
  • 'A Council of the twelve elder Nuns was called: I was of the number. Th_rioress in exaggerated colours described the offence of Agnes, and scruple_ot to propose the revival of this almost forgotten law. To the shame of ou_ex be it spoken, that either so absolute was the Domina's will in th_onvent, or so much had disappointment, solitude, and self-denial hardene_heir hearts and sowered their tempers that this barbarous proposal wa_ssented to by nine voices out of the twelve. I was not one of the nine.
  • Frequent opportunities had convinced me of the virtues of Agnes, and I love_nd pitied her most sincerely. The Mothers Bertha and Cornelia joined m_arty: We made the strongest opposition possible, and the Superior foun_erself compelled to change her intention. In spite of the majority in he_avour, She feared to break with us openly. She knew that supported by th_edina family, our forces would be too strong for her to cope with: And Sh_lso knew that after being once imprisoned and supposed dead, should Agnes b_iscovered, her ruin would be inevitable. She therefore gave up her design, though which much reluctance. She demanded some days to reflect upon a mode o_unishment which might be agreeable to the whole Community; and She promised, that as soon as her resolution was fixed, the same Council should be agai_ummoned. Two days passed away: On the Evening of the Third it was announce_hat on the next day Agnes should be examined; and that according to he_ehaviour on that occasion, her punishment should be either strengthened o_itigated.
  • 'On the night preceding this examination, I stole to the Cell of Agnes at a_our when I supposed the other Nuns to be buried in sleep. I comforted her t_he best of my power: I bad her take courage, told her to rely upon th_upport of her friends, and taught her certain signs, by which I migh_nstruct her to answer the Domina's questions by an assent or negative.
  • Conscious that her Enemy would strive to confuse, embarrass, and daunt her, _eared her being ensnared into some confession prejudicial to her interests.
  • Being anxious to keep my visit secret, I stayed with Agnes but a short time. _ad her not let her spirits be cast down; I mingled my tears with those whic_treamed down her cheek, embraced her fondly, and was on the point o_etiring, when I heard the sound of steps approaching the Cell. I starte_ack. A Curtain which veiled a large Crucifix offered me a retreat, and _astened to place myself behind it. The door opened. The Prioress entered, followed by four other Nuns. They advanced towards the bed of Agnes. Th_uperior reproached her with her errors in the bitterest terms: She told he_hat She was a disgrace to the Convent, that She was resolved to deliver th_orld and herself from such a Monster, and commanded her to drink the content_f a Goblet now presented to her by one of the Nuns. Aware of the fata_roperties of the liquor, and trembling to find herself upon the brink o_ternity, the unhappy Girl strove to excite the Domina's pity by the mos_ffecting prayers.
  • She sued for life in terms which might have melted the heart of a Fiend: Sh_romised to submit patiently to any punishment, to shame, imprisonment, an_orture, might She but be permitted to live! Oh! might She but live anothe_onth, or week, or day! Her merciless Enemy listened to her complaint_nmoved: She told her that at first She meant to have spared her life, an_hat if She had altered her intention, She had to thank the opposition of he_riends. She continued to insist upon her swallowing the poison: She bad he_ecommend herself to the Almighty's mercy, not to hers, and assured her tha_n an hour She would be numbered with the Dead. Perceiving that it was vain t_mplore this unfeeling Woman, She attempted to spring from her bed, and cal_or assistance: She hoped, if She could not escape the fate announced to her, at least to have witnesses of the violence committed. The Prioress guessed he_esign. She seized her forcibly by the arm, and pushed her back upon he_illow. At the same time drawing a dagger, and placing it at the breast of th_nfortunate Agnes, She protested that if She uttered a single cry, o_esitated a single moment to drink the poison, She would pierce her heart tha_nstant. Already half-dead with fear, She could make no further resistance.
  • The Nun approached with the fatal Goblet. The Domina obliged her to take it, and swallow the contents. She drank, and the horrid deed was accomplished. Th_uns then seated themselves round the Bed. They answered her groans wit_eproaches; They interrupted with sarcasms the prayers in which Sh_ecommended her parting soul to mercy: They threatened her with heaven'_engeance and eternal perdition: They bad her despair of pardon, and strowe_ith yet sharper thorns Death's painful pillow. Such were the sufferings o_his young Unfortunate, till released by fate from the malice of he_ormentors. She expired in horror of the past, in fears for the future; an_er agonies were such as must have amply gratified the hate and vengeance o_er Enemies. As soon as her Victim ceased to breathe, the Domina retired, an_as followed by her Accomplices.
  • 'It was now that I ventured from my concealment. I dared not to assist m_nhappy Friend, aware that without preserving her, I should only have brough_n myself the same destruction. Shocked and terrified beyond expression a_his horrid scene, scarcely had I sufficient strength to regain my Cell. As _eached the door of that of Agnes, I ventured to look towards the bed, o_hich lay her lifeless body, once so lovely and so sweet! I breathed a praye_or her departed Spirit, and vowed to revenge her death by the shame an_unishment of her Assassins. With danger and difficulty have I kept my oath. _nwarily dropped some words at the funeral of Agnes, while thrown off my guar_y excessive grief, which alarmed the guilty conscience of the Prioress. M_very action was observed; My every step was traced. I was constantl_urrounded by the Superior's spies. It was long before I could find the mean_f conveying to the unhappy Girl's Relations an intimation of my secret. I_as given out that Agnes had expired suddenly: This account was credited no_nly by her Friends in Madrid, but even by those within the Convent. Th_oison had left no marks upon her body: No one suspected the true cause of he_eath, and it remained unknown to all, save the Assassins and Myself.
  • 'I have no more to say: For what I have already said, I will answer with m_ife. I repeat that the Prioress is a Murderess; That She has driven from th_orld, perhaps from heaven, an Unfortunate whose offence was light and venial; that She has abused the power intrusted to her hands, and has been a Tyrant, _arbarian, and an Hypocrite. I also accuse the four Nuns, Violante, Camilla, Alix, and Mariana, as being her Accomplices, and equally criminal.'
  • Here St. Ursula ended her narrative. It created horror and surpriz_hroughout: But when She related the inhuman murder of Agnes, the indignatio_f the Mob was so audibly testified, that it was scarcely possible to hear th_onclusion. This confusion increased with every moment: At length a multitud_f voices exclaimed that the Prioress should be given up to their fury. T_his Don Ramirez refused to consent positively. Even Lorenzo bad the Peopl_emember that She had undergone no trial, and advised them to leave he_unishment to the Inquisition. All representations were fruitless: Th_isturbance grew still more violent, and the Populace more exasperated. I_ain did Ramirez attempt to convey his Prisoner out of the Throng. Wherever H_urned, a band of Rioters barred his passage, and demanded her being delivere_ver to them more loudly than before. Ramirez ordered his Attendants to cu_heir way through the multitude: Oppressed by numbers, it was impossible fo_hem to draw their swords. He threatened the Mob with the vengeance of th_nquisition: But in this moment of popular phrenzy even this dreadful name ha_ost its effect. Though regret for his Sister made him look upon the Priores_ith abhorrence, Lorenzo could not help pitying a Woman in a situation s_errible: But in spite of all his exertions, and those of the Duke, of Do_amirez, and the Archers, the People continued to press onwards. They forced _assage through the Guards who protected their destined Victim, dragged he_rom her shelter, and proceeded to take upon her a most summary and crue_engeance. Wild with terror, and scarcely knowing what She said, the wretche_oman shrieked for a moment's mercy: She protested that She was innocent o_he death of Agnes, and could clear herself from the suspicion beyond th_ower of doubt. The Rioters heeded nothing but the gratification of thei_arbarous vengeance. They refused to listen to her: They showed her every sor_f insult, loaded her with mud and filth, and called her by the mos_pprobrious appellations. They tore her one from another, and each ne_ormentor was more savage than the former. They stifled with howls an_xecrations her shrill cries for mercy; and dragged her through the Streets, spurning her, trampling her, and treating her with every species of cruelt_hich hate or vindictive fury could invent. At length a Flint, aimed by som_ell-directing hand, struck her full upon the temple. She sank upon the groun_athed in blood, and in a few minutes terminated her miserable existence. Ye_hough She no longer felt their insults, the Rioters still exercised thei_mpotent rage upon her lifeless body. They beat it, trod upon it, and ill-use_t, till it became no more than a mass of flesh, unsightly, shapeless, an_isgusting.
  • Unable to prevent this shocking event, Lorenzo and his Friends had beheld i_ith the utmost horror: But they were rouzed from their compelled inactivity, on hearing that the Mob was attacking the Convent of St. Clare. The incense_opulace, confounding the innocent with the guilty, had resolved to sacrific_ll the Nuns of that order to their rage, and not to leave one stone of th_uilding upon another. Alarmed at this intelligence, they hastened to th_onvent, resolved to defend it if possible, or at least to rescue th_nhabitants from the fury of the Rioters. Most of the Nuns had fled, but a fe_till remained in their habitation. Their situation was truly dangerous.
  • However, as they had taken the precaution of fastening the inner Gates, wit_his assistance Lorenzo hoped to repel the Mob, till Don Ramirez should retur_o him with a more sufficient force.
  • Having been conducted by the former disturbance to the distance of som_treets from the Convent, He did not immediately reach it: When He arrived, the throng surrounding it was so excessive as to prevent his approaching th_ates. In the interim, the Populace besieged the Building with perseverin_age: They battered the walls, threw lighted torches in at the windows, an_wore that by break of day not a Nun of St. Clare's order should be lef_live. Lorenzo had just succeeded in piercing his way through the Crowd, whe_ne of the Gates was forced open. The Rioters poured into the interior part o_he Building, where they exercised their vengeance upon every thing whic_ound itself in their passage. They broke the furniture into pieces, tore dow_he pictures, destroyed the reliques, and in their hatred of her Servan_orgot all respect to the Saint. Some employed themselves in searching out th_uns, Others in pulling down parts of the Convent, and Others again in settin_ire to the pictures and valuable furniture which it contained. These Latte_roduced the most decisive desolation: Indeed the consequences of their actio_ere more sudden than themselves had expected or wished. The Flames risin_rom the burning piles caught part of the Building, which being old and dry, the conflagration spread with rapidity from room to room. The Walls were soo_haken by the devouring element: The Columns gave way: The Roofs came tumblin_own upon the Rioters, and crushed many of them beneath their weight. Nothin_as to be heard but shrieks and groans; The Convent was wrapped in flames, an_he whole presented a scene of devastation and horror.
  • Lorenzo was shocked at having been the cause, however innocent, of thi_rightful disturbance: He endeavoured to repair his fault by protecting th_elpless Inhabitants of the Convent. He entered it with the Mob, and exerte_imself to repress the prevailing Fury, till the sudden and alarming progres_f the flames compelled him to provide for his own safety. The People no_urried out, as eagerly as they had before thronged in; But their number_logging up the doorway, and the fire gaining upon them rapidly, many of the_erished ere they had time to effect their escape. Lorenzo's good fortun_irected him to a small door in a farther Aisle of the Chapel. The bolt wa_lready undrawn: He opened the door, and found himself at the foot of St.
  • Clare's Sepulchre.
  • Here He stopped to breathe. The Duke and some of his Attendants had followe_im, and thus were in security for the present. They now consulted, what step_hey should take to escape from this scene of disturbance: But thei_eliberations were considerably interrupted by the sight of volumes of fir_ising from amidst the Convent's massy walls, by the noise of some heavy Arc_umbling down in ruins, or by the mingled shrieks of the Nuns and Rioters, either suffocating in the press, perishing in the flames, or crushed beneat_he weight of the falling Mansion.
  • Lorenzo enquired, whither the Wicket led? He was answered, to the Garden o_he Capuchins, and it was resolved to explore an outlet upon that side.
  • Accordingly the Duke raised the Latch, and passed into the adjoining Cemetery.
  • The Attendants followed without ceremony. Lorenzo, being the last, was also o_he point of quitting the Colonnade, when He saw the door of the Sepulchr_pened softly. Someone looked out, but on perceiving Strangers uttered a lou_hriek, started back again, and flew down the marble Stairs.
  • 'What can this mean?' cried Lorenzo; 'Here is some mystery concealed. Follo_e without delay!'
  • Thus saying, He hastened into the Sepulchre, and pursued the person wh_ontinued to fly before him. The Duke knew not the cause of his exclamation, but supposing that He had good reasons for it, he followed him withou_esitation. The Others did the same, and the whole Party soon arrived at th_oot of the Stairs.
  • The upper door having been left open, the neighbouring flames darted fro_bove a sufficient light to enable Lorenzo's catching a glance of the Fugitiv_unning through the long passages and distant Vaults: But when a sudden tur_eprived him of this assistance, total darkness succeeded, and He could onl_race the object of his enquiry by the faint echo of retiring feet. Th_ursuers were now compelled to proceed with caution: As well as they coul_udge, the Fugitive also seemed to slacken pace, for they heard the step_ollow each other at longer intervals. They at length were bewildered by th_abyrinth of passages, and dispersed in various directions. Carried away b_is eagerness to clear up this mystery, and to penetrate into which He wa_mpelled by a movement secret and unaccountable, Lorenzo heeded not thi_ircumstance till He found himself in total solitude. The noise of footstep_ad ceased. All was silent around, and no clue offered itself to guide him t_he flying Person. He stopped to reflect on the means most likely to aid hi_ursuit. He was persuaded that no common cause would have induced the Fugitiv_o seek that dreary place at an hour so unusual: The cry which He had heard, seemed uttered in a voice of terror, and He was convinced that some myster_as attached to this event. After some minutes past in hesitation He continue_o proceed, feeling his way along the walls of the passage. He had alread_ast some time in this slow progress, when He descried a spark of ligh_limmering at a distance. Guided by this observation, and having drawn hi_word, He bent his steps towards the place, whence the beam seemed to b_mitted.
  • It proceeded from the Lamp which flamed before St. Clare's Statue. Before i_tood several Females, their white Garments streaming in the blast, as i_owled along the vaulted dungeons. Curious to know what had brought the_ogether in this melancholy spot, Lorenzo drew near with precaution. Th_trangers seemed earnestly engaged in conversation. They heard not Lorenzo'_teps, and He approached unobserved, till He could hear their voice_istinctly.
  • 'I protest,' continued She who was speaking when He arrived, and to whom th_est were listening with great attention; 'I protest, that I saw them with m_wn eyes. I flew down the steps; They pursued me, and I escaped falling int_heir hands with difficulty. Had it not been for the Lamp, I should never hav_ound you.'
  • 'And what could bring them hither?' said another in a trembling voice; 'Do yo_hink that they were looking for us?'
  • 'God grant that my fears may be false,' rejoined the First; 'But I doubt the_re Murderers! If they discover us, we are lost! As for me, my fate i_ertain: My affinity to the Prioress will be a sufficient crime to condemn me; and though till now these Vaults have afforded me a retreat…  … .'
  • Here looking up, her eye fell upon Lorenzo, who had continued to approac_oftly.
  • 'The Murderers!' She cried—
  • She started away from the Statue's Pedestal on which She had been seated, an_ttempted to escape by flight. Her Companions at the same moment uttered _errified scream, while Lorenzo arrested the Fugitive by the arm. Frightene_nd desperate She sank upon her knees before him.
  • 'Spare me!' She exclaimed; 'For Christ's sake, spare me! I am innocent, indeed, I am!'
  • While She spoke, her voice was almost choaked with fear. The beams of the Lam_arting full upon her face which was unveiled, Lorenzo recognized th_eautiful Virginia de Villa-Franca. He hastened to raise her from the ground, and besought her to take courage. He promised to protect her from the Rioters, assured her that her retreat was still a secret, and that She might depen_pon his readiness to defend her to the last drop of his blood. During thi_onversation, the Nuns had thrown themselves into various attitudes: On_nelt, and addressed herself to heaven; Another hid her face in the lap of he_eighbour; Some listened motionless with fear to the discourse of the suppose_ssassin; while Others embraced the Statue of St. Clare, and implored he_rotection with frantic cries. On perceiving their mistake, they crowded roun_orenzo and heaped benedictions on him by dozens. He found that, on hearin_he threats of the Mob, and terrified by the cruelties which from the Conven_owers they had seen inflicted on the Superior, many of the Pensioners an_uns had taken refuge in the Sepulchre. Among the former was to be reckone_he lovely Virginia. Nearly related to the Prioress, She had more reason tha_he rest to dread the Rioters, and now besought Lorenzo earnestly not t_bandon her to their rage. Her Companions, most of whom were Women of nobl_amily, made the same request, which He readily granted. He promised not t_uit them, till He had seen each of them safe in the arms of her Relations: But He advised their deferring to quit the Sepulchre for some time longer, when the popular fury should be somewhat calmed, and the arrival of militar_orce have dispersed the multitude.
  • 'Would to God!' cried Virginia, 'That I were already safe in my Mother'_mbraces! How say you, Segnor; Will it be long, ere we may leave this place?
  • Every moment that I pass here, I pass in torture!'
  • 'I hope, not long,' said He; 'But till you can proceed with security, thi_epulchre will prove an impenetrable asylum. Here you run no risque of _iscovery, and I would advise your remaining quiet for the next two or thre_ours.'
  • 'Two or three hours?' exclaimed Sister Helena; 'If I stay another hour i_hese vaults, I shall expire with fear! Not the wealth of worlds should brib_e to undergo again what I have suffered since my coming hither. Blesse_irgin! To be in this melancholy place in the middle of night, surrounded b_he mouldering bodies of my deceased Companions, and expecting every moment t_e torn in pieces by their Ghosts who wander about me, and complain, an_roan, and wail in accents that make my blood run cold, …  … Christ Jesus! I_s enough to drive me to madness!'
  • 'Excuse me,' replied Lorenzo, 'if I am surprized that while menaced by rea_oes you are capable of yielding to imaginary dangers. These terrors ar_uerile and groundless: Combat them, holy Sister; I have promised to guard yo_rom the Rioters, but against the attacks of superstition you must depend fo_rotection upon yourself. The idea of Ghosts is ridiculous in the extreme; An_f you continue to be swayed by ideal terrors …  … '
  • 'Ideal?' exclaimed the Nuns with one voice; 'Why we heard it ourselves, Segnor! Every one of us heard it! It was frequently repeated, and it sounde_very time more melancholy and deep. You will never persuade me that we coul_ll have been deceived. Not we, indeed; No, no; Had the noise been merel_reated by fancy … .'
  • 'Hark! Hark!' interrupted Virginia in a voice of terror; 'God preserve us!
  • There it is again!'
  • The Nuns clasped their hands together, and sank upon their knees.
  • Lorenzo looked round him eagerly, and was on the point of yielding to th_ears which already had possessed the Women. Universal silence prevailed. H_xamined the Vault, but nothing was to be seen. He now prepared to address th_uns, and ridicule their childish apprehensions, when his attention wa_rrested by a deep and long-drawn groan.
  • 'What was that?' He cried, and started.
  • 'There, Segnor!' said Helena; 'Now you must be convinced! You have heard th_oise yourself! Now judge, whether our terrors are imaginary. Since we hav_een here, that groaning has been repeated almost every five minutes.
  • Doubtless, it proceeds from some Soul in pain, who wishes to be prayed out o_urgatory: But none of us here dares ask it the question. As for me, were I t_ee an Apparition, the fright, I am very certain, would kill me out of hand.'
  • As She said this, a second groan was heard yet more distinctly. The Nun_rossed themselves, and hastened to repeat their prayers against evil Spirits.
  • Lorenzo listened attentively. He even thought that He could distinguis_ounds, as of one speaking in complaint; But distance rendered the_narticulate. The noise seemed to come from the midst of the small Vault i_hich He and the Nuns then were, and which a multitude of passages branchin_ut in various directions, formed into a sort of Star. Lorenzo's curiosit_hich was ever awake, made him anxious to solve this mystery. He desired tha_ilence might be kept. The Nuns obeyed him. All was hushed, till the genera_tillness was again disturbed by the groaning, which was repeated severa_imes successively. He perceived it to be most audible, when upon followin_he sound He was conducted close to the shrine of St. Clare;
  • 'The noise comes from hence,' said He; 'Whose is this Statue?'
  • Helena, to whom He addressed the question, paused for a moment. Suddenly Sh_lapped her hands together.
  • 'Aye!' cried She, 'it must be so. I have discovered the meaning of thes_roans.'
  • The Nuns crowded round her, and besought her eagerly to explain herself. Sh_ravely replied that for time immemorial the Statue had been famous fo_erforming miracles: From this She inferred that the Saint was concerned a_he conflagration of a Convent which She protected, and expressed her grief b_udible lamentations. Not having equal faith in the miraculous Saint, Lorenz_id not think this solution of the mystery quite so satisfactory, as the Nuns, who subscribed to it without hesitation. In one point, 'tis true, that H_greed with Helena.
  • He suspected that the groans proceeded from the Statue: The more He listened, the more was He confirmed in this idea. He drew nearer to the Image, designin_o inspect it more closely: But perceiving his intention, the Nuns besough_im for God's sake to desist, since if He touched the Statue, his death wa_nevitable.
  • 'And in what consists the danger?' said He.
  • 'Mother of God! In what?' replied Helena, ever eager to relate a miraculou_dventure; 'If you had only heard the hundredth part of those marvellou_tories about this Statue which the Domina used to recount! She assured u_ften and often, that if we only dared to lay a finger upon it, we migh_xpect the most fatal consequences. Among other things She told us that _obber having entered these Vaults by night, He observed yonder Ruby, whos_alue is inestimable. Do you see it, Segnor? It sparkles upon the third finge_f the hand, in which She holds a crown of Thorns. This Jewel naturall_xcited the Villain's cupidity. He resolved to make himself Master of it. Fo_his purpose He ascended the Pedestal: He supported himself by grasping th_aint's right arm, and extended his own towards the Ring. What was hi_urprize, when He saw the Statue's hand raised in a posture of menace, an_eard her lips pronounce his eternal perdition! Penetrated with awe an_onsternation, He desisted from his attempt, and prepared to quit th_epulchre. In this He also failed. Flight was denied him. He found i_mpossible to disengage the hand, which rested upon the right arm of th_tatue. In vain did He struggle: He remained fixed to the Image, till th_nsupportable and fiery anguish which darted itself through his veins, compelled his shrieking for assistance.
  • The Sepulchre was now filled with Spectators. The Villain confessed hi_acrilege, and was only released by the separation of his hand from his body.
  • It has remained ever since fastened to the Image. The Robber turned Hermit, and led ever after an exemplary life: But yet the Saint's decree wa_erformed, and Tradition says that He continues to haunt this Sepulchre, an_mplore St. Clare's pardon with groans and lamentations. Now I think of it, those which we have just heard, may very possibly have been uttered by th_host of this Sinner: But of this I will not be positive. All that I can sa_s, that since that time no one has ever dared to touch the Statue: Then d_ot be foolhardy, good Segnor! For the love of heaven, give up your design, nor expose yourself unnecessarily to certain destruction.'
  • Not being convinced that his destruction would be so certain as Helena seeme_o think it, Lorenzo persisted in his resolution. The Nuns besought him t_esist in piteous terms, and even pointed out the Robber's hand, which i_ffect was still visible upon the arm of the Statue. This proof, as the_magined, must convince him. It was very far from doing so; and they wer_reatly scandalized when he declared his suspicion that the dried an_hrivelled fingers had been placed there by order of the Prioress. In spite o_heir prayers and threats He approached the Statue. He sprang over the iro_ails which defended it, and the Saint underwent a thorough examination. Th_mage at first appeared to be of Stone, but proved on further inspection to b_ormed of no more solid materials than coloured Wood. He shook it, an_ttempted to move it; But it appeared to be of a piece with the Base which i_tood upon. He examined it over and over: Still no clue guided him to th_olution of this mystery, for which the Nuns were become equally solicitous, when they saw that He touched the Statue with impunity. He paused, an_istened: The groans were repeated at intervals, and He was convinced of bein_n the spot nearest to them. He mused upon this singular event, and ran ove_he Statue with enquiring eyes. Suddenly they rested upon the shrivelled hand.
  • It struck him, that so particular an injunction was not given without cause, not to touch the arm of the Image. He again ascended the Pedestal; He examine_he object of his attention, and discovered a small knob of iron conceale_etween the Saint's shoulder and what was supposed to have been the hand o_he Robber. This observation delighted him. He applied his fingers to th_nob, and pressed it down forcibly. Immediately a rumbling noise was hear_ithin the Statue, as if a chain tightly stretched was flying back. Startle_t the sound the timid Nuns started away, prepared to hasten from the Vault a_he first appearance of danger. All remaining quiet and still, they agai_athered round Lorenzo, and beheld his proceedings with anxious curiosity.
  • Finding that nothing followed this discovery, He descended. As He took hi_and from the Saint, She trembled beneath his touch. This created new terror_n the Spectators, who believed the Statue to be animated. Lorenzo's idea_pon the subject were widely different. He easily comprehended that the nois_hich He had heard, was occasioned by his having loosened a chain whic_ttached the Image to its Pedestal. He once more attempted to move it, an_ucceeded without much exertion. He placed it upon the ground, and the_erceived the Pedestal to be hollow, and covered at the opening with an heav_ron grate.
  • This excited such general curiosity that the Sisters forgot both their rea_nd imaginary dangers. Lorenzo proceeded to raise the Grate, in which the Nun_ssisted him to the utmost of their strength. The attempt was accomplishe_ith little difficulty. A deep abyss now presented itself before them, whos_hick obscurity the eye strove in vain to pierce. The rays of the Lamp wer_oo feeble to be of much assistance. Nothing was discernible, save a flight o_ough unshapen steps which sank into the yawning Gulph and were soon lost i_arkness. The groans were heard no more; But All believed them to hav_scended from this Cavern. As He bent over it, Lorenzo fancied that H_istinguished something bright twinkling through the gloom. He gaze_ttentively upon the spot where it showed itself, and was convinced that H_aw a small spark of light, now visible, now disappearing. He communicate_his circumstance to the Nuns: They also perceived the spark; But when H_eclared his intention to descend into the Cave, they united to oppose hi_esolution. All their remonstrances could not prevail on him to alter it. Non_f them had courage enough to accompany him; neither could He think o_epriving them of the Lamp. Alone therefore, and in darkness, He prepared t_ursue his design, while the Nuns were contented to offer up prayers for hi_uccess and safety.
  • The steps were so narrow and uneven, that to descend them was like walkin_own the side of a precipice. The obscurity by which He was surrounde_endered his footing insecure. He was obliged to proceed with great caution, lest He should miss the steps and fall into the Gulph below him. This He wa_everal times on the point of doing. However, He arrived sooner upon soli_round than He had expected: He now found that the thick darkness an_mpenetrable mists which reigned through the Cavern had deceived him into th_elief of its being much more profound than it proved upon inspection. H_eached the foot of the Stairs unhurt: He now stopped, and looked round fo_he spark which had before caught his attention. He sought it in vain: All wa_ark and gloomy. He listened for the groans; But his ear caught no sound, except the distant murmur of the Nuns above, as in low voices they repeate_heir Ave-Marias. He stood irresolute to which side He should address hi_teps. At all events He determined to proceed: He did so, but slowly, fearin_est instead of approaching, He should be retiring from the object of hi_earch. The groans seemed to announce one in pain, or at least in sorrow, an_e hoped to have the power of relieving the Mourner's calamities. A plaintiv_one, sounding at no great distance, at length reached his hearing; He ben_is course joyfully towards it. It became more audible as He advanced; and H_oon beheld again the spark of light, which a low projecting Wall had hithert_oncealed from him.
  • It proceeded from a small Lamp which was placed upon an heap of stones, an_hose faint and melancholy rays served rather to point out, than dispell th_orrors of a narrow gloomy dungeon formed in one side of the Cavern; It als_howed several other recesses of similar construction, but whose depth wa_uried in obscurity. Coldly played the light upon the damp walls, whose dew- stained surface gave back a feeble reflection. A thick and pestilential fo_louded the height of the vaulted dungeon. As Lorenzo advanced, He felt _iercing chillness spread itself through his veins. The frequent groans stil_ngaged him to move forwards. He turned towards them, and by the Lamp'_limmering beams beheld in a corner of this loathsome abode, a Creatur_tretched upon a bed of straw, so wretched, so emaciated, so pale, that H_oubted to think her Woman. She was half-naked: Her long dishevelled hair fel_n disorder over her face, and almost entirely concealed it. One wasted Ar_ung listlessly upon a tattered rug which covered her convulsed and shiverin_imbs: The Other was wrapped round a small bundle, and held it closely to he_osom. A large Rosary lay near her: Opposite to her was a Crucifix, on whic_he bent her sunk eyes fixedly, and by her side stood a Basket and a smal_arthen Pitcher.
  • Lorenzo stopped: He was petrified with horror. He gazed upon the miserabl_bject with disgust and pity. He trembled at the spectacle; He grew sick a_eart: His strength failed him, and his limbs were unable to support hi_eight. He was obliged to lean against the low Wall which was near him, unabl_o go forward, or to address the Sufferer. She cast her eyes towards th_taircase: The Wall concealed Lorenzo, and She observed him not.
  • 'No one comes!' She at length murmured.
  • As She spoke, her voice was hollow, and rattled in her throat: She sighe_itterly.
  • 'No one comes!' She repeated; 'No! They have forgotten me! They will come n_ore!'
  • She paused for a moment: Then continued mournfully.
  • 'Two days! Two long, long days, and yet no food! And yet no hope, no comfort!
  • Foolish Woman! How can I wish to lengthen a life so wretched! Yet such _eath! O! God! To perish by such a death! To linger out such ages in torture!
  • Till now, I knew not what it was to hunger! Hark! No. No one comes! They wil_ome no more!'
  • She was silent. She shivered, and drew the rug over her naked shoulders.
  • 'I am very cold! I am still unused to the damps of this dungeon!
  • 'Tis strange: But no matter. Colder shall I soon be, and yet not feel it—_hall be cold, cold as Thou art!'
  • She looked at the bundle which lay upon her breast. She bent over it, an_issed it: Then drew back hastily, and shuddered with disgust.
  • 'It was once so sweet! It would have been so lovely, so like him! I have los_t for ever! How a few days have changed it! I should not know it agai_yself! Yet it is dear to me! God! how dear! I will forget what it is: I wil_nly remember what it was, and love it as well, as when it was so sweet! s_ovely! so like him! I thought that I had wept away all my tears, but here i_ne still lingering.'
  • She wiped her eyes with a tress of her hair. She put out her hand for th_itcher, and reached it with difficulty. She cast into it a look of hopeles_nquiry. She sighed, and replaced it upon the ground.
  • 'Quite a void! Not a drop! Not one drop left to cool my scorched-up burnin_alate! Now would I give treasures for a draught of water! And they are God'_ervants, who make me suffer thus! They think themselves holy, while the_orture me like Fiends! They are cruel and unfeeling; And 'tis they who bid m_epent; And 'tis they, who threaten me with eternal perdition! Saviour, Saviour! You think not so!'
  • She again fixed her eyes upon the Crucifix, took her Rosary, and while Sh_old her beads, the quick motion of her lips declared her to be praying wit_ervency.
  • While He listened to her melancholy accents, Lorenzo's sensibility became ye_ore violently affected. The first sight of such misery had given a sensibl_hock to his feelings: But that being past, He now advanced towards th_aptive. She heard his steps, and uttering a cry of joy, dropped the Rosary.
  • 'Hark! Hark! Hark!' She cried: 'Some one comes!'
  • She strove to raise herself, but her strength was unequal to the attempt: Sh_ell back, and as She sank again upon the bed of straw, Lorenzo heard th_attling of heavy chains. He still approached, while the Prisoner thu_ontinued.
  • 'Is it you, Camilla? You are come then at last? Oh! it was time! I though_hat you had forsaken me; that I was doomed to perish of hunger. Give me t_rink, Camilla, for pity's sake! I am faint with long fasting, and grown s_eak that I cannot raise myself from the ground. Good Camilla, give me t_rink, lest I expire before you!'
  • Fearing that surprize in her enfeebled state might be fatal, Lorenzo was at _oss how to address her.
  • 'It is not Camilla,' said He at length, speaking in a slow and gentle voice.
  • 'Who is it then?' replied the Sufferer: 'Alix, perhaps, or Violante. My eye_re grown so dim and feeble that I cannot distinguish your features. Bu_hichever it is, if your breast is sensible of the least compassion, if yo_re not more cruel than Wolves and Tigers, take pity on my sufferings. Yo_now that I am dying for want of sustenance. This is the third day, sinc_hese lips have received nourishment. Do you bring me food? Or come you onl_o announce my death, and learn how long I have yet to exist in agony?'
  • 'You mistake my business,' replied Lorenzo; 'I am no Emissary of the crue_rioress. I pity your sorrows, and come hither to relieve them.'
  • 'To relieve them?' repeated the Captive; 'Said you, to relieve them?'
  • At the same time starting from the ground, and supporting herself upon he_ands, She gazed upon the Stranger earnestly.
  • 'Great God! It is no illusion! A Man! Speak! Who are you? What brings yo_ither? Come you to save me, to restore me to liberty, to life and light? Oh!
  • speak, speak quickly, lest I encourage an hope whose disappointment wil_estroy me.'
  • 'Be calm!' replied Lorenzo in a voice soothing and compassionate; 'The Domin_f whose cruelty you complain, has already paid the forfeit of her offences: You have nothing more to fear from her.
  • A few minutes will restore you to liberty, and the embraces of your Friend_rom whom you have been secluded. You may rely upon my protection. Give m_our hand, and be not fearful. Let me conduct you where you may receive thos_ttentions which your feeble state requires.'
  • 'Oh! Yes! Yes! Yes!' cried the Prisoner with an exulting shriek; 'There is _od then, and a just one! Joy! Joy! I shall once more breath the fresh air, and view the light of the glorious sunbeams! I will go with you! Stranger, _ill go with you! Oh! Heaven will bless you for pitying an Unfortunate! Bu_his too must go with me,' She added pointing to the small bundle which Sh_till clasped to her bosom; 'I cannot part with this. I will bear it away: I_hall convince the world how dreadful are the abodes so falsely terme_eligious. Good Stranger, lend me your hand to rise: I am faint with want, an_orrow, and sickness, and my forces have quite forsaken me! So, that is well!'
  • As Lorenzo stooped to raise her, the beams of the Lamp struck full upon hi_ace.
  • 'Almighty God!' She exclaimed; 'Is it possible! That look! Those features! Oh!
  • Yes, it is, it is … . .'
  • She extended her arms to throw them round him; But her enfeebled frame wa_nable to sustain the emotions which agitated her bosom. She fainted, an_gain sank upon the bed of straw.
  • Lorenzo was surprized at her last exclamation. He thought that He had befor_eard such accents as her hollow voice had just formed, but where He could no_emember. He saw that in her dangerous situation immediate physical aid wa_bsolutely necessary, and He hastened to convey her from the dungeon. He wa_t first prevented from doing so by a strong chain fastened round th_risoner's body, and fixing her to the neighbouring Wall. However, his natura_trength being aided by anxiety to relieve the Unfortunate, He soon forced ou_he Staple to which one end of the Chain was attached. Then taking the Captiv_n his arms, He bent his course towards the Staircase. The rays of the Lam_bove, as well as the murmur of female voices, guided his steps. He gained th_tairs, and in a few minutes after arrived at the iron-grate.
  • The Nuns during his absence had been terribly tormented by curiosity an_pprehension: They were equally surprized and delighted on seeing him suddenl_merge from the Cave. Every heart was filled with compassion for the miserabl_reature whom He bore in his arms. While the Nuns, and Virginia in particular, employed themselves in striving to recall her to her senses, Lorenzo relate_n few words the manner of his finding her. He then observed to them that b_his time the tumult must have been quelled, and that He could now conduc_hem to their Friends without danger. All were eager to quit the Sepulchre: Still to prevent all possibility of ill-usage, they besought Lorenzo t_enture out first alone, and examine whether the Coast was clear. With thi_equest He complied. Helena offered to conduct him to the Staircase, and the_ere on the point of departing, when a strong light flashed from severa_assages upon the adjacent walls. At the same time Steps were heard of peopl_pproaching hastily, and whose number seemed to be considerable. The Nuns wer_reatly alarmed at this circumstance: They supposed their retreat to b_iscovered, and the Rioters to be advancing in pursuit of them. Hastil_uitting the Prisoner who remained insensible, they crowded round Lorenzo, an_laimed his promise to protect them. Virginia alone forgot her own danger b_triving to relieve the sorrows of Another. She supported the Sufferer's hea_pon her knees, bathing her temples with rose-water, chafing her cold hands, and sprinkling her face with tears which were drawn from her by compassion.
  • The Strangers approaching nearer, Lorenzo was enabled to dispel the fears o_he Suppliants. His name, pronounced by a number of voices among which H_istinguished the Duke's, pealed along the Vaults, and convinced him that H_as the object of their search. He communicated this intelligence to the Nuns, who received it with rapture. A few moments after confirmed his idea. Do_amirez, as well as the Duke, appeared, followed by Attendants with Torches.
  • They had been seeking him through the Vaults, in order to let him know tha_he Mob was dispersed, and the riot entirely over. Lorenzo recounted briefl_is adventure in the Cavern, and explained how much the Unknown was in want o_edical assistance. He besought the Duke to take charge of her, as well as o_he Nuns and Pensioners.
  • 'As for me,' said He, 'Other cares demand my attention. While you with on_alf of the Archers convey these Ladies to their respective homes, I wish th_ther half to be left with me. I will examine the Cavern below, and pervad_he most secret recesses of the Sepulchre. I cannot rest till convinced tha_onder wretched Victim was the only one confined by Superstition in thes_aults.'
  • The Duke applauded his intention. Don Ramirez offered to assist him in hi_nquiry, and his proposal was accepted with gratitude.
  • The Nuns having made their acknowledgments to Lorenzo, committed themselves t_he care of his Uncle, and were conducted from the Sepulchre. Virgini_equested that the Unknown might be given to her in charge, and promised t_et Lorenzo know whenever She was sufficiently recovered to accept his visits.
  • In truth, She made this promise more from consideration for herself than fo_ither Lorenzo or the Captive. She had witnessed his politeness, gentleness, and intrepidity with sensible emotion. She wished earnestly to preserve hi_cquaintance; and in addition to the sentiments of pity which the Prisone_xcited, She hoped that her attention to this Unfortunate would raise her _egree in the esteem of Lorenzo. She had no occasion to trouble herself upo_his head. The kindness already displayed by her and the tender concern whic_he had shown for the Sufferer had gained her an exalted place in his goo_races. While occupied in alleviating the Captive's sorrows, the nature of he_mployment adorned her with new charms, and rendered her beauty a thousan_imes more interesting. Lorenzo viewed her with admiration and delight: H_onsidered her as a ministering Angel descended to the aid of afflicte_nnocence; nor could his heart have resisted her attractions, had it not bee_teeled by the remembrance of Antonia.
  • The Duke now conveyed the Nuns in safety to the Dwellings of their respectiv_riends. The rescued Prisoner was still insensible and gave no signs of life, except by occasional groans. She was borne upon a sort of litter; Virginia, who was constantly by the side of it, was apprehensive that exhausted by lon_bstinence, and shaken by the sudden change from bonds and darkness to libert_nd light, her frame would never get the better of the shock. Lorenzo and Do_amirez still remained in the Sepulchre. After deliberating upon thei_roceedings, it was resolved that to prevent losing time, the Archers shoul_e divided into two Bodies: That with one Don Ramirez should examine th_avern, while Lorenzo with the other might penetrate into the further Vaults.
  • This being arranged, and his Followers being provided with Torches, Do_amirez advanced to the Cavern. He had already descended some steps when H_eard People approaching hastily from the interior part of the Sepulchre. Thi_urprized him, and He quitted the Cave precipitately.
  • 'Do you hear footsteps?' said Lorenzo; 'Let us bend our course towards them.
  • 'Tis from this side that they seem to proceed.'
  • At that moment a loud and piercing shriek induced him to quicken his steps.
  • 'Help! Help, for God's sake! cried a voice, whose melodious tone penetrate_orenzo's heart with terror.
  • He flew towards the cry with the rapidity of lightning, and was followed b_on Ramirez with equal swiftness.