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head, “and the Lord De Clifford is ever foremost where honour calls."
“The courage of my Lord De Clifford is well known, and he fights in a holy cause!” returned the prior, as if glad to say words of comfort to the anxious child.
" True, my father, and I thank thee for his praise,” replied Rosamond with emotion; “ still I know that he may never return, though I watch and pray. Oh, with my very soul I beseech that I may kneel once more at his feet ;-once more see him, mounted on his horse, leading his knights through the arched doorway of the castle : then, methinks, I could die content;-oh, what joy even to die within one's own home!”
The prior started as Rosamond spoke, her voice was so touching, her attitude so graceful, that the impression he felt gaining ground over him was becoming irresistible. His own thoughts—thoughts he scarcely dared acknowledge to himself -- had been echoed to his ear by the lips of this still half child. Was nature, then, still so powerful within ? He stified the idea as it arose; and, taking two or three
turns up and down the room, he endeavoured to calm the agitation he feared to betray. Rosamond looked on, fearing to have offended him. She felt as if she might have lost a friend; for already her heart had warmed towards him. He was the only person besides Joan to whom she had dared to reveal her thoughts, and confidence is the first link of the chain which binds us to others. But she had given it unasked ; and perhaps he was angry. The thought brought tears to her eyes, as she stood meekly with crossed hands, as if awaiting her judgment. In a little while the prior spoke, but it was not in an accent of reproof.
“ Daughter,” he said calmly, thoughts are too much of this world. Remember, He that giveth also taketh away; therefore count not with so much certainty upon thy father's safe return, but pray that it may be so. We will aid thee in thy prayers. As to the lady abbess, she is thy mother in God; offend her not in speech, but submit as a child should do. I will implore her to forgive the past.”
“ And Joan, sister Joan !” exclaimed
Rosamond, anxiously, — for she felt as if her last chance was passing away; may she not be with me again ?”
“ It belongeth not to me to reverse a penance or command,” replied the prior, with his habitual reserve; “I can but plead for thee with the Lady Isolda.”
“ I thank thee, my father--I humbly thank thee,” responded Rosamond in a subdued voice.
“ And now, my daughter,” said the prior, “ retire to thy cell; and I pray thee let the lady abbess know that I wait her leisure here, in order to take my leave.”
“Thy blessing, father, and pardon, ere I go!” murmured Rosamond, humbly sinking upon her knees.
“Thou hast it my daughter,” replied the prior solemnly, laying his hand upon her head," I bless thee, and forgive.”
Rosamond rose from her knees; and, having reached the door of the room, she turned, made a deep curtsey with her hands folded on her breast, and disappeared.
With as much haste as decorum permitted, Father Thomas took his leave of the Lady Abbess, and quitted the nunnery of Clairvaux. He longed to be alone, and felt even the distant companionship of the two poor brothers who followed him to be an intolerable weight. For the first time in his life solitude was to him a blessing. His interview with Rosamond had completely changed the current of his thoughts. Unexpected as it was, it had touched feelings,
of the strength of which he was scarcely aware. It was not her transcendent beauty, ---the winning grace of look and tone that seemed to take the senses prisoners; no, it was the power of that nameless sympathy that binds two similar natures together-it was like one voice speaking two minds. Rosamond had said what he now perceived he long had felt. As he made this confession to himself, the prior actually shuddered. He asked not within his heart, “ Were such thoughts sinful ?” for with himself he dared not play the hypocrite. Such cant might work upon the ignorant, or intimidate the weak; to his strong mind the bottom depth of all things was visible. He merely asked, “Was it politic, was it prudent, to adopt a profession so contrary to his real nature ? would it not have best advanced his interests to follow the bent of his inclinations ? -a soldier at heart, why waste his life as a priest ?”
The words of Rosamond, “one might as well be dead,” rushed to his mind. He paused as he said them to himself. He looked back upon the Nunnery of Clairvaux; then turned his eyes towards his own