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and from the senseless babble of the illiterate nuns.
Though a child in years, Rosamond was a woman in mind. By the orders of her father, her education was of advanced nature than that of most ladies of her day; for she could not only read, but also write; and as her favourite and nurse, Jacqueline, or sister Joan, as she was called, was a Norman by birth, she had easily acquired from her such a knowledge of the Norman-French, then the language of the Court, as to be able to decipher sundry old manuscripts that formed her library, and which Joan had carried away from Clifford Castle; from these her knowledge of the knights, and their prowess, which so delighted Rosamond, had been chiefly gleaned.
The affection of the Lord de Clifford for his only child had prompted this course of education, more as an amusement than as a necessity: for learning in England was then at a very low ebb,—nor was it thought the slightest disgrace for lords and ladies of the highest degree to be totally ignorant even of their letters; and as learning was
almost solely confined to the monks, it was deemed a sort of knightly distinction never to have applied to it: as though the time thus saved had been better employed in chivalrous sports and martial exercises. The education of women, particularly those of high rank, partook much of the same nature; and hunting, hawking, and riding at the ring, were favoured pastimes of the high-born damsels who, nurtured in castles, amidst men-at-arms, passed their lives in scenes of chivalry and mimic war.
At the time when Lord de Clifford consigned her to the care of the Lady Isolda, Rosamond had reached her eleventh year. Long before her father had departed for the Holy Land, she had followed him to the tournament and the chace, and, on her little active mountain steed, had become a fearless and skilful horsewoman. Her life, passed in healthful exercises, had given vigour to her frame, while it strengthened and expanded the ideas and tastes so natural to her disposition. Frank, joyous and high-spirited, her very existence was enough, and she fluttered through the day a happy careless thing, like a bird soaring
and revelling in the sunny air. To leave such a being alone at so tender an age, in the then existing state of England, was a risk not to be contemplated ;—to stay and watch over his heiress and only child, never occurred to the happy father of so fair a treasure. The fever of the crusades spread far and near, and no knight deemed himself so truly noble as he who had knelt at the Holy Shrine. And thus poor Rosamond, just as she had begun passionately to love her life, was consigned to the grim walls of the convent of Clairvaux, there to await the issue of one of those mad schemes by which men have sought to render themselves famous.
Four years had passed away; the crusade still went on, and Rosamond trembled as each morning dawned, and dreaded the arrival of news from the East,—for many a false rumour had already blanched her cheek with fear ere the true one came to bid her breathe again. The terrible suspense caused by the scanty means of communication was a sore trial to those who watched, intelligence being constantly brought by travellers wholly misinformed.
It was now many months since Rosamond had heard her father's name; and as each day added to her fears, so did it increase the hatred she felt to the thraldom in which she was held. Without one kindred spirit to comfort or advise, her life passed sadly away. In vain had she attempted to attach herself to the abbess with a feeling of filial affection ; her endearments fell unheeded on the stony nature with which she had to deal. The Lady Isolda, bigoted and hard, could see in the beautiful child before her, only a wayward soul refusing to be saved. Faithful to the tenets of her church, she had left nothing undone to secure to it, in the person of Rosamond, the large estates to which she must one day become entitled; but all was of no avail. Rosamond might have been won, through her heart; but any approach to coercion alarmed her pride, and bigotry could not convince her mind. Each day, therefore, the coolness between her and the Lady Isolda increased; and though she strove to be respectful, it was difficult to bear the tone of reprimand in which she was generally addressed, or the public
exposure of the small follies which in the childishness of her heart she was constantly committing.
The appeal of the abbess to the Prior of Severnstoke, at first filled her heart with terror; but the interview had terminated so differently from what she had expected, that for the first time since the departure of her father she felt less desolate and wretched. It seemed to her as if there was now one being in the world who could understand her thoughts — to whom she might speak freely, and who could reprove without harshly condemning. Comfort was in the thought,—and Rosamond, without analysing her feelings, felt happier than she had yet felt at Clairvaux.
One recollection, however, served to deaden her new-born joy; namely, the doubt which the words of the prior seemed to throw upon the certainty of the return of her father. Her sanguine nature had taught her to look upon the event with so much confidence, that she could scarcely bring herself to believe such words had met her ear; and for a long time after the departure of Father Thomas she had