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The Monk by Matthew Lewis

Part 7 out of 8

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that if He had any faults to me, I forgave him from my heart.
This done, I have nothing more to ask for, than your prayers:
Promise to remember my requests, and I shall resign my life
without a pang or sorrow.'

Ambrosio engaged to comply with her desires, and proceeded to
give her absolution. Every moment announced the approach of
Antonia's fate: Her sight failed; Her heart beat sluggishly; Her
fingers stiffened, and grew cold, and at two in the morning She
expired without a groan. As soon as the breath had forsaken her
body, Father Pablos retired, sincerely affected at the melancholy
scene. On her part, Flora gave way to the most unbridled sorrow.

Far different concerns employed Ambrosio: He sought for the
pulse whose throbbing, so Matilda had assured him, would prove
Antonia's death but temporal. He found it; He pressed it; It
palpitated beneath his hand, and his heart was filled with
ecstacy. However, He carefully concealed his satisfaction at the
success of his plan. He assumed a melancholy air, and addressing
himself to Flora, warned her against abandoning herself to
fruitless sorrow. Her tears were too sincere to permit her
listening to his counsels, and She continued to weep unceasingly.

The Friar withdrew, first promising to give orders himself about
the Funeral, which, out of consideration for Jacintha as He
pretended, should take place with all expedition. Plunged in
grief for the loss of her beloved Mistress, Flora scarcely
attended to what He said. Ambrosio hastened to command the
Burial. He obtained permission from the Prioress, that the Corse
should be deposited in St. Clare's Sepulchre: and on the Friday
Morning, every proper and needful ceremony being performed,
Antonia's body was committed to the Tomb.

On the same day Leonella arrived at Madrid, intending to present
her young Husband to Elvira. Various circumstances had obliged
her to defer her journey from Tuesday to Friday, and She had no
opportunity of making this alteration in her plans known to her
Sister. As her heart was truly affectionate, and as She had ever
entertained a sincere regard for Elvira and her Daughter, her
surprize at hearing of their sudden and melancholy fate was fully
equalled by her sorrow and disappointment. Ambrosio sent to
inform her of Antonia's bequest: At her solication, He promised,
as soon as Elvira's trifling debts were discharged, to transmit
to her the remainder. This being settled, no other business
detained Leonella in Madrid, and She returned to Cordova with all


Oh! could I worship aught beneath the skies
That earth hath seen or fancy could devise,
Thine altar, sacred Liberty, should stand,
Built by no mercenary vulgar hand,
With fragrant turf, and flowers as wild and fair,
As ever dressed a bank, or scented summer air.

His whole attention bent upon bringing to justice the Assassins
of his Sister, Lorenzo little thought how severely his interest
was suffering in another quarter. As was before mentioned, He
returned not to Madrid till the evening of that day on which
Antonia was buried. Signifying to the Grand Inquisitor the order
of the Cardinal-Duke (a ceremony not to be neglected, when a
Member of the Church was to be arrested publicly) communicating
his design to his Uncle and Don Ramirez, and assembling a troop
of Attendants sufficiently to prevent opposition, furnished him
with full occupation during the few hours preceding midnight.
Consequently, He had no opportunity to enquire about his
Mistress, and was perfectly ignorant both of her death and her

The Marquis was by no means out of danger: His delirium was
gone, but had left him so much exhausted that the Physicians
declined pronouncing upon the consequences likely to ensue. As
for Raymond himself, He wished for nothing more 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 that Agnes was revenged, and himself given over in the same

Followed by Raymond's ardent prayers for success, Lorenzo was at
the Gates of St. Clare a full hour before the time appointed by
the Mother St. Ursula. He was accompanied by his Uncle, by Don
Ramirez de Mello, and a party of chosen Archers. Though in
considerable numbers their appearance created no surprize: A
great Crowd was already assembled before the Convent doors, in
order to witness the Procession. It was naturally supposed that
Lorenzo and his Attendants were conducted thither by the same
design. The Duke of Medina being recognised, the People drew
back, and made way for his party to advance. Lorenzo placed
himself opposite to the great Gate, through which the Pilgrims
were to pass. Convinced that the Prioress could not escape him,
He waited patiently for her appearance, which She was expected to
make exactly at Midnight.

The Nuns were employed in religious duties established in honour
of St. Clare, and to which no Prophane was ever admitted. The
Chapel windows were illuminated. As they stood on the outside,
the Auditors heard the full swell of the organ, accompanied by a
chorus of female voices, rise upon the stillness of the night.
This died away, and was succeeded by a single strain of harmony:
It was the voice of her who was destined to sustain in the
procession the character of St. Clare. For this office the most
beautiful Virgin of Madrid was always selected, and She upon whom
the choice fell esteemed it as the highest of honours. While
listening to the Music, whose melody distance only seemed to
render sweeter, the Audience was wrapped up in profound
attention. Universal silence prevailed through the Crowd, and
every heart 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 hymns inspired him with
detestation at their Hypocrisy. He had long observed with
disapprobation and contempt the superstition which governed
Madrid's Inhabitants. His good sense had pointed out to him the
artifices of the Monks, and the gross absurdity of their
miracles, wonders, and supposititious reliques. He blushed to
see his Countrymen the Dupes of deceptions so ridiculous, and
only wished for an opportunity to free them from their monkish
fetters. That opportunity, so long desired in vain, was at
length presented to him. He resolved not to let it slip, but to
set before the People in glaring colours how enormous were the
abuses but too frequently practised in Monasteries, and how
unjustly public esteem was bestowed indiscriminately upon all who
wore a religious habit. He longed for the moment destined to
unmask the Hypocrites, and convince his Countrymen that a
sanctified exterior does not always hide a virtuous heart.

The service lasted, till Midnight was announced by the
Convent Bell. That sound being heard, the Music ceased: The
voices died away softly, and soon after the lights disappeared
from the Chapel windows. Lorenzo's heart beat high, when He
found the execution of his plan to be at hand. From the natural
superstition of the People He had prepared himself for some
resistance. But He trusted that the Mother St. Ursula would
bring good reasons to justify his proceeding. 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 deposition every thing depended. Unless the Mother St.
Ursula should be present, He could only accuse the Prioress upon
suspicion; and this reflection gave him some little apprehension
for the success of his enterprize. The tranquillity which seemed
to reign through the Convent in some degree re-assured him:
Still He expected the moment eagerly, when the presence of his
Ally should deprive him of the power of doubting.

The Abbey of Capuchins was only separated from the Convent by the
Garden and Cemetery. The Monks had been invited to assist at the
Pilgrimage. They now arrived, marching two by two with lighted
Torches in their hands, and chaunting Hymns in honour of St.
Clare. Father Pablos was at their head, the Abbot having excused
himself from attending. The people made way for the holy Train,
and the Friars placed themselves in ranks on either side of the
great Gates. A few minutes sufficed to arrange the order of the
Procession. This being settled, the Convent doors were thrown
open, and again the female Chorus sounded in full melody. First
appeared a Band of Choristers: As soon as they had passed, the
Monks fell in two by two, and followed with steps slow and
measured. 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 telling their 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 by a 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 Sword in the other: She was robed in white, and
her brow was ornamented with a sparkling Diadem. After her
appeared St. Genevieve, surrounded by a number of Imps, who
putting themselves into grotesque attitudes, drawing her by the
robe, and sporting round her with antic gestures, endeavoured to
distract her attention from the Book, on which her eyes were
constantly fixed. These merry Devils greatly entertained the
Spectators, who testified their pleasure by repeated bursts of
Laughter. The Prioress had been careful to select a Nun whose
disposition was naturally solemn and saturnine. She had every
reason to be satisfied with her choice: The drolleries of the
Imps were entirely thrown away, 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 inferior to St. Clare, the Convent's avowed
Patroness. These having passed, a long train of Nuns appeared,
bearing like the Choristers each a burning Taper. Next came the
reliques of St. Clare, inclosed in vases equally precious for
their materials and workmanship: But they attracted not
Lorenzo's attention. The Nun who 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 with
anxiety. As He stood foremost in the rank by which the
procession past, her eye 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
the remainder of the show. Now appeared its most brilliant
ornament. It was a Machine fashioned like a throne, rich with
jewels and dazzling with light. It rolled onwards upon
concealed wheels, and was guided by several lovely Children,
dressed as Seraphs. The summit was covered with silver clouds,
upon which reclined the most beautiful form that eyes ever
witnessed. It was a Damsel representing St. Clare: Her dress was
of inestimable price, and round her head a wreath of Diamonds
formed an artificial glory: But all these ornaments yielded to
the lustre of her charms. As She advanced, a murmur of delight
ran through the Crowd. Even Lorenzo confessed secretly, that He
never beheld more perfect beauty, and had not his heart been
Antonia's, it must have fallen a sacrifice to this enchanting
Girl. As it was, He considered her only as a fine Statue: She
obtained from him no tribute save cold admiration, and when 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 Virginia de Villa-Franca: She is a Pensioner of St. Clare's
Convent, a Relation of the Prioress, and has been selected with
justice as the ornament of the Procession.'

The Throne moved onwards. It was followed by the Prioress
herself: She marched at the head of the remaining Nuns with a
devout and sanctified air, and closed the procession. She moved
on slowly: Her eyes were raised to heaven: Her countenance calm
and tranquil seemed abstracted from all sublunary things, and no
feature betrayed her secret pride at displaying the pomp and
opulence of her Convent. She passed along, accompanied by the
prayers and benedictions of the Populace: But how great was the
general confusion and surprize, when Don Ramirez starting
forward, challenged her as his Prisoner.

For a moment amazement held the Domina silent and immoveable:
But no sooner did She recover herself, than She exclaimed against
sacrilege and impiety, and called the People to rescue a Daughter
of the Church. They were eagerly preparing to obey her; when Don
Ramirez, protected by the Archers from their rage, commanded them
to forbear, and threatened them with the severest vengeance of
the Inquisition. At that dreaded word every arm fell, every
sword shrunk back into its scabbard. The Prioress herself turned
pale, and trembled. The general silence convinced her that She
had nothing to hope but from innocence, and She besought Don
Ramirez in a faultering voice, to inform her of what crime She
was accused.

'That you shall know in time,' replied He; 'But first I must
secure the Mother St. 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; 'I am betrayed!'

'Betrayed?' replied St. Ursula, who now arrived conducted by some
of the Archers, and followed by the Nun her Companion in the
procession: 'Not betrayed, but discovered. In me recognise your
Accuser: You know not how well I 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 with
murder, and stake my life for the justice of my accusation.'

A general cry of surprize was uttered by the whole Audience, and
an explanation was demanded loudly.n The trembling Nuns,
terrifiedat the noise and universal confusion, had dispersed, and
fleddifferent ways. Some regained the Convent; Others sought
refugein the dwellings of their Relations; and Many, only
sensible oftheir present danger, and anxious to escape from the
tumult, ran through the Streets, and wandered, they knew not
whither. The lovely Virginia was one of the first to fly: And
in order that She might be better seen and heard, the People
desired that St. Ursula should harangue them from 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 be adopted 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 have revealed it to the
world, and satisfied that innocent blood which calls from the
Grave for vengeance. Much have I dared to gain this opportunity
of lightening my conscience. Had I failed in my attempt to
reveal the crime, had the Domina but suspected that the mystery
was none to me, my ruin was inevitable. 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
the task to rend the veil from Hypocrisy, and show misguided
Parents to what dangers 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, than Agnes de Medina. I knew her well; She entrusted to
me every secret of her heart; 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 to oblige, and
her angelic disposition, rendered her the Darling of all that was
estimable in the Convent. The Prioress herself, proud,
scrupulous and forbidding, could not refuse Agnes that tribute of
approbation which She bestowed upon no one else. Every one has
some fault: Alas! Agnes had her weakness! She violated the laws
of our order, and incurred the inveterate hate of the unforgiving
Domina. St. Clare's rules are severe: But grown antiquated and
neglected, many of late years have either been forgotten, or
changed by universal consent into milder punishments. The
penance, adjudged to the crime of 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 Cruelty and tyrannic superstition. In this
dreadful abode She was to lead a perpetual solitude, deprived of
all society, and believed to be dead by those whom affection
might have prompted to attempt her rescue. Thus was She to
languish out the remainder of her days, with no other food than
bread and water, and no other comfort than the free indulgence of
her tears.'

The indignation created by this account was so violent, as for
some moments to interrupt St. Ursula's narrative. When the
disturbance ceased, and silence again prevailed through the
Assembly, She continued her discourse, while at every word the
Domina's countenance betrayed her increasing terrors.

'A Council of the twelve elder Nuns was called: I was of the
number. The Prioress in exaggerated colours described the
offence of Agnes, and scrupled not to propose the revival of this
almost forgotten law. To the shame of our sex be it spoken, that
either so absolute was the Domina's will in the Convent, or so
much had disappointment, solitude, and self-denial hardened their
hearts and sowered their tempers that this barbarous proposal
was assented 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 loved and pitied her most sincerely. The
Mothers Bertha and Cornelia joined my party: We made the
strongest opposition possible, and the Superior found herself
compelled to change her intention. In spite of the majority in
her favour, She feared to break with us openly. She knew that
supported by the Medina family, our forces would be too strong
for her to cope with: And She also knew that after being once
imprisoned and supposed dead, should Agnes be discovered, her
ruin would be inevitable. She therefore gave up her design,
though which much reluctance. She demanded some days to reflect
upon a mode of punishment which might be agreeable to the whole
Community; and She promised, that as soon as her resolution was
fixed, the same Council should be again summoned. Two days
passed away: On the Evening of the Third it was announced that
on the next day Agnes should be examined; and that according to
her behaviour on that occasion, her punishment should be either
strengthened or mitigated.

'On the night preceding this examination, I stole to the Cell of
Agnes at an hour when I supposed the other Nuns to be buried in
sleep. I comforted her to the best of my power: I bad her take
courage, told her to rely upon the support of her friends, and
taught her certain signs, by which I might instruct her to answer
the Domina's questions by an assent or negative. Conscious that
her Enemy would strive to confuse, embarrass, and daunt her, I
feared 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. I bad her not let her spirits be cast
down; I mingled my tears with those which streamed down her
cheek, embraced her fondly, and was on the point of retiring,
when I heard the sound of steps approaching the Cell. I started
back. A Curtain which veiled a large Crucifix offered me a
retreat, and I hastened to place myself behind it. The door
opened. The Prioress entered, followed by four other Nuns. They
advanced towards the bed of Agnes. The Superior reproached her
with her errors in the bitterest terms: She told her that She
was a disgrace to the Convent, that She was resolved to deliver
the world and herself from such a Monster, and commanded her to
drink the contents of a Goblet now presented to her by one of the
Nuns. Aware of the fatal properties of the liquor, and trembling
to find herself upon the brink of Eternity, the unhappy Girl
strove to excite the Domina's pity by the most affecting prayers.

She sued for life in terms which might have melted the heart of a
Fiend: She promised to submit patiently to any punishment, to
shame, imprisonment, and torture, might She but be permitted to
live! Oh! might She but live another month, or week, or day!
Her merciless Enemy listened to her complaints unmoved: She told
her that at first She meant to have spared her life, and that if
She had altered her intention, She had to thank the opposition of
her Friends. She continued to insist upon her swallowing the
poison: She bad her recommend herself to the Almighty's mercy,
not to hers, and assured her that in an hour She would be
numbered with the Dead. Perceiving that it was vain to implore
this unfeeling Woman, She attempted to spring from her bed, and
call for 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 her design. She seized her
forcibly by the arm, and pushed her back upon her pillow. At the
same time drawing a dagger, and placing it at the breast of the
unfortunate Agnes, She protested that if She uttered a single
cry, or hesitated a single moment to drink the poison, She would
pierce her heart that instant. 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. The
Nuns then seated themselves round the Bed. They answered her
groans with reproaches; They interrupted with sarcasms the
prayers in which She recommended her parting soul to mercy: They
threatened her with heaven's vengeance and eternal perdition:
They bad her despair of pardon, and strowed with yet sharper
thorns Death's painful pillow. Such were the sufferings of this
young Unfortunate, till released by fate from the malice of her
Tormentors. She expired in horror of the past, in fears for the
future; and her agonies were such as must have amply gratified
the hate and vengeance of her Enemies. As soon as her Victim
ceased to breathe, the Domina retired, and was followed by her

'It was now that I ventured from my concealment. I dared not to
assist my unhappy Friend, aware that without preserving her, I
should only have brought on myself the same destruction. Shocked
and terrified beyond expression at this horrid scene, scarcely
had I sufficient strength to regain my Cell. As I reached the
door of that of Agnes, I ventured to look towards the bed, on
which lay her lifeless body, once so lovely and so sweet! I
breathed a prayer for her departed Spirit, and vowed to revenge
her death by the shame and punishment of her Assassins. With
danger and difficulty have I kept my oath. I unwarily dropped
some words at the funeral of Agnes, while thrown off my guard by
excessive grief, which alarmed the guilty conscience of the
Prioress. My every action was observed; My every step was
traced. I was constantly surrounded by the Superior's spies. It
was long before I could find the means of conveying to the
unhappy Girl's Relations an intimation of my secret. It was
given out that Agnes had expired suddenly: This account was
credited not only by her Friends in Madrid, but even by those
within the Convent. The poison had left no marks upon her body:
No one suspected the true cause of her death, 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 my life. I repeat that the Prioress is a Murderess;
That She has driven from the world, 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, a
Barbarian, 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
surprize throughout: But when She related the inhuman murder of
Agnes, the indignation of the Mob was so audibly testified, that
it was scarcely possible to hear the conclusion. This confusion
increased with every moment: At length a multitude of voices
exclaimed that the Prioress should be given up to their fury.
To this Don Ramirez refused to consent positively. Even Lorenzo
bad the People remember that She had undergone no trial, and
advised them to leave her punishment to the Inquisition. All
representations were fruitless: The disturbance grew still more
violent, and the Populace more exasperated. In vain did Ramirez
attempt to convey his Prisoner out of the Throng. Wherever He
turned, a band of Rioters barred his passage, and demanded her
being delivered over to them more loudly than before. Ramirez
ordered his Attendants to cut their way through the multitude:
Oppressed by numbers, it was impossible for them to draw their
swords. He threatened the Mob with the vengeance of the
Inquisition: But in this moment of popular phrenzy even this
dreadful name had lost its effect. Though regret for his Sister
made him look upon the Prioress with abhorrence, Lorenzo could
not help pitying a Woman in a situation so terrible: But in
spite of all his exertions, and those of the Duke, of Don
Ramirez, and the Archers, the People continued to press onwards.
They forced a passage through the Guards who protected their
destined Victim, dragged her from her shelter, and proceeded to
take upon her a most summary and cruel vengeance. Wild with
terror, and scarcely knowing what She said, the wretched Woman
shrieked for a moment's mercy: She protested that She was
innocent of the death of Agnes, and could clear herself from the
suspicion beyond the power of doubt. The Rioters heeded nothing
but the gratification of their barbarous vengeance. They refused
to listen to her: They showed her every sort of insult, loaded
her with mud and filth, and called her by the most opprobrious
appellations. They tore her one from another, and each new
Tormentor was more savage than the former. They stifled with
howls and execrations her shrill cries for mercy; and dragged her
through the Streets, spurning her, trampling her, and treating
her with every species of cruelty which hate or vindictive fury
could invent. At length a Flint, aimed by some well-directing
hand, struck her full upon the temple. She sank upon the ground
bathed in blood, and in a few minutes terminated her miserable
existence. Yet though She no longer felt their insults, the
Rioters still exercised their impotent rage upon her lifeless
body. They beat it, trod upon it, and ill-used it, till it
became no more than a mass of flesh, unsightly, shapeless, and

Unable to prevent this shocking event, Lorenzo and his Friends
had beheld it with the utmost horror: But they were rouzed from
their compelled inactivity, on hearing that the Mob was attacking
the Convent of St. Clare. The incensed Populace, confounding the
innocent with the guilty, had resolved to sacrifice all the Nuns
of that order to their rage, and not to leave one stone of the
building upon another. Alarmed at this intelligence, they
hastened to the Convent, resolved to defend it if possible, or at
least to rescue the Inhabitants from the fury of the Rioters.
Most of the Nuns had fled, but a few still remained in their
habitation. Their situation was truly dangerous. However, as
they had taken the precaution of fastening the inner Gates, with
this assistance Lorenzo hoped to repel the Mob, till Don Ramirez
should return to him with a more sufficient force.

Having been conducted by the former disturbance to the distance
of some Streets from the Convent, He did not immediately reach
it: When He arrived, the throng surrounding it was so excessive
as to prevent his approaching the Gates. In the interim, the
Populace besieged the Building with persevering rage: They
battered the walls, threw lighted torches in at the windows, and
swore that by break of day not a Nun of St. Clare's order should
be left alive. Lorenzo had just succeeded in piercing his way
through the Crowd, when one of the Gates was forced open. The
Rioters poured into the interior part of the Building, where they
exercised their vengeance upon every thing which found itself in
their passage. They broke the furniture into pieces, tore down
the pictures, destroyed the reliques, and in their hatred of her
Servant forgot all respect to the Saint. Some employed
themselves in searching out the Nuns, Others in pulling down
parts of the Convent, and Others again in setting fire to the
pictures and valuable furniture which it contained. These
Latter produced the most decisive desolation: Indeed the
consequences of their action were more sudden than themselves
had expected or wished. The Flames rising from 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 soon shaken by the devouring element: The Columns gave way:
The Roofs came tumbling down upon the Rioters, and crushed many
of them beneath their weight. Nothing was to be heard but
shrieks and groans; The Convent was wrapped in flames, and the
whole presented a scene of devastation and horror.

Lorenzo was shocked at having been the cause, however innocent,
of this frightful disturbance: He endeavoured to repair his
fault by protecting the helpless Inhabitants of the Convent. He
entered it with the Mob, and exerted himself to repress the
prevailing Fury, till the sudden and alarming progress of the
flames compelled him to provide for his own safety. The People
now hurried out, as eagerly as they had before thronged in; But
their numbers clogging up the doorway, and the fire gaining upon
them rapidly, many of them perished ere they had time to effect
their escape. Lorenzo's good fortune directed him to a small
door in a farther Aisle of the Chapel. The bolt was already
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 followed him, and thus were in security for the present.
They now consulted, what steps they should take to escape from
this scene of disturbance: But their deliberations were
considerably interrupted by the sight of volumes of fire rising
from amidst the Convent's massy walls, by the noise of some heavy
Arch tumbling down in ruins, or by the mingled shrieks of the
Nuns and Rioters, either suffocating in the press, perishing in
the flames, or crushed beneath the weight of the falling Mansion.

Lorenzo enquired, whither the Wicket led? He was answered, to
the Garden of the 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 on the point
of quitting the Colonnade, when He saw the door of the Sepulchre
opened softly. Someone looked out, but on perceiving Strangers
uttered a loud shriek, started back again, and flew down the
marble Stairs.

'What can this mean?' cried Lorenzo; 'Here is some mystery
concealed. Follow me without delay!'

Thus saying, He hastened into the Sepulchre, and pursued the
person who continued 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 without hesitation. The Others did the
same, and the whole Party soon arrived at the foot of the Stairs.

The upper door having been left open, the neighbouring flames
darted from above a sufficient light to enable Lorenzo's catching
a glance of the Fugitive running through the long passages and
distant Vaults: But when a sudden turn deprived him of this
assistance, total darkness succeeded, and He could only trace the
object of his enquiry by the faint echo of retiring feet. The
Pursuers were now compelled to proceed with caution: As well as
they could judge, the Fugitive also seemed to slacken pace, for
they heard the steps follow each other at longer intervals. They
at length were bewildered by the Labyrinth of passages, and
dispersed in various directions. Carried away by his eagerness
to clear up this mystery, and to penetrate into which He was
impelled by a movement secret and unaccountable, Lorenzo heeded
not this circumstance till He found himself in total solitude.
The noise of footsteps had ceased. All was silent around, and
no clue offered itself to guide him to the flying Person. He
stopped to reflect on the means most likely to aid his pursuit.
He was persuaded that no common cause would have induced the
Fugitive to 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 mystery was attached to this event.
After some minutes past in hesitation He continued to proceed,
feeling his way along the walls of the passage. He had already
past some time in this slow progress, when He descried a spark of
light glimmering at a distance. Guided by this observation, and
having drawn his sword, He bent his steps towards the place,
whence the beam seemed to be emitted.

It proceeded from the Lamp which flamed before St. Clare's
Statue. Before it stood several Females, their white Garments
streaming in the blast, as it howled along the vaulted dungeons.
Curious to know what had brought them together in this melancholy
spot, Lorenzo drew near with precaution. The Strangers seemed
earnestly engaged in conversation. They heard not Lorenzo's
steps, and He approached unobserved, till He could hear their
voices distinctly.

'I protest,' continued She who was speaking when He arrived, and
to whom the rest were listening with great attention; 'I protest,
that I saw them with my own eyes. I flew down the steps; They
pursued me, and I escaped falling into their hands with
difficulty. Had it not been for the Lamp, I should never have
found you.'

'And what could bring them hither?' said another in a trembling
voice; 'Do you think that they were looking for us?'

'God grant that my fears may be false,' rejoined the First; 'But
I doubt they are Murderers! If they discover us, we are lost!
As for me, my fate is certain: 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
approach softly.

'The Murderers!' She cried--

She started away from the Statue's Pedestal on which She had been
seated, and attempted to escape by flight. Her Companions at the
same moment uttered a terrified scream, while Lorenzo arrested
the Fugitive by the arm. Frightened and 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 Lamp darting full upon her face which was unveiled,
Lorenzo recognized the beautiful 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
depend upon his readiness to defend her to the last drop of his
blood. During this conversation, the Nuns had thrown themselves
into various attitudes: One knelt, and addressed herself to
heaven; Another hid her face in the lap of her Neighbour; Some
listened motionless with fear to the discourse of the supposed
Assassin; while Others embraced the Statue of St. Clare, and
implored her protection with frantic cries. On perceiving their
mistake, they crowded round Lorenzo and heaped benedictions on
him by dozens. He found that, on hearing the threats of the Mob,
and terrified by the cruelties which from the Convent Towers
they had seen inflicted on the Superior, many of the Pensioners
and Nuns had taken refuge in the Sepulchre. Among the former was
to be reckoned the lovely Virginia. Nearly related to the
Prioress, She had more reason than the rest to dread the Rioters,
and now besought Lorenzo earnestly not to abandon her to their
rage. Her Companions, most of whom were Women of noble family,
made the same request, which He readily granted. He promised not
to quit 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 military force have dispersed
the multitude.

'Would to God!' cried Virginia, 'That I were already safe in my
Mother's embraces! How say you, Segnor; Will it be long, ere we
may leave this place? Every moment that I pass here, I pass in

'I hope, not long,' said He; 'But till you can proceed with
security, this Sepulchre will prove an impenetrable asylum. Here
you run no risque of a discovery, and I would advise your
remaining quiet for the next two or three hours.'

'Two or three hours?' exclaimed Sister Helena; 'If I stay another
hour in these vaults, I shall expire with fear! Not the wealth
of worlds should bribe me to undergo again what I have suffered
since my coming hither. Blessed Virgin! To be in this melancholy
place in the middle of night, surrounded by the mouldering bodies
of my deceased Companions, and expecting every moment to be torn
in pieces by their Ghosts who wander about me, and complain, and
groan, and wail in accents that make my blood run cold, . . . . .
. Christ Jesus! It is enough to drive me to madness!'

'Excuse me,' replied Lorenzo, 'if I am surprized that while
menaced by real woes you are capable of yielding to imaginary
dangers. These terrors are puerile and groundless: Combat them,
holy Sister; I have promised to guard you from the Rioters, but
against the attacks of superstition you must depend for
protection upon yourself. The idea of Ghosts is ridiculous in the
extreme; And if 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 sounded every time more melancholy and deep.
You will never persuade me that we could all have been deceived.
Not we, indeed; No, no; Had the noise been merely created 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 the fears which already had possessed the Women.
Universal silence prevailed. He examined the Vault, but nothing
was to be seen. He now prepared to address the Nuns, and
ridicule their childish apprehensions, when his attention was
arrested 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 the noise yourself! Now judge, whether our terrors
are imaginary. Since we have been here, that groaning has been
repeated almost every five minutes. Doubtless, it proceeds from
some Soul in pain, who wishes to be prayed out of purgatory: But
none of us here dares ask it the question. As for me, were I to
see 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 Nuns crossed themselves, and hastened to repeat their prayers
against evil Spirits. Lorenzo listened attentively. He even
thought that He could distinguish sounds, as of one speaking in
complaint; But distance rendered them inarticulate. The noise
seemed to come from the midst of the small Vault in which He and
the Nuns then were, and which a multitude of passages branching
out in various directions, formed into a sort of Star. Lorenzo's
curiosity which was ever awake, made him anxious to solve this
mystery. He desired that silence might be kept. The Nuns obeyed
him. All was hushed, till the general stillness was again
disturbed by the groaning, which was repeated several times
successively. He perceived it to be most audible, when upon
following the sound He was conducted close to the shrine of St.

'The noise comes from hence,' said He; 'Whose is this Statue?'

Helena, to whom He addressed the question, paused for a moment.
Suddenly She clapped her hands together.

'Aye!' cried She, 'it must be so. I have discovered the meaning
of these groans.'

The Nuns crowded round her, and besought her eagerly to explain
herself. She gravely replied that for time immemorial the
Statue had been famous for performing miracles: From this She
inferred that the Saint was concerned at the conflagration of a
Convent which She protected, and expressed her grief by audible
lamentations. Not having equal faith in the miraculous Saint,
Lorenzo did 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 He agreed 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, designing to inspect it more closely: But
perceiving his intention, the Nuns besought him for God's sake to
desist, since if He touched the Statue, his death was inevitable.

'And in what consists the danger?' said He.

'Mother of God! In what?' replied Helena, ever eager to relate a
miraculous adventure; 'If you had only heard the hundredth part
of those marvellous Stories about this Statue which the Domina
used to recount! She assured us often and often, that if we only
dared to lay a finger upon it, we might expect the most fatal
consequences. Among other things She told us that a Robber
having entered these Vaults by night, He observed yonder Ruby,
whose value is inestimable. Do you see it, Segnor? It sparkles
upon the third finger of the hand, in which She holds a crown of
Thorns. This Jewel naturally excited the Villain's cupidity. He
resolved to make himself Master of it. For this purpose He
ascended the Pedestal: He supported himself by grasping the
Saint's right arm, and extended his own towards the Ring. What
was his surprize, when He saw the Statue's hand raised in a
posture of menace, and heard her lips pronounce his eternal
perdition! Penetrated with awe and consternation, He desisted
from his attempt, and prepared to quit the Sepulchre. In this He
also failed. Flight was denied him. He found it impossible to
disengage the hand, which rested upon the right arm of the
Statue. In vain did He struggle: He remained fixed to the
Image, till the insupportable and fiery anguish which darted
itself through his veins, compelled his shrieking for assistance.

The Sepulchre was now filled with Spectators. The Villain
confessed his sacrilege, 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 was performed, and
Tradition says that He continues to haunt this Sepulchre, and
implore 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 the Ghost of this Sinner: But of this I will
not be positive. All that I can say is, that since that time no
one has ever dared to touch the Statue: Then do not be
foolhardy, good Segnor! For the love of heaven, give up your
design, nor expose yourself unnecessarily to certain

Not being convinced that his destruction would be so certain as
Helena seemed to think it, Lorenzo persisted in his resolution.
The Nuns besought him to desist in piteous terms, and even
pointed out the Robber's hand, which in effect was still visible
upon the arm of the Statue. This proof, as they imagined, must
convince him. It was very far from doing so; and they were
greatly scandalized when he declared his suspicion that the
dried and shrivelled fingers had been placed there by order of
the Prioress. In spite of their prayers and threats He
approached the Statue. He sprang over the iron Rails which
defended it, and the Saint underwent a thorough examination.
The Image at first appeared to be of Stone, but proved on further
inspection to be formed of no more solid materials than coloured
Wood. He shook it, and attempted to move it; But it appeared to
be of a piece with the Base which it stood upon. He examined it
over and over: Still no clue guided him to the solution of this
mystery, for which the Nuns were become equally solicitous, when
they saw that He touched the Statue with impunity. He paused,
and listened: The groans were repeated at intervals, and He was
convinced of being in the spot nearest to them. He mused upon
this singular event, and ran over the 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 examined the object of his attention, and discovered a small
knob of iron concealed between the Saint's shoulder and what was
supposed to have been the hand of the Robber. This observation
delighted him. He applied his fingers to the knob, and pressed
it down forcibly. Immediately a rumbling noise was heard within
the Statue, as if a chain tightly stretched was flying back.
Startled at the sound the timid Nuns started away, prepared to
hasten from the Vault at the first appearance of danger. All
remaining quiet and still, they again gathered round Lorenzo, and
beheld his proceedings with anxious curiosity.

Finding that nothing followed this discovery, He descended. As
He took his hand from the Saint, She trembled beneath his touch.
This created new terrors in the Spectators, who believed the
Statue to be animated. Lorenzo's ideas upon the subject were
widely different. He easily comprehended that the noise which He
had heard, was occasioned by his having loosened a chain which
attached the Image to its Pedestal. He once more attempted to
move it, and succeeded without much exertion. He placed it upon
the ground, and then perceived the Pedestal to be hollow, and
covered at the opening with an heavy iron grate.

This excited such general curiosity that the Sisters forgot both
their real and imaginary dangers. Lorenzo proceeded to raise the
Grate, in which the Nuns assisted him to the utmost of their
strength. The attempt was accomplished with little difficulty.
A deep abyss now presented itself before them, whose thick
obscurity the eye strove in vain to pierce. The rays of the Lamp
were too feeble to be of much assistance. Nothing was
discernible, save a flight of rough unshapen steps which sank
into the yawning Gulph and were soon lost in darkness. The
groans were heard no more; But All believed them to have ascended
from this Cavern. As He bent over it, Lorenzo fancied that He
distinguished something bright twinkling through the gloom. He
gazed attentively upon the spot where it showed itself, and was
convinced that He saw a small spark of light, now visible, now
disappearing. He communicated this circumstance to the Nuns:
They also perceived the spark; But when He declared his intention
to descend into the Cave, they united to oppose his resolution.
All their remonstrances could not prevail on him to alter it.
None of them had courage enough to accompany him; neither could
He think of depriving them of the Lamp. Alone therefore, and in
darkness, He prepared to pursue his design, while the Nuns were
contented to offer up prayers for his success and safety.

The steps were so narrow and uneven, that to descend them was
like walking down the side of a precipice. The obscurity by
which He was surrounded rendered 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 was several
times on the point of doing. However, He arrived sooner upon
solid ground than He had expected: He now found that the thick
darkness and impenetrable mists which reigned through the Cavern
had deceived him into the belief of its being much more profound
than it proved upon inspection. He reached the foot of the
Stairs unhurt: He now stopped, and looked round for the spark
which had before caught his attention. He sought it in vain: All
was dark 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 repeated their Ave-Marias. He stood
irresolute to which side He should address his steps. At all
events He determined to proceed: He did so, but slowly, fearing
lest instead of approaching, He should be retiring from the
object of his search. The groans seemed to announce one in pain,
or at least in sorrow, and He hoped to have the power of
relieving the Mourner's calamities. A plaintive tone, sounding
at no great distance, at length reached his hearing; He bent his
course joyfully towards it. It became more audible as He
advanced; and He soon beheld again the spark of light, which a
low projecting Wall had hitherto concealed from him.

It proceeded from a small Lamp which was placed upon an heap of
stones, and whose faint and melancholy rays served rather to
point out, than dispell the horrors of a narrow gloomy dungeon
formed in one side of the Cavern; It also showed several other
recesses of similar construction, but whose depth was buried in
obscurity. Coldly played the light upon the damp walls, whose
dew-stained surface gave back a feeble reflection. A thick and
pestilential fog clouded the height of the vaulted dungeon. As
Lorenzo advanced, He felt a piercing chillness spread itself
through his veins. The frequent groans still engaged him to move
forwards. He turned towards them, and by the Lamp's glimmering
beams beheld in a corner of this loathsome abode, a Creature
stretched upon a bed of straw, so wretched, so emaciated, so
pale, that He doubted to think her Woman. She was half-naked:
Her long dishevelled hair fell in disorder over her face, and
almost entirely concealed it. One wasted Arm hung listlessly
upon a tattered rug which covered her convulsed and shivering
limbs: The Other was wrapped round a small bundle, and held it
closely to her bosom. A large Rosary lay near her: Opposite to
her was a Crucifix, on which She bent her sunk eyes fixedly, and
by her side stood a Basket and a small Earthen Pitcher.

Lorenzo stopped: He was petrified with horror. He gazed upon
the miserable Object with disgust and pity. He trembled at the
spectacle; He grew sick at heart: His strength failed him, and
his limbs were unable to support his weight. He was obliged to
lean against the low Wall which was near him, unable to go
forward, or to address the Sufferer. She cast her eyes towards
the Staircase: The Wall concealed Lorenzo, and She observed him

'No one comes!' She at length murmured.

As She spoke, her voice was hollow, and rattled in her throat:
She sighed bitterly.

'No one comes!' She repeated; 'No! They have forgotten me! They
will come no more!'

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 a death! 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 will
come no more!'

She was silent. She shivered, and drew the rug over her naked

'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--I shall be cold, cold as Thou art!'

She looked at the bundle which lay upon her breast. She bent
over it, and kissed 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 lost it for ever! How a few days have changed it!
I should not know it again myself! Yet it is dear to me! God!
how dear! I will forget what it is: I will only remember what it
was, and love it as well, as when it was so sweet! so lovely! so
like him! I thought that I had wept away all my tears, but here
is one still lingering.'

She wiped her eyes with a tress of her hair. She put out her
hand for the Pitcher, and reached it with difficulty. She cast
into it a look of hopeless enquiry. She sighed, and replaced it
upon the ground.

'Quite a void! Not a drop! Not one drop left to cool my
scorched-up burning palate! Now would I give treasures for a
draught of water! And they are God's Servants, who make me
suffer thus! They think themselves holy, while they torture me
like Fiends! They are cruel and unfeeling; And 'tis they who bid
me repent; 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 She told her beads, the quick motion of her lips declared
her to be praying with fervency.

While He listened to her melancholy accents, Lorenzo's
sensibility became yet more violently affected. The first sight
of such misery had given a sensible shock to his feelings: But
that being past, He now advanced towards the Captive. 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: She fell back, and as She sank again upon the bed of
straw, Lorenzo heard the rattling of heavy chains. He still
approached, while the Prisoner thus continued.

'Is it you, Camilla? You are come then at last? Oh! it was
time! I thought that you had forsaken me; that I was doomed to
perish of hunger. Give me to drink, Camilla, for pity's sake! I
am faint with long fasting, and grown so weak that I cannot raise
myself from the ground. Good Camilla, give me to drink, lest I
expire before you!'

Fearing that surprize in her enfeebled state might be fatal,
Lorenzo was at a loss 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 eyes are grown so dim and feeble that I cannot
distinguish your features. But whichever it is, if your breast
is sensible of the least compassion, if you are not more cruel
than Wolves and Tigers, take pity on my sufferings. You know
that I am dying for want of sustenance. This is the third day,
since these lips have received nourishment. Do you bring me
food? Or come you only to 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 cruel Prioress. I pity your sorrows, and come hither to
relieve them.'

'To relieve them?' repeated the Captive; 'Said you, to relieve

At the same time starting from the ground, and supporting herself
upon her hands, She gazed upon the Stranger earnestly.

'Great God! It is no illusion! A Man! Speak! Who are you?
What brings you hither? 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 will destroy me.'

'Be calm!' replied Lorenzo in a voice soothing and compassionate;
'The Domina of 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 Friends from whom you have been secluded. You may rely upon
my protection. Give me your hand, and be not fearful. Let me
conduct you where you may receive those attentions which your
feeble state requires.'

'Oh! Yes! Yes! Yes!' cried the Prisoner with an exulting
shriek; 'There is a God 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, I will go with
you! Oh! Heaven will bless you for pitying an Unfortunate! But
this too must go with me,' She added pointing to the small
bundle which She still clasped to her bosom; 'I cannot part with
this. I will bear it away: It shall convince the world how
dreadful are the abodes so falsely termed religious. Good
Stranger, lend me your hand to rise: I am faint with want, and
sorrow, 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 his face.

'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 was unable to sustain the emotions which agitated her
bosom. She fainted, and again sank upon the bed of straw.

Lorenzo was surprized at her last exclamation. He thought that
He had before heard such accents as her hollow voice had just
formed, but where He could not remember. He saw that in her
dangerous situation immediate physical aid was absolutely
necessary, and He hastened to convey her from the dungeon. He
was at first prevented from doing so by a strong chain fastened
round the prisoner's body, and fixing her to the neighbouring
Wall. However, his natural strength being aided by anxiety to
relieve the Unfortunate, He soon forced out the Staple to which
one end of the Chain was attached. Then taking the Captive in his
arms, He bent his course towards the Staircase. The rays of the
Lamp above, as well as the murmur of female voices, guided his
steps. He gained the Stairs, and in a few minutes after arrived
at the iron-grate.

The Nuns during his absence had been terribly tormented by
curiosity and apprehension: They were equally surprized and
delighted on seeing him suddenly emerge from the Cave. Every
heart was filled with compassion for the miserable Creature whom
He bore in his arms. While the Nuns, and Virginia in particular,
employed themselves in striving to recall her to her senses,
Lorenzo related in few words the manner of his finding her. He
then observed to them that by this time the tumult must have been
quelled, and that He could now conduct them to their Friends
without danger. All were eager to quit the Sepulchre: Still to
prevent all possibility of ill-usage, they besought Lorenzo to
venture out first alone, and examine whether the Coast was
clear. With this request He complied. Helena offered to conduct
him to the Staircase, and they were on the point of departing,
when a strong light flashed from several passages upon the
adjacent walls. At the same time Steps were heard of people
approaching hastily, and whose number seemed to be considerable.
The Nuns were greatly alarmed at this circumstance: They
supposed their retreat to be discovered, and the Rioters to be
advancing in pursuit of them. Hastily quitting the Prisoner who
remained insensible, they crowded round Lorenzo, and claimed his
promise to protect them. Virginia alone forgot her own danger by
striving to relieve the sorrows of Another. She supported the
Sufferer's head upon 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 of
the Suppliants. His name, pronounced by a number of voices among
which He distinguished the Duke's, pealed along the Vaults, and
convinced him that He was the object of their search. He
communicated this intelligence to the Nuns, who received it with
rapture. A few moments after confirmed his idea. Don Ramirez,
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 that the Mob was dispersed, and the riot entirely
over. Lorenzo recounted briefly his adventure in the Cavern, and
explained how much the Unknown was in want of medical
assistance. He besought the Duke to take charge of her, as well
as of the Nuns and Pensioners.

'As for me,' said He, 'Other cares demand my attention. While
you with one half of the Archers convey these Ladies to their
respective homes, I wish the other half to be left with me. I
will examine the Cavern below, and pervade the most secret
recesses of the Sepulchre. I cannot rest till convinced that
yonder wretched Victim was the only one confined by Superstition
in these vaults.'

The Duke applauded his intention. Don Ramirez offered to assist
him in his enquiry, and his proposal was accepted with gratitude.

The Nuns having made their acknowledgments to Lorenzo, committed
themselves to the care of his Uncle, and were conducted from the
Sepulchre. Virginia requested that the Unknown might be given to
her in charge, and promised to let Lorenzo know whenever She was
sufficiently recovered to accept his visits. In truth, She made
this promise more from consideration for herself than for either
Lorenzo or the Captive. She had witnessed his politeness,
gentleness, and intrepidity with sensible emotion. She wished
earnestly to preserve his acquaintance; and in addition to the
sentiments of pity which the Prisoner excited, She hoped that her
attention to this Unfortunate would raise her a degree in the
esteem of Lorenzo. She had no occasion to trouble herself upon
this head. The kindness already displayed by her and the tender
concern which She had shown for the Sufferer had gained her an
exalted place in his good graces. While occupied in alleviating
the Captive's sorrows, the nature of her employment adorned her
with new charms, and rendered her beauty a thousand times more
interesting. Lorenzo viewed her with admiration and delight: He
considered her as a ministering Angel descended to the aid of
afflicted innocence; nor could his heart have resisted her
attractions, had it not been steeled by the remembrance of

The Duke now conveyed the Nuns in safety to the Dwellings of
their respective Friends. 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
long abstinence, and shaken by the sudden change from bonds and
darkness to liberty and light, her frame would never get the
better of the shock. Lorenzo and Don Ramirez still remained in
the Sepulchre. After deliberating upon their proceedings, it was
resolved that to prevent losing time, the Archers should be
divided into two Bodies: That with one Don Ramirez should
examine the cavern, while Lorenzo with the other might penetrate
into the further Vaults. This being arranged, and his Followers
being provided with Torches, Don Ramirez advanced to the Cavern.
He had already descended some steps when He heard People
approaching hastily from the interior part of the Sepulchre.
This surprized 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 penetrated Lorenzo's heart with terror.

He flew towards the cry with the rapidity of lightning, and was
followed by Don Ramirez with equal swiftness.


Great Heaven! How frail thy creature Man is made!
How by himself insensibly betrayed!
In our own strength unhappily secure,
Too little cautious of the adverse power,
On pleasure's flowery brink we idly stray,
Masters as yet of our returning way:
Till the strong gusts of raging passion rise,
Till the dire Tempest mingles earth and skies,
And swift into the boundless Ocean borne,
Our foolish confidence too late we mourn:
Round our devoted heads the billows beat,
And from our troubled view the lessening lands retreat.


All this while, Ambrosio was unconscious of the dreadful scenes
which were passing so near. The execution of his designs upon
Antonia employed his every thought. Hitherto, He was satisfied
with the success of his plans. Antonia had drank the opiate, was
buried in the vaults of St. Clare, and absolutely in his
disposal. Matilda, who was well acquainted with the nature and
effects of the soporific medicine, had computed that it would not
cease to operate till one in the Morning. For that hour He
waited with impatience. The Festival of St. Clare presented him
with a favourable opportunity of consummating his crime. He was
certain that the Friars and Nuns would be engaged in the
Procession, and that He had no cause to dread an interruption:
From appearing himself at the head of his Monks, He had desired
to be excused. He doubted not, that being beyond the reach of
help, cut off from all the world, and totally in his power,
Antonia would comply with his desires. The affection which She
had ever exprest for him, warranted this persuasion: But He
resolved that should She prove obstinate, no consideration
whatever should prevent him from enjoying her. Secure from a
discovery, He shuddered not at the idea of employing force: If
He felt any repugnance, it arose not from a principle of shame
or compassion, but from his feeling for Antonia the most sincere
and ardent affection, and wishing to owe her favours to no one
but herself.

The Monks quitted the Abbey at midnight. Matilda was among the
Choristers, and led the chaunt. Ambrosio was left by himself,
and at liberty to pursue his own inclinations. Convinced that no
one remained behind to watch his motions, or disturb his
pleasures, He now hastened to the Western Aisles. His heart
beating with hope not unmingled with anxiety, He crossed the
Garden, unlocked the door which admitted him into the Cemetery,
and in a few minutes He stood before the Vaults. Here He paused.

He looked round him with suspicion, conscious that his business
was unfit for any other eye. As He stood in hesitation, He heard
the melancholy shriek of the screech-Owl: The wind rattled
loudly against the windows of the adjacent Convent, and as the
current swept by him, bore with it the faint notes of the chaunt
of Choristers. He opened the door cautiously, as if fearing to
be overheard: He entered; and closed it again after him.
Guided by his Lamp, He threaded the long passages, in whose
windings Matilda had instructed him, and reached the private
Vault which contained his sleeping Mistress.

Its entrance was by no means easy to discover: But this was no
obstacle to Ambrosio, who at the time of Antonia's Funeral had
observed it too carefully to be deceived. He found the door,
which was unfastened, pushed it open, and descended into the
dungeon. He approached the humble Tomb in which Antonia
reposed. He had provided himself with an iron crow and a
pick-axe; But this precaution was unnecessary. The Grate was
slightly fastened on the outside: He raised it, and placing the
Lamp upon its ridge, bent silently over the Tomb. By the side of
three putrid half-corrupted Bodies lay the sleeping Beauty. A
lively red, the forerunner of returning animation, had already
spread itself over her cheek; and as wrapped in her shroud She
reclined upon her funeral Bier, She seemed to smile at the Images
of Death around her. While He gazed upon their rotting bones and
disgusting figures, who perhaps were once as sweet and lovely,
Ambrosio thought upon Elvira, by him reduced to the same state.
As the memory of that horrid act glanced upon his mind, it was
clouded with a gloomy horror. Yet it served but to strengthen
his resolution to destroy Antonia's honour.

'For your sake, Fatal Beauty!' murmured the Monk, while gazing on
his devoted prey; 'For your sake, have I committed this murder,
and sold myself to eternal tortures. Now you are in my power:
The produce of my guilt will at least be mine. Hope not that
your prayers breathed in tones of unequalled melody, your bright
eyes filled with tears, and your hands lifted in supplication, as
when seeking in penitence the Virgin's pardon; Hope not that
your moving innocence, your beauteous grief, or all your
suppliant arts shall ransom you from my embraces. Before the
break of day, mine you must, and mine you shall be!'

He lifted her still motionless from the Tomb: He seated himself
upon a bank of Stone, and supporting her in his arms, watched
impatiently for the symptoms of returning animation. Scarcely
could He command his passions sufficiently, to restrain himself
from enjoying her while yet insensible. His natural lust was
increased in ardour by the difficulties which had opposed his
satisfying it: As also by his long abstinence from Woman, since
from the moment of resigning her claim to his love, Matilda had
exiled him from her arms for ever.

'I am no Prostitute, Ambrosio;' Had She told him, when in the
fullness of his lust He demanded her favours with more than usual
earnestness; 'I am now no more than your Friend, and will not be
your Mistress. Cease then to solicit my complying with desires,
which insult me. While your heart was mine, I gloried in your
embraces: Those happy times are past: My person is become
indifferent to you, and 'tis necessity, not love, which makes you
seek my enjoyment. I cannot yield to a request so humiliating
to my pride.'

Suddenly deprived of pleasures, the use of which had made them an
absolute want, the Monk felt this restraint severely. Naturally
addicted to the gratification of the senses, in the full vigour
of manhood, and heat of blood, He had suffered his temperament to
acquire such ascendency that his lust was become madness. Of
his fondness for Antonia, none but the grosser particles
remained: He longed for the possession of her person; and even
the gloom of the vault, the surrounding silence, and the
resistance which He expected from her, seemed to give a fresh
edge to his fierce and unbridled desires.

Gradually He felt the bosom which rested against his, glow with
returning warmth. Her heart throbbed again; Her blood flowed
swifter, and her lips moved. At length She opened her eyes, but
still opprest and bewildered by the effects of the strong opiate,
She closed them again immediately. Ambrosio watched her
narrowly, nor permitted a movement to escape him. Perceiving
that She was fully restored to existence, He caught her in
rapture to his bosom, and closely pressed his lips to hers. The
suddenness of his action sufficed to dissipate the fumes which
obscured Antonia's reason. She hastily raised herself, and cast
a wild look round her. The strange Images which presented
themselves on every side contributed to confuse her. She put her
hand to her head, as if to settle her disordered imagination. At
length She took it away, and threw her eyes through the dungeon a
second time. They fixed upon the Abbot's face.

'Where am I?' She said abruptly. 'How came I here? Where is my
Mother? Methought, I saw her! Oh! a dream, a dreadful dreadful
dream told me . . . . . . But where am I? Let me go! I cannot
stay here!'

She attempted to rise, but the Monk prevented her.

'Be calm, lovely Antonia!' He replied; 'No danger is near you:
Confide in my protection. Why do you gaze on me so earnestly?
Do you not know me? Not know your Friend? Ambrosio?'

'Ambrosio? My Friend? Oh! yes, yes; I remember . . . . . .
But why am I here? Who has brought me? Why are you with me?
Oh! Flora bad me beware . . . . .! Here are nothing but Graves,
and Tombs, and Skeletons! This place frightens me! Good Ambrosio
take me away from it, for it recalls my fearful dream! Methought
I was dead, and laid in my grave! Good Ambrosio, take me from
hence. Will you not? Oh! will you not? Do not look on me thus!

Your flaming eyes terrify me! Spare me, Father! Oh! spare me for
God's sake!'

'Why these terrors, Antonia?' rejoined the Abbot, folding her in
his arms, and covering her bosom with kisses which She in vain
struggled to avoid: 'What fear you from me, from one who adores
you? What matters it where you are? This Sepulchre seems to me
Love's bower; This gloom is the friendly night of mystery which
He spreads over our delights! Such do I think it, and such must
my Antonia. Yes, my sweet Girl! Yes! Your veins shall glow with
fire which circles in mine, and my transports shall be doubled
by your sharing them!'

While He spoke thus, He repeated his embraces, and permitted
himself the most indecent liberties. Even Antonia's ignorance
was not proof against the freedom of his behaviour. She was
sensible of her danger, forced herself from his arms, and her
shroud being her only garment, She wrapped it closely round her.

'Unhand me, Father!' She cried, her honest indignation tempered
by alarm at her unprotected position; 'Why have you brought me to
this place? Its appearance freezes me with horror! Convey me
from hence, if you have the least sense of pity and humanity!
Let me return to the House which I have quitted I know not how;
But stay here one moment longer, I neither will, or ought.'

Though the Monk was somewhat startled by the resolute tone in
which this speech was delivered, it produced upon him no other
effect than surprize. He caught her hand, forced her upon his
knee, and gazing upon her with gloting eyes, He thus replied to

'Compose yourself, Antonia. Resistance is unavailing, and I need
disavow my passion for you no longer. You are imagined dead:
Society is for ever lost to you. I possess you here alone; You
are absolutely in my power, and I burn with desires which I must
either gratify or die: But I would owe my happiness to
yourself. My lovely Girl! My adorable Antonia! Let me instruct
you in joys to which you are still a Stranger, and teach you to
feel those pleasures in my arms which I must soon enjoy in
yours. Nay, this struggling is childish,' He continued, seeing
her repell his caresses, and endeavour to escape from his grasp;
'No aid is near: Neither heaven or earth shall save you from my
embraces. Yet why reject pleasures so sweet, so rapturous? No
one observes us: Our loves will be a secret to all the world:
Love and opportunity invite your giving loose to your passions.
Yield to them, my Antonia! Yield to them, my lovely Girl! Throw
your arms thus fondly round me; Join your lips thus closely to
mine! Amidst all her gifts, has Nature denied her most precious,
the sensibility of Pleasure? Oh! impossible! Every feature,
look, and motion declares you formed to bless, and to be blessed
yourself! Turn not on me those supplicating eyes: Consult your
own charms; They will tell you that I am proof against entreaty.
Can I relinquish these limbs so white, so soft, so delicate;
These swelling breasts, round, full, and elastic! These lips
fraught with such inexhaustible sweetness? Can I relinquish
these treasures, and leave them to another's enjoyment? No,
Antonia; never, never! I swear it by this kiss, and this! and

With every moment the Friar's passion became more ardent, and
Antonia's terror more intense. She struggled to disengage
herself from his arms: Her exertions were unsuccessful; and
finding that Ambrosio's conduct became still freer, She shrieked
for assistance with all her strength. The aspect of the Vault,
the pale glimmering of the Lamp, the surrounding obscurity, the
sight of the Tomb, and the objects of mortality which met her
eyes on either side, were ill-calculated to inspire her with
those emotions by which the Friar was agitated. Even his
caresses terrified her from their fury, and created no other
sentiment than fear. On the contrary, her alarm, her evident
disgust, and incessant opposition, seemed only to inflame the
Monk's desires, and supply his brutality with additional
strength. Antonia's shrieks were unheard: Yet She continued
them, nor abandoned her endeavours to escape, till exhausted and
out of breath She sank from his arms upon her knees, and once
more had recourse to prayers and supplications. This attempt had
no better success than the former. On the contrary, taking
advantage of her situation, the Ravisher threw himself by her
side: He clasped her to his bosom almost lifeless with terror,
and faint with struggling. He stifled her cries with kisses,
treated her with the rudeness of an unprincipled Barbarian,
proceeded from freedom to freedom, and in the violence of his
lustful delirium, wounded and bruised her tender limbs. Heedless
of her tears, cries and entreaties, He gradually made himself
Master of her person, and desisted not from his prey, till He had
accomplished his crime and the dishonour of Antonia.

Scarcely had He succeeded in his design than He shuddered at
himself and the means by which it was effected. The very excess
of his former eagerness to possess Antonia now contributed to
inspire him with disgust; and a secret impulse made him feel how
base and unmanly was the crime which He had just committed. He
started hastily from her arms. She, who so lately had been the
object of his adoration, now raised no other sentiment in his
heart than aversion and rage. He turned away from her; or if his
eyes rested upon her figure involuntarily, it was only to dart
upon her looks of hate. The Unfortunate had fainted ere the
completion of her disgrace: She only recovered life to be
sensible of her misfortune. She remained stretched upon the earth
in silent despair: The tears chased each other slowly down her
cheeks, and her bosom heaved with frequent sobs. Oppressed with
grief, She continued for some time in this state of torpidity.
At length She rose with difficulty, and dragging her feeble steps
towards the door, prepared to quit the dungeon.

The sound of her footsteps rouzed the Monk from his sullen
apathy. Starting from the Tomb against which He reclined, while
his eyes wandered over the images of corruption contained in it,
He pursued the Victim of his brutality, and soon overtook her.
He seized her by the arm, and violently forced her back into the

'Whither go you?' He cried in a stern voice; 'Return this

Antonia trembled at the fury of his countenance.

'What, would you more?' She said with timidity: 'Is not my ruin
compleated? Am I not undone, undone for ever? Is not your
cruelty contented, or have I yet more to suffer? Let me depart.
Let me return to my home, and weep unrestrained my shame and my

'Return to your home?' repeated the Monk, with bitter and
contemptuous mockery; Then suddenly his eyes flaming with
passion, 'What? That you may denounce me to the world? That
you may proclaim me an Hypocrite, a Ravisher, a Betrayer, a
Monster of cruelty, lust, and ingratitude? No, no, no! I know
well the whole weight of my offences; Well that your complaints
would be too just, and my crimes too notorious! You shall not
from hence to tell Madrid that I am a Villain; that my conscience
is loaded with sins which make me despair of Heaven's pardon.
Wretched Girl, you must stay here with me! Here amidst these
lonely Tombs, these images of Death, these rotting loathsome
corrupted bodies! Here shall you stay, and witness my
sufferings; witness what it is to die in the horrors of
despondency, and breathe the last groan in blasphemy and curses!
And who am I to thank for this? What seduced me into crimes,
whose bare remembrance makes me shudder? Fatal Witch! was it not
thy beauty? Have you not plunged my soul into infamy? Have you
not made me a perjured Hypocrite, a Ravisher, an Assassin! Nay,
at this moment, does not that angel look bid me despair of God's
forgiveness? Oh! when I stand before his judgment-throne, that
look will suffice to damn me! You will tell my Judge that you
were happy, till I saw you; that you were innocent, till I
polluted you! You will come with those tearful eyes, those
cheeks pale and ghastly, those hands lifted in supplication, as
when you sought from me that mercy which I gave not! Then will
my perdition be certain! Then will come your Mother's Ghost, and
hurl me down into the dwellings of Fiends, and flames, and
Furies, and everlasting torments! And 'tis you, who will accuse
me! 'Tis you, who will cause my eternal anguish! You, wretched
Girl! You! You!'

As He thundered out these words, He violently grasped Antonia's
arm, and spurned the earth with delirious fury.

Supposing his brain to be turned, Antonia sank in terror upon her
knees: She lifted up her hands, and her voice almost died away,
ere She could give it utterance.

'Spare me! Spare me!' She murmured with difficulty.

'Silence!' cried the Friar madly, and dashed her upon the

He quitted her, and paced the dungeon with a wild and disordered
air. His eyes rolled fearfully: Antonia trembled whenever She
met their gaze. He seemed to meditate on something horrible, and
She gave up all hopes of escaping from the Sepulchre with life.
Yet in harbouring this idea, She did him injustice. Amidst the
horror and disgust to which his soul was a prey, pity for his
Victim still held a place in it. The storm of passion once over,
He would have given worlds had He possest them, to have restored
to her that innocence of which his unbridled lust had deprived
her. Of the desires which had urged him to the crime, no trace
was left in his bosom: The wealth of India would not have
tempted him to a second enjoyment of her person. His nature
seemed to revolt at the very idea, and fain would He have wiped
from his memory the scene which had just past. As his gloomy
rage abated, in proportion did his compassion augment for
Antonia. He stopped, and would have spoken to her words of
comfort; But He knew not from whence to draw them, and remained
gazing upon her with mournful wildness. Her situation seemed so
hopeless, so woebegone, as to baffle mortal power to relieve
her. What could He do for her? Her peace of mind was lost, her
honour irreparably ruined. She was cut off for ever from
society, nor dared He give her back to it. He was conscious
that were She to appear in the world again, his guilt would be
revealed, and his punishment inevitable. To one so laden with
crimes, Death came armed with double terrors. Yet should He
restore Antonia to light, and stand the chance of her betraying
him, how miserable a prospect would present itself before her.
She could never hope to be creditably established; She would be
marked with infamy, and condemned to sorrow and solitude for the
remainder of her existence. What was the alternative? A
resolution far more terrible for Antonia, but which at least
would insure the Abbot's safety. He determined to leave the
world persuaded of her death, and to retain her a captive in this
gloomy prison: There He proposed to visit her every night, to
bring her food, to profess his penitence, and mingle his tears
with hers. The Monk felt that this resolution was unjust and
cruel; but it was his only means to prevent Antonia from
publishing his guilt and her own infamy. Should He release her,
He could not depend upon her silence: His offence was too
flagrant to permit his hoping for her forgiveness. Besides, her
reappearing would excite universal curiosity, and the violence
of her affliction would prevent her from concealing its cause.
He determined therefore, that Antonia should remain a Prisoner in
the dungeon.

He approached her with confusion painted on his countenance. He
raised her from the ground. Her hand trembled, as He took it,
and He dropped it again as if He had touched a Serpent. Nature
seemed to recoil at the touch. He felt himself at once repulsed
from and attracted towards her, yet could account for neither
sentiment. There was something in her look which penetrated him
with horror; and though his understanding was still ignorant of
it, Conscience pointed out to him the whole extent of his crime.
In hurried accents yet the gentlest He could find, while his eye
was averted, and his voice scarcely audible, He strove to console
her under a misfortune which now could not be avoided. He
declared himself sincerely penitent, and that He would gladly
shed a drop of his blood, for every tear which his barbarity had
forced from her. Wretched and hopeless, Antonia listened to him
in silent grief: But when He announced her confinement in the
Sepulchre, that dreadful doom to which even death seemed
preferable roused her from her insensibility at once. To linger
out a life of misery in a narrow loathsome Cell, known to exist
by no human Being save her Ravisher, surrounded by mouldering
Corses, breathing the pestilential air of corruption, never more
to behold the light, or drink the pure gale of heaven, the idea
was more terrible than She could support. It conquered even her
abhorrence of the Friar. Again She sank upon her knees: She
besought his compassion in terms the most pathetic and urgent.
She promised, would He but restore her to liberty, to conceal her
injuries from the world; to assign any reason for her
reappearance which He might judge proper; and in order to
prevent the least suspicion from falling upon him, She offered to
quit Madrid immediately. Her entreaties were so urgent as to
make a considerable impression upon the Monk. He reflected that
as her person no longer excited his desires, He had no interest
in keeping her concealed as He had at first intended; that He was
adding a fresh injury to those which She had already suffered;
and that if She adhered to her promises, whether She was confined
or at liberty, his life and reputation were equally secure. On
the other hand, He trembled lest in her affliction Antonia should
unintentionally break her engagement; or that her excessive
simplicity and ignorance of deceit should permit some one more
artful to surprize her secret. However well-founded were these
apprehensions, compassion, and a sincere wish to repair his fault
as much as possible solicited his complying with the prayers of
his Suppliant. The difficulty of colouring Antonia's unexpected
return to life, after her supposed death and public interment,
was the only point which kept him irresolute. He was still
pondering on the means of removing this obstacle, when He heard
the sound of feet approaching with precipitation. The door of
the Vault was thrown open, and Matilda rushed in, evidently much
confused and terrified.

On seeing a Stranger enter, Antonia uttered a cry of joy: But
her hopes of receiving succour from him were soon dissipated.
The supposed Novice, without expressing the least surprize at
finding a Woman alone with the Monk, in so strange a place, and
at so late an hour, addressed him thus without losing a moment.

'What is to be done, Ambrosio? We are lost, unless some speedy
means is found of dispelling the Rioters. Ambrosio, the Convent
of St. Clare is on fire; The Prioress has fallen a victim to the
fury of the Mob. Already is the Abbey menaced with a similar
fate. Alarmed at the threats of the People, the Monks seek for
you everywhere. They imagine that your authority alone will
suffice to calm this disturbance. No one knows what is become
of you, and your absence creates universal astonishment and
despair. I profited by the confusion, and fled hither to warn
you of the danger.'

'This will soon be remedied,' answered the Abbot; 'I will hasten
back to my Cell: a trivial reason will account for my having
been missed.'

'Impossible!' rejoined Matilda: 'The Sepulchre is filled with
Archers. Lorenzo de Medina, with several Officers of the
Inquisition, searches through the Vaults, and pervades every
passage. You will be intercepted in your flight; Your reasons
for being at this late hour in the Sepulchre will be examined;
Antonia will be found, and then you are undone for ever!'

'Lorenzo de Medina? Officers of the Inquisition? What brings
them here? Seek they for me? Am I then suspected? Oh! speak,
Matilda! Answer me, in pity!'

'As yet they do not think of you, but I fear that they will ere
long. Your only chance of escaping their notice rests upon the
difficulty of exploring this Vault. The door is artfully hidden:

Haply it may not be observed, and we may remain concealed till
the search is over.'

'But Antonia . . . . . Should the Inquisitors draw near, and her
cries be heard . . . .'

'Thus I remove that danger!' interrupted Matilda.

At the same time drawing a poignard, She rushed upon her devoted

'Hold! Hold!' cried Ambrosio, seizing her hand, and wresting from
it the already lifted weapon. 'What would you do, cruel Woman?
The Unfortunate has already suffered but too much, thanks to your
pernicious consels! Would to God that I had never followed them!

Would to God that I had never seen your face!'

Matilda darted upon him a look of scorn.

'Absurd!' She exclaimed with an air of passion and majesty which
impressed the Monk with awe. 'After robbing her of all that made
it dear, can you fear to deprive her of a life so miserable? But
'tis well! Let her live to convince you of your folly. I
abandon you to your evil destiny! I disclaim your alliance! Who
trembles to commit so insignificant a crime, deserves not my
protection. Hark! Hark! Ambrosio; Hear you not the Archers?
They come, and your destruction is inevitable!'

At this moment the Abbot heard the sound of distant voices. He
flew to close the door on whose concealment his safety depended,
and which Matilda had neglected to fasten. Ere He could reach
it, He saw Antonia glide suddenly by him, rush through the door,
and fly towards the noise with the swiftness of an arrow. She
had listened attentively to Matilda: She heard Lorenzo's name
mentioned, and resolved to risque every thing to throw herself
under his protection. The door was open. The sounds convinced
her that the Archers could be at no great distance. She
mustered up her little remaining strength, rushed by the Monk ere
He perceived her design, and bent her course rapidly towards the
voices. As soon as He recovered from his first surprize, the
Abbot failed not to pursue her. In vain did Antonia redouble her
speed, and stretch every nerve to the utmost. Her Enemy gained
upon her every moment: She heard his steps close after her, and
felt the heat of his breath glow upon her neck. He overtook
her; He twisted his hand in the ringlets of her streaming hair,
and attempted to drag her back with him to the dungeon. Antonia
resisted with all her strength: She folded her arms round a
Pillar which supported the roof, and shrieked loudly for
assistance. In vain did the Monk strive to threaten her to

'Help!' She continued to exclaim; 'Help! Help! for God's sake!'

Quickened by her cries, the sound of footsteps was heard
approaching. The Abbot expected every moment to see the
Inquisitors arrive. Antonia still resisted, and He now enforced
her silence by means the most horrible and inhuman. He still
grasped Matilda's dagger: Without allowing himself a moment's
reflection, He raised it, and plunged it twice in the bosom of
Antonia! She shrieked, and sank upon the ground. The Monk
endeavoured to bear her away with him, but She still embraced the
Pillar firmly. At that instant the light of approaching Torches
flashed upon the Walls. Dreading a discovery, Ambrosio was
compelled to abandon his Victim, and hastily fled back to the
Vault, where He had left Matilda.

He fled not unobserved. Don Ramirez happening to arrive the
first, perceived a Female bleeding upon the ground, and a Man
flying from the spot, whose confusion betrayed him for the
Murderer. He instantly pursued the Fugitive with some part of
the Archers, while the Others remained with Lorenzo to protect
the wounded Stranger. They raised her, and supported her in their
arms. She had fainted from excess of pain, but soon gave signs
of returning life. She opened her eyes, and on lifting up her
head, the quantity of fair hair fell back which till then had
obscured her features.

'God Almighty! It is Antonia!'

Such was Lorenzo's exclamation, while He snatched her from the
Attendant's arms, and clasped her in his own.

Though aimed by an uncertain hand, the poignard had answered but
too well the purpose of its Employer. The wounds were mortal, and
Antonia was conscious that She never could recover. Yet the few
moments which remained for her were moments of happiness. The
concern exprest upon Lorenzo's countenance, the frantic fondness
of his complaints, and his earnest enquiries respecting her
wounds, convinced her beyond a doubt that his affections were her
own. She would not be removed from the Vaults, fearing lest
motion should only hasten her death; and She was unwilling to
lose those moments which She past in receiving proofs of
Lorenzo's love, and assuring him of her own. She told him that
had She still been undefiled She might have lamented the loss of
life; But that deprived of honour and branded with shame, Death
was to her a blessing: She could not have been his Wife, and
that hope being denied her, She resigned herself to the Grave
without one sigh of regret. She bad him take courage, conjured
him not to abandon himself to fruitless sorrow, and declared that
She mourned to leave nothing in the whole world but him. While
every sweet accent increased rather than lightened Lorenzo's
grief, She continued to converse with him till the moment of
dissolution. Her voice grew faint and scarcely audible; A thick
cloud spread itself over her eyes; Her heart beat slow and
irregular, and every instant seemed to announce that her fate was
near at hand.

She lay, her head reclining upon Lorenzo's bosom, and her lips
still murmuring to him words of comfort. She was interrupted by
the Convent Bell, as tolling at a distance, it struck the hour.
Suddenly Antonia's eyes sparkled with celestial brightness: Her
frame seemed to have received new strength and animation. She
started from her Lover's arms.

'Three o'clock!' She cried; 'Mother, I come!'

She clasped her hands, and sank lifeless upon the ground.
Lorenzo in agony threw himself beside her: He tore his hair,
beat his breast, and refused to be separated from the Corse. At
length his force being exhausted, He suffered himself to be led
from the Vault, and was conveyed to the Palace de Medina scarcely
more alive than the unfortunate Antonia.

In the meanwhile, though closely pursued, Ambrosio succeeded in
regaining the Vault. The Door was already fastened when Don
Ramirez arrived, and much time elapsed, ere the Fugitive's
retreat was discovered. But nothing can resist perseverance.
Though so artfully concealed, the Door could not escape the
vigilance of the Archers. They forced it open, and entered the
Vault to the infinite dismay of Ambrosio and his Companion. The
Monk's confusion, his attempt to hide himself, his rapid flight,
and the blood sprinkled upon his cloaths, left no room to doubt
his being Antonia's Murderer. But when He was recognized for the
immaculate Ambrosio, 'The Man of Holiness,' the Idol of Madrid,
the faculties of the Spectators were chained up in surprize, and
scarcely could they persuade themselves that what they saw was no
vision. The Abbot strove not to vindicate himself, but preserved
a sullen silence. He was secured and bound. The same precaution
was taken with Matilda: Her Cowl being removed, the delicacy of
her features and profusion of her golden hair betrayed her sex,
and this incident created fresh amazement. The dagger was also
found in the Tomb, where the Monk had thrown it; and the dungeon
having undergone a thorough search, the two Culprits were
conveyed to the prisons of the Inquisition.

Don Ramirez took care that the populace should remain ignorant
both of the crimes and profession of the Captives. He feared a
repetition of the riots which had followed the apprehending the
Prioress of St. Clare. He contented himself with stating to the
Capuchins the guilt of their Superior. To avoid the shame of a
public accusation, and dreading the popular fury from which they
had already saved their Abbey with much difficulty, the Monks
readily permitted the Inquisitors to search their Mansion without
noise. No fresh discoveries were made. The effects found in the
Abbot's and Matilda's Cells were seized, and carried to the
Inquisition to be produced in evidence. Every thing else
remained in its former position, and order and tranquillity once
more prevailed through Madrid.

St. Clare's Convent was completely ruined by the united ravages
of the Mob and conflagration. Nothing remained of it but the
principal Walls, whose thickness and solidity had preserved them
from the flames. The Nuns who had belonged to it were obliged
in consequence to disperse themselves into other Societies: But
the prejudice against them ran high, and the Superiors were very
unwilling to admit them. However, most of them being related to
Families the most distinguished for their riches birth and power,
the several Convents were compelled to receive them, though they
did it with a very ill grace. This prejudice was extremely false
and unjustifiable: After a close investigation, it was proved
that All in the Convent were persuaded of the death of Agnes,
except the four Nuns whom St. Ursula had pointed out. These had
fallen Victims to the popular fury; as had also several who were
perfectly innocent and unconscious of the whole affair. Blinded
by resentment, the Mob had sacrificed every Nun who fell into
their hands: They who escaped were entirely indebted to the Duke
de Medina's prudence and moderation. Of this they were
conscious, and felt for that Nobleman a proper sense of

Virginia was not the most sparing of her thanks: She wished
equally to make a proper return for his attentions, and to obtain
the good graces of Lorenzo's Uncle. In this She easily succeeded.

The Duke beheld her beauty with wonder and admiration; and while
his eyes were enchanted with her Form, the sweetness of her
manners and her tender concern for the suffering Nun prepossessed
his heart in her favour. This Virginia had discernment enough to
perceive, and She redoubled her attention to the Invalid. When
He parted from her at the door of her Father's Palace, the Duke
entreated permission to enquire occasionally after her health.
His request was readily granted: Virginia assured him that the
Marquis de Villa-Franca would be proud of an opportunity to thank
him in person for the protection afforded to her. They now
separated, He enchanted with her beauty and gentleness, and She
much pleased with him and more with his Nephew.

On entering the Palace, Virginia's first care was to summon the
family Physician, and take care of her unknown charge. Her
Mother hastened to share with her the charitable office. Alarmed
by the riots, and trembling for his Daughter's safety, who was
his only child, the Marquis had flown to St. Clare's Convent, and
was still employed in seeking her. Messengers were now
dispatched on all sides to inform him that He would find her
safe at his Hotel, and desire him to hasten thither immediately.
His absence gave Virginia liberty to bestow her whole attention
upon her Patient; and though much disordered herself by the
adventures of the night, no persuasion could induce her to quit
the bedside of the Sufferer. Her constitution being much
enfeebled by want and sorrow, it was some time before the
Stranger was restored to her senses. She found great difficulty
in swallowing the medicines prescribed to her: But this obstacle
being removed, She easily conquered her disease which proceeded
from nothing but weakness. The attention which was paid her, the
wholesome food to which She had been long a Stranger, and her joy
at being restored to liberty, to society, and, as She dared to
hope, to Love, all this combined to her speedy re-establishment.

From the first moment of knowing her, her melancholy situation,
her sufferings almost unparalleled had engaged the affections of
her amiable Hostess: Virginia felt for her the most lively
interest; But how was She delighted, when her Guest being
sufficiently recovered to relate her History, She recognized in
the captive Nun the Sister of Lorenzo!

This victim of monastic cruelty was indeed no other than the
unfortunate Agnes. During her abode in the Convent, She had been
well known to Virginia: But her emaciated form, her features
altered by affliction, her death universally credited, and her
overgrown and matted hair which hung over her face and bosom in
disorder at first had prevented her being recollected. The
Prioress had put every artifice in practice to induce Virginia to
take the veil; for the Heiress of Villa-Franca would have been no
despicable acquisition. Her seeming kindness and unremitted
attention so far succeeded that her young Relation began to
think seriously upon compliance. Better instructed in the
disgust and ennui of a monastic life, Agnes had penetrated the
designs of the Domina: She trembled for the innocent Girl, and
endeavoured to make her sensible of her error. She painted in
their true colours the numerous inconveniencies attached to a
Convent, the continued restraint, the low jealousies, the petty
intrigues, the servile court and gross flattery expected by the
Superior. She then bad Virginia reflect on the brilliant
prospect which presented itself before her: The Idol of her
Parents, the admiration of Madrid, endowed by nature and
education with every perfection of person and mind, She might
look forward to an establishment the most fortunate. Her riches
furnished her with the means of exercising in their fullest
extent, charity and benevolence, those virtues so dear to her;
and her stay in the world would enable her discovering Objects
worthy her protection, which could not be done in the seclusion
of a Convent.

Her persuasions induced Virginia to lay aside all thoughts of the
Veil: But another argument, not used by Agnes, had more weight
with her than all the others put together. She had seen Lorenzo,
when He visited his Sister at the Grate. His Person pleased her,
and her conversations with Agnes generally used to terminate in
some question about her Brother. She, who doted upon Lorenzo,
wished for no better than an opportunity to trumpet out his
praise. She spoke of him in terms of rapture; and to convince
her Auditor how just were his sentiments, how cultivated his
mind, and elegant his expressions, She showed her at different
times the letters which She received from him. She soon
perceived that from these communications the heart of her young
Friend had imbibed impressions, which She was far from intending
to give, but was truly happy to discover. She could not have
wished her Brother a more desirable union: Heiress of
Villa-Franca, virtuous, affectionate, beautiful, and
accomplished, Virginia seemed calculated to make him happy. She
sounded her Brother upon the subject, though without mentioning
names or circumstances. He assured her in his answers that his
heart and hand were totally disengaged, and She thought that
upon these grounds She might proceed without danger. She in
consequence endeavoured to strengthen the dawning passion of her
Friend. Lorenzo was made the constant topic of her discourse;
and the avidity with which her Auditor listened, the sighs which
frequently escaped from her bosom, and the eagerness with which
upon any digression She brought back the conversation to the
subject whence it had wandered, sufficed to convince Agnes that
her Brother's addresses would be far from disagreeable. She at
length ventured to mention her wishes to the Duke: Though a
Stranger to the Lady herself, He knew enough of her situation to
think her worthy his Nephew's hand. It was agreed between him
and his Niece, that She should insinuate the idea to Lorenzo, and
She only waited his return to Madrid to propose her Friend to him
as his Bride. The unfortunate events which took place in the
interim, prevented her from executing her design. Virginia wept
her loss sincerely, both as a Companion, and as the only Person
to whom She could speak of Lorenzo. Her passion continued to
prey upon her heart in secret, and She had almost determined to
confess her sentiments to her Mother, when accident once more
threw their object in her way. The sight of him so near her, his
politeness, his compassion, his intrepidity, had combined to give
new ardour to her affection. When She now found her Friend and
Advocate restored to her, She looked upon her as a Gift from
Heaven; She ventured to cherish the hope of being united to
Lorenzo, and resolved to use with him his Sister's influence.

Supposing that before her death Agnes might possibly have made
the proposal, the Duke had placed all his Nephew's hints of
marriage to Virginia's account: Consequently, He gave them the
most favourable reception. On returning to his Hotel, the
relation given him of Antonia's death, and Lorenzo's behaviour on
the occasion, made evident his mistake. He lamented the
circumstances; But the unhappy Girl being effectually out of the
way, He trusted that his designs would yet be executed. 'Tis
true that Lorenzo's situation just then ill-suited him for
a Bridegroom. His hopes disappointed at the moment when He
expected to realize them, and the dreadful and sudden death of
his Mistress had affected him very severely. The Duke found him
upon the Bed of sickness. His Attendants expressed serious
apprehensions for his life; But the Uncle entertained not the
same fears. He was of opinion, and not unwisely, that 'Men have
died, and worms have eat them; but not for Love!' He therefore
flattered himself that however deep might be the impression made
upon his Nephew's heart, Time and Virginia would be able to
efface it. He now hastened to the afflicted Youth, and
endeavoured to console him: He sympathised in his distress, but
encouraged him to resist the encroachments of despair. He
allowed that He could not but feel shocked at an event so
terrible, nor could He blame his sensibility; But He besought him
not to torment himself with vain regrets, and rather to struggle
with affliction, and preserve his life, if not for his own sake,
at least for the sake of those who were fondly attached to him.
While He laboured thus to make Lorenzo forget Antonia's loss, the
Duke paid his court assiduously to Virginia, and seized every
opportunity to advance his Nephew's interest in her heart.

It may easily be expected that Agnes was not long without
enquiring after Don Raymond. She was shocked to hear the
wretched situation to which grief had reduced him; Yet She could
not help exulting secretly, when She reflected, that his illness
proved the sincerity of his love. The Duke undertook the office
himself, of announcing to the Invalid the happiness which awaited
him. Though He omitted no precaution to prepare him for such an
event, at this sudden change from despair to happiness Raymond's
transports were so violent, as nearly to have proved fatal to
him. These once passed, the tranquillity of his mind, the
assurance of felicity, and above all the presence of Agnes, (Who
was no sooner reestablished by the care of Virginia and the
Marchioness, than She hastened to attend her Lover) soon enabled
him to overcome the effects of his late dreadful malady. The

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