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fear. We remained together till the evening bell summoned us to prayers, after which we were dismissed as usual, with an hypocritical exhortation from the artful prioress, to our cells for the night.
My aunt promised to come to me as soon as every thing appeared quiet, and till then she resolved again to conceal herself, and watch what was going on.
Just as the church bell struck eleven, the trampling of feet was heard outside the convent gate, and a moment after, a ring at the portal announced that the strangers, whoever they were, demanded admittance.
Bianca waited with a beating heart, as she again saw the prioress open the wicket. “ La Gloire,” was again pronounced by those outside, while “Santa Cecilia” was answered from within. The heavy bolts were again drawn back, and fifty men were silently marched into the great hall.
A person who appeared to be an officer asked in a low voice, and in French, whether his colonel and two other officers had arrived. Being answered in the affirmative, he begged to be shown to them, when he was desired to follow the prioress, who led him to her parlour, where the three Frenchmen were concealed.
My aunt remarked that six of the men followed close at their officer's heels. No sooner was the door opened, than rushing in, the English soldiers, for it was indeed they, seized the Frenchmen, whom they bound hand and foot, while the prioress screaming “ treason,” endeavoured to escape out of the room, but this was prevented by the English officer.
At this moment Bianca hastened to bring me to my mother, and relate what she had seen, while the Irish ladies assured the now awakened and alarmed nuns of their safety.
All of course was now confusion, though the conduct of our watchful defenders was beyond all praise. The colonel and major soon arrived, after having secured the soldiers who had been hidden in the neighbouring monastery, together with those of the treacherous monks who had aided in concealing them.
After sending off the French officers to head-quarters, and informing the prioress that herself and Sister Josepha must be prepared to leave the convent the following morning, under an escort, to a place of confinement prepared for them by order of the bishop, the generous English took their leave, assuring us of their determination to remain all night in the church, and be mindful of our safety.
Nothing could exceed the joy of the nuns when they saw their intriguing and heartless prioress driven from the door.
The sub-prioress took the management of the convent till the bishop should appoint her successor.
She soon arrived, and her very look threw an immediate gloom over the whole sisterhood. She was about sixty years of age, rery tall and stately, and of manners so chilling, that all who approached seemed afraid of her. She soon showed herself to be a great disciplinarian, and kept us all in a constant state of restlessness.
All our devotional exercises, pains and penances were trebled, and our lives became almost a burden to us. The English were only allowed to come once a fortnight to the grate, instead of almost every day, and when they did come, the prioress was always present and watchful.
No one seemed so harassed and distressed at this new arrangement as the lovely Sister Inez, whom I have before mentioned. She faded obviously in health and spirits every day, and at last took to her bed. She scarcely spoke to any one, and seemed to wish for nothing but solitude. I pitied her, poor girl, from my soul.
After she had been confined to her bed for about a week, the nun who used to attend her during her illness, entering her cell one morning, missed her from her pallet. Concluding that she had risen to perform ber devotions in the private chapel, she waited some little time for her return. But she came
not, and was never seen from that time by any of the inmates of the convent.
This mysterious disappearance caused a wonderful sensation amongst the sisterhood. Not a suspicion could arise of her having eloped, as in her weak state it seemed utterly impossible. Some of the most bigoted of the nuns avowed their opinion openly, that the foul fiend himself had taken her off, in consequence of her having appeared too much pleased at the evident admiration of one of the young English officers; while others thought it more probable that the poor girl had in despair thrown herself over the cliff, from the gardens into the ocean beneath. Be this as it may, I must mention here a circumstance which occurred when we were staying a few months since at Brussels.
As I was walking in the Place Royale, a gentleman and lady passed us, the latter leading a pretty little girl by the hand. My eyes happened to meet those of the lady; she started, and instantly withdrew hers, changing colour violently. They however passed on,