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the best of his way to his old quarters. This, after innumerable dangers and hair-breadth escapes, he effected, but more dead than alive, for he had suffered the most cruel privations. What was his disappointment to find, on his arrival at the hamlet, that the encampment was broken up, the convent grate shut against all intruders, and that there was no one of whom he dare ask a single question respecting me.
Wrapping himself up in his old cloak, he ventured to present himself at the monastery, and ask for Father Paul, the monk who had married us. He was dead! The gossiping porter (for monks can gossip as well as other people) told my husband all that had happened in his absence, as well as the changes which had taken place since the appointment of the new prioress.
The good-natured fellow, without recognizing his interrogator, guessed that there was some attraction in our convent, by the eager questions put, and he volunteered some useful hints.
They soon understood each other; and it was settled between them that my husband was to show himself at the grate in the disguise of a pilgrim. He lost no time in following the advice of the friendly porter, assuring him that when he should rejoin his regiment he would amply repay him for any assistance he might render him. The man, who had had a good deal to do with the English, knew well that he should be no loser by befriending one of that generous nation. He accordingly supplied my husband with such a hat, staff, and cloak as pilgrims wear, and cautioning him as to his proceedings, they parted.
He immediately repaired to the conrent grate, and inquired for Sister Bianca, as he dreaded that my agitation, at so unexpectedly seeing him, might destroy all our future prospects. After some little demur, my aunt was allowed to go to speak with the pilgrim who had inquired for her; she was accompanied, however, by the sub-prioress, who was always sent by the prioress as her deputy to watch the grate, when prevented going herself.
Luckily this person did not understand one word of French, and not being ill-natured or very strict, suffered my aunt to hold her conversation with the supposed pilgrim without interruption, or unnecessary watchfulness.
To know that my beloved Enrico was so near, and not to see him, made me almost frantic. The gallery in the church, where I had formerly hesitated to meet him, now occurred to me.
We had still the key of the door, but, alas ! his friend who could have admitted him into the church, was no more.
The porter was again applied to, and was found to be as accessible to a bribe as if he had not been a monk.
The remainder of my tale is soon told. Finding it would be hopeless to get out of the convent openly, as though only a novice, it required the bishop's permission, and many and tedious forms to be gone through, my husband determined to endeavour to convey me away privately.
My dear mother, who had suffered so much herself, could not endure the sight of my
misery, and accordingly supplied me with ample means to put our plans into execution.
Once admitted by the porter's connivance into the church, my husband and myself found no difficulty in meeting. Our joy was boundless, and it was soon settled, that within a week from the day we met every thing should be arranged for my flight.
The only pang I felt was parting from my dear and devoted friends, my so recently discovered mother and aunt.
They, however, assured me they should lose no time in endeavouring to obtain leave to remove from the convent of Santa Cecilia, the neighbourhood of which was the scene of so many skirmishes between the English and French as to make it, under any circumstances, a most unpleasant residence.
The long looked for night at last arrived, when I was to leave for ever the convent walls, and enter upon a life so strange and new to me.
I lay weeping between joy and sorrow, fear and hope, upon the bosom of my dear mother, while my indefatigable and kind aunt was arranging every thing in her power for my comfort during my approaching long and dangerous journey.
The clock at length struck twelve, and tearing myself from my mother's arms and leaning on Bianca, I crept trembling to the cloisters. The night was very dark and blowing, and the sea, dashing at the foot of the rocks, sounded like thunder. My heart beat quick as we hurried up the narrow staircase of the turret. The door was opened, and in a moment I was clasped in my husband's arms.
I took a tearful adieu of my dear and constant friend, who, watching till we had descended the ladder into the body of the church, retreated softly back to the turret.
The porter was waiting to let us out, and we were able, through my mother's kindness, to reward him most liberally on the spot. We then parted from him, as he dared not accompany us farther, and Enrico and myself hastened on alone, and on foot, for about half