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' Avis, come here," said Eustace suddenly. She came up to the settle where he lay, and stood beside him with
a beating heart. “ Lady,” he said, “I think I am about to die. I have confessed my sins to Father Boniface, and he has shrived me. I think I have never done aught in battle unworthy a good knight. I meant, if ever the land was at peace, to rule my lands so that men need not go in fear of life and limb. I meant to be a good lord to you, Avis ; for you are the fairest lady I ever saw, and I love you
well. I would have been faithful to you, and given you your will; nor ever would I have said rough words to you in my cups, nor flouted you as I have seen my mother flouted. Lady of Dene and of Fitz-urse should you have been in very truth. Lady of Dene you are.
Yet I counsel you to bestow yourself in S. Agatha's Convent, and let my father rule the lands~"
He spoke slowly and at intervals. Avis grew pale and shook.
“Thou dost not love my gifts, Avis,” said Eustace presently. “Yet I have brought you a ring, for the gem in it is as blue as your own eyes. Let me put it on your finger."
Avis yielded her young pink fingers to Eustace’s, now thin and white, she held by the back of the couch with the other hand; while he, raising himself a little, slipped the turquoise ring on her finger.
“I would,” said Eustace, “ that the child had lived—that I had left a son
Then Avis turned, and suddenly the woman's heart awoke within her, she burst into a great storm of tears, and fell on her knees, hiding her face on bis breast.
What, Avis, canst love me after all ? Nay-nay, do not weep,” cried Eustace, as he stroked, at last unrebuked, the long fair hair; while Avis crept into his arms and sobbed on.
“Kiss me,” he said ; "you have never kissed me yet.” She put up her mouth like a child to his. "Sweet heart,” he said, “would it but please the saints to heal me
Avis sprang up, and rushed away from him, out and away, once more into the forest glade, where now the primroses were all awake and open-eyed, and the birds were singing in the calm of an April sunset.
Avis could not wait for moon or stars or for any ceremonial approach. She threw herself down on her knees and sobbed out
despairing passionate prayer, she knew not to what or to whom, — “Oh, take my soul, if it must be; but let him be healed.”
" Unhappy one!" again the well-remembered voice spoke, “ dost thou already repent thee of thy bargain ?"
“Oh, what can I do to save him ?” she cried. “Stand up,” he sai
" and look.” She rose up to her feet, and uncovered her eyes and looked, then shrank away with a scream of terror,-for before her, plain and clear in the evening sunshine, stood, as she thought, her brother's spirit.
“Oh, little sister,” he cried, suddenly grasping her hand, " how couldst thou do so wicked a thing ?”
It was a warm human grasp, but as she almost fainted for fear, he said, “I live, Avis,- I live. Fear not me,-fear him in whose power thou hast placed thyself.”
Oh, Nicolas ! is it thou—and not the foul fiend ? Didst thou speak to me?”
“It is I, Avis; but none the less didst thou call on the foul fiend to give thee thy wicked will,—none the less hast thou given him power over thy soul, though the blessed LORD, Whom thou hast renounced, sent me to guard thee." “Oh, Nicolas—I am so very sorry! Why didst thou go and leave
Art thou a priest ? I will do penance. Oh, brother, will not S. Dunstan let Sir Eustace live, and kill me in his stead? I couldn't fight and kill the foes of Dene, I thought the foul fiend would do it
And S. Dunstan never helped us at all. And the devil did hear
lord has fallen sick. But oh, Nicolas, —he looks right through my eyes into my heart,---what shall I do? Now, thou canst do the vengeance—may I not be a good wife to him ? He is such a brave knight, Nicolas. Oh, can the foul fiend hurt him-because I am so wicked ?"
“I know not,” said Nicolas, “what thou mayest do by prayer and penance. Wilt thou come with me to S. Agatha's Convent, and let me bestow thee there? May be in that holy shrine thou wilt be safe.”
“ Nay, Nicolas, let me go back to my lord, for I think he needs me.
Nicolas however was inexorable, and Avis was cowed into submission. He led her through the wood, in the dusk of the evening, till they came to the quiet convent gate some miles from Dene. The Abbess of S. Agatha's had powerful kindred, and (neither party had dared to attack her domain. She had never known before who the
was, the fame of whose prayers, and whose sanctity was beginning to penetrate from the outer world. Now Nicolas, when admitted to her presence, confided to her his secret, and told the sad and disgraceful tale of Avis's misdoings. Would the holy Mother take her, penitent as she was, or would they fear to accept one who had so sinned?
Perhaps the holy Mother had not ruled over generations of novices and maidens sent to the convent for shelter and education, without obtaining some knowledge of how to deal with a girl of sixteen.
"I will keep her,” she said, “and if she obeys me in everything, and confesses her sin, with suitable penance for it, it may be that she may yet be delivered from the evil one's power.”
“I will,” faltered poor Avis, and the Abbess signed to Nicolas to leave her; while she stood trembling and wondering in what dark and awful cell she should be confined, -what frightful penance could expiate her sin.
But the Abbess of a great convent had many things to consider, and she knew very well that this naughty girl was the Lady of Dene, and would be the Baroness Fitz-urse if Sir Eustace recovered from his sickness. She took her own measures outside the walls,—she caused prayers
and masses to be said in the convent chapel for his recovery, and Avis's salvation, and in the mean time she put the Lady of Dene to school.
Avis was not shut up in a dark cell by herself, she was never left alone or unemployed for a moment,—she was taught to cook, and to sew, and to embroider, to learn the meaning of the Paternoster she could hardly repeat, and to say her Creed, and to know something of Christianity. She worked with the Sisters in the convent garden, and distilled healing simples, and wonderful ointments; but she was not allowed to associate with the maidens who were also at the convent, and scarcely ever to go to the chapel.
Weeks passed by, she heard nothing of Eustace, nothing of her evil compact,--she felt in a strange uncomprehended dream. Had all the past been a dream also ? Her wild revenge,-her sinful action,Eustace's kisses,—and her bitter remorse. She was praised now when she did her tasks well, and rebuked when the matronly coif, with which the nuns had covered her bright hair, was pushed awry. The long summer passed, and still the days went on, till the forest was all bright with autumn tinting.
Then, one day, the grave old priest who served the convent chapel
heard her repeat the tasks that he had set her, and instead of a quiet dismissal, asked her whether she was weary of the convent life, whether she wished to go back to Dene
“If—i—Sir Eustace lives ?” said Avis with paling cheeks.
“He lives. But you, my daughter, are doubtless anxious to be free from the wedlock you so hated ?”
“No! But-if I am too wicked to be his wife, I will stay here out of the way. And I will do hard penances.”
Then the priest told her that her place was to be the Lady of Dene, and Sir Eustace's faithful wife, to which end the holy Mother had taught and trained her; that the prayers of her brother and of those blessed saints whom she had scorned had prevailed, and that by God's great mercy the Evil One would not be permitted to have her in his hold so long as she was dutiful, obedient, and prayerful. God had pitied her ignorance, and would accept her repentance, if she humbly confessed her sins and sought to be shriven.
So Avis repented, and confessed, and knew that her whole mind was changed since she had thrown her rosary into the fire at Dene.
She had joined at last in the chapel service,--and then the Abbess took her away into the same room where she had first received her, took her within the door, and there stood a tall knight in festal garments,
-Sir Eustace himself. Avis paused and faltered in shame and fear; but as he would have knelt and kissed her nd, she ran into his arms and hid her face, and forgot all her penitence in the joy of his return.
“Thou art more beautiful than the day,” he said.
Ay, my sweet lady. Thy brother came to me, and with him a good priest that the holy Mother bere sent, with such skill in leechcraft that I speedily recovered. They told me my wife must stay here and learn her duty, and do penance for her sin. So I begged the good father to give some of the penances to me, since thou wert tender and young, and I had sinned sorely while thou wast but an innocent child. And I have prayed every midnight at S. Dunstan's shrine for thee. And Nicolas will on no account take back the lands of Dene, having chosen the higher life, and much doubtless will our house profit by the prayers of so holy a hermit. And I have brought household gear to Dene; for now there is peace between King Stephen and the EmpressQueen, and I think the land will have rest. So now thou wilt come home, sweetheart.”
So they rode home to Dene together, and Avis vowed in all things to obey her lord ; and the world prospered with them as the years went by. The Lady of Dene ruled her household well, and kept her little daughters close and strict at breviary and sampler; while her sons were trained in gentle manners and knightly ways.
And Nicolas prayed and fasted in his lonely hermitage, and held up before the
eyes of his kindred the need and the blessing of self-denial and heavenly love, in characters so plain that the men of his day could read them.
MARY OF MAGDALA.
THE long lost lamb that went astray,
O’er whom seven deadly sins had sway,
The day star rose. Into the night
The Shepherd came, the Nazarite,
She lived and loved, the Magdalene,
The faithful of the faithful, e'en
First of the faithful few, for whom
The Risen CHRIST dispelled the gloom,
O CHRIST, wake us from sinful sleep,
And ere the night gathers too deep,
C. E. H.
A FIRST IMPRESSION OF THE REVISED VERSION OF
THE NEW TESTAMENT.
BY THE REV. C. G. BROWNE, M.A., CURATE OF CLEWER. THIS
paper will not, I trust, be taken as intended for anything more than is expressed by its title. It would not be possible in so short a time after the Revised Version has been given to the world, for one who is charged with parochial work, to do more than take a very superficial view of its merits or demerits. Perhaps a thorough and altogether