Good! thought milady; she likes my conversation. If she is a cardinalist, she has no fanaticism, at least, in it.
She then went on to describe the persecutions wreaked by the cardinal on his enemies. The abbess only crossed herself without approving or disapproving. This confirmed milady in her opinion that the nun was rather a royalist than a cardinalist. Milady, therefore, continued colouring her narrations more and more.
I am very ignorant about all these matters, said the abbess at length; but though we are distant from the court and remote from the interests of the world, we have very sad examples of what you have related; and one of our inmates has suffered much from the cardinals vengeance and persecution.
One of your inmates! said milady. O Heavens! Poor woman, I pity her, then!
And you are right, for she is much to be pitied. Imprisonment, threats, ill-treatmentshe has suffered everything. But after all, resumed the abbess, the cardinal has perhaps plausible motives for acting thus; and though she has the look of an angel, we must not always judge people by appearances.
The cardinal does not only pursue crimes, said milady, there are certain virtues which he pursues more severely than certain offences.
Permit me, madame, to express my surprise, said the abbess.
At what? asked milady naively.
At the language you use.
What do you find so astonishing in my language? asked milady, smiling.
You are the cardinals friend, for he sends you here, and yet
And yet I speak ill of him, replied milady, finishing the mother-superiors thought.
At least, you dont speak well of him.
That is because I am not his friend, said she, sighing, but his victim!
Then, madame, said the abbess, smiling, be reassured. The house in which you are will not be a very hard prison, and we will do all in our power to make you love your captivity. You will find here, moreover, that young woman who is persecuted, no doubt, in consequence of some court intrigue. She is amiable and courteous.
And when can I see this young lady, for whom I already feel so great a sympathy? asked milady.
Why, this evening, said the abbess; even during the day. But you told me you had been travelling these four days. This morning you rose at five oclock; you must need rest. Go to bed and sleep; at dinner-time we will wake you.
Though milady would very willingly have gone without sleep, sustained as she was by all the excitements that a fresh adventure was awakening in her heart, ever thirsting for intrigues, she nevertheless accepted the mother-superiors advice. During the preceding twelve or fifteen days she had experienced so many different emotions that if her iron frame was still capable of supporting fatigue, her mind required repose. She therefore took leave of the abbess and went to bed.
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