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In the before-mentioned town of T-, there was observable on this particular evening, an unusual bustle and excitement. It was seven o'clock, and the bells of the convent chapel were summoning the elect, the curious, and the idle, to look upon the novice who, with to-morrow's dawn, was to bid farewell to all the pomps and vanities of this world. At the ceremony of this night, all the attractions of the Roman Church were to be brought forward, so as to render brilliant the completion of the sacrifice; these pomps, indeed, contributed in no slight measure to give the votarist that necessary courage and immolation of self, that otherwise might be difficult to attain. Yes, countless numbers had assembled there to approve, censure, pity, or admire the fortitude with which youth and beauty are endowed, when by thus renouncing the world, and all that it contains most dear, she imagines that she will be more fit for heaven, towards which she will henceforth look as a right. And why? It may be, because this earth has ceased to offer to her what most she prized; or perhaps its temptations and trials were greater and more difficult to bear, than the voluntary vow which she is now about to pronounce; or she may think, that dead to the world, she can give all her thoughts and best aspirations to Heaven. In her enthusiasm, she deceives. herself and others, and worse still, in her mistaken fortitude, she flies from the state of life in which Providence has placed her; she doubts her own strength of purpose, forgetting, in her blindness of heart, that mortals were placed in this world, not to fly its temptations, but rather to meet and resist them. God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent, and His protection is sufficient for all of us. If we refuse to battle with temptation, we are not true disciples of Him who Himself endured it, and who went through all the snares of this world; had He avoided them, His sacrifice would have been incomplete.

As is usual upon such occasions, the convent gates


were thrown open to the public. The large chapel was already full, while a crush of eager faces was to be seen crowding and struggling outside, the better to look into the brilliantly-lighted aisle.

Nine o'clock now strikes, and the magnificent organ sends out its swelling and thrilling thunders in "Deus Magnus," which is taken up at intervals by the clear, fresh voices of the nuns and novices, who, in their accustomed place in the organ gallery, can see, without being seen, for a high bronze railing shuts them out from the public gaze. The high altar is blazing in light, and redolent with the perfume of incense. The Bishop, who is to perform the ceremony, sits in his robes of state, surrounded by other dignitaries of the Church. A long, broad grating at one side of the altar now slides back, when the Lady Abbess, accompanied by the novice, who is dressed in bridal robes, advances, and is followed by relatives and friends, who, upon this last evening, have the privilege of being near her.

She is led forward by the Superior, and approaches the steps of the altar, upon one of which she kneels in silent and deep devotion. It is her bridal eve, her reception-for to-morrow's dawn will see her deprived of all her gay apparel.

The Bishop now comes forward, and, making the sign of the cross, asks her in clear, vibrating tones, that resound through the lofty aisles, the usual questions, which she answers aloud, so that all present may hear, that there is no compulsion. Now, for a few moments, let us contemplate the novice, as she turns to the assembled multitude, while the Bishop ascends the pulpit, to preach upon the momentous event; truly, the subject before him should call forth all his most brilliant eloquence.

The figure of the novice is very graceful, and it is rendered doubly so by the folds of long, white lustreless silk which fall around her. On her head is a wreath of orange-blossoms, falling from which may be seen a flow

ing lace veil, now and then fluttering with each movement of the wearer, and disclosing through it the shining masses of black hair,-alas! that to-morrow they must fall under the remorseless steel. The countenance is of marble whiteness, yet its expression. is calm, almost spiritualised, for a smile lights it with a strange beauty. Indeed, the peculiar charm of the face lay in the smile; without this, it might not have been deemed attractive, as the features were anything but regular or beautiful, unless we except the eyes, which were large, dark, and lustrous. The reader will doubtless have recognised our heroine, Catherine O'Neile; for she it was who stood there to undergo the gaze of hundreds, many of whom loved and admired her, and others who wondered, but could not understand, why she was leaving that world, which should have been so bright to her.

The Bishop proceeded in his discourse, setting forth the hopes and attractions that chain youth to this life; "for instance, the young girl before them, in the bloom of her existence, now willingly gives up all that most she prizes and loves, forsakes home, kindred, friends, the world and its fascinations, the beauty of God's works, and for what? for the cloister, which can only offer her in return-looking at it in a worldly point of view-solitude, monotony, and mortification of the flesh in their hardest and most trying forms; to speak in plainer terms, a living tomb, which shuts her out from all communication with the outward world. Never again shall the smiles of friends look down upon her, or their caresses encircle her-never again can the voice of love summon her by its appeal, -no, nor can the sunshine of heaven, nor the free, joyous voice of nature be with her, except in the few yards of ground out yonder (he pointed in the direction. of the convent garden). All, all that makes this life. blessed, she discards for ever!" There was a pause, which was filled up by the sobs and stifled cries of

the listening multitude, while she who inspired this affecting demonstration, sat there calm and collected, with her eyes fixed upon those of the preacher. She had fully realised his words-aye, hundreds of times, in imagination and spirit, and could now calmly hear them without regret or fear.

The Bishop continued his discourse-"I have shown you but the outer cloud; now we will pass beneath it, and look upon the other side. What does she behold there to reward her for the temporary sacrifice? The sunshine, which it but hides; for she exchanges the communion of the outward world, for communion with God alone, who can strengthen and bring her nearer to Himself. Instead of the smiles and caresses of all who are dear to her, she feels the love of Him who is unchangeable; for the beauties of this world, which unfold only as a shadow of the loveliness of another, she sees beyond, with the eyes of faith, a fairer, purer world. Through the long vista that stretches out before her-the narrow and thorny way-there is that paradise, which she hopes and longs for, and shall obtain, if she has but the courage to follow after and seek it. Life is but a dream at the best, and at its end, yes, at that supreme moment, how think you she will feel as she looks back upon all that has been given up? Words cannot-imagination cannot-realise such a moment."

He ceased speaking, and the organ once more sent out its inspiring sounds, while all eyes were now directed towards the altar, where Catherine still knelt in prayer. The grand "Dei Profundis" was then sung, she herself joining in the responses. This concluded, her friends approached to take leave till the morrow, when they would, for the last time, look upon her. Catherine, according to the custom of the order that she belonged to, must remain alone in the chapel, fasting and praying, till the hour came for her final vow to be offered.

By degrees the chapel began to be empty, till only a

few stragglers here and there groped their way about. At last, they too have gone, and Catherine is now alone in the deserted church. The lights have been extinguished, and only two long candles upon the altar shed their feeble glimmer around, rendering the darkness more distinct, and throwing fantastic shadows down the long aisles and around the gothic pillars. There kneels that one solitary form, with her beating human heart, as we shall see, despite of all that prayer and seclusion had done to console her. Do no other thoughts, but those sacred to the life upon whose threshold she now stands, intrude upon her? Oh, human, sinful, poor, weak heart, even in the strongest mortal! What can you do? how drive out the passing form, and imaginings of what has, and might have been? The shadow is there, the shadow brought by sin into the world, for she sighs as she kneels-sighs, it may be, in memory of her unworthiness.

Yet, what strange fascination is upon her now, as she stands up and gazes around? The calm, peaceful look of some moments before has passed from her countenance, and a restlessness has come over her. She advances a few steps so as to assure herself of the reality of the present hour; then, as her gaze falls upon her rich apparel, a shudder passes through her-she places her hand upon her heart, as if to still its beating, while she fixes her eyes with a half-terrified, halfincredulous glance into the empty space around, as though she there saw something visible to her mind's eye alone. Her breath comes and goes with painful rapidity; and for a moment the dead silence is disturbed by the striking of the convent bell, as it chimes out, clear and sharp, the midnight hour. It ceases, and all is again silent, when suddenly a low sound strikes upon her ear, at first at intervals, and rather indistinctly, as if some one were descending the gallery; then she hears the clang of steel along the stone pavement of the central aisle.

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