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The Children of the Abbey

339

CHAPTER XXXIII.

She remained a considerable time in a state of insensi­bility, and, when recovered, she found herself in a bed lain upon the floor, in a corner of the outside room; her senses were at first confused; she felt as if waking from a disagreeable dream, but in a few minutes a perfect recollection of what had past returning, she saw some one sitting by the bed: she raised herself a little, and perceived sister Mary: “This is indeed a charitable visit,” cried she, extending her hand, and speaking in a low broken voice. The good-natured nun jumped from her seat on hearing her speak, and embraced her most tenderly. Her caresses affected Amanda inexpressibly: she dropped her head upon her breast and wept with a vehemence which relieved the oppression of her heart.

Sister Mary said, she had never heard of her return to the country, till Mrs. Bryne came to St. Catherine’s for a few sprigs of rosemary to strew over the poor captain; she had returned with her then to the cabin to try if she could be of any service, and to invite her, in the name of the prioress and the whole sisterhood, to the convent.

Amanda thanked her for her kind invitation, which, she said, she must decline accepting for a few days, till she had performed all her duties, which, in a voice half stifled by sobs, she added, “the grave would soon terminate; she was sorry,” she said, “that they had undressed her, and requested sister Mary to assist her in putting on her clothes.” The sister tried to dissuade her from this, but soon found she was determined to spend the remainder of the night in her father’s apartment; she accordingly dressed her, for Amanda’s trembling hands refused their accustomed office, and made her take a glass of wine and water ere she suffered her to move towards the door. Amanda was astonished, as she approached it, to hear a violent noise, like the mingled sounds of laughing and singing; her whole soul recoiled at the tumult, and she asked sister Mary, with a countenance of terror, “what it meant!” She replied, “it was only some friends and neighbours doing honour to the captain.” Amanda hastily opened the door, anxious to terminate the suspense these words occasioned; but how great was her horror when she perceived 340 a set of the meanest rustics assembled round the bed, with every appearance of inebriety, laughing, shouting and smoking. What a savage scene for a child, whose heart was bursting with grief! She shrieked with horror, and flinging herself into the arms of sister Mary, conjured her to have the room cleared.

Sister Mary, from being accustomed to such scenes, felt neither horror nor disgust; she complied, however, with the request of Amanda, and besought them to depart, saying, “that Miss Fitzalan was a stranger to their customs, and besides, poor thing, quite beside herself with grief.” They began to grumble at the proposal of removing, they had made preparations for spending a merry night, and Mrs. Bryne said, “if she had thought things would have turned out in this way, the captain might have found some other place to die in—for the least one could have, after his giving them so much trouble, was a little enjoyment with one’s friends at the latter end.” Johnaten and Kate, who were among the party, joined their entreaties to sister Mary’s, and she, to tempt them to compliance, said, “that in all proba­bility they would soon have another and a better opportunity for making merry than the present.” They at length retired, and sister Mary and Amanda were left alone in the chamber of death. The dim light which remained cast a glimmering shade upon the face of Fitzalan, that added to its ghastliness Amanda now indulged in all the luxury of grief, and found in sister Mary a truly sympathetic friend, for the good nun was famed throughout the little circle of her acquaintance for weeping with those that wept, and rejoicing with those that rejoiced. She obtained a promise from Amanda of accompanying her to St. Catharine’s as soon as her father was interred; and in return for this she gave an assurance for continuing with her till the last melancholy offices were over, and also, that, with the assistance of Johnaten, she would see every thing proper provided; this was some comfort to Amanda, who felt herself at present unequal to any exertion; yet, notwith­standing her fatigue and illness, she persevered in her resolution of sitting up with her father every night, dreading that, if she retired to bed, a scene of riot would again ensue, which, in her opinion, was sacrilege to the dead. She went to bed every morning and was nursed with the most tender affection by sister Mary, who also insisted on being her companion at night. This, however, was 341 but a mere matter of form, for the good sister was totally unable to keep her eyes open and slept as comfortable upon the earthen floor, with her gown made into a pillow for her head, as if laid upon the down; then was poor Amanda left to her own reflections, and the melancholy contem­plation of her beloved father’s remains. The evening of the fourth day after his decease was fixed upon for his interment; with streaming eyes and a breaking heart, Amanda beheld him put into the coffin, and in that moment felt as if he had again died before her. A small procession attended, consisting of the people of the house, Johnaten and Kate, and a few respectable farmers, to whom Fitzalan had endeared himself during his short abode at Castle Carberry: the men had scarfs and hat-bands, and the women hoods.

Johnaten, who had been a soldier in his youth, resolved to pay some military honour, and placed his hat and sword upon the coffin.

Amanda by the most painful efforts, supported the preparations for his removal: but when she saw the coffin actually raised to be taken out, she could no longer restrain her feelings: she shrieked in the agony of her soul, a sickness almost deadly seized her, and she fell fainting upon sister Mary’s bosom!

Erratum: Chapter XXXIII

during his short abode at Castle Carberry:
text has Carbery:


The weakness which Amanda felt in consequence of her late illness, and the excessive sickness she always suffered at sea, made her retire to bed immediately on entering the packet


Sister Mary recovered her with difficulty, but found it impossible to remove her from the cabin till she was once more composed.

Introduction and Contents

 

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