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About The American. (Omaha, Nebraska) 1891-1899 | View Entire Issue (March 8, 1895)
Clutch of Rome.
CHAPTER IX -Continued.
THE RESCUE FROM THE CONVENT.
If Mrs. Maxwell had hi-ard nothing
further from Spain, Father St. John
had. Ho knew that the adopted daugh
ter was dead; that never feeling quite
right In her foreed position, the had
willed everything of whieh she had
died Ksje8sed, to the original claimant.
He also knew thitt it had been intrusted
to a just and pious bishop of Spain to
place the legatee in wmkWoii of her
"The abbet-s must have been very
ill," he said, "to give no warning to
her subordinates that an escape to su-
posed ruin was meditated by ono of her
most sacred charges."
Mrs. Maxwell's face flushed and her
eyes dropped a little before the search
ing glance of her self-appointed confes
sor, as she said:
"She was very 111, I think, and how
could she know that I had six more
nights of grace before me?"
"She could scarcely have known
that," said the priest. "She has been
dead for some months," he added slow
"Poor lady. She was a holy woman
and far removed from all earthly things,
but she was not happy, I am sure," said
Mrs. Maxwell, decidedly. "I hope she
has now found a happier state."
The priest, knowing the nature of
the death-bed confession of the abbess,
shook his head.
"You remember what you told her of
sinful nuns finding no rest in the here
"Oh, but I was angry then, Father
In my sober moments I should not have
thought of such a thing."
"bull, continued tne priest, "may
not some flagrant dereliction of duty
have sealed for her that unhappy fate?"
And again the large black eyes of the
priest (a legacy from his Spanish
mother) looked searchingly into the
fair face so near his own.
"I cannot presume to utter a judg
ment on such a question, Father St.
John; but, come with me, and I will
show you a painting I have made of the
convent over which she ruled so many
As he followed the graceful form, he
was vaguely conscious of thinking that
the trailing blush-rose colored robe,
confined at the waist by a silver girdle
of the mediaeval pattern, so much af
fected by ladies of the present day, was
more suitable to the woman who wore
it than the coarse black garments of a
nun would have been.
Mrs. Maxwell was a skillful artist,
and the picture, as a picture, would
have called for more than a passing
notice at any time.
The convent, massive, turretted, and
impenetrable, stood in the cold shadow
of the Sierra Nevadas, like a veritable
rock of ages, while in the distance, the
towers of the Alhambra seemed to say:
"Your time, also, will reach its
And over all, a cold gray sky, which
suggested no bright blue beyond it.
The priest, as he looked at it, thought
of the lonely woman, whohad lived and
rukd in the grim citadel of religion,
and whose dying breath, like a cold
frost, had breathed upon the flower of
happiness a sudden beam which the
clouded sun of her nature had helped
to bloom and fragrance.
The silent thoughts of every individ
ual are his own, independent of his
calling in life. Once expressed, they
become the property of all; so the
priest's words were:
"Was the sky always cold and gray
over the convent, Senora? Did the
warm sun never gild the snow on the
mountain peaks? You are still in the
early hours of life. As the day length
ens and the alarms of the world sound
in your tired ears, you may long for the
gray calm you have pictured here, and
think that the peace that you have lost
and the hopes which have deserted
you, are imprisoned in these strong
Mrs. Maxwell shuddered.
"I always remember it as gray and
cold and forbidding. And may the
great God grant I may never come to
wish for the peace to be found within
those cold hard walls."
Father St. John tu; led from the
painting and picked up a photograph of
the mother and her three children.
A flush of the pride of motherhood i
gave additional beauty to the face of the
young mother as she said:
"Do you think I could ever regret the
barren life of a nun, Father St. John,
when I have known such joy as those
sweet children have brought me?"
Father Fabio replaced the photo
graph on its rest and said in impressive
"Heaven has placed upon you a great
responsibility. It has given into your
keeping three immortal souls. Always
bear in mind that they will be de
manded of you on the Judgment Day."
A pause, a slight catching of the
breath, and then he tore the ugly rent
in the rich fabric of her life.
"You know the church holds the
marriage sacrament holy; no shadow of
doubt must ever rest upon it."
The face of the mother and wife grew
crimson he knew the teaching of
her church and" the priest was very
pale. At this moment a knock sounded
at the further entrance to the long
suite of rooms. Neither heard It. Then
the folds of the portiere were drawn
aside, and Miss Martht, followed by the
family doctor who had railed to see
Mrs. Maxwell, and whom Martha had
volunteered to escort to her presence,
stood before them.
The doctor, a man who gave iniBg
inative lieopln the lmprosioo or a
Mephistophi les, grown old in the ser
vice of many Faust, had no r stepped
clear of the portiere, and its azure folds
brought his black figure out in strong
relief. Tall and thin, and dressed in
deepest black, his hair forming a silver
fringe around the tight skull-cap.
Dr. Wood disliked priests of any
faith, and although bound to treat pa
tients of the sex' feminine with due
courtesy, it was an open secret that he
mistrusted them as a sex, and although
once married and now a widower ot
many years, he had little liking for
womankind. So, without connecting
anything absolutely immoral with the
two who bad bee a so absorbed that his
knock had fallen unheard, he observed
with the cynicism of his nature the
flushed face of his young and beautiful
patient, and the pallor of the priest who
was also young and handsome. He
could not know that the paleness was
the visible sign of honor bruised, and
the crimson, the angry challenge of
"Excuse our ruther abrupt entrance,
Carmen," said Miss Martha, ' I did not
know you were engaged."
People of society soon recover them
selves; and Mrs. Maxwell politely dis
claimed any interruption.
The doctor of the spirit and the doc
tor of the body exchanged a few com
monplacesthey had met by many a
sick bed. And then the priest, with a
low bow to the three, took his leave.
And soon after, Martha, saying that
she was going to walk in the garden,
left the doctor and his patient alone.
A NEW TYPE OF WOMAN.
As Martha walked in the spacious
grounds surrounding her brother's
residence, she could scarcely realize
that time had swung into a winter
The statuary gleamed white and bold
on the vivid green lawn. Urlmson
roses and chrysanthemums and fuschias
twining their combinations of colors
around the corners of the conservatories
and peeping boldly in at the roval or
chids and their patrician neighbors,
met the eye of the woman from a state
where winter makes his cold power felt
from his earliest reign.
She had stopped in her walk to re
move a gaudy ribbon to which was at
tached some glittering object, from the
neck of a statue of Flora, which one of
the children had placed there. The
Flora stood with her feet buried In a
mass of rose-colored geraniums. She
was busy with the knot, when a mock
ing voice behind her said:
"How can you be so cruel, Miss Max'
She turned, a little startled. Dr,
Wood stood beside her.
Cruel? I don't catch your meaning,
Doctor. Is it cruel to remove this dis
figuring ribbon from the neck of this
"It represents a female," replied the
doctor; "and you know they prize their
gew gaws beyond all else."
Do theyr ISO doubt, you being a
man, are the best judge of what women
"Ye gods! I think 1 am, Miss Max
"A woman, robbed of her personal
adornments," continued Martha, "and
man, with his inordinate vanity
wounded, are, without doubt, acute suf
"You are meaning the dudes and
fops, Miss, I presume, when you speak
of the inordinate vanity of man."
"I am not meaning the dudes and the
fops, sir. Their vanity is of the sort
you credit womankind with. They are
proud of their shape and the treasures
of their wardrobes. I am thinking o'
the vanity of men of avowed intelli
gence, and who boast in every way of
their want of it; for instance, I think
you, Doctor, are a very vain man."
"Me!" exclaimed the doctor. "I am
nearly sixty, Miss, and I really believe
you are the first to make the discovery.'
I certainly never suspected that I pos
sessed the quality. But, perhaps you
will not object to telling me of what you
consider me vain."
'Of your highly cultivated cynicism,
Doctor. You know you thought you
said a very cute thing when you called
it cruel to take the ribbon from the
neck of the Flora."
Dr. Wood laughed his ringing, sar
donic laugh, and his parted lips showed
a row of glistening white teeth, the
preservation of which he was very
"A man's code of politeness tells him
not to contradict a lady, Miss. Maxwell,
so we will allow that I am very vain.
Will you not accompany me to the con
servatories? I must pay my devotions
to the orchids. My love for them
really amounts to adoration. Do you
know they bear a strong resemblance to
your sex, inasmuch as they take unto
themselves many forms and colors. Ah!
here we are at the palace of the beau-
tie. Allow me," and Mephistopheloi
held oen the door of the flowery king
Mis Martha threw back the nubia
from her head and shoulders, and
stalked cahnlv on In'twoen walls of
flowers. Dr. Wood had made hvveral
calls at her brother' house during her
sojourn there. Although Ml Martha
Maxwell's acquaintance with men wan
rather llmit.'d, this particular oue (
to her a curious specimen, a creature of
the country, sho supposed. Shu had
had teveral worJy parses with hi in
which had been of his own MH-klng. T,
Dr. Wood, M!m Maxwell rcprct nlel
an entirely new type of woman, and, on
the whole, he rather liked her. Mis
Martha waited until the doctor had fin
idied his rhapsody on the orchids, and
then, with a sort of resignation to the
fact, she said:
Huumn naturo is a strange thing."
' Granted, Miss. Hut what is It that
strikes you just nowv"
"Your excessive admiration for or
chids." "Iieally, Miss, I fail to find anything
remarkable In my admiration of these
"Well, perhaps there Is nothing
strange anout it; it may b.i that the
hyena of the desrt would give all the
dead carcasses ho tears to pieces with
such seeming avidity for a bunch of
white lillles of the valley. "
The doctor's ringing laugh rang
through the conservatory. Then, in a
tone one would adopt in giving some
important piece of information, he re
marked: "Do you know, Miss Martha, I have
observed that plants change their ex
pression at times as suddenly as per
sons do? For Instance, that tree you
are standing under, seemed to me a
thing of rare grace and beauty a short
time ago when Mrs. Maxwell stxd
there, in exactly the Bame position you
now occupy. Today, its leaves strike
my vision as dingy in color, and its
branches certainly have a discontented
droop. Of course, I cannot divine why
the tree should be thus affected. I have
always been a close student of plants,
and I really believe that they are sus
ceptible of external Impressions."
"It is quite likely, Doctor, that th
vegetable world has feelings which hu
man egotism hasapproprl ,ted to itBolf,
By the way, Doctor, were you standing
in 6uch close proximity to this ex
tremely sensitive tree a few days ago
as you are now.' '
Again the doctor's laugh rang
through the conservatory. Ere the
echo had died away among the flowers.
he asked: "Are you going to hear the
divine Sarah, as Cleopatra, tomorrow
I know of uo divine Sarah, Dr
Wood. I recognize no claims to dlvin
ity but those of Jesus Christ."
"Ah! just so," said Dr. Wood. "By
the way, I was surprised to find that
Catholic priest in the form of the devil
I mean Apollo in such close confer
ence with your sister iu-law today. I
have never met ono in the house before
and I have practiced in the family for
"I do not know what you mean bv
close conference, and I can banish your
surprise by telling you that the priest
had been summoned to the bed-side of
the governess, who, I am sorry to say
is a lloman Catholic, and is now very
sick. In mv humble opinion, it was
quite natural he should pay his re-
spects to the lady of the house."
"Quite natural, Miss. Was a physician
called in to attend said sick governess?'
"There was," answered Miss Martha
"One of the very first in the city, T
understand. Strictly business. Naver
browses among the plants; knows
nothing of their external impressions
and feelings, but is satisfied with their
medicinal effect on his patients."
"Sensible man," said the doctor.
"And now," said Martha, "I must beg
you to excuse me. It is growing late
and I must prepare for dinner."
The doctor bowed and Martha made
her way towards the door which con
nected the conservatory with the recej
tion room. Before she quite reached
the door, she paused, seemingly inter
es'ed in a flower. Dr. Wood had also
turned to leave the conservatory, but
his wicked eyes were looking after the
tall, ungainly figure as if loath to see
her depart. When she stopped before
the flower, he also stopped and nervous
ly took off his hat, replacing it with
firmness and nodding his head, as if
saying to himself: "ill do it," he
called after her:
"I beg your pardon. Miss Maxwell,
for detaining you. But do you happen
to remember the name of the non
browsing doctor who attends strictly to
At his first, word, Martha was seized
with a sudden, severe fit of coughing
from which she did not recover until
she was fairly out of the conservatory,
and which was succeeded by a chuckle
of satisfaction, as she said to herself:
"I knew he'd ask me that before he
left. A woman would have had brain
fever before she would have asked of an
antagonist such a question. But a man
The doctor, as he stepped out into
the crisp, cold eveniDg air for the
bright California winter day was well
over now mentally summed up Miss
Martha as a "gritty old girl," stiongly
acidulated but of really good flavor;
brain and nerve Hernial, and will be
till the day f her death.
IIKTIVKK.V HI SIIANH AND W1KK.
oung Father St. John left the Iuiumj
of Senator Maxwell with the h;ikcIuii
neiwi of having done Li priestly duty.
1L bad held the n irror of truth before
the eyes of the erring koimhii who was
defying Rome, ami she nittxt have wen
reflected there her sin aain-a her GkI
and the holy church. The church had
decreed that a marriage Itctwccn man
and woman Is no marriage ur;lei-s a
prii xt nf Koine, U w hum God alone bus
given li t holy eswmv, and the ower
to make the marriage Umd a divine
ordinance, has made the twain oue.thu
making the union of the sexes pure and
lawful in His sight. This woman, whom
it was the duty of Rome to rescue from
the burning, hail been given a glimpre
of her crime In Its naked detornaty.
Father St. John had flashed this prier.1
Hlished mirror In the face of this siu
ful woman, and ascorchlntr ray of light
had given keen and painful sit hi to
eyes made blind with inordinate love
for a husband who wus not a husband,
and for children who were the offspring
of that love. Father St. John had done
his duty. He had commenced the
criiMiJe hi commander-ill chief had di
rected. But in hot rebellion agaiu-L
this religious duty arose the abstract
conscience ot the man "I came not to
bring eace on earth, but a sword,"
sfHike the Master.
It is meet his representatives for
ever wield this sword, In order that
good may come," thus reasoned Father
St. John, the priest.
Ah! that sword. Was It well, after
all to wield it? The skillful handling
of it was, perhaps, a lost art. Lost
when Ho who brought It departed from
the earth. For, surely, lie did notdeal
such destruction as the awkward hands
who have taken It up where Ho dropped
it have done, down through all the cen
So agitated was the mind of the
young priest with the conflict of the
logic of religion and reason, that the
dainty, though frugal, dinner Mrs.
Gibbs had served him, seemed without
salt or savor.
The table of Father St. John was
ever innocent of wine, or he, as hun
dreds of men were doing at that very
hour, might have deadened conscience
and Intoxicated reason.
Hurrying through the meal, he
sought the residence of the archbishop.
Father Fabio found his graco reclining
on a sofa in his library, clad in a dressing-gown
of some rich oriental stuff,
and with one of Havana's purest pro
ducts slowly turning to fragrant snokc
and ashes between his priestly lips.
He scarcely altered his position as his
young auxiliary entered, merely laying
his half-consumed cigar on a unique
ash receiver which reposed on a tiny
table beside his couch in close com
munion with a breviary, with a few
well chosen words aud a gesture of his
hand toward a chair near himself, he
made the young priest welcome. Bat
the handsome, far-seeing eye of the
prelat1! had marked the pallor of his
visitor's face; and drawing his own in
ferences therefrom, the lines of cruelty
around his mouth, which the sensuous
influence of a generous dinner and its
nerve-soothing sequel had nearly ob
literated, deepened, as he waited for
Father Fabio to begin his report.
At length, looking full at his chief,
the young priest, with an expression of
peculiar meaning, said:
"Well, your grace, I have planted a
upas tree where the church thought the
atmosphere was too puro for the spirit
ual health of these who breathed it."
St. Antinous arose from his couch
and stated himself in an upright
eathcr-cushioned chair beside a writ
iug-desk. Then, in a tone of studied
coldness, he commenced:
"I fail to understand you, St. John.
But no," he. added quick and sternly;
I will not stoop to the pretense of
misunderstanding you. You, an or
dained priest of God and the church,
have called the sacred teachings the
planting of the deadly upas tree.
Young man, do you know that you
stand in danger of excommunication?"
The pallor of the young priest grew
more marked. He walked with bowed
head and hands tightly clasped behind
his back, to a remote part of the room,
came back, and looking full into the
eyes of his superior, said, proudly:
our grace, I worship and revere
the great Godhead above us, here he
made the sign of the cross the holy
virgin, and the blessed saints. Their
commands and loving example it is my
great ambition to follow, and to make
myself worthy to teach those entrusted
o my care the true faith, by the con
stant watching of myself. But I can
not kill the thought that the gentle
and justice-dealing Jesus, would not
have asked me to enter the sacred jior-
tal of a pure and happy home and
reate misery and strife therein, be
cause husband and wife worship Him
at different altars."
Father St. John," said the bishop,
'if you will clear your mind of sickly
entiment and think a little, you will
find that you were not asked to inter
fere for that reason, but because tho
wife, at least, worships at no altar, and,
according to the doctrines of the
church, the purity of this homo is
something more than doubtful."
Father Fabio resumed his seat and
shaded hi eye with hi I'in, whlU
hand, a If the .aU green light from
tht liit ! U:iii on th reading desk
hurt th. in
The arc hhUhop continued:
"My young priest, do you Ix-lleve
m&rrUge to l a divine ordinance?"
"Most certainly, I do. your -rueo.
Who but an atheist or r-c doe net
Ik'Ucvo so "
The prelate lmwed.
"Then do you lieHeve that, In the
right of GihI, tliU man and woman are
living together In a holy state of matri
mony, by virtue of a marriage wrvlce
read over them by a captain of a steum
heal? Had they lieen married by a
so-called chilstlan minister of tho Pro
testant iKTMiiLiIon, your scruple to
ojicn the eyes of this woman and
mother, this straying lamb of ours, to
the enormity of her sin, might lie
credited with tho ghost of an excuse.
But you, an ordained priest of the
church, who have b en taught that the
uniting together In matrimony of man
and woman Is one of tho mo-t holy sac
raments of the church, to bo administer
ed only by those of your m ist sacred
calling, to which you are unworthy to
belong, to thono whom tho church
would save, can call tho efforts to purify
the Immoral utimnphcro of this par
ticular home, the planting of a deadly
upas tree "
"Your grace," said Father Fabio, and
his hand dropped from his eyes, and he
looked his superior full In tho face,
"may not this man aud woman, united
by civil authority only, have the Divine
blessing resting iixm them and cement
ing their union by tho virtue of their
love for each other and the purity of
tho lives they lead? And would tho
church so greatly caro for this recreant
daughter, if sho were poor and lived in
the sluim of tho city?"
It was now the archbishop who left
his chair to walk tho room with quick,
Impatient steps. As he walked, his
wrath and indignation gathered force,
and his brow grow dark and lowering,
like a thunder-cloud above the blue
lightning of his eyes. Suddenly lie
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puum d ha-fora hi rebellious auhordln
ate, shook hi clenched hand, from
which, In hi wrath the velvet glove
had been torn, and In a low roiee of
c moentmtcd anger, he said:
"How faro you! You, who have
scarcely reached manhood; how daro
you, I ay, coiuo to me, a mn ef mature
year, and an arch divine, and how
jour fiend of unbelief In n'l their hld
oitiH naked nem. You stand liefuro tho
high altar and perforin the ceremouio
of devotion. You tako In jour unholy
hand tho immaculate host and, even
a you elevate it before your knot-liny
congregation ho are prostruted with
awe and the presence of the Holy
Ghost, you must ft el that jou area
Fabio bad sal with bowed head and
deathly palo face while th! storm of
righteous wrath was falling upon him,
but at the last word of the prelate, a
man only now who had called him a
traitor, he sprang to Ills feet with an
"Take care, sir; oven you may go too
far. I am neither traitor nor hypocrite,
which great fault may p -i haps bo my
Towering above him tho angry
prelate took no hoed, but continued:
"Not a bishop in my whole arch
bishopric would have had the effrontery
to approach me as you, a simple priest,
and a comparative novice In the service
of the church have done. Never did
the old proverb, 'FooIh rush In whoro
angels fear to tread.' apply bettor than
in your case. It is well for your sainted
mother, who dedicated you, her only
one, to the church, that she li ft you
when she did."
Nothing tho archbishop could have
said, no stroke of priestly jiollcy have
so softened Fabio St. John and brought
him back to tho arms of tho church as
this mentioning of his mother, and tho
thought had suddenly flashed into tho
mind of the wily Jesuit.
(To bo Continued.)
"IN THE CLUTCH OF ROME," Is
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