Thus I quieted my uneasy mind. Its uneasiness had nothing，
"The abominable coward has lost no time, you see, abbe," I cried. "His aim was to frighten the chevalier and Edmee, and he has succeeded; but he reckoned without me, and I swear that--though he should have to be treated in the Roche-Mauprat fashion--if he ever dares to come here again----"
"That is enough, Bernard," said Edmee. "You make me shudder. Speak seriously, and tell me what all this means."
When I had informed her of what had happened to the abbe and myself, she blamed us for not warning her.
"Had I known," she said, "what to expect I should not have been frightened, and I could have taken care never to be left alone in the house with my father, and Saint-Jean, who is hardly more active. Now, however, I am no longer afraid; I shall be on my guard. But the best thing, Bernard dear, is to avoid all contact with this loathsome man, and to make him as liberal an allowance as possible to get rid of him. The abbe is right; he may prove formidable. He knows that our kinship with him must always prevent us from summoning the law to protect us against his persecutions; and though he cannot injure us as seriously as he flatters himself, he can at least cause us a thousand annoyances, which I am reluctant to face. Throw him gold and let him take himself off. But do not leave me again, Bernard; you see you have become absolutely necessary to me; brood no more over the wrong you pretend to have done me."
I pressed her hand in mine, and vowed never to leave her, though she herself should order me, until this Trappist had freed the country from his presence.
The abbe undertook the negotiations with the monastery. He went into the town the following day, carrying from me a special message to the Trappist that I would throw him out of the window if he ever took it into his head to appear at Sainte-Severe again. At the same time I proposed to supply him with money, even liberally, on condition that he would immediately withdraw to his convent or to any other secular or religious retreat he might choose, and that he would never again set foot in Berry.
The prior received the abbe with all the signs of profound contempt and holy aversion for his state of heresy. Far from attempting to wheedle him like myself, he told him that he wished to have nothing to do with this business, that he washed his hands of it, and that he would confine himself to conveying the decisions on both sides, and affording a refuge to Brother Nepomucene, partly out of Christian charity, and partly to edify his monks by the example of a truly devout man. According to him, Brother Nepomucene would be the second of that name placed in the front rank of the heavenly host by virtue of the canons of the Church.
The next day the abbe was summoned to the convent by a special messenger, and had an interview with the Trappist. To his great surprise, he found that the enemy had changed his tactics. He indignantly refused help of any sort, declaring that his vow of poverty and humility would not allow it; and he strongly blamed his dear host, the prior, for daring to suggest, without his consent, an exchange of things eternal for things temporal. On other matters he refused to explain his views, and took refuge in ambiguous and bombastic replies. God would inspire him, he said, and at the approaching festival of the Virgin, at the august and sublime hour of holy communion, he expected to hear the voice of Jesus speaking to his heart and announcing the line of conduct he ought to follow. The abbe was afraid of betraying uneasiness, if he insisted on probing this "Christian mystery," so he returned with this answer, which was least of all calculated to reassure me. He did not appear again either at the castle or in the neighbourhood, and kept himself so closely shut up in the convent that few people ever saw his face. However, it soon became known, and the prior was most active in spreading the news, that John Mauprat had been converted to the most zealous and exemplary piety, and was now staying at the Carmelite convent for a term, as a penitent from La Trappe. Every day they reported some fresh virtuous trait, some new act of austerity of this holy personage. Devotees, with a thirst for the marvellous, came to see him, and brought him a thousand little presents, which he obstinately refused. At times he would hide so well that people said he had returned to his monastery; but just as we were congratulating ourselves on getting rid of him, we would hear that he had recently inflicted some terrible mortifications on himself in sackcloth and ashes; or else that he had gone barefooted on a pilgrimage into some of the wildest and most desolate parts of Varenne. People went so far as to say that he could work miracles. If the prior had not been cured of his gout, that was because, in a spirit of true penitence, he did not wish to be cured.
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