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And clamour down the whispers of regret.
Still Angela strove to dream, and strove in vain ;
Awakened once, she could not sleep again.
She saw, each day and hour, more worthless grown
The heart for which she cast away her own;
And her soul learnt, through bitterest inward strife,
The slight, frail love for which she wrecked her life,
The phantom for which all her hope was given,
The cold bleak earth for which she bartered heaven!
But all in vain; would even the tenderest heart
Now stoop to take so poor an outcast's part ?
Years fled, and she grew reckless more and more,
Until the humblest peasant closed his door,
And where she passed, fair dames, in scorn and pride,
Shuddered, and drew their rustling robes aside.
At last a yearning seemed to fill her soul,
A longing that was stronger than control :
Once more, just once again, to see the place
That knew her young and innocent; to retrace
The long and weary southern path; to gaze
Upon the haven of her childish days;
Once more beneath the convent roof to lie;
Once more to look upon her home-and die !
Weary and worn-her comrades, chill remorse
And black despair, yet a strange silent force
Within her heart, that drew her more and more
Onward she crawled, and begged from door to door.
Weighed down with weary days, her failing strength
Grew less each hour, till one day's dawn at length,
As first its rays flooded the world with light,
Showed the broad waters, glittering blue and bright,
And where, amid the leafy hawthorn wood,
Just as of old the quiet cloister stood.
Would any know her? Nay, no fear. Her face
Had lost all trace of youth, of joy, of grace,
Of the pure happy soul they used to know-
The novice Angela—so long ago.
She rang the convent bell. The well-known sound
Smote on her heart, and bowed her to the ground.
And she, who had not wept for long dry years,
Felt the strange rush of unaccustomed tears ;
Terror and anguish seemed to check her breath,
And stop her heart. Oh God! could this be death ?
Crouching against the iron gate, she laid
Her weary head against the bars, and prayed :
But nearer footsteps drew, then seemed to wait ;
And then she heard the opening of the grate,
And saw the withered face, on which awoke
Pity and sorrow, as the portress spoke,
And asked the stranger's bidding : “ Take me in,"
She faltered, “ Sister Monica, from sin,
And sorrow, and despair, that will not cease;
Oh, take me in, and let me die in peace !”
With soothing words the Sister bade her wait,
Until she brought the key to unbar the gate.
The beggar tried to thank her as she lay,
And heard the echoing footsteps die away.
But what soft voice was that which sounded near,
And stirred strange trouble in her heart to hear?
She raised her head; she saw—she seemed to know-
A face that came from long, long years ago :
Herself; yet not as when she fled away,
The young and blooming novice, fair and gay,
But a grave woman, gentle and serene :
The outcast knew it—what she might have been. .
But, as she gazed and gazed, a radiance bright
Filled all the place with strange and sudden light;
The Nun was there no longer, but instead,
A figure with a circle round its head,
A ring of glory; and a face, so meek,
So soft, so tender. ... Angela strove to speak,
And stretched her hands out, crying, “ Mary mild,
Mother of mercy, help me !-help your child !”
And Mary answered, “ From thy bitter past,
Welcome, my child! oh, welcome home at last !
I filled thy place. Thy flight is known to none,
For all thy daily duties I have done;
Gathered thy flowers, and prayed, and sung, and
Didst thou not know, poor child, thy place was kept?
Kind hearts are here; yet would the tenderest one
Have limits to its mercy: God has none.
And man's forgiveness may be true and sweet,
But yet he stoops to give it. More complete
Is Love that lays forgiveness at thy feet,
And pleads with thee to raise it. Only Heaven
Means crowned, not vanquished, when it says “ For-
Back hurried Sister Monica ; but where
Was the poor beggar she left lying there?
Gone; and she searched in vain, and sought the
For that wan woman, with the piteous face :
But only Angela at the gateway stood,
Laden with hawthorn blossoms from the wood.
And never did a day pass by again,
But the old portress, with a sigh of pain,
Would sorrow for her loitering : with a prayer
That the poor beggar, in her wild despair,
Might not have come to any ill; and when ,
She ended, “ God forgive her!” humbly then
Did Angela bow her head, and say “ Amen!”
How pitiful her heart was! all could trace
Something that dimmed the brightness of her face
After that day, which none had seen before ;
Not trouble—but a shadow-nothing more.
Years passed away. Then, one dark day of dread,
Saw all the sisters kneeling round a bed,
Where Angela lay dying ; every breath
Struggling beneath the heavy hand of death.
But suddenly a flush lit up her cheek,
She raised her wan right hand, and strove to speak.
In sorrowing love they listened; not a sound
Or sigh disturbed the utter silence round.
The very taper's flames were scarcely stirred,
In such hushed awe the sisters knelt and heard.
And through that silence Angela told her life:
Her sin, her flight; the sorrow and the strife,