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On a mountain steep, near the sources of the Maine, stood a convent whose vesper bell had echoed from summit to summit for four hundred years. The old men in the dwellings of the valley below delivered to the little ones about their knees, the traditions they had received from their grandfathers respecting the original consecration of the chapel of this convent, and the arrival of the relics which crowned its sanctity. The Reformation having begun, the time was now at hand when the glory of the place must pass away. The magistracy of Nuremberg, having abolished the mass, and broken up all monastic associations in their city, extended their decrees through all the districts around. Unwelcome messengers had appeared at the gates of every convent to announce the day when its inmates must depart, and its possessions be given into the the hand of the civil power. By this summons the quiet of every monastic abode was instantaneously broken up. The superiors, inwardly mourning over the necessity which they must obey, strove in vain to preserve their authority during the few days which yet remained. The spiritual fathers observed no bounds in their revilings of



the heretic by whose infernal agency the half of the world had been drawn over from Christ to Satan, and the rulers of the earth become empowered to scatter abroad the defenceless sheep who had till now been guarded by shepherds so faithful as themselves. Among the flocks thus mourned over, a tumultuous variety of emotions contended for predominance. Dim remembrances of the distant world in some; vivid recollections in others : in some, a horror of the turmoil of life which must now be encountered ; in others, transports mingled with awe in the prospect of restoration to society : and in all, eager curiosity respecting the

progress of the religious feuds whose effects they were now feeling, and respecting him in whom these feuds originated.

Towards sunset, one evening in the beginning of March, 1522, Liese, one of the sisterhood of the convent before mentioned, sat by the window of her cell to watch, for the last time, the approach of twilight over those mountains which had been the companions of her meditations for twelve years. Hither had she retired in her twentieth year, not from an impulse of enthusiastic devotion, nor in obedience to a family decree; but, wrung by disappointment, with the hope of finding a sanctuary where new griefs could not reach her, however impossible it might be for any power in earth or heaven to prevent the ghosts of former emotions from haunting her. She had found more than she looked for. Here the floods which overwhelmed her spirit drew off into a natural channel, and a deep and calm flow of devotion sustained her. Here she had long supposed that she should spend the remainder of her days, and had therefore attached herself in a spirit of content to every thing around her, contemplating no further change than was from time to time wrought by the woodman's axe in the woods beneath her eye, or by the chances of mortality within the convent walls. On this last evening she lamented the confidence which had prevented her preparing herself for the encounter with society which she must again undergo.

Her survey of the past presented nothing but melancholy, her anticipation of the future nothing but fearful images; and the objects on which her eye and ear loved commonly to dwell, now only nourished her sorrow. As she saw the herdsman following his kine down the valley, she had no benevolent thoughts to bestow on the wife and children who awaited him at his door. As she heard the horn of the hunter, or the song of the forester, from under the shadows of the woods, she did not look with her wonted complacency on joys which she believed to be far inferior to those of the privileged state in which she had lived till now, and which she had hitherto regarded in somewhat the same manner as the philosopher watches the first flight of a brood of nestlings, or the gambols of lambs among the furrows. She had now no leisure for the recreation of benevolent sympathies. Finding her individual lot involved in the revolution then taking place in the spiritual world of man, she


herself up to amazement and grief that such a revolution should have been permitted: that the church of Christ and St. Peter should have been shaken to its very foundation, and that she, and hundreds as harmless as herself, should be driven from their retreats by the shock.

“He does all things well,” thought she, “and therefore doubtless some mighty victory over the powers of hell is in preparation, of which their present portentous triumphs will but enhance the glory. But why, O why, is this daring heretic permitted to elude the arm of the Church? Why are the decrees of the Holy See of no avail against him ? And above all, why is he suffered to drag the innocent, the pious, down into the same destruction with the blasphemer? How many are there now within these walls who, but for

him, might have lived holy and died assured of salvation, in whom vanity is already beginning to work, and who, in a few short weeks, will be tainted with the spirit of the world, and too probably, defiled with the heresy they now deplore! What can be so acceptable to heaven as a life of devotion in a retreat like this? Why, therefore, is it henceforth forbidden to us ? If we are driven from our chosen place of safety into a region of snares, with whom will rest the guilt of our destruction ? Not with Him whose kingdom is thus assailed. Heaven forbid the thought! It rests with him into whose hand the firebrand is given for a season, that he himself may be consumed at length. O,

that this had been before or after my day, that I might not have mourned the going down of the sun as I mourn it now! It is gone. The last ray is fading from yonder highest peak. My last day of peace is closing.” And Liese laid down her head and wept.

She sat motionless till it was dark, and then one of the sisters asked admittance. It was Helena, the youngest of

and the one who had most intercourse with Liese. She set down the lamp, and drawing Liese away from the window, placed her beside her on the couch. “I did not come sooner,” she said, “ though many of the sisters asked

I knew that their spirits would be too much for you. They were even for me, though I cannot feel so melancholy as you do."

“Where have you been, and what have you been doing ?

They made me go out with them upon the walls, to trace the different ways we shall be travelling to-morrow. It really was a beautiful evening, and I never saw the plain look so smiling, or its winding roads so tempting. How early the buds are bursting this year, as if it was on purpose to make our journey pleasant ! Sister Catherine says, she never saw the woods with a green tinge upon them so early,

the nuns,

for you.

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and that they will be in full leaf before she has done travelling through them. Her way lies east, and we could not trace it far among the mountains. You may guess which way I looked.”

“And did you see Nuremberg ?
“I could just distinguish its towers far, far away.

I own it did make me tremble to think of the space we have to cross before we shall be safely housed again. But with you beside me I shall not be afraid of any thing."

Liese smiled mournfully on her young companion.

“The greatest danger of all, however," said Helena, “is one in which we could not help one another. Father Gottfried says, that the heretics in Saxony are becoming more and more violent, and that he thinks they may very likely come here. Carlostadius was lately at Hamburg, and his followers collected there, and went over the whole province, pulling down the altars, and unroofing the churches, and burning the books and priests' robes. There have been threatenings of such violence in this neighbourhood; and what should we do, Liese, if our way was lighted by burning churches ?

“Cast ourselves into the flames,” cried Liese, fervently.

“Not quite so," said Helena. “I would rather turn aside, and not see the sacrilege I could not prevent. But it would make our journey fearful.”

“Dread it not, Helena. Franconia is quiet, at present, and will probably remain so, since the adversary does not meet with the checks he has to encounter in the north. But is it not strange that he who stirred up all this confusion should have disappeared so suddenly, while the tumult waxes greater, as if he were still present to excite it?"

“He is present,” said Helena. “ Books which no other man could write, appear from time to time. No one knows whence they come, or how they make their way ; but none

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