'My Son, I conjure you! I entreat you!'
'For pity's sake, enquire no further! I must not ... I dare not... Hark! The Bell rings for Vespers! Father, your benediction, and I leave you!'
As He said this, He threw himself upon his knees and received the blessing which He demanded. Then pressing the Abbot's hand to his lips, He started from the ground and hastily quitted the apartment. Soon after Ambrosio descended to Vespers (which were celebrated in a small chapel belonging to the Abbey), filled with surprise at the singularity of the Youth's behaviour.
Vespers being over, the Monks retired to their respective Cells. The Abbot alone remained in the Chapel to receive the Nuns of St. Clare. He had not been long seated in the confessional chair before the Prioress made her appearance. Each of the Nuns was heard in her turn, while the Others waited with the Domina in the adjoining Vestry. Ambrosio listened to the confessions with attention, made many exhortations, enjoined penance proportioned to each offence, and for some time every thing went on as usual: till at last one of the Nuns, conspicuous from the nobleness of her air and elegance of her figure, carelessly permitted a letter to fall from her bosom. She was retiring, unconscious of her loss. Ambrosio supposed it to have been written by some one of her Relations, and picked it up intending to restore it to her.
'Stay, Daughter,' said He; 'You have let fall....'
At this moment, the paper being already open, his eye involuntarily read the first words. He started back with surprise! The Nun had turned round on hearing his voice: She perceived her letter in his hand, and uttering a shriek of terror, flew hastily to regain it.
'Hold!' said the Friar in a tone of severity; 'Daughter, I must read this letter.'
'Then I am lost!' She exclaimed clasping her hands together wildly.
Oh, brilliant, an early version of the "woman gets caught out because she kept the letter" trope. LoL.
It took a while to get into the writing and archaic use of language ... and getting used to what seems to have been Lewis' favourite word: "entreat". But now that I am used to it, this is a hilariously dramatic way of story-telling.
Was this one of the books that inspired Austen's mockery in Northanger Abbey? Or was that just The Mysteries of Udolpho?
I hope this book had a part in it, tho.
This is delicious.
Oh, and the Gothicky atmosphere is dripping off the page, even tho there are very few descriptions of the place. Amazing really. Gothicky fan-fiction would have spent at least a quarter of the book so far on using adjectives to describe the buildings and shadows.
It really is a pleasure to read this at nighttime. I should really dig out some candles to accompany this reading experience.