The Nun of Newstead
THE NUN OF NEWSTEAD.
By H. C. BAILEY.
A STORY of wondrous things is this, wondrous above all else in the world—a man and a maid. It is likewise the story of the Nun of Newstead, who was likewise somewhat wondrous, and a great grief to many of the devout, inasmuch as some called her a miracle, and others the fiend. Also the devout were much troubled by Ermyntrude, the sub-prioress, who, to her last hour, never heard the tale of the Nun without grievous and worldly laughter. This tale has been very long a-dying. No more than fifty years ago you might have heard it told in a Surrey farmhouse, as the beech-logs crackled below the bacon on a winter's night. It was a very solemn tale. For five centuries there have been men to swear they had seen the Nun appear, an sight in the river mist, jumping from the grey ruins down to the swift dark stream to her death. And that is strange also, for the Nun never died. She never even lived. But she jumped.
And now we will go back to the beginning, which is not the maid, as you suppose, nor even the man. It is a hat of green velvet, and a windy March morning, and a Surrey down, and a light-hearted mare. Harry of Silvermere was riding that mare. Now, the mare Ethelfrida desired to gallop. Harry insisted that she should walk, because he greatly longed to laugh—to laugh till his voice failed him and his sides complained. You must not be shocked because he was laughing at his father. His father had gone that morning to visit a cousin. This cousin was a very godly man, but his wine came straight—said Sir Harry—from hell; and when young Harry of Silvermere thought again of his father's wry face and his solemn oaths, he crowed feebly with insatiable glee. Just then something danced and fluttered past Ethelfrida's tossing nose, and Ethelfrida made up her mind and put down her head. She would have her joke, too. She shot away over the greensward at her best speed, and Harry, wittering with laughter, caught at the reins and tried to swear, and choked. Then he heard someone else laugh. It was laughter clear and sweet as a blackbird's song, and it made Harry wake suddenly to the fact that he, as well as his father, looked humorous, so that the mare Ethelfrida was reminded all too soon of the strength of Harry's arm. Ethelfrida was swung sharply round, for her master to see the creature who dared laugh at Harry of Silvermere.
That creature stood on the brow of the wind-swept hill, its figure outlined daintily by the whistling gale. It was a creature whose hair glowed in the sunlight above the clear-cut white face of it and its laughing red lips. And it is likely, I think, that Harry's dark eyes grew big and bright as he looked.
"My hat! Oh, my hat!" said the creature, as Harry came nearer, pointing with a slim, white hand to the fateful hat that lay caught in the gnarled roots of a yew tree. Now, it is upon record that Harry of Silvermere had said to his friend, Sir Bertram, only the night before—
"Women? Bah! Why did God make women?" He was young, you know.
But we have it upon the word of the Lady Elaine, that now (though no one was there to see but a woman) Harry rode at that hat at a gallop, vaulted out of the saddle, caught the hat neatly, and sprang to the saddle again without checking Ethelfrida's stride. Also that he came back to the creature on the hill-top, and sprang down and fell on his knee, and so with low obeisance served her. He had discovered, perhaps, why God made women.
A low curtsy rewarded him, a sweet voice said: "I am sorry, sir." Harry rose to his feet; black eyes looked into brown.
"Lady, I am not," said he. She looked at him with her head on one side.
"But I laughed at you, sir."
"Will you do it again?" said Harry; and she did. Then she blushed.
"And men hate being laughed at," said she, with downcast eyes. Harry shook his head; she looked up. Harry shook his head again. It is possible that he came closer. Below them was puffing and blowing. The mare Ethelfrida looked round; then the lady; then Harry.
"Oh!" cried the lady, with a start and a little shudder. "Oh! thank you—and please go." The red cheeks of a fat priest loomed into sight. Harry caught her hand.
"Whom may I thank?" he said softly.
"The hat," said the lady. "Oh! please go!" and she looked back timorously at the puffing priest. Harry pressed her hand.
"Whom?" said he, his lips close to her cheek. She caught her breath.
"I am Elaine, Elaine of Effingham, sir," she murmured. Harry fell on his knee and kissed her hand. She blushed.
"Lady——," said the priest, puffing; "my child——" Harry sprang on his mare, bowed low, and was gone. The Lady Elaine looked at her hand, and then with a shudder she turned to the priest. In a minute Harry looked back in his saddle; he heard her voice, but could not hear the words.
"I wonder what she is saying?" he said aloud.
Now, what the Lady Elaine was saying was this: "I will not—not—not!"
Harry let Ethelfrida have her way and her head, and vanished. But the fat priest looked after him.
"A child of Belial," said the fat priest to himself.
Away went the child of Belial, plunging downhill till the slope grew over-steep even for his reckless moods; and all the way he was thinking of a thin, white hand, thinking how daintily the blood marks a white cheek—and of other things for which God made women. As he turned Ethelfrida's wanton head for Cobham and Silvermere, he looked back once to Effingham Manor nestling in a combe among the leafless trees, and to Effingham Manor he took off his hat. And then, a wonder to heaven and earth, Harry of Silvermere began to sing—
"A maid there was, and her eyes were bright,
True love o' mine.
I kissed ber hand, and my heart was light,
Dear love o' mine.
A maid there was, and my heart she took,
True love o' mine.
And all she gave was a kindly look,
Dear love o' mine."
Verses whereat he had laughed (not unjustly) the night before. Now he had no desire to laugh, not even at his father. He rode slowly, sighing, and Ethelfrida wondered.
When old Sir Harry came bustling back to the hall of Silvermere, he found his son sitting by the fire playing with his dog Tello.
"By'r Lady! And where is dinner?" cried Sir Harry.
"Dinner?" said his son, looking up.
"Now by St. Thomas-à-Kent!" cried Sir Harry—and said other things which you would not like to hear. So that a serving-man gave him a great jug of strong ale to stop his mouth and save him from further sin. "Of all wines," said Sir Harry, wiping his beard, "of all wines, give me ale!" The serving-man gave him another mug. "Am I a hogshead, fool?" cried Sir Harry, and sat himself down by the fire, stretching out his legs to the blaze. "Harry, you should marry," he said solemnly.
"The devil, sir!" cried Harry, who had been thinking the very same thing.
"And a very fit match!" said Sir Harry, chuckling. Harry shook his head.
" 'Tis you would quarrel with my wife, sir. Two of a trade." Sir Harry consigned his son's folly to the nether world.
"I mean it, Harry," he said solemnly.
"The saints!" cried Harry.
"Let the saints be! D'ye know who is heir to Silvermere?" Harry touched his breast. "Aye, there's one fool! And the next—the next is your fool cousin Giles, who gives me cowslip wine, Harry! Ventre du diable! cowslip wine! Cowslip! That fool, with his stomach-ache drinks, is next heir to you! For the sake of the county, marry and cheat him! A girl with a hump or a girl with a temper, devil cares, but——"
"Sir Harry is served," said the seneschal, bowing. And Sir Harry went to dinner.
"But I care," said Harry. Sir Harry looked at him between mouthfuls.
"Why, so do I," he said slowly. He played with his wine-cup. " 'Twere better to wait till you love, Harry." The jolly, boisterous voice had fallen to a whisper. "Your mother would have had it so."
Harry smiled. Because, though it may be better to wait till you love, it is bad to wait when love has come.
The very next morning Harry rode off to Effingham Manor. Bursting wildly down a hollow lane, Ethelfrida and he came on the fat priest, mounted, aptly enough, on a mule. Harry swept by like a whirlwind, and Father Clement did not see who it was (which was most fortunate), but he said to himself: "A child of Belial."
Harry did not hear; would not have heeded if he had. In five minutes he was at the door of Effingham Manor. "The Lady Elaine?" said he to a serving-maid. At once the girl began to cry. Harry stared. "Is your lady sick?"
"No," said a gruff voice at his elbow. A tanned, scarred face met his eye. "The fiend! 'Tis old Black Harry himself, or—aye, you be his son, sir!" And the old soldier gave a mellow roar of laughter. "Now Heaven help all priests!" he spluttered.
Harry never loved riddles; was never less in the mood for them than then.
"Tell your lady I wait on her," he said sharply to the maid.
"Aye, aye, Molly, tell her," chuckled the seneschal. "Tell her, and—and Heaven help all priests!"
Scarce further than the threshold of Elaine's bower, Harry started and stopped. The blood began to come to his cheek; his eye kindled with wrath; his fingers twitched. More than ever he was like his father, black Sir Harry. For the Lady Elaine was very pale. Her eyes were red and full of tears; and she trembled. Harry sprang to her, fell on his knee, and took her hand.
"Lady, lady, what troubles you?" he cried; and then she gave a sob. In a moment Harry's arm was round her. She felt herself borne lightly to the window-seat. His warm, steady hand lay on hers, and he whispered—
"Lady, I am here to help!"
"You? You? Ah! why?" sobbed Elaine, and her kerchief hid her eyes. Very gently Harry drew the kerchief away and made the tearful brown eyes look into his.
"Do you not know, lady?" he whispered. And then to Elaine's pale face the blood came surging quick. About her waist Harry's arm pressed closer and closer yet. She was glad of the steady, quiet strength, and her eyes grew brighter beneath the modest, drooping lashes.
But suddenly she cried: "No! no! you must not!" and she tried to escape from Harry's arm, and failed. She had not tried hard.
"And why not?" said Harry, smiling down at his captive.
"Look!" said the Lady Elaine, pointing. "No! no, sir! Look!" Her little, white hand turned Harry's impudent eyes away from her, away towards a sober grey habit that lay limp on a chair.
"A very saintly garment!" said Harry.
"Saintly? Oh!" cried the Lady Elaine, and shuddered. "Oh, I will not—not—not!" and she sobbed full on Harry's shoulder.
"Mort de ma vie!" muttered Harry in amaze, and stroked her rippling hair. "My love—my dear love——"
"I am not your love—I am not anybody's love!" cried the Lady Elaine. "I—I—I—am a nun—a silly nun!"
Harry brought out a rattling oath.
"Yes," said the Lady Elaine, sympathising deeply. "But I am, you know." Harry sprang up.
"No!" he shouted. "No, by all the saints and the fiends withal, no!" They heard that thunderous shout in the hall, and the seneschal chuckled.
"Now Heaven bless all priests!" said he.
But Harry's anger left him in a moment; in a moment he was cool again, purposeful and quiet—true son of Black Sir Harry ever.
"What is this tale, love?" he said, as he sat beside her again.
"I—I have no wealth nor lands, and——"
"Ah! who says that?" said Harry.
"Father Clement." A little dangerous smile began to come on Harry's face. "You see, I am but a beggar maid; and as they asked me——"
"Ah! who asked you?" said Harry.
"Father Clement." Harry's fingers tapped lightly on her hand. His smile grew wider. "My mother left the Manor to the Church, and so——"
"Ah! who told you so?" said Harry.
"Father Clement. That is why I was to take the vows and sign the parchment—to-day," her voice trembled—"to-day." The tears came again in her eyes.
But Harry began to laugh—long and low and mirthfully he laughed.
"The good Father Clement!" said he. He kicked at the nun's dress, lying limp and dolorous.
"And so ugly a dress it is!" said Elaine tearfully. Then Harry laughed aloud.
"Too ugly far for brown eyes; too ugly for wild-rose cheeks; alack for the good Father Clement! But—but—, 'tis very fit for the good Father Clement!" And he slapped his hand on his thigh.
But the Lady Elaine was weeping.
And then, just then while Harry was drawing her closer, came a loud voice without—
"Benedicite, benedicite, my children all!" And Elaine clung to Harry and cried: "Ah; save me, save me, Harry!"
"That will I, love," he whispered; and, sudden, he sprang to the door and shot the bolts. Back he came to Elaine and whispered low in her ear.
Now, what he whispered, no man knows, for neither he nor Elaine ever chose to tell. This only we know (for the seneschal told), how Father Clement, the fat priest, came to the door and found it fast.
"My daughter," he said sweetly, knocking. And Elaine answered him: "Wait a little, my father."
"Wait but a very little, good father," said another voice. And the seneschal thinks that he heard laughter within. Father Clement thereupon knocked louder.
"Who is this with thee, my daughter?" he cried.
"I doubt you will not know him," said Elaine. And again the seneschal testifies to laughter within. Then, while Father Clement was speaking, she opened the door, and Father Clement beheld with joy that she wore the nun's garb. What he beheld without joy was the child of Belial coming out of an inner chamber.
"Sir!" said Father Clement, much horrified.
"Nay, father, be not angry," said the nun, with downcast eyes. "We—we were but dancing together, one last dance. And now I am ready to go with you—quite ready!"
Father Clement sighed with relief. He had counted on trouble.
"Benedic, Domine," he said piously, laying his hand on the nun's cowled head.
"Good-bye, Harry," said the nun.
" 'Tis a shame, and I hate you!" said Harry, meaning his words for Father Clement, and standing sulkily aloof.
"Sir, you dishonour my cloth!" Whereto there was no answer at all. And then—
"Come, my daughter, "said Father Clement, with a scornful glance.
"Come, Harry," she said, and she went out, with downcast eyes, through the hall where the servants wept. "Never grieve," was all she said. Without were Father Clement's mule, and mules for two monks more, and a palfrey for Elaine. Ethelfrida also was there tethered.
"Brother Dominic, to thee I commit this house," said Father Clement. Elaine started.
"Harry, good-bye," she said quickly. "Go back to Silvermere—to Silvermere—and think of me—no more." She caught him in her arms and kissed him, somewhat to his shame.
"Good-bye, Elaine," said Harry. He fell on his knee and kissed her hand. She drew it hurriedly away and turned to Father Clement, whose horror was writ large in his fat face. Then she mounted her palfry. In a moment Father Clement and his brother monk were up, and slowly they moved away. Harry stood looking after them.
"Go forth, young man, and repent," said Brother Dominic sternly, and Harry began to fumble with Ethelfrida's bridle.
"Art happy now, master monk?" he said as he began to mount.
"I rejoice in the godly purpose of our Sister Elaine," said Brother Dominic.
"So also do I," said Harry, settling himself very carefully in the saddle.
Now, all the way to Newstead Nunnery, Elaine said never a word. She scarce seemed to hear Father Clement's praises of her holy mind, and she drove her palfrey on at a pace that shook the fat monks unpleasantly. So they came soon to the grey walls standing in a bend of the deep stream, and Elaine sprang lightly to the ground.
"Art glad, my daughter?" said the monk.
"Canst not tell how glad, good father?" said Elaine.
"God's blessing is on this work!" said the monk.
"I wonder," said Elaine.
"Soon thou wilt not doubt," said the monk.
"Belike that is true," said Elaine.
There came to the gate Ermyntrude, the sub-prioress.
"Embrace the good sister, my daughter," said the monk.
"With good will," said Elaine, for Ermyntrude was buxom and pleasant to see; and the two nuns kissed in each other's arms. But Ermyntrude started back.
"Our Lady defend us!" she cried; and from Elaine she looked to Father Clement, and from Father Clement back to Elaine. Her little black eyes were dancing, her plump red lips were twitching.
"I am very glad I came," said Elaine modestly. "Are you?" But Ermyntrude said only: "So this is the Lady Elaine, Clement? This is the Lady Elaine?"
"As thou seest, my sister," said Father Clement. And Ermyntrude laughed.
"I never thought she would come," said Ermyntrude.
"Nor I, dear Ermyntrude," said Elaine quickly. "Nor I myself two days agone."
"Thank the saints that have brought thee to this pious mind, my daughter," said Father Clement, lifting up his eyes to heaven.
"The saints?" said Elaine doubtfully. And she looked at Ermyntrude. And Ermyntrude looked back at Elaine.
"The good saints!" said Father Clement. Elaine gave a sigh—a long, thrilling sigh.
"Ah! the blessed saints!" said she. Ermyntrude, fallen a little behind, was heard to chuckle. Father Clement smiled benignly. "And now let me sign the parchments and have done," said Elaine. Father Clement invoked a blessing on her good mind and bade her follow.
Now, the nunnery at Newstead had a terrace hanging over the river whereof you may still see fragments. Along this terrace came the party, and into the outer muniment-room at its end. There, with much jangling of keys, Father Clement brought forth a parchment.
"There must you put your name, my daughter—your worldly name that you now resign."
"But what is written above, good father?" said Elaine.
Father Clement laid one fat hand on the waiting. With the other he gave a pen to Elaine.
" 'Tis but the vows of your order, my daughter," said Father Clement. Elaine did not take the pen. Her hands were hidden under her gown. "The vows of all the good sisters—of every nun in Newstead."
Twilight was falling. The convent bell was ringing for evensong. It was dark in the muniment-room. Ermyntrude, the sub-prioress, opened the door, to give more light. And as the light came in, she screamed, and Father Clement cried out. For Elaine's gown was kilted high. But Elaine snatched the parchment and ran out.
"My name that I now resign, good father!" she cried aloud.
Father Clement ran after her, saying things whereof Ermyntrude afterwards reminded him. Then Ermyntrude lay shaking in spasms of laughter. The courtyard was full of nuns crossing to the chapel, and there in the twilight they saw a wondrous and unholy vision. A nun, with skirts high-kilted, ran lightly along the terrace, and after her puffed fat Father Clement, the convent's confessor, invoking saints and other things less holy. Fair in the middle of the terrace the nun stopped. Up on the battlements she sprang.
"Give you good-night, Father Clement!" she cried. "Good night from the new Nun of Newstead!" and down she dived through the mist to the river. There were shrieks and screams, and wonder in the convent, but of that you shall hear so much as imports later.
Sir Harry and Sir Bertram were riding back together in twilight to Silvermere. They were near the castle when Sir Harry cried: "Why, there is Harry!" Bertram looked, shaded his eyes, and looked again.
"And what in wonder is Harry doing?" said he. For Harry went a little way towards the castle; then suddenly turned Ethelfrida round and rode back again slowly; then he spurred on to the castle again. This he did twice. Sir Harry looked at Bertram and rubbed his eyes.
"Plague the boy! I shall see double soon! Are we all mad?"
Bertram held up his finger for silence. They were riding noiselessly in the shade of the trees on the turf. Harry turned to the castle again. Then Bertram struck in his spurs, galloped on, and clapped Harry on the back with the full swing of his heavy arm.
"Why, Har—— Our Lady be kind!"
For a very strange thing had happened. Under the blow of that nervous arm, Harry had fallen full forward on Ethelfrida's neck. His hat went rolling on the ground. Amazing to see and beautiful, about his face came tumbling long, rippling, red-brown hair. Ethelfrida, ready always for pranks, dashed forward, and Bertram, snatching hastily to save her rider, found himself holding aloft in the air a very strange and astonishing Harry—a Harry who was light in his grasp and soft, a Harry who blushed crimson beneath the cloud of her hair—her hair, for certain.
"Please, please put me down!" said she pitifully.
"Splendour of Heaven! Feu d'enfer! And what is this all?" spluttered Sir Harry, cantering up. "Who the fiend are you?" She drew back in the shadow of the trees. Bertram edged his horse between Sir Harry and her.
"If you please, I am very sorry," said Elaine; "but Harry of Silvermere sent me—I—I am Elaine of Effingham."
Then Sir Harry sprang down hastily.
"Elaine! By St. Thomas-a-Kent! And you are the little Elaine!" and he fairly took her in his arms and kissed her. "Long ago your father and I rode together. Art very welcome, lady. But why didst not come to my house?.... Oh—ah!" said Sir Harry, as the reason occurred to him. Through an awkward silence broke Bertram's voice—
"Lady Elaine, the night is cold. For sign you pardon my roughness, will you wear my cloak?" Bareheaded, on bended knee, he offered it, and Elaine, as she drew it close about her, became a woman again, queen of dull-witted men.
"But indeed the fault was mine," she said graciously to Bertram, gathering that over-long cloak with one slim, white hand. "And you both are wondering much what all this may mean? Why, so am I—a little!" She laughed gaily. They walked on towards the castle.
"You shall tell us, lady, so much as you will, and no more," said Sir Harry, bowing. "My house and my men are yours, for your father's sake and your own; and—if wrong hath been done——" his eyes began to glitter.
"If wrong hath been done, lady——" said Bertram's deep voice. Half from its scabbard he drew his sword, let it glitter faintly before her eyes, then clashed it home. But Elaine began to laugh.
"Oh, forgive me! please forgive me! I do not laugh at you—but 'tis so strange," and she laughed helplessly. "Oh, Harry! poor Harry!"
"What of Harry?" said his father quickly.
"He—he—he hath gone to Newstead Nunnery," said Elaine in the midst of her laughter.
"Newstead?" cried Sir Harry.
"Nunnery?" cried Sir Bertram. They were come to the castle now, and a man ran up to Sir Harry. "Please you, sir, Master Harry's mare be come without Master Harry."
Sir Harry waved him away, and the three came together into the hall.
"Lady Elaine, I give you welcome to Silvermere," said Sir Harry, bowing low. "I pray you may honour it long." Suddenly Elaine blushed. Sir Harry saw that, and his dark eyes twinkled. Gravely he set for her his wife's chair, wherein no woman had sat since the Lady May died, ten years past.
"And now will you tell us of Harry?"
"Oh, poor Harry!" said Elaine. She spread out her hands to the blaze, nestling in Bertram's cloak. "Indeed, I am very sorry, sir. You see, Harry came to me this day; and I told him I was but a beggar maid—and that he did not heed at all. Then I told him I was to be made a nun; and thereat he was much displeased, sir." She looked up at the two men archly, with her head on one side. They were smiling.
"He would be," said Sir Harry.
A scuffle at the door, then a shout.
"Tête du diable, ye blind fools!" The door burst open, in came a struggling throng. A nun, a muscular, muddy nun rushed up the hall, two servants trying the while to stop—him.
"Ho, ho, ho!" laughed Bertram, holding his sides. Sir Harry tumbled, shaking, into his chair.
"Fools, fools, bring me breeches!" cried the nun.
"Ho, ho, ho!" laughed Sir Harry. "Let be, knaves, let be! Oh, Harry, Harry! 'twill be my death! " and he bowed himself and sobbed. But the Lady Elaine sprang up, and the cloak fell from her, but she did not care. In Harry's clothes she fell into Harry's arms.
"Harry, Harry, art hurt, dear?" and then she kissed him before them all.
"No, sweetheart," said Harry, and he kissed her again. "My dear beggar maid!" and he laughed, holding her away from him. But she blushed, and the tears came in her eyes. "Nay, love," and he caught her to him again and whispered in her ear.
"Truly, Harry?" she cried joyfully.
"As true as I'm wet," laughed Harry. "Now let me go dress, dear."
"But—what shall I do?" said Elaine. And the three men looked helplessly at each other. "Oh! have you no woman here at all—but me?" Elaine cried; and Sir Harry, and Harry his son, and Sir Bertram all together cried out for the seneschal's wife.
Now, the next morning it was announced that a certain Father Clement desired to see Sir Harry. This was all said as they were all going into the castle chapel for a certain purpose; and the tidings made Sir Harry somewhat hilarious. But afterward, when Father Clement was brought to the hall, and found Sir Harry sitting in his high chair, he knew at once why they called the Lord of Silvermere Black Sir Harry.
"So that is the monk Clement?" Sir Harry growled to his son.
"That is Father Clement," said Harry, and smiled benignly on the monk. Sir Harry did not smile.
"And you—you—dare come to me?" he said slowly, leaning forward over the table. And Father Clement began to repent. "Why?" he cried sharply.
"I—I come for a lost child of the Church," the monk stammered. "A nun of the Convent of Newstead."
"A nun that never lived!" cried Sir Harry.
"There is the nun, sir," said Father Clement, pointing to Elaine. But Elaine began to laugh, and with her the rest.
"Nay, good father," chuckled Bertram. "There is your nun," and he flung full at Father Clement the nun's robe, all wet and muddy.
"I—I claim that lady," spluttered Father Clement.
"And so do I," said Harry, and chuckled.
"She hath taken the vows," cried Father Clement.
"Aye, to me, this morning," said Harry, and laughed loud.
"And last night to the Church," cried Father Clement. And then the laughter rang louder.
"Indeed, Father Clement, I fear you are much wrong," said Elaine.
"Much wrong—aye, much wrong, thou lying knave!" cried Sir Harry. "Wouldst tell the maid she was beggar, to make her come to convent—knave! lying knave? Wouldst have had her sign this parchment that gives thy convent her land, making the child think 'twas the vows of the order? ah, knave!" Father Clement grew something pale. "Feu d'enfer!" stormed Sir Harry. "And darest come to me now? Tête du diable! where be my men?"
Bertram had come quietly round the table, and he tapped the monk's shivering arm.
"I think you had better go, monk," said he. And Father Clement went. And when he was gone, Elaine turned to Harry.
"And 'tis really, really true, Harry? I am not a beggar maid at all?"
"Do you care, sweetheart?" said Harry.
"I like to have something to give you, Harry," she whispered. And now Bertram and Sir Harry departed speedily.
"Then give it me," said Harry. And she gave him a kiss.
But Father Clement told this story another way. He said that a fiend entered into the convent in nun's attire, had striven vainly to tempt the nuns, and at last, confronting the good Father Clement, had cast himself in despair down to the river. He confessed with sorrow that the fiend was still alive—sometimes in angry moments hinted that he lived at Silvermere. At that climax, Ermyntrude always laughed.
But the tale has flourished in spite of her, and many have sworn that their eyes have seen the Nun jump down through the mist. I doubt. For I think that Harry of Silvermere has better things to do than come back to this earth to jump. And wherever he is, I am very sure that the Lady Elaine is with him.