Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Count Julian; or, The Last Days of the Goth >> Chapter II >> Page 112

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Novel (Romance) | William Taylor & Co. | 1845 - 1846
Transcription 112 COUNT JULIAN; OR,
selves entire and single when I would throw myself at the feet of the Lord. Take them, my father ; wherefore wouldst thou refuse ?"
Thou hast spoken of my losses, and of the losses of the church, my daughter. What is the meaning of thy speech ?"
Alas ! father, wherefore wouldst thou have my lips utter that which is so much a shame to my heart to feel ? Do I not know that my lord, king Roderick, whom I love not the less that I do not approve in this—do I not know that he bath dispossessed thee of the monies and the jewels of the church—that he hath taken from the altar of God the tribute put there by His worshippers, and hath thus despoiled the penitents, whose gifts they were, of the goodly shows of that penitence which was to work for their salvation. I trust in the Virgin that they will not suffer harm therefrom, and I would fain replace, or restore their holy offerings with my own, which though less sacred, my father, as they are not yet consecrated to godly purposes, are yet I believe of great worth to make good to thee those which thou Nast lost.
I did not think, my daughter, that thou knewest of this unholy spoliation. It was my thought that king Roderick esteemed thee too devout a worshipper to venture heedlessly upon letting thee know of this sacrilege. Alas ! my daughter, though the rich offerings which thou now puttest into my hands may well replace in temporary value those of which the altar hath been dispossessed, I know not what atonement will purge the heedless offender of this most heinous sin. It will be a curse and a"•4' Stay ! " she exclaimed, " stay, father ; speak nothing, I pray, I beseech you, of the curses of the church. These would I disarm—these would I avert from my lord's head. He hath been sinful, I know—greatly sinful ; but not in wilfulness, my father. Evil men have been his counsellors, not his own thoughts: and it is my hope that he will of his own resolution do the church justice for this wrong. I have spoken with my lord, my father, to this end; and I have also shown to him how greatly it did pain me to hear the violence of his speech this day to yourself, my father. I told him (though it would not need that I should show to him that which his own sense would more readily perceive than could mine offer, would he but calmly think ere he moved in performance) of the grievous sin to speak in such a fashion to one so much his senior in years, and so made sacred as it were from as-sail, wearing the very livery of God himself. Thus did I declare to him of my thought but a little while before you came, and I am fond to think that he will re-pent him of his sin, and make due atonement which shall be grateful no less in Heaven's sight, my father, than in thine. Be sure, my father, that if prayer of mine be blessed, he shall not fail in this atonement."" Thou art thyself blessed, Egilona, blessed among women !" exclaimed the arch-bishop, while his hand rested upon her head ; and he paused after he spoke these words, and his lip quivered, and there was a tremulousness in his voice which her ear detected, but the sources of which, in the innocence of her pure heart, she did not dream. She knew not that in that moment when his lips pronounced a seeming benediction, that the blood was bounding in his veins with the pulse of a wild and merely human passion. She had no thought that when his hand rested on the long and beautifully dark hair, that gathered in thick volumes and fell down upon her snowy shoulders, that his mind was even then dwelling only upon those feminine charms which were before him, and was as utterly foreign to the subjects on which both of them had spoken, as were her own thoughts from every thing like guilt. And when his fingers, relaxing as it were with the relaxing thought, glided from her head and rested momentarily upon her bare and beautifully rounded shoulders, little