The Cloister and the Hearth, by Charles Reade

Chapter 98

A fortnight after this a pale bowed figure entered the Dominican convent in the suburbs of Gouda, and sought speech with Brother Ambrose, who governed the convent as deputy, the prior having lately died, and his successor, though appointed, not having arrived.

The sick man was Gerard, come to end life as he began it.

He entered as a novice, on probation; but the truth was, he was a failing man, and knew it, and came there to die in peace, near kind and gentle Ambrose, his friend, and the other monks to whom his house and heart had always been open.

His manse was more than he could bear; it was too full of reminiscences of her.

Ambrose, who knew his value, and his sorrow, was not without a kindly hope of curing him, and restoring him to his parish. With this view he put him in a comfortable cell over the gateway, and forbade him to fast or practice any austerities.

But in a few days the new prior arrived, and proved a very Tartar. At first he was absorbed in curing abuses, and tightening the general discipline; but one day hearing the vicar of Gouda had entered the convent as a novice, he said, “’Tis well; let him first give up his vicarage then, or go; I’ll no fat parsons in my house.” The prior then sent for Gerard, and he went to him; and the moment they saw one another they both started.

“Clement!”

“Jerome!”

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Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 15:33