“Madam, I have important duties at my convent which will occupy me with the superior till late at night. These must be attended to; and it is not impossible that the affairs of our convent may require my absence for some time, as there are new leases of our lands to be granted, and I have reason to expect that the superior may dispatch me on that business. I will acquaint the young man with what has been discovered, and will then send him to your arms; but it were advisable that you allow a few hours to repose after the agitation which you have undergone, and previous to the affecting scene that will naturally take place. I wish I could be present; for it is not often, in this world, that we can witness the best affections of the heart in their virtuous action.”
I then took my leave, requesting Donna Celia to inform her niece of the circumstances, as I presumed there would now be no obstacle to the mutual attachment of the young people.
My reason for an early departure was that I might arrange the story I should tell, when, as Don Pedro, my new mother would demand from me the events of my life. I had also to request leave of absence, which I obtained in expectation of some property being left to the convent by an elderly gentleman residing at Alicant, who was expected to die, and from whom I produced a letter, requesting my presence. As I was on the best terms with the superior, and there was a prospect of obtaining money, his consent was given. That I should be there in time, I was permitted to depart that evening. I took my leave of the superior, and the rest of the monks, intending never to return, and hastened to my lodgings, where I threw off my monastic habit, which from that hour has never been resumed. I repaired to Donna Celia’s house, was admitted and ushered into a room to await her arrival. My person had been set off to the best advantage. I had put on a new wig, a splendid velvet cloak, silk doublet and hose; and as I surveyed myself for a second or two in the mirror, I felt the impossibility of recognition, mingled with pride at my handsome contour. The door opened, and Donna Celia came in, trembling with anxiety. I threw myself on my knees, and in a voice apparently choked with emotion, demanded her blessing. She tottered to the sofa overpowered by her feelings; and still remaining on my knees, I seized her hand, which I covered with kisses.
“It is—it is my child,” cried she at last; “all powerful nature would have told me so, if it had not been proved,” and she threw her arms round my neck, as she bent over me and shed tears of gratitude and delight. I do assure your highness that I caught the infection, and mingled my tears with hers; for I felt then, and I even now firmly believe, that I was her son. Although my conscience for a moment upbraided me, during a scene which brought back virtuous feelings to my breast, I could not but consider, that a deception which could produce so much delight and joy, was almost pardonable. I took my seat beside her, and she kissed me again and again, as one minute she would hold me off to look at me, and the next strain me in her embraces.