The day of removal came, and it rained! It poured: the water came down in sheets, in torrents, in deluges; it came down with the wildest tempest of many a year. I think, from accurate reports of those who witnessed it, that the beginning of the great Deluge was only a moisture compared to this. To turn the poor women out of doors such a day as this was unchristian, barbarous, impossible. Everybody who had a shelter was shivering indoors. But the officials were inexorable. In the order for removal, nothing was said about postponement on account of weather; and go the nuns must.
And go they did; the whole town shuddering at the impiety of it, but kept from any demonstration by the tempest. Carriages went round to the convent; and the women were loaded into them, packed into them, carried and put in, if they were too infirm to go themselves. They were driven away, cross and wet and bedraggled. They found their dwelling on the hill not half prepared for them, leaking and cold and cheerless. They experienced very rough treatment, if I can credit my informant, who says she hates the government, and would not even look out of her lattice that day to see the carriages drive past.
And when the Lady Superior was driven away from the gate, she said to the officials, and the few faithful attendants, prophesying in the midst of the rain that poured about her, “The day will come shortly, when you will want rain, and shall not have it; and you will pray for my return.”
And it did not rain, from that day for three years.
And the simple people thought of the good Superior, whose departure had been in such a deluge, and who had taken away with her all the moisture of the land; and they did pray for her return, and believed that the gates of heaven would be again opened if only the nunnery were repeopled. But the government could not see the connection between convents and the theory of storms, and the remnant of pious women was permitted to remain in their lodgings at Massa. Perhaps the government thought they could, if they bore no malice, pray as effectually for rain there as anywhere.
I do not know, said my informant, that the curse of the Lady Superior had anything to do with the drought, but many think it had; and those are the facts.
CHILDREN OF THE SUN
The common people of this region are nothing but children; and ragged, dirty, and poor as they are, apparently as happy, to speak idiomatically, as the day is long. It takes very little to please them; and their easily-excited mirth is contagious. It is very rare that one gets a surly return to a salutation; and, if one shows the least good-nature, his greeting is met with the most jolly return. The boatman hauling in his net sings; the brown girl, whom we meet descending a steep path in the hills, with an enormous bag or basket of oranges on her head, or a building-stone