Rodin perceived the other’s thoughts, and continued “Oh, Rancey was not now the man to content himself with a vague, passing prayer, uttered in the whirl of the world’s business, which swallows it up, and prevents it from reaching the ear of heaven. No, no; in the depth of solitude, he endeavored to make his prayers even more efficacious, so ardently did he desire the eternal salvation of his mistress.”
“What did he do then—oh! what did he do in his solitude?” cried Hardy, who was now powerless in the hands of the Jesuit.
“First of all,” said Rodin, with a slight emphasis, “he became a monk.”
“A monk!” repeated Hardy, with a pensive air.
“Yes,” resumed Rodin, “he became a monk, because his prayers were thus more likely to be favorably accepted. And then, as in solitude our thoughts are apt to wander, he fasted, and mortified his flesh, and brought into subjection all that was carnal within him, so that, becoming all spirit, his prayers might issue like a pure flame from his bosom, and ascend like the perfume of incense to the throne of the Most High!”
“Oh! what a delicious dream!” cried Hardy, more and more under the influence of the spell; “to pray for the woman we have adored, and to become spirit—perfume—light!”
“Yes; spirit, perfume, light!” said Rodin, with emphasis. “But it is no dream. How many monks, how many hermits, like Rancey, have, by prayers, and austerity, and macerations, attained a divine ecstasy! and if you only knew the celestial pleasures of such ecstasies!—Thus, after he became a monk, the terrible dreams were succeeded by enchanting visions. Many times, after a day of fasting, and a night passed in prayers and macerations, Rancey sank down exhausted on the floor of his cell! Then the spirit freed itself from the vile clogs of matter. His senses were absorbed in pleasure; the sound of heavenly harmony struck upon his ravished car; a bright, mild light, which was not of this world, dawned upon his half-closed eyes; and, at the height of the melodious vibrations of the golden harps of the Seraphim, in the centre of a glory, compared to which the sun is pale, the monk beheld the image of that beloved woman—”
“Whom by his prayers he had at length rescued from the eternal flames?” said Hardy, in a trembling voice.
“Yes, herself,” replied Rodin, with eloquent enthusiasm, for this monster was skilled in every style of speech. “Thanks to the prayers of her lover, which the Lord had granted, this woman no longer shed tears of blood—no longer writhed her beautiful arms in the convulsions of infernal anguish. No, no; still fair—oh! a thousand times fairer than when she dwelt on earth—fair with the everlasting beauty of angels—she smiled on her lover with ineffable ardor, and, her eyes beaming with a mild radiance, she said to him in a tender and passionate voice: ’Glory to the Lord! glory to thee, O my beloved! Thy prayers and austerities have saved me. I am numbered amongst the chosen. Thanks, my beloved, and glory!’—And therewith, radiant in her felicity, she stooped to kiss, with lips fragrant with immortality, the lips of the enraptured monk—and their souls mingled in that kiss, burning as love, chaste as divine grace immense as eternity!”