letter. "What!" cried I to myself, "does this man seriously recommend me

to lash my own shoulders? Just Heaven, what impertinence! And yet, is it

not my duty to put up with it? Does not this apparent insolence proceed

from the pen of a holy man? If he tells me to flog my wickedness out of

me, is it not my bounden duty to lay on the scourge with all my might

immediately? Sinner that I am! I am thinking remorsefully of my plump

shoulders and the dimples on my back, when I ought to be thinking of

nothing but the cat-o'-nine-tails and obedience to Father Deveaux?"

These reflections soon gave me the resolution which I had wanted at

first. I was ashamed to ask the nuns for an instrument of flagellation;

so I made one for myself of stout cord, pitilessly knotted at very short

intervals. This done, I shut myself up while the nuns were at prayer,

uncovered my shoulders, and rained such a shower of lashes on them,

in the first fervour of my newly-awakened zeal, that I fairly flogged

myself down on the ground, flat on my nose, before I had repeated more

of the Miserere than the first two or three lines.

I burst out crying, shedding tears of spite against myself when I ought

to have been shedding tears of devotional gratitude for the kindness of

Father Deveaux. All through the night I never closed my eyes, and in the

morning I found my poor shoulders (once so generally admired for their

whiteness) striped with all the colours of the rainbow. The sight threw

me into a passion, and I profanely said to myself while I was dressing,

"The next time I see Father Deveaux, I will give my tongue full swing,

and make the hair of that holy man stand on end with terror!" A few

hours afterwards, he came to the convent, and all my resolution melted

away at the sight of him. His imposing exterior had such an effect on

me that I could only humbly entreat him to excuse me from indicting a

second flagellation on myself. He smiled, benignantly, and granted my

request with a saintly amiability. "Give me the cat-o'-nine-tails," he

said, in conclusion, "and I will keep it for you till you ask me for it

again. You are sure to ask for it again, dear child--to ask for it on

your bended knees!"

Pious and prophetic man! Before many days had passed his words came

true. If he had persisted severely in ordering me to flog myself, I

might have opposed him for months together; but, as it was, who could

resist the amiable indulgence he showed towards my weakness? The

very next day after my interview, I began to feel ashamed of my own

cowardice; and the day after that I went down on my knees, exactly as

he had predicted, and said, "Father Deveaux, give me back my

cat-o'-nine-tails." From that time I cheerfully underwent the discipline

of flagellation, learning the regular method of practising it from the

sisterhood, and feeling, in a spiritual point of view, immensely the

better for it.

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