Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/139

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
131
THE WISDOM OF MOTHER VERONICA.

wholly forgot when the door unclosed, and a sister ushered in Erceldoune.

"Ah, my son, the blessing of Heaven rest on you!" cried the Abbess, stretching out her hands with fervent welcome. "I never thought to see you here again. It is good—very good—to have remembered us, and come back from your great world to Monastica!"

"Far from it, madam," answered Erceldoune, bending lower to the simple venerable woman than he had ever bent to the patrician coquettes of Liramar. "It would be sorely ungrateful if I could enter Moldavia without seeing those to whom I owe it that I am not now rotting in its pine-woods."

"And you are recovered—entirely?"

"Entirely. My strength is wholly returned."

Her hands still holding his, Mother Veronica drew him nearer to the light, looking upward at him with as much pride and tenderness as though he had been her son by blood instead of by the mere title of the Church; then a sudden remembrance lightened hear aged face and sunken eyes with all the innocent eagerness of a life which lives in solitude, where each chance trifle is a rare and wondrous event.

"Ah! my son—I forgot—I have so much