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A Napa Christchild; and Benicia's Letters

But at the words Sancta Maria


DEAR

JOSE:

Before I had finished my letter, Brother Andreas, with whom I am better acquainted than with the others, came to me and asked me to walk with him; he is not a German, but is from Spain, so you see I find use for my mother tongue where I little expected to need it. Brother Andreas speaks German of course, as he has been here some twenty years, and tells me he is quite contented with his life, never having a desire for sunny Spain, saying that all the home he has is beyond this world; I wish that I might feel as contented as the old Capuzin.

But you are curious to know why I am here at this time, and I will hasten to tell you what the strange cause is.

We walked about the Chapel and through parts of the garden where I had never been before, Brother Andreas relating to me the history of the city and the little Chapel. By this time we had wandered to the front of the building, and Brother Andreas raising his arm pointed to the face of the church over the door and repeated, "Refugium Peccatorum, Consolatrix Afflictorum, Sancta Maria, Ora Pro Nobis."

I did not look up at first, my attention at the time being directed to a company of peasants in the neighbouring vineyard, but at the words "Sancta Maria," I raised my eyes to the face of the church, and, oh my God, what did I see!

"Ora pro nobis," broke unintentionally

from my lips, I clung convulsively to the arm of the good, old priest, my eyes were riveted upon the niche above the door, for there looking down on me, her eyes strangely drooping, her hands folded across her breast, stood the woman whom day before yesterday I met on the bridge; I say stood the woman, but it was only a statue carved in gray stone, an image of the Virgin, such as we see every day in the churches; this, however, was somewhat different, as it held no infant Christ in its arms, and then the face, that was not the face which should be given to Mary, the Mother of our Saviour.

No, the more I see those eyes, which I at first so much admired, the more I hate their look, but also strange to say, the more I am fascinated.

In a few moments I had recovered my usual composure enough to assure Brother Andreas that the cause of my strange behaviour was a sudden illness to which I was often subject, when tired, but the good man shook his head sadly and said, "No, my child, you have seen something supernatural, which has disturbed you; it is well that I am here." With that, he immediately made the Sign of the Cross and drew me into the chapel where he made some use of the Holy Water which I did not understand, nor did I care, for the sudden fright which had stopped my heart in its beating, now that all was over, sent the blood rushing through my veins with frightful rapidity making my head ache so terribly that I thought that I must die.


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