List Of Contents | Contents of Alvira- The Heroine of Vesuvius
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to war against God, to sweep away all salutary checks against the
indulgence of passion, to level the alter and the throne, and advocated
the claims of those impious theories that in modern times have found
their fullest development in Mormonism and Communism.

Further on we shall find this noxious weed, that flourishes in the
vineyards whose hedges are broken down, producing its poisonous fruit.
But it was at this period of our history that he became a frequent
attendant at their reunions, returning at midnight, half intoxicated,
to pour into the horrified ears of his wife and children the issue of
the last blasphemous and revolutionary debate that marked the progress
and development of their impious tendencies.

No wonder Heaven sent on the Cassier family the curse that forms the
thrill of our tragic memoir.

Chapter III.
A Mixed Marriage.

The Catholic Church has placed restrictions on unions that are not
blessed by Heaven.  Benedict XIV. has called them DETESTABLE.  A
sad experience has proved the wisdom of the warning.  When the love
that has existed in the blinding fervor of passion has subsided into
the realities of every-day life, the bond of nuptial duty will be
religion.  But the conflict of religious sentiment produces a divided

The offspring must of necessity be of negative faith.  When intelligence
dawns on the young soul, its first reasoning powers are caught in a
dilemma.  Reverential and filial awe chains the child to the father
and chains it to the mother; but the father may sternly command the
Methodist chapel for Sunday service; the mother will wish to see her
little one worship before the alters of the Church.  Fear or love wins
the trusting child, but neither gains a sincere believer.

See that young mother, silent and fretful; the rouge that grief gives
the moistened eye tells its own tale of secret weeping.

Trusting, confiding in the power of young love, attracted by the wealth,
the family, or the manners of her suitor, she allows the indissoluble
tie to bind her in unholy wedlock.  Soon the faith she has trifled
with assumes its mastery in her repentant heart, but liberty is gone;
for the dream of conjugal bliss which dazzled when making her choice,
she finds herself plunged for life into the most galling and
irremediable of human sorrows--secret domestic persecution.  Few brave
the trial; the largest number go with the current to the greater evil
of apostasy.

Cassier loved a beautiful Catholic girl named Madeleine.  Blinded by
the stronger passion, he waived religious prejudice.  He wooed, he
promised, he won.  The timid Madeleine, beneath her rich suitor in
position, dazzled by wealth, and decoyed by the fair promises that
so often deceive the confiding character of girlhood, gave her hand
and her heart to a destiny she soon learned to lament.

Fancy had built castles of future enjoyment; dress, ornament, and
society waved their fascinating wings over her path.  Unacquainted
with their shadowy pleasures, her preparations for her nuptials were
a dream of joy, too soon to be blasted with the realities of suffering
that characterize the union not blessed by Heaven.  Amid the music
and flowers, amid the congratulations of a thousand admiring friends,
with heart and step as light as childhood, Madeleine, like victims,
dressed in flowers and gold, led to the alter of Jupiter in the
Capitol of old, was conducted from the bridal alter to the sacrifice
of her future joy.  Story oft told in the vicissitudes of betrayed
innocence and in the fate of those who build their happiness in the
castles of fancy:  like the brilliancy of sunset her moment of pleasure
faded; the novelty and tinsel of her gilded home lost their charm,
and the virtue of her childhood was wrecked on golden rocks.  She no
longer went to daily Mass; her visits to the convent became less
frequent, her dress lighter; her conversation, toned by the ideas of
pride and self-love reflected from the society she moved in, was profane
and irreligious; and soon the roses of Christian virtue that bloom in
the cheek of innocent maidenhood became sick and withered in the heated,
feverish air of perverse influences that tainted her gilded home.

Sixteen years of sorrow and repentance had passed over Madeleine,
and found her, at the commencement of our narrative, the victim of
consumption and internal anguish, the more keen because the more secret.
The outward world believed her happy; many silly maidens, in moments
of vanity, deemed they could have gained heaven if they were possessed
of Madeleine's wealth, her jewels, her carriages, her dresses; but were
the veils that shroud the hypocrisy of human joy raised for the warning
of the uninitiated, many a noble heart like Madeleine's would show the
blight of disappointment, with the thorns thick and sharp under the
flowers that are strewn on their path.  The sympathy of manhood, ever
flung over the couch of suffering beauty, must hover in sighs of
regret over the ill-fated Madeleine, whose discolored eye and attenuated
form, whose pallid cheek, furrowed by incessant tears, told the wreck
of a beautiful girl sinking to an early tomb.

Her children--three in number--cause her deepest anxiety; they are the
heroes of our tale, and must at once be introduced to the reader.

Chapter IV.
A Youth Trained in the Way He Should Walk.

'Tis a period nowhere to be found
In all the hoary registers of time,
Unless, perchance, in the fool's calendar.
Wisdom disdains the word, nor holds society
With those who own it.
'Tis Fancy's child, and Folly is its father;
Wrought of such stuff as dreams are, and as baseless
As the fantastic visions of the evening.

Like one of those rare and beautiful flowers found on the mountain-
side in fellowship with plants of inferior beauty, the heir of the
Cassier family is a strange exception of heroic virtue in the midst
of a school of seduction.  The saints were never exotics in their own
circle.  Their early histories are filled with sad records confirming
the prophecy of our blessed Lord:  "The world will hate you because
it loves not me."

The student of hagiology recalls with a sight the touching fate of
a Dympna who was the martyred victim of a father's impiety; of a
Stanislaus pursued by brothers who thirsted for his blood; of a Damian
who nearly starved under his stepfather's cruelty; of martyrs led to
the criminal stone for decapitation by inhuman parents.

Louis Marie, the eldest of Cassier's children, was of a naturally good
disposition.  Through the solicitations of his mother and the guidance
of an unseen Providence that watched over his youth, he was early
sent to the care of the Jesuits.  Under the direction of the holy and
sainted members of this order he soon gave hope of a religious and
virtuous manhood.  Away from the scoffs of an unbelieving father and
the weakening seductions of pleasure, he opened his generous soul to
those salutary impressions of virtue which draw the soul to God and
enable it to despise the frivolities of life.

The vacation, to other youths a time of pleasure, to Louis was tedious.
Though passionately attached to his mother, yet the impious and often
blasphemous remarks of his father chilled his heart; the levity with
which his sisters ridiculed his piety was very disagreeable; hence,
under the guidance of a supernatural call to grace, he longed to be
back with the kind fathers, where the quiet joys of study and solitude
far outweighed the short-lived excitement called pleasure by his
worldly sisters.  This religious tendency found at last its consummation
in an act of heroic self-denial which leads us to scenes of touching
interest on the threshold of this extraordinary historical drama.

At the time our narrative commences Louis was seriously meditating
his flight from home and the world to bury himself in some cloister
of religion.  His studies of philosophy and history had convinced
him of the immortality of the soul and the vanity of all human
greatness.  In his frequent meditations he became more and more
attracted towards the only lasting, imperishable Good which the soul
will one day find in its possession.  "Made for God!" he would say to
himself, "my soul is borne with an impetuous impulse towards him; like
the  dove sent from the ark, it floats over the vast waters, and seeks
in vain a resting place for its wearied wing; it must return again to
the ark."

The history of the great ones of the world produced a deep impression
on Louis' mind.  Emblazoned on the annals of the past he read the
names of great men who played their part for a brief hour on the stage
of life.  They grasped for a moment the gilded bubble of wealth, of
glory, and power; but scarcely had they raised the cup of joy to their
lips when it was dashed from them by some stroke of misfortune or
death.  The pageant of pride, the tinsel of glory, were not more
lasting than the fantastic castles that are built in the luminous
clouds that hang around the sunset.

At college Louis was called on with his companions to write a thesis
on the downfall of Marius.  Nothing more congenial to his convictions
or more encouraging to the deep resolution growing in his heart could
be selected.  The picture he drew from the sad history of the
conqueror of the Cimbri was long remembered among his school companions.

Marius was seven times Consul of Rome; in the hapless day of his
ascendancy he threatened to stain three-fourths of the empire with
human blood.  Blasted in his golden dream of ambition, driven into
exile by victorious enemies, he was cast by a storm on the shores of
Africa, homeless and friendless; in cold and hunger he sought shelter
amidst the ruins of Carthage.  Carthage, whose fallen towers lay in
crumbling masses around him, was once the rival city of imperial Rome
herself, and, under the able leadership of Hannibal, threatened to
wrest from the queen of the Seven Hills the rule of the world.  Now
its streets are covered with grass; the wild scream of the bird of
solitude and the moanings of the night-owl mingle with the sobs of
a fallen demigod who once made the earth shake under his tyranny.

Louis read of the facts and sayings that doled out the sad tale of
disappointment felt by those who seemed to possess all that the
wildest ambition could dream of.

"Yesterday the world was not large enough for him," said a sage on the
death of Alexander the Great; "to-day he is content with six feet
of earth."

"What a miserable tomb is erected to the man that once had temples
erected to his honor!" sighed a philosopher on viewing a mean monument
on the sea-shore erected to the great Pompey, who could raise armies
by stamping his feet.

"This is all the great Saladin brings to the grave," was announced by
a courier who carried the great ruler's winding-sheet before him to
the grave.

"Would I had been a poor lay brother," cried out the dying Philip II.
of Spain, "washing the plates in some obscure monastery, rather than
have borne the crown of Spain!"

That which took most effect on the mind of Louis was the eloquence of
Ignatius when he met the young Xavier in the streets of Paris.  "And
then?" asked by another saint of an ambitious youth, did not lose
its force with the holy youth who found himself, by some freak of
blind fortune heir to one of the millionaires of the French Capital.

Louis, like St. Ignatius, would often stray to a shady corner of the
garden, and there, with eyes fixed on the blue vault of heaven, he
would sigh:  "Oh! quam sordet tellus dum coelum aspicio"--"How vile
is earth whilst I look on heaven!"

One evening Louis had wandered into the garden to give full vent to
a flood of thought that urged him on to give immediate answer to the
calls of grace.  God was pleased to pour additional light on his soul;
and grace urged the immediate execution of his generous resolutions.
That very morning the angry temper of his father and the bitter
sarcasms against the faith Louis loved had embittered everything around
his home.  In tears, but with the fearless ABANDON of the true call,
he resolved to quit his father's home that very night, and to break
his purpose to his mother.  She was the only one he really loved,
and in wounding her tender heart was the hardest part of the sacrifice.
In filial deference he prepared his mind to break the matter to his
kind-hearted mother as gently as he could.  He would submit the
resolution to our Blessed Lord in the most Holy Sacrament.

Whilst going out to the venerable church of Notre Dame, a beautiful
caleche is at the door, and two young girls, dressed in extravagant
richness, are hurrying off to the fashionable rendezvous of the city;
mildly refusing the invitation to accompany them, he hastens to
accomplish the vows he has just taken before the altar.

Leaving Louis to his devotions, we pause to catch a glimpse of the
lovely girls who see happiness in another but less successful manner.
The reader must know those interesting children bursting like fragrant
flowers into the bloom of their maidenhood; they are the sisters of
Louis, Alvira and Aloysia.  Read those traits of innocence, of
character, of future promise; treasure the beautiful picture for future
reference; they are the heroines of our story.

Chapter V.
Our Heroines.

Alvira was tall for her age; she had a graceful, majestic carriage,
and, although eminently handsome, there was a something in the tone
of her voice and in the impression of her features that reflected a
masculine firmness.  Accomplished and intelligent, gay in society,
and affable to all, she was a general favorite amongst her school
companions.  Yet she was at times of violent temper, and deep in the
recesses of her heart there lurked the germs of the strongest passions.
These passions, like lentils, grew with time and crept around that
heart, until they concealed the noble trunk they clung to and made it
their own.  Alvira was often crimsoned with the blush of passion; a
gentle rebuke or a contradiction was sufficient to fire the hidden
mine and send to the countenance the flash of haughty indignation.
Whilst yet in her maidenhood she longed for distinction.  Fame leaped
before her ardent imagination as a gilded bubble she loved to grasp.
Tales of knight-errantry and chivalry were always in her hands, and
bore their noxious fruit in the wild dreams of ambition they fired in
the girl's mind.  Often, when alone with her sister, with book closed
in her hand and eye fixed on some article of furniture, her thoughts
would be away winning crowns of fame on battle-fields of her own
creation, urging on gallant knights to deeds of bravery, or arranging
with humbled foes the terms of peace.  She would start from her reverie
with a sigh that told of the imprisonment of a bold, ambitious spirit
that felt itself destined to wield a needle rather than a sword.

Aloysia is a sweet, blooming girl of fourteen.  It often happens that
fruits borne on the same stem are different in color and taste; so

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