The Nuns Of Carthage

At Carthage, New York, where the Black River bends gracefully about a

point, there was a stanch old house, built in the colonial fashion and

designed for the occupancy of some family of hospitality and wealth, but

the family died out or moved away, and for some years it remained

deserted. During the war of 1812 the village gossips were excited by the

appearance of carpenters, painters and upholsterers, and it was evident

that the place was to be restored to its manorial dignities; but their

curiosity was deepened instead of satisfied when, after the house had

been put in order and high walls built around it, the occupants presented

themselves as four young women in the garb of nuns. Were they daughters

of the family? Were they English sympathizers in disguise, seeking asylum

in the days of trouble? Had they registered a vow of celibacy until their

lovers should return from the war? Were they on a secret and diplomatic

errand? None ever knew, at least in Carthage. The nuns lived in great

privacy, but in a luxury before unequalled in that part of the country.

They kept a gardener, they received from New York wines and delicacies

that others could not afford, and when they took the air, still veiled,

it was behind a splendid pair of bays.

One afternoon, just after the close of the war, a couple of young

American officers went to the convent, and, contrary to all precedent,

were admitted. They remained within all that day, and no one saw them

leave, but a sound of wheels passed through the street that evening. Next

day there were no signs of life about the place, nor the day following,

nor the next. The savage dog was quiet and the garden walks had gone

unswept. Some neighbors climbed over the wall and reported that the place

had been deserted. Why and by whom no one ever knew, but a cloud remained

upon its title until a recent day, for it was thought that at some time

the nuns might return.

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