Summary (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
When the Prioress, the Mistress of Novices, the Vicaress and the other nuns begged her, Sister Joanna of the Cross consented to read the poem she had composed in celebration of the birthday of the Prioress. The Vicaress was sure that praise for the poem would lead to pride, a sin, but Sister Joanna of the Cross disclaimed all but a small part of the birthday present. She had composed the lines, it was true, but Sister Maria Jesus had copied the verses, Sister Sagrario painted the border, Sister Marcella tied the ribbons, and the Mistress of Novices made the gift possible by giving them the parchment and the ribbon.
The mayor’s wife sent the Prioress a canary in a cage. The bird so delighted the novices that they begged permission to talk among themselves until time for prayers. The doctor interrupted them on his daily round. He looked at a felon Sister Sagrario had on her finger, and turned to prescribe for Sister Maria Jesus, who was melancholy. He asked her age and, when she said eighteen, he asked to see her face. It was a pretty one and he commented that the Lord had not bad taste. But, for a prescription? One of two things for a girl of that age: the Prioress could write the child’s mother to take her home and provide a good husband, or Sister Maria Jesus would have to take cold baths every morning and say five Pater Nosters with each.
While the doctor and the Prioress went to see a bedridden sister, the novices stayed to guard the...
(The entire section is 1200 words.)
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