The Countess by Rebecca Johns
To the Reverend EliÃ¡Å¡ LÃ¡ni, Å½ilina
It is with profound regret that I must tell you that the widow NÃ¡dasdy died last evening unrepentant and unabsolved of her crimes, despite the best efforts of myself and Rev. Ponikenus to extract her confession. At your request I have been attending that infamous lady for the past several weeks, sitting outside her door in the tower where she was a prisoner and speaking to her of the state of her immortal soul. I asked repeatedly if she felt any sorrow for the dead ones, if she knew the harm she had caused the many families that had once been under her protection, the harm she had caused her own children, but she insisted that her imprisonment was a political one engineered by the king and the palatine to steal her wealth and keep her familyâ€™s influence in check. Repeatedly she contended that she had done nothing to merit the accusations against her, though she said nothing that would contradict the palatineâ€™s account of her, nor explain the presence of the dead girls found in her house at Christmastime. I knew it was your wish that she might be turned at last to the consolations of Jesus Christ, and a great victory it would have been for our cause in Hungary if she had done so, but even in the last few days, when she knew her health was failing, she would not unburden herself to me and repeatedly sent me away in the middle of my prayers. Perhaps such a woman is incapable of repentance, but I cannot help but take responsibility for the failure and hope that in the future your faith in me may be better rewarded.
Rev. Ponikenus and I were not with her when she died, so we did not hear her final words, though the guards say she was complaining of cold in her limbs and asking for her children. They heard the clattering of hooves on the tower stairs just before they found her, they say, as if the devil himself were coming to collect her. By the time the steward brought her evening bread she was already cold.
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