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LETTER LVI

To Beatrice, a Noble and Religious Lady

I wonder at your zealous devotion and loving affection towards me. I ask, excellent lady, what can possibly inspire in you such great interest and 233solicitude for us? If we had been sons or grandsons, if we had been united to you by the most distant tie of relationship, your constant kindnesses, frequent visits, in a word, the numberless proofs of your affection that we experience daily, would seem to deserve, not so much our wonder, as our acceptance as a matter of obligation. But as, in common with the rest of mankind, we recognize in you only a great lady, and not a mother, the wonder is not that we should wonder at your goodness, but that we can wonder sufficiently. For who of our kinsfolk and acquaintances takes care of us? Who ever asks of our health? Who, I ask, is, I will not say anxious, but even mindful of us in the world? We are become, as it were, a broken vessel to friends, relatives, and neighbours. You alone cannot forget us. You ask of the state and condition of my health, of the journey I have just accomplished, of the monks whom I have transferred to another place. Of them I may briefly reply, that out of a desert land, from a place of grim and vast solitude, they have been brought into a place where nothing is wanting to them, neither possessions, nor buildings, nor friends; into a rich land and a lovely dwelling-place. I left them happy and peaceful; in happiness and peace, too, I returned; except that for a few days I was troubled with so severe a return of fever that I was in fear of death. But by God’s mercy I soon got well again, so that now I think I am stronger and better after my journey is over than before it began.

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