For nine years Margaret's heart was torn between mad thrills, guilty pleasure, suffering, and disgust. God's mercy urged her to repent, but the chains of sensuality held her a prisoner of sin. Then Divine Providence, by one of its just and merciful blows, put an end to this conflict.
One morning her companion in sin left his castle and did not come back! That evening, all night, all the next day, Margaret waited for him ... in vain.
She became seriously worried. She sent a servant out to search for him, while she anxiously watched all the roads and paths from a window.
Then her lover's dog came home alone. Crouching at her feet, it whined and howled and tugged at her skirt. Margaret followed the hound. It led her along an outoftheway path into the forest, through the bushes and underwood. In front of a pile of branches and leaves at the foot of an oaktree the dog stopped, nudged aside some boughs, pawed into the ground, and uncovered the bloodstained head of a corpse.
Margaret recognized the bruised features of her lover. He had been murdered. She screamed and fell unconscious.
This horrifying sight was like a bolt of lightning which God in His mercy used to change her from a sinner into a heroic penitent.
When she recovered consciousness, the first thing she thought of was the judgment of God. In her mind, memories of her sinful life mingled with visions of divine retribution. And she saw and recognized herself in all her own sinning. Shame over her wild life filled her whole being. Then she remembered her mother and her innocent childhood. Together with these happy memories, God's grace infused into her heart a keen and sincere sorrow.
Then, overwhelmed by repentance, she raised her tearfilled eyes to Heaven, and exclaimed, like the Prodigal Son:
"I will arise and I will go to my father!"
God heard this heartfelt cry that He had been awaiting for so long, and He granted her wish in a marvelous way.
She went back to Montepulciano in order to put her property in order, and she yielded to the family of the dead man everything that he had left to her. Dressed in the plain robe of a penitent, she fled from that town which for her was filled with such sad memories. Its inhabitants quickly perceived that she had changed.
Taking by the hand the son who had been born during her sinful loveaffair, she returned to Laviano and threw herself at her father's feet, asking him to forgive her and to take her into his home.
The father forgave her and welcomed her. But then the stepmother appeared and raised such a protest that finally the father sent away his guilty daughter.
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