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Almagro and Claude is a direct extraction from Matthew Lewis’ The Monk, retelling the banditti inset tale and incorporating the bleeding nun narrative.
The Marquis d’Axala changes his name to Don Almagro to conceal his rank, and begins his travels. On his way to Stasbourg, he is stranded in the woods at night, and ends up staying along with the Baroness Wildenheim in a woodcutter’s hut. Tipped off by the housemistress, Antonia, Don Almagro concludes that he and the Baroness have fallen into the hands of some banditti in disguise. Using the element of surprise, he attacks in conjunction with Antonia, and defeats the leader of the banditti, successfully carrying the Baroness back to her husband. Antonia turns out to be the Baron’s long-lost daughter, and is received with open arms. The Baron promptly assigns his men to the chase, and they capture sixty banditti in the woods.While at castle Wildenheim, Don Almagro hears about Claude, the niece of the Baroness, who is about to be forced to take vows as a nun. Almagro decides to rescue Claude, and soon wins her esteem. Claude advises him to try to win the affections of her aunt, but the old lady falls in love with him instead, and he is forced to leave the castle. Claude then decides to disguise herself as the bleeding nun and affect her escape when the nun is expected to be about the castle. Almagro places her in this disguise into his carriage, which hits a tree, and he is injured. His injuries are worsened when it turns out that his companion is not Claude, but the real bleeding nun, who haunts him relentlessly. Luckily, the Bashaw (the Wandering Jew) knows how to exorcise her. Meanwhile, Claude has been forced to become a nun. Regardless, Don Almagro pursues her, they continue their affair, and Don Almagro requests a Papal Bull to free her. The situation worsens when Don Almagro finds a letter from Claude: she is with child, and fears she will be lost if he cannot rescue her from the tyrannical prioress. Faced with the papal bull, the prioress lies, claiming Claude is dead. Don Almagro doesn’t believe this, and sends his page in disguise to infiltrate the convent, where St. Urbana, spots him. As it turns out, St. Urbana witnessed the prioress poisoning Claude. After this is revealed in the public square, a mob storms the convent, and Claude’s brother Olphos storms into the cellars, wherein he finds Claude, emaciated but still alive, chained in the dark. Finally, she is reunited with Don Almagro and they can be together without impediment. The story then turns its attention to Father Clement, who is a licentious monk; it was he who got Claude in trouble with the prioress by revealing her plans to escape. Since he was wicked and in league with a devil-worshipper, he is condemned to death.
Literature in English, British Isles
Almagro & Claude, or the Monastic Murder. London: T. Plummer, c. 1805.