Originally written by Adolphe Danziger De Castro in 1889, but based on an earlier German tale, this story was submitted to Ambrose Bierce for revision. He insisted on reinstating the tragic ending which De Castro had altered in order to cater for the tastes of the day. In reverting to the original plot, the story regains its full importance as a work of great literature. The young monk, Ambrosius, falls in love with the village outcast, Benedicta, who is the daughter of the hangman.
The story is the tale of his struggle with himself, as he strives for religious purity against worldly and carnal temptation. When he is sent out into the wilderness to contemplate and finds that Benedicta is living close by, his struggle reaches a head. But Benedicta is in love with the Saltmaster's dashing son, Rochus. Ambrosius has to contend with his own jealousy, confusion and uncertainty as to God's real purpose for him. As one tragic event follow another, the young monk begins to lose his grip on reality... leading to a dramatic denouement which sends the reader reeling in shock. One of the great classics of its age.
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