|Joana da Trindade
Family letter written by Joana da Trindade to her grandmother.
The employers of the nursemaid Mariana da Silva accused a priest, Diogo Mendes, of being guilty of using confession to attempt against the woman's morals. This letter, written to her grandmother (the employer of Mariana da Silva) by a nun, was presented as proof of such an accusation.
My grandmother and lady.
I feel awful about the things you say in your writing. You could have trusted me. From what you tell me, I can see there is more to be punished than I thought there was, when I only knew what the servants had told me. But, anyway, let's move on. This girl [a former slave] says that, if you knew who the nursemaid really was, you wouldn't blame her [the slave], and that she told António Garadas' nursemaid so that she would tell you herself, since she [the slave] wouldn't dare. She said that, once, at home, when everyone was there, she [the nursemaid] hid your chest's key from you for many days, as you have later found out; that key was from a little box belonging to Dona Teodora, and I found her once with the opened box and she took a jet horn of [...] and I told her not to touch anything, because if she did someone would notice it. When you sent them both to Capuchos, to the Way of the Cross, they were kneeling inside and she [the nursemaid] stood up and spoke to him. And he told her to come outside the church because inside they weren't aloud to talk. And she went outside and talked to him as much as she pleased. And she said she cared a lot about him, that she had been bewitched by him and that, as long as he would stay in Lisbon, she wouldn't leave either. And she would secretly confess to him everytime you, unknowingly, sent her to church. And this apart from other things she [the slave] couldn't hear! Many times she [the nursemaid] said she wanted to run away with him. And I told her that that was the Devil's temptation. She took the Cordova water twice to the church in order to give it to him, and so she did, inside the confession booth. And on Saint John's day, when you sent her to Rossio to see the chapels along with the black girl, she met that priest there and she talked to him as much as she wanted all the way through. Since she was so absorbed, she lost the black girl. And then she went looking for her like a mad woman. And the black girl was crying. And she found her in Rua dos Canos. And once, while you were at home, he came here to Rego. And she wanted to open the backyard's door to let him in, so that they could talk on the stairs. I told her I would stay out of it, because I didn't want any trouble. And if she did it, I would tell you. This way she moved away and didn't do anything but she always talked to him everytime she went to church. She gave me the jet corn and told me to say that I had brought it from Alcobaça, in case someone asked me who had given it to me. And she took a rosary of white beads with a silver corolla. I don't know what else. And she told me she talked to a servant of Lourenço Caetano, through the Council window, most of the nights. And he gave her the two turtle combs she lent me when I came here [to the convent]. In order for you not to find out, she secretly gave them to her brother so that he would give them to her in your presence, saying it was a present from him. And he gave her a cambric handkerchief. And he gave her a quarter of gold, which she spent when she went to Nazaré. And all of this he gave her through the window. And she was the one who convinced me not to be humble to you, because she said that, if we were humble to you, you would be even worse. And this is all true. And if she [the slave] is bearing false witness against her [the nursemaid], then she [the slave] will not be forgiven. And she [the nursemaid] told her all about Isabel when she returned from Alcobaça. She [the nursemaid] slandered your home in such a way that she [the slave] couldn't believe. She said you were so poor that you owed your own ears. And she said you sold your houses for the money and that the debtors knocked on your door all the time. And that the mylord replied that he had no way of paying the debts. I thought these were all lies. I believe I'll be able to receive a visit soon, I've already asked for it and the Mother Prioress said she would give me an answer. As soon as she answers me, I'll let you know and then you both [you and the slave] can talk more. It was the Devil that tempted the nursemaid. If she [the nursemaid] wasn't such a gossip, she [the slave] wouldn't be so guilty, but now she regrets not having said anything to you. And every night she [the nursemaid] would steal you your keys from underneath the bedside table to search everything you had. I haven't said a word to anyone because she would be angry. God knows the truth, that I've never had that boldness at your house. I'll tell you more during the visit, for this is all I know now.
May God keep you for many years.
Your granddaughter and servant,
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