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courteous a manner that I felt the table covered with circulars, prompted to continue the conver- pamphlets, books, and packets of sation, and made with that view clothes tied up and ticketed. An sereral inquiries which implied I old bureau with a surprising num. was a Catholic. This pleased her ber of drawers, a writing desk, and very much. She said it was a real a shelf for books completed the joy to see an English person of her furniture of this apartment. Above religion. I told her I was a con- the writing-desk was a crucifix; vert, and for the first time in a over the chimney an image of our Catholic country since I had been Lady. Pictures of saints, in received into the Church. “No wooden frames, adorned the otherwords express," I added, wise bare walls. Among them I 66 what a joy it is to feel oneself at noticed prints of St. Jerome, St. home in God's house;" and as I Augustine, St. Ignatius, St. Alsaid this, my eyes turned with rev- phonsus Liguori with his pen in erence towards the sacred building his hand, and also of St. Cecilia I had just quitted. “I can well and St. Teresa. When the misunderstand that feeling," the lady tress of the house returned, I felt, answered ; "a return to our true in consequence of this inspection, home is such a blessing, even still better acquainted with her thongh the estrangement may have than before. We sat down by the been, as it probably was in your open window drinking our coffee, case, involuntary."
and enjoying the evening air and My heart warmed towards my the delicious perfume of the mignnew acquaintance. I suppose my onette. A conversation ensued, face showed it, for she invited me such as seldom takes place between into her house and offered me a persons meeting for the first time cup of coffee. Whilst it was get- and never likely to meet again. I ting ready, we went on conversing. will not detail the process by which She said the state of religion in we were led on to speak to one England had always greatly inter- another with an extraordinary unested her; and she made inquiries reserve, or analyze the reasons of which surprised me by the knowl. the deep sympathy that seemed at edge they evinced of what was once to spring up between us. Not going on in that country. She often in life can this occur, but spoke also of Ireland, of her past when it does, there is something sufferings and actual struggles, very delightful in it. There were with the most intelligent sympathy. circumstances which, in our case, She seemed also well acquainted perhaps accounted for this mutual with our literature. I could hardly attraction. Be that as it may, we conceal my surprise at the amount poured forth (I did at least to her) of common subjects of interest thoughts and feelings which I had which existed between us. And never communicated to those nearwhen she left the room for a mo- est and dearest to me. What she ment, to hasten the preparations told me of her life and history I for our meal, I looked curiously at have preserved in writing. I sat the furniture and arrangements of up all night at the hotel, transcribthe room where I was sitting. It ing it almost word for word. I had no comforts, in the English wish I could bave rendered the sense of the word. There was no earnestness, the simplicity, the abcarpet on the red-brick floor, no sence of self-consciousness with sofa or arm-chair worthy of the which she related a story, which Dame. The chairs and footstools she fancied, from what I had said were of the commonest description; to her of my past life and my thoughts for the future, might be Everything about that little abode of use to me. But I must begin tallied with the impression I had by mentioning what immediately received from Madame N.'s writled up to this communication. We ings. A love of poverty and a love had been speaking of French hooks, for the beautiful were strongly and I had remarked how few French combined together in this humble authors, comparatively speaking, abode. Everything about it was used fiction as a means of doing simple, calm, intellectual, and hargood, or, if they did write in that monious. Almost severe in its line, possessed the talent of power- simplicity-and yet, what with the fully interesting their readers. abundance of fiowers in and out
"Yes," she answered ; " few at- side of it, the fine engravings, the tempt it, and fewer succeed.'' books which filled every unoccu
“How do you account for this ?” pied corner of the walls, the fine I asked. “Is it the strong prejudice old trees in the back court, the amongst good people in France, picturesque old church with its against whatever resembles a novel, windows of painted glass towering that causes this failure ?"
ahove it, and the wall of the hos“In some measure, perhaps," pice richly lined with a fringe of she replied; “and yet I think that yellow flowers over the way,—there when attempts are made to write was something about it that gave stories in a good spirit, encourage- me a wish to live and die in some ment is not wanting, even to feeble such corner of the wide world. efforts of the kind."
The question which of all others “ Almost the only French writer I wished to put to Madame, or wlio seems to me to have devoted rather to Malle. N.,-for I found real genius to the cause of relig- that she had never been married, ion," I said, " is Madame N.” and that it was only as an author
“ You have read her works ?” ess that she went by the name of my companion asked.
Madame N.,-related to her first “Yes,” I answered. “I admire attempts at writing, and her début them immensely. There is a in the literary world. I timidly strength in her writings which expressed that desire. She remust arise, I think, from an in- mained silent a moment, and then tense desire to make others feel as said, she does, and a consciousness of "It is just possible that the hisher power to influence. Do you tory of my childhood and youth not like her books ?" I asked, sur- may be useful to you. God has prised at receiving no answer. I been very good to me. I had a repeated my questions.
great escape at the outset of my My hand taken between life; one for which there is no day those of my kind hostess, and, with that I do not thank him, especially something between a smile and a when I take up my pen to write." sigh, she pressed it and said, “I “ Do,” I said, “ begin at the beam Madame N., and I am very glad ginning, and tell me all your hisyou like my books."
tory as far back as you can rememI was astonished and delighted. ber.” If before this disclosure I had been What she told me is contained disposed to look on this lady as a in the following pages. friend, I now felt as if I had met with a person I knew and loved. I was an only child; both my It seemed to me that I had a thou- parents died during my infancy, sand questions to ask her. Iooked and I was left to the care of my about me with renewed interest. grandmother, who was sixty years
of age when she took charge of me. light. I read and re-read and Her family, once a wealthy one, pored over them till I literally knew had been ruined at the time of the them by heart. I used to sit on first revolution, and nothing re- the grass in that little corner pear mained to her, the sole survivor of the cloister, repeating aloud my many brothers and sisters, except favorite passages, or, shutting my this little house and a small capi- eyes, I tried to transport myself in tal, on the interest of which we imagination to the places described lived. None of her relatives ex. in my beloved books. Soon I becept my parents had left any chil- gan to scribble myself. The franc dren. I was therefore the last of my grandmother always gave me my race, and the doom of loneli- on New Year's Day was spent, not ness, in every sense of the word, in bonbons, as she supposed, but in seemed to rest upon me. My dear sheets of coarse paper, which by old grandmother was deaf, and dint of crossing lasted me a long very nervous. To get through the time, and served for a large amount day without any sort of agitation of desultory composition in every or disturbance was the one object possible line.
Ink and pens I of her ambition. She had few vis- sometimes obtained from our seritors, and never would let me visit vant Nanon, or for a sou I bought any one, out of fear, she said, that a pencil. My old slate came also something might happen to me. into use. I wrote verses upon it, For some years a lady in the town which I learned by heart before gave me lessons. She had been a rubbing them out. Amongst my teacher in Madame Campan's grandmother's books those I liked school, and had retired on a small best were Royaumont's IIistory of annuity. She instructed me in all the Old and New Testament, and the elementary branches of educa- some volumes of the Lives of the tion, and died when I was ten years Saints—especially those of martyrs of age. As far as learning went, and hermits. When I was in a this was no great loss to me. I pious mood I always fixed upon Lad by that time learned almost some particular saint as my model, everything she was capable of but this did not last long enough teaching But I missed the bours to secure any sensible progress toI used to spend at hier house, the wards perfection. And I was apt walks to and fro across the prome- to get out of temper because my nade, the occasional researches in grandmother and Nanon did not her drawers, which contained many act towards me at those times the curiosities, exhibited to me when I parts I mentally assigned to them. had been particularly good; and, Once, when I was personating St. above all, a large gray cat, who Catherine of Siena, I stayed all disappeared from the neighborhood day in church, not coming home on the day his mistress was buried. even at dinner-time, in hopes that
From that time forward my prin- they would scold me terribly and cipal occupation was reading. My send me to work all the next day grandmother had very few books, in the kitchen. But my grandand they were all devotional, but my mother said nothing-she had kind teacher bad bequeathed to me dozed, I believe, during the hours her little library, and it contained I had been away; and Nanon only some works of a less exclusively laughed and set before me some religious character. Three of these, cold soup, which did not at all suit Le Génie du Christianisme, Télé- my taste. I soon grew tired of maque, and Paul et Virginie, be- being a saint. Then I thought I came my constant study and de- would be Virginia, and fixed on a little boy who sang in the choir as my reach, and that I should never the representative of Paul. The think of opening one; but that, if first thing necessary was to explain ever they should come in my way, to him who Paul was, and for that I was to remember his warning. purpose I began one day—when he He saw me so often with a book in was weeding the path up to the my hand, that he thought it necesback entrance of the church, and sary to place me on my guard. He I was leaning against our garden would be better pleased, he added, palisade—to read, or rather to tell if I was oftener sewing or knitting, him the story of the two children than always poring over books. in the island. After I had gone
I asked him if Télémaque and on with this for some time, I stop- Paul et Virginie were novels. He ped and said,
hesitated a little about the first. It " Isidore, would you like to be was not, he thought, the best work Paul, and I to be Virginia ?" Fénelon had written, though there
He looked up with a doubtful were good things in it; as to the expression of countenance, and last, he was sorry I had read it, said, “ Mamzelle, I'd rather be my- and regretted its being in my posself, and not somebody else ; and session. The next time I went to then I don't think it's right to say confession I brought with me the Paul tout court; you should say St. torn and soiled little book I was so Paul, as M. le Curé always does." fond of, and told him he was to
“ 0, but, Isidore,” I exclaimed, burn it. He praised me, and said quite shocked, “I am not speaking that God would reward me for havof the Apostle St. Paul. Did you ing made this sacrifice. The dear not hear what I said about Paul old man's words came true long being a little boy in an island ?” after he had breathed his last, for
Well, mamzelle, I thought may- he died some time before I left my be that was the way St. Paul began home. On an Easter Sunday, before he was converted; but I which happened to be my eleventh should not like to be that other Paul, birthday, I made my First Combefore I asked M. le Curé about it.” munion. For some years after
“M. le Curé would not under- wards my life went on in the same stand about it; you need not ask groove, dull and monotonous outhim. You don't know enough about wardly, but inwardly full of restless books to play at this.”
changes and varying moods. I And so ended the scheme at per- studied more than ever the Lives of sonating Virginia. I tell you these the Saints, and floating ideas of a things because they will make you religious vocation passed through understand in what a world of my mind. Sometimes I helped the fancy I lived; how my childish Sisters of St. Joseph at the Hosimagination worked on the slender pice, and visited with them sick materials which fed and excited it, persons in the town, but no lasting and how it was perpetually casting impressions seemed to abide in my about for fresh subjects on which soul. I made a few acquaintances, to exercise its restlessness.
but took no interest in any of them. At the time when I was prepar- I was wayward and dreamy, always ing for my First Communion, our living amidst imaginary scenes, good curé spoke to me very earn- holding conversations with imagiestly of the danger of reading bad nary persons, picturing to myself books, and the impossibility of a events in which I took a leading girl remaining pious and virtuous part, and pouring forth on paper if she was fond of novels. He my desultory thoughts and highhoped such works were not within flown aspirations.
At last there came a day which
“ What could I do?" was my anchanged the whole aspect of my life. An event occurred which, " What would you like to do?” he strange to say, took me by sur- rejoined. prise. Though my grandmother And I could not tell. was nearly eighty years of age, it He offered me a home in his had never struck me that she was house, in case I did not wish to likely to die soon. I never remem- live alone with Manon ; but I did bered her having been seriously ill; not accept the offer. I stayed here and for many years her infirmities some little time, and then I began bad neither increased nor dimin- to think I should like a change. I ished. So, when one morning was out of health, and the doctor Vanon broke to me that her mis- whom Nanon sent for said I ought tress had died suddenly in the to have more amusement, and see night, I was astonished and almost something of the world, he added. bewildered at the announcement. This was just what I wanted him I felt as if it would be impossible to say. But how was this to be to live in this house without her, arranged ? I consulted my old and just as impossible to live else- friend the notary, and he consulted where. I could not form an idea the wife of the prefect. She told of what life would be under these him she had a sister who lived at altered circumstances She had Paris who would have no objection, loved me in her silent passive man- she thought, to receive me into her ner, and I had loved her more than house for some months, if proper I was conscious of. She was the arrangements were made to that only parent, the only relative I had effect. ever known. There had been no “Can I afford such arrangement?” intimacy, not even much intercourse I asked. between us. Her deafness and He considered a little, and said habitual reserve had limited it to a that if Nanon went to live with her few formal remarks, little occa- friends, which she wished to do, it sional presents, a kiss night and might be practicable. But I must morning. But she liked to look at be very economical ; for money did me moving about the room, or sit- not go nearly as far in Paris as in ting with a book in the garden. this place. She could not bear me to be long Well, I accepted the offer of the out of her sight. She liked to lean prefect's sister-in-law; and, bidon my arm when we went to church. ding adieu for the first time to the I could not realize that this was all home of my childhood, under the over, and that I was alone in the charge of a lady who was leaving world.
D., I went to Paris. I arrived The days which intervened be- there on a dark cold winter's day tween her death and her burial in November, and landed at the. were very sad. My old friend the house in the Chaussée d’Antin curé had been dead for some time. which was to be my future abode. I did not care much for his succes- Madame P. received me very sor. My best friend in this town kindly, and introduced me to her was an old notary, who had always husband, who she told me was an managed my grandmother's little homme de lettres. He gave me also money-matters, and it was he who a very cordial welcome. They were informed me that she had left me a middle-aged couple, who had this little house and the small capi- never had any
children. Their tal on the interest of which we had home was the rendezvous of a litlived. He asked what I meant to do. erary circle. She informed me of