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there was any real merit in it. It was not, therefore, without a great deal of nervousness, that I said one evening to my mentor, as I always called him,

"Do you know, M. C., that I have written a book?"

"You don't say so!" he exclaimed, taking off his spectacles, which he always did when he was greatly excited. "You ought to have consulted me about it before you began. It is not yet in print, I hope?" "Oh no; and never will be, I should think. But will you read it, and give me your opinion of it?" Certainly; what is it about?" "It is a novel."


"Ah! I am sorry for that. At your age it is difficult to write fiction with sufficient experience of life to produce anything original." "I daresay it is great trash," I said; and I was speaking quite sincerely.

"No," he replied; "you cannot have written trash; but a novel is a bold experiment, and I warn you beforehand, my dear pupil, that you will never publish, with my consent, an indifferent work of the sort. The position of an eminent authoress I could covet for you, but not that of a second-rate femme de lettres."

He carried away my manuscript, and for some days I neither saw nor heard from M. C. At last I received from him the following


"Long live literature! Long live female genius! Long live my dear pupil! My dear child, I wish you joy! Your old mentor sat up all night reading your book. He laughed, he sighed, he wept over it. He trembled with excitement. He He could not lay it down till it was finished. Good heavens! what had he been about that he did not guess what you were capable of!

"I must now inform you, mademoiselle, that mistrusting my own partiality, I carried off your manuscript, as quickly as my old legs

would carry me, to the Rue M., and placed it in the hands of M. de L., who writes to me:

"I am astonished and delighted! Genuine feeling, true pathos, inexpressible charm, adorable simplicity, great originality. This young friend of yours will carry the world before her. She begins by a chef d'œuvre.'

"Bursting with pride and vanity, I set off for the Place S. G., and asked Madame S. to read your novel, without telling her what M. de L. had said of it. This is the note I have just received from her:

"Your débutante beats us old stagers, mon cher; only the young can write as this girl writes, but then so few girls can write at all. None but a youthful imagination can combine such passionate feeling with such delicacy of expres sion. This novel will make a great sensation.' One more testimony, and I have done. M. V. the great publisher, who is also an excellent judge of works of fiction, has likewise read your book, and he says:

This young authoress will take at once a high position in the literary world. I shall be happy to offer her terms for her novel.' I again repeat, Long live literature! à revoir, I hope, to-morrow."

When I had read this letter I felt inclined to cry, and walked up and down the room in a state of intense excitement. I could hardly keep down my impatience to talk over the subject with my old friend. So much praise was beyond my expectations and hopes. It opened a vista to a new career full of interest and pleasure. Castles in Spain without Spain without number passed through my mind, founded on that parcel of closely written manuscript. That evening I went to the opera with Madame P. The Somnambula was performed, and when Persiani sang the concluding air of Bellini's beautiful opera it seemed to me as if those exulting trium

phant notes were giving expression to the glad beatings of my heart.

The next few weeks passed in a dream of delight. I became an object of attention to all around me. M. V. called upon me and offered most liberal terms for my book. A sum three times at least as large as my yearly income he said he could secure to me. Madame P. proposed that I should write for her magazine, and a young gentleman devoted to literature, having heard M. de L. speak of my forthcoming work, proposed to me the following day. I did not accept his offer, and I put off for a short time concluding my agreement with M. V. M. C. and some other of my friends had advised me to make some slight alterations in my story, which I wished to complete before signing that agreement. I told him I would do so when I returned from D., where I was going for a short time to arrange about the sale of my house. My old friend the notary had written to me that a purchaser had offered for it, and he wished to know what were my intentions on the subject. M. C. and M. and Madame P. strongly advised me to sell it, and definitively fix myself in Paris. Such was my own wish; but before doing so, I wished to visit again the home of my childhood, and to take away with me a few things I had left there. I accordingly came here alone, bringing with me my manuscript, which I meant finally to revise during the few days I remained in this house.

Thus after five years' absence I found myself again in my old home. Poor old Nanon welcomed me at the gate. She had come from her village to meet me, and had made everything look bright and cheerful in anticipation of my arrival; had baked the little cakes I used to like, and prepared coffee and an omelette for my supper. She had also filled with flowers the blue jars on the

chimney. The old clock did not go, but that did not signify; the chimes of St. Cyprien struck all the hours. If it had not been for Nanon, I should have felt very lonely that first night. But her dear kind old face brightened up the well-known scene: and as I sat by the window looking on the bed of mignonette, and listening to the church-bells, I hardly knew if I felt happy or sad. It was all like a dream, or rather the whole of my Paris life seemed an unreality, and I seemed to be once more the little girl who used to read Paul et Virginie under the shade of the churchwall. This reminded me of the poor curé and my surrender of the book he had deemed dangerous. What would he have thought of my writing a novel? What would he have thought of the novel I had written? What strange things come to pass! When I was sitting amongst those flowers some years ago, enchanted with a new storybook, one of those rare indulgences I enjoyed at long intervals, how astonished I should have been if I could have seen myself, in the future, complimented by M. de L., and Madame S., or visited by a publisher to arrange terms for my first novel! It would have turned my head, I suppose. That evening I spent in nothing but musing. Looking over my drawers, in which I found many childish reminiscences of the past, I thought the little house very charming. I could now appreciate its quaint and poetic aspect. The old church also was wonderfully picturesque.

"Why is the church lighted up?" I asked of Nanon, as through the windows I saw the lights inside.

"The mission begins to-night," she answered. "Madame T., who called this morning to know if you were arrived, says that it is a famous preacher from Lyons who gives it. She declares that he preaches better than M. le Curé."

A mission beginning on the very day of my arrival! It was a curious coincidence. I remembered one that had taken place when I was a child-how full the church used to be!-and the great cross that was planted as a memorial at the entrance of the town. I determined I determined to be present at the opening discourse. A vague idea of going to my duties during my stay at D. had floated in my mind. Perhaps I might hear something which would prepare me for it. I was not sorry to place myself in the way of some good influences. So I put my bonnet on, and by the well-known back entrance went into the church.

The sermon began. It was hardly like a sermon. It was a familiar address; a sort of appeal to each individual present. Each one there, the preacher said, had a soul, and to that soul he had to deliver a message. From whom? He paused He paused for some instants, and then said: "From Him who made that soul. From God Almighty. It is not I who am speaking to you. I am but the voice of one crying in the wilderness; the voice of one mightier than I. That thou art here to-night, O soul who hears me, is a miracle of mercy. Who brought thee here? Wherefore art thou come? Listen to the answer that is even now rising from the depths of thy heart. What does it say? Art thou come to pray, or to scoff, or to turn away? Art thou come to write in the book which stands ever open in the sight of God a mark against thyself, one of those terrible marks which imply a rejected grace? or dost thou feel that this is an accepted time, a day of salvation, perhaps the turning-point in thy life?" These words were addressed to hundreds of souls; they seemed spoken directly to me. I raised my eyes to the pulpit, and fancied that the eyes of the preacher were fixed upon me. This was a delusion. Amidst the crowd of up

turned faces he had not distinguished mine, but, as he afterwards told me, he had felt an inward conviction, when he uttered those opening sentences, that there was some one amongst his hearers that night who would hear the message, accept the challenge, and appropriate the summons he was appointed to deliver. I scarcely heard the sequel of that first sermon. Those words, "the turning-point in thy life," had taken hold of my mind; they seemed to re-echo in my ears. During the singing of a hymn and Benediction, and afterwards when the crowd withdrew, and the church grew dark and empty, still did those words haunt me. At last the sacristan came and told me to go; he was about to close the doors. I went home and mused till a late hour on what I had heard. When I awoke, the bells were ringing for the morning exercise. I dressed quickly, and arrived in time to hear the missioner utter the words that form the groundwork of what I have since learned were the Exercises of St. Ignatius: "Man was created to praise God, to show him reverence, to serve him, and in so doing to save his soul." "Man was created." From those words the preacher deduced conclusions which, once realized, place the whole purport of existence in a new light. "God has made you," he urged, "made you for himself. You are his property, his creature, his possession. Have you ever realized what it is to be a creature -to have a creator? You plant a tree, and you call it yours, yet you have not made it. You fashion a tool or a machine, or you raise a building; you do not create them out of nothing, yet you call them yours, because you have made them what they are. You write a book, you compose a poem or a tale, and you call it yours, because it is the creature of your intellect, the produce of your imagination. God

has made you. The mind of the Almighty has conceived you. He has breathed into you life. In him you live and move and have your being. Is there a man on earth with a right of possession to any thing on earth equal to God's right to you? and yet you deny him that control over your actions which you do not hesitate to claim your self over your children, your servants, your laborers. You do your own work, not his. Nay, you stand up and you say, 'I will not serve.' What Satan said once, you say practically every day of your life; and you have not been, like him, precipitated into the abyss. And why not? My brethren, I can only answer, because he waits for you. He has waited till this day. Perhaps he will wait no longer. There is a terrible abyss into which we may unconsciously fall, that of loss of faith and utter indifference. Let those who stand, the Scripture says, take heed lest they fall. Let those who feel that God is speaking to them to-day, take heed lest they never hear again his voice. There is a silence of the soul more awful than death."

I record these words, not because of their intrinsic power, but because God used them to awaken my individual soul. Yes, awaken was the word; and a terrible awaking it was, though a gradual one. At first I did not realize all it involved. "I will praise God," I thought; "I will show him reverence, I will serve him." And then, descending to particulars, I said to myself, before the discourse was over, "I will go to confession, I will lead a Christian life " But the mission went on, and the logic of the Spiritual Exercises pursued me. "God made us for himself; for what purpose? That we might serve him, and in so doing save our souls." Then that purpose has to be fulfilled. Upon this followed the meditation on the use of crea

tures, on the necessary dedication of every possession-every faculty, talent, and gift, of every power of the soul, of the body, and of the mind, of the heart and the imagination, of every instant of happiness and of sorrow, of health or of sickness, of every opportunity life offers and death affords to that one sole object, salvation-the purpose of God in the creation of our souls. This deduction, this conclusion is irresistible to an honest mind. There is no escape from it but Satan's "Non serviam."

A strange uneasiness seized me, a sense of being pursued hemmed in on every side. I came home, and on the table my manuscript was lying, the story to which I was to give the finishing touch during the quiet days at D. Quiet days, indeed! Anything less quiet than my soul and mind at that moment could hardly be conceived. I told myself that I was losing time, that I ought not to allow myself to be so engrossed with the mission as to neglect what was really important to my future career. I tried to set to work, but a painful sensation of weariness beset me; and then what I had written at Paris without the least misgiving, startled me when I read it again, with the words of that pitiless reasoner still echoing in my ears. He had ended his discourse that morning with these sentences:

"If, therefore, anything can help you to your salvation-if the object you propose to yourself, the career you choose, the work you undertake, the state of life you adopt, be it what it may, the highest or the humblest, the busiest or the quietest, the one which men will most applaud you for selecting, or despise you for embracing, tends to that result-fearlessly enter on it. God's blessing will rest on your labors, God's sanction will hallow each step you take; the visible token of his presence, the cloud by

day, will shield you from the burning heat of this world's desert; and in the dark night of temptation the pillar of flame will throw light on your path. But if the road you have chosen leads in a contrary direction; if, in the service of the world or of your own pride and self-love, you are using against the eternal interests of your own soul what God has given you for the purpose of advancing them; if you, his instrument, are rising up against your Master; if you, a creature, are saying to your Creator, 'I will not do your will, I will not serve;' then, however harmless or apparently useful or great in men's sight are your aims, you are on the broad road that leads to destruction. Proceed on that path, and the day will come when words, such as I am now uttering, will have lost all power to arouse in your souls even a transient emotion. Faith and conscience will both be dead!" I thrust aside the sheets before me, mentally exclaiming, "I cannot do both, work at this story and think of those sermons!" Then I resolved not to go any more to the Exercises of the retreat; to conclude as quickly as I could the business which had brought me to D., bid a last farewell to the Impasse des Capucins, and return to Paris to pursue my career. But when the bells rang for the evening service I vainly tried to sit still; I went out and tried to walk away from the church; but the sound of those bells pursued me. The words "time" and "eternity" seemed to ring in their pealings. I could not resist the fascination, for that was the name I gave to God's grace urging me to turn back. For two days the struggle went on. Each time I attended an instruction I resolved it should be the last; but always when the time came, I was seated in my accustomed place near the pulpit, my head leaning against a column, my heart beating fast,

my mind riveted, my soul, for the time being, captivated, subdued, by the unanswerable logic and the eloquent pleadings which I could not escape from.

Then came one morning the meditation on the kingdom of Christ, and in the evening the one on the two standards. Is there any one who believes Jesus to be his God, who can listen unmoved to that strange appeal to his latent chivalry, that call to follow where he led the way, to take his side in the battle of life, to fight for his cause, and, if needs be, to die with him on Calvary?

It was to me like a new revelation, that picture of a life hallowed by a passionate love for a crucified God, and absorbed by an interest in which every power and faculty finds an object, and the whole being of man a worthy end.

I rose from my knees that night with a firm resolution, and my heart full of enthusiasm. Standing outside the church in the stillness of the night, and looking up at the silent beauty of the starry skies, I exclaimed, "My Creator, my Lord, my Master, my Father, my God, I will praise thee and serve thee all my life long."

I said this with entire sincerity, and from the depths of my soul. But light had not yet shined fully on my mind. My illusions were not dispelled. The struggle was only about to begin. Till that day it had never even passed through my mind not to publish my book; for the first time, during the meditation on the kingdom of Christ, a thought had shot across me that its drift was not exactly on the side of religion, not favorable to the most strict principles of morality. "There is a great deal of good in it," was the quick answer I made to that thought. I called to mind some eloquent passages about remorse, and the misery of a soul given up to evil passions, and others about

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