Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

there was any real merit in it. It would carry me, to the Rue M., and was not, therefore, without a great placed it in the hands of M. de L., deal of nervousness, that I said who writes to me: one evening to my mentor, as I 666 I am astonished and delighted ! always called him,

Genuine feeling, true pathos, inex"Do you know, M. C., that I pressible charm, adorable simplichave written a book ?"

ity, great originality. This young “You don't say so!” he exclaim- friend of yours will carry the world ed, taking off his spectacles, which before her. She begins by a chef he always did when he was greatly d'oeuvre.' excited. “You ought to have con- “Bursting with pride and vanity, sulted me about it before you be- I set off for the Place S. G., and gan. It is not yet in print, I hope?" asked Madame S. to read your novel,

"Oh no; and never will be, I without telling her what M. de L. should think. But will you read it, had said of it.

This is the note I and give me your opinion of it?" have just received from her:

"Certainly; what is it about ?" 66. Your débutante beats us old " It is a novel."

stagers, mon cher; only the young Ah! I am sorry for that. At can write as this girl writes, but your age it is difficult to write fic- then so few girls can write at all. tion with suflicient experience of None but a youthful imagination life to produce anything original." can combine such passionate feel

“I daresay it is great trash,” I ing with such delicacy of expressaid; and I was speaking quite sin- sion. This novel will make a great cerely.

sensation. One more testimony, "No," he replied; "you cannot and I have done. M. V. the great bare written trash ; but a novel is publisher, who is also an excellent a bold experiment, and I warn you judge of works of fiction, has likebeforehand, my dear pupil, that you wise read your book, and he says: will never publish, with my consent, “This young authoress will take an indifferent work of the sort. The at once a high position in the literary position of an eminent authoress I world. I shall be happy to offer conld covet for you, but not that of her terms for her novel.' I again a second-rate femme de lettres." repeat, Long live literature! à re

He carried away my manuscript, voir, I hope, to-morrow.” and for some days I neither saw When I had read this letter I nor heard from M. C. At last I felt inclined to cry, and walked up received from him the following and down the room in a state of innote:

tense excitement. I could barilly “Long live literature! Long keep down my impatience to talk live female genius! Long live my over the subject with my old friend. dear pupil! My dear child, I wish So much praise was beyond my exyou joy! Your old mentor sat up pectations and hopes. It opened all night reading your book. He a vista to a new career full of inlaughed, he sighed, he wept over it. terest and pleasure. Castles in He trembled with excitement. He Spain

He Spain without number passed could not lay it down till it was through my mind, founded on that finished. Good heavens! what had parcel of closely written he been about that he did not guess script. That evening

I went to the what you were capable of!

opera with Madame P. The Som“I must now inform you, made- nambula was performed, and when moiselle, tbat mistrusting my own Persiani sang the concluding air of partiality, I carried off your manu- Bellini's beautiful opera it seemed script, as quickly as my old legs to me as if those exulting trium

6

manume.

phant notes were giving expression chimney. The old clock did not to the glad beatings of my heart. go, but that did not signify; the

The next few weeks passed in a chimes of St. Cyprien struck all dream of delight. I became an the hours. If it had not been for object of attention to all around Nanon, I should have felt very

M. V. called upon me and lonely that first night. But her offered most liberal terms for my dear kind old face brightened up book. A sum three times at least as the well-known scene: and as I sat large as my yearly income he said by the window looking on the bed he could secure to me. Madame of mignonette, and listening to the P. proposed that I should write for church-bells, I bardly knew if I felt her magazine, and a young gentle- happy or sad. It was all like a man devoted to literature, having dream, or rather the whole of my heard M. de L. speak of my forth- Paris life seemed an unreality, and coming work, proposed to me the I seemed to be once more the little following day. I did not accept girl who used to read Paul et Vir. his offer, and I put off for a short ginie under the shade of the churchtime concluding my agreement with wall. This reminded me of the M. V. M. C. and some other of my poor curé and my surrender of the friends had advised me to make book he bad deemed dangerous. some slight alterations in my story, What would he have thought of my which I wished to complete before writing a novel ? What would he signing that agreement. I told him have thought of the novel I had I would do so when I returned from written? What strange things D., where I was going for a short come to pass! When I was sitting time to arrange about the sale of amongst those flowers some years my house. My old friend the no- ago, enchanted with a new storytary had written to me that a pur- book, one of those rare indulgences chaser had offered for it, and he I enjoyed at long intervals, how

I wished to know what were my in- astonished I should have been if I tentions on the subject. M. C. and could have seen myself, in the M. and Madame P. strongly ad- future, complimented by M. de L., vised me to sell it, and definitively and Madame S., or visited by a fix myself in Paris. Such was my publisher to arrange terms for my own wish; but before doing so, I first novel! It would have turned wished to visit again the home of my head, I suppose. That evening my childhood, and to take away I spent in nothing but musing. with me a few things I had left Looking over my drawers, in which there. I accordingly came here I found many childish reminisalone, bringing with me my manu- cences of the past, I thought the script, which I meant finally to re- little house very charming. I could vise during the few days I remained now appreciate its quaint and in this house.

poetic aspect. The old church also Thus after five years' absence I was wonderfully picturesque. found myself again in my old home. " Why is the church lighted up?"

66 Poor old Nanon welcomed me at I asked of Nanon, as through the the gate. She had come from her windows I saw the lights inside. village to meet me, and had made 6. The mission begins to-night," everything look bright and cheerful she answered. 66 Madame T., who in anticipation of my arrival; had called this morning to know if you baked the little cakes I used to like, were arrived, says that it is a and prepared coffee and an omelette famous preacher from Lyons who for my supper. She had also filled

gives it.

She declares that he with flowers the blue jars on the preaches better than M. le Curé.”

?

A mission beginning on the very turned faces he had not distinday of my arrival! It was a curi- guished mine, but, as he afterwards ous coincidence. I remembered one told me, he had felt an inward conthat had taken place when I was a viction, when he uttered those openchild-how full the church used to ing sentences, that there was some be !—and the great cross that was one amongst his hearers that night planted as a memorial at the en- who would hear the message, actrance of the town. I determined cept the challenge, and appropriate to be present at the opening dis- the summons he was appointed to course. A vague idea of going to deliver. I scarcely heard the sequel my duties during my stay at D. had of that first sermon. Those words, floated in my mind. Perhaps I “the turning point in thy life," had might hear something which would taken hold of my mind; they seemed prepare me for it. I was not sorry to re-echo in my ears. During the to place myself in the way of some singing of a hymn and Benedicgood influences. So I put my bon- tion, and afterwards when the crowd net on, and by the well-known back withdrew, and the church grew entrance went into the church. dark and empty, still did those

The sermon began. It was hardly words haunt me. At last the like a sermon. It was a familiar sacristan came and told me to go; address; a sort of appeal to each he was about to close the doors. I individual present. Each one there, went home and mused till a late the preacher said, had a soul, and hour on what I had heard. When to that soul he had to deliver a mes- I awoke, the bells were ringing for sage. From whom? He paused the morning exercise. I dressed for some instants, and then said: quickly, and arrived in time to lear “From Him who made that soul. the missioner utter the words that From God Almighty. It is not I form the groundwork of what I who am speaking to you. I am but have since learned were the Exerthe voice of one crying in the cises of St. Ignatius: “Man was wilderness; the voice of one created to praise God, to show him mightier than I. That thou art reverence, to serve him, and in so bere to-night, O soul who hears me, doing to save his soul.” “Man was is a miracle of mercy. Who brought created.” From those words the thee here? Wherefore art thou preacher deduced conclusions come? Listen to the answer that which, once realized, place the is even now rising from the depths whole purport of existence in a of thy heart. What does it say? new light. “God has made you," Art thou come to pray, or to scoff, he urged, “made you for himself. or to turn away? Art thou come You are his property, his creature, to write in the book which stands his possession. Have you ever ever open in the sight of God a realized what it is to be a creature mark against thyself, one of those —to have a creator? You plant a terrible marks which imply a re- tree, and you call it yours, yet you jected grace? or dost thou feel that have not made it. You fashion a this is an accepted time, a day of tool or a machine, or you raise a salvation, perhaps the turning point building; you do not create them in thy life?” These words were out of nothing, yet you call them addressed to hundreds of souls; yours, because you have made them they seemed spoken directly to me. what they are. You write a book, I raised my eyes to the pulpit, and you compose a poem or a tale, and fancied that the eyes of the preacher you call it yours, because it is the were fixed upon me. This was a creature of your intellect, the prodelusion. Amidst the crowd of up- duce of your imagination. God

an

has made you. The mind of the tures, on the necessary dedication Almighty has conceived you. He of every possession—every faculty, has breathed into you life. In him talent, and gift, of every power of you live and move and have your the soul, of the body, and of the being. Is there a man on earth mind, of the heart and the imagi. with a right of possession to any- nation, of every instant of happithing on earth equal to God's right ness and of sorrow, of health or of to you? and yet you deny him sickness, of every opportunity life that control over your actions which offers and deatlı affords to that one you do not hesitate to claim your- sole object, salvation—the purpose self over your children, your ser- of God in the creation of our souls. vants, your laborers. You do your This deduction, this conclusion is own work, not his. Nay, you irresistible to honest mind. stand up and you say, 'I will not There is no escape from it but serve. What Satan said once, Satan's “Non serviam." you say practically every day of A strange uneasiness seized me, your life; and you have not been, a sense of being pursued-hemmed like him, precipitated into the abyss. in on every side. I came home, And why not? My brethren, I can and on the table my manuscript only answer, because he waits for was lying, the story to which I was you. He has waited till this day. to give the finishing touch during Perhaps he will wait no longer. the quiet days at D. Quiet days, There is a terrible abyss into which indeed! Anything less quiet than we may unconsciously fall, that of my soul and mind at that moment loss of faith and utter indifference. could hardly be conceived. I told Let those who stand, the Scripture myself that I was losing time, that says, take heed lest they fall. Let I ought not to allow myself to be those who feel that God is speak- so engrossed with the mission as to ing to them to-day, take heed lest neglect what was really important they never hear again bis voice. to my future career. I tried to set There is a silence of the soul more to work, but a painful sensation of awful than death."

weariness beset me; and then what I record these words, not because I had written at Paris without the of their intrinsic power, but because least misgiving, startled me when I God used them to awaken my in- read it again, with the words of dividual soul. Yes, awaken was that pitiless reasoner still echoing the word; and a terrible awaking in my ears.

He had ended his disit was, though a gradual one. At course that morning with these first I did not realize all it involved. sentences: "I will praise God," I thought; "I “If, therefore, anything can help will show him reverence, I will you to your salvation-if the observe him." And then, descend- ject you propose to yourself, the ing to particulars, I said to myself, career you choose, the work you before the discourse was over, “I undertake, the state of life you will go to confession, I will lead a adopt, be it what it may, the highChristian life" But the mission est or the humblest, the busiest or went on, and the logic of the the quietest, the one which men will Spiritual Exercises pursued me. most applaud you for selecting, or “God made us for himself; for despise you for embracing, tends to what purpose ? That we might that result-fearlessly enter on it. serve him, and in so doing save God's blessing will rest on your our souls.” Then that purpose has labors, God's sanction will hallow to be fulfilled. Upon this followed each step you take; the visible the meditation on the use of crea- token of his presence, the cloud by

a

day, will shield you from the burn- my mind riveted, my soul, for the ing heat of this world's desert; and time being, captivated, subdued, in the dark night of temptation the by the unanswerable logic and the pillar of flame will throw light on eloquent pleadings which I could your path. But if the road you not escape from. have chosen leads in a contrary di- Then came one morning the medirection; if, in the service of the tation on the kingdom of Christ, world or of your own pride and and in the evening the one on the self-love, you are using against the two standards. Is there any one eternal interests of your own soul who believes Jesus to be his God, what God has given you for the who can listen unmoved to that purpose of advancing them; if you, strange appeal to his latent chivalry, his instrument, are rising up that call to follow where he led the against your Master; if you, a way, to take his side in the battle creature, are saying to your Creator, of life, to fight for his cause, and, I will not do your will, I will not if needs be, to die with him on serve;' then, however harmless or Calvary? apparently useful or great in men's It was to me like a new revelasight are your aims, you are on the tion, that picture of a life hallowed broad road that leads to destruc- by a passionate love for a crucified tion. Proceed on that path, and the God, and absorbed by an interest day will come when words, such as in which every power and faculty I am now uttering, will have lost finds an object, and the whole being all power to arouse in your souls of man a worthy end. even a transient emotion. Faith I rose from my knees that night and conscience will both be dead!" with a firm resolution, and my heart

I thrust aside the sheets before full of enthusiasm. Standing outme, mentally exclaiming, “I can- side the church in the stillness of not do both, work at this story and the night, and looking up at the think of those sermons!” Then I silent beauty of the starry skies, I resolved not to go any more to the exclaimed, " My Creator, my Lord, Exercises of the retreat; to con- my Master, my Father, my God, I clude as quickly as I could the will praise thee and serve thee all business which had brought me to my life long.” D., bid a last farewell to the Im- I said this with entire sincerity, passe des Capucins, and return to and from the depths of my soul. Paris to pursue my career. But But light had not yet shined fully when the bells rang for the evening on my mind. My illusions were service I vainly tried to sit still; I not dispelled. The struggle was went out and tried to walk away only about to begin. Till that day from the church; but the sound of it had never even passed through those bells pursued me. The words my mind not to publish my book; "time” and “eternity" seemed to for the first time, during the mediring in their pealings. I could not tation on the kingdom of Christ, a resist the fascination, for that was thought had shot across me that its the name I gave to God's grace drift was not exactly on the side of urging me to turn back. For two religion, not favorable to the most days the struggle went on. Each strict principles of morality. “There time I attended an instruction I is a great deal of good in it," was resolved it should be the last; but the quick answer I made to that always when the time came, I was thought.

I called to inind some seated in my accustomed place near eloquent passages about remorse, the pulpit, my head leaning against and the misery of a soul given up a column, my heart beating fast, to evil passions, and others about

66

« ForrigeFortsæt »