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the grandeur and beauty of self- out the whole of that night, which sacrifice; but even these would not drove away sleep from my eyes and bear the test of the new light thrown rest from my soul. O, how extraupon them by the tall crucifix ordinary it seemed to me on the standing before me in the sanctu- following day, when the preacher, ary. The question at issue was to appearing to answer my most secret be solved during the few next thoughts, related as it were my weeks. That after the publication own case in my astonished hearing! of this one novel, I should become Still more strange was it when a servant of God, a true Christian, St. Ignatius wrote the “Spiritual and write magnificent things in Exercises” three hundred years support of religion, was no longer ago, he should have thought of a a doubt; but it was impossible to state of mind so similar to my own forego the start this book would at that moment. The person who is give me in my literary career, left a legacy, and, doubtful if it will the pecuniary advantages it prom- help or impede his salvation, does ised afford.
not put the question fairly to the With an established reputation test, does not resolve to refuse it if as an authoress, I could do incal- the latter should be the case—who culably more good by my writings was it but myself? And he who than an unknown person; and with offers to surrender everything to the sum I was to receive for it, I God, save the one thing which it would set on foot some good work. costs him too great an effort to " There can be no doubt about give up; who, like the man called this," I said over and over again to by our Lord, bargains to go and myself during a sleepless night. pay the last duties to an earthly “ There will be no occasion to speak object of affection before he yields on the subject to Father when himself completely to his MakerI go to confession. He could not who again was it but myself? I form an opinion on the subject saw it, I felt it, and still I wavered. unless he read the manuscript, and How near I was turning a deaf ear he would not have time to do that; to grace! How great was the temptanor even if he did, would be be tion, how fierce the struggle! But able to judge of its effect on people grace would not forego its hold of the world. It is much more on my miserable heart; and Provimoral than any of the recent cele- dence sent me a message that day brated novels, and I think some besides that of the preacher. things in it would do positive good On that very day when I was to some persons. I will accuse my- going to confession, still undeself of my many sins, of my long termined to make it full, entire, and neglect of religion, of my ingrati- unreserved, still shrinking from the tude to God. I need not mention probing of my conscience which it what is not a sin. But is it not a so greatly needed, I happened to sin to write bad books? But mine call at the Hospice to speak to one is not a bad book, not at all a bad of the Sisters of St. Joseph, a book. Father would think so. simple soul who used to give me But he knows nothing about novels. sweetmeats when I was a child, and Could I modify some of the scenes? who looked as young and as kind It would spoil the whole story; as she did ten years before. that one scene which I had most She said that they were very busy doubts about, M. C. had said would upstairs, that a poor girl was dying make the fortune of a book: it was in St. Catharine's ward. Perhaps so original.” Such were the inward I remembered her. She was the arguments which went on through- sister of Isidore, who used to sing
in the choir. This was the boy to and sat on one of the benches of whom I had proposed to be Paul in the terrace, and conversed for a the days when I wanted to be Vir- long time. She told me Martha's ginia.
story. The scandal of it had been "What is she dying of?" I asked. public, but the humble penitence
“Of consumption," the sister of the repentant sinner was little answered. “Poor child, she went known. 1. She is a true penitent,” to be a servant at N., fell into sin, my companion said. “The other and led a bad life; then her health day she told me to speak of her failed, and she came here to die. fall wherever it could be of use, and Every one knows her sad story, or to warn girls of her age against I would not have mentioned it. hurtful reading. She traces her Her mother is broken-hearted.” ruin to the day when she read by
“Poor Martha!" I exclaimed. stealth in her mistress's room a “May I go up to see her?”
story which confused her ideas of “Yes,” the sister said, and took right and wrong, and weakened her me upstairs. “There she is," she horror of sin. How little people added, and left me with ber. think of what a book may do for
It was a sad sight, that young good or for evil! and when once it face with the stamp of death upon has gone forth, how irreparable is it; but what was sadder still, was that evil!” My eyes were fixed on that of the gray-haired mother by the opposite hills; they were filling the side of the bed. They were with tears. I could not restrain such respectable people, and their them. She looked at me inquirchildren had been so well brought ingly; she took my hand. She said up. I could see in that mother's something, I know not what, but face a sorrow deeper than that of just what my soul needed at that the approaching death of her child. moment; and then to that stranger, Whilst I was speaking to them, a whose name even I did not know, I lady came up whom I had seen sev- opened my heart. I told her what eral times in church. She spoke a my childhood at D. had been, and few words to the sick girl, whose my subsequent life in Paris, and languid eyes brightened as she bent that the little old-fashioned house over her. I saw the mother kissing in the Impasse des Capucins beher gown by stealth, and felt myself, longed to me; that I had meant to when her voice fell on my ears, as sell it, but that now I did not know if there was music in it—the music what I should do; that the mission of another world. She whom I met had made me miserable. And then by that dying bed was to be my I mentioned my book, and said how good angel. She was to show me strange it was she should have spothe way in wbich I have found ken of Martha and her story, and peace which passes all understand- now she knew the reason of my ing, and that joy with which a tears. I was afraid about my
book. stranger intermeddles not. What “Will you let me read it ?" she took place between us that evening asked. was to go on for life—the influence I hesitated; but a wild hope oc. of a strong and loly soul over one curred to me that she might, after who has rested under its shadow all, think the good predominated with childlike love and trust. We over the evil, and then all would be left the Hospice together, that lady right. Already I felt a confidence and I. We made acquaintance as in her I could hardly account for.
. a matter of course; the only thing She came back with me to my I do not recollect is, which of us house. As I was opening the garspoke first to the other. We went
We went den-gate, Father came out of
the church, and seeing my compan- from human lips. These pleadings ion, he came up to us. His manner of seemed to bring me so near the addressing her showed me at once divine presence in the tabernacle that my confidence was well placed. that it appeared almost tangible. He inquired after several persons My heart felt breaking with love she had promised to visit, and then and sorrow, and what had seemed turning to me, he said,
impossible to me before now seemed “ Malle. R. is my right hand to grow easy. What was the world during the mission. When I look and its praise, what success, what at her, I often think of that lay fame, what earth and its pleasures, brother we read of who sat at the in comparison of that love stronger foot of the pulpit, and did more by than death which I began to underhis prayers than the preacher by stand at the foot of the cross that his sermons."
night? The work was done, the She shook her head with a smile, battle fought, the victory won! A and we went into the house to- great calın filled my soul. Mdlle. gether. The missioner had men- R. was waiting for me in my room. tioned the name of her aunt, and I She had in her hand my manufound it was one well known to me. script. I saw tears rolling down Mdlle. R. was spending her cheeks. She was feeling for months at D., to take care of this the pain she was about to give me. sick relative. It was not her con- I went up to her, and as I took stant home. How often I have from her what had been to me more thanked God that she was there precious almost than life, I said, during the mission! We talked on “Do you think there is any till it was time to go to church, merit, any talent in it? That it and after the service was over she shows, as I have been told, carried away with her my manu- genius ?” script. The meditations on the “If it was not so," she answered, life of our Lord were going on;
“it would not be the dangerous each day we conversed upon them. book I think it is. My judgment She had a way of speaking of Jesus is worth little in comparison with Christ and of the Blessed Virgin the other opinions you have had which was new to me; she seemed with regard to its literary merit to live in a sort of intimacy with and probable success. My own them. I could not help feeling as impression also is, that it would be if she bad caught the spirit of their fatally successful." lives. Her manner was simple, her She paused, as if praying indress plain, her countenance calm wardly for words in which to plead and gentle; I could not look at her the cause of God and of my soul without thinking of our Blessed against Satan and my pride. Lady. Three days passed, and she I threw my arms around her had said nothing to me about my neck and cried, “0, thank God book. I thought that perhaps she there is then something to sacriwould not read it till the mission fice, something to forego, small as was over. Friday came, and the it is, for Him who died for me!” meditation on our Lord's death on And in one instant I had lighted a the cross.
I cannot describe what candle, removed the paper ornathat hour wrought in my soul. It ments from the inside of the chimwas not a discourse the preacher ney, thrust my book between the uttered, but a prayer. He knelt dogs, and set fire to it. "I have down before the crucifix, and there no copy of it," I exclaimed. he prayed with us and for us in ac- “ There, it is gone forever. Now I cents such as I had never heard can go to confession to-night with
out shuffling and reserve, and feel time to go into the question with in my heart something of that you; it is a deep and a broad one. loving sorrow which, as Father Holy men have differed as to the says, is the beginning of heaven on use of this powerful stimulus for earth.”
the human mind, and arrived, in My friend—for by that time she some instances, at contrary conwas my true and dear friend - clusions. With Mademoiselle R.'s watched the shrivelling sheets of help, you will consult a wise and manuscript which were gradually prudent director, and on this and turning to ashes, and said with every point concerning your future deep emotion :
life earnestly pray for God's guid6. This is one of those acts which
This I will venture to say: our Lord often rewards in no ordi- that if, with the sole desire and end nary manner. Pray that he may in view of promoting his glory and let you know his will in your re- exciting souls to virtue, any one gard."
sits down to write, be it a grave or From that moment I
a gay work, be it story, be it poem, ceased to thank God for the danger and as he begins breathes an arI had escaped. When I thought dent prayer that the divine blessing how bitter, instead of sweet, my may rest on every word which falls repentance would have been, bad I from his pen, I do believe a mereiturned to him after I had pub- ful Providence will guard him from lished that book; how through life injuring and misleading others, and I should have been haunted by the that our Lord will say of him, “He thought of the irremediable evil the hath done a good work; he hath work of my brain and my pen done it for my glory.'' might still be doing, even wbilst I have but few words more to all the powers of my soul were add. Before I left D., I wrote to striving in a contrary direction, I M. C. and to Madame P., and told could only wonder at the mercy them the whole truth. His letter which had combined so many prov- was like himself; he said he was idential circumstances to save me sorry that an intellect which was from that misery.
meant to charm and benefit manThe Father, to whom I opened kind was to be henceforward remy heart fully before he left D., strained and narrowed to suit the advised me to suspend my future few who could see neither merit plans for awhile, and to accept nor beauty outside an iron circle of Mademoiselle R.'s invitation to re- dogmas, and the élan of an ardent turn to Paris and spend some time imagination crushed by an ascetic in her house. No one, he said, mysticisin inimical to human paswould give me wiser and better sions and feelings. At the same counsel as to my future course. time, he could not, but say that He commended strongly the sacri- there was something noble, great, fice I had made; but at the same and logical also, if once the premtime said that for one intending to ises were granted, in the absolute be a true Christian there could be devotion to what one believed to no option in the matter.
be truth, and in the readiness to “I feel it,” I said; “I never sacrifice a brilliant career to an inwill write another story.”.
exorable sense of duty. I bad “ Stop," he said. " Another shorn his remaining years, he said, story of the same kind you never of a source of great happiness, and will write again; but far be it from had disappointed him in one, but me to advise you never again to not in the worse sense. He should write a work of fiction. I have not still be interested in me, but could not hope our intercourse would seem strange; but composition even ever be what it had been for the in its lightest forms is labor, and last five years. I had acted rightly, especially so when, under a light according to my convictions. He form, it has an important object in respected me for it, and that bright view; when imagination has to be flash of genius which had subsided exercised, and at the same time in ashes, like the lightning in a kept in check; when the effort to dark sky, would ever remain in his persuade is accompanied by the memory as a proof of the strange fear of repelling, and an invisible power of a religion which can com- hand seems to control the pen, mand such sacrifices.
which we feel to be God's instruI never ceased to correspond ment, not the mere servant of our with him, and had the joy of know- own fancy. Yes, I have worked ing that on his death-bed he had here in sight of that crucifix. This sent for a priest and said to him, little room has been my cell, my 6. Ever since that little N. burnt her spiritual home. I have found here book, I have thought there must be that happiness which the world something real in Christianity.” cannot give or take away. God
Madame P. wrote that she was has so far blessed my efforts that very sorry I had become ultramon- my books are read all over France, tane and clerical, and that she was and have, I hope, done some good afraid her house and society would in their way. I have had the unno longer suit me; which was in- speakable joy of hearing that they deed the case. We continued to have sometimes been the means of see each other from time to time awakening or reviving faith, of whilst I was in Paris, but with little kindling holy desires, and strengthsatisfaction on either side.
ening souls under trial. St. Cyprien Malle. R., my good angel as I with all its holy associations is the have always considered her, intro- holy of holies to my soul. Last
. duced me to the Père de R., and year a mission was once more under their joint guidance, that of preached within its walls by a Jesuit a father and a friend, my new life father. As the Spiritual Exercises, began. I soon discovered that, now so familiar to me, pursued though I had no vocation for the their course, from the fundamental cloister, I was called to devote my- truths with wbich they begin to the self by a special consecration to glorious meditation on divine love God's service, and the sanctifica- with which they end, I recalled one tion of every day and hour, through by one the graces which flowed the employment of whatever talents from that retreat to which I owe so I possessed, in the sphere, in the much. Every year I spend some place, and in the occupations which weeks in Paris with Malle. R. and Providence assigned me. This lit- her friends. During my last visit tle house was not sold; and after we were speaking one day of that two years' residence with Malle. miracle of mercy worked at that R., and by her advice, I took up time in my behalf. my abode here in the Impasse des “ Can you trace it to any cause ?”
66 Capucins, and devoted myself she asked me. chiefly, as you know, to literary "Only to this," I replied: "that work. The charities of this place, in my most careless and worldly the hospice, the schools, the ladies' days I could never look on an image association for visiting the poor, of the Blessed Virgin without emohave been the recreations rather tion, or omit to invoke her.” than the labors of my life. It is at that desk I have toiled. This may When Malle. N. had finished her