Blanche de Savenay
BY Mlle LB
TOWERS: A. MAME AND SON, EDITORS, 1865
You cry... but your sadness will turn to joy.
It was the day of the Annunciation. A woman, whom sorrows seemed to have withered even more than the years, repeated near a cradle a prayer of thanksgiving. Soon she shed sweet tears, placed a kiss on the forehead of her sleeping child, and again blessed the Lord.
A few steps from her, a man whose gaze was imbued with deep melancholy was contemplating this painting. Bitter thoughts seemed to occupy his mind; his countenance revealed trouble, uneasiness, pain, and it seemed that a thousand contrary feelings were engaged in a painful combat in the depths of his soul.
Finally, as if ashamed of himself, he fell to his knees before a crucifix. His brow clears; a smile played on his lips: faith had won a triumph over nature.
"Scold me very loudly, my dear Adrienne," he said to the happy mother; for I am always the same: a happiness is in my eyes only the precursor of a new pain.
"Kiss your daughter, my dear Georges, and you will feel that God was keeping you in the treasures of his mercy powerful consolations and ineffable joys." »
Docile to the advice of his sweet companion, the good father kissed his child, and under the spell of this delicious caress he felt the bitterness move away from his heart.
Orphaned in childhood, M. de Savenay had received from his parents an unblemished name and was surrounded by the most beautiful memories. A brother of his mother had taken him in when he had no resources except in the pity of generous souls, and, touched by his misfortune, he intended his fortune for him: that was the whole future of the young child.
Georges had embraced and traversed with honor the career of arms. Retired as a result of his injuries, an honorable place had been entrusted to him; he fulfilled it with dignity, and his marriage to the most virtuous of women seemed to assure him of days free from trouble and misfortune.
While he was dreaming of a future full of charms, a horrible plot, skilfully hatched, upset all his hopes. He was accused of betraying state secrets; the so-called evidence was there. He protested his innocence in vain, calumny triumphed, and it took all his uncle's credit to save him from public stigma. This uncle soon died without having wanted to hear the justification of his nephew, and leaving all his property to a relative who until then had been little more than a stranger to him.
M. de Savenay had come to hide his pains not far from the place where he had been born. There his last consolation was taken from him. The children whom God had given him all died in infancy. Then a deep sadness seized his soul; nothing could distract him from his grief, and the care and tenderness of his wife only obtained from him deep sighs or cold words.
Faith, so lively in Breton hearts, cast only dying gleams in that of M. de Savenay: it was the first time for many years that his lips had murmured a prayer.
Pious and resigned, M.me de Savenay remained strong under the blows of misfortune. She often wept; she wondered why so much bitterness came over her and everything she loved; then she immediately humbled herself under the hand of God, and each new pain became to her the occasion of a sacrifice.
Penetrated by her duties as a wife, she tenderly loved her husband, and respected even his weaknesses. To soften his sorrows, anticipate his desires, relieve his sufferings, maintain around him, by severe economy and personal privations, an appearance of well-being which often deceived him as to their true position, such was the continual aim of Mme.mede Savenay, his constant study, his constant life.
Having become a mother for the fifth time, she saw in the child who adorned the autumn of her life a heavenly blessing, a pledge of peace and joy for her household. The future appeared to him smiling and beautiful. Doesn't the child's smile drive away from the mother's heart the painful memories of the past or the sad forecasts of the future?
The sweet influence of M's feelingsme de Savenay fortunately made itself felt in the ulcerated heart of her husband. His bouts of melancholy became less frequent and less long. Giving up the obstinate solitude he had been seeking until then, he found himself comfortable only near the child's cradle. If his wife tried to distract him with some reading, he listened at first out of complaisance, became interested by degrees, even smiled sometimes, and soon communicated with Mme.me de Savenay the reflections to which the thoughts of the author gave rise in his mind. The happy mother, rightly attributing this miraculous change to the birth of her daughter, loved each day more the angel through whom it was accomplished.
The work of mercy was perfected as Blanche grew. Every evening and every morning M. de Savenay prayed with her. Like her, he listened to the sublime lessons of faith, and the more he saw his daughter's innocent heart open to the light from above, the more he was surprised that he had been able to doubt for a moment. The hours he devoted to the education of this darling child seemed like seconds. Nature, so full of charms in Blanche's eyes, had also recovered all its splendor for him; even men, whom he despised, inspired him with some interest since his daughter granted everyone an affectionate smile, a word of friendship, a generous benefaction. According to her mother's hope, Blanche had become a pledge of blessing, peace and happiness.
Honor your father and your mother.
Thanks to the lessons of a mother whose piety was solid and enlightened, whose love was vigilant and affectionate, Blanche knew the faults of childhood only to triumph over them. Guided by other hands, she would have become haughty and proud; her lively imagination would have been passionate about everything that seduced her, and the firmness of her character would have easily degenerated into obstinacy; but maternal tenderness watched over the beloved child. Mme de Savenay drew from his very love the strength to show himself severe, and often punished pride and obstinacy without pity. By reasoning simple and quite within reach of her pupil, she made him feel her faults, showed him the pain she felt for them, and Blanche, touched by the affliction she had caused her mother, spread abundant tears, and promised to watch over her in the future to never sadden the heart that loved her so much.
M. de Savenay did not always approve of the teacher's severe vigilance. Blanche was so young! The future perhaps held so many sorrows for him! Why make the first hours of his life bitter for him?
"My dear Georges," said Mr.me de Savenay, if Blanche already has so much trouble overcoming her faults, what would it be like when they had grown up with her? How would she overcome it? The whole life of a woman is in this single word: abnegation. Every moment brings her a fight, and how would she resist if, from the most tender age, she had not learned to conquer herself? What are the sorrows caused to Blanche by the chastisements I inflict on her, if you compare them to the torments of the passions which have not been combated, to the continual struggles against the evil inclinations to which habit has made us slaves? »
M. de Savenay stretched out his hand to his wife, and said to her with affection: "Good Adrienne, make our child another yourself, and I would wish nothing more for her." However, the slightest cloud rose between the governess and the pupil, he was seen to leave in haste, so much did he fear to witness a reprimand or a chastisement.
Blanche had noticed this weakness, she resolved to take advantage of it. Mme de Savenay had often complained of her daughter's behavior towards the old servant who made up her whole household. She wanted Blanche to speak to her with that cordiality engendered by the thought of the sacrifices servants have to impose on themselves to ensure their existence at the expense of their freedom. On the contrary, the child took on a haughty tone with her which had already earned him severe reprimands. Her mother caught her one day in the wrong, and punished her severely. Blanche, all in tears, ran to M. de Savenay and told him of her grief.
"I approve of everything your mother does," said M. de Savenay coldly. If I feel any pain when she punishes, it is because I fear that you love her very little, since you force her to be severe. »
Blanche blushes. She had hoped for another welcome.
"What else did you do today?" continued M. de Savenay with the same coldness.
"I spoke harshly to old Renee," stammered Blanche. only a little... very little. »
M. de Savenay took his daughter by the hand and led her down to the kitchen. "Renee," he said as he entered, "what did Mademoiselle say to you?"
"Nothing, Monsieur Georges, nothing," replied the good Renee, "it was I who didn't come soon enough."
'Don't fool me, Renee, I want to know everything.
"Father," cried Blanche, "I rang twice, and as no one was coming, I'm
ran up, and I said that... that when you had no more legs to serve, you... had to give way to others.
"You afflict me, my child," said M. de Savenay. she has a sacred right towards you. Beg her to forget your conduct, and to receive you for three days at her table. During this time you will show him all the deference you owe at his age; and henceforth, I hope, she will no longer have to complain of you. »
Blanche made the most touching apologies to the good nurse, who embraced her, weeping. Despite Renee's entreaties, M. de Savenay wanted his daughter to undergo the ordeal he had imposed on her. The child obeyed with a good grace, and since then his kindness towards his inferiors was undeniable. Nor did she ever think of complaining to her father, and Mrs.me de Savenay blessed God that in the future she would no longer have to fear her husband's weakness for her daughter.
This happy accord produced, in fact, the greatest good on the young girl. The words of his father: “If I feel any pain when your mother punishes you, it is because I fear that you love her very little, since you force her to be severe; These words kept returning to his mind, and soon took away even the thought of a new fault.
The most solemn moment of life was approaching for Blanche. Thoroughly instructed in the truths of religion, she felt a joy mixed with fear at the thought of that beautiful day of a first communion, when the soul of a poor child becomes the tabernacle of the Holy of Holies. She called with all her wishes to the good God whom her mother had taught her to love; but she trembled at the thought of her unworthiness in the presence of that sovereign Lord, so great, so mighty, and so holy! The guide of her conscience was to reassure her and excite her to confidence: so great was her fear, so deep was the feeling of her misery! The closer the moment approached, the more she redoubled her vigilance and fervor. Her parents no longer had to make any notable reproaches to her, and if a few slight faults still escaped her, at least she was among those souls full of goodwill to whom the angels of heaven promised peace on the day of the birth of the Saviour.
Happy the child who thus prepares himself for the greatest and holiest action of his life! She is the object of the Lord's favors; he prepares for her his richest gifts, his most precious graces. It is for her that the prophet pronounced these words: “Say to the daughter of Zion: Behold your King who comes to you full of meekness. It is to her that Jesus, so prodigal of benefits on the forever blessed day of First Communion, says with so much love: "Ask, and you shall receive." »
Blanche asked, and her prayer was answered. Vanquished by the power of a religion which inspires such beautiful virtues, even in childhood, M. de Savenay became a Christian again: he blushed at having less empire over himself than a woman had had over her. weak child, and promised the God of his fathers to return to the narrow way of his commandments. May henceforth new adversities overwhelm him, religion will lend him his divine strength to carry them as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Let men betray him and slander him, faith will say to him: “Forgive” and in forgiving he will taste in God a peace, a happiness that his persecutors will seek in vain; for far from God all is misery and confusion.
Everything is vanity... except loving God and serving him alone.
THE RUINS OF SAVENAY
The dwelling of the Savenay family was located at the end of one of the less frequented streets of the town; small, simple and convenient, it perfectly suited the humble and modest position of its owners. A narrow lane separated it from the parish church; smiling and fresh countryside surrounded it on all sides.
Few people had access to this peaceful residence. A former companion
of arms of M. de Savenay, Count de Brior, and his niece, M.me d'Ormeck, had for a long time alone the privilege of being admitted there. Now there was one more friend there, M. Demay, the venerable parish priest of Saint-Gervais, who, since Blanche's first communion, had come almost every evening to bring the recluse the joy that virtue always spreads around her.
Blanche's life was not cheerful. No friend of her age shared her games, offered her in exchange for her affection her share of sweet and frolicsome gaiety. Her only recreational companions were a pretty poodle, white as snow, and birds accustomed to flying towards her at her voice. And yet Blanche was happy, because her heart wanted nothing more: her father's house was her universe.
His days passed in sweet uniformity. Prayer, work, study, household cares did not allow boredom to sadden the young girl's hours. Also, when the time came for a useful recreation, the child, lively and laughing, would rush into the garden, followed by Fidèle, and both of them would profit marvelously from the moments always so keenly desired.
Blanche also often went out with her mother: long walks at sunrise, a frugal meal under the hospitable roof of a farmhouse or under the cool shade of the oaks, such were Blanche's sweetest pleasures; and the tenderness of Mme de Savenay multiplied these morning excursions, a source of happiness and health for his darling daughter.
These pleasant surroundings were all dear to Blanche's heart: each one had a memory attached to it. Here she had picked a bouquet for her father's birthday; there she lent the support of her arm to a poor blind man without a guide; at the foot of this cross she had shared the fruits of her lunch with a little shepherd who was devouring a piece of black bread. She had often come to this chapel to pray to Mary to obtain for her the grace of a Holy First Communion. In the hollow of this tree she had found an abandoned nest, and Providence, which takes care of the birds of the sky, had sent her there to become the mother of little orphans.
She remembered all those little events in her life, and those memories were so many innocent enjoyments like her.
But an attraction she could not explain always brought Blanche back to the pool of Savenay. This was the name given to a beautiful pond bordered by old willows hollowed out by time; a thick moss covered the tortuous roots, and formed soft seats, on which Blanche liked to sit. She knew all the paths that led to this favorite place, and she returned there on every walk, without having even thought of taking her steps there.
One day, however, she saw a narrow road that thick bushes had hitherto hidden from view. As happy as the bold navigator who discovers an unknown beach, she runs to her mother and begs her to show her around this place she does not know. Mme de Savenay gets up, Blanche takes her by the hand and shows her the path she longs to take.
“No, no,” exclaims M.me de Savenay, we will not go there. »
Blanche, astonished, looks at her mother, whose face is covered with a mortal pallor. She worries about the sort of dejection that has followed this first movement, sits down next to Mrs.me de Savenay, and asks him with tenderness the cause of this violent emotion.
"I was very weak, my child," said M.me de Savenay, trying to smile, but there are memories too heartbreaking for a mother's heart. I feel better, God gave me back some strength, we're going home, and tomorrow we'll be back here. »
Blanche follows her mother; but what thoughts arose in his mind! For a moment she is close to believing in those Breton legends with which Renée rocked her childhood, and the elves, once so powerful, stand before her and frighten her with their thousand bizarre shapes. But immediately, thinking of Mrs.me de Savenay, she blushed at having been able to believe her capable of such pusillanimity. More calm about her mother's condition, she waits impatiently for the next day and the explanation that should satisfy her curiosity.
Perhaps she awoke earlier than usual, for by four o'clock in the morning she was ready to go out. Her mother was not long in coming, and, both of them silent, they took the road to the pond. After following the windings of the narrow road for some time, the two ladies arrived at a small square surrounded by tall broom. There lay among the heather some ruins and some broken stones. Mme de Savenay shows one to Blanche. She bends down, sees a half-erased inscription, and reads these words:
"In memory of high and powerful lord, noble man Paul de Savenay, "died at..., lieutenant general of the king's armies, lord of..., knight of the order of the Holy Spirit, grand cross of ..., June X M....IV. De Profundis. »
"Look, my Blanche," said M.me of Savenay, this stone covered the body of one of your ancestors. These ruins are those of the chapel where your father was baptized. »
Blanche falls on her knees, her mother does as she does, and both murmur the prayer for the dead.
Mme de Savenay gets up first, and taps gently on her daughter's shoulder, making a sign with her eyes to leave this place where she has just learned what she had been unaware of until then, the former elevation of her family. The two ladies came out of the ruins, and, having reached a clearing in the woods, they discovered a large square house; each facade was pierced with numerous windows; thick black smoke billowed from the tall brick chimneys.
"Here, my child," said M.me de Savenay, once stood the castle of your ancestors.
"There," said Blanche, "where is the spinning mill now?" »
An affirmative nod was the only response from Mr.me of Savenay.
"And I, who took you to the pond every day!" cried the poor child painfully; how I must have made you suffer!
“The goods and grandeurs of this world do not deserve our regrets, my child.
When I joined your father, he already had only his name. This house has risen on the ruins of the ancient dwelling which had resisted so many centuries; and some day perhaps the children of those who inhabit it will also seek the place it occupied, without anything being able to tell them its destiny.
"And you don't regret, Mama, that beautiful chateau where we could have lived?"
“I have sometimes had the weakness to regret it for you, my daughter; and yet your father's childhood was struck there with the most crushing blows.
'Mother, I beg you, let me know about all these misfortunes.
- Alas! my dear child, it is the story of the nothingness of earthly things.
“Your ancestor maintained at court the luster of the name of his fathers; but each day saw the fortune they had bequeathed to him dwindle, when suddenly broke the political storm which had long threatened France. M. de Savenay, having returned to the bosom of his family, soon took up arms for his prince; he proved his fidelity by sacrifices of all kinds and by prodigies of valor; but his glorious triumphs cost him the bitterest sorrows. His mother, fallen into the power of the revolutionaries, perished on the scaffold, repeating this prayer of the children of Mary exiled on earth: Salve, Regina. A good son and a faithful Christian, M. de Savenay wept for his mother as the first children of the Church wept for their martyrs. Alas! it was only the first victim.
“Attacked, shortly after this first pain, by a terrible wound, M. de Savenay saw his strength betray his courage; he was brought back to the chateau motionless, almost lifeless. Three sons who had followed him into battle, his daughter, his wife, weeping, asked God for his healing with fervent prayers. Their wishes were granted; but a death a thousand times more ghastly was in store for them all.
“In fact, a few days later M. de Savenay was already talking of going to face new perils; his sons, quiet on such dear days, were preparing to precede him in the midst of his comrades-in-arms, when in the silence of the night frightful cries were heard. We get up, we run in all haste: a reddish gleam lights up all the parts of the old manor. Then a single thought dominates all minds, everyone rushes towards M. de Savenay's room: they want to save him; but escape is impossible, the old servants who crowd around the alarmed family declare that the castle is surrounded, and soon the tumult and the cries of the blues remove all hope of safety; the fire is gaining on all sides; all hearts are seized with terror.
"Let us pray, my children," cried M. de Savenay.
" - Oh ! let's pray! all those around him say at the same time; and each asks God for mercy for his soul.
“Suddenly M.me de Savenay utters a piercing cry; one of his sons misses him at this supreme moment. It was your father, his youngest, barely fourteen years old. She rushes towards the door; she must find her son!... But the flame has invaded the corridor, she rushes through this
new exit, pushes the desolate mother back into the room, rushes after her, and devours in an instant all the food she finds. Soon all the inhabitants of Savenay, masters and servants, expire in the midst of suffering, still praying and forgiving.
“Only one escaped as if by miracle from the fury of the flames. Yves, your father's foster-brother, had rushed into the castle moat; certain of their victory, the incendiaries did not keep watch; he was able to escape their gaze, and as soon as he had regained some strength, he fled to his mother, the good Renee, who lived four kilometers from the chateau.
“Two other fugitives had preceded him there. One of M. de Savenay's servants, occupied with preparations for departure, was the first to notice the fire: run to the rooms of his young masters, wake Georges, who he found there alone, hastily cover him, and dragging him away was for the good servant the affair of a moment. An underground passage, the exit of which he knew, enabled him to conceal from the eyes of the soldiers the poor child whom the next day found an orphan. Faithful Eric delivered it into Renee's hands, and returned to the mansion; but the Blues had discovered the cellar, they were guarding the entrance, and the unfortunate servant was returning annihilated, when Yves came to bring the dreadful news of the masters' torture for which he wept.
“Renee's cottage could not long be a safe haven for the heir of a proscribed race. Faithful to misfortune, the good people abandoned their native soil, went to Touraine, and from their meager resources, the fruit of their labor, they fed the poor orphan. Finally, a brother of Mr.me de Savenay came to ask them for the child of their adoption; they gave it up, shedding many tears, and whispering to him to come back if he was not happy. When we came to settle at Savenay, the good Renee, also alone on earth in her turn, was called upon to share our fate; she will never leave us.
"Poor father!" how he must have suffered! And he will never return to possession of the domain of his ancestors?
Ah! my daughter, this castle with all its splendor does not deserve our regrets. I have sometimes blessed the Lord, who has taken away all these goods from us; for this brilliant fortune, this high rank, involve so much slavery and so much care, that they sometimes require the sacrifice of the purest enjoyments of the heart. Your mother, a rich and powerful lady from Savenay, would perhaps have loved her dear child less.
- Oh ! thank you, my God, thank you a thousand times! exclaimed Blanche. Your mercy deprived me of these goods to give me all the love of my mother. »
Saying these words, she threw herself into the arms of M.me de Savenay, who pressed it to his heart.
"The story you have just heard, my dear child," resumed Mrs.me de Savenay, makes you see how frivolous and perishable are the things that the world esteems. A few hours sufficed to destroy what so many centuries had respected. The inheritance of a noble house, those who were to share it with pride, all perished; and the only man who still bears this name, of which he was proud, is in a state of mediocrity bordering on poverty. Virtue alone does not perish, and it alone can give even the most obscure name a real, immortal brilliance. Let this be your inheritance, my dear daughter; neither time nor men can take it away from you. »
Blanche embraced her mother with effusion, and this conversation, engraved in the bottom of her heart, banished for ever the puerile thoughts of pride.
Why dream another fate for her?... We are so close to her mother?
M. de Savenay shared with his wife the care of instructing his daughter, of developing her intelligence. With what interest did he follow Blanche's progress! Each day he found more charm in these hours devoted to study, and he would perhaps have prolonged them too long, if Mme.me de Savenay would not have watched over the professor and his pupil. Blanche responded to his care, and the success of his work made him the proudest of teachers, the happiest of fathers.
M. de Savenay's friends came every evening to the Hermitage: they had thus named his house. Sweet talk shortened the hours of winter vigils, and fine weather brought back daily walks which revived strength and maintained health.
One evening M. de Savenay, who had been suffering for several days, refused to take part in the usual excursions; however, he desired that these ladies should not be deprived of it. Blanche and her mother insisted on not leaving him; but he objected so strongly to their staying, that the friend of the house, Mrs.me d'Ormeck, having agreed with him, Mrs.me de Savenay and her daughter had to follow her for a walk.
Their departure seemed to satisfy M. de Savenay. As soon as he thought that these ladies had gone away:
“. We are alone at last, he cried.
"I have excellent news, my dear Savenay," said the Count to his friend. Mme de Barville capitulated.
- Without condition ? asked M. de Savenay.
— On very advantageous terms, on the contrary. Convinced of your innocence, she wants to make a will in favor of your daughter.
"She believes in my innocence!" cried M. de Savenay. But on what evidence?
"She can and must believe it more than anyone else," she said. She hopes that later the rehabilitation will be complete. What a future for your dear Blanche, my dear Georges! twenty thousand francs in well-counted income!
“My poor child! God took pity on me, he granted my wishes; its future is assured.
"Perfectly insured... if she wants to."
- How ! if she wants !
— Yes, it depends a little on her, a little on M.me de Savenay... But you are husband and father; then everything will be fine.
"But I don't understand anything you're telling me," said M. de Savenay, laughing out loud. Your embarrassed look would presage misfortune rather than fortune.
"Is happiness then always the inseparable companion of fortune?" said M. Demay.
"No, my dear Rector," replied M. de Savenay, "no; but today I believe they came here on good terms.
- Maybe ; for when to the word happiness we must add that of sacrifice, the heart of man very often finds that the first of these names is a usurped title.
- My God! Mme de Barville would she like to take my daughter from me?
"No, no," said M. de Brior; she wants you to lend it to her for a year, only for a year.
- A year ! but it is a century. A year without seeing my daughter!
'It's long, I agree; but you ensure its future.
- Oh ! my God, my God! repeated the poor father.
“I warned you, my friend; I know M.me de Barville, and on receiving her first letter, I had foreseen what she would ask of you. You can refuse, but everything will be broken.
- What should I do ? said M. de Savenay to the cure, holding out his hand to him; advise me, please.
"My dear sir," said the good pastor, touched by such real pain, "advice is not easy in the presence of such interests." Mediocrity is often preferable to fortune, and Mlle from Savenay...
- Won't even share this mediocrity! exclaimed M. de Brior with anger. Eight hundred francs a year and this shack, that's all he should get.
- Alas! said M. de Savenay, you are mistaken again, my friend; our annuities... they are for life. »
M. Demay let out a deep sigh, and the Count lowered his head, unhappy at having forced his friend to reveal his poverty.
“What are the principles of Mme from Barville? asked the priest.
"His principles?" excellent, rector, said M. de Brior. She wouldn't miss mass on Sundays, and I even think... yes, yes, she does her Easter.
- His age?
— Very respectable. Sixty-two years old.
- His character ?
- A lot of spirit. Of beautiful and noble manners; a selected company; an all-powerful credit, which she uses with admirable liberality.
- His heart ?
- Ah! ha! It's too strong. I did not have the opportunity to study Mme de Barville in private. You are asking me here to give you a lesson in moral anatomy... But come on, a person who voluntarily promises a young girl she does not know twenty thousand not have a very generous heart?
"It depends," said the priest coldly.
'After all,' resumed M. de Brior quickly, 'it will only be at Georges' pleasure; it is for him, it is for his daughter that I undertook this negotiation. He authorized me; if today the success of my efforts is no longer pleasing to him, all is said. »
M. Demay knew the count: he knew that the passion of his head equaled the kindness
of his heart. So he answered her with angelic gentleness:
“Your efforts have been commendable as the feeling that dictated them, Monsieur le Comte; and the success which crowned them is perhaps a miracle of divine justice. But it is permissible to conceive some fears in entrusting to foreign hands a poor child of barely sixteen, brought up under the wing of her mother, and who knows nothing of the evil except the name. Remember your favorite work, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's masterpiece. Virginie's mother dreamed of wealth and happiness for her daughter: a shipwreck and death, that's what the unfortunate girl found.
"The ocean and the storms do not separate us from Paris," said M. de Brior ironically.
“The sea of the world is fertile in reefs,” resumed M. Demay with dignity.
At this moment we heard the sound of the door opening; with a supplicating gesture M. de Savenay recommended silence to his friends. M's concernme de Savenay had shortened the walk; she was returning with Madame d'Ormeck and Blanche. She brought her father a bouquet from the fields, and never had these flowers seemed so beautiful to the one who received this simple offering.
The most sublime and salutary science is to know oneself well and to despise oneself.
(Imil. of J.-C.)
M. de Savenay cast a quick glance at his wife as soon as she entered the room; afterwards he himself seemed calmer, for Madame's foreheadme de Savenay was calm: her face had its usual serenity when she approached her husband to ask him if he was better.
"Much better, my dear Adrienne," replied M. de Savenay. The rest has done me good. »
Mme de Savenay stifled a sigh, and smiled at her husband.
M. de Brior seemed embarrassed. Mmed'Ormeck was pensive. The good priest seemed thoughtful; he flinched when M.me de Savenay said to him in a low voice:
“I could use some of your moments.
"Tomorrow morning at eight o'clock," he replied in the same tone.
Blanche alone was smiling and happy. She had reaped an ample harvest of plants and flowers, and these treasures filled her with joy. Yet she had thought she saw the trace of a few tears on her mother's cheeks; but they had passed close to the pond, and as she had also felt some pain on seeing this place again, she attributed Mme.me de Savenay to painful memories. Besides, the cloud had quickly disappeared, and the excellent child could only be distressed by it for a few moments.
The evening passed sad and silent. Everyone seemed preoccupied. Blanche had placed the checkerboard between her father and M. de Brior; but the players took no interest in the game, which ordinarily absorbed all their attention. M. Demay turned over, without reading them, the pages of a book placed near him. Mmonth d'Ormeck and de Savenay worked without uttering a word, and Blanche, who from time to time left her drawing to contemplate her friends, did not know what to think of such unusual gravity.
The clock struck half-past nine; it was the signal for separation.
"I would like to speak to you tomorrow," said M. de Savenay to the priest.
"Tomorrow, at ten o'clock, I will be here," replied M. Demay.
"No, no," cried M. de Savenay, "I'll go to your house." »
Every evening they parted like this, and yet Blanche became sad when she saw the accustomed guests of the evening leave. Her worried gaze rested on her mother, and the calm she thought she read in her features calmed the poor child. But when her father, kissing her on the forehead, said to her: "Good evening, my daughter, may God protect you!" she found in his accent a melancholy so deep that she shuddered involuntarily. During her prayer, she thought she heard that voice still resounding, which had seemed to her to be sadder and more serious than she had ever heard.
The next morning, Blanche saw her mother come out, and smilingly asked her permission to accompany her. Mme de Savenay, ordinarily so self-possessed, was troubled by this simple proposition, and her answer reflected her trouble. She seemed cold and almost severe to Blanche. The poor child returned in despair to M. de Savenay's room, where a welcome awaited her which seemed to her no less painful.
" Where is your mother ? asked M. de Savenay curtly, barely embracing her.
"She just left," Blanche answered shyly.
"You didn't accompany her?"
- She did not want.
“Well, my child, leave me alone; I need to be alone. »
Blanche went out in despair.
" My God! she said, wouldn't they love me anymore? »
And that thought tortured his heart; bitter tears streamed down her cheeks. She wanted to pray; but she could only repeat these words:
" My God! my God! don't they love me anymore? »
Mmc de Savenay returned. She was sad, and Blanche guessed that she had been crying. Lunch was served. M. de Savenay said to his wife:
“Did you learn everything? »
A barely articulated yes was all the response from M.me of Savenay.
" What do we have to do ? asked M. de Savenay.
"M. Demay is expecting you, my friend." »
And Blanche's mother ran to lock herself in her room.
"My good father," cried Blanche in a heartrending accent, "you have troubles, and you hide them from me."
— Sorrows, my child, no...; an embarrassment, little anxieties... But a young girl, it seems to me, has rather bad grace in wanting to surprise secrets that are not revealed to her. »
This feigned severity overwhelmed Blanche.
Pride recalled to the heart of the young girl of sixteen that respect, that submission, that love of which she had given so many proofs to her parents. She cited them at the tribunal of her vanity; she dared to think that they were unjust, ungrateful.
The young girl, filled with a feeling of which she had hitherto ignored the pains, suffered moreover all the agitations of an innocent soul after a first fault. To accuse those who were so dear to him! To lack inwardly that deep respect she had for the authors of her days! Blanche could not bear the thought of such a great fault. Twenty times she was tempted to run to her mother, confess her wrongs and beg her forgiveness. But wouldn't that tear M's heart outme de Savenay than to reveal to him such terrible ingratitude? Blanche remained silent, and contained in her soul her sorrow, her shame and her remorse.
Mme de Savenay anxiously awaited her husband's return. Two hours had passed when she saw him leaning on the rector's arm; he walked only with difficulty. The poor woman ran to meet him; they were obliged to make him sit in the garden, where an animated conversation ensued between the pastor and the two spouses.
Blanche saw this scene; but she dared not go near her parents. The memory of her fault made her immobile. Ah! she said to herself with pain, if only I knew the cause of their grief!...
At this moment Renée entered her young mistress's room, and begged her to go to the garden, where her parents were waiting for her. The voice of the old servant was moved; butlle de Savenay did not even notice it.
Children, obey; it is the law of the Lord! He has placed his scepter in the hands of your father. Of God see in him the image on earth; And when his voice commands, bow your heart.
Arriving near her parents, Blanche, whose demeanor was embarrassed, dared not look at them. "You sent for me," she said in a trembling voice.
- My dear daughter, said her father, the moment has come to reveal to you the reason for our concerns: we were looking for a way to spare you pain; but it must! My child, you must leave us...
Leave you! And why, my God?
Your father's tranquility, the happiness of his old age, will be the price of this sacrifice, my dear child, hastened to reply the priest of Saint-Gervais. "I will leave, sir, if that is so." But Blanche's countenance betrayed a kind of wounded susceptibility. She added: "I would have left sooner, if my father and my mother had given me their orders sooner." »
Mr. and Mr.me de Savenay gave their daughter a look of surprise. More adept at reading the hearts of Adam's children, M. Demay guessed what was going on in Blanche's.
“Mademoiselle is right,” he said; when Christian parents have weighed in their hearts the obligation of a sacrifice, representatives of God, they must order like him. »
These words recalled Blanche to herself: this silence which had irritated her, she saw then what it was in reality, the tender foresight of a love which would have liked to spare her all grief. Distressed at having been able to accuse, were it only in thought, of the tenderness of her parents, she hid her forehead in her mother's bosom, and said to her, but in the midst of the most bitter sobs:
“Oh! dear mother, why do I have to leave you? »
Mme de Savenay looked for courage in the eyes of the good priest.
"You will know it, my child," she said, embracing her daughter; but it is a year of separation that is required of us; after this time you will never leave us.
- A year ! far from you! But if I can thus buy your happiness, it will have cost me too little. Where are you sending me, good father? continued Blanche, tenderly pressing M. de Savenay's hands.
“In Paris, my daughter.
- My God ! how far it is!... I had such a great desire to see this beautiful city! But what pleasure will I find in leaving you here?
“You will have so much to see and admire, Mademoiselle, that you will easily be distracted. »
Blanche was about to protest at these words of M. Demay; but she remembered that she had
dared for a moment to doubt the heart of his parents, and his silence was an expiation.
"And when I come back, you will be rich, my good father," went on Blanche, who was trying to overcome her pain in order to raise M. de Savenay's courage.
'No more than today, my daughter; you will have an income of twenty thousand francs.
"Then it will be the same thing, and I hope you will be able to raise the ruins of Savenay." »
Blanche had wanted to give another course to her father's thoughts. She succeeded, and memories of glory, plans for the future distracted the old man for a moment.
As for the poor mother, she did not allow a strange feeling to take place in her heart beside the pain which filled it entirely. Her courage had abandoned her; his lips had no more movement to drop a word. Blanche's first words had deeply distressed Mme.me de Savenay, and even now she did not know whether her daughter was expressing her full thoughts, or whether she was sacrificing to duty while concealing her grief.
The worthy rector, arguing for M. de Savenay's need for rest, advised him to go up to his house. The old man stood up, and his wife, still attentive, hastened to offer him her arm. M. Demay made a sign to Blanche to remain close to him. She ran to present her forehead to the kisses of her good parents; she hardly dared to ask for this favour; but it was granted to him with tenderness. Sad and trembling, she returned to sit down beside M. Demay, and her gaze fell before that of the holy priest.
“Blanche,” said the pastor to her, “you have a very tender father and a very devoted mother. »
The girl blushed and remained silent.
"Your parents are poor," resumed M. Demay, "Providence willed that their lives should be strewn with harsh trials." When your father, pursued by calumny, came to settle at Savenay, he was dying; the native air alone could save his life. Your mother then made immense sacrifices, and as she no longer hoped for a child, she placed the remains of her fortune in such a way as to bring a little more ease into the house. She rejoices when you come into the world; but, as you grew, she trembled for your future; she was deeply worried, for her fears equaled her love.
- Oh! Sir, cried Blanche, how many times I too have thought of the fate that threatened my father's old age! How many times have I asked God for the means to make him happy!
“Heaven has granted you. A lady related in the same degree as your father to the uncle who disinherited him became the universal legatee of this uncle. Interested in your fate by M. de Brior, she returns to you the share of the property which she received from your great-uncle, and places the sole condition of this generous gift on your stay with her for a year.
"I'll leave, sir, as soon as you want: my sacrifice is made."
"By circumstances unnecessary to detail to you, Mrs.me de Barville is the only person through whom we can hope to discover the proofs of your Father's innocence. The sacrifice you are accepting at this time can therefore ensure their happiness. This happiness, which they will owe you, they will have bought very dearly, since it will have cost them the pain which overwhelms them today, a pain which your estrangement will make every day more bitter.
"Wouldn't I have paid for it just as dearly?" exclaimed Blanche.
— O my child! put aside that human self that silences your heart and your reason. Could your mother's sadness fail to catch your eye? Have you not seen your father, succumbing under the weight of his grief, reduced to asking my arm for strength to regain his home? I pity you, Blanche, if you haven't seen all that.
'Pardon, pardon,' said the young girl painfully, 'I saw everything; but how dare you tell it? I accused my parents of injustice, even of ingratitude, because my wounded pride prevailed for a moment over my love.
"I guessed what was going on in your soul, my poor daughter, and I wanted to stay alone with you to show you the danger a heart runs, even the best of all, when it gives itself up to daydreams of vanity. If it were only a question of their interests, your parents would prefer the most dreadful misery to this separation. But to assure you of your future, they consent to this sacrifice, and it is when they immolate themselves that you accuse them! »
Blanche wanted to go and fall at her parents' feet, confess her wrongs to them, and implore their forgiveness.
"Their pains would be aggravated by these confessions," said the good priest, holding her back. Wait here a few moments; I am going to announce to them that God has given you the strength to consummate the burnt offering. »
Blanche immediately ran towards a small grove where she had placed a statue of Mary. It was there that she prayed every morning, and found sweet consolation. For the first time she felt remorse there; but the mother of all saints is also the mother, the refuge of poor sinners, and Mary was propitious to his sincere repentance: she welcomed his tears and restored peace to his heart.
The voice of M.me de Savenay made himself heard: Blanche hastened to answer his call. The poor mother received her in her arms.
“Oh! how much it is necessary to love you, dear child, to consent to this cruel separation! »
The word expired on the lips of the young girl, who kissed her mother tenderly; and when her father expressed the same sentiments to her, she could only fall to his knees and cover her hands with kisses and tears.
M. de Brior entered at this moment. " Well ! he exclaimed, we are crying!...
"Yes," said Blanche with a soft smile, "but tenderness and gratitude are the only things that make...
"I understand, young lady," interrupted the count, "we've given in, you're not leaving."
— Excuse me, my good friend, but you don't understand at all... I'm leaving.
"0 my dear Blanche!" said M. de Brior, kissing M.lle de Savenay, you are the best of girls. »
This eulogy made Blanche blush; for her he was like the sting of remorse.
"'Quick, quick,' said the Count, 'ink, paper, let me write to Mrs.me from Barville. Good little Blanche, do you remember how many times you said to me: "Take me to Paris, good friend Count?" Well, if I don't take you there, at least I'm sending you there. »
And the fatal letter left the same evening for Paris, to the great joy of the Comte de Brior, who congratulated himself in advance on the happiness which his mediation would bring to his friends.
Shorten these sad farewells, exiled citizens of the holy fatherland. What ! don't you owe, at the end of life. See you in heaven?
Eight days passed without bringing any change to the fate of the inhabitants of Savenay. Blanche put into practice this constant lesson of her mother: The life of a woman, daughter, wife or mother, is a life of continual abnegation. With a smile on her lips, she spoke of her departure as if we had already received Mr.me de Barville; she told her parents how her days were spent, promised them long and frequent letters, a daily diary of her thoughts, her actions, and the blunders which, poor provincial, she would no doubt commit at every step, every moment. Sometimes her naive sallies wrung a smile from M. de Savenay, and Blanche found herself paid for the constraint which made her suffer so much.
If she was alone with her mother, she sought advice on the conduct she should adopt in society, on the decorum to be observed there. Mme de Savenay then exhausted his maternal eloquence, repeated the same precepts a hundred times, pointed out new dangers; it was like a distraction from her pain, and Blanche was happy about it.
At night, or at dawn, she went to Marie's grove; it was only there that she wept in freedom. She dared not ask God to allow her not to leave; but with a broken soul, a beating heart, she repeated after the divine model of the afflicted the sublime prayer of the garden of agony: "My Father, your will be done!" Then, effacing even the trace of her tears, she returned, strengthened by prayer, to continue her work of immolation.
M. de Brior, lost in his dreams of the future, was for poor Blanche the unofficial friend whose sometimes importunate attentions the good La Fontaine has described to us. He painted her a cheerful picture of the pleasures she was going to taste, of the happiness she was going to enjoy, of the best faith in the world, and, without even noticing it, he turned and turned in her heart a sword which tore it apart. a thousand wounds. With heroic courage, Blanche smiled at his speeches, while she felt her eyes water with tears, her soul faint, at the mere thought of those brilliant and sumptuous parties, where not a friend would offer her a hand.
At last the fatal answer reached M. de Brior, and God knows if he hastened to bring it to his friends. Blanche was in the garden; to see the Count, to read the fate that awaited him, to run to Marie's feet to ask for courage, it was for her the affair of a moment. When she returned, M. de Savenay was reading the letter written to her by Mme.me de Barville to thank him for the sacrifice he
was essential, and assure him of his tender solicitude for his daughter. "I need consolation," she would say, "and I'm sure I'll find very sweet ones in Mme.lle of Savenay. To make her also forget to herself the grief I cause her will be the constant goal of all my efforts. These few words did Blanche good. Mme de Barville had difficulties, she would have a sweet mission to fulfill, a work of mercy to exercise. Then a friend had to watch over her on the way: Mme d'Ormeck accompanied him to Paris. Thus always near the cross God places a divine sweetness; in the desert where the soul drags itself, an oasis of delicious freshness.
Preparations for departure were made in silence. Mme de Savenay carefully wrapped the objects which Blanche used with the greatest pleasure. Renée wept, and sometimes cast upon her masters a look of reproach which respect hardly softened. Faithful, worried, watched all of Blanche's movements, and never left her for a minute. Everything seemed to redouble the affection around the poor child, and to take advantage of the short moments that remained to prove to her how much she was loved.
The day of separation arrived, as radiant as a day of celebration. Blanche's parents accompanied her to church, where the good priest said mass for the young traveller. M. de Savenay, his wife, Blanche and M.me d'Ormeck took their places at the table of the angels. What could the world and its barren consolations have done for these afflicted hearts? It is to God that they have recourse; he will fill the emptiness of their souls; he will bring them a foretaste of the delights of heaven, and in this sacred memorial of his passion the Savior will fill them with consolation and peace.
Strengthened by the force from above, Mr. and Mr.me de Savenay adore the will of the Lord, and place in his hands the dear child who is about to leave them. It is also to him that the venerable priest recommends her by blessing her, and Blanche herself soon experiences that for him who abandons himself to God, the anointing of grace softens the harshest trials.
She was calm and resigned as she returned to her father's roof; she kissed the good Renee, and confided to her affection the care of her good parents, while slipping on her finger a rosary ring which she habitually wore.
We finally arrive at the post-chaise. M. de Savenay embraces his daughter, and turns away to hide his tears. Blanche's poor mother does not think of stealing hers, and it is the young girl who revives their courage. "We shall see each other again soon," she told them; I cannot believe that I am leaving you for a year. I will do my court so well to M.me de Barville, that I will get a few days' vacation. »
This hope revives all hearts, and M. de Brior, whom emotion had hitherto prevented from speaking, exclaimed, somewhat revived by this thought: "Blanche, I will help you, I will write to my old friend. , and spring will bring you back to us. »
We kiss for the last time, but with a little less bitterness. M. de Brior detains Fidèle, who wants to jump into the carriage, and the postilion receives the order to leave. The post-chaise was already a long way off when Blanche was still waving her handkerchief as a sign of farewell, and her friends answered her in the same way. Finally their eyes no longer see anything but the dust kicked up by the horses' feet; soon everything has disappeared, and all, sad and silent, return to the house, where the absence of the poor child will seem even more painful. But resignation comes to the aid of these afflicted hearts, in the depths of which is heard this word of faith: God willed it, blessed be his holy name!
My heart only feels his wound. What do meadows and flowers do to me? All the charm of nature, Alas! is veiled by my tears.
As the two travelers moved away from Savenay, smiling and graceful landscapes unfolded around them. Hillsides laden with vines whose fruits promise a happy harvest, lush pastures where many herds graze, immense plains where the treasures of the last harvest are heaped up by the care of the plowman, such is the spectacle before our eyes. by Mmo of Ormeck. Those of Blanche do not stop there: the poor child is crying!
Her driver let tears flow for a long time, the bitterness of which she understood; however she tried to stop the course.
"My dear child," she said to Blanche, "if your good parents knew how much this sacrifice is costing you, they would hasten to call you back."
"What happiness that would be for me!" cried the young girl.
"And their future, and yours?" All hope should be given up.
“Madam, oh! I conjure you, hide my weakness well from them. I will take courage, I hope. »
Mme d'Ormeck kissed Blanche; then, as we were reaching a fairly high hill, she suggested that he take a short walk. They got out of the car, and the calm of the rich nature which surrounded them made itself felt in the heart of Blanche, who soon found herself stronger and more resigned.
"If they were there," she exclaimed, "how I would enjoy such a beautiful sight!" that all that surrounds us would have charms for my heart!
"One sees badly with eyes darkened by tears," answered Mrs.nie of Ormeck. The works of God are always beautiful, my dear Blanche.
— Yes, you are right, my good friend; but...oh! if M. Demay heard me talk like that, what would he think of me?
— That you are weak because you do not know how to have recourse to God, to raise yourself by faith above nature, and to ask Heaven for strength against the affections of earth.
'But, Madame, it seems to me that one cannot love one's parents too much.
“No, my child; yet we can love them badly. Today God asks you a sacrifice for yours. You must prove the generosity of your love by a sweet resignation to his holy will. If your soul cannot overcome the sorrow of separation, will it be strong enough against the trials of a new kind of life, against the sorrows which perhaps await you at the end of the journey? »
Mme d'Ormeck and his companion had reached the top of the hill; they entered a small house where they asked for milk.
"I'm not mistaken, it's you, Madame," exclaimed, recognizing Mme.me d'Ormeck, the good woman to whom Blanche had spoken. It's you, ah! what happiness! she added; and his eyes expressed, in fact, a very sweet joy.
"I didn't think I was so close to your home, my dear Mathurine," replied Madame d'Ormeck, who extended her hand affectionately to the poor peasant girl.
"It's because I wasn't here six years ago, Madame," she continued with a sigh. I had a fine farm which was a pleasure to see; but the new masters drove us out, and misfortune came upon us.
"Your husband, your children?"
“Dead, Madame, dead,” said Mathurine, sobbing, “with the exception of my daughter Perrine, my youngest, whom the good Lord has left me. She pays for me the rent of this little house, and thanks to her I live, not without sorrow, but without misery.
Where is she? don't you have it with you?
“Nah, madam. I'm not that happy. She's in Paris, with a worthy lady who does her a lot of good so that she can do more for me. But I'm talking there, me, and these ladies asked me for milk. »
Mathurine disappeared, and soon returned, bringing a stoneware jug full of excellent milk. Two brown earthenware cups were placed on the table with some brown bread baked the night before. While the good woman was making all these preparations, Mrs.me d'Ormeck sought to divine what was passing in Blanche's heart, and blessed Providence, which supported by such a touching example his advice to his young friend.
"But, Mathurine," resumed M.me d'Ormeck when the good woman sat down beside her, how could Perrine leave you? she seemed to like you very much.
"C'te dear child, if she loves me!" that's exactly why she left me. When we talked about this place, I cried, lady, had to see. She was crying too, but she said to me: "Mother, the years are coming, and I have nothing." If you are sick, what to do? You will miss everything... Let me go. I will be more useful to you there. "I'll die alone, without you." 'No, mother, you will not die. When I have plenty of money, I will come back; you will be happy, and you will love me a little more for the years that you will not have seen me. And then she laughed at me, she kissed me, and to tell the truth finally, she left.
"You must have had a lot of grief?" said shyly M.lle of Savenay.
- Oh! Mam'selle, I always have some; a mother cannot forget her child; but I say to myself: The good Lord arranges all things well; and the thought of my Perrine's courage and tenderness consoles me.
"Is Perrine happy?" asked Madame d'Ormeck.
"She would be fine if the lady did not have in her service a young girl who is bad and jealous like the demon." But my poor child suffers everything without complaining. She
said to our parish priest, who went to see her last year on his tour of Paris: “I am very sad sometimes; but I think of my mother, and that gives me courage. My work is his life; it is for his old age that I am hoarding; and at these ideas my sorrow flies away at the same time as I say a prayer. »
— God will bless your daughter, Mathurine, she is a child after her own heart. She has the spirit of this sublime commandment: Your father and mother shall honor. »
Mme d'Ormeck slipped a piece of gold under the empty bowl, and took leave of Mathurine, wishing him courage.
As soon as we got back into the carriage, Blanche, leaning on Mme.me d'Ormeck, whispered to him: "I will follow Perrine's example. And the generous child wept no more.
Paris ! city of noise, smoke and mire! Crimes, virtues appalling mixture!
Happy, he exclaimed, who can be far from your walls.
Flee your foul fogs and your impure vices!
Whether it brings joy or sows pain, time always flies with the same rapidity.
Towards the evening of the fourth day of her journey, Mrs.lle de Savenay perceived an immense expanse covered with irregular constructions, from which rose something like a light smoke: his gaze questioned Madame d'Ormeck.
"It's Paris," replied Blanche's friend.
The young girl remained silent and pensive for a moment. Four hundred kilometers separated her from a father, a beloved mother; strangers were waiting for him! At this thought, Blanche felt her courage fail, and drawing from her bosom a medallion of Marie, she kissed it fervently. Faith lent him new strength by showing him a tender mother who had an eye open to his weakness and his dangers. She was no longer alone on earth.
They thus opened for the poor child, the gates of this great city, where triumphant vice so often tramples unhappy virtue under foot, where so many noble actions redeem so many basenesses! The post chair quickly crosses the streets and public squares, and soon stops at Mme from Barville. There Mme d'Ormeck and his companion get out of their car. The many servants crowding into the antechamber fix their curious gazes on Blanche's modest toilette, which remains totally unobtrusive. But the appearance of Mme d'Ormeck imposes on this idle crowd, these ladies are announced. Poor Blanche walks sadly through the magnificent salons of the hotel, absorbed in one single thought: Oh! how unhappy I shall be here!
Mme de Barville rises on seeing Madame d'Ormeck enter, and when she introduces Madame d'Ormeck to him,lle de Savenay: “What! she cried, "but she's charming, that little one!" »
Blanche started. She had dreamed of a maternal welcome, and only cold and protective words hit her ear and freeze her heart.
However Mme de Barville sees his confusion:
“Come, my child, she said to him, come and kiss the one who wants to replace your mother near you. »
A little reassured by these words, Blanche approaches: her demeanor has all the reserve of modesty, without the constraint she feels harming even her natural grace. His eyes stop on those of M.me de Barville, she sees tears there.
“Would you not love me, my child? said this lady, taking her hand.
"Madame," said Blanche in a rather uncertain voice, "I have only loved
my mother...; you will replace her with me..., I will love you... like her. »
The poor child was paying her first tribute to propriety; for she felt in her heart a great aversion for her protectress.
Mme de Barville endeavored to put more affection in his words and in his looks, in order to give Blanche a little more expansion. She spoke with praise of M. de Savenay, of his wife's devotion; she questioned M.me d'Ormeck on Blanche's habits, tastes, and pleasures, carefully repressing the disdainful smile which sought its accustomed place on her lips.
"Certainly," she exclaimed at last, "our dear child will learn to live in Paris." “Poor Blanche! what was she thinking during this conversation? His heart was tight; for she had thought she saw a bitter irony in the eyes of her relative, whose aspect seemed to her hard and haughty. Learn about life in Paris! this word frightened him. What was the new existence that awaited him? Happy is the child who can never leave the paternal home, and tastes in the bosom of his family that pure joy, that constant peace which the watchful tenderness of his parents assures him! Only there is true happiness.
The emotions that shared the soul of Mlle de Savenay, even more than the fatigue of the trip she had just made, altered her face so much that Madameme de Barville was frightened by the change in her features.
“Are you ill, my child? she asked him kindly.
"No, Madame," said Blanche in a trembling voice, "I am only very tired, I tell you..."
Blanche was interrupted by the arrival of a servant who had been rung by Madameme from Barville.
"Etienne," said his mistress to him, "take these ladies to Madame's apartment.lle of Savenay. Then, embracing the young girl with affection, she begged her to take at once a rest which she so badly needed. The latter murmured a few words of gratitude, and, guided by the servant, she followed Mrs.me d'Ormeck to the place which was then called his apartment.
They were received there by a maid who had just prepared a lavish night dress. The luxury of the furnishings, the exquisiteness of the clothes intended for her, the brilliance of the lights reflected by the mirrors with which her room was adorned, all this astonished Blanche; but nothing pleased his heart. She allowed herself to be undressed; she put on the elegant peignoir that Julie presented to her, thanked her for her attentions, and as soon as she was alone with her friend, she let the tears that oppressed her flow freely.
"You will be unhappy here, my child," cried Mrs.me d'Ormeck hugging Blanche in his arms; return to Savenay.
- Oh! I don't mind, replies Blanche, already less unhappy at the mere thought of seeing her dearest desire fulfilled. I feel like I couldn't live with Mme de Barville: she scares me.
"We will leave tomorrow," resumed Madame d'Ormeck.
Blanche kissed her again, said a fervent prayer and fell asleep, lulled by the sweetest dreams: Savenay and its pleasant countryside, its friends, its dear relatives, the church and its Argentinian bells; everything, even Fidèle and her favorite birds, came to Blanche's mind. She was happy until she woke up.
At the hour when every morning she received her mother's first kiss, she wakes up, and the charm is destroyed. She remembers the day before, the words of Mr.me of Ormeck; she then gets up and prays. She prays a long time; for her friend, still overwhelmed with fatigue, is sleeping peacefully beside her. In prayer, where God makes his presence felt, Blanche found guidance and strength from on high; she will stay, because she has come to fulfill a duty.
Stripping with joy her rich night dress, she put on her prettiest Savenay dress; her braided hair crowns her head; and, to complete her adornment, she placed on each side of this crown a bow of pink ribbon, a graceful ornament which her father so liked. Mme d'Ormeck opens his eyes and extends his hand to Blanche. She made serious reflections while the young girl slept, and thanked her with a mark of tenderness for having spared her friend painful advice.
"Only," said Blanche, who understood this mute language, "they don't know what it costs me to stay here." I know their hearts; a happiness that I would pay for with a tear would be remorse for them: they wouldn't want it. A year will soon pass; already five days have passed; I will have courage, God will be with me. »
Julie came in to take Blanche's orders, and was overwhelmed with surprise to find her dressed.
“Already up, Mademoiselle! Ready already! she cried.
- Already ! resumed Blanche, at nine o'clock! But in Savenay I should have had lunch an hour ago.
— Provincial! Julie whispered.
The two ladies alighted near Mme de Barville, who gave them the most affectionate welcome. She begged them to allow her to complete a job which, she said, gave her a few hours of real enjoyment each month. Blanche could not help glancing at the table; she saw gold there, a long list of poor people: Ah! she said to herself, Mme de Barville is charitable, I shall love him.
Mme d'Ormeck felt that there were hearts far from Paris which awaited him with impatience; after lunch she announced her departure. Mme de Barville begged her in vain to grant him a few days, she persisted in her resolution, and two hours later Blanche was separated from the only person who understood and shared her affections and her sorrows.
From these desolate hearts hide well his pain;
On his sorrows keep silent;
Bring back to these places, in default of happiness,
The illusion of hope.
REGRETS AND CONSOLATIONS
Twelve days had elapsed since Blanche's departure, and all hearts at Savenay were a prey to the liveliest anxiety; for we had received no news of the trip. The good priest, the Comte de Brior, M.me de Savenay herself, disguised their fears, and sought to calm M. de Savenay by speaking to him the language of hope.
'No, no,' he said to them, 'I have opened my heart to ambition; I sacrificed my daughter! At seventy to obey movements so unworthy of a Christian! My dear child, perhaps I shall never see her again; and it was I who took her away! »
The days passed thus in mortal anguish. One day, however, the barking of Fidèle at an hour which brings no more visitors, made all hearts beat faster. Mme de Savenay runs towards the door, and hears Renee exclaim: “Poor dear lady, what an accident!
"Lower, lower, my good Renee." » Mme de Savenay recognized the voice of M.me of Ormeck; she rushes towards the stairs, exclaiming: * “O my God! my daughter?
“Blanche is well; we had a good trip, then said Mme d'Ormeck, which rose very slowly.
"God be blessed!" said the good father. But this first movement of paternal selfishness soon passed, seeing the worry painted on the features of his comrade in arms; and forgetting his own sorrows, he consoles him in his turn.
Mme d'Ormeck enters the small drawing-room, leaning on Madame's arm.me of Savenay. She is pale, she walks with difficulty; but she smiles at her friends. 'Here I am,' she told them, 'with a sprained foot, the cause of much torment, I'm sure. And his gaze rested on M. de Brior, whose eyelids were moistened by a few tears, while he cried out in his loudest voice:
“But, my niece, when you can't walk, you can write. I was writing, having three bullets lodged in my legs.
'You are a model of courage, you, uncle. But I don't know how to suffer any more than a child. In saying this, Mr.me d'Ormeck kissed the old man, who no longer had the courage to scold.
But what happened to you? said M. de Savenay; for you are also our child, our only child now,” he added affectionately.
"Here is a letter from Blanche," said Mme.me d'Ormeck; read it first, my father, for Blanche is the eldest in your heart. Then I'll tell you whatever you want. ".
M. de Savenay took the letter and read aloud:
“My good and dear parents,
“So I am a hundred leagues from you! “what a thought! But, crazy that I am, it is soon crossed, the space that separates us! my heart and my memories will make this journey more than twenty times a day; and you, you too, you will make this trip; our feelings will meet, we will always be together, always!...
Mme de Barville is showing herself to be very good to me. She seems worried that I don't have affection for her, and asked me to love her. Oh! yes, I will like it; for she surrounds me with care and kindness. But I would love it above all... in a year! poor bird, when I see my cage open!...
She is very beautiful, my cage. It is a luxury, a magnificence to dazzle; but I prefer my little cell at Savenay to all that, where the sun comes so early, where the sweet perfume of the flowers penetrates, where, yet another memory! in a year, I will find all that again, and with all that the
happiness... "I will nevertheless be happy here, oh! very happy. Don't, I beg you,
no worries; my days will pass very quickly, I will not have a moment of boredom.
Pray for you, think of you, this will be my great secret to make the hours run away...
I will write to you every day; I will give you an account of my actions, my thoughts... Farewell, farewell; this word which one finds so hard, I like it, it seems to me that it means: I leave you, but I commend you to God!... I don't know how they will dress me during the day; but yesterday evening they made me more beautiful than I ever was. My chambermaid (for, my dear mother, your poor daughter has a chambermaid), "Julie, that's her name, had prepared for me a dress of incredible elegance, richness." So many costs to sleep! ah! if I hadn't been so sad, I would have laughed heartily.
Farewell, farewell again. Let me embrace you as I love you, and repeat to you that always, always your memory and your love, dear and good parents, will be the sole joy of your respectful daughter,
Blanche de Savenay.
“An affectionate hello for me to the good Renee, please, and a caress to Fidèle. »
These lines, the playful tone of which had cost Blanche so much, consoled her good parents a little; they thought her happy, and Mrs.me d'Ormeck, pressed with questions by them, was careful not to destroy such a sweet illusion. The vigil lasted longer than usual, and they did not part until they had prayed for Blanche.
May the peace of God, which is above all your thoughts, guard your hearts and minds. St.Paul.
Mme d'Ormeck had slipped a note into the hand of the good priest of Saint-Gervais, when they had left their friends' house. M. Demay had been surprised by Blanche's silence towards him. He thought that this missive came from her, and understood that she was unhappy, since she was writing to him in secret. So, as soon as he had left M. de Brior and his niece, he hastened to read the mysterious message.
Blanche painted in a few words the anguish of her heart, the emptiness she found in this sumptuous hotel, where a long year of her life was to pass; she said what fear M.me de Barville, and ended by begging her guide to support her with his advice.
The Comte de Brior's niece came early in the morning to the presbytery. In the midst of the thousand questions of the day before, and in the eagerness to have news of the poor exile, they had forgotten to ask Mme.mc d'Ormeck the cause of his delay. M. Demay inquired about it, and learned from her that the post-chaise which brought her back having tipped over, a sprain on the right foot had kept M.me d'Ormeck to the cottage at Mathurine, whither she had been taken. She thought her friends would believe her with Blanche, and remained silent, hoping to spare them unnecessary alarm.
When Mme d'Ormeck had finished his story, M. Demay said to him, showing him Blanche's letter, still open on the table:
“That poor child! she will be unhappy.
"So unhappy, sir, that I thought of bringing her back with me." But she generously made her sacrifice, and resigned herself to her fate.
"What do you think of M.me from Barville?
— His approach does little in his favour: his gaze is hard; his forehead is marked with haughtiness; sarcasm seems to play habitually on his lips; his voice, by turns insinuating and harsh, seems to reveal a proud and concealed spirit. This portrait is as unflattering as it is uncharitable; but I seriously fear for Blanche, and I wanted to tell you the effect that Mrs.me from Barville. However, I spent so little time with her that I was able to judge her too hastily.
- Anyway, Madam, the damage is done. Blanche did not seek the position in which she was placed, and God will not allow her devotion to become the cause of her downfall. I will write to him often; I will encourage her to always let her parents believe that she is happy, and to pour only into your heart and into mine the sorrows which will come to overwhelm her. The lord will be with her, since she fulfills a duty. This thought will help us bear the anxiety which the fate of this dear child must cause us.
Despite the entirely Christian confidence of the pious parish priest of Saint-Gervais, the long conversation that followed left Mme.me d'Ormeck under the impression of deep sadness. Her uncle, who had persuaded M. de Savenay to send Blanche to Paris, seemed to her responsible for all the misfortunes she foresaw. The Comte de Brior's views were not regulated by wisdom from on high, and M. de Savenay, trembling for Blanche's future, had he not risked too lightly the peace and happiness of her daughter ?
Such were Mr.me d'Ormeck, and whenever a sigh escaped Mrs.me de Savenay, that M. de Brior was boasting of the brilliant fate reserved for the young girl, or that M. de Savenay was expressing regret, she had difficulty in restraining her tears.
It was because she knew how many snares the world surrounds a poor, simple, naive, trusting child, who does not have the watchful tenderness of a mother for support. She counted on Blanche's faith; but she dreaded pleasure, its charms, its illusions so powerful on the mind of a girl who was barely sixteen! So she prayed fervently for the sad exile; and more than once it happened to him to ask for her indigence with peace of soul, rather than the fortune which a single remorse should follow.
Sincere and devoted friend, Mr.me d'Ormeck, before Blanche's departure, had expressed his fears and made known his forecasts. Mme de Savenay alone understood it; but her will submitted to an order from her husband, and the latter had wanted his daughter to leave. Mme d'Ormeck then made himself the guardian angel of the journey, and fortified his young friend with the advice of experience. It is now a mission of consolation that she is called to fulfill with her friends.
I have become like a stranger to my brothers, and like a stranger to my mother's children. Ps. LXVIII
Blanche was still listening, and already the sound of the carriage taking Mme.,born d'Ormeck could no longer reach her. It seemed to him that with his friend his strength and his courage also went away. She was overwhelmed; her eyes, full of tears, no longer saw anything around her, when Mme.mede Barville made her start.
" Oh! Pardon me, Madame, but…” His sobs took away his voice.
"Console yourself, my dear child," said the Baroness, taking her hand, "you still have a friend, a mother... A few days only, and I hope you will find yourself happy near me." Go get dressed, Blanche, I want to show you some of our rich stores. Julie, drive Mlle of Savenay.
— O my God! whispered poor Blanche to herself, my God, support me. Then she went out, after receiving a tender kiss from Mme.me from Barville.
The skilful chambermaid spent a whole hour on the important business which occupied her. So the young girl came out of his hands arranged with a care and a grace that defied all reproach.
Blanche went to the living room. "A good hour," exclaimed M.mede Barville, you are so charming. Kiss me, dear child. And her eyes gaze affectionately at the young girl, whom she holds in her arms. "Tell me, Blanche," she added tenderly, "don't you love me then?"
— Yesterday my pain was so intense, far from my mother everything seemed so sad to me, that it seemed to me that my heart was no longer capable of any feeling; but you are so kind to me that I already pity you,” answered Blanche with a simplicity that surprised Mme.me from Barville.
"Do you pity me?" and why ?
"Because it seems to me, Madame, that you must be experiencing great pain." The kindness with which you claim the affection of a poor child leads me to believe that you have few friends, and my good mother has always told me that misery or grief scares away friendship when it is not is not sincere.
"And yours will be sincere, my child, I'm sure of it. Do you have any talents, Blanche?"
— At least I worked to acquire some. My father taught me music and drawing; I learned from my mother...
"Do you also know how to dance, ride a horse?"
- No Madam.
"I suspected as much," said M.me de Barville with a smile, these branches of education
are not known in Savenay. But here all that is indispensable; you are going to continue music, drawing; you will have skilful masters, and I do not doubt the zeal you will bring to their lessons.
"But, Madame, I won't have time..."
- You will not have time? And doesn't a young person have to be busy?
— It's true... But in a year...
- A year ! exclaimed the Baroness irritably, "always a year! Such is my will, Mademoiselle." »
Poor Blanche was so trembling that she could hardly articulate:
“I will obey, Madam.
"Put on your hat, we're leaving right now." »
The young girl was not long in coming, and yet, when she returned, Mrs.me de Barville had wept,
"Your arm, my daughter," said the Baroness to her kindly.
Blanche hastened to offer her arm; a slight trembling agitated that of Mrs.me from Barville. Blanche, moved, dared to take her hand and squeezed it gently; she was thanked with an affectionate smile.
These ladies visited the most brilliant shops in Paris. Mme de Barville rejoiced in the naive astonishment caused in the young provincial by the marvelous luxury which they displayed endlessly. She consulted her taste on the purchases she had to make, and was surprised at the noble simplicity of her choices. Blanche was no less astonished at the disdain and arrogance with which the baroness responded to the respectful politeness of the merchants. Could this, she thought, be an obligation imposed by wealth? Oh ! I can never fill it.
Mme de Barville then proposed to Blanche to visit the principal churches of Paris, and the lively satisfaction which her protegee aroused proved that nothing could be more agreeable to her. The baroness praised the rich elegance of the Madeleine and Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, where they first went. Saint-Roch and its Calvary, where the soul is so well; the ancient parish of the kings of France, Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois and its sad nudity; Saint-Sulpice, with its magnificent
Chapel of Mary; Finally, Notre-Dame, with its old arches, its melancholy light and its pious memories, saw in turn the worldly woman and the young girl with a soul full of faith. Above all, the metropolis offered Blanche an irresistible attraction. Deeply recollected and as if lifted from the earth, she found in the obscurity of the old basilica a charm which the floods of light which flood them do not lend to modern monuments. There she felt herself with God, and her heart, broken before him, prayed with sweet confidence. There, as at Savenay, a pure joy filled her soul, and in this mysterious exchange of prayers and graces Blanche drew strength at the same time as she tasted happiness.
Mme de Barville, whom a cold practice of the indispensable duties of a Christian left foreign to the delights of piety, was astonished at Blanche's profound recollection, whose prayer she nevertheless dared not interrupt. She felt deep in her soul an emotion that she could not define. Was it joy, trouble, remorse? She couldn't realize it; but these thoughts which fought within her became unbearable to her, and she was about to draw Blanche out of her meditation, when the latter ended it with the sign of the cross.
Leaving Notre-Dame, Blanche found on Mme.mo de Barville that expression of displeasure which caused him so much fear. She apologized for having held her back too long perhaps.
“Indeed,” replied the Baroness, “my hours are so full that I am not accustomed to wasting precious time in this way. »
Blanche sighed when she heard this answer. She realized that M.me de Barville had only the bark of piety, and that henceforth she should watch over herself carefully, so as not to provide her protectress with grounds for sarcasm against a religion she did not know.
It is a painful task to have to glorify God by his works in the midst of an interior where his law does not reign. There a weakness which escapes frailty is condemned without mercy, a fault becomes a crime, an inoffensive word is regarded as a line full of gall, and the most innocent actions are, according to the pitiless censors of the Christian, acts marked with seal of reprobation. This task will become that of Blanche: happy if one day she does not succumb under such a burden!
Often his capricious hand
Throw a little gold at the poor as one throws an affront,
And beneath his disdainful pity The poor man feels his brow gnawing.
the baroness of barville
Beautiful still, although having reached her sixtieth year, the Baroness de Barville had an attitude which froze the most expansive heart. The cold dignity of her demeanor, the imposing nobility of her gaze commanded respect; but nothing in her attracted confidence. A mocking smile often played on his lips, and his speech, even when an accent of kindness came to soften it, betrayed the inflexible rigidity of a will that suffered no resistance.
Mme de Barville was still passionately fond of the pleasures and festivals of the world. She shone there by a perfect tone, by a superior spirit; and her conversation, as endearing as it was witty, fixed around her a numerous circle of admirers. Then her forehead seemed calm and serene, joy was painted in her eyes: she was happy.
But when the tumult of the world ceased to be heard, the baroness was no longer the same. A deep sadness seized her, often she even shed bitter tears. She was liberal without generosity; the gold she sowed did not soften the pains of the heart; her haughtiness, her harshness, the sourness of her words, made unhappy all those who found themselves placed under her dependence, and fear was the only feeling she inspired in those around her.
During a trip he had made to Paris, M. de Brior, already known to the Baroness, had spoken in her presence of M. de Savenay, of Blanche, whose modest virtues and wise education he had praised. Mme de Barville listened attentively, and seemed to take a real interest in this conversation; so, as soon as she could without affectation, she took M. de Brior aside and spoke to him of her friends.
"I am somewhat related to Madame de Savenay," she said kindly; I know he is not happy, and I would like to repair the injustice of fate towards him. To help me in the accomplishment of my plans will be, Sir, to acquire a right to my just recognition. »
With all the warmth of an old friendship, M. de Brior promised his assistance; then he related the misfortunes of M. de Savenay, he spoke of the calumnies which had attacked him and deprived him of the inheritance which so legitimately belonged to him. He spoke of the pain caused to his friend by the stain stamped on his name, hitherto so glorious and so pure; the old man's worries for his daughter's future; and friendship made the count so eloquent, that Madameme de Barville could not master his emotion.
"Monsieur," she cried, "M. de Savenay's fortune is entirely between my
hands by the will of his uncle... This fortune, I want to return it to his daughter. I assure him an income of twenty thousand francs; but I put it on condition that his parents will send him to me for a year. I know, moreover, the falsity of the accusations which weigh upon M. de Savenay...; perhaps we can find proof of this.
— Never, Madam, never Mr. and Mr.me de Savenay will consent to deprive themselves of the child who is their only consolation.
'Let's not talk about it any more, sir; without this condition, I can do nothing for the Savenay family.”
An icy salute followed these words, and Mrs.me de Barville left the salon. The Count inquired from some persons of the reputation of the Baroness. The consideration she seemed to enjoy made him think that he had been too quick to reject a proposal that the predicament of his friends would no doubt make it a duty for them to accept, if they were certain of placing their daughter in worthy hands. to receive such a deposit. He wrote to the baroness to apologize for a refusal which he should not have allowed himself before consulting those whom he interested; he begged her to authorize him to submit to them the generous offer she had kindly made.
This letter remained unanswered; a few months later, however, the count received a missive from Mme.me de Barville; she demanded Blanche earnestly, and gave hope for the future of the means of fully justifying M. de Savenay. Blanche's departure was decided upon as soon as M. de Brior had informed his friends of the future arranged for their daughter by the baroness's affection.
Mme de Barville had ardently desired Blanche's presence; so she fell in love with him at first sight, and immediately formed the plan never to part with him. Too selfish to sympathize with the pains of her fellows, she thought that Blanche's grief would dissipate like a cloud under the influence of pleasures; she therefore decided on a plan which she swore to carry out.
Such was the person who took the place of Blanche's most Christian and devoted mother. The poor child compared in her thoughts these two beings so different, and her grief went almost to despair. But God watched over her with the love of a father, and he whom the Lord guards knows perils only to triumph over them.
As M wantedme de Barville, the most skilful masters were called in to continue Blanche's education. The work was easy for them; for, under the veil of the most lovable modesty, Mrs.lle de Savenay hid real talents, which the praise of her professors soon revealed to her protector. The Baroness experienced the liveliest annoyance at a discovery which disturbed her plans. She hoped that Blanche would owe her the enjoyments which the arts procured, and that, to secure them, she would prolong her stay with her benefactress. Also we saw redouble the coldness and the unevenness of temper of Mme.me de Barville, who punished Blanche for the talents she acquired through her work, as one ordinarily punishes those who refuse to acquire any.
Come, let me try you now with joy, and enjoy the good...
This is still vanity. Eccl., c. u.
Blanche had foreseen it only too well, she was not happy at Mrs.me from Barville. Purchased at the price of the pleasures of the heart, what can the goods of fortune do for happiness? Also Mlle de Savenay was sadder every day in the sumptuous residence in which she lived.
The letters she wrote to her parents did not relieve her soul: she hid her sufferings from them, and did all she could to persuade them that she was happy. Sometimes she even managed it so well that they were surprised that she could taste so much joy away from them. Blanche, to justify herself, immediately wrote a long letter full of naive confessions; then she burned it, saying: “Ah! let them accuse me... but ignore my sorrows! She did not know, poor Blanche, that of all the sorrows which can distress the heart of a father and a mother, there is none more poignant than that of suspecting the heart of their child.
It was only to the guide of her childhood and to the niece of the Comte de Brior that she revealed her secret anxieties, and that she asked for consolation and advice. But their letters, to Blanche's astonishment, were short and cold. M. Demay recommended to him a complete submission to M.me de Barville, and seemed to blame his complaints. Mme d'Ormeck told him only of his uncle's regret at having interfered in a matter which he believed to be wholly in Mademoiselle de Savenay's interest. Thus rejected by her friends, poor Blanche wrote more rarely. Then, her letters remaining unanswered, she did not write at all.
Gifted with extreme sensitivity, Ms.1le de Savenay knew at the same time how to stiffen himself against misfortune. She saw in the indifference of those she loved so much a trial of Providence, and accepted it with the resignation of a Christian soul; and without complaining, without murmuring, she abandoned herself entirely to God, who wanted to be her only support.
There is for everyone, in life, a time when the soul is delivered up to the harshest assaults. Long strong against the enemy, it often weakens and succumbs after the hardest fights. The angel who was given to him as guardian is then afflicted; but he does not abandon it: he watches and he prays!
Blanche had resisted Mrs.me de Barville to see her take part in the brilliant festivities that winter brings back every year.
"I do not know these pleasures, Madame," she would say; I feel no desire to know them; leave me in my ignorance.
Besides, they don't suit the rank I should hold in society, and perhaps I would regret them if I had the chance to enjoy them for a single moment.
“Here are the devotees, my dear: always giving a brilliant varnish to what they call their sacrifices; always seeking each other, when they claim to obey only the law of the Lord.
'I don't suppose, Madame, that you wanted me to taste pleasures that would make my brow blush or my conscience alarmed; it is therefore not to obey the law of God that I beg you not to compel me to appear in assemblies where, close to you, I would have nothing to fear.
Mme de Barville had not thought it necessary to insist further; but she often returned to this subject. She quoted the letters of the parish priest of Savenay, his exhortations to complete submission, and Blanche, every day, was less firm in her resistance; at last she yielded, and the joy manifested by Madameme de Barville communicated himself almost to the heart of his protegee.
The day of the ball has arrived. The most elegant toilet is displayed in front of Blanche. Julie soon dressed the young girl in it; more charming still in this gracious finery, the poor child is too naive not to allow her joy to burst forth, and Mme.me de Barville, thanking her for having yielded to his wishes, promises never to tear her away from the comforts of her solitude if she experiences a moment of boredom.
How she trembles as she climbs the steps that lead to this brilliant feast! Mme de Barville and M.lle de Savenay are announced, and all eyes are fixed on the young girl, whom a flattering murmur accompanies to the mistress of the house; but Blanche does not even hear the kind words addressed to her; she cannot articulate a single word, and responds only with a gracious bow to the welcome she receives. Soon she casts a timid glance around her, and her eyes are dazzled by all the brilliance which surrounds her. What pleasure would she taste if she could not, even for a single moment, contemplate such splendor! The memory of the fields where his childhood passed comes back to his memory: there at least the brilliance of the sun's rays was tempered by a soft greenery which delighted his gaze! This memory brings back regrets, and Blanche has regained her usual melancholy.
Suddenly a brilliant orchestra was heard, and Blanche quivered with pleasure: yet she was almost murmuring a refusal at the first invitation extended to her, when an order from Mmeme de Barville made him retract this word; she takes her place in a quadrille. Her modest and graceful bearing attracts all eyes to her, and she begins to understand that she is the object of general attention. She feels some pain at seeing herself thus admired; but vanity finds its account in it, and soon it enjoys completely its triumph.
In the midst of these sensations so new to Blanche, the hours passed with surprising rapidity. She is surprised to hear the ringing of departure, and would like to prolong these happy moments; but it is not in the power of man to stop the march of time when it flows in the bosom of pleasure, any more than he can hasten its flight when he drags after him suffering.
As soon as she is alone with Mme de Barville, she hastens to thank her for the kindness with which she was good enough to condemn herself to the fatigues of a long vigil in order to procure her a few hours of pleasure. The baroness smiles, she sees that the enchanter whose power she has invoked has not deceived her expectation: she is now sure of his triumph; Blanche will not escape him
Engrossed with preparations for this marvelous fete, for three days Blanche had neglected to write to Savenay. Tomorrow, she said to herself as she came home, tomorrow I'll write to my mother; and she does not think of the worry that this delay will cause her parents. How would she have thought of that? she has not even preserved the memory of her God: for the first time in her life, Blanche goes to bed without having prayed.
When he awoke, however, the usually sweet thought of his religious duties
appears to her as remorse. She falls on her knees and humbly asks God's forgiveness for this oversight, which she deplores. This sincere repentance gives rise to new regrets. Savenay! Her parents, how long their beloved daughter's silence must have been! So she won't put off until another moment, and everything is already prepared to begin this letter which must be so impatiently awaited. But the bell of the clock is heard, Blanche looks at the dial: eleven o'clock! At the same moment Julie enters and announces to her mistress that Mme.me de Barville is expecting him for lunch.
Blanche hurries downstairs, and the Baroness talks to her again of the pleasures of the night before, of the successes she has obtained, of the flattering praises which have been lavished on her from all quarters. The poor child takes pleasure in hearing these eulogies repeated; she finds, listening to Mme de Barville, those same emotions which agitated her in the midst of the numerous circle which had admired her. Vanity awakens so easily in the most candid and simple soul! Mllc de Savenay has barely entered the world, and already this world which incenses her has become the center of her affections. Oh ! when pleasure would offer no other danger than that of making us fail in our least duty towards God, towards our parents, wouldn't that be enough to keep us on guard against its deceptive attractions?
Mme de Barville, happy with the impression she has made, does not want to lose the fruit of it: she keeps the young girl close to her until the hour when she expects her visits. Until recently, M.lle de Savenay always had a plausible pretext for escaping from what she called the drudgery of society; but today she still hopes for some of the successes which so intoxicated her the day before. So she takes more care with her adornment; nothing pleases her: the shade of this ribbon does not suit her, this dress is not fresh enough, these shoes have no grace whatsoever. Julie herself is surprised at the progress of her young mistress. Poor Blanche has taken an immense step in society life.
At M'sme at Barville as at the ball, Blanche's triumph was complete. Shy and reserved at first, she soon allowed herself to be carried away by the desire to please, and seemed charming to the Baroness's friends, who all asked for the favor of receiving Mme.lle of Savenay.
Finally the visits ceased, and the young girl retired to her own home: she had to write to Savenay. But this time she talks to her parents much less about them than about herself: she recounts her pleasures and her successes, describes with fire all the brilliance of this party which still troubles her, extends on her gratitude towards Mrs.me de Barville, who made him see such marvelous things. One recognizes well in his narration the naive admiration for a fairyland which enchants him; but we also see in it the secret complaisance of a heart which no longer seeks anything but itself in all that surrounds it.
Mme de Barville had all of Blanche's letters delivered to his family and friends; it was also with her own hands that the young girl held those addressed to her. What was Blanche's surprise when the Baroness, having called her, put on the fire in front of her the letter which she had written that very morning to her parents!
"I wanted to see how you accounted for the impression you had yesterday, my Blanche," said Mme.me from Barville. But you have not thought about it ! Do your mother the same
narrative ! Treat provincial susceptibilities a little; your joy so well expressed would throw all Savenay into terror!
"What do you mean, ma'am?" I don't understand how anyone can be frightened by my story.
"But don't you know the provincials?" Paris, seen through the microscope of prejudice, is a place of scandal: one should not walk there without encountering a trap. Also, I confess to you, was it not without a little astonishment that I saw you arrive near me. The Comte de Brior had to make a great deal of Mme.me de Barville, so that your parents would entrust you to his care.
"By going thus into society, would I be acting, Madame, against my father's will?"
"Your father, my child, if he still owned the lands of Savenay and the fortune
which your ancestors so madly dissipated; your father, if he lived in Paris, would take you himself to these meetings where I present you. Wasn't it at a party given by the Marquise d'Harcourt that he saw your mother for the first time? »
Blanche felt relieved by these words. She eagerly grasped this thought, which allowed her to taste again the pleasures whose prestige enchanted her.
“I wanted to joke a little,” resumed the Baroness, “when I spoke of terror; your mother's extreme sensitivity might be hurt; it would already seem to her that a party was enough to banish her from your heart. »
Blanche, desirous of assuring herself of new enjoyments, allowed herself to be dazzled by these specious reasons. She silenced her heart, which was afflicted with culpable dissimulation, and spoke of the ball the night before with as much calm as a woman of forty would have spoken of. When his letter, so eagerly desired, arrived at Savenay, his parents rejoiced at such wise moderation; but their friends were distressed to see in it a kind of affectation dictated perhaps by tenderness, and thereby good in its principle, but very dangerous in its consequences. M. de Brior alone sided with M. and M.me de Savenay, who hastened to justify Blanche: the foresight of the good priest and the pious Madameme d'Ormeck was reduced to silence, and the young girl was proclaimed by her defenders a marvel of wisdom and reason.
No lie can serve two masters. S. Matth., c. vi.
Four months had already passed since Blanche had left the paternal roof. At Savenay the days seemed hopelessly long; for these good parents, a year was a century away from their beloved daughter. In Paris, the hours fled too quickly in the young girl's eyes. There, in the long winter vigils, one noticed an empty place, and very often deep sighs revealed thoughts which one dared not communicate to one another. Here the object
of this tender solicitude no longer had either the will to think or the power to remember.
On arriving in Paris, Blanche had expressed a desire to approach the sacraments. "It will be time for the Christmas party," had replied her protectress; and poor Blanche, a prisoner in the sumptuous hotel where she lived, had not been able to choose a spiritual guide. The touching solemnity had come, it had passed, and, wholly in pleasure, the young girl had scarcely thought of it. However, at the first high mass to which she was led by Julie, when she saw the poor and the rich thronging to the holy table, she too adored the divine child of Bethlehem, and pious tears flowed from her eyes. Then she prayed for her good parents, for her friends, and... that was it!
Visits, balls, shows, parties filled the life of Mme.lle of Savenay. She often heard there advocating religion. She saw people attend the holy mysteries who, like her, appeared in all these meetings. When she was taken to a sermon by some famous preacher, she exchanged a greeting there with the people she had seen the night before at the Opera. She often heard those whose piety was praised, praised, exalted the courage, the virtue of such and such a person who preferred to misery and its privations a long reprobate profession; and little by little Blanche, closing her ears to the cries of her conscience, unwittingly entered upon that wide path which leads to death. If an unfortunate person implored from this society, so Christian in appearance, the help which would have saved him from despair, Blanche heard it repeated that a secret vice alone could reduce to such frightful misery, and all the purses were immediately closed. But should a subscription be opened in favor of some artist ruined by his prodigalities, or even of some country struck by a sudden calamity, each hastened to send a sumptuous donation; for the public sheets repeated the next day the name, the title of the subscriber. Also charity, that daughter of heaven who does everything to everyone to win souls to God, was extinguished in Blanche's heart. Yes, Blanche, once so ingenious in relieving all pain, thought she had done everything now when she had thrown a little gold at the unfortunate people who implored her: as if gold alone could heal the wounds of misery!
How cruel are those who by their speeches, their counsels and their examples, paralyze and stifle in souls the germ of those sweet virtues that religion makes grow there! Alas! they are no less to be pitied; for they do not think of the rigorous account they will have to render one day! Life is for them a long sleep charmed by smiling dreams; but what an awakening when the hour of eternity strikes!
However Mlle de Savenay, so long nurtured by the principles of Christian charity, sometimes compared the works which had occupied her childhood with the thoughts which filled her heart today. She often trembled at these memories, she promised herself to return to these first feelings, she prayed with more fervor for a few days; but example, the attraction of pleasure, destroyed the salutary impression, and nature prevailed over grace.
The days of penance had come. Blanche thought she could not combine this life of dissipation with the holy exercises of Christian life and the obligation to approach the sacraments. Mme de Barville being one day kept at home by an illness, Blanche expressed the desire to prepare herself by retirement for the great solemnity of Easter. Her protector looked at her in astonishment: “Hey what! leave our friends because of Lent! do you think of it, my child? No, no, everything has its time, my dear; we will go less often to the ball, to the theater: only once a week. When the holy days come, we will go to mass every morning, we will send abundant alms to the priest, and we will celebrate our Easter.
'But, my child, I know better than you what to do: you will see all our friends having their Easter, although they live as we live. If it were necessary to prevent all those who go into the world from fulfilling the Easter duty, but no one would be allowed to do so! Believe me, dear child, let's leave religion big, broad, tolerant, and put aside our narrow ideas of Breton education. »
This last sentence attacked Blanche's dearest memories; she blushed, fell silent, and ended by thinking that Mrs.me de Barville was perhaps right: once on the steep slope of evil, one slips little by little towards the abyss.
In the midst of this worldly life, Blanche had fortunately preserved a tender devotion to Mary: the miraculous medal, the scapular blessed at Sainte-Anne d'Auray had never left her; also the Mother of Mercy watched over her child surrounded by a thousand dangers. Blanche loved Mary, she invoked her every day; Blanche could not perish! Indeed, neither the fatigues inseparable from a life of pleasures, nor the embarrassments which accompany it, nothing could prevent him from reciting a dozen Rosaries every day in honor of the Immaculate Mother. Only once had she failed; it was the day of her entry into the world, and the deep and sincere regret she felt for it testified enough to her love for Mary.
Children of God, may his providence place you on the scene of the world, or may it keep you away from its perils; may she make you live amid riches, or in the anguish of poverty, love, invoke Mary! She is strength in danger, happiness in calm, peace in tribulation, joy in tears; she is always a mother, and, after God, the hope of salvation, our life, our sweetness, our advocate and our support.
For a little gold lose peace of heart,
To go far to seek tears,
To live ceaselessly in the midst of alarms,
Alas! is this happiness!
When a laughing dream rocked our sleep, when we dreamed of perfect bliss; if on waking we only find disappointments, misery, nudity, our oppressed heart feels its pains more bitterly. This happiness which has only just appeared, which we thought we had grasped, makes the distress which seemed to have given way to it even more dreadful, and the tears flow more abundantly and more bitterly. Blanche's joys were only a dream: she was about to wake up.
A brilliant meeting was taking place at Mr.me from Auberive. Mme de Barville and his young companion, having arrived before all the guests, had entered the Countess's boudoir. The latter took the baroness aside, with whom she chatted in a low voice, while Blanche examined the drawings in an album. However, the conversation becoming more and more lively, these ladies begged Mr.lle de Savenay to leave them alone; the young girl went into the nearest drawing-room; but the crowd was beginning to throng there, and to remain unnoticed she slipped into the darkest corner, waiting for Mrs.me from Barville. Five young ladies were near there; but their conversation was so animated that they did not see Blanche.
'You may say so,' cried one of them, 'she is really charming; a little stuffy perhaps, but lovely.
"It seems she's got nothing," said another, who was closest to Blanche.
'Not a penny, my dear; the idol, said Mme Haubert, has only his beautiful eyes.
"What madness to make this little provincial appear in the world, if she cannot figure there!" resumed a person who had not yet said anything.
"But she has a beautiful name," resumed Mrs.me Hauberk.
"That is not what turns the head of the County of Morlanges, and will make him ask the Baroness de Barville for the little one." »
Blanche started; she had recognized in this group those who, only the day before, had overwhelmed her with marks of friendship.
"The count would marry a girl without a dowry?"
"Do you count the fortune of the baroness as nothing, or will you suppose that she will abandon her protegee?"
— Mme de Barville cannot dispose of his property, ladies; she has a son.
- A son ! exclaimed the three ladies.
- A son! thought Blanche in the height of astonishment.
"You didn't know that?" resumed Mme Hauberk. Yes, M.me de Barville has a son, a noble and good young man, who, it is said, fled from his mother because of a few thousand pounds which do not honor the baroness.
Blanche wanted to go away so as not to surprise the secrets thus peddled by malignity, but she was so troubled that she was afraid of attracting attention; she decided to stay in her place, promising herself not to pay any attention to such talk. But that was hardly possible. She listened again.
"So M. de Barville is not in Paris?" continued one of the ladies.
"He's in America, well decided, they say, not to come back until after his mother's death."
— Poor M.lle de Saint-Brice, resumed another, she counted on the word of M. de Morlanges!
"She will console herself by crushing the new countess with the weight of her indignation."
"If M. de Barville were in Paris, or if fame at least bore some traits of the pretty provincial to him, the baroness would become more than a benefactress to her, perhaps."
- Calm down, ladies, as well for Mrs.lle de Saint-Brice than for the young de Barville. If fame gave him the most seductive portrait of Blanche, neither he nor the count, no man of honor, in a word, would think of uniting his fate with that of Mme.Ile of Savenay.
'I don't understand you, dear Geraldine: this young girl is beautiful; she will be rich, thanks to Mr.mo de Barville; her name...
— Would be beautiful, if it were pure; but M. de Savenay has attached a mark to it: he is a forger. »
A painful cry suspended this conversation. The young women turn round and see poor Blanche near them: she had remained standing, pale, her eyes wandering; she seemed to be looking. Suddenly she sees M.me de Barville at the end of the living room; she jumps up and falls at his feet.
'Speak,' she cried, 'you know my father is innocent, justify him, Madame: oh! Speak, I implore you. »
And Blanche, still on her knees, stopped at M.me de Barville worried and supplicating looks.
" My God ! exclaimed the Baroness, to what trial am I reserved! the poor child has lost her mind. »
A new cry is heard, more heartbreaking than the first. Blanche gets up, looks with horror at everything around her; she wants to flee, but her strength fails her; she falls into the arms of this same woman whose imprudent word has just struck her in what she holds dearest in the world.
What remorse must not have felt the frivolous Geraldine when she supported the icy body of the young girl whose joy and future she had destroyed! But does remorse still penetrate into these reunions where slander and calumny play with impunity on the peace and happiness of families; where, tearing with spirit, sharpening with playfulness the iron which wounds and which kills, one thinks only of pleasing: where one sacrifices all with the desire to shine!
At the sight of the inanimate young girl, the one who put her in this state feels real pity; but the next day this sad event, recounted with art, will earn him new successes, new praise, one more triumph!
The girl is taken away; he is lavished with the most attentive care; all is useless: for two hours she gives no sign of life. Finally she comes to her senses: she smiles, she calls her father; she gives Mme de Barville the name of his mother. The baroness was right: Blanche was mad!
Scarcely had her tears flowed, When at the same moment she was seen smiling: Happy, alas! how far his delirium would have driven his pain!
The ablest physicians were called to M.lle de Savenay, without any of them being able to find a remedy for the illness that had struck her. Mme de Barville, sincerely afflicted, no longer appeared in society. She was kept close to the interesting patient less perhaps by her affection than by the brilliance of a scene which had had so many witnesses. So she hastened to obey the prescriptions of the doctors, when they demanded for Blanche the pure air of the country. The preparations were made in all haste, the farewells in a day, and the baroness left for her castle in the Pyrenees.
A few weeks' stay at Lorbieres brought about a physical improvement in the patient's condition, which her protectress was able to rejoice in. Her thinness was less frightening; the color reappeared on her cheeks; brief moments of sleep restored his strength: everything gave hope that he would be restored to health.
A young girl about the same age as M.lle de Savenay had been placed near her, and lavished upon her the most affectionate care. Blanche had seen her at first with indifference, then she had become so accustomed to having her as a companion that Mariette never left her for a moment without her becoming sadder, more dreamy. The mountain girl had a pleasant and pure voice; his naive songs made Blanche's tears flow; so Mariette, who knew how much these tears relieved the young patient, often repeated her favorite tunes.
One day when she was singing as usual, the expression of her voice seemed to Blanche more melancholy and more tender; she started as she listened to him.
"Repeat this song for me," she said as soon as Mariette had finished; I like it, and it seems to me that I could learn it.
- Oh ! if the good Lord would allow it! exclaimed Mariette; and, with an even more touching accent, she repeated these simple verses:
Poor bird, you are leaving your mother! What are you looking for in the woods? Far from your nest, from your misery Your wings will feel the weight.
The fast walk of the hunter Will follow you into our forests, Where soon the greedy bird-catcher Beneath your steps will set his nets.
Who will give you food? And when day flees from the skies, Against the winds and the cold Who will protect you at night?
I know it well, Providence watches over the little birds;
His divine hand dispenses them
New treasures every day.
But also, God, in his wrath,
Tell me, isn't he punishing them?
Think about it, you're leaving your mother,
And God curses the ungrateful sons!
The bird returned to its brood;
He found happiness there.
And his mother, leaning over him,
Said, in her sweet song of the heart:
“Far from this nest, from misery
“Your wings would feel the weight;
“Child, never leave your mother;
“Live and die within our woods. »
Twice Blanche had the naive lament repeated to her; then she murmured, trying to remember it:
Poor bird, you are leaving the mother!
What are you looking for...
In the woods, added Mariette. Blanche repeated: “In the woods; then her gaze begged for the end of the verse. Twice more her obliging guard repeated her ditty, and the young invalid fell asleep repeating:
Far from Ion nest... from your misery...
Your wings... will feel... the weight.
As soon as she was sure that Blanche was asleep, Mariette ran to Mme.me de Barville, and told him what had just happened. The baroness wished to witness the awakening of the invalid; Hidden behind the curtains, she watched his slightest movement with anxiety, expecting at every moment to see his eyes open again. An hour passed in this expectation, and Blanche, gently rested by this beneficent sleep, held out her hand to Mariette and, on waking, repeated the first verses of the song which had struck her so deeply.
Mme De Barville thought the moment favorable: she approached and wanted to kiss Blanche; but the latter uttered a cry and hid her face. The baroness, overwhelmed, left the room, saying to Mariette: “Let me know if she calls me; you will never leave her again. »
At the sound of his footsteps, Blanche opened her eyes and cast a fearful look around her.
"I thought I saw M.me de Barville,” she said, but in a tone in which a kind of terror was mingled with the most angelic sweetness.
“You were not mistaken, Mademoiselle, it was indeed her. Madame la Baronne is so sorry to see you ill that she often comes to see you; but, for fear of tiring you, she waits until you are asleep.
"I don't know why she frightens me! But then I was very ill?"
-Oh! yes, Mademoiselle, we cried a lot, watched many nights...
- It's amazing, I do not remember. Have we brought in a priest? Have I received the last rites? My poor head is so tired... I don't remember anything... ,
- Oh! yes, you forgot everything, Mariette hastened to resume, avoiding answering the question addressed to her.
"So I had to forgive everything, everything... My dear Mariette, tell me your song again, your song, it makes me feel good." And this time again Blanche fell asleep repeating a few verses. She slept for a long time; the sun was near its setting when she awoke.
Mariette, overcome by fatigue, had fallen asleep in the armchair where she had spent so many sleepless nights. Blanche gets up on her bed; everything around her seems new to her: she wants to see more closely, gets up slowly, and with great difficulty she reaches a window, and sits down. What is his surprise when his eyes discover a magnificent expanse, a charming parterre, beyond which extend an immense park and mountains as far as the eye can see! She looks, questions her memories; they don't remind him of anything.
“Where am I then? she exclaims.
These words awaken Mariette, who lets out a cry as she rushes towards Blanche. But she has not yet seen her in this state: the young girl is calm and peaceful, in spite of the astonishment into which what she sees throws her. Mariette, overjoyed, exclaims: “Oh! thank you, thank you, good Virgin of Betharram!
"But tell me where I am, Mariette?"
What a magnificent garden! Whose park is this? Where am I, finally?
"At Lorbieres, Mademoiselle, at the chateau of Madame la Baronne." The doctors of Paris have sent you to the country; Madame la Baronne brought you here.
"I'm no longer in Paris?" Oh ! what happiness! You see, Mariette, I would have gone mad!
"Poor lady!" Oh ! you are right, it is a very bad country. We forget everything there: the good Lord, his parents, his most holy duties. I thank Our Lady every day for having rescued me from this hell.
“You too have been to Paris; Do you have parents, Mariette?
- Oh ! yes, Mademoiselle, a father and a mother who love me, come on.
- My God ! exclaimed Blanche, I too have a father, a good mother. Ah! how unhappy they must be! Mariette, do you know how to write? Tomorrow you will write to them for me; then you tell me your story... tomorrow, I'm too weak today. »
Mariette invited the poor invalid to go back to bed, hoping that she would find
Rest ; but the night was bad, the delirium returned frequently. Eight days passed in the liveliest alarm; finally, following a kind of lethargy which lasted twenty-four hours, the doctor announced Blanche's complete recovery.
One who finds a true friend
found a treasure.
All that remained of Blanche was an excessive weakness and a habitual disposition to melancholy. Her young nurse never left her side, and did her best to distract her with her gentle gaiety. As for M.me de Barville, she did not often come to visit her: she had noticed the unfortunate impression she produced on the patient, and her self-esteem was irritated by it. Twice a day she asked after him, paid him a short visit from time to time; and that was it. Mlle de Savenay did not complain about it: the presence of Madameme de Barville brought her such sad memories that she had not yet the strength to bear them.
At Blanche's request, Mariette had written to Savenay. The answer was anxiously awaited; so it was necessary to redouble the care to distract the young convalescent. It was during one of the long walks they took together under the magnificent shade of Lorbières that Mariette told him her story.
story of mariette lambert.
“I was born in Lestelle, a nice village located near the Betharram sanctuary. My parents lived happily with the fruit of their labor; however they had six children, of whom I am the youngest.
“A great lady who came to our country to restore her health wanted to be my godmother, and promised my mother to take care of my fate entirely. She had me brought up with more care than one brings up the children of our mountains, and when I was fifteen she took me to Paris. My parents gave me their blessing; my mother was crying and couldn't get enough of hugging me. Me, I cried a lot too; but I was so happy to go to Paris that my grief did not last long. I will always reproach myself for having consoled myself so quickly.
“When I arrived in Paris, my godmother handed me over to her maid, who taught me how to sew, do my hair, dress. Victoire was getting old; I was destined to replace her. My figure, my skill, my intelligence were greatly praised; it made me proud and vain; soon I thought only of making myself noticed by all those around me; I only sought to please, and I forgot all the advice of my good and pious mother. Already I thought less of her than of satisfying my vanity.
“Throughout the winter my godmother gave balls and parties. Me, the eye glued against the doors, the attentive ear, I listened to the music, or I watched dancing. I was neglecting my service: so Victoire scolded me: one evening I wept so hard that my mistress, in her turn, scolded Victoire. I had become very naughty; for I rejoice to see this excellent girl in trouble.
“But that was only the beginning: one evening my godmother ordered me to come down to the living room with the costume of my country. I took great care in adorning myself, and I obeyed. Everyone spoke with praise of my face and my figure, and since that day there was not a single evening that I did not appear in the drawing-room in my best attire.
“I found myself very happy with my new existence, and yet the voice of my conscience made me hear sharp reproaches. I no longer dared write to Lestelle. Our good priest, who was disturbed by my silence, spoke to my godmother, who scolded me very loudly, and ordered me to repair my wrongs by writing to my parents with the same punctuality as in the past. I obey; but I no longer spoke with an open heart, and while I thought only of pleasure, my father and my mother wept thinking that I no longer loved them.
- My God ! my God ! involuntarily exclaimed M.lle of Savenay.
"What's the matter with you?" said Mariette, terrified at her young mistress's pallor.
'Nothing, nothing, my dear Mariette, please continue with your story.
— Instead of coming to Lestelle for the summer, my godmother, whose health was perfectly restored, went to Franche-Comté, to visit one of her relatives. Victoire had remained in Paris; I found myself entirely free of my actions. So every Sunday, after Vespers, I went to the village dance. I stayed there for a short time; but they did me all the honors. They only called me la belle demoiselle de Paris.
“Little by little the castles became populated, and the servants came to swell the number of dancers. Then people admired me less; I became jealous of the other maids; I tried to surpass them in my toilette, and I made so many enemies of them. One day when I was an hour late, I found in the yard a good and virtuous girl whom I could not put up with then, and whom I love now, look, Mademoiselle, almost as much as you. She was close to my godmother's relative as chambermaid; but this lady treated her rather as a friend.
'Mademoiselle Mariette,' she said to me, 'your mistress rang for you twice, and I did your service.
“Thank you, thank you,” I said to him; and I ran away.
“Madame asked me why I was coming home so late. I stammered, then I started to cry. Madame scolded me very loudly, and forbade me to go out the following Sunday. I was sorry; pleasure was close to my heart, and in the evening, in front of the servants, I murmured against my godmother, giving as a pretext for my bad humor that I could not go to services. Oh ! Mademoiselle, what great harm I was doing by saying that! the good Lord was far from my
“Fortunately for me, my good guardian angel was there, Perrine, that's the name of this good person.
"Perrin?" said Blanche, a young girl from Brittany?
"From Angers, Mademoiselle."
— Who had put herself into service to alleviate the poverty of her mother, a widow, without support; and stricken with misfortune?
“I don't know, Mademoiselle; she never said a word to me about any of this.
— Go back to your story, Mariette.
"So Perrine took my arm after supper and led me to the back of the garden."
"Mademoiselle Mariette," she said to me, "you have just committed a great sin." »
“I was about to answer her rather harshly, when she resumed: “I love you, and that is why I speak to you as I do. You hardly thought of the divine office just now. »
“I blushed involuntarily, and I wanted to lie again; but I didn't have the courage, and I confessed to Perrine the real cause of my anger.
" My God ! she said, with an accent of touching piety, "how thankful you are for always putting before my eyes the thought of my good mother, and thus saving me from the attraction of pleasure!" If she knew I was dancing, oh Heaven! what grief she would have!
"- And mine! I say then. And my father! They who have recommended me so much never to go to the places where both pleasure and the devil are found! They would die of it.
"Dear Mariette," exclaimed Perrine, "ah! don't go back to those dangerous meetings. Madame's brother is a priest; he comes to spend three months here; we will have the service, the mass at the chateau. You wouldn't want to displease God, cause grief to your good parents, would you? “I started crying; I told Perrine how the taste for pleasure and coquetry had come to me, my faults, my detours towards my good parents, and I hid my face while making this confession, for I believed that Perrine was going to despise me. She kissed me and urged me to confess everything to my priest. I promised him; but I was four days without having the courage. Every time I met Perrine: “Well! is it done ? she told me. Ah! Miss, I would have beaten her. Finally I made up my mind, and I begged her to post the letter herself for fear that I should still have the weakness not to send it.
“The answer was delayed a fortnight; fortunately, thanks to my friend, I had made good use of that time. I had made my confession, but better than for my Easter in Paris; and in the sacraments of the good Lord I had rediscovered my love for my parents, my memories of virtue; for, Mademoiselle, it is no use making fun of religion, the true virtues, true happiness, everything is there.
“M. le cure spoke to me like a saint from heaven; he told me all the sorrow of my parents, the prayers they had made for me at Notre-Dame de Betharram. He advised me to return to the country, to sacrifice the advantages of my new condition for the salvation of my soul, and told me that it was my family's desire. I showed this letter to Perrine: She asked me what I wanted to do.
"Leave," I told him, "and tomorrow."
"It's too soon," she replied, smiling. Your godmother loves you; you have to tell him gently that you want to go back to your parents, and...
"She will refuse me, I'm sure of it, and how shall I do it?"
“You will confess to him your faults, your weakness, and you will show him a respectful but firm will to leave. »
“I saw my godmother in the garden, and I ran towards her. I didn't know how to go about it. Finally I told him quite clearly that I wanted to return to Lestelle. “And why? she told me coldly.
“That why embarrassed me a lot. Then my godmother, seeing that I did not answer, wanted to leave me. I put out my hand to stop him; she saw the letter I was holding, and snatched it from me abruptly. As she read it, she was flushed and suffocated; I, trembling like a culprit, I felt that I would no longer have the strength to utter a word.
"You can leave, Miss," she told me, returning the letter.
"I wanted to talk...
“It's useless..., you can leave; tomorrow, tonight even if you want. And without adding a word, she left me.
“I was completely overwhelmed. Perrine upheld my courage; she advised me to write to my godmother and appease her with a sincere confession; I did so, and in response I received a packet containing my wages and the clothes I had brought from Lestelle.
“I wanted to say goodbye to my godmother; I did not obtain this grace. Perrine, with the consent of her mistress, took me to town, where I had reserved a place for the diligence. My return filled my good parents with joy, who had trembled for my poor soul. For a year we have had many misfortunes: two of our brothers have died; our cattle have perished; hail has ravaged our fields. But the good Lord came to our aid; my other brothers have hired themselves out to rich shepherds, I go to castles during the day, and I am happier working for my good parents than I have ever been living far from them in the midst of plenty. .
"And your godmother," Blanche asked, "do you know if she has forgiven you?"
"She's still mad at me, and says I'm ungrateful." This pains me greatly; but I had to do what I did. The good Lord has already rewarded me for it, since he has given me the happiness of being with you. »
Blanche kissed the good Mariette, whose simple story became for her a source of useful reflections, and was, so admirable are the designs of God, the cause of her return to the practice of her duties.
I will laugh now at these seductive games
Who once charmed my too naive soul.
And under gilded irons held her captive...
The long days of sleep are over for me.
Keep your myrtles and feasts for your friends,
Eternity calls me to the rank of its conquests,
And triumphantly rings the hour of my awakening.
a letter from Savenay was finally delivered to Blanche. Joy almost deprived him of the strength to open it; but what was his pain when he read these words:
“We thank Heaven for the recovery of our dear daughter; we would have liked a word from his hand to console our tenderness. It's been so long since she wrote to us! Perhaps we would rather know that his heart is closed to us than to harbor a doubt that breaks our souls. Let her be frank enough to make this confession to us, and before we die of pain, we will still have the strength to invoke Heaven so that it does not punish her ingratitude. »
Blanche's heart was broken: she burst into tears, and reproached herself most cruelly. His letters were so cold! What bitterness must they have poured into the souls of his
parents ! How much they must have loved him for not having made him feel his wrongs sooner! Their indulgence further increased his tenderness for them. However, these long-deserved reproaches, how were they addressed to her when she was barely escaping death? Blanche could not understand him. The justice of God has its hours for punishment, she thought; this was mine.
In the bitterness of her repentance, in the excess of her grief, she wrote her father a letter in which her soul poured out entirely. She there deplored her errors, made the humblest confession of all her wrongs, and implored his pardon with so much insistence that the most inflexible judges could not have resisted such repentance.
Mariette handed her letter to the Baroness, who smiled as she read it: "Romantic heads," she murmured, "you don't contradict yourself." She sealed the letter: Mariette stretched out her hand to receive it; but Julie was stunned and received the order to send Madame's missive.lle of Savenay.
Blanche was deeply distressed; she needed consolation; she returned Mariette's confidence for confidence, and let her know her faults and her regrets. She spoke to him of the mercy of the Lord, of the happiness one enjoys in serving him, of the peace he gives to the repentant soul. Blanche could not resist the simple, persuasive language of the young girl, who drew the most pressing exhortations from her own heart. There was so much analogy in their wrongs that Mr.lle de Savenay resolved to have recourse to the means which had cured the pious child of the mountains.
It was at first without the knowledge of M.me de Barville that the young penitent began the work of her conversion. Then, when she had steeped her heart in the salutary waters of penance, when she had drawn from the sacraments enough strength to support without too much emotion the presence of the one whom she had until recently accused of all her troubles, she declared frankly that she had entered a new road. The Baroness employed against her no other weapon than irony; Blanche pushed his features away with gentle but unshakable firmness. Soon she saw the young apostle, to whom her new resolutions were justly attributed, depart from her. Mme de Barville hoped that the neophyte, deprived of his support, would soon give up the rough path which she had to traverse alone. This was yet another very severe ordeal for Blanche; but she supported her with courage; his perseverance soon tired Mr.me de Barville, and earned him complete freedom.
How sweet were the moments that reconciled her to God! how she tasted the pious delights of prayer, of the holy sacrifice, of the holy table! Poor prodigal, she returned to her father's house, and it was with kindness that this tender father paid for so many days of offenses and forgetfulness. O you whom pleasure also took away from your God, stray children, but still very dear to his heart, oh! also return to the house of the father of the family! Taste how easy the yoke of the Lord is; savor the smoothness of his service; and if ever the slavery of the world has given you the happiness that you will find near God, I consent to it, abandon God and resume the chains of the world.
The feast of the Queen of Angels had brought the faithful to the foot of the tabernacles of the Lord. Blanche had seen Mariette at church, and she returned to the chateau with that joy which God places in the heart of a Christian. She glorified the Lord for the triumph of her good mother; she prayed to Mary to enlighten with divine light these poor blind men who delight in the darkness of error. At the bend in the road, she sees the caretaker of the castle, who, heading for the town and hastening the course of his horse, only throws out these words to her in passing: " Hurry up, Mademoiselle, Madame is dying. »
Blanche hurries, in fact, and, barely breathing, she comes close to Mme.me de Barville, whom she finds motionless and almost lifeless, letting out a few convulsive moans at intervals.
Mlle de Savenay has fallen on her knees near her protectress's bed; she prays, she weeps in silence; but rising suddenly:
“A priest,” she cries; maybe there is still time! »
Julie wants to oppose Blanche's will:
“The sight of a priest will kill his mistress, if she comes back to life. »
But the young girl resumes with imposing firmness:
"I'll go myself, if no one wants to go!" »
The maid is forced to submit, and we run to the village.
The priest arrives first; for charity gives strength to old age. He blesses the dying woman, and asks God for a few more moments of existence for her. To bring more effective aid to his poor, he had formerly studied the ailments of the body as well as those of the soul: a bloodletting seemed to him urgent; he opens the dying woman's vein, and after a few moments of anxiety the blood flows and hope is reborn in all hearts.
The Baroness opens her eyes: her sight is obscured; however, she sees Blanche on her knees beside her, the good pastor at the foot of her bed, a few people in her room. She puts a failing hand on the head of her protegee, and murmurs a few unintelligible words. The doctor arrives at this moment, trembling that it was too late. He sees the good priest, and understands what he has done:
"You have saved her, sir," he said to the holy priest; without your help my care would become useless. »
Rescued from imminent danger, the patient was not, however, out of danger. The doctor prescribed absolute rest, and ordered to avoid all emotion. The good priest who had brought her back to life could not try to save her soul. He withdrew, saying to Blanche:
“Let us pray, my daughter. »
Mlle de Savenay established himself from then on near the Baroness, and lavished on her the care and vigils of the most tender and devoted daughter. A smile, an affectionate caress, was all the poor patient could give in exchange for the assiduous care she received. Her embarrassed tongue couldn't articulate a single word.
Three weeks passed without bringing any change to this state so painful for all; and Blanche's watchful tenderness was undeniable. He barely had an hour left to go and hear mass on Sunday; but she did not complain about it: she knew that to leave God to serve one's neighbor is also to serve the Lord worthily.
Finally the baroness regained the use of speech, and she repeated with Blanche the hymn of thanksgiving. Then she tenderly thanked her for her care, worried about how long her illness had lasted, and how she had been stricken with the sudden illness that had nearly caused her death.
"I was not near you, Madame, and I learned from Julie that a letter...
- A letter! Ah! yes, I remember... What happened to this letter? Did Julie keep it?
- No, Madam, I released it gently from your hand, which was still crumpling it when I arrived.
"Have you read it, Blanche?" »
Mlle de Savenay answered nothing; but, taking the patient's hand, she drew from her bosom a ribbon to which was attached a little key. “Since that moment, Madame, this key has not left you. »
Mme de Barville held out his hand to Blanche: she felt the full value of his delicacy, and thanked him tenderly.
“Give me this letter, my dear child, I need to read it again.
“Pardon my refusal, Madame; but this letter cannot be returned to you without the doctor's authorization. »
The baroness seemed greatly annoyed; but recovering herself immediately, she went on with a kind of indifference: “Well! either, I will wait. The good citizen had presented himself several times since the Baroness' illness; and after she had expressed her gratitude to him, she only received with a very cold politeness, even with astonishment, the words of greeting, always dictated however by a zeal full of prudence, which the worthy pastor ventured to speak. address him. Soon even, M.me de Barville put into his relations with him such a marked tone of reserve and boredom, that the holy priest had to retire, grieved at finding himself powerless to save the soul after having saved the body.
Blanche's efforts had had no more success. Often the baroness seemed moved when the young girl spoke to her of God, of the happiness she had experienced in returning to him. More often still a fatal smile destroyed all of Blanche's hopes. The latter finally received the formal order of absolute silence on this matter.
How difficult it is for one who has grown weary in the way of the world and of the passions to break with his sinful habits and enter the narrow way which leads to heaven! And yet what does the sinner need to get out of the slavery in which he groans? goodwill. The mercy of the Lord is so great that the anointing of his grace softens the harshest sacrifices. Oh ! a thousand times happy the soul which from childhood follows the paths of the Lord, and which, under the wings of religion, can walk there until death!
My enemy pushed me with effort,
and I was about to fall; but the Lord sustained me. Ps. cxvii
The aspect of the castle of Lorbières was sad and gloomy. The larch and fir trees that surrounded this ancient feudal manor gave it an austere hue; and when one heard the wind blowing in the corridors, or sighing in the turrets, the soul, seized with an involuntary sadness, began to believe in gloomy presentiments, to fear bad news, to dread some misfortune.
Also the melancholy of the baroness increased as her stay at Lorbières was prolonged. His gaze had become colder, even harder; her bitter smiles, though less frequent on her lips, had something even harsher about them, and her strange manners increased the terror which she had always inspired.
On the doctor's orders, Blanche had returned to Mme.me de Barville the letter which had caused him such an unfortunate revolution. She read it over and over again; and yet how many times, during this reading, did we not see the tears furrowing his cheeks! The young girl had tried in vain to relieve this pain, it had only irritated him more: from then on he had to stop noticing it.
The year that Blanche was to spend with the baroness was drawing to a close, and the heart of the poor child was counting the hours with an impatience that her piety alone could moderate. For some time especially, she had become pensive; she started as soon as Mme de Barville spoke of his parents; she cast a painful look at him, then her lips moved as if she had murmured a prayer.
“Blanche,” the baroness told her one day, “we are going back to Paris next month. »
Mlle de Savenay remained silent.
“Did you not hear me, Mademoiselle?
"It pains me, Madame, to be obliged to remind you of your promises," resumed the young girl with gentle firmness; but you know the time has come when I must see my family again.
"Are you thinking of leaving me so soon?" exclaimed M.me from Barville.
'I counted all the days I spent away from my mother, Madam.
"And you want to abandon me, ungrateful child?"
“I strongly desire to return to Savenay, Madame; but I will keep there the memory of your kindness.
“Another year, Blanche; I have such great need of your friendship! I am so overwhelmed with grief!...
'I don't know of them, Madame, and I sympathize with them; but I know how sad my parents are.
"So do you believe that this romantic pain still lasts?" We live far from
- children ; I know that from experience.
- Ah! Madam, you were talking about your sorrows: wouldn't that be the first cause?
- What! You know?...
"That you have a son full of honor and probity far from you."
"Who made you known?"
"Those who weren't afraid to calumniate my father, Madame, also talked about the Baron de Barville." »
The baroness was silent: her countenance was embarrassed; his face was on fire; his eye so proud nevertheless lowered before Mrs.lle of Savenay.
“Blanche,” she finally said after a painful effort, “stay with me for another year, I beseech you!
'I wish I could grant you what you ask of me, Madame; but duty calls me to my parents, to my father, whose days are numbered, whose too bitter sorrows have shattered his existence.
'I promised to provide for yours, child; I will do more: I will make it brilliant. Oh ! don't deny me!
"A much dearer hope was attached to your promise, Madam, and alone gave us strength and courage to endure a year of separation." I lost that hope; nothing will now keep me away from my aged father. Oh ! that at least her child remains to her, if she has to give up trying to recover her honour.
'Make no mistake, Blanche, I have more means than you think to rehabilitate your father's honor.
“I cannot believe it, madam; you would not have allowed him to be stigmatized so publicly, if it had only been up to you to make known his innocence.
"White," resumed M.me de Barville with emotion, you love your father too much not to understand the love I have for my son: well! I cannot testify to the innocence of M. de Savenay without ruining the Baron de Barville. Judge for yourself what my conduct should be; or rather listen to me to the end, dear child, and you will not want to destroy my last hopes. Your father is touching his grave; he fled the world, which did not believe his word: what matter to him the judgments of the multitude? Stay with me for another year, Blanche, and you will become my daughter; you will ensure the happiness of your family by marrying my son. You will make all my wishes come true, and thanks to you I will see my only child again!
"I can't understand you, Madame: I don't know what connection the Marquis de Savenay's innocence has with the Baron de Barville's fortune." The only happiness of my family is the glory of its name, and however honorable your offers may be, I cannot accept any of them, when you refuse to proclaim the injustice of which it is the victim. With all the more reason would I believe myself a thousand times guilty if I remained distant any longer from those who no longer have anything to hope for except the love of their child. »
Mme de Barville was violently agitated: she opened her writing desk, took out a packet sealed with her arms, and trying to appear calm: "This packet contains the proofs of your father's innocence," she said to the young girl: burn these papers, I call back my son, he gives you his name, and you have a rank, a fortune...
"Of which they defrauded my father!" cried Blanche impetuously. Never, Madame, never! Rather a thousand times poverty, shame, even death with him.
"So you refuse?"
"I must, ma'am.
- Well ! let it be as you wished. »
And the baroness threw the papers she had in her hand into the fire.
“Misery, shame with your father! she added; you chose it! »
Blanche rushed to seize the papers; but the flame had devoured them in an instant.
“Do you still want to leave? asked the baroness.
— More than ever, Madame; I need to forget what I have just seen and heard. »
Blanche walked away quickly, doubting the fidelity of her senses, so indignant was her soul at such culpable conduct.
There is a name, the charm of life.
whom the earth loves and the heavens honor:
Refuge, hope of all the unfortunate...
You guess ! it is the name of Mary!
Blanche slept very little. The dawn found her praying earnestly and shedding bitter tears. Barely seventeen years old, and already so many ordeals! It is because there are souls of choice whose virtue grows in the midst of pain, as the lily rises in the midst of thorns. It is because the road of duty is rough and sterile: the heart bleeds following it. But it leads to heaven, where reign the happiness that no one can ravish, the joys that nothing can disturb.
This thought: I have done my duty, meditated upon in the presence of God, soon brought peace to Blanche's soul. She looked back, and found no fault, no ingratitude to reproach herself with regard to the baroness. She examined the present, and felt that she forgave everything. Then, lifting the veil of the future a little, she saw the joys of the family, some beautiful days similar to those of her childhood, and she thanked the Lord.
Mme de Barville sent for Blanche, who appeared before her with the modesty of innocence and the calm of resignation. To the reproaches which were addressed to her on her ingratitude she only opposed silence; to new offers, new refusals; to piquant sarcasm, an angelic sweetness. Irritated by this perfect measure, the Baroness told her that she would leave her in the state of poverty in which she had taken her; that she would have her taken to her parents, but that, as for the precious gifts with which she had showered her, they were to be given to Julie.
Blanche had given notice of this order: all her jewels had already been put aside. Before
to leave the baroness, she came forward to kiss her hand, and thought she saw a tear in the eyes of her haughty protector. Indeed, M.me de Barville was moved; she felt a violent pain, which despite all her efforts showed in her features, which were usually so inflexible. She loved M.lle de Savenay as much as she was capable of loving. She had become accustomed to that charm which simple and modest virtue spreads around her, and this good was about to escape her; she was going to be alone, and isolation was what she feared the most. But her wounded pride was irritated by the mildness of her victim, and prevailed over her heart: she dismissed Blanche with her usual haughty expression.
A different scene awaited Blanche in her room. She had hardly entered it when Julie rushed to her steps and fell on her knees, her face bathed in tears, her voice broken by sobs, begging for a pardon which she recognized as not deserving.
Mlle de Savenay raised her kindly, and promised not to harbor any resentment against her.
" Oh! Miss, you don't know how guilty I am: Mme the Baroness...
“Respect your mistress, Julie. I forgive you with all my heart. My parents admitted that they had been deceived; they forget their sufferings; I will do my best not to retain any memory of it.
- What ! you forgive me! exclaimed Julie again.
“With all my heart, I repeat it to you. Remember only in the future that obedience has its limits, and that it must cease as soon as it does violence to the law of God.
- Oh! I want to know this law which gives you so much courage and kindness. No, Mademoiselle, I will no longer content myself with admiring you; I will follow your example, whatever it may cost me. »
MII de Savenay gave some advice to Julie, and promised her again not to harbor any resentment against her; then she prepared to go to Lestelle to visit Mariette Lambert and her family one last time.
She was received by these good people with respectful cordiality. Mariette was overjoyed. She rejoiced in the happiness which Blanche was about to taste on finding herself, after a year of exile, in the midst of what she held most dear; this thought made her forget the pain that she herself would feel at being away from Mrs.lle de Savenay, whom she loved all the more because it had cost her more care.
The two young girls went to the chapel of Betharram. There, at the foot of the miraculous image venerated by all the surrounding countries, Blanche prayed for all those she loved; but his fervor seemed to redouble again when his thoughts turned to the woman who had made him suffer so much for a year; for prayer is the revenge of the Christian.
Mlle de Savenay had the day before taken leave of the good cure of Lorbières; she bade farewell to the Lambert family, to Mariette, whom the Lord had used to bring her back to him. It seemed to Blanche that she was leaving old friends, so touched was she by the affection shown her.
Back in Lorbieres, she still took the time to write the Baroness a sweet farewell. She allowed herself neither complaint nor reproach; she spoke the language of affection and gratitude, begging the Baroness to remember that with a word she would restore happiness to a whole family; she ended her letter by expressing to him the hope of having to bless her for this new benefit.
The moment had come, Blanche handed Julie the letter which she had addressed to the Baroness, and left in the care of a trusted woman who was to deliver it to her family.
Yes, that's that sweet greenery
Who so often gladdened my eyes!...
I see it again, this beautiful nature!... These woods so cool, these fields loved by heaven!
And all over there... that old cottage... My heart beats... 0 solemn moment!
Soon, soon I will kiss my mother! They are waiting for me there... it is the paternal roof.
The time of exile was about to end for Blanche. Every moment brought her closer to her hometown, the cradle of her childhood. She has already hailed the land of Brittany, so dear to her heart; the cities, the towns, the countryside flee before it with the rapidity of lightning. She recognizes all these places, which live in her memory. Finally she lets out an involuntary cry: she sees Savenay!
A few minutes pass, and Mlle de Savenay is out of the car; Inwardly blaming the slowness of the woman accompanying her, she heads for her family's home, astonished, almost worried that she hasn't yet met anyone of her family. Night was approaching. Blanche, having arrived at the door, gently lifts the secret, and is already quivering with happiness on seeing again this garden where she took her first steps. No one heard Blanche and her driver; Fidèle alone rushes towards his young mistress, and his long barking betrays the presence of Mrs.Ile de Savenay, whose eager caresses retard the march. Renee's trembling voice calls, but in vain, the noisy animal. However, he rushes forward, crosses the steps and precedes the happy child, who was not expected until the next day.
" My daughter! exclaims M.me of Savenay. And Blanche is pressed to the mother's breast.
" My daughter ! continues the good father, stretching out his arms to his dear child; for he is crippled now, and can hardly support himself.
Blanche is on her knees; she covers her hands with kisses and tears, while the old man, pressing his child's forehead to his lips, can only repeat: "My daughter!" »
Mlle de Savenay finds there all those she loves: the venerable priest, who blesses God for his return; the Comte de Brior, a little ashamed of the result of his negotiations; Mme d'Ormeck, happy to see in port the one she had left under the threat of the storms; no new friends, but old ones always faithful. All were gathered that day around the old man; for it was the girl's birthday.
Renee had hitherto contemplated this ravishing picture of one of the purest joys which Heaven gives to earth; she too would like to kiss the dear traveler! Blanche sees him, and throws herself into his arms.
Blanche's friends never tire of gazing at her, so much does she seem to them embellished despite the pains she has experienced, pains the extent of which they are however far from knowing. She also casts her tender gaze over everything around her. She likes to find that four-poster bed sheltered by ample serge curtains; the old armchair so convenient to the old man, and on which she was so happy to see herself sitting when she was still only a very small child. She divines the branches of jasmine shading the window, fixing her eyes on the jealousy lowered by her mother's care to guarantee her father's weakened eyes tomorrow from the rising sun. Memories of the early years, happy the soul where your worship is so religiously preserved! happy the heart where selfishness has not erased your touching impressions!
Mme de Savenay had torn herself away from these sweet enjoyments to preside over some preparations necessitated by Blanche's arrival. She had also prepared everything in a spare room so that the person responsible for bringing Blanche home could rest from the fatigues of the journey. But the orders of Mme de Barville were precise; this lady had to leave immediately. When Mme de Savenay had accompanied her to the chaise post which was to take her away, she returned to her friends, and, apologizing to them, she demanded for her darling daughter the rest she so badly needed. No one thought of it, in fact, and Blanche even less than anyone else: she was so happy to be there! So we separated, but after having promised to meet the next day.
It was very sweet to Blanche, that evening kiss given by her good parents! She had been deprived of it for so long! What a peaceful sleep she experienced under her father's roof! She left a soft couch, magnificent furniture, all the pursuits of luxury, and yet her dreams were cheerful, her rest delicious as they had never been, either in the Hotel de Barville, or even at the Chateau de Lorbieres. It's because all the comforts in the world, all the brilliance of its sumptuous parties are not worth the joys of the heart.
When she awoke, Blanche's first glance fell on her mother. She soon ran to kiss M. de Savenay, who still believed himself the plaything of a dream. This pious duty accomplished, Blanche runs to Marie's grove; for for to-day M. de Savenay forbids him the cares of the household. What is his surprise when he finds the image of his good mother adorned as on the day when she lavished her care on him! How happily she prays in this dear sanctuary! Here again she did not forget either the baroness or Mariette, and in memory of this good girl she would call it from then on the grove of Betharram.
His little birds also receive his visit and his caresses. Soon, as before, they come to eat from his hand. Nothing has changed in Blanche's life. The year passed without destroying anything in its rapid march. Oh! under this humble roof where she has already found happiness, how the young girl feels vanity, the nothingness of all that the world esteems! She lived amid wealth; pleasures hastened to his steps; praise flattered his ear, and of all these frivolous trifles what remains to him today? A bitter memory and some remorse. And that's what we want, what we call happiness!
You have delivered me from the snares of the unjust tongue and from the lips of the workers of lies; you have been my defender against those who accused me.
The friends of the happy family were exact to the appointment. Their hearts needed to hear Blanche's story to forgive her for the wrongs that had afflicted them. They therefore came as judges, but as judges quite disposed to indulgence; so Blanche presented herself in confidence before this merciful tribunal.
After a naive account of her mistakes, her sorrows, her return to God and her stay in Lorbières, Mrs.lle de Savenay added:
“The last letter I received from my father broke my heart; he doubted my affection! I hastened to answer him, vividly depicting my remorse and my love. My letter remained unanswered, and my pain increased with the rigor my father opposed to my repentance. I confided my sorrows to the pious child whose tender care had given me back more than my life, by raising me from the abyss in which I slept. She told me that M.me de Barville, having read my letter, had only wished to leave the task of forwarding it to Julie. Mariette did not confide her suspicions to me; but I thought I read them in his eyes, and they passed into my heart. However, I blamed myself for them as a fault, and, tormented by these thoughts, I ended by confiding my worries to the new guide of my conscience. He advised me to combat these uncharitable suspicions; but he advised me to send him a letter which he himself would address to my father, asking him to send him the reply. She was not long in coming: my good parents granted me the forgiveness I so tenderly asked for.
"Admit it, Blanche," my father wrote to me, "that a child who only writes to her parents ten times in nine months deserves a few reproaches. »
"Ten times in nine months!" I cried involuntarily; but at the very time when pleasure had so strongly captivated me, a month never passed without my having written at least twice, often more. For three months I could not write, it is true; but I was so seriously ill!
“Monsieur le curé told me then that the baroness had probably not deemed it necessary to worry my family, since she still had hopes of saving me. As for the other letters, they might have gotten lost, he told me charitably, they would be found later. Alas! I easily guessed that such was not his thought. Mme de Barville made fun of my credulous confidence; she deceived my parents, my friends, I cried, I want to call her to account!...
"Calm down, my child," said the holy pastor to me. If Mme de Barville has deceived you, she will not admit it, and you will have great difficulty in keeping yourself within the bounds of the respect you owe him. Be wise, my daughter, but with a thoroughly Christian wisdom. The time of your departure is approaching, be unshakable in the will to return to your family; yield to no consideration; lose everything if you have to, but leave. Keep absolutely silent about what you suspect. You begged for a pardon, your father grants it in spite of all that the ungrateful levity that your correspondence contained; God offers you the means to make an atonement. Accept this means, and if your strength fails you in the career you are embracing, one glance at the cross, my dear daughter, and your sufferings will seem light to you.
“I promised to obey my guide; but it cost my heart cruelly. Julie, whom I rightly suspected of being the Baroness' accomplice, filled me with a repugnance that I found it difficult to overcome. The baroness herself!... my soul quivered when I found myself near her. One day she reproached me for neglecting Savenay: I was so indignant at such a reproach that I would have broken my word if the announcement of a visit had not allowed me to withdraw. I still wonder what the motives for such behavior could be. It's a mystery that confuses me.
"It's an infamous combination, this mystery!" The upright heart will never understand anything about it, exclaimed the Comte de Brior. Come, Blanche, do you have my letters? »
Mlle de Savenay had brought them all; she looked for those of the count.
"Do you have mine?" asked M. Demay, while M. de Brior and his niece examined each note attentively.
Blanche handed them to him immediately.
"That's right," said the Count.
"These letters are mine," added Madame d'Ormeck.
The poor child felt her heart swell when she saw that her friends had been able to show her so much indifference.
"A letter is missing," exclaimed M. de Brior suddenly. Did you burn one, Blanche?
- Oh ! No ; I assure you that is all I received.
'It was because she was short, but a little green, that one; look, I can tell you the content; if you destroyed it out of spite, you will at least recognize it.
'Don't bother writing to us, 'please; neither my niece nor I would in future receive the fagots that "your impertinence" sells.
“Roger de Brior. »
"Do you remember that one, Blanche?"
—It did not reach me: it would have carried too much light with it. But do you have those letters which irritated you so much?
- Oh ! the fire has done good and prompt justice, my dear child. Mme d'Ormeck has kept, I believe, one which I have not been able to seize; but all the others are in ashes.
“And the one I have I won't even show you; she will join the others, said Mr.me of Ormeck. Poor child! you are sufficiently justified in our eyes. It is evident that your writing has been forged to alienate the hearts of your friends, and deprive you of their advice.
— The absence of several of my letters to M.lle de Savenay, letters which have remained unanswered, lead me to think like you, Madame, said M. Demay; and the innocence of Mlle Blanche seems to me superabundantly proven.
"But what could this woman have thought?" cried M. de Brior.
'The human heart is a maze which you would seek in vain to penetrate, my dear Count. It is frightening to think that, on the edge of the grave, one continues to veer off course; yes, too often the impious die as he lived.
- Oh! no, no, cried Blanche. My father, my good mother, all of you whom she has made suffer so much, you will pray for her, and your charity will merit her repentance.
"You are right, my child," said the good priest, "we will pray, yes, we will all pray." »
The Comte de Brior shook his head in disapproval; but Blanche, looking at him with a supplicating air:
“She is so unhappy! she says.
"We shall see, we shall see," replied the count.
Mlle de Savenay resumed his story, omitting the gravity of his illness and the reason which had caused it. She spared the Baroness, spoke of Julie's repentance, not without frequent interruptions from the Comte de Brior, who made Madame pay dearly.me de Barville the praise he had formerly showered upon him.
At last Blanche was back among her family. This thought soon drove out all the others, and the evening ended in the outpouring of a prayer dictated by two sublime sentiments: forgetfulness of insults and charity.
Do you see this old man! his shameful misery
Has the right to be proud, and don't reach out
He hides his sorrows. His painful complaint
Ask only God for tomorrow's bread.
one more sacrifice
It was time for Blanche's presence to bring some happiness to her family. M. de Savenay, recently stricken with paralysis, sometimes experienced severe suffering. The care demanded by his condition had increased the burdens of this family, whose income was so modest; and poverty with its anguish threatened to overwhelm him.
The holiest joys therefore cannot be free from bitterness, remain pure
of any mixture! Blanche, so happy to find herself under the paternal roof, soon felt that pain is found everywhere, and hers increased from her inability to relieve that of her good parents.
She then reproached herself for having left the baroness. She thought sometimes of going back to her, of imploring her pity. His pity! poor child! the woman whose pride had withered her heart would not have understood your approach, and her proud disdain would have overwhelmed you. She couldn't even stop at this thought: hadn't she seen Mr.me de Barville to annihilate his father's last hope of justification!
Blanche hid from her parents the thoughts that agitated her; but she groaned before God; she deposited her worries in the bosom of her friends. “What will I do? she told them; what side to take? Will I then see succumbing to misery those who have surrounded me with so much care and love, those to whom I owe my life! I have acquired some talents, some knowledge, and these precious gifts are stricken with sterility in this remote corner where we live! My God, so-
hold my courage, do not allow me to succumb to my despair! »
Blanche's just affliction had given rise to a thought in the mind of the parish priest of Saint-Gervais; he hesitated, however, to communicate it to her; for, although he knew she was endowed with a strong soul, barely a month had elapsed since her return, and it was a question of sending her away still further. However, it was necessary to act: the holy old man armed himself with courage, prayed to the Lord, and taking advantage of a moment when the young girl poured out her heart to him:
“Providence comes to your aid, my daughter; but its benefits will cost you a sacrifice.
- Oh ! speak, my father; God will give me the courage to accomplish it.
— Mme Porny asks me for a governess for her daughter, barely eight years old. »
The poor child felt her heart break: Mr. Porny was the owner of the rich spinning mill built on the ruins of Savenay.
“Well, my child? resumed the priest after a few moments of silence.
"You will introduce me," replied Blanche.
(a moved voice; but let my father never know... He would die of it.
'Your father will ignore your sacrifice, my daughter; at least he will know only the weakest part of it. I will strongly recommend you, and I will introduce you under your mother's name, so as not to draw attention to you. »
A real satisfaction soon succeeded in Blanche's heart after the confusion which had at first taken possession of it. His devotion had soon triumphed over the weaknesses of pride. One point worried him, however: he had to speak to his father about a new separation, and at this thought his courage abandoned him. The good priest took charge of this painful mission. M. de Savenay spoke to him often enough of his anxieties for him to easily find an opportunity to submit this project to him. In fact, the very next day M. Demay was able to confide to the old man his daughter's plan.
With that delicate tact which charity alone can give, the holy priest depicted the consideration and affection which would surround Blanche in that house, where the pious Mme.me porny
him well known, would be for Mlle de Savenay a second mother. The old man, moved, hoping from that moment on for a sort of future for his daughter, did not suspect that she might have to suffer for a single instant. Besides, every Sunday she would go to see him. La Buretière, the name of a property newly added by Mr. Porny to his first acquisitions, was less than four kilometers from Savenay. Thus, frequent intercourse, useful distraction, positional advantage, happy future, it was all there.
It was for Blanche a sweet compensation for her sacrifice, the kind of vivacity with which her good father endeavored to extol to her the advantages she would find at La Buretière. She smiled at this enthusiasm, and the secret of these two hearts which immolated themselves one for the other was known only to Heaven and to the one who sacrificed herself even more, that is to say to the poor mother. . Mme de Savenay did not share her husband's illusion: he had had to be given complete confidence; but what would have overwhelmed M. de Savenay could hardly add to the affliction of a mother leaving her daughter to the thousand dangers of such a position. How much strength God must have placed in a maternal heart to resist such sacrifices!
Mlle de Savenay had scarcely tasted the happiness of a reunion so ardently desired, that he had to tear himself away from the tenderness of his parents. But, strong in her devotion, she generously endured this new ordeal.
Mme d'Ormeck, so devoted also to the Savenay family, undertook to present the young girl to Mme.me porny; it was with a kind of pride that she accomplished this task, and the behavior of her young friend excited her admiration so much that she had to force herself not to let slip the secret that it was important not to let slip. to unveil.
Mme Porny gave Blanche the most affectionate welcome. She was a frail and delicate woman, whose every feature revealed suffering. The appearance of M.lle of Savenay, all that the parish priest of Saint-Gervais had told him, made him hope to find in the one who was going to share his solitude, not a confidante, for never a complaint had come from her mouth, but a friend who would make his sorrows easier to bear. For her part, Blanche felt for the young woman a sympathy which always springs from the conformity of situation in souls animated by true charity. Definitely M.me Porny had to suffer; From then on the young governess glimpsed the hope of working to relieve her: that was enough to revive her courage and give her confidence.
Madame Porny offered Blanche a salary of twelve hundred francs, and joy filled the generous girl's heart when she considered the ease that such a sum would bring to her family.
Séraphine, a sweet and blond little girl, weak and graceful like her mother, was introduced by her to her young governess. She took his hand and told him naively that she would love him very much. Mlle de Savenay kissed her tenderly; the child was already very dear to her, for she had thought of the obligations she was imposing on herself. Do not the hearts which have understood filial piety have an instinct of maternal love?
Mmc Porny lived alone in La Buretière, and received no one there: it was a consolation for Blanche, whom her mother had had to protect against the dangers of her situation, and who knew the world well enough to fear it henceforth. His dependence would also be less painful to him; for, in spite of her apparent firmness, she barely surmounted the thought of it; it would have been even more painful to him there, especially where his ancestors had lived with so much glory! It was a weakness no doubt; but Blanche's thoughts had been exalted under the influence of a father whom she dearly loved, and whom his misfortunes had rendered still more proud of his so long illustrious name.
Busy with the care of increasing his fortune, M. Porny hardly appeared at La Buretière. He was a man of money and speculation. His wife's dowry had served for the acquisition of the old manor, and he had increased his capital a hundredfold by his industry. Jealous of adding to his name that of an important estate, he had bought La Buretière; the chateau had become the home of his wife, so that he could further enlarge his workshops in Savenay with everything that had formerly been his family's residence.
Hard, proud, despotic, M. Porny was feared and hated by all those who depended on him. But his wife was full of charity: she visited the sick workers, instructed their children, gave help to the most needy, and treated them all with that kindness which wins the heart even more by its charms than by the benefits it bestows. Also Mme Porny was dear, venerated by all, and the day she left Savenay, many tears were shed at the mill. However, she had continued to be the protective angel, the comforter of these poor families, and Blanche was happy to have to share her solicitude for them.
She also found great consolation in the care she gave to her young pupil, in whom she soon recognized the happiest disposition. A tender piety, an unalterable gentleness, a touching compassion for the sufferings of the unfortunate, made Séraphine cherished by all those around her. His intelligence, his aptitude made the task which Blanche had imposed on herself very easy.
The good priest enjoyed his work. Thanks to M.lle de Savenay, the poverty of his family had given way to a gentle ease. Every Sunday she came to enjoy the happiness she brought, and to draw new strength from the caresses of her parents, from the advice of her charitable guide.
The Comte de Brior had at first disapproved of Blanche's conduct; but he was silent before the results, which he could not understand before they had struck his eyes. Soon he came to admire the girl's wisdom and courage, and he himself was wise enough to research the principle. His good faith was too perfect, his soul too loyal, for him not to be led to practice a religion to which alone he could attribute so many benefits. He returned to his duties, and found himself so well off, that he was happy to bring the glory first to God, but also to his dear Blanche, whose example, he said, had done more to beat down his pride than the most skilful preachers could have done.
Pure soul, the bread of Angels
A divine concert of praise
To the sky was rising.
And your sorry mother
The Christian Heart Said:
Lord, you don;.' gave it.
You want it: take back your property.
An Angel in Heaven.
For two years now, Mr.lle de Savenay, still known by her mother's name, trained Séraphine in the practice of the virtues, while working to adorn her mind with the knowledge proper to her age. She had not often seen M. Porny; for the latter, speculating and working incessantly, gave few moments to the enjoyments of the heart, and left in the most complete abandonment the
two beings who alone should have attached him to life.
Blanche saw Madame's tears flow almost every day.me porny; she understood his pain, she admired his courage. My God! she often said to herself, what use are these treasures that we envy? I see crying even in those places where luxury and wealth should leave no desire.
Mme Porny had powerful reasons for consolation in his solitude. Completely devoted to God and to her beloved daughter, she saw this dear child grow every day in virtue and piety. Séraphine was all her gentleness in this world; however, with this sweetness was still mingled some bitterness. A secret presentiment told him that this darling child was too perfect for the earth. Alas! this maternal terror was soon to be justified.
Seraphine had just reached her tenth year, and they were already thinking of preparing her for the holiest action in life, for her first communion. She had no other thought, and her naive joy made her mother start. Suddenly a sudden and cruel illness strikes the young child. No sooner has it been reached than one has already lost all hope. The child has understood the danger that threatens her, and her tears flow in abundance. To leave his beloved mother!... But the minister of religion speaks to him of the delights of heaven, of that reunion in the bosom of God, where no separation will be to be feared, and a sweet smile mingles with his tears. . She then asks for the grace to receive her God. His solid education, his premature reason, his tender piety enabled the holy pastor to satisfy his desires. He promised to bring him the holy viaticum.
A gentle joy animates the features of the dying woman. She reaches for her mother's hand, kisses her tenderly and wants to be prepared for this great action. Poor mother! she rejoices, she hopes for a miracle: she loves her daughter so much!
The night is spent in prayers, and at dawn the Lord comes to visit the afflicted family. With him strength, resignation, peace entered this house. Séraphine already tastes the happiness of heaven, and, without her mother's pain, this life which escapes her would not wring a regret from her. She had asked for her father; several messages had been sent to Mr. Porny; but his daughter had but a breath of life left when he arrived. She placed her father's hand and her mother's hand on her heart, pressed them softly in hers, and, murmuring once more the sacred names which her pious mother made her stammer from childhood, she smiled softly, and died. .
Mr. Porny's pain immediately bursts into cries, sobs, blasphemies. That of the mother is mute as the grave, and increases with all the outbursts of her husband. He wants a sumptuous convoy, a rich mausoleum to honor the remains of Séraphine. Mme Porny seeks by what good works she can ensure the eternal happiness of her daughter. She doubtless hopes: for what mother does not hope for the salvation of her child? and his was so pure! But who would not tremble at the thought of the judgments of God?
According to M. Porny's wishes, Seraphine was given the most magnificent funeral. The desolate mother caused abundant alms to be paid, relieved many miseries in the name of the one she mourned. Nature and faith are there with their works: from which would we ask for consolation in pain?
The sympathy that Mme Porny found in Blanche's heart made her even dearer to him. She asked him as a favor not to abandon her. Mlle de Savenay consented to this all the more willingly in that she thus assured his parents the continuation of a comfort of which the old man felt the full value.
This arrangement was not to last long. Mme Porny could not bear the blow which had struck her. His health was seriously affected, and the doctors ordered him to stay for a few months with his family, who lived in the South. She therefore separated from her young friend, however after she had obtained the promise to meet her on her return. Blanche therefore returned to Savenay, counting on returning to La Buretière; but she was no longer to leave her father's house. The time of trials was about to end.
To do your will, Lord,
and to fear your judgments,
your power overthrows those whom your power
Fléchier, Or. fun.
Hardly had she returned to her parents when Blanche happily resumed her humble duties as a housewife. She wanted the most tiring work to become her share; for the good Renee, so old and so infirm, was little more in the house than a respectable and sacred guest; in spite of her continual complaints, the young girl always took care to warn her in all that she still wanted to do to be of service. She was trying hard to show that she was unhappy about it; but Blanche was then so amiable and so gentle, that the good woman's remonstrances always turned into blessings for the angel whom the good Lord had placed near her: it was thus that she spoke of Blanche, that she loved with the liveliest tenderness.
Happy with the care they owed their daughter, with her gentle gaiety, which charmed all troubles, M. and M.me de Savenay still enjoyed the obliging address with which Blanche relieved their old servant, so devoted, and mingled their blessings with those of Renee.
Why is this peaceful life, which brought so much enjoyment to the Savenay family, so little enjoyed today? Why this sort of indifference which makes the duties of filial piety a heavy burden, a painful yoke for so many unfortunate children? It is because faith no longer shows in the head of the family the true representative of divine authority!
It was not so at Savenay. This house, so little favored by fortune, possesses
seduced all the treasures of a true and solid piety. Religion had taught each his duty, and the route indicated was faithfully followed. So calm reigned in all hearts; all foreheads were cloudless, or if some suffering came to alter the peace, a caress, eager care soon brought back the expression of tender gratitude.
One day, while Blanche was going about the daily care she had reserved for herself, she heard the sound of a car stopping at the door. It was an unprecedented event in Blanche's life. She opens, however, because the bell has rung; she sees approaching her a young man of the most elegant exterior, who descends from a post-chaise. Convinced that he is mistaken, she is about to warn him of his mistake, when he, greeting her politely:
"This house is M. de Savenay's, Mademoiselle?" I tell him? .
- Yes sir. »
A weak voice then issued from the depths of the post-chaise, and articulated a few words which Blanche could not hear. The young man ran towards the car, and held out his hand to a person who seemed to get out with difficulty. Mlle de Savenay does not know what to think of such a visit. However, her usual thoughtfulness leads her to rush towards the lady whose gait is unsteady. Imagine her surprise when she hears these words:
“You wouldn't have come to me a second time, that's why I wanted to come to you.
- My God! exclaimed Blanche, am I mistaken, Madame? you would be...
"The Baroness de Barville, my dear Blanche, such as grief and remorse have made her." »
Renée, whom the unusual noise of a car had called to the window, runs to Mme.me de Savenay, and announces to him that Blanche has just received a very broken lady and a handsome young man who get out of a beautiful carriage together.
Mme de Savenay descends the stairs rapidly, and arrives at the moment when Blanche makes the Baroness sit down in the room on the ground floor, so that she can rest there for a moment, while M. and M.rai de Savenay will be informed of his arrival. The young girl presents her mother to the baroness, and her pleading gaze implores a favorable welcome for the one whom God has so harshly chastised.
Mme de Savenay has understood his daughter's mute language, for her brow has regained all its serenity; however, it is in a moved voice that she addresses the Baroness:
"Welcome to this house, Madame," she said, respectfully greeting the one she had so little expected to receive.
"The motive which brings me to it will assure me of your indulgence: I hope so, Madame, although I have no right to it." »
Blanche had gone up to M. de Savenay to prepare him for this strange visit. She found him unwilling to welcome the Baroness. The thought of his daughter's suffering, although he was far from knowing the full extent of it, made him inexorable. The poor child exhausted herself with good reasons, appealed to her father's heart and faith, and her gentle eloquence gained nothing over him.
Mlle de Savenay was beginning to despair, when the door suddenly opened, and
tapped on Mme de Savenay and on her son, the baroness appears on the threshold. She is pale and cannot support herself; his face is furrowed with deep wrinkles; his forehead so proud, his head so high are bent and dejected; on her discolored lips one would look in vain for that smile which seemed to throw insult and upset by irony. It was easy to understand that age had not wrought these changes: the hand of God alone had been able to bring down so much pride.
Her son, the Baron de Barville, stood beside her. He knew his mother's life, he had wanted to help her make amends for her grave errors, and his profound respect, his modest attitude showed enough that he was happier and prouder of his repentance than he could ever have been. the being of his rank and his splendour.
The countenance of the Baroness and that of her son impressed M. de Savenay; he only remembered that he was a Christian; all the rest was forgotten. The words of peace that came from his lips made the heart of his beloved daughter leap with joy.
"Yes, sir, I have come to implore your forgiveness and a few days of hospitality," said the baroness, touched by this welcome. My son will live in the city; but I have a lot to say, a lot to repair, I need all the strength and time I have left. »
Blanche had gone away for some internal care; when she returned to her father, he was attentively reading a paper, which he then gave to Baron de Barville, shaking his hand affectionately. The young man was moved by this cordial testimony of esteem. Pretexting some necessary arrangements for his stay at Savenay, he took leave of the family and of the baroness, who soon owed to the care of her hosts the rest she so badly needed.
Now exercise your mercy on me to comfort me.
History of the Baroness of Barville.
When the evening gathered round the hearth the friends of M. de Savenay, and they learned of the arrival of the Baroness and her son, their astonishment was at its height. Mr. Demay, always full of mercy, Mr.me d'Ormeck, always charitable, blessed Providence; but the Comte de Brior, still a little more soldier than Christian, complained aloud of what he called an unpardonable weakness on the part of M. de Savenay, and swore that he would not return to his friends as long as the Baroness would live under their roof.
"Good friend count," said Mme.lle de Savenay, if Mme de Barville is going to heaven, will you not refuse to enter there for fear of finding yourself with her?
"Leave me in peace, little Blanche," cried the count; can one suppose that such a woman ever enters heaven?
“As for me, I believe she is already on the road; but please answer my question: Suppose she went, what would you do then?
"What I would do!... what I would do!... No, certainly, I wouldn't want to lose my share of paradise for her."
- Well ! this is precisely what you are doing right now!
"Me! What do you mean?...
"And how, please?"
— By refusing to forgive a poor soul to whom God has sent repentance, and who, in the sincerity of her conversion, has faced pain, fatigue, death, perhaps, to come herself to repair wrongs that she reproaches herself with so much bitterness.
. "Come, come, your baroness has a lot to do to make amends."
'So she doesn't spare herself. It takes a lot of Christian courage to undertake such a journey, while still being ill, and that in order to come and humble oneself!
'It's true, I agree; but...
- Oh ! no buts, my dear count. If an unarmed enemy begged you for mercy, would your heart be hard enough to push him back?
"Come on, Blanche, it's a ruse of war." Where are you coming from?...”
Blanche and the Comte de Brior thus disputed the ground inch by inch throughout the
evening ; finally the victory remained in the rightful hands, and the count ended by granting the baroness a full and complete amnesty. He did more still, he opened an opinion which was unanimously adopted: it was a question of interrupting the dear evenings until the moment when it would be possible to resume them, without Mrs.me de Barville suffered from the presence of good family friends. This sacrifice certainly cost him more than the other. A generous heart expands in forgiving, it contracts in renouncing its friends; if only for one day.
The generous and cordial welcome of the Savenay family, the delicate attentions with which she was surrounded, restored to the Baroness de Barville a peace which she had not enjoyed for a long time. Her strength returned each day, and the hope of preserving her began to reappear in her son's heart. Every day she wanted to undertake the painful tale dictated by her conscience, and every day the solicitude of her hosts opposed her to a new obstacle. She triumphed, however, and despite their protests about the uselessness of these painful confessions, it was in these terms that she began her work of atonement:
“I was born under the weight of a double misfortune: a great name and a mediocre fortune. Disastrous gifts fell to me as a share: beauty, and an ardent, impetuous character, which knew obstacles only to surmount them. My mother discovered in me the germ of the fatal passions which exercised such a sad influence on my life; but she died before she could bring any remedy to the evil which her tenderness feared. I lost everything in losing her.
“A Christian education would have developed what God had placed good in my heart, and repressed those incipient faults which precipitated me into such a deep abyss: it was not given to me. I was raised for the world, which became the idol to which I sacrificed my rest, my honor, everything, even my conscience.
“Baron de Barville asked for and obtained my hand. Endowed with all the qualities of mind and heart, he united the noblest soul with the most excessive kindness. He loved me with a tenderness that would have assured me the most perfect happiness, if the enjoyments of a peaceful interior had been capable of satisfying my vanity. I wanted to shine on the stage of the world; M. de Barville yielded to my desires, and soon the world and its pleasures intoxicated me with all their seductions.
“Soon I became a mother, and the duties imposed by this sacred title were sacrificed to the attraction that captivated me entirely. I had acquired an irresistible ascendancy over the Baron de Barville; my whims were laws to him; our fortune was swallowed up in the abyss of pleasures, for with us celebrations followed celebrations, a ruinous luxury surrounded us; but, skilled in the fatal art of dissimulation, I covered the edges of the abyss with flowers, and M. de Barville did not see its depth.
“A man admitted into our intimacy gave me wise advice: he spoke to me of my children, showed them to me, receiving only sad mediocrity as their inheritance. I shudder at this thought, I thanked him for his courageous frankness. O my God, how he deceived me!
“My uncle, yours, Monsieur, received me kindly. He even applauded the successes I obtained in the world; but these successes were my ruin. I was beginning to be frightened by it when one day this man I was telling you about earlier came to find me and gave me some papers.
"Don't allow yourself to be discouraged," he said to me, "the rich heritage of M. de Ternoy is assured to you, if you know how to act."
“Then he withdrew.
“Left alone, my first care was to open these papers. Your name strikes my eyes; you were accused there, Monsieur, of having betrayed your country and delivered arms to foreigners. I shivered; but the proofs were there; they seemed obvious to me; I began to understand the words of this unfortunate man. What to do though? for I did not want to be the instrument of your ruin; and when this man returned, he found me unshakable in my resolution. Alas! why did I not drive away so formidable a being! »
The Baroness had undertaken a task beyond her strength. She was obliged to suspend her story, and a few days passed before she was in a condition to resume it.
Far from you, oh my God, my desiccated soul found neither rest, nor pleasure, nor happiness. By shameful ties to the earth attached, I stifled your voice in the bottom of my heart.
Continuation of the story of the Baroness
“When the passions have taken hold of a poor soul, continued the baroness, taking up her story, no one can foresee where it will end. M. de *** persuaded me that I would do you a service by warning M. de Ternoy before publicity had revealed your faults to him. "He will perhaps disinherit him," he said to me; but at least he will save his name from infamy. I yielded to this perfidious advice, and I thought I served his friendship, while I was the instrument of his hatred.
“I went to see M. de Ternoy, and, still trembling at the thought of the harm I was about to cause, I communicated to him the fatal papers of which I was the depositary. I can still see the pallor of his forehead, his complete annihilation when he gave me these false testimonies. He let out only these words: 0 my sister, I will save him for you! He was powerful, he made his friends act; the affair was put to rest, and it was thought to spare you. But calumny pursued you: there was talk of forged notes, forged signatures, and your disgrace confirmed these accusations.
“However, I implored M. de Ternoy for you; he remained deaf to my prayers, and died shortly afterwards, bequeathing to me the goods which belonged to you. Baron de Barville believed in your innocence; he demanded full restitution from me. I hesitated, I wanted to wait until you could justify yourself; ambition devoured my soul: I pitied you, I accused you; I tried to find you guilty in order to justify myself in my own eyes.
“The hand of God soon struck me: my three children fell ill, and only my Charles was preserved for me. Baron de Barville was hit in his turn. From then on my devotion knew no bounds; my anxiety was all the more cruel as I made more efforts to conceal it. My husband's tenderness was disturbed by the assiduous care I had allowed no one to take; I had to fight him incessantly so as not to leave his bedside.
“One day, however, overcome by his solicitudes, overwhelmed with fatigue and finding his state less alarming, I went to take a few hours of rest; Hardly had I closed my eyes when he called me eagerly. I hasten to her, and her agitation frightens me. "Claire," he said to me, "M. de Ternoy's inheritance no longer belongs to you: M. de Savenay is innocent." to him.
“I grasped eagerly what he presented to me, and I tried to calm M. de Barville. I succeeded only in reading these papers: the letter was from the slanderer of M. de Savenay; it contained all his confessions. He added to it the authentic documents which proved both his own guilt and the innocence of M. de Savenay. At the end of his life, eternity had appeared to him terrible, threatening; he had recognized his crime, and the secret of his iniquity had escaped him with the marks of the bitterest repentance. A terrible pain penetrated my heart. This revelation robbed my son of almost everything that my mad prodigality had spared him. However, it was necessary to resolve on restitution; I promised the Baron de Barville to take care of it. He himself, with his failing hand, wished to write to the Marquis de Savenay; but, this duty accomplished, his illness grew worse, and the growing anxieties which came to assail me made me delay the execution of my promise.
“My son never left his father, and lavished on him the most tender care. But each day destroyed our hopes, and soon it was no longer possible to flatter ourselves of a cure.
“M. de Barville saw himself dying, and he pressed me relentlessly to fulfill this res-
title, which he so ardently desired. But the assiduous care which her condition demanded furnished me only too just reasons for postponing it.
"M. de Barville received the last sacraments, and, as if he had foreseen the temptations which would come to assail me, he made me swear not to delay this step any longer, which was to restore peace and honor to a family Sorry. I swore, in fact, and my oath was sincere: I was then resolved to make every sacrifice.
“That was one of M. de Barville's last words; he gently squeezed Charles's hand and mine, and died in our arms.
“Never loss was more fatal than that which I suffered in losing the Baron de Barville. In the presence of his deathbed, no sacrifice would have stopped me. But business had to be thought about: my son's guardians demanded an account of Mrs.me from Barville. Alas! my extravagant spending had dissipated it. I recoiled from the shame of a confession, and the most notable part of my uncle's good made up the deficit.
"Charles, who had inherited his father's noble soul, soon tried to talk to me about the fatal restitution. I dodged first. His solicitations became more pressing; I showed discontent; I soon even lost my temper, and formally declared that I owed nothing to the man whom M. de Ternoy had disinherited.
“My son was astonished at first, tried to calm my excitement, even offered to restore from his own property what seemed to him legitimately acquired from M. de Savenay, insisted on the irreparable harm I was doing to his family, and, finding me inflexible, he put the ocean between him and me.
“What I felt then, I cannot express: pride fought in me against maternal love. For him to triumph, it would have been necessary to confess to my son that I had thrown into the abyss of pleasures the inheritance which belonged to him. Rather die ! I cried in my blindness, and pride prevailed.
“The voice of conscience had to be stifled; the world again received all my homage, and its own intoxicated me without consoling me. A dreadful void made itself felt in my heart: boredom pursued me in the midst of the most brilliant circles; loneliness scared me. I tired myself seeking sleep, and sleep fled from me. These anguishes were a blessing from God; it was remorse, alas! and I was working to smother it!
“A few letters from my son reached me from time to time; but I thought I read nothing but reproaches, and my self-respect was hurt. This time again he triumphed over my tenderness; I forbade Charles to write to me, and I found myself again quite alone in the universe.
“Around the same time, I met the Comte de Brior, whom I had known formerly. They spoke of M. de Savenay; they even dared to attack him in his presence; he defended it with all the zeal of a warm friendship; Alone against all, but strong in his intimate conviction, he proclaimed his friend's innocence, and reduced to silence those who had made themselves his detractors. And I, who could justify M. de Savenay with a word in front of everyone, was silent!
“Inexplicably, this noble conduct touched me. Did I think my conscience was relieved by this homage paid by M. de Brior to the truth? I do not know ; but I felt drawn towards the count; I approached him, and spoke to him of his friends. I showed myself disposed to think like him on the stain which covered an illustrious name, and from then on intimacy was established between us.
“It was then that selfishness suggested to me an idea which flattered my pride and should, it seemed to me, reassure my conscience. This young daughter of M. de Savenay, if I called her near
Me ? In the isolation that kills me, it would be a consolation to me. My dower and what remains to me of M. de Ternoy's fortune constitute a revenue of twenty thousand francs. I will insure them to M.lle de Savenay, and Charles will believe that I have restored everything. I submitted my project to the Comte de Brior; but he made it a condition that I would justify this gift on the conviction in which I was of the innocence of the marquis: I thought I would compromise my secret by acquiescing to this condition; I refused.
“The count left me abruptly. I renounced the plan that had seduced me. However, it was a sweet dream that kept coming back to my mind. I was so unhappy, that I could not give up the idea of a change in my life. I tried to reconsider my refusals, promising myself to postpone the execution of my plans, and Blanche came to ease my troubles. »
The hour of prayer suspended the baroness' story for the moment.
The fool said in his heart: There is no God. ps. xiii.
M,born de Barville, in coming to Savenay, had imposed on himself a painful expiation. She soon experienced that the works of penance often bring pure delight to the heart which had dreaded its rigors. This tender pity of pure souls for guilty hearts lightened the burden she had thought she had imposed on herself. She was now so dear to the pious family whose forgiveness she had come to implore! The most affectionate and attentive care was lavished on him by Mrs.me de Savenay and by his daughter. The marquis held out a friendly hand to her, and, in her profound gratitude, the baroness believed more keenly in Heaven's clemency since she had become the object of such admirable indulgence.
"The presence of M.lle de Savenay fulfilled my hopes, resumed the baroness, continuing her narration; for, from the first sight, my heart devoted to her an almost maternal tenderness. However, his reserve, his timidity drove me to despair. I was afraid of not being loved by her, as one apprehends misfortune; her tenderness for her good parents, her affection for the devoted friends she left at Savenay, her confidence in them, all this irritated me, gave me umbrage. I resolved to isolate him from all his affections, hoping to attach him to me without reserve. I unfortunately succeeded in carrying out this dreadful project in part.
“Blanche wrote every other day to her dear parents; his letters skilfully disguised the grief that broke his heart; but she opened herself naively to Mrs.born d'Ormeck, to the good priest, his enlightened and pious guide, and asked them for some consolation and their wise advice.
“I had tried in vain to present it to the world. She resisted for a long time; however, I triumphed over her resistance, and I rejoiced in the triumphs she obtained in the brilliant circle into which I introduced her. The brilliance of the world dazzled him for a moment; pleasures charmed her; her tenderness had not diminished; but his leisure being more rare, his letters therefore became less frequent. It must be confessed, I reduced the number of them, and I burned all those which seemed to me the most affectionate. As for those addressed to her friends, almost all of them were altered, as well as the responses they elicited, and the poor child saw herself forced to give up an epistolary trade which had become for her without sweetness and without profit. I paid dearly for this work of iniquity for a woman attached to my service, who could skilfully counterfeit all the writings, so that she would help me to detach Blanche from what was dear to her.
Oh ! judge me, but don't condemn me, God has forgiven me. »
The baroness was crushed under the weight of this confession; but Blanche ran to her, hugged her effusively:
" Oh ! remember no more, she said to him, a past which is so bitter to you. Forget the wrongs that no one here remembers. »
The Marquis de Savenay, Blanche's pious mother, joined her in calming the baroness' emotion and begging her to finish a story that was painful for everyone, but heartrending for her.
"The generosity of your hearts makes expiation too easy," resumed Mrs.me de Barville; but the truth must come to light: give me a few more moments of attention.
“Blanche seemed to me more cheerful, happier. I hoped that her young imagination, seduced by the world and its pleasures, would become more attached to it every day, and that she would love a little more the one to whom she owed these new pleasures. Happy, alas! as I could be, I forgot that a moment was enough to open the eyes of the naive child whom I was dragging into the abyss where I had lost myself. “More tormented each day, more eager to attach to me the one whose presence relieved my sad existence, I conceived a project whose success was to ensure my rest. I wanted to marry Blanche to my son: I confided my plans to Charles; but my letter remained unanswered; a second, a third had the same fate. I was more overwhelmed than ever.
“Blanche loved the world with passion. Every party was a triumph for her, so I hoped... But God confounded my criminal designs. Your daughter, Monsieur le Marquis, is a model of filial piety: she heard outrage in your name, and...
“Enough, enough, please, Madame la Baronne. My good parents know with what care you surrounded me with your tenderness at the Château de Lorbières, and the exile to which you wished to condemn yourselves in order to make me breathe the pure air of the mountains. Pass on this story that breaks our hearts. »
The baroness understood that Blanche had kept silence on the ball-stage; she thanked him with a look, and continued her story.
“Blanche was barely recovered when I received a letter from my son. He only refused all my requests: I thought he despised his mother!
“This letter almost caused my death; but an angel was watching over me: my gentle victim lavished her care on me with filial tenderness; I escaped the danger; however my soul was more irritated than ever.
“I saw with horror approaching the end of the year that Mlle de Savenay was to pass near me; I feared his reluctance to grant me another year; for I no longer hoped for anything from the world and its charms to keep her close to me. Blanche had returned to the duties I had made her abandon, and she seemed to me unshakable in her new resolutions.
“However, I tried to soften him on my sad situation; I vainly tried prayers, offers, threats; Finally, I had the cruelty to burn before her the letter from your enemy, in which your innocence was loudly proclaimed.
"Blanche didn't tell us anything about it, Madame," resumed the Marquis de Savenay, casting a glance at his daughter in which there was just pride.
"That's why I have to say it," replied the Baroness. I must humble myself for this unbridled pride, this horrible selfishness which sacrificed to a vain smoke of reputation the honor and the peace of an entire family; of that base cupidity which left in a more than mediocre position those whose fortune served to support my opulence.
“Blanche went away, and I was left alone; well alone; for she whom I had made the instrument of my culpable maneuvers soon after abandoned me, touched with sincere repentance, and refusing the reward of what she called her criminal complaisance.
“Deeply irritated, but not converted, I resolved to stay in Lorbières. It was a thought from Heaven; for salvation was there.
“For a year I had been living there alone, increasing my ills with a kind of savage melancholy, and fighting against remorse, when I fell ill. Mariette Lambert, the only foreigner who had access to the chateau, nursed me with the zeal of tender charity and spoke to me of God.
. “Thus the mercy of Heaven came to me, to me who had so often rejected it!
“I listened to this unknown voice which brought me sweet feelings and thoughts of hope, which I had believed to be forever driven from my heart. But the need for unrestricted confessions, the fear of going back over a deplorable past took away all my courage...”
A violent knock at the door interrupted the Baroness; Blanche descends. A panting servant hands him a letter sealed in black.
“How hard it was for me to find you, Mademoiselle! They call you all Mlle of Savenay.
"Good, good," said Blanche in a low voice, opening the letter; but what can M want from meme Porny at this hour?... How...
- Oh! read, read quickly, Mademoiselle. Poor lady! she is waiting for you. »
Mme de Savenay, worried, had followed her daughter, and saw her turn pale as she read the note, which she then presented to him: M. Porny had just committed suicide, and his desolate widow was asking for the support of her young friend.
"What are you going to do, my daughter?" said Mr.me of Savenay.
"Tell my father everything and leave," cried Blanche; and, quickly ascending the stairs, she submits the letter to her father and asks permission to leave under Bernard's guidance.
The latter, with the intention of hastening the departure, had followed the young girl. Suddenly M. de Savenay's eyes fell on him:
“Bernard! he exclaims, the former caretaker of the spinning mill?
"Monsieur the Marquis de Savenay?" said Bernard in his turn.
"Let's go, let's go, Bernard, your poor mistress is waiting!"
- My God ! what suspicion! my daughter, can it be?...
"She's crying, she's waiting for me, my father!"
“Go, my daughter, and God bless you for what you have done for your aged father. »
Blanche hastily took leave of the baroness, embraced her father and mother, and ran to bring the poor widow the consolations of friendship.
Cry for those who weep. S. Paul.
A POOR WIDOW
The arrival of Blanche suspended Madame's pain for a moment.me Porny. She kissed the young girl effusively, then, showing her that funeral bed beside which she was watching, praying: “Death! she cried, and perhaps for eternity! »
Blanche strove to kindle in the heart of the widow a hope which she herself barely preserved: she spoke of eternal mercies.
"God granted him a great grace, resumed M'"e Porny eagerly seizing this glimmer of hope. A young priest whose family lives in Savenay was walking near the pond when...
- What ! is it at the pond? Blanche hastened to say.
— Yes, near the burial place of the former owners of Savenay. Rushing up at the sound of the weapon, the young priest was able to speak to him of heaven, of eternity, and the unfortunate man gave some signs of repentance.
“And God will have accepted them; for he wants the salvation of the sinner.
“Henri was never impious, my dear Blanche. The love of gold, cause of its ruin, alas! had darkened in his soul the eternal truths; but he was good, charitable; he was doing a lot of good. »
Mlle de Savenay knew all that Mme.me Porny; so she admired this gentleness which remembered only the good.
The two friends wept and prayed together, abandoning themselves to hope, or combating mortal alarms at the thought of that life in which God had been so completely forgotten, but adoring with pious resignation the secret purposes of the sovereign Lord of all things.
While Blanche was fulfilling her sad mission, the Marquis de Savenay learned from his wife the full extent of the sacrifice his daughter had imposed on herself.
It must be said: for what man does not have his moments of weakness? As he listened to this story, the old man felt the blood of his glorious ancestors boiling in his veins; the pride of his name rose at the thought:
" My daughter ! my poor child! and on the ruins of the castle of his ancestors!
- Ah! Monsieur, exclaimed the Baron de Barville, Madame1st de Savenay gave, by this generous conduct, a new luster to the name it bears. Everything I have seen, everything I learn makes her venerable in my eyes, and makes me feel more keenly my wrongs towards my mother.
"These wrongs are mine, Charles," said the Baroness, holding out her hand to her son. I haven't done my homework; you could not know yours. Blanche was trained in virtue by her mother's examples as much as by her advice. Mme de Savenay reaps what she has sown. His daughter, as pious as she is devoted, will thus fulfill all the duties that Providence will impose on her. Happy the family whose peace she must ensure! Happy is he..."
The baroness was interrupted by the arrival of Bernard, who handed M. de Savenay a note to which he awaited an answer. Blanche begged her father to allow her to spend a few days near Mme.me Porny, whose pain so badly needed consolation. The old man granted, with a sigh, the permission so earnestly requested.
Blanche was, indeed, much needed by the poor widow. To the cruel pain caused her by the disastrous death of her husband was added the embarrassment of rather complicated affairs, of claims the value of which it was difficult to assess, and the care of settling the future without harming the interests which related to those of M.me Porny.
Mlle de Savenay did not abandon her friend: trips to Nantes, vigils, daily care and work, she shared everything with her, and, thanks to her support, Mme.me Porny could not believe herself completely isolated. God bless Blanche's devotion and the righteous and generous views of the pious widow: men of integrity took charge of her affairs, and soon, assured of still possessing a brilliant fortune, she was able to give herself up again to the impulses of her compassionate heart and charitable.
Mme Porny poured abundant alms into the families that the death of her husband deprived of the work of each day, and offered these gifts to God as so many expiations for the dear soul of the one she always wept.
All these treatments accomplished, Mlle de Savenay spoke of returning to his family. Madame Porny trembled at the thought of her isolation, and yet her moved gaze rested on Blanche with a sort of admiration:
" Oh ! thank you, she said to him, thank you, my dear Blanche. Believe that I appreciate your devotion; but go, I'm not keeping you any longer: your dear parents are counting the hours of your absence. However, before we part, take these papers which I entrust to your friendship; promise me not to open them before eight days, and, after this time has elapsed, come back here, where my heart calls you with all its wishes. »
Surprise at the solemn tone of M.me Porny, of the kind of injunction she gave him when giving him this sealed packet, Mrs.1le de Savenay hesitated to receive him. But the widow insisted in such a touching manner that Blanche dared not resist, and promised to comply with her wishes; then having kissed her tenderly, she left her, leaving her another one of those words which come from Heaven, and set out for Savenay.
She had to endure the reproaches of the marquis for her long absence: this good father had been so impatient to embrace his darling daughter, since he had learned what he called his greatest sacrifice! The eulogies of the baroness were more painful to the modesty of the young girl than the mildly severe words of the old man; and yet she had great difficulty in preventing her old friend from exalting her courage and her virtue more than ever.
By my cruel torments, by my motherly pains.
I long expiated a fatal error;
But God took pity on the torments of my heart:
When he forgave me, alone, will you be severe?
Continuation of the story of the baroness
The evening following Blanche's return was devoted to hearing the end of Mme.me from Barville.
This vigil was a celebration for Mr.lle of Savenay; she found all her friends there. The baroness had wished that they should no longer be deprived of those peaceful evenings when their presence brought so much happiness; and, during Blanche's stay at La Buretière, they had resumed their place in the Marquis' home. The Baroness had wanted a succinct account to make them aware of her wrongdoings, since she had caused them to endure real pains as well.
“I was telling you, my friends,” she continued, “the shame of my crimes deprived me of the courage to work to expiate them; remorse tore me apart, without counting for my salvation.
“However, Mariette was not discouraged. She painted for me with eloquent simplicity the happiness that awaited me with the grace of reconciliation. She spoke to me of the joy I would find in the sole resolution to belong entirely to God. I yielded to his solicitations; I promised to be a Christian, and I begged Mariette to bring me a priest.
“With what eagerness she ran to inform the priest of Lorbières! Thoughtful of the action I was going to do, I had wanted to remain alone, and I thought with a sort of dread of the deplorable picture that I would have to unfold in the eyes of the Minister of Peace whom I had asked for. .
“I hear a knock on my door: Already! I said to myself; and I answered in a trembling voice. Instantly, a young man rushes into my room; my Charles is at my knees!
" - Oh ! pardon, a thousand times pardon, my mother, he cries, covering my hands with his kisses and his tears. I have failed in the most sacred of duties! I knew of none other than those dictated to me by a very human honor. The Lord has enlightened me; it is he who brings to your feet a tender and repentant son. »
“Joy flooded my soul. I couldn't find any more words to bless my son! I pressed it to my heart; I thanked God; I kissed my child; I saw only him in the world. The arrival of the worthy pastor reminded me of my promise, and I put Charles away for a few moments.
“God had given me back my son; I gave all my soul to God! The most painful confessions escaped my lips, and this sacrifice still seemed to me too weak for so much happiness. What peace soon succeeded in my heart to the torments which tore it! A divine peace replaced the incessant restlessness which pleasures had never done but irritate. Oh ! to return to God is joy, it is life, and the paths of penance are full of delights for the heart!
“My health, so badly shaken for a long time already, was soon affected by the calm of my heart. My strength gradually returned, and my first thought was for you, my dear Blanche. I confessed to my son all that I had made you suffer; I told him how I had squandered his own fortune, and how this fatal conduct had led me to acts still more reprehensible. I entrusted to his honor the task of repairing all the evil of which I had been guilty.
“My good Charles wiped away my tears, and spoke to me as an angel from heaven would have done.
“Do you have the will of M. de Ternoy and the testimonies of the innocence of the Marquis de Savenay? he told me.
"Except for the letter of his vile slanderer," I exclaimed. »
The parish priest of Saint-Gervais interrupted the baroness.
“Stop, Madam, please. This unfortunate man appeared before God, who judged him and I was able to admire his repentance. »
These words caused general surprise in the assembly, and all eyes turned to M. Demay, who continued thus:
“You understand now, my dear friend, why I so often poured the balm of hope on the wound of your heart: I trusted in divine providence, for I knew that the proofs which would reverse all calumnies still existed; but I did not know in whose hands they had been deposited: called very late to the dying man, I had had the pain of seeing him die without his having revealed this circumstance to me. But, I repeat to you, never more profound, more sincere repentance than that of this unfortunate man deserved the outpouring of divine mercy.
"Peace and rest to his soul!" said the Marquis de Savenay with emotion.
- Amen! replied all the voices, and a religious silence followed for a few seconds this brief invocation.
The baroness continued her story:
"This letter, then, was the one that I had burned in the presence of Mme.lle de Savenay, when irritated by his resistance I persuaded him that I had destroyed all means of rehabilitating his father. I still possessed the authentic letters which restore peace and happiness to you all. From then on I no longer hesitated to make known both the titles of M. de Savenay to public esteem, and the rights which this sentence of his uncle's will gave him: "Georges de Savenay, que I had instituted sole legatee of all my property, is by this act disinherited because of his odious conduct. »
“The cause destroyed, evidently the effect became nil; my conscience told me so loudly enough to annihilate the vain subterfuges which I had so long opposed to his testimony. I resolved to bring here myself the confession of my crimes and the expression of my repentance. I could not expect the welcome I found there!
“However, before undertaking this journey, I still had one duty to fulfill: I still had a great scandal to repair:
Julie, touched by your virtues, my dear Blanche, had, as I told you, distanced herself from me. I wrote to him by what prodigies of mercy the good Lord had snatched me from my fatal blindness; I had learned that she had remained with her family, dreading the fatal pitfalls she had found near me; I proposed to resume her service, promising her complete freedom in the practice of her religious duties, and I had the satisfaction of seeing her return home a thousand times more devoted than I have the right to wish.
“Now you know everything, pray for the poor penitent. My son, Monsieur le Marquis, has placed your titles of glory, your right to your uncle's fortune, in your hands. By restoring your inheritance to you, we will still be rich enough to satisfy our tastes and our desires, and if we become your friends, our hearts will have nothing more to ask for on earth. »
The Marquis de Savenay held out his hand to the Baroness.
"You are our friends, and forever," he told her, also reaching for the young man's hand. The honor you render me was the only good I aspired to in this world, and even less for myself than for my dear child. I thank you with all my soul. Tomorrow we will see what arrangements can reconcile everything. »
A sweet and pure gaiety filled the hours that passed until the moment of separation; and when M. Demay retired, the Marquis de Savenay managed to tell him that he wanted to talk to him the next morning.
Love to live unknown, and to be reckoned for nothing. (Imit, by JC)
The next day, Blanche entered her father's room early. She had slept little, and there was something constrained, embarrassed about her demeanor, her speech, which was unusual for her.
She recovered, however, under the tender caresses of her father, and gradually resuming something of her usual playfulness:
"My good father," she said, "I have come to ask you many questions: will you be so kind as to answer them?"
"To all of you, my child," said the old man tenderly; I promise you.
"Do you want to leave your dear retreat and return to the world?"
- Me ! no, a thousand times no!
"Would you like to send your poor child away from you?"
- My daughter ? leave her ! Never ! However, my child, if an establishment...
“I am established here, father, and I desire nothing more. So you regret neither your rank nor your greatness?
— No, my Blanche, no, not for me at least.
"And your Blanche neither regrets nor envies them." So, good father, to stay here, unknown, ignored, what use will your uncle's fortune be to us?
"I thought about it like you, my daughter, but...
'Pardon me, good father, I know very well what is stopping you: the fate of your daughter; for, as far as you are concerned, you would have already renounced the baroness' abandonment to you.
"But, my good girl, my dear Blanche, have you thought?...
"Anything, father. Listen, never will a noble lord come to solicit the honor of my alliance; what do I care? Close to you, with you always, is my only desire. We will accept from the baroness, not all your fortune, but an honest ease, much preferable to wealth; and if I have the misfortune to survive you, the poor who will share with me will hardly worry about the brilliance with which I will shine in the world. Finally, after my death, when people read on my tomb: Blanche de Savenay, De profundis, will anyone think of asking if I lived in the midst of pomp and grandeur? As you can see, good father, I have thought of everything! »
M. Demay entered at this moment. Blanche broke off, saluted the worthy priest, and hurried out.
“My daughter is an angel, my dear rector! And the marquis related to the cure the touching entreaties of his beloved daughter.
The pastor admired the young girl's noble sentiments, and also asked his old friend if he had no intention of resuming the rank he had occupied in society.
“At the edge of the grave, to try to seize again such frivolous rattles! exclaimed the marquis. When I was younger, I could have made myself useful; maybe I should have done it: but at my age, no, my friend, and without my daughter...
— Let her follow the inspiration of her heart, and bless God for the attraction He gives her for a humble and hidden life. Well! what are you doing ?
"Anything Blanche wants, my friend." »
Blanche was called. She appeared, all trembling, fearing that her father would not consent to his dearest wish, and for the first time she had doubted the charity of the good priest of Saint-Gervais.
"Here, my daughter," he said to her, handing her M. de Ternoy's will, "your father leaves you free to dispose of it as you please." »
Blanche took the paper, ran to embrace her father, and threw the hope of her fortune into the fire.
“Will this action cause you any regrets, my child?
"Not a single one," replied Blanche modestly.
A moment later, only ashes remained. She picked them up carefully and put them back in the envelope. " Oh ! What a good vigil this evening! she exclaimed cheerfully. That poor baroness! I imagine her surprise when she sees this gray dust under the debris of her seal; for she is a mother, and her sacrifice cost her dearly.
And MIle de Savenay did not see the extent of the harm she was doing to the Baroness's reputation, so natural did it seem to her! But his father was proud of his virtues, and the good priest glorified God, begging him to confirm what he had done in his child.
Like the flower of the savannah, it loves solitude and darkness.
The paternal roof is his universe.***
As Blanche said, the Baroness was a mother, and while obeying the voice of her conscience, while fulfilling a sacred duty, she bemoaned her son's future. One thing especially distressed him: he had to give up his dearest hope. Baron de Barville, reduced to mediocrity, could not marry Mme.1st de Savenay who had become a rich heiress. As for Charles, that was his only regret: simple tastes, a tender and solid piety estranged him from society, and made him find real happiness in the sacrifice he had wanted to make for so long.
The time for the meeting finally came. Blanche called him with all her wishes; Mr. and Mr.me de Savenay awaited him impatiently; Mme de Barville prayed, and the friends outside, informed by the rector, enjoyed in advance the happiness of the young girl and the surprise of the baroness.
We are gathered near the round table. The ladies took their work; the Comte de Brior scans a newspaper of which he hardly thinks. The Marquis de Savenay holds papers in his hands, which he turns over and over in all directions.
"There was a time," the old man begins cheerfully, "when, it is said, in our old Brittany, genies, goblins, goblins, friends of mansions and cottages, interfered in the destinies of each family, and arranged them to their will. For my part, I confess, I have often laughed at the credulity of our fathers; but today, following their example, I believe in goblins and leprechauns. »
Baron de Barville, his mother herself, despite the emotion she still felt, could not help smiling, and the young man protested against the old man's words.
"You doubt, incredulous," said the marquis to him. don't you recognize that you gave me these two packets? Yes, isn't it? Well! Now open yourself the one I present to you, and tell me what you think. »
M. de Barville opened the envelope which had contained the will, and found only ashes. Her astonishment made the marquis smile in his turn, while the baroness, casting her tender glances from father to daughter:
“The good genius and the benevolent fairy,” she says, “are easy to recognize by their works. But their power has limits, and if they were able to destroy the contents of this package, they will not be able to compel us to accept their sacrifice.
"The fire consumed everything," said the marquis, "the good fairy wanted it that way: what's burned is burned, let there be no more question of it." »
Blanche had withdrawn furtively, she was afraid of hearing praise for her conduct from Mme.me de Barville, always ready to admire him.
In fact, everyone praised this young girl, who, at the age of illusions, voluntarily renounced honors and wealth, and devoted herself to an obscure and unknown life. But Blanche had learned from religion that salvation is in darkness. She had seen and touched with her finger the nothingness of the prosperity of this world, what it is for the happiness of those who possess it, and her position, somewhat improved, seemed to her the fate most worthy of envy.
“Monsieur de Savenay,” said the baroness at last, with visible emotion, “I have enjoyed for too long a property which is yours; your noble poverty is a heavy burden on my conscience, and I want to give you back...
"Four thousand francs income," said the Marquis de Savenay; four thousand francs, which in our good country will make us rich and happy! that's all Blanche agrees to accept.
- Ah! If you wanted, cried the baroness, if Blanche consented to it, we could make her rich without impoverishing ourselves!
"Explain yourself, please, Madame la Baronne, I don't know..."
— Mlle de Savenay is an angel, she is the best of girls! My Charles is a tender and devoted son...
- Good ! exclaimed the Comte de Brior, I had thought of that. Come, my friend, virtues are a fine dowry, and Blanche is richly endowed with them. »
The good old man had turned pale: losing his daughter, his only joy in this world! He felt a shock of which he was not master. But the future of Blanche presented itself to his thoughts, and he regained all his strength:
“If my darling child consents to this union, I will certainly not oppose it. And you, Adrienne? he asked his wife.
"Our two wills have been one for a long time, my friend," replied the poor mother in an uncertain voice; for she already saw Blanche in Paris, Blanche far from her, and the beating of her heart altered the sound of her voice.
A few moments of silence had followed this reply from the marquise, who almost dreaded the return of Blanche, while the baroness and her son ardently desired it. She finally came back, and placed herself near her father.
"My Blanche," he said to her, holding out his hand to her, "the good Lord takes away from my old age the pain that I feared the most." He is a noble heart who prefers your poverty to a rich fortune, and who offers you his name.
"My only desire," replied Blanche, "is to remain close to you, my father, close to my good mother."
— Dear child, death will come for us, you will then be alone, and this thought, for your mother and for me, would make the last hour very bitter.
“Order, good father; I am ready to obey you. And big tears filled the girl's eyes, despite her efforts to contain herself.
"Mademoiselle," the baron then said to her, "my mother's dearest wish is to call you her daughter." I do not deserve the honor I claim; but I would consider myself blessed if you allowed me to procure this happiness for him and to work to ensure yours.
"Your request honors me, sir," resumed Blanche nobly; I strongly feel how flattering she is to me, but...
"Blanche, my dear Blanche," exclaimed Mrs.me de Barville, you will not leave your good parents. We will live here, under the same roof, united in God and fleeing for him the world and its false grandeurs.
- Here ? in Savenay? asked Blanche, astonished.
"At Savenay, my dear child, where I found happiness and peace that I did not know," replied the baroness.
"Give me a few days to reflect." My thoughts have never crossed the circle in which I have lived, Madame; I need lights, advice; give me time to ask God for them. »
This word was a hope; it was addressed to Christian hearts: they therefore left M.lle de Savenay for an unlimited time, and the friends parted with their hearts filled with various feelings.
Mr. and Mr.mc de Savenay, since the good promise made by the Baroness, would have gladly prayed that Blanche should accept the fate presented to her by Providence. The Baroness and her son both hoped and feared. As for the Comte de Brior, he said that it would be folly to refuse such advantages, and congratulated himself on having contributed to the happiness of his dear Blanche by the eulogy he had given her to the Baroness, an eulogy which had made him want to know her.
Anyway, he said to himself, I really thought there was some good in the Baroness!
Mme d'Ormeck smiled softly; for she was thinking of the consequences that her uncle's negotiations might have had without the protection of God and the faith of the young girl. The good cure of Saint-Gervais had almost dreamed of another marriage and another future for his dear child; but he submitted his designs to Providence, and asked the Lord to enlighten his mind and that of Blanche.
Blanche had wanted to reflect for a moment on the resolution she should take; but a crowd of thoughts assailed his mind at once; she resolved to calm herself down first, and put off all reflection on the subject until the next day. She prayed with great fervor, placing herself in the hands of God, whose will she hoped to know through his two dear guides: her good mother and her pious pastor. My poor wisdom is madness, she told herself, they will lead my inexperience. And Blanche was already sleeping soundly, while her good parents were still discussing her future.
Holy, beloved land
Where I received the day.
My delighted old age
See you again with love.
pilgrimage to the ruins of savenay
When she awoke, Blanche recalled her memories of the day before, but at first so confused that she thought she was under the impression of a dream. However, the words of the baroness, those of Charles, she had heard them! Then a kind of dread seized her soul: she remembered the virtues she had seen her good mother practicing. Entire immolation of her will, assiduous care, affectionate thoughtfulness, submission to an often unequal, sometimes despotic mood, abnegation of her whole being, such were the duties which the title of wife imposed on the Marquise de Savenay. As for those of the mother, Blanche was unaware of the vigils and solicitudes which early age demands; but this vigilance which prevents and removes all dangers, these lessons, these constant examples, Blanche remembered them with emotion, and such holy obligations made her tremble.
So she prayed fervently, begged her good mother, her charitable guide, to dictate her answer; but both, enlightening him with their advice, wanted his resolution to come of itself.
Several days passed thus; finally, more confident in God than in herself, she went one morning to her father's house, and, hiding her emotion in the bosom of the old man, she accepted the sacred duties of wife and mother; she consented to give her hand to the young baron.
This decision filled the good old man with joy: he was so afraid of falling asleep
of the last sleep without having given support to the young plant which he had cultivated with so much love! He kissed Blanche tenderly, and allowed her to appear at the evening vigil only after he had made known to all his resolution so impatiently awaited.
The determination of Mlle de Savenay, announced by his father, overwhelmed the Baroness and her son with lively joy. Mme de Barville found in this union a means of repairing the wrongs which she deplored more bitterly every day. Charles gave his mother a devoted daughter; he secured for himself a pious companion endowed with the most amiable virtues. For both of them, today was a beautiful day.
They were expressing all their happiness to the Marquis de Savenay, when Blanche entered hastily.
“My father, she exclaims, let us bless God, Savenay has been returned to us! »
The old man cannot believe his ears; but his daughter does not leave him in this uncertainty for long.
“Mme Porny gives it to you, she added, and this letter, a thousand times too obliging, will teach you what delicacy she puts into such a generous present. »
Blanche, taking advantage of the astonishment aroused by this news, withdrew in all haste, and ran to the grove, to thank God, through Mary, for an event which would embellish the last days of her good father.
The old man was too moved to read the letter to his happy friends. The Comte de Brior is charged by him with this task. It was framed in these terms:
“My dear Blanche,
“Bernard's happy indiscretion revealed your secret to me. I will not attempt to paint for you what your devotion has placed in my heart of esteem and admiration for you. Permit me only to offer to your filial piety a testimony of these sentiments: the enclosed deed assures you the property of all that remains of the ancient habitation of your fathers.
Such as it is, this good, I offer it to the most devoted, to the most courageous of girls.
The house does not replace the old hereditary black mail, but it can still offer a pleasant stay. As for the buildings of the spinning mill, you will dispose of them as you deem fit, and if you give them a destination which requires some expense, do not forget your friend, and put her for a good part in the execution of your designs. .
Your good parents will no longer find the magnificent park where your worthy father spent the days of his childhood. However, the garden is spacious, and the flowered lawn, the grotto, the waterfall and the beautiful alley of lime trees which probably saw him trying his first steps have been preserved there.
If this weak remnant of so many glorious memories rejoices his old age for a moment, my dearest wish will be accomplished.
Alone in the world now, having no more to cherish than tombs, I will ask your family for a little affection, for a few sweet daily relations: I will have bought this happiness at a very low price.
From now on I will live at La Buretière. We will be neighbors, and from my tombs to your
charitable home there will be only one step. This pious and gentle pilgrimage will be like an image of the resurrection to me: I will pass from death to life.
My dear Blanche, the discreet witness of all my sorrows, the consoler of my sorrows, will not refuse a gift which makes me a thousand times happier than she can be. She will offer it to the beloved father and mother for whom she knew how to make such generous sacrifices. She will add to it the homage of respect with which I am imbued for them, and will come to bring me this good news: You no longer have Savenay, but you have friends.
May Heaven's sweetest blessings rest forever on you, my Blanche, and on your aged parents. It's your friend's wish,
This time, fortune has not been blind, cried the Comte de Brior, trying to master his emotion; Mmo Porny deserved all his favors. What a noble heart! Also, who could resist your daughter! They are worthy of each other.
We searched for M.lle de Savenay, who was still praying. One could not tire of admiring the two friends. The evening passed in the sweetest outpourings of the heart. Plans were made for the future; a thousand projects were formed and discussed; and in the midst of all people were grieved that the late hour had not permitted them to go and do them near the generous friend. It was decided that the next day they would go on a pilgrimage to the ruins of Savenay, there to submit to Mme.me Porny the plans that we had stopped.
The spinning mill's spacious buildings will be consecrated to God and to the poor. A chapel will first be erected there. The good parish priest of Saint-Gervais needs help in the work of the holy ministry, and his bishop has promised him a curate; he can sometimes come and celebrate the holy mysteries in the midst of his friends. The house of the Lord will occupy the middle of the buildings, and, on each side, there will be established a retreat for the aged, and a school for the poor children of the surroundings. The bread of the soul and the bread of the body will be distributed to them in abundance. The vast courtyard will become a courtyard planted with trees and strewn with green lawns, for the games of childhood and the walks of old age.
The following day saw the happy family and all their friends set off for Savenay. It was a long journey for the poor paralytic; but happiness gives strength, and now he has young arms to sustain him. Leaning on Blanche and Charles de Barville, he slowly descends the stairs, crosses the garden, and is soon astonished on seeing himself at the pond. He stops, however, he trembles, even more with emotion than fatigue: it's been so long since he visited these places, and since that time only pain! He got up, however, and headed for the narrow path that Blanche, still a child, had been so proud to discover.
"No, no, my dear Georges, not on this side," exclaims M.me de Savenay, who has spied on the emotion of the marquis, and fears an even stronger one at the sight of the devastated tombs of his ancestors.
"It's the shortest," said the old man, smiling; and he involves his two dear supports.
We arrive tremblingly at the last resting place of the Savenays; but friendship had extended its delicate attentions up to that point, and Blanche then explained to herself the eight-day ordeal which had been imposed on her. A grid surrounds the funeral enclosure.
The sepulchral stones are replaced; young cypresses surround the tombs; and if we still see some ruins, they are those that time has made there.
It was easy to understand to what generous hand these touching cares were due, and the prayer which ascended to Heaven invoked it for the living and for the dead.
Finally we arrived in Savenay. Everything there is new for the former owner of these domains; but everything soon pleases his eyes. These large symmetrical buildings are therefore sanctified by their destination. At the end of the old avenue, which you soon reach, you can see the new dwelling; the Marquis de Savenay feels that he can live happily ever after, surrounded by his family and. of his painful memories!
Warned by Bernard, MINE Porny advances towards the friends she has made sure: some joy mingles on her forehead with the imprint of deep pain. Blanche threw herself into his arms, and her tears eloquently express her tender gratitude. After this first outpouring of a tenderness so warmly shared, she presents her father and mother to Mme.INE Porny, who feels her forehead redden under the delicate expression of their gratitude. Neither does Blanche forget her friends, whom happiness may have made indiscreet, but who could not resist the desire to know the one who makes her so happy. The widow hastens to welcome her guests, and her touching consideration, her affectionate and profound respect prove to M. and M.me de Savenay that they will find in her all the tenderness of another girl.
In turn, the Marquis de Savenay presents Charles to Mrs.me Porny, and tells him in what capacity he will soon be part of the family. The widow's joy is sincere on learning of the happy fate that God has in store for her dear Blanche, and soon a sweet intimacy is established between these souls already united by so many ties. M. de Savenay submits to M.me Porny watches the plans, and tells her that she has been half-hearted in their execution. She applauded a thought so similar to her own, and smiled for a moment at the happiness of her new existence. The hours pass quickly in this lively interview; an impromptu dinner prolongs this meeting, and Mrs.me During this time, Porny secured the means to have the Savenay family escorted back to their humble abode, which they would soon leave to regain possession of their hereditary domain. The widow will go the next day to visit them; and it will be another day of celebration, for all the friends will be reunited.
Hardly had we left M.me Porny that the Comte de Brior, who until then had only with great difficulty repressed the expression of his admiration, taking the good priest's hand, said to him with more emotion than he wanted to let on. appear:
“Oh! rector, you are right, virtue, nobility are independent of birth, or Mme Porny and Blanche should have been born on the throne! »
Piety is useful to everything. S. Paul.
Scarcely a month after the visit to Savenay, Blanche left, never to return, the house where she had been born. She was adorned with the virginal bouquet, and her face was embellished with the most ravishing modesty. Her father rested on her a gaze full of pride and tenderness. As for his mother, the mysteries of her heart were known only to God alone.
The venerable hand which had poured on Blanche's forehead the water of Holy Baptism, which had nourished her with the bread of the angels, still rose to call upon her the blessings of Heaven. The good priest of Saint-Gervais thanked the Lord, who rewarded Blanche's virtues on earth by uniting her to a Christian husband.
Mme Porny consented to put an end to her pain in order to install new husbands in their home. Everything is ready there. Savenay will now be the family home.
The Marquis' apartment is on the same level as the garden, so that the old man can contemplate the flowers he loves and walk around without fatigue.
Blanche and her husband live on the first floor with the baroness, so happy with the happiness of her children: she can finally give this name to Blanche! The second floor is reserved for M.me Porny, who will spend almost the entire winter season near his friends.
Good Renee is overjoyed. Her eyes hardly see the places where she once carried her dear infant; but she feels much more at home.
Mme de Barville sold Lorbières, so as not to have to leave her children. She walks with ardor in the way of virtue, and her faithful Julie rivals her.
Shortly after his marriage, the young baron spared a very sweet surprise for his companion. He had found a farm to buy in the neighborhood which had formerly belonged to the chateau of Savenay, and for the first time he had realized a plan without communicating it to Blanche.
One evening, he suggests for the next day a walk, a country lunch. White accepts. Very early in the morning (because she did not give sleep the most beautiful hours of the day, and her fortune had changed nothing in her habits), so very early in the morning, they leave followed by Fidèle, who, despite his old age, soon precedes them. all happy. After a fairly long run, they see a small house of modest appearance, but where it seemed to be very clean.
"Let's go in," said Charles; certainly hospitality will not be refused to us. »
No, because they were expected, very ardently desired. No sooner had the door opened than a young woman carrying in her arms a child barely a year old ran up to Blanche, surprised to recognize Mariette Lambert in her.
" You here ! she exclaims, and by what happiness do you find yourself so close to me?
"Ask Monsieur le Baron, Madame," replied Mariette, advancing towards Blanche, who had held out her arms to her. This is the secret of his benevolence. »
The young woman thanked Charles tenderly. She asked for Pierre (that was the name of Mariette Lambert's husband), a robust mountaineer whose virtue was all his wealth: Mariette, who had become an orphan, had married him because of his piety and his courage at work. But misfortunes had descended upon them; and Charles, who had heard of it, had wanted to help them and procure Blanche one more joy. It is needless to say that they made a long stay at the farm, and that it was often the object of walks.
The Comte de Brior and his niece also live in the new Savenay, this is how the old spinning mill is called. They have made themselves, one the administrator of the house, the other the servant of the poor who live there; for charity is active, and the buildings were ready about two months after Blanche's marriage. Guests could not be lacking there: the care and benefits of the Count brought to thirty the number of unfortunates who find happiness and peace there.
The school is also in full activity. Sixty children receive a Christian education there which is completely in harmony with their situation. Mme Porny and Blanche have made themselves the assistants of a good nun whom they have put in charge of their little Breton girls, who love them with all their heart.
Charles and a good brother of Christian Doctrine are the teachers and friends of the little boys, who unite their names in common prayer; and often, on fine days, the old marquis comes to watch their games and encourage their efforts.
The humble house inhabited by the marquis has also received guests whom his charity has placed there: these are Mathurine and his daughter, the pious Perrine, to whom his mistress has left an income of two hundred livres. There is talk of Perrine's marriage to Bernard, son of an old servant of the Savenay family, and the house will be the dowry of the one to whom Blanche owed, without ever having seen her, the first lessons of courage and filial devotion. .
The good priest has made himself chaplain to the poor of Savenay. It is there that he will take the retirement required by his infirmities; it is there that he wants to die, in the midst of those to whom Jesus consecrated the first beatitude that fell from his divine lips. The blessings spread by his friends are the crown of his old age, and each day, in offering the holy victim, he blesses God who has led them through so many hardships to a happiness which is only a foretaste of that that he intends for them for eternity.
Glory to you, O holy religion, who give birth to such touching virtues! Glory to you who preserve innocence, who purify by repentance! You have the words of eternal life, and the glory, the happiness of God himself will forever be the reward of those whose joys and sorrows you sanctify!