Paula the Waldensian
by Eva Lecomte
by Eva Lecomte
Adapted and translated from the Spanish Version by W. M. Strong
CHAPTER ONE. AN
CHAPTER SIX. IN
THE MIDST OF
CHAPTER NINE. A
CHAPTER TEN. IN
THE CAT MOTHER
AND HER BROTHER
SOME YEARS LATER
CHAPTER TWO. THE
THE NIGHT SCHOOL
CHAPTER SIX. THE
HOUSE OF GOD
IN HIS PRESENCE
I Hope and trust that the young people who read this book will have
as much joy in the reading of it as I have had in its writing.
Paula's Saviour wishes to be your Saviour too. Paula was by no means
perfect, but she did love God with all her heart and her neighbor as
This simple country girl, young and strong, yet so tender-hearted
and forgetful of self, appears to me sometimes like one of the clear
brooks of my beloved land, pure and fresh, slipping noiselessly between
flowered banks of forget-me-nots. It was by love that she
“conquered”—as we shall see!
If some day you should come to my country, do not forget that I
would have great joy in seeing any of those who have read this book. I
live in the little town of Villar at the bottom of the valley, where on
every side there are hills and mountains as far as the eye can reach.
To me it is the loveliest country in the world and I am sure that Paula
thought so too.
And so good-bye, dear young reader! I must not keep you any longer,
for I am sure you have a great desire to know about Paula; and anyway,
I suppose you will have done what I would have done at your age,
namely, read the story first, and left my poor preface to the last—for
which I have already pardoned you!
And now, may God bless you, Paula dear, as you walk among these my
young friends who read about you! My prayer is that you may shed over
them the same sweet ray of celestial light that you have already shed
“Paula” was originally written in French and translated from thence
into Spanish; and the present translator having discovered this
literary and spiritual jewel, felt that it should be given also to the
young people of the English-speaking world, not only that they might
know Paula herself, but that, through her, they might become more
intimately acquainted with Paula's Saviour and accept Him as their own
Redeemer and Lord.
W. M. STRONG.
Coihueco, Chile, South America, 1940.
CHAPTER ONE. AN UNEXPECTED LETTER
Clearly engraved on the walls of my memory there still remains a
picture of the great gray house where I spent my childhood. It was
originally used for more than a hundred years as the convent of the
“White Ladies", with its four long galleries, one above the other,
looking proudly down upon the humbler dwellings of the village. On the
side of the house, where ran the broad road from Rouen to Darnetal, a
high rugged wall surrounded a wide yard, guarded at the entrance by two
massive doors, studded with enormous spikes. The naked barrenness of
this yard was, to say the least, forbidding in the extreme; but the
fertile fields on the other side of the house spread themselves like a
vast and beautiful green carpet, dotted here and there with little
villages, crowned with church spires and their corresponding belfries,
from which on a Sunday morning pealed out the cheerful call to prayer
and worship. The ancient convent long before our story begins had been
transformed into a lovely dwelling with an immense garden on one side,
edged by a dozen little brick houses that seemed so small that they
made us children think of certain doll-houses that we used to see in
the Paris magazines. They were known locally as the “Red Cottages.” A
long avenue of ancient elms separated us from these houses of our
neighbors, and in front of the cottages stretched a line of stone
benches, where, in the shade of the great trees, the old men of the
village used to sit and recount to us tales of the days when the
Convent flourished. Some of these stories made us shiver. (Indeed, they
had a habit of straying into our dreams at night.)
The rest of the land around the Convent had, with the passing of the
years, fallen into the hands of the villagers themselves. Each one had
a small space for flowers in front and a vegetable garden behind.
Of course, our own garden covering the whole space in front of the
Red Cottages, was a much more pretentious affair with its deep well,
its many-colored kiosks, and its noisy bee-hives. In fact, it was in
our eyes, the most enchanting corner of the earth.
I don't remember all the details about the special thing that
happened one day, but I know that I shall never forget it to the end of
We were at tea in the garden. Teresa, our old servant, was walking
up and down in her kitchen. She never seemed to have time to sit down
to eat Dear old Teresa! She always seemed like a mother to me, for we
had lost our own dear mother when I was still in the cradle.
My brother and I had quarrelled over a mere nothing, when we were
called in to tea by our father. Of course, we did not dare continue our
dispute openly in front of him, but we continued our war-like
activities by kicking each other under the table.
Louis was ten years old and I was nine. As he was older and a boy,
he of course, considered that he had the right to the last word. Now
kicks had replaced words; but as we were seated at quite a distance
from one another, we did not succeed in causing very great damage to
each other's shins. Notwithstanding this, I began to lose patience, and
in order to end the matter, knowing that Louis was not very courageous,
I leaned my chair as far inside as I could and let him have one
terrific kick. At this, his face changed color and my father now
disturbed by the extra noise of my kick, finally began to realize what
was happening. I do not know how matters would have terminated, if
Teresa had not at this moment come into the garden with a
black-bordered letter in her hand which she delivered to our father. He
took it silently and opened it as Teresa carried away the tea-pot.
I saw immediately by my father's expression that the letter carried
serious news, and I am sure Louis noticed it also for he completely
forgot to return my kick.
“Teresa!” called my father.
“All right, I'm coming,” said that good lady.
“Read this, and tell me what you think of it,” and my father handed
the letter to the old servant.
Teresa seated herself at the end of the table between Louis and me,
and with her head in her hand commenced to read—Teresa was not very
well-educated and she read the letter very slowly and half-aloud. “Who
wrote this?” was her first question.
“The Pastor of the village,” replied my father.
“A minister!” exclaimed Teresa. “He's a mighty poor writer for a
minister, and no doubt his mother paid mighty well for his
My father smiled a bit sadly.
“You don't understand it, Teresa?”
“Yes, yes; I understand half of it, and I think I can guess at the
“Do you want me to help you?” offered Louis.
Teresa looked scornfully at Louis—
“You! I should say not! You don't care to help me in the kitchen or
run errands for me, and the only thing the matter with you now is
That settled Louis, and Teresa went on with her reading. Bending her
great fat form more and more closely over the letter, she became more
serious as she neared the bottom of the fourth page where the writing
became so close and so fine that it was hardly possible to decipher it.
When, at last, she lifted her head, her eyes were full of tears. “Poor,
poor little thing!” she repeated softly.
“Well, what do you think?” said my father.
“What do I think? Why we must send at once and have her come here as
soon as possible, because—”
“Who?” my father interrupted her without ceremony.
“Yes; who? who?” questioned Louis.
“Tell us, father, please,” added my sister Rosa, a tall, serious
girl of fifteen.
And as he did not answer us quickly our questions multiplied.
“Patience! Patience!” cried my father; “your turn will come.”
“Teresa, you are getting old, and another girl in the house simply
means more work for you and a lot more problems for me. If 'she' (my
father had never been able to reconcile himself to pronounce the name
of my mother since her untimely death)—if 'she' were here I would not
hesitate, but to bring another orphan into a family already
half-orphaned doesn't seem right to me.”
“Don't worry, sir, a little more work doesn't worry Teresa Rouland.
She will have to get up a little earlier and go to bed a little later,
and that will be all.”
“Well, Teresa, I'll think about it, and it needs to be 'thought
about' a good deal.”
“And why do you say that, sir? One doesn't have to reflect long
about doing good.”
“Well, I'll tell you why I hesitate. I'm sure that someone else
could much better replace the parents of this orphaned girl. I must
confess that for my part I don't feel equal to the task.”
“Sir, would you like to know what I think? You have said to
yourself, 'From the time that my wife died life has become a burden,
and if it wasn't for the children I would have died of grief, but for
love of them I must work and live. Therefore, with my heart torn and
desolated as it is, I don't feel called upon to take any responsibility
upon myself other than that of my own children!'“
“There is a good deal of truth in what you say, Teresa.”
“Yes, sir, but it is very bad, very bad, if you will let me say so!
I know I ought not to talk so, as I'm only a poor old servant; but
remember, I was the one that brought up the lovely woman that we all
mourn for, and I knew her before you did, sir, and I loved her as if
she were my own child. When I put her in the coffin it was as if they
had taken out a piece of my own heart. She was so young to die, so
sweet, so good, and besides so marvelously beautiful! But I dried my
tears as best I could, for I knew there was much to be done; and I said
to myself that I would honor the memory of my mistress by doing always
that which I knew she would have approved of. And now, sir, take this
little orphan as you know your good wife would have done, as the
daughter of her beloved sister....” She stopped suddenly, slightly
abashed, as she realized that perhaps she had said a little too much
for one in her station in life.
But more than her mere words, her voice vibrant with emotion had
moved us all to the depths of our souls.
“You are a valiant woman with a great heart,” my father said, as he
took her hand. “I will write this very night and ask them to send the
girl to us as soon as possible.”
Then turning to us he added, “You no doubt know by this time of whom
we have been speaking. Your cousin Paula has just lost her father. You
will remember, her mother died some years ago, and we are her nearest
relatives. Your uncle's friends have written me as to whether I will
consent to receive Paula in our home, and in a few days, more or less,
she will be among us.”
We opened our mouths to ask a thousand questions, but father stopped
us. “No, no! That is enough for now! Later I will tell you the details;
besides, I must go out immediately. Go now to your various tasks and
don't be thinking too much about this coming of your cousin.”
CHAPTER TWO. MEMORIES
That night I could not study my lessons. In fact, I could do nothing
but think about Paula! I was not a student and was always at the bottom
of the class. Louis, in the matter of study, was no better than I; but
in the school, thanks to his brilliancy of mind, he always seemed to
skin through somehow. Rosa was not a bit like her brother and sister;
being a model of patience, application and obedience. I was very proud
of my sister Rosa, and I loved and admired her, but I never had the
slightest desire to imitate her.
After my father had gone, nothing was talked of except our cousin
Paula. When would she come? What would she be like? Would she be
content to be here among us? All these were questions which we could
not answer as we knew very little about her. They had told me that
Paula lived in the Waldensian Valley—a country where the inhabitants
fed on black bread and lived in homes that were like stables. I had no
idea just exactly where the mountains of Piedmont were. I had searched
the map without being able to find the region, but I supposed it must
be somewhere between France, Italy and Switzerland.
There was another thing I had found out; namely, that Paula was
about my own age. What happiness! This fact I repeated over and over
until Louis told me to keep quiet. This attitude on his part I put down
as discontent because Paula wasn't a boy, so I kept repeating, “Paula's
the same as me!”
“For mercy's sake, will you keep quiet, Lisita? Besides you have
your grammar twisted as usual. It doesn't surprise me in the least that
you're always at the foot of the class, if that's the way you study.”
“You can talk to me as you like,” I answered, “but when Paula gets
here I'll never speak to you again, and I'll tell her not to say a word
to you either. I am mighty glad that Paula's a girl and not a
disagreeable boy like you.”
“Oh, keep your Paula, much do I care!” replied Louis.
“Come, come,” exclaimed Rosa, “what's the good of fighting over this
poor girl Paula whom neither of you have ever seen!”
“It's Louis' fault!”
“No, it's Lisita's!”
“It's the two of you! If Paula could see the way you quarrel I'm
sure she would not want to come. I hope she will love us all and we
must all of us love her also, because she's not only an orphan, but
she's a niece of our poor dear, dead mother.”
Rosa knew well how to bring about peace. One word about our mother
“See here, Lisita,” and Rosa drew me toward her, “I see that you
haven't the slightest desire to study tonight, so close your book, and
if you get up early tomorrow morning I'll help you. Do you know what I
would do now if I were you.”
“I'd go and see Catalina, You know that she does not like to be
alone all of the afternoon, and I think Teresa has gone out If I didn't
have so much to do I'd see her myself. Now, look out you don't make too
much noise. Catalina has a terrible headache today.”
“All right. I'm off!” I said.
The idea of visiting my oldest sister never made me very happy in
those days. In fart, I hardly ever entered her room because it bored me
terribly to be in the company of such a disagreeable invalid.
I remembered the time when Catalina was the liveliest and happiest
person in the whole house, but unfortunately all this had changed in an
instant. One day three years before, Catalina had fallen from the top
of a high cherry-tree which she had climbed against the advice of
Teresa. She was unconscious when we picked her up, and it seemed at
first as if she would die as a result of the fall. After six months of
cruel suffering, however, her youth had triumphed over death; but the
big sister who had always been as happy and as lively as a bird was
gone from us, and in her place remained a forlorn, unhappy girl with a
poor twisted body, who at rare intervals sallied from her room a few
steps with the aid of her crutches. Unfortunately her character had
also suffered severely, for in spite of the tenderness and solicitude
of my father who sought to satisfy her slightest desire, and in spite
of the untiring care of Teresa and the patience and sweetness of Rosa,
Catalina's life was one long complaint. Her room, with its white bed
adorned with blue curtains and its magnificent view of the fields and
mountains, was the most beautiful in the whole house. A pair of
canaries sang for her in their respective corners; the finest fruits
were always for her; and as she was a great reader, new books were
continually brought in; but nothing seemed to have power to put a smile
of satisfaction on her thin, wasted face.
Poor Catalina! It was certainly true—I didn't love her very much. I
was so accustomed to see my sister in her invalid state that her
pitiful condition didn't seem to move me, and she was always in such a
bad humor that I only went to see her on rare occasions.
However, on this particular afternoon, I had, of course, a great
desire to carry her the news of our cousin's coming, and so I gladly
went to visit her; but forgetting all the warnings of Rosa I burst open
the door like a gust of wind.
Catalina was lying with her face toward the wall with the curtains
of the bed partly drawn, and a green shade had been placed over the
cages of the two birds in order to stop their singing. Under other
circumstances I would have prudently retired, thinking that Catalina,
more irritated or sicker than usual, was endeavoring to sleep.
Doubtless our old servant had come in to speak to her regarding Paula,
and finding her apparently asleep had arranged things as I found them.
She turned her head on hearing me come in and in a sharp tone
exclaimed, “What a noise, Lisita! Can't you give me a single quiet
“You know I haven't been here all day!” I answered impatiently. “In
fact, I haven't been here since yesterday morning, and besides, I
forgot that Rosa told me that you had a headache.”
“Well, you know it now!”
“So you wouldn't care to have me tell you the big news!”
“Well, I am going to tell you anyhow, because I can't keep it to
myself any longer! Uncle John is dead!”
“Uncle John! Dead?”
“Yes, and I'm happy!”
“What do you mean, you're happy!”
“Well, I am happy!—not because Uncle John is dead, but because his
little girl, Paula, who is just my age, is coming to live with us, so,
of course, why shouldn't I be happy?”
“Well, you can just forget your 'happiness,' because Paula is not
going to live with us. I can tell you that right now!”
“And why not? Father said she was coming! You can ask Teresa, or
Rosa, or Louis!”
“I am not going to ask anyone, but I tell you that Paula is not
coming here! No! and indeed, NO! I've got enough to put up with, with
Louis and you! It seems as if you tear my head apart, for you quarrel
from morning till night; and when you play it seems as if the house is
coming down; and now suppose another bad-mannered little girl should
come among us! But I tell you it never shall happen!”
“You're not the one who orders things here!”
“Neither do you, you impertinent little thing.”
“Now, don't get mad, Catalina!” I cried, as I burst into tears.
“You don't know what you are talking about. You do not realize that
Paula has no one in the world to care for her. Teresa read us the
letter out loud. I know I'm not a good girl and I'm almost as
disagreeable as you are, but I am going to be good when Paula comes.
You shall see. She will be my dearly beloved sister and she is almost
exactly my age. Oh, I certainly shall love her so, and we shall always
be together and we, we....”
“Keep quiet, Lisita. Your tongue runs like a mill-wheel. Besides,
where did you get all these details?”
“It was this afternoon, just as we finished tea. They wrote to
father, and father gave the letter to Teresa, and Teresa said that a
little extra work didn't bother her, and so father said, 'All right,
let her come!'“
“And I? Father said nothing about me?”
“Not that I remember.”
“Oh,” sobbed Catalina, “everything is done without me now! Because I
am nothing more than an invalid, everything is arranged without
consulting me! What difference does it make to you—who are able to
laugh and run and play—if I suffer here without having a thing to say
about what goes on in the house! How would you like to be in my place?
Father never came to say one single word to me about the matter, and
now without consulting me as to whether it would disturb me, they wish
to bring another trouble to torment me more! But it shall not be, and
the day that she comes I shall go to a hospital, because they do not
want me here any more!”
Poor Catalina! She had passed a very bad day, and always on such
days she would weep on the slightest pretext. I didn't care for her
very much, but that day I pitied her with all my heart and I did what I
could to calm her; for once her nerves were excited, nothing could
console the poor unhappy girl. Besides, I was very much afraid that she
would be able to change my father's purpose in regard to Paula. He,
generally so severe, so cold, and insensible in his attitude toward us,
obeyed the slightest wish of his eldest daughter. And if—if!—she
succeeded in preventing Paula's coming I felt that I would never, never
pardon Catalina! But now I tried to embrace her.
“Listen,” I said; “father had to go out, but when he returns he will
tell you the same thing that I have told you!”
But Catalina would not hear me. With her head hidden in the pillows,
she continued crying.
I was desperate! As a rule it took a lot less than this to make
Catalina worse. Catalina worse! And all my fault! What would my father
say! And yet I had had no bad intentions. How could I have known that
she would have received my good news in this way? Suddenly I had a
brilliant idea. Leaving Catalina I ran to the kitchen where Teresa was
preparing the vegetables for supper. “Teresa, come quickly,” I cried
with my eyes full of tears; “Catalina is making herself sick with
“And why? I left her sleeping only a short time ago.”
“Oh, yes, I know; but please come at once, Teresa! It's all my
fault! I told her that Paula was coming and she is beside herself! But
really and truly I had no idea that she would take it that way!”
Teresa jumped up quickly, saying under her breath, “What next?” and
then to me, “You certainly are a troublesome youngster, my poor
“But Teresa, I vow to you....”
“Be quiet, and go back to Catalina's room! I'll be there as soon as
I left the kitchen well content. Teresa was not full of pretty
phrases but she had a heart of gold, and I knew that somehow or other
she would be able to fix things with Catalina. I found Rosa already in
Catalina's room on my return, trying in vain to calm her. She turned to
“What on earth has happened? I heard Catalina sobbing, clear at the
other end of the house. Are you responsible for this?”
“No, no, it wasn't I; it was Paula.”
I tried to explain, but at this minute Teresa entered, bringing with
her a plateful of delicious apples.
“Come, come, Catalina!” and her deep, sonorous voice seemed like
soothing balm, as her presence appeared to fill the room. “What on
earth are you crying about? It is but a short moment ago that I secured
permission from your papa to read you a letter which he has just
received from Italy, and I went out to pick up some of your favorite
apples, the first of the season, and here I come to find you crying!”
Catalina became a little calmer hearing the word “letter,” for, to
the poor confined invalid, a letter from abroad was a great event.
Nevertheless, between her sobs she remarked, “Is it a letter about this
terrible 'Paula' that they are talking about?”
“Yes,” answered Teresa, with that soothing voice of hers. “It's a
letter that tells us a bit about a niece of your poor mother.”
Catalina calmed down completely. If the memory of our mother still
lived in the heart of her other daughters it had first place above all
else with Catalina.
“Now, read it to me, Catalina,” said Teresa. “You can do so much
better than I can in the reading line, and it will sound so much better
from your lips than from my poor stumbling ones. Wait till I fix up the
pillows, and don't cry any more. And now your headache is better, isn't
“It still pains terribly, Teresa. Let Rosa read it.”
Rosa took the letter, and read in her clear, sweet voice the lines
that had so stirred us all.
There were but few details. Our Uncle John had died; so wrote the
pastor of the little church in that far-off Waldensian Valley. He had
died as he had lived—a real Christian. He had no near relatives, it
appeared; and the rest of the family had gone to America two years
before. Paula, therefore, was alone. Just before breathing his last, my
uncle had expressed the desire to leave his daughter in the care of our
father whom he had never known, but of whom he had heard nothing but
good. Beside all this he had left his daughter in the hands of God, the
loving Father of all orphans, praying Him to guide and direct in the
whole affair. His last prayer had been for us; asking God to bless our
family that we might all be guided into the straight and narrow Way
that leadeth unto life eternal. Then followed certain details relative
to a small inheritance that Paula possessed, and the prayer of the
Pastor himself that the temporal and spiritual happiness of the little
orphan might be maintained.
“Is that all?” asked Catalina.
“Yes,” said Rosa; “that is the end of the letter.”
“Poor little thing!”
There was a long silence. I think Catalina was thinking of her
mother, for her face had softened for once.
Teresa sat with her large agile fingers flying—those strong fingers
that were never idle;—the metallic sound of her needles alternating
with the happy song of the canaries, from whose cages the curtains had
again been removed.
Never in my life had I lingered very long to observe Catalina, but
this afternoon I could not help but notice how pale and delicate she
really was. Propped up on her pillows with her golden hair falling
around her shoulders, one would not have guessed her to be more than
fourteen years old, instead of eighteen. Seeing her thus after her day
of sufferings, I pardoned all her bad humor and hardness of heart
toward Paula; and I had a great desire to take her in my arms but I did
not dare do such a thing—fearing she would refuse my caresses.
“Teresa,” she said suddenly, closing her eyes to keep back the
tears, “do you think that it hurts very much when one dies?”
“Why do you ask that?” and Teresa looked at her quite surprised.
“I was thinking of Uncle John.”
“That depends, Catalina, that depends. There are some persons who
die tranquilly in their sleep with no pain at all, but in the case of
others it is quite the contrary.”
“But afterward, Teresa! How about afterward? What happens to us
“Afterward?” Teresa looked puzzled. “Nobody knows what happens to us
afterward. When I was a little girl, my mother who was a very pious
woman, told us that if we were very good we would go to heaven, but if
we were bad we went to hell. I believe she was right, poor woman, but
it is sometime since I have thought of religious things, and your
father does not like to have us talk about it.”
“I know that, Teresa, but I can't help thinking about it
often and often. Was our mother a 'pious woman?'“
“Not exactly—at least, not before she became ill. Her relatives in
Villar—your Aunt and your Uncle John used to write lovely letters to
her, that spoke of God and heaven and prayer. Your mother used to sigh
after reading them, and sometimes she would read me a page or two from
those letters, and would say to me, 'My good Teresa, we both ought to
think about these things! My sister is far more happy in her hut on the
mountain-side in Waldensia than we are here in the midst of abundance.
It must be wonderful not to fear death and to love God with all our
heart' When she spoke thus to your father he laughed at her and said.
'Now, don't you worry about that, darling, you couldn't be any better
than you are now; and I am glad that you are not like these pious
ladies who try to tell you what will happen to you after death. You'll
have plenty of time to think about those things when you come to your
last days; but now with your good health and robust constitution you
can count on a good old age.'“
“But father was mistaken, Teresa!”
“Yes, he certainly was mistaken, poor man. Nobody could have
believed that when on that Monday afternoon she complained of a little
pain in her throat, she would die on the following Thursday.”
“Was it diphtheria, Teresa?”
All that poor Teresa could say amid her tears was, “Poor, poor
little beloved one! Never shall I forget her last moments or the
desperation of your father. From his very first visit the doctor said
that there was no hope. I thought I would go insane when he said that!
How I remember her the day before she was taken ill, in all her youth
and beauty—singing as she worked, and then suddenly came that terrible
pressure in her throat.”
“Then, Teresa, you remember, she could not kiss us goodbye.”
“No, poor lady, that was her greatest pain when they told her that
her sickness was very contagious. But—there! there! Catalina, I did
not mean to make you cry, and I have told you this story so many times,
and now here I am telling it over again like the foolish woman I am!”
“No, no, Teresa, go on,” answered Catalina between her sobs. “I am
always happy when I hear you speak of our beloved Mamma.”
And now, I too could not keep back my tears as I kneeled beside the
old servant, who left her work to pass her hand over my head.
“Thou didst not know her, dear Lisita. How many times during her
sickness she told me especially to take care of thee, and love thee as
if I were thine own mother. Yes, and correct thee also.... At times I
ask myself whether I have obeyed her.”
“Oh, Teresa,” exclaimed Rosa, interrupting her and closing, with a
bang the book which she had not read. “Indeed, you have done your duty.
What would we have done without you? Of course, I can't say,” and Rosa
smiled, “that your punishments have been very numerous, but father has
taken care of that. Father corrects us and you do the loving part”
“Now, see here, your father loves you also, and it's only the pain
of having lost your mother that makes him appear more severe than he
really is. Open the window, Rosa, I can hardly see, and I must finish
this stocking before I quit tonight.”
Rosa obeyed, and a soft breeze entered, laden with the perfume of
the garden, and Teresa resumed; “After the doctor had gone that
afternoon your mother called me and said, Teresa, tell me the truth.
The doctor believes I am going to die; does he not?' I didn't know what
to answer her. Your father hoped in spite of the doctor's opinion that
she'd pull through, and did not wish me to let your poor mother know
that there was any danger. But here she lay praying me with her joined
hands that I should tell her the truth. She spoke with great difficulty
and I feared that soon she would not be able to speak at all, and
therefore weeping, told her the whole truth.”
“Then she said to me, 'Teresa, I'm certainly afraid to die! I'm
afraid! I'm afraid!”
“'But,' said I, 'Madame, why should you be afraid? You have always
been so good to everybody. The good God will take you to heaven.' But
she could not be calm.
“'According to the world's standard perhaps yes, Teresa—but before
God! To think that in a few hours I shall be face to face with the Lord
Jesus and I am not prepared!—No, no, let me speak, Teresa! I have done
my duty by my husband and by my children, but I have forgotten God. I
have not loved Him, neither have I prayed to Him and therefore I'm
afraid to meet Him. Oh, Teresa, I'm afraid to die.”
“I could only repeat, 'The good God will pardon you, Madame. He is
so good and kind. He will have pity on you, for you have never done any
harm to anybody.'
“'Ah.' she answered, if I had but listened to my sister and
brother-in-law! How many times they urged me in their letters to
surrender to the Lord Jesus, but I always put it off ... and now I'm
dying! Oh, Teresa, Teresa, can you not help me?'“
“But I thought Mamma died in peace?” suddenly questioned Rosa. “I
remember toward the end that she was anxious to go, and at last said
that she was going to heaven.”
“Yes, my beloved madame did indeed die in peace. Sometime after she
had asked me whether I could help her she said, 'Teresa, read again
that last letter from my sister. I have it here under my pillow.' I
read it to her as best I could, and as I finished she said to me, 'Read
it again, Teresa. Oh, if only my dear sister were here this minute!”
Twice again I read the letter, but still she was not satisfied. 'Those
last words, Teresa, Read them again to me, please.' And again I read
“Do you remember those last words, Teresa?” Catalina asked as she
listened with rapt attention to the story she had heard so often from
the lips of our old servant.
“I don't remember all. I would have liked to have kept the letter.
It was such a letter that would help any one to die, for it was
certainly a treasure. But my poor madame wished to carry it to the tomb
with her, and no doubt it is there yet in her hands, poor little angel.
As I remember it, the letter concluded thus: 'He that believeth on Me
hath everlasting life, and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast
“I read these, the last words of the letter, a dozen times over to
her and she seemed to take hold of them as a drowning man would grasp a
board that floated by him—then without movement, with her eyes shut,
she seemed to be sleeping, but every once in a while she appeared to be
talking with someone.”
“Do you think she was praying, Teresa?” I asked in a trembling
“Yes, Lisita, she was praying. And I am sure that the good God heard
her, for she said to me after a long silence, Teresa, I believe my
Saviour has taken me for His own—I am a poor, guilty, and ungrateful
sinner—I have waited until the last moment, and I know my sins are
great, but my Saviour's love is greater. But oh, my husband!—and my
children! I have done nothing to attract them to God. Oh, Teresa, take
care of them! Take care of them! I have put them in the hands of the
Lord that He may save them also. I can do nothing and—it is too late!'
“She asked me to call your father who was resting in the next room
for he had watched all the previous night and had worked as usual all
day. She could hardly speak, but as best she could she prayed him to be
reconciled to God and to teach their children to know the way of
“The strange thing to me, Teresa,” said Rosa thoughtfully, “is that
our father who loved our mother so much, has not taught us this
Christian religion according to our dear mother's last wish.”
“That is the terrible part,” Teresa answered. “An awful change came
on him at the death of your mother. He loved her desperately and when
she died it seemed as if his heart turned to stone, and when I tried to
console him he cried out bitterly, 'Don't speak to me of God and don't
try to tell me He is a God of love. He took away my most precious
treasure and tore my heart and my very life to pieces.'
“About a week after the death of my poor madame he called me to him
and said, 'Teresa, you are a good woman. You've brought up my dear
Maria, carried her in your arms when she was small, and in your arms
she drew her last breath. She commended her poor children into your
hands, and I want you to remain forever at their side, but on one
condition, remember—that you never speak to them again on the subject
of religion, neither of prayer, nor of church, nor anything of the
kind. Hear me well, Teresa! Hear me! I have prayed very little in my
life, but on that last night when my dear wife passed away, if anyone
prayed with all his heart and all his strength, I did so. Kneeling
beside her bed I promised God to serve Him; to bring up my children for
Him if He would only leave me my treasure. But He didn't do it Then why
should I serve Him?'
“When I saw that it was useless to argue with him I promised what he
asked. Just think, if I had been obliged to abandon you to a strange
servant!” and Teresa viewed the three of us with those great blue eyes
of hers full of affection for us.
“Oh,” I cried, trying to take her great fat body in my arms, “What
would we have done without you!”
But Teresa, wanting very much to cry and yet trying hard not to show
it, put me gently aside, saying, “There, there! You are making me lose
a lot of time. Stand up, stand up! You have been on the floor at my
feet for over half-an-hour like a little purring kitten and wearing out
your stockings besides.”
And then continuing without awaiting my reply:
“Well, I am only a poor ignorant servant. If I can read, it is
because my poor madame taught me. Nevertheless it has nearly broken my
heart to see all three of you, and Louis besides, growing up like a
bunch of heathen. And, what happiness prayer does bring one!”
“Do you pray, Teresa?” asked the wondering Rosa.
“Oh, at times. But see now, servants must do what they see their
masters do. After the death of my poor madame I prayed often, but
little by little I seemed to lose the habit. Your father hardly ever
spoke to me, and excepting Catalina, you were all too small to
understand important things, and the neighbors!—Oh, you know among our
neighbors one never hears any prayers at their houses either. I would
be so happy before I die to see the day when my poor madame's prayers
be heard regarding us.”
“It's a shame,” said Rosa, “that Paula is so small. If she were only
a few years older perhaps she could”—“I'll tell you what's a shame,
and that is that she is coming at all,” interrupted Catalina with the
return of her bad humor.
“Oh,” sighed Teresa, “poor little thing! What could she do at her
age! A child of ten years will never be able to change your father's
ideas. The more you speak to him the worse he is. No, the one who has
to change will be the child herself! She must learn to do as we
do. I do hope she may not have to suffer too much. Of course, at her
age she will adapt herself quickly to her surroundings, and after all,
your father is a good-hearted man. There! At last the sock is done! It
was time, for I cannot see any more. What a lovely day it has been! The
fruit ought to ripen quickly with a few more days like this.”
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine ... it was the
great clock of Darnetal that recalled us to the present.
“Nine o'clock!” exclaimed Teresa, “how the time has passed! Lisita!
Off to bed!”
“Please, Teresa, let me stay a few minutes more; it's lovely here by
the open window.”
“Yes, it won't be so lovely tomorrow morning when you must rise
early to be in class on time. Isn't that so? Now go, Lisita! No more
“Here, take this,” said Catalina, handing me a lovely orange that
she had received; “You can have it if you go to bed immediately!”
“Oh,” I exclaimed beamingly; “I do love you so, dear Catalina.”
“Is it me or the orange that you love?”
“It's you, and the orange, and Teresa, and Papa, and Rosa, and
Louis, and Paula.”
“There! there! Go to bed,” said Catalina, disentangling herself from
my arms. “If you don't go to bed at once I will take away your orange.”
Laughing, I embraced her again, and Rosa too, and then rushed off to
my room, but not without slamming Catalina's door with a noise that
shook the whole house.
CHAPTER THREE. PAULA ARRIVES
For nearly a week I couldn't think of another thing but the coming
My father had gone to Paris. He would be there some days to arrange
certain important matters of business in connection with his factory,
and also to wait for the little orphan to be placed in his care by a
lady who was journeying from Villar to Paris. In school I talked of
nothing else. In fact, I talked about her all day and every day. I
learned nothing, nor could I seem to do anything around the house.
One night, while dreaming, I jumped from the bed, crying, “Paula!
Paula!” This awakened Teresa, and she made me take some nasty medicine
thinking I had fever. I made promises of reform. I wanted to be good,
studious and patient, in order to be an example to Paula who would see
my good qualities and would thus endeavor to imitate me. Nevertheless I
became absolutely insufferable! My older sisters without being quite so
enthusiastic as I was, nevertheless spoke often of Paula. Catalina
began to worry that Paula might suffer in our house, but she soon
consoled herself by remembering that my father had promised to put her
out to board, if it turned out that she could not get along amicably
with us. As to Louis, he soon showed us that he was not at all
interested in the arrival of his young cousin. If it had been a boy, it
would have been different—but a girl!
Teresa spoke very little as to Paula, but I am persuaded that long
before the arrival of our little orphan cousin, she had been given a
large place in our old servant's heart. She found a little white bed up
in the attic which was placed in my room beside my own cot.
At last the great day arrived. It was a Wednesday, and of course I
had to go to school as usual. We did not know at what hour my father
would come from Paris with Paula, and so every moment I said to myself,
“Perhaps they have arrived!” Result—my lessons went from bad to worse,
but at last at five in the afternoon, I reached the house breathless
only to find that Paula had not yet come. “They are not coming!” I
cried impatiently, “I knew they wouldn't be here!”
“Then why did you run so fast?” Teresa asked.
I said nothing, but soon Rosa also arrived, and after tea I put all
my books in order, redressed my dolls, got rid of the ink on my hands
with pumice-stone, and in between each task, took a turn in the garden
on the passing of any coach-but always with the same result! Would they
ever arrive? Then came supper-time. Catalina had been up and
dressed all day and would not hear of going to bed until Paula came.
Our summer days are very long, but night had arrived, the lamps had
been lighted, and we had resigned ourselves to wait without the
consolation of seeing the road from the window. Then suddenly—Oh, joy!
We heard a faint sound of wheels in the distance; then clearer and
clearer as they rattled over the pavement of the deserted street.
Teresa had already arisen from her chair. I had a wild desire to run
out in the dark to receive my young cousin for whom I had waited all
these weeks, but something seemed to detain me. Then while I waited
questioning myself as to what I would say to Paula, trying to remember
all the many counsels of Teresa, our old servant staggered in from the
yard with a great bag in each hand. Then our father entered with a
young girl at his side dressed in black. Paula had come!
In anticipation I had fancied Paula as a pale, sad little girl with
blue eyes full of tears. She would have golden hair, very smooth, cut
off at the base of her ears, and would be dressed in black muslin, and
wear a straw hat with a black ribbon tied under her chin. But here was
a different Paula. She was large for her age and appeared quite strong.
Her frank open face, bronzed with the sun and air, showed health and
intelligence. A black silk cap with a wide ribbon of the same color,
failed to entirely hide a magnificent head of brown hair, gathered
beneath her cap after the manner of the Waldensians. Her simple dress
of black and gray stripes reached almost to her ankles, while an apron
of fine cretonne came to her knees. A black shawl whose points passed
under her arms and were knotted behind, protected her shoulders, while
a pair of great thick shoes completed her attire. In spite of what to
our mind was a certain quaint oddness in her dress, it could not hide
Paula's beauty. Her forehead was broad and intelligent, her large brown
eyes were full of a certain sweetness, and a lovely smile played on her
“Come,” said our father in an almost kindly voice for him; “Embrace
your young cousin, and give her a hearty welcome.”
Rosa came forward, and I timidly did the same; but Paula dropping
father's hand, rushed toward Rosa and then to me, kissing us both and
laughing and crying at the same time. She seemed to forget her long
voyage and her weariness as she repeated to each one of us in her
melodious voice, “I know I shall love you all, and my Uncle Charles
here. I already love him, and he has told me all your names. Let me
see, this is Rosa,” and then turning to me, “You are Lisita. Oh, if you
only knew how much I love you all!”
“Now go and greet your cousin Catalina,” said my father. “She is the
sick one,” he added softly.
Paula drew near the big chair where the sick girl re-clined.
Catalina was smiling sadly at the young stranger. “Do you also love me
a little?” asked my eldest sister.
With tenderness and infinite care Paula enveloped her in her strong
arms. “I already love you with all my heart!” she said, laying her head
against Catalina's shoulder.
“Have you ever been sick, Paula?” she questioned her.
“No, but Papa was,” she said in a trembling tone.
At this moment Teresa arrived carrying in the final bag. “At last,”
she said, embracing Paula. “Do you know who I am?” Then, seeing that
Paula viewed her a bit strangely, she added, “I am only old Teresa. It
was I who brought up your dear mother, and I thought I would have to do
the same with you; but it looks to me as if you wouldn't need very much
of my care. You are so large and healthy, much bigger than Lisita here,
and yet you probably are no older. How old are you, pray?”
“I am ten years old, madame.”
“Oh, don't call me 'madame.' Call me Teresa, just as your mother did
many years ago.”
And Teresa took the lamp and brought it close to Paula. “No, you
hardly have any similiarity in your face, but your voice is like hers.
Now, let me hug you once more, my treasure.” And Teresa pressed to her
heart the motherless child.
“In my country they say I am like Papa. In fact, I have his portrait
in the trunk and I will show it to you.”
“Show it to us now!” I shouted.
But Teresa interrupted me. “What a child you are, when poor Paula is
so tired! Tomorrow will be time enough.”
The meal for the young traveler had been prepared on the end of the
great table, where Teresa had placed buttered toast and jam, and soon
she sallied from the kitchen with the rest of the food.
“There you are, Paula,” Teresa said, drawing her to the table; “Sit
down and eat!”
“And the others?” said Paula, looking at us.
“Oh, we ate long ago,” said Rosa.
“I think we might eat a little bread and jam to accompany her,” I
said. Then everybody laughed.
“I think Lisita is right for once,” said Teresa, always happy when
she was able to give us a bit of pleasure; “and I think Paula will be a
little more comfortable that way.”
“Now then, Paula, are you not hungry?” asked Teresa with her hand on
the lock of the kitchen door.
“Yes, madame ... that is—yes, Teresa.”
“Begin then! Lisita doesn't need any urging. Do as she does, and I
trust you will eat with a good appetite.”
Paula looked at us, one after the other, and then looked at Teresa
as if she would say something. As Teresa remained, looking on in an
astonished manner, Paula got down from her chair and stood in front of
her now cooling cup of hot milk. She placed her hands together, closing
her eyes and bending her head a little, she said slowly and
deliberately in a low voice, “The food which we receive, O Lord, may it
be blessed, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
CHAPTER FOUR. PAULA'S TREASURES
Naturally, on awakening the next morning, after Paula's arrival, it
was “Paula, Paula, Paula,” that occupied my every thought. I found she
was still sleeping. How I did wish to wake her up! But Teresa had
cautioned me to let her sleep as long as she wished on account of her
long journey of the day before. So I simply half-opened the curtains of
her bed and closed the window to warm up the room.
I had no idea what hour it was. Teresa had the watch under her
pillow, and I could never tell the time by the sun, like Louis and
Rosa, but I could tell it was very early, for almost every door and
window of the red houses across the street, were still closed. Once in
a while, I saw a factory hand passing with his lunch under his arm, on
his way to work. Among these, I noticed one whom we called the
“Breton,” a terrific drunkard of whom I was greatly afraid; but,
strange to say, this morning he went on his way with a firm, straight
step, behaving himself quite like an ordinary person.
The sky was clear and very, very blue, without a single cloud. It
had rained the night before, for on all the trees and bushes thousands
of water-drops glistened like diamonds in the light of the newly risen
Dozens of little birds were singing their morning songs in the great
linden trees on the avenue, and the scent of the flowers from the
laborers' little gardens over the way, floated in through the window,
and what a multitude they were!—roses, lilies, geraniums, pansies and
forget-me-nots. I could not see our own garden from our bedroom window,
but I knew that there also there would be flowers in profusion, thanks
to faithful Teresa's unceasing care. Here also hung that delight of my
life—the swing which my father had placed under the apple-tree one
happy day five years ago. Oh, how Paula would love it, and how happy
she would be among us! Again I took a peep between the curtains but
still she slept. Would she never wake up? Now I had a chance to observe
her more closely. That beautiful face, just a bit serious, buried in
the white pillow, on which were signs of moisture, betraying the fact
that tears had been mixed with her slumbers.
It was long after we finished breakfast, and our father had gone to
his work, that she finally awoke. But now, all her sadness had
disappeared, and not a sign of a tear remained. She ate her breakfast
with great gusto, not however without again performing that strange
custom of putting her hands together, and repeating the prayer which
our astonished ears had heard the night before.
Teresa searched among my sister's clothes for something a little
more modern with which to clothe our little country visitor. Meanwhile
Paula chatted happily to us, telling us quite a little of her life in
that far-off Waldensian valley. In the winter she and her father had
lived in the stable in the midst of the cows, goats, sheep, rabbits,
etc. It was the heat from the bodies of these animals that kept them
quite warm; and at the same time saved the price of the fuel which
would otherwise have been necessary if they had stayed during the day
in the dwelling-house. Sometimes, she told us, the poor from the
village would come to their stable, bringing their children with them
for this same purpose of getting warm without any expenditure for fuel.
Then, what happiness and what games they had together, in that little
space in the stable between the animals!
Oh, yes, she went to the school, she said—the little school whose
teacher was her own father who every afternoon gathered the children
together in that self-same stable. In the evening, the neighbors would
bring each one his own little stool, crowding into every unoccupied
space that could be found in the stable; the women spinning, the men
reading in turn from the Bible by the light of a tallow candle.
Meanwhile the babies were put to sleep in the straw above the
sheep-fold, until the time came to disperse for the night Paula, being
a great girl of ten years old, always tried desperately to keep awake
along with the older folks. Toward the close of the evening, her father
would say, “Now, my friends, let us meet before the Lord.” Then the
needles would be put away, the hymn-books would be taken out, and often
they would sing far into the night. Then after earnest prayers by
several of the neighbors, the long winter meeting would break up.
Of course, Paula preferred the summer, she said, when she ran
barefoot through the flower-covered fields or when she accompanied her
father as they gathered the wheat. Then at other times she had to take
her turn caring for the flocks of sheep and goats, and see that the
lambs and little kids did not stray too far away. She never tired of
watching these happy little creatures with their thousand antics as thy
jumped over the rocks.
In the summer, how happy she was in those vast green Alpine fields,
how magnificent that pure air, and that bluest of all blue skies! And
in the autumn!—What a beautiful season was that, with the
nut-gathering and the bringing in of the apples and the grapes. Then
she told us how our Uncle John would take the honey from the hives,
that golden honey with its heavenly taste.
As she spoke, Paula with her lovely animated face, appeared to live
again in her happy past, quite forgetful that she was now far away from
her beloved, sunny land of the Alps, where that dear father slept on
the hillside, nevermore to return.
I, of course, had been in the habit of hearing our mother speak of
her home in the Alps with nothing but sighs and tears. It astonished me
now to hear this young creature so full of life and vigor and happiness
speak of her old life in Waldensia. I had been preparing myself to
console her and endeavor to make her happy and forget her past life of
poverty. But now it was quite the contrary. Here was Paula scattering
happiness and love all around her, entertaining us and making us laugh
at her wonderful stories.
Teresa came and went from one room to another opening boxes, finding
here a dress that Catalina could not wear any more, there an apron that
had grown too short for Rosa, and here again a pair of small shoes that
would no doubt fit our country cousin, with a black ribbon or two that
had formerly served us in our time of mourning when mamma died. From
her bed in the other room, Catalina listened, calling me at times to
re-tell some of the conversation which she had missed, and Rosa wrote a
letter to Louis to tell him in detail all about Paula's arrival.
Of course, we were all in high good humor, but I believe I was the
happiest of all, for I certainly loved this newly-arrived cousin of
mine and found her a thousand times finer than I had even imagined.
I said to her once without thinking, “Paula, were you very sorry
when you lost your father?” Teresa looked at me threateningly, but it
was too late! Paula had already heard me and her eyes filled with
tears. I would have given a good deal if I could have recalled my
thoughtless words. “Father is in heaven,” said this valiant, young
daughter of his. “He suffered much before he died, but now he is happy
indeed! One day I shall go and be with him there.”
Never had I heard such an astonishing statement. Suddenly Teresa
exclaimed, her voice shaking with emotion, “Surely, thou art a daughter
of the good God and our very beloved Paula!”
The three days that followed Paula's arrival were very happy ones
for me. I greatly wanted to take her to school with me, but my father
thought that for a while she would be better in the house, where she
could accustom herself to her new life and be with poor Catalina whose
strength diminished day by day.
In the morning, and at dinner-time, and after school, and in the
evening, we were always together. On my return from school, we took tea
together out of doors. When I had finished my home-work, we would dig
together in my portion of the garden, and then as the summer days were
long ones, Teresa would let us play outside until bed-time.
Of course, I showed Paula all our toys and dolls and the wonderful
illustrated books that had been given me from time to time by relatives
and friends. Paula was in ecstasies in this new world of books that
opened before her. She touched my dolls one by one, looking at them
with awe, examining their clothes, passing and repassing her fingers
through their hair and exclaimed, “Oh, how beautiful! Never have I seen
such things before!” Paula in her turn, showed us her treasures. They
were not very numerous, but we could see our country cousin esteemed
them very highly. With a trembling hand she untied a red-and-blue
pocket-handkerchief, and without a word placed on the table a portrait,
a little black-covered book, and some faded flowers. I took up the
portrait. It was that of a young man with smiling eyes, quite similar
to those of Paula, and with that same kindness and sweetness in his
face, so that it was not difficult to recognize who he might be. “It's
my father,” said Paula quite simply.
I wished at that moment I could have said something to comfort her
but I could not find a word to say. Sobbing, I embraced her, and I felt
her hot tears mingling with mine.
“Don't let us cry any more,” she said presently. “My father has gone
to heaven and my mother also. They are there with the Lord. Some day we
shall go and join them, and we shall be with them there forever; shall
we not, Lisita?” “Yes,” I said, somewhat troubled.
“See my flowers,” she said. “I picked them near our house in the
morning just before leaving. Do you not see? Here are forget-me-nots,
pansies and daisies. Poor little things! It is hard to recognize them,
but I shall keep them always, and when I return to Villar, I will carry
them with me.” “But you will never return there,” I cried, “you are to
stay with us always. I never want you to leave us.”
“Well, don't worry about that, Lisita. When we grow up, you will go
with me to my old home. Uncle Peter and the man that rented the farm
from father, promised me never to leave the place until I grew up and
returned. So I made them a solemn promise that I would come back and
take over the farm some day. Perhaps the cows and the goats and the
rabbits will all be different when I go back. If you only knew how I
cried when I kissed them all on coming away. They all know me so well.
I wonder if they still remember me.”
With a sigh, Paula put her flowers back carefully in the
handkerchief, and then passed over the little black book to me. “This
is my Bible,” she said. “It was my father's for years, and he gave it
to me on the day he died. See, he has written my name here on the first
I was hardly able to decipher the shaky signature of our Uncle John,
but finally made out the following,
A remembrance from her dying father.”
It was an old book with many loosened leaves. On each page were many
underlined passages, some marked with pencil, others with ink, with
small neat comments in the margins.
“This is my most precious treasure,” said Paula. “Father had it in
his hands as he breathed his last. I promised him to read from it every
day of my life, asking the Lord's help to understand what I read.
Although Papa is no longer here, still I obey him. I try to remember
all that he told me. He was a wonderful man, this dear father of mine,
and how he did love the Lord! My one desire is to be like him.”
“Yes, but you are only a girl yet,” I said to her.
“That's true, Lisita, naturally I know that, but father used to say
to me, 'You're not too small to serve the Lord, Paula!' I read the
Bible with him many times, and when we didn't have time to read it in
the house, we took it to the fields with us and read it as we rested.
Then as I watched the cows and sheep, I read the Book alone. And now
you and I can read it together; can we not, Lisita? And I know the Lord
will help us to make everybody else happy around us. I've never had a
sister, and now that you say you wish to be my sister, my prayers are
Then after a pause, she said, “Why don't you answer me, Lisita?” And
she laid her head on my shoulder and fixed her great eyes upon me. How
could I answer her! I had a great desire to tell her of the true
situation. We all of us wished to be as good as possible, if that
should please her, but we would never be permitted to read the Bible. I
knew father would never consent to that. Yet how could I tell her that
things in our house were not as they were in hers—in that God was
never mentioned! Then I remembered a long discussion our old servant
had had that very morning with my sisters on this subject, and Teresa
had ended the matter by saying, “She's only a little girl, anyway, and
she'll soon become accustomed to do as we do. Besides your father will
remember how she has been brought up, and he has too good a heart to
make the poor child unhappy. Of course in the end the thing will
finally adjust itself. Poor little thing! How she would suffer if we
should bluntly tell her the truth that we live here in this house like
a bunch of savages.”
As I searched my poor brain for a reply, Teresa without knowing it,
came to my help by calling me into the kitchen. Upon any other
occasion, I would have simply answered, without moving, “What do you
want?” But now I was only too glad to obey her immediately and so put
an end to a difficult situation. “I'm going to town,” she said, as she
put on a clean apron. “Perhaps you and Paula would like to come along.”
“What a lark!” I cried, as I ran out to tell the glad news to Paula,
and two minutes later we were ready.
Teresa looked us over from head to foot, reminding us that the
strings of our shoes hadn't even been tied, that our faces and hands
showed signs of an all-too-hasty toilet, to say nothing of a lack of a
comb in our hair. Finally, however, we were on the road to town, happy
to find ourselves in the cool shade of the long avenue of linden trees
that stretched away in the distance. What a joy it was to have at my
side this new, wonderful companion to whom I would be able to open the
mysteries of the great shops and public buildings—marvelous things
which this simple country girl had never seen before in all her life.
What could be greater happiness for any girl of my age!
CHAPTER FIVE. LOUIS' WATCH
When Louis returned at the end of the week, he was surprised to find
Paula so happy and contented. He found her in the kitchen helping
Teresa to dry the dishes. “One would think,” said he, “that you had
been with us for many months instead of a few days.” Paula showed
herself to be much more embarrassed in his presence than she had been
with us. It may have been the school uniform that did it. But Louis,
like the good-hearted lad that he was, did what he could to make her
feel at home. Presently, out we went into the garden to play, not
without an anxious look from Teresa, for she knew that when Louis came
into any situation, he generally caused trouble. When, however, we
returned with our aprons decorated with mud but still happy, the good
old lady heaved a sigh of relief. The fact is, that when Louis played
with us he always acted as he did with the boys at school. But no
matter what happened, Paula seemed afraid of nothing. When it came to
running races, Louis found to his great chagrin, that she could even
beat him at this; and in the other games if she happened to fall and
hurt herself, she'd rub an injured knee with a laugh or sucked a
stubbed finger without further comment, and go on playing as if nothing
had happened. But in spite of entering wholeheartedly into all our fun,
it was easy to see that our servant had well named her, “The daughter
of the good God!” She was always ready to step aside and let others
take the first place, and to yield all her own rights, to recover a
ball at whatever distance when a dispute arose as to, “Who should get
it?” or to look for a lost kite, no matter how thick the brambles might
be. No wonder Louis was quite content to have such an accommodating
Then the moment arrived when we must go back to the house. That
fatal time always seemed to arrive on the wings of the wind. Teresa
seldom had any time to come and call us, but she relied on Louis, as he
had a watch. Beside all that, we could clearly hear the hour strike in
the great clock on Darnetal Church.
“Listen,” cried Paula, woefully, “it's nine o'clock, and Teresa said
we must go back to the house at nine.”
“Oh, shut up,” said Louis. (He had just started a thrilling new game
of jumping from a high wall.) “I'll tell you when it's time to go home.
Now are you ready? Hurry up, Paula, get the ladder. There it is, under
the cherry-tree!” Paula obediently ran and returned with the required
ladder, and helped Louis put it in position, saying at the same time,
“But Louis, you know well that Teresa told us that we must be in at
“Oh, yes, I heard it,” said Louis ill-humoredly.
“Well, then we must go!”
“Oh, not yet, five minutes more or less won't make any difference.”
“No, five minutes won't make any great difference, of course,” said
Paula slowly, “and it certainly is lovely here, but Teresa ordered us
in at nine o'clock. I'll run and ask her if we cannot stay another
“Certainly not,” sneered Louis. “Teresa would never give permission.
Now, hurry up, you're first on the wall, Paula.”
“No, I'm not going to stay. Teresa will be angry.”
“No, no, never fear. Besides, she'll never know. I think she's out.”
“Well, she'll know when she returns. She'll ask us what time we came
“Oh, you needn't worry about that,” and Louis took out his watch. “I
can fix that matter easily.” We both looked over his shoulder at the
watch, which by this time clearly pointed to five minutes after the
hour. Suddenly, we saw the hands of the watch begin to turn backwards.
“Now,” said Louis, “what time it is?”
“Half-past eight,” answered Paula, lifting astonished eyes to her
“Well, if it's half-past eight why do you look at me like that?”
“Because I don't understand.”
“What do you mean by saying you don't understand? It's all quite
simple. If Teresa is angry, I'll tell her that we left the garden at
nine o'clock; then I'll show her my watch.”
“But,” cried Paula, quite upset, “that would be a lie!”
“Nonsense, you foolish youngster, that's not a lie. We'll go from
here at the dot of nine, according to my watch, and that's what I'll
tell Teresa in case she asks us. Of course, if she doesn't ask us, we
don't have to say anything. Besides, I do it for you and Lisita, for if
you were boys instead of girls, there would be no reason to return so
early. Now, up with you. Yes, or no.”
“Not I,” said Paula, with a heightened color. Louis was furious.
“No, you say? Oh,” he laughed, “the wall's too high.” Paula looked
at the wall. It was certainly high, but he knew very well from past
exploits that the height would not bother her.
“No,” she said, “I'm not afraid to jump. Over in Villar, when I had
to tend the goats, many a time I have had to jump from far greater
heights than that to keep them from straying into our neighbor's
pastures; but I tell you now, we promised Teresa to return at nine
o'clock, and I'm not going to disobey her.”
Then it was that I joined in on the side of Louis. “If you're always
going to obey Teresa, you'll never have a quiet moment.”
“Then are you, too, going to stay with Louis?” Paula asked sadly.
“Of course,” cried Louis, without giving me time to reply. “And now,
go if you wish and leave us in peace. Get out of the way!”
Paula, who was seated on the lowest rung of the ladder, immediately
stepped aside and soon Louis was on the wall.
“Now, it's your turn,” he called to me. I followed my brother as
Paula slowly moved away up the garden walk.
“I'm going back with Paula,” I said to Louis. Then from the top of
the wall, I saw her turn her head for one last look.
“Oh, let her go!” said Louis. “She can find her own way. I'm afraid
the little fool is going to become impossible. Now, do as I do. But be
sure and don't break your nose, for Teresa will blame me.”
“You jump first,” I said.
“Getting afraid, are you? All right, see me jump. One, two, three!”
and down he went, in the middle of a pansy-bed, Teresa's especial pride
and the object of her particular care.
“Oh, oh,” I cried, viewing the ruin that Louis had made. “Now, won't
Teresa be angry indeed!”
“Well, why should I care?” said Louis. “Why did she have to put
flowers alongside of a perfectly good wall like this? Now, hurry up and
jump. We'll fix it up and water it, and she'll know nothing about what
“Oh, Louis, I'm afraid!”—Certainly the distance to the ground
“What are you afraid of? I'll catch you if you fall. Don't be a
'fraidcat!'“ Just at that moment I would have done anything rather than
“I'm coming down by the ladder.”
“No, you'll do no such thing! Now, come on; don't be a coward!”
Just at this moment we heard a voice calling, “Louis! Lisita!”
Louis turned to see Paula calling us from the bottom of the garden.
“And now what do you want?” cried Louis. “I thought you had gone
I profited by this diversion to come rapidly down the ladder.
“I was almost at the house,” answered Paula, coming nearer, “but I
didn't go in because I didn't want to meet Teresa.”
“Because I didn't know what to say to her, if she should ask me
where you two were.”
“Well, wouldn't you have told her the truth?”
“Of course, I would have had to tell her. That's why I've come back
to look for you. I've run all the way. Oh, please, come now; won't
My brother seemed to hesitate.
“You know I hated to disobey,” added Paula, with tears in her eyes,
“and at the same time, I don't like to be a 'tattle-tale.' Won't you
please come home now with me?”
Louis was a good-hearted lad in spite of his shortcomings.
Therefore, seeing his young cousin beginning to cry, he said, “All
right, let's go. Anyway, I can't play the way I want, especially with a
pair of youngsters like you two. But, look here, Paula, you forgot the
ladder. Take it away now, if you want us to play up to all your
Paula, grabbing the ladder, simply said, “Oh, thank you so much,” as
she dried her tears. I went meanwhile and filled the watering-pot while
Louis tried to restore the crushed pansies as best he could.
“There you are,” said Louis finally, “Teresa will never know.” And
off we all three raced for the house.
“And so you are back already,” remarked Teresa as we invaded the
“Back already!” said Louis. “It's more than a quarter after nine,
but if it hadn't been for the country cousin here, we'd have been a
whole lot later.”
CHAPTER SIX. IN THE MIDST OF DARKNESS
My father had not had much time to pay attention to Paula since her
arrival; for on his return from his long trip he had found the head of
the factory very sick. This had so increased his duties that he hardly
had time in the morning to take a hurried cup of coffee, before going
off to his work. In the evening, he always went to see Catalina for a
few moments, and then he shut himself in his room where he worked far
into the night.
It was, therefore, with a sigh of relief that he sat down at the
family table on Sunday morning to take breakfast with us children.
“Now, then, Paula,” he said, turning to our cousin as Teresa served
us coffee, “you haven't told me how you like your new family?”
Paula colored a little as she said, “Oh, I love you all very much,
“Well, that's a happy reply,” said my father, “and we love you also,
my little daughter.”
The coffee had been served. Paula had been with us four days and she
knew that we never asked the blessing; but she never dreamed that
anyone would hinder her from following her own custom which she still
continued at every meal. Without any hesitation therefore, she repeated
in front of my father, the words that had surprised us so at our very
first meal. “The food which we receive, O Lord, may it be blessed in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”
“What's that you say?” said my father, hardly giving her time to
Paula, still on her feet, with her hands still joined for the
prayer, fixed her great luminous eyes on my father.
She was not smiling now, and I saw that she understood that somehow
she must have displeased him.
“Answer me,” demanded my father. “What were you doing?”
“Repeat those words of your prayer.”
Paula quietly obeyed.
“Where did you learn that?”
“My father taught it to me. We always prayed before and after
eating.” Paula said this with a trembling voice, trying to restrain her
“Listen to me, Paula,” my father said in a voice much less severe;
“I don't wish you to imagine that I'm angry with you. In fact, I'm glad
that you want to remember your father and his words. That is all very
well. But I simply wish you to understand that in the future you are to
conduct yourself like the other members of my family. Do you
understand, my little daughter?”
“No, uncle, I don't.”
“No? Well, then, I must speak more plainly. Your cousins no doubt
have already told you that in this house I will permit no word relative
to religion. In the future that applies to you also.”
“But, uncle dear!”
“That will do. When you come to more mature years you will be able
to understand my reasons, and if you should desire it at that time I
will give them to you. At present it is enough for you to know that you
are not to pray anymore. Hand me the morning paper, Rosa.”
We ate in silence, all except Paula who apparently couldn't swallow
a mouthful. Our father with his eyes buried in the paper, paid no more
attention to her. I had a great desire to cry without knowing why, for
I couldn't possibly understand why my father's warning should make
Paula so unhappy. Father had not punished her, yet, nevertheless, to
see her stand there with a mixture of grief and fright on her pale
face, one would have thought that she had been threatened with a most
Rosa and Louis made understanding signs to one another. Meanwhile to
demonstrate my own sympathy, I tried to take my poor cousin's hand, but
she withdrew it, and I understood that it was useless to try to comfort
“Uncle,” she cried suddenly, “oh, uncle mine, please pardon me but I
cannot, cannot obey you.”
“What's this?” said my father, gazing at her with stupefaction and
growing anger. Our surprise at this untoward daring of our young
country cousin was so great, that even Louis dropped his spoon and
forgot to eat.
We had disobeyed very often, especially Louis and I, and many times
we had been punished for it, for disobedience in my father's eyes was
the greatest of all crimes; but never had we dared to defy him openly.
“Paula, be quiet,” cried Rosa, fearing the terrible consequences of
To our great surprise, my father, in spite of his anger, remained
“So you don't wish to obey me,” he said, fixing Paula with a cold
and severe eye. “That's the first time I've ever heard such words from
any child in this house. Tell me, my daughter, what do you mean?”
“Oh, dear uncle,” she said, drawing quite close to father, “oh, oh,
uncle mine, don't be angry, please. I do wish to obey you in
everything. Oh, yes, in everything, everything! I promised my father to
be good and to show to everyone that I am a daughter of the Lord Jesus.
But, oh, uncle, I must pray, and I must serve the Lord. My father told
me so, and God Himself tells me so, for so it is written down in the
“I think,” said my father, “you will find written in your Bible,
these words, 'Children, obey your parents.' And according to you, you
ought to obey the Bible.”
“Yes, I know that well, those words truly are in the Bible, but papa
told me that I should always obey God, cost what it may. Oh, dear
uncle, surely you wish to serve Him. The Lord died for us, and for
this, of course, we love Him. And I thought that you loved Him too. I
never knew that there were people in this world who did not love God.
Oh, please let me pray, dear uncle. I beg of you, I beg of you. Papa,
my dear papa, oh, if he should know that I could never pray anymore! I
promised him I'd see him in heaven one day, and he'll be waiting for us
there, waiting there for all of us, you, and Lisita, and Rosa, and
Catalina, and everybody. Oh, please, please let me pray!” And Paula put
her head on my father's shoulder and sobbed as if her heart would
“Oh, let her pray, father,” implored Rosa in a low voice. “She is so
young, she'll soon forget.” We could all see that there was a great
struggle in my father's innermost self, as a tender look came in his
eye, as if he would say, “Don't cry any more. There, there! Pray if you
wish.” But suddenly his eye rested on us and the stern look returned.
He had forgotten us. If he gave way to Paula now, how about the
discipline of the rest of his family? Besides, if he permitted her to
pray, what would hinder us also from invoking that same holy Name? It
was too much.
“Listen, I tell you,” he said; “you must obey, and obey at once.
This thing has gone too far already.” The only reply that came was the
sound of Paula's crying. “There, there,” said my father, “Stop your
crying. I know your religion perfectly, and once I was on the point of
practising it, but, as I said before, your religion teaches obedience
to those who are over you.”
Paula raised her head, and amid her tears she said, “Listen, uncle
dear, I'm only a little girl, and I don't know much, and I can't
explain to you what I wish to say. I know well that it is my duty to
obey you, and so my father instructed me before he died, and when I
disobeyed him, he punished me, but in my father's case—” and here she
“Go on, go on,” said my father.
“My father's will was also God's will. He used to say that he was my
earthly father but that God was my heavenly Father, and that if he
should die, God was to be my Father forever. And no matter what
happened, or where I was, I must continue to serve God, no matter who
endeavored to stop me. For it is written in God's Word, 'We should obey
God, rather than men.'“
I saw my father go pale with anger. “You're an insolent girl!” he
cried. “And I have a good mind to give you a good whipping, to teach
you to respect your elders.”
Paula looked at him with surprise. “I don't understand, uncle. Those
words are written in the New Testament.”
“Show them to me,” ordered my father.
Paula, glad to escape for a moment, ran for her Bible, which was
always beside her in our little bedroom. As she crossed the threshold,
Teresa entered to carry away the dishes. “What now? What's the matter?”
said the old servant as she looked at Paula's tearful face. “What on
earth have you been crying about, poor child?”
My father answered for her. “She's been guilty of most incredible
“That's strange,” said the old servant. “That's not a bit like her,
with her happy, humble ways with all of us.”
“That may be,” said my father, “but it's just as I feared. She's got
all the ideas of her father's family. She talks of nothing but God and
the Bible and of her religion, and that's insupportable in this house.”
“Oh, do go slow, sir,” Teresa implored. “She's a mere child yet.”
“Yes, but she must obey.”
Teresa contented herself with a shrug of her shoulders, for she saw
that my father was not going to yield. And now Paula had returned with
her Bible in hand.
“And now,” said my father, after a moment of silence, “let us see
those words. Have you found them yet?”
Paula had paused, her hand turning over the pages of her Bible
rapidly. “No, uncle, not yet, but I will find them soon.”
Again there was silence. Teresa had returned to the kitchen, the
door closing with a bang to demonstrate her displeasure. Nothing could
be heard but the tick-tack of the clock, and the sound of the turning
pages, as Paula, in spite of her tears, looked for the desired words.
“Here it is,” she said at last, smiling in spite of her emotion.
“See, uncle, here you are, at the fifth chapter of Acts, verse 29.”
“'We ought to obey God, rather than men!'“ murmured my father two or
three times, as he read the words of Holy Writ, while Paula looked at
him with confident eyes, even though a few tears still lingered.
“Let us see, now, something of the context,” he added. “Oh, yes,
here it is,” and he commenced to read aloud,
“'And the high priest asked them saying, Did not we straitly
that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have
Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's
us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We
obey God rather than men.'“
Teresa, who had forgotten the tablecloth, came to get it, and smiled
as she saw that happiness had again returned to Paula's countenance;
for nothing pleased the good woman more than to find everybody in the
My father leaving certain directions relative to Catalina whom he
had found very weak that morning, gathered up his papers, also the
Bible, and started to go out.
“Uncle,” Paula reminded him timidly, “you've made a mistake. You are
carrying my Bible away with your papers.”
“Yes, that is true, but I've made no mistake. I'm keeping your Bible
“And you will return it to me tonight, uncle?”
“And why tonight?”
“To read it, uncle, as I always do, every night.”
“Well, you're not going to read it any more! My children do not read
the Bible and they're not so bad. And I've already told you that from
now on, you're going to live the same as all the other members of my
family, of which you now form a part!”
“Oh, uncle, uncle!” implored Paula, “please leave me that Bible! It
is the Bible my father gave me on his dying bed! Please let me have it,
I pray you, my dear uncle! I will be good, and I will give you
everything that I brought here from Villar. But leave me my Bible,
please! please! Leave me my Bible!” Paula sobbed, clinging to my father
with a desperate courage.
Teresa, who had viewed this scene with dismay, did not dare to
interfere. She came and went, pretending to arrange things here and
there in the room.
For my part, I could not comprehend Paula's conduct, not being able
to imagine why she should dare so much for her little old black
book—I, who would have exchanged all my books for a new doll; but I
would have suffered anything to help her now. And so in spite of all
Teresa's signs for me to keep quiet and sit down, I took my father by
the sleeve and burst into tears saying, “Papa, please give it to her.”
My father turned and looked at me for an instant. Never had I seen
him so angry. His face had become as white as a sheet. Suddenly
throwing Paula off, who had been holding on to him on the other side,
he raised the Bible over her head and with a thundering voice, he
threatened her. “Will you keep quiet?” Paula appeared not to have heard
“Oh, dear uncle,” she implored once more, extending her hands to
secure her treasured book, “oh, uncle.” In reply all I heard was a dull
thud, and I saw Paula fall to the ground. Beside himself, my father had
given her a tremendous blow on the head with the Bible.
Teresa rushed toward the child and carried her into the kitchen,
turning as she did so toward my father “Have a care, sir,” she cried,
her voice trembling with indignation. “Mark my words, you will repent
some day of what you have just done.”
It appeared to me that my father had already repented. He took his
hat without a word and went out, and did not return until the evening.
* * * * *
“What a shame that Paula isn't a boy,” said Louis, as soon as our
father had disappeared.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because she is so brave. Did you notice she stopped crying as soon
as father hit her? In her place, you would have been crying yet.”
“And you? How about yourself?”
“Oh, boys wouldn't cry for a little thing like that. I'm surprised,
though, that father hit her.”
“I'm surprised too,” said Rosa, “but, of course, she must learn to
“I wonder what can be in this Bible of hers to make her love it so,”
continued Louis. “Any way, what is a Bible? Is it a kind of a
“No,” I said, proud that I knew so much, “it's not a prayer-book. At
least I have seen Paula pray in the morning and at night. She kneels
and closes her eyes and prays, and does not use the Book at all during
the time that she prays. She tells me that in the Book she learns how
to be good and to serve God. Her father used to read it to her every
day, and when he died she promised him to continue to read it.”
“Poor Paula!” sighed Rosa. “There is something mighty fine about
her. I wonder how all this is going to come out.”
“I think she'll die,” I said, trying hard to keep back the tears.
“Nonsense,” said Louis, “she'll not die! Not she! Don't worry about
that. In a few days she'll forget all about it. But I can't help
feeling very sorry to see her so unhappy. Well, good-bye, Rosa. Don't
cry anymore, Lisita. I'm going into the kitchen to see what's happened
to poor Paula.”
I followed him out and we found the kitchen empty. I went to our
room and found Teresa seated on my bed with Paula on her lap. I heard
Teresa say, “My treasure, don't cry any more! Don't afflict poor Teresa
who loves you so, and who loved your mother before you. Now, come,
come, my angel, that will do. You will make yourself sick. See, here
comes Lisita also to comfort you.”
But Paula continued crying, inconsolable, as she hid her face on the
ample shoulder of our old servant I came quite near her and stroked her
hair, but I could not utter a word.
“Papa! papa,” she called, time after time.
“Your father's in heaven,” answered Teresa, taking her tenderly in
her arms. “What would he think if he saw his little girl in such a
“Oh, I only wish father had taken me with him! If I could only see
him now! You see, I promised him to read my Bible and now I cannot, for
my uncle has carried away the only one I had—that wonderful Book that
told me of God, and where my father had marked so many beautiful
passages! Oh, papa, papa, do come! Your daughter needs you now!”
Teresa, finally seeing that it was useless to try to comfort her,
limited herself to drying the floods of tears that still continued to
flow. But finally, thoroughly exhausted, Paula at last became calm and
listened tranquilly to Teresa's long story which we already knew so
well, regarding the death of our mother and Catalina's terrible fall.
And following this, she showed her that on account of these great
misfortunes, instead of leading our father to seek the Lord, it seemed
on the contrary to have hardened his heart. Thus he had become
rebellious, and had made it an established rule in our home that not a
word should be uttered relative to the Supreme Being. Then she added,
“But don't you believe that he does not care for you! If you could know
how many times he has said that you should lack nothing and should be
treated as one of his own daughters.”
“That is certainly true,” said Rosa, who had entered during Teresa's
narrative. “Father appears severe, and this morning, of course, he
became very angry, but he is very good-hearted after all.”
“I did not know, I did not know,” said Paula, as she bowed her head;
“how my poor uncle must have suffered!”
“Besides,” continued Teresa, “who can tell but what your uncle will
begin to read your little—what is it you call it?—the Bible?”
“Do you think so? Oh, Teresa! Do you think he will read it himself?”
“Certainly I do, and why not? And when he has read it and found that
it is a good book, I'm sure he will return it to you. So now, just calm
yourself and don't worry any more.”
“But,” questioned Paula, “do you mean to tell me that my uncle
hasn't got a Bible himself?”
“Yes, he had one once, but I imagine that he must have lost it, for
it's many years since I have seen the one that he had.”
“Oh,” exclaimed Paula, “what a wonderful thing if my uncle should
read my Bible. For I am sure that he will come to believe in God as my
father did, and then he will let me have my precious Book back again.
My father, too, passed through great affliction. My mother also died,
and then my two sisters, all three in the same year. Father told me
that by thus passing through the fire he had learned not to fix his
eyes on the things of this world, but to find his happiness in God. I
don't know how to explain it very well, of course; but I did understand
it fairly well when my father told me and showed me some of the
precious passages in the Book that helped me to understand.”
“I think I also understand,” murmured Teresa, drying her own eyes on
the back of her sleeve, as she turned to Rosa. “Rosa, you claim to be
very wise. Tell me, where can one buy a Bible?” Rosa smiled, and said,
“I'm not very sure, but I think in one of the book-shops one could find
a Bible. I could find out in school tomorrow. I know one of my
schoolmates has one.”
“Good,” exclaimed Teresa, “you must find out tomorrow morning. I've
got an idea, Paula, a wonderful idea, so dry your tears. I must go
tomorrow afternoon to the city, and if Rosa can find out tomorrow
morning where a Bible can be found, we shall all four of us go and buy
a new Bible there, and you can read it in your room and your uncle will
“Oh, Teresa,” cried Paula in a burst of gratitude, “what a good
woman you are!”
“That's something I've never yet found out,” said the old servant
with a dry smile.
Then suddenly we all saw that something had begun to trouble Paula.
“What's the matter now?” said Rosa. “Are you not content to get a new
“Oh, yes,” said Paula, “but under such circumstances that would
deceive my uncle.”
It was here that Teresa broke in. “No, no,” she said, “you don't
understand. I'm going to buy this Bible with my own money, and I can do
as I please. If I care to buy a Bible, it's no one else's business.”
But there was trouble in Paula's eyes as she said, “I would
certainly like to have a Bible, but uncle has forbidden me to read it.
I can see from what you say that it would be easy for you to buy
another and read it yourselves, but my uncle has prohibited me and that
settles it. I simply can't be a hypocrite and deceive him. Dear Teresa,
I do certainly thank you from the bottom of my heart, but, you see, you
had forgotten what uncle said. Now, listen, the Lord Jesus is going to
help me! There are many beautiful passages of the Bible that I know by
heart, and there are plenty of the Bible stories that I'll never
forget. All these I will keep in my memory, and then besides I shall
pray every day for my uncle, that he'll soon return my precious Bible
to me, and give me permission to read it. I know the Lord will hear me,
if I obey Him and pray with faith. Dear Teresa, I hope you're not going
to be provoked with me.”
“And why should I be, my precious treasure?”
“Well, just because I didn't want you to buy me a Bible.”
“No, no, dear, no; you certainly are right, and a whole lot better
than we are.” And we, together with our old servant, could not help
admiring the honesty of our sturdy country cousin.
“Teresa!” It was Paula who broke the silence that followed the above
“What now, Paula?”
“Will you pray for me?”
“I,” said the astonished Teresa.
“Yes, please, Teresa dear.”
“My poor little Paula, I never pray for myself, so how could I pray
Poor Paula seemed at a loss. “Well, you see,” she said, hesitatingly
in a trembling voice, “I'm afraid to do it. You see, I don't dare to
And so our good Teresa, in order to satisfy the poor child, promised
to pray for her that very night.
“No,” insisted Paula, “let's pray now.”
Our poor servant looked around her in dismay.
“I—! I pray here! In front of you and Lisita and Rosa! Never—!
Besides, I wouldn't know what to say.”
“Do you mean to say that you don't know, 'Our Father which art in
“Perhaps, but it's some time since I've repeated that prayer. I
remember my poor mother. I used to kneel beside her and repeat it when
I was your age. Once in a while since then, I have said my
'paternoster.' But it's been many years since it's passed my lips, and
I haven't even thought of it for ages. No, no; it's useless. No, Paula,
you pray for us. We certainly need it, but as for me praying—a poor
sinner like me—I tell you it's useless.”
But Paula was not easily discouraged.
“Teresa,” and Paula put her cheek against the wrinkled one of our
old servant, “you know that Jesus died for us, and do you mean to say,
notwithstanding that, you are living like a heathen.”
“What's that you say? Like a heathen?” cried poor Teresa.
“Yes, Teresa dear, like a heathen. My father used to read me
missionary stories on Sunday, and in these stories I always noticed
that the heathen people live without praying to God, and that they
didn't read the Bible, and that they didn't know how to sing any hymns,
and they had no church to go to, that is, until the missionaries came.
But we are different here in this house from the heathen because they
had never heard of God.” And then she added with one of those lovely
smiles that always seemed to spread a halo over her, “All the heathen
in the pictures that I saw had black skins, whereas you, Teresa, have
such a lovely white face.”
Poor Teresa, placed her well-worn hands over her wrinkled
countenance, and said, “Paula, Paula, you certainly are right. So we
are even less worthy of God's mercy than they are.”
Paula looked at her for a moment in silence and then, kneeling down
beside her, said, “Teresa, you just pray with me, won't you? I know the
Lord Jesus will pardon you, and He'll help you to love Him for He has
promised to give you a new heart. I'm only a little girl, but He helps
me and He hears me when I pray, for that's what He has promised,
Teresa. Once my father taught me a beautiful verse, and when my uncle
returns my Bible, I'll show it to you, but this is what it says, 'Him
that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out.'“
Poor Teresa, with her head hidden in her hands, could not reply.
“Do come and kneel with me,” insisted Paula, pulling her by her
apron. After a long silence suddenly Teresa fell heavily on her knees
beside the bed. Paula up to this moment appeared to have forgotten the
rest of us, but now taking both of us by the hand she invited us to
“No,” said Rosa, with an offended air, “I'll do no such thing.”
“Nor will I.” I said, a bit intimidated by my sister's refusal.
And so Teresa and Paula kneeled together, “'Our Father which art in
Heaven,'“ commenced the clear voice of Paula. Slowly came the
repetition, 'Our Father which art in Heaven,' and poor Teresa's deep
voice trembled with emotion.
“'Hallowed be Thy name'“
“'Hallowed be Thy name.'“
And now Teresa, gathering fresh courage, as the words of the great
prayer began to return to her memory, the voices now mingled in the
same majestic words from, oh, such different hearts—the one, pure and
confiding, and the other now contrite and penitent.
Then, as they finished, Paula continued, “Lord Jesus, be pleased to
bless my uncle, Teresa, Catalina, Rosa, Lisita and Louis. Oh, bless
them, Lord, and help them all to come to Thee. And bless me, also, and
give me of Thy goodness, for Thy name's sake, Amen.”
“So may it be,” sighed poor Teresa.
Paula opened her eyes, but closed them again as she saw that Teresa
had not moved, and that she was struggling to add a prayer of her own.
Then finally it came.
“Oh, my God, my God,” murmured poor Teresa. “If you can have pity on
a poor sinful woman like me, that has forgotten Thee for so many years,
be pleased to pardon me, and change my poor wicked heart, in the name
of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.”
* * * * *
For a good while after that, Teresa made no allusion whatever to
what had transpired in our little bedroom on that first Sunday after
Paula's arrival; but we noticed a great change in her conduct She did
not work harder—that would have been impossible—neither was she more
unselfish, for a more unselfish person than our dear old servant would
have been hard to find. But the thing we began to notice was that she
was more patient and tender in her dealings with us children, and more
charitable toward the great number of our poor neighbors, who would
come to the door from time to time to “borrow” food—these poor,
miserable neighbors whom she had despised on account of their laziness
and untidiness. Beside all this, we saw no more of her days of bad
humor and fretfulness. For instance, she treated our father with much
more respect and listened without argument or impatience when, at
times, he was unjust in his criticism of the house arrangements. Then
we noticed also that all her little lies with which she tried to
frighten us at times had completely disappeared.
In the cottages of our poor neighbors, there had existed an
atmosphere of discouragement and desperation, brought on of course,
through poverty and drink, and it was here that our good Teresa began
to be known as a veritable friend. As she passed from door to door
giving a word of encouragement here, or taking the burden temporarily
from the shoulders of a poor tired mother there, we began to notice the
under-current of a happy change in the atmosphere of these poor and
destitute ones around us. It was easy to imagine that Teresa might be
the cause of the change.
* * * * *
The day following the above-mentioned Sunday, Rosa was sitting by
the bedside of Catalina who complained of her usual headache, and
Teresa had gone out on an errand.
Paula, a bit exhausted with her emotions of the day before, appeared
to have lost all animation, but soon her naturally happy nature
asserted itself, and by the time my father returned from his work, she
ran to meet him and opened the door as he entered, embracing him as if
nothing had happened.
“Well, well,” said my father, “I'm glad to see that you have
recovered your good humor, Paula.” A frank smile passed over Paula's
face, but she said nothing. “And how has Catalina been today?” he said,
turning to me.
“She has a terrible headache. Teresa is afraid she's going to be
“Poor girl! We must be especially careful then not to make any
noise,” and he turned to go into Catalina's room, but Paula detained
“Please, uncle, have you pardoned me?”
“What for, child?”
“For what occurred yesterday. Surely you remember, uncle. I was a
bit stubborn about giving up my Bible.”
My father looked down at her, surprised. “And now, you're perfectly
willing that I keep it?”
“Oh, yes, of course, for I did not at all understand. Teresa tells
me that you had no Bible, and you see I didn't know that. And she said
that after you had read it, you would of course be giving it back to
me. I am so sorry that I appeared so selfish. Please, pardon me, won't
you, uncle dear?”
“I've already pardoned you, so don't worry about that. So you like
to read your Bible?”
“Oh, yes; indeed I do, uncle.”
“Well, perhaps some day I'll return it to you.”
It was not exactly a promise, but Paula was willing to content
herself with that much.
“Oh, thank you, thank you so much, uncle,” said Paula as she
“And so you love me a little, do you? In spite of everything?” asked
my father smiling, as he took hold of her chin and turned her face up
“Oh, yes, indeed; you don't know how much!”
“You do?” said my father. “Well, that certainly gives me great
pleasure. I see that soon we shall come to understand one another, you
and I. By the way, I noticed that in your Bible there were quite a
number of dry flowers. If you would like them, I will return them to
“Oh, many thanks, uncle. I kept them there as remembrances of my
father. I shall keep them in some book where I can look at them
“That's what I thought, my little daughter. I'll go and get your
Bible, and you yourself shall take them out.”
But now Paula seemed to have a different idea. “No, I think that I
prefer that they remain where they are,” she said in an altered voice.
“What's that you say?” exclaimed my father, astonished. “How is it
that you have so suddenly changed your mind?”
“Well, you see,” explained Paula, trembling a bit, “they'd better
remain where they are, for I love my Bible, and I've read it every day,
and now if I saw it again, I'm afraid—I'm afraid—” and poor Paula's
lip was trembling.
“I understand, I understand,” said my father.
But on turning to go into Catalina's room, he hesitated with his
hand on the latch of the door, and turning, he looked searchingly at
Paula, as if he would know the secret of the innermost heart of this
child, so loving, so angelic, and yet so absolutely natural.
CHAPTER SEVEN. CATALINA'S ILLNESS
Teresa had not been mistaken. Catalina became so critically ill
during the following week, that my father lost all hope of her
recovery. Not being able to be with her during the day, he watched at
her bedside during the greater part of the night, and if it had not
been for Teresa, who compelled him to go and take some rest, he would
have, undoubtedly, suffered a collapse himself. How long those days
appeared to be in spite of the happy companionship that I had found
with my dear cousin Paula! My father hardly noticed us, absorbed as he
was with the fear that filled his heart, and Teresa was occupied with
so many tasks that she had no time for us either.
Rosa had to leave school in order to help nurse the sick one, and
Paula also was required to stay home until the afternoon session. As
for me, I was packed off to school in the morning, carrying my lunch in
a little basket, fearing each night as I came back to the house that I
would receive bad news as to Catalina. My! What grand resolutions for
the future I made during those sad days—to try to love my poor sick
sister, and to treat her better than I had done, should she recover.
One afternoon, I was surprised to find my father at home. It was
only about five o'clock and he generally did not return from work until
eight. He seemed so sad and depressed that I dared not embrace him as
was our custom. Teresa crossed the dining-room and gave me her usual
warning. “Don't make any noise, Lisita. Go and sit down and be quiet”
“Teresa,” said my father in a low voice, “do you think Catalina
would be able to see the children?”'
“Why do you ask that, sir?” she said.
“I would like them to see her that she may embrace them for the last
time. You know what the doctor said.”
“Oh, those doctors!” said Teresa in a scornful tone. “The doctors
don't know what they're talking about. Don't lose hope, sir. I know
that Catalina may not live to be very old, but if God wills her to
live, she will do so in spite of the doctors.”
“Yes, but you know how weak she is. She never will be able to
survive so many complications. And yet, how can I bear such affliction?
She reminds me so much of her mother, the same voice, the same blue
eyes, and even her identical way of smiling. And now to follow this
child to the cemetery and return to the house where she will never be
any more. Oh, what shall I do! What shall I do!”
“Why don't you consult the Great Physician, sir?”
“What do you mean by 'the Great Physician?'“
“I mean the Lord Jesus. Deliver Catalina into His hands. When He
walked this earth, all the sick ones were brought to Him and He healed
“But He's no longer on the earth.”
“No; but His power is the same today as it was then.”
“Teresa, do you pray nowadays?”
“Yes, sir, I do.”
“When did you begin to pray?”
“From the time that Paula entered the house, sir.”
“I suspected that.”
“Now, please don't go and rebuke her, sir. If you only knew how she
loves you, and how she prays for you and Catalina. Oh, sir, how many
times she has made me blush for shame.”
“How so, my good Teresa?”
“That's a fact, sir. I used to think to myself, 'You're a pretty
good woman, you have suffered much in your life, you work hard, you
don't do any harm to anybody, surely you will go to heaven.' But when I
saw Paula and the reality of her religion, and how she loved God, oh,
then, sir, I comprehended for the first time in my life that I was a
sinner worthy of hell, and I prayed to God that He would pardon me.”
“And—did He do it?”
“The Saviour assures us, sir, that 'He that cometh to Him, He will
in no wise cast out.' So I dare to believe that He has pardoned me"
Teresa was pale with emotion. It was the first time that she had
confessed the Lord before men, and it cost her a good deal to do so to
my father. He was apparently too depressed to be angry. After a moment
of silence he said, “Where is Paula?”
“I sent her to the drug store, sir, to get certain medicines that
the doctor ordered.”
“When she returns, send her to Catalina's room. I shall remain there
until, until—” My poor father could not conclude the sentence.
Then turning to me, “When Paula returns I wish you to come in to
Catalina's room also, Lisita.”
“Yes, father,” I answered him in a low voice.
A quarter of an hour later Paula returned. Never shall I forget the
anguish and terror that I experienced when Teresa, warning us to be
quiet, led the way to the bedside of my dying sister.
Catalina did not appear to notice our entrance. Her eyes were
closed, and her face so pale that I believed her already dead, but my
father made signs to us to draw a little nearer and putting his hand
over the forehead of my poor sister, he called to her gently, in a
voice that betrayed great anguish.
“Catalina, Lisita and Paula have come to visit you. Would you not
like to embrace them?”
“Lisita ... Paula ...” I heard Catalina murmur in a far-away voice.
“Ah, yes, I remember. Help me up, father.” My father lifted the poor
thin body of his daughter. In spite of all I could do, I could not keep
from crying, thinking that it would be the last time that I would
embrace my big sister, whom I had loved so little. She looked at us for
a long while, and then said calmly, “Have you two come to say good-bye
“No, no,” said my father; “we hope that ...”
“No, father, I'm dying. I know that well. It is useless to keep it
from me. Think of it, only eighteen years old, and yet I've been of no
use to anybody, and nobody's going to miss me very much.”
“Catalina,” exclaimed my father, “do not speak so. You hurt me
talking that way, and you make Lisita and Paula cry.”
“Are you really crying, Lisita?” And Catalina turned her feverish
eyes toward me. “How strange! I have not been a very good sister to
you, and I always thought you didn't care for me.”
“Oh, Catalina,” I exclaimed, kneeling beside the bed, “please don't
die. I do love you so. I promise to come and care for you every day and
I'll never make another noise while you are sick. I will be always good
to you, indeed—even when you're bad-humored. Please don't die.” And
then I sobbed with such violence that my father, fearing that such
conduct would cut even shorter that parting life upon the bed, asked
Teresa to take me away.
But Catalina said, “Let her alone, father. It really does me good to
see her cry. I never dreamed that Lisita had any heart at all. But I
see now that it has been all my fault. If I had only been a bit
better-tempered with her, she would have shown me a little more
affection. Rosa, give me a little water, please.” And Rosa placed a
teaspoonful of water between the lips of our poor sister.
“Are you quite bad, my daughter?” asked my father.
For some minutes, Catalina could not reply, but finally she said,
“Lisita, don't cry any more, please. Now, listen.”
I tried to calm myself.
“We need to ask each other's pardon, my poor little sister,” she
“Now kiss me. Tell me that you forgive me.”
“Oh, yes, indeed, I do forgive you,” I answered, “from the bottom of
my heart. It is I who have been wicked, whereas you have been so very,
very sick, while I enjoy such good health.”
“Yes, that's true,” said Catalina, “but I'm older, and I should have
shown you a better example. I had always thought of myself and
now—it's too late to change! Come, dear Lisita, come and kiss me once
I could have wished to have stayed there on my knees for hours and
hide my head with shame and tears, but I didn't dare refuse to show
this last sign of affection for Catalina. So I laid my hot cheek
against that of my sister, toying to bid her good-bye, and her tears
mingled with mine.
When Paula's turn came, Catalina was so exhausted that she could
hardly say a word. But finally, she said, “You will take my place at
father's side, Paula. Father, I'm dying. Paula will take my place, and
I know she will be a better daughter that I could have ever been.”
Her strength was going rapidly and we could hardly hear her words.
And now my father softly put her back on the pillows and motioned us to
Exhausted by remorse and grief, I threw myself on my bed and
continued crying until at last I fell into a heavy sleep.
* * * * *
During the week that followed, Catalina hovered between life and
death and good old Dr. Lebon came and went two or three times a day.
Teresa never went to bed, but took short cat-naps in her chair at
times, as best she could, and my father made very rare and short visits
to his office, bringing a good part of his work home with him.
Rosa now replaced Teresa, either in the kitchen or at the bedside of
the invalid, as the case might be. And I continued at school where,
thanks to the fears that filled my heart, I was a model of good
Paula had quickly learned to make herself useful. She lacked
experience in a house like ours, but her willingness and cheerfulness
more than made up for the clumsiness of her hands as she would say to
Teresa, “Let me do that, dear Teresa; you are so tired, and you have so
much work now.” Teresa, accustomed as she was to perform everything
herself, hesitated a little at first; but Paula would look at her in
such a beseeching way that she generally yielded to her.
From the time that Catalina fell ill, Rosa had to make all the
purchases in town, and this was not a small thing, for the distance
from the old Convent to the city was considerable. At times Paula was
allowed to go with her. “Why don't you let me go alone to the city?”
Paula said to her. “If you did not have to go out, you could help
Teresa so much more in caring for Catalina.”
“That's true; but you couldn't go alone to the city. You'd get
“No, no, never fear such a thing. Let me go, and I'll have not a bit
of trouble finding my way back.” And Rosa, like Teresa, at last yielded
to her pleading.
“How is Catalina now?” was my first question on returning from
“Always the same,” Paula would say.
“Do you think, Paula, she'll ever get well?”
“That I don't know, Lisita. But I believe she will. Teresa prays for
her, and so do I. God is able to heal all the sick people. You know
that; don't you, Lisita?”
And then, as she thought of the dear sick one that the Lord had not
healed, whose body was lying in the faraway Waldensian valley she
added, “I know the Lord did not heal my father, but then, you know, he
was prepared to go.”
“What do you mean 'prepared'?” I said, a bit puzzled.
“Oh, I mean to say that my father had given his heart to the Lord
Jesus, and so he was ready to go to heaven.”
“I suppose it is very difficult to prepare one's self for heaven,” I
“Oh, no,” said Paula. “If we ask the Lord Jesus to give us a new
heart, He always does so.”
“What do you think,” I said, “has Catalina received a new heart?”
“I don't know,” and Paula hesitated, “but I don't think so. She
torments herself so, and seems so afraid to die.”
“Oh, Paula, how I wish she would get well! Before she became so ill,
I didn't care for her a bit, and I believe she didn't care for me
either. But after having said good-bye to her that afternoon, I
certainly do love her. Poor Catalina! In the middle of the school
session, many times it comes to me, 'Suppose that Catalina should die
today!' Then I do not seem to be able to pay any more attention to the
lessons. It seems as if Catalina was there, dead in her bed, and I
hardly dare to come home. If I had not been so wicked to her before she
became so ill, I know I would not feel so.”
“Now listen, Lisita! This is what you ought to do. You ought to ask
the Lord Jesus to heal Catalina.”
“He'd never do it for me,” I said.
“And why not?” asked Paula.
“Because I'm sure God doesn't hear the prayers of wicked people.”
For a while Paula did not answer me. I saw that she was thinking
about what I had just said. Suddenly, a ray of happiness illumined the
dear face with its great dark eyes, as-she exclaimed, “Yes, He does
hear wicked people.”
“How do you know that?” I said.
“Because when Jesus Christ hung on the cross, one of the robbers
asked Him to remember him when He came into His kingdom, and the Lord
promised to do so.”
“Well, then,” I murmured, “perhaps the Lord might hear me also.”
Paula turned about and faced me. “But, my dear Lisita, you're not
“Most certainly I am,” said I.
“No, no, you're not that bad, and if you wish to be my sister, you
will love the Lord Jesus, and you love Him now with all your heart; do
you not, Lisita! I don't like to hear you say that you're wicked, for
you are a good girl, and I love you dearly, Lisita!”
I? I? Good! I stared at my cousin. At any rate I knew that that very
night, for the first time in my life, I was going to pray to the good
Lord before I slept. Teresa had come in to say good-night and put out
the light. I hadn't the courage to get up and kneel beside the bed as
Paula did, but I joined my hands in prayer and closed my eyes as she
had done, and with my head buried in the pillow, I murmured, “Oh, my
God, I've never asked anything of You, and I wouldn't have dared to
have said a word to You tonight if Paula had not said that You heard
the prayers even of wicked penitent ones like me. My God, I ask You to
heal my sister Catalina, and I ask it with all my heart I haven't been
very good to her, and I'm very sorry, and I'm going to be better from
now on. My God, please let her live, and if she gets well, I promise
You now to do all my lessons faithfully for a whole week. And so I
thank you ahead of time, Amen.”
* * * * *
Two days later Catalina was out of danger! It was my father who told
me the good news on my return from school. “Oh, how happy, how happy I
am, father!” I cried as I danced for joy.
“No more than I am, my daughter,” he answered gravely.
CHAPTER EIGHT. THE FIVE-FRANC PIECE
Catalina recovered slowly and seemed to constantly desire Paula's
company. In the afternoon, on returning from school, I would find her
by the bedside, always happy, always smiling, with the complete
forgetfulness of self that had always been such a wonder to me.
A new gentleness seemed to come over my father as the days passed,
and I noticed that he always seemed to observe Paula with a sort of
Paula, too, seemed to change. That little Alpine flower, accustomed
to the pure mountain air of her beloved country, naturally could not be
transplanted from her native soil without some damage, and besides,
that sensitive conscience of hers always seemed to be in a struggle
between obedience to her God and her duty towards my father.
“That girl is nothing more or less than stubborn,” I heard my father
say one day to Teresa; which remark our old servant answered with a
grimace behind his back.
One day, Teresa with an air of triumph, showed us a New Testament on
her return from town. Paula took it from her hand for a moment, and
then returned it to our old servant after caressing the shining cover
with great tenderness.
“Take it,” said Teresa, “it's not only mine, but yours, and you will
have more time to read it than I will.”
“No, Teresa dear,” and Paula sighed as she put her hands behind her
back. “I know I'll get my Bible some day. That's what I've asked God
for, and I know He answers prayer.”
A little later, Paula said to me, “I certainly would have loved that
New Testament, for there are two or three favorite passages with which
I would like to refresh my memory, but I simply can't deceive my uncle.
But what am I going to do, Lisita? I must never forget what I promised
papa when he died.” (Never forget, never forget! was Paula's constant
But in spite of these problems which seemed to confront her, her
perfect faith in God came to her aid, and seemed to give her wisdom to
take the right road through it all. At times I would surprise her on
her knees with her eyes closed and a certain strange indefinable light
on her tear-stained face. Immediately however as she sensed my
presence, she would spring to her feet and I found the same natural
happy creature that I delighted to call my companion. It was not in
vain that she prayed! Her God, whom she had not ceased to serve in the
midst of the worldly atmosphere that surrounded her, seemed to come to
comfort and strengthen her.
Away off here in Villar, the little orphan was not forgotten. One
day, to her great excitement, Paula received a letter, directed
personally to her, from someone from her own beloved land.
“What beautiful writing!” exclaimed Rosa. “Who could it be from?”
“I think it must be from my god-mother,” responded Paula, trembling
with emotion. “Oh, do give me the letter, Rosa.”
Rosa, always full of fun, pretended to keep the letter, to the
dismay of our small cousin, who didn't always see through our jokes,
but finally yielded to her entreaties.
“Wouldn't you like to read it to us, Rosa?” asked Paula, tearing
open the envelope. “I find it much harder to read writing than
Rosa was only too glad to learn the secrets contained in such an
unusual communication. And so this is what we heard as she read:
“My dear god-daughter: I cannot tell you how dismayed I was on my
return from Geneva to learn of the death of thy father. I know he is at
peace in heaven, happy at the side of the Lord he so dearly loved. But
it is for thee that my heart was torn with anguish. Canst thou imagine
the pain that filled it when I found on my return to Villar, that both
of you had gone from me?
“The Pastor in the village told me that thou hadst gone to your
uncle's house in Normandy, and that thou wert well-cared for. But oh,
how I would have wished to have kept thee with me. But thou knowest,
that for me, that would have been impossible, having to care for my old
father and mother, as well as pay off their debts. I know, however,
with the help of God, some day I shall be free. Then we shall return to
buy the little farm where my father made us such a happy home, and at
that time I trust that thou wilt come back and live with me—but then,
I suppose thou wilt have become a great lady, and wilt not be content
to come back to such a simple life with an obscure country woman
(although I really don't believe that).”
“Oh, no, no, no!” suddenly interrupted Paula. “Godmother knows very
well that I shall never forget the happy life in Villar.”
“Then, you will go back there?” inquired Rosa.
“Of course. Why not?” and Paula looked quite surprised.
“What's that you say? You would leave all of us who love you so?”
“Oh, no indeed, you shall all come with me,” responded Paula, who
generally had a way of solving every difficulty.
Rosa smiled and returned to her reading.
“I have just been to see the grave of thy dear father where I
planted some hardy white roses which will stand the winter winds. I
went also to the neighboring village of Endroit where thou usedst to
visit the poor, and immediately I was surrounded by thy friends. Papa
Pierre Vigne especially sends his love. They all spoke of thee and
called down blessings on thy head, especially that thou mightst be a
witness for the Lord in thy new home. Mama Vigne recalled the time when
thou visitedst her when she was so sick, and how happy thou madest her
when thou didst sing those beautiful hymns to her. I believe, my dear
one, that if thou shouldst write her a few lines, it would be like
letting in a little heaven on her simple life, as she would thus see
that the daughter of their best friend is thinking still of those whom
she used to make happy by her heavenly presence. All those that have
known thee and know that I am writing send kisses and loving
remembrances. Many persons have asked that thou shouldst pray for them.
They love thee so and miss thy presence, my dear, dear god-daughter!
Continue, Paula, always to be obedient. Love everybody, and above all
else, the God of thy father who awaits thee in heaven. Love not the
world nor the things that are in the world. Be thou a valiant soldier,
faithful unto death, and Christ shall give thee the crown of life, for
He will never forget thee, and neither do we in this far-off valley,
nor thy good deeds which thou hast done amongst us. And now, may God
bless thee and keep thee safe in His hands.... Thy loving godmother,
Evangelina, who prays for thee.”
Paula, overcome by emotion, buried her face on Rosa's shoulder.
“Wait a minute,” said Rosa, “don't cry. Here is something more.”
Paula dried her eyes and listened intently as Rosa continued, “P. S.
I am sending thee five francs by money order which you can redeem at
your post office. Buy something with it by which to remember me.”
“Five francs!” repeated Paula, with astonishment now instead of
tears on her face, “Are you sure?”
“Of course. See. Here is the money order.”
Paula, who never in her life had owned a single cent, could hardly
believe that she was the possessor of so much riches!
Her godmother's letter was, of course, a tremendous event for all of
us. Rosa had to read it over and over many times, and it seemed as if
Paula wished to learn it by heart. Even my father read it with great
attention and appeared quite pleased. Teresa declared that “The
god-mother was surely a 'tres comme il faut,'“ but she did not explain
to us why.
One thing however displeased Teresa—the eagerness with which Paula
immediately planned to spend all her money.
“How now!” she exclaimed, “Is it burning a hole in your pocket? I
should think a little girl like you would prefer to keep the money.”
“Keep it?” said Paula. “Why should I keep it?”
But the next day, when Teresa announced that she was going to the
city, she invited us both to come along. “What are you going to
buy?” she asked Paula.
“Oh, so many things. You shall see!”
And the “things” which we “saw” were certainly a great surprise to
us. First we went to the book-shop where a number of souvenir cards
were purchased to send back to Villar. From there, on passing a window
filled with fruit, Paula exclaimed, “Oh, my, Catalina certainly does
love grapes. I must get her some.”
“Grapes!” said Teresa. “Look at the price, you silly child.”
“Never mind. I'm rich this afternoon.”
“Well, you won't be rich long, if you make many purchases like
But Paula would not be satisfied until a great bunch of the luscious
fruit was safely stowed away in Teresa's bag, destined for Catalina.
Having arrived in front of a stationer's shop, two pencils went into
the bag, one for Rosa and the other for Louis.
“And aren't you going to get anything for yourself?” said Teresa,
with a quizzical grin.
“Oh, you shall see,” laughed Paula. “Besides, you know, Teresa, I've
got everything I need, and a good deal more.”
But now a present for my father was the next object for discussion.
“Men don't need presents,” said Teresa impatiently.
But Paula did not agree with her. “I know,” she cried at last, “I
remember what he said yesterday that his coffee cup was too small.
Let's get him a big one.” So off to the china-shop we went, where a
huge blue cup decorated with flowers of extraordinary size depleted
Paula's treasure by a whole franc. I began to ask myself whether I was
going to have any part in Paula's generosity. But on passing a certain
bazaar where a myriad of things were sold, I saw Paula make signs that
Teresa seemed to understand. Contrary to her custom Teresa entered
alone, telling us to walk on a bit and she would join us soon.
“And now,” said Paula, “we must buy an apron for Teresa, while she's
not looking. Where shall we go?”
“I think it would be better to let her choose one, and anyway,
Teresa will soon be out of the bazaar and will be looking for us.”
“Oh, my, no! This has got to be a surprise!”
“Yes, I know. But how are we going to work it?”
A moment later, however, Paula discovered a way, a bit risky
perhaps, but the circumstances seemed to justify the means.
Teresa, suspecting that Paula's generosity would extend to her, and
wishing to avoid that, watched us both carefully; but when all the
purchases appeared to be completed, the good woman occupied herself
with buying provisions for the house, which of course entailed
considerable discussion as to price, etc. It was then that Paula had
“Now's our time,” she said to me in a low voice.
I followed her without delay. Teresa, meanwhile, argued the price of
butter and cheese with an old school-friend, now elevated to
proprietorship of the shop, and we knew that this would take at least a
quarter-of-an-hour. We soon arrived at a place where they sold
novelties, and where the clerks were about ready to close for the
“Oh, sir,” cried Paula, to one of the young men, “will you not
please attend to me? I'm in a great hurry.”
“So, you're in a hurry,” said the young man jovially.
“Yes, you see, we've run away and we've—”
“Wait a minute,” said the young man, and he appeared to grow
suddenly grave “This is quite serious. Who have you run away from?”
“Oh, it's only Teresa across the street, and this must be a surprise
for her. Will you please show me an apron?”
So the young man, without further ado, hauled down a number of those
articles for inspection. “There you are. Take your pick.”
Paula gave one look, “Oh, no; not that kind,” she said with a
consternation which I shared, seeing in imagination old Teresa with her
great wooden shoes and her long skirts adorned with one of these
elegant articles of the latest fashion.
“No? Don't you like these?” questioned the clerk.
“Oh, no,” said Paula. “You see, it's for Teresa.”
“And, pray, who is Teresa?”
Paula started to explain, when the anxious face of the old servant
showed itself at the door of the shop across the way, and not seeing
us, had started to look up and down the street “Here she comes,” I
said. “Oh, Paula, what shall we do?”
“Go in behind the counter, there,” said Paula who never lost her
I got in behind a pile of merchandise while Paula continued to
explain her wants to the clerk from the dark corner of the shop. The
youug man appeared to comprehend our situation.
“Bertrand,” and he turned to one of his fellow-clerks, “please
attend to this young girl. I'll be back in a minute.”
But “Bertrand” hardly had time to ask us what we wanted, when our
first friend returned, bringing with him a package under his arm.
“I had a look at your Teresa,” he said, “and I think that an apron
of this excellent cloth will give her a thousand thrills. See, what
beautiful stuff it is.”
Paula gave a nervous look toward the window before answering.
“No, she's not there,” said the young man, divining her thoughts.
“Not finding you here, she's gone on a bit, but you can find her easily
We were enchanted with the goods which he displayed, and we were
soon served, at not too great a cost.
“You have been very good to us, sir,” said Paula, starting to go
out. “We have given you so much trouble, but when we wish to buy
anything more, we shall always come here, will we not, Lisita? In the
meantime, many thanks,” and she extended her hand to him with
“The pleasure is all mine,” said the young man, and I could see that
he'd never met her like before.
Teresa was not far away, gazing into a jeweler's window. “At last,
you're here,” she said amiably. “Now, we must hurry, for it is very
late.” She made no mention of our untoward absence and one would have
believed that she had not noticed it, and that relieved us very much.
“You certainly are late,” said my father to Teresa on our return.
“I thought we'd never get through,” said the good woman. “For you
see, Paula had to spend—”
“Oh, yes, I understand. She had to get rid of her five francs.
“And now, Paula, show me what you have bought.”
“All right. Here you are, uncle!”
Paula had always shown a certain timidity toward my father, and
appeared to be slightly afraid of him. Slightly red in the face, she
took out the packages one after the other from Teresa's bag.
“You shall see, sir. You shall see,” commented Teresa, with a shake
of her head.
“What a lot of packages!” said Rosa, on seeing all the bundles tied
up with such care.
“Shall I help you open them?” said my father. “Let us see what's in
this first package. My, my, what's this? White grapes! And of the
finest kind! You certainly have got good taste. I'll say that much,
“They are for Catalina, uncle.”
“Yes, uncle dear.”
Now there was not a sign of derision in my father's voice. It had
changed to a surprising tenderness as he said, “So you bought this for
our Catalina? I know the cost of such fruit, and Teresa should not have
“And do you think, sir,” broke in Teresa, “that when Paula wants to
buy something, that she asks for my consent? You will soon be able to
judge that for yourself. I never saw her equal.”
“And this?” questioned Rosa, taking up the package of souvenir
Paula indicated the destination of each one as she gave the name and
address of many of her old neighbors in far-away Villar.
“So you don't forget your old friends,” observed my father.
“Oh, what a beautiful box this is,” continued Rosa, “and, oh, look
here,” as she displayed the thimble inside. “Who can this be for?”
“Oh, that's for Lisita.”
“For me,” I cried, jubilantly, “oh, Paula! So you remembered that I
have just lost my thimble.”
“Two pencils,” announced my father, undoing another small paper
“One of them is for Rosa and the other is for Louis,” said Paula
“My poor dear child,” exclaimed Rosa. “What on earth are we going to
do with you! Here's another package, but it appears so fragile that
you'd better open it yourself.”
“No, no; that's for uncle. Let him open it.”
My father cut the cord that held the package. Paula hardly dared to
raise her eyes, as he took the beautiful cup with its blue and gold
ornamentation and took it over to the fading light, in order to examine
it more carefully.
“I don't know whether I should be angry or content,” he said, with a
“Better be content, uncle,” said Paula appealingly.
“Well, so be it,” he said. “At any rate, I am happy to have such a
good and generous niece, who does love her uncle a bit. Is it not so,
“There's one more thing,” I cried. I wanted to see the effect on
Teresa of that final package, which Paula handed over immediately to
the old servant, saying gently, “It's for you, Teresa dear.”
“What's this? How is it for me? When I strictly forbade you? But
there you are! What can one do with such a girl?”
The apron was found to be eminently satisfactory, and Teresa
promised to put it on the first thing in the morning, and I could see a
few tears in her eyes as she said so.
“And now,” said my father, “you've shown us all these things which
you have bought us with your five francs. Where is the present for
Paula looked at us all with dismay.
“I declare,” she said, “I forgot! Never mind, I can buy something
tomorrow.” And she held up a few small coins which was all that
remained of her five-franc-piece.
My father looked at her searchingly, with that new tenderness which
I had seen frequently lately, and then left the room without another
“I believe,” said Rosa, “that she'd be happy to give us her last
piece of bread if there was occasion for it”
“Yes, and her life also, if that was necessary,” said Teresa in a
shaky voice, as she turned back to her duties in the kitchen.
CHAPTER NINE. A LITTLE GLIMPSE OF
What a wonderful afternoon it was! The sun far down in the west,
painted the eastern mountains with a lovely tint of orange. The warm
air was balmy with the perfume of flowers and the birds were singing
cheerfully as they flitted about.
All was quiet in Catalina's bedroom, where Paula and I were seated.
My sister was now on the road to a partial recovery, having passed the
danger-mark some days before. Another change also I noticed had come
over her. Her impatience and irritability had gradually disappeared,
day by day, and when she suffered more than ordinarily, she never
seemed to complain. The expression of her face had sweetened also, and
even a slight but quite natural smile would often illumine her thin
features. Death had passed her by, but now seemingly a new influence
gradually possessed her. This simple country maid of the Waldensian
mountains had come smiling into her life, and although Catalina had
frequently abused the kindness of our cousin, Paula never had lost
patience with the poor invalid. Soon love had triumphed, and Catalina
had begun to return the love of her little nurse even though at times
she still kept her tyrannical attitude.
One day Catalina said to Teresa, “Paula's not a bit like the rest of
“No,” she answered, “She's a 'Daughter of the good God!' Just as I
said one day when she first arrived.” Teresa sighed as she added, “What
would I give to be like her!”
One beautiful afternoon, the poor invalid lay there with her eyes on
Paula as if she wished to say something.
“How do you feel now?” said Paula as Catalina's fixed gaze seemed to
disturb her somewhat.
“Oh, I'm all right just now. I was thinking of your god-mother's
letter. She remembered, she said, the hymns you used to sing. You've
never sung any of them to us, Paula.”
I saw a mist in Paula's eyes as she answered. “No, that's true. I
don't think I've sung a note since my father's death. Would you like to
hear me sing?”
“Yes, indeed,” said Catalina, without noticing Paula's emotion.
I was on the point of reminding them of father's formal prohibition
relative to hymn-singing, but an imperative sign from Catalina stopped
“What do you wish me to sing?” said Paula.
“Anything you care to. It's all the same to me.”
“Then,” said Paula, “I will sing to you, 'No Night There.'“ And then
to our unaccustomed ears came the glorious words:
In the land of fadeless day,
Lies the city four-sqare,
It shall never pass away,
And there is no night there.
“God shall wipe away all tears;
There's no death, no pain, nor fears;
And they count not time by years,
For there is no night there.
Paula had that rare gift, the “golden” voice, a voice that seemed to
penetrate to one's very soul. Catalina was enchanted!
Suddenly, I heard the heavy steps of a man coming along the
corridor. But as Paula began the second stanza, I heard them pause.
“All the gates of pearl are made,
In the city four-square,
All the streets with gold are laid,
And there is no night there.
“And the gates shall never close,
To the city four-square,
There life's crystal river flows,
And there is no night there.”
Paula's voice trembled at the beginning. Then presently the sadness
in her tones disappeared, and they seemed to swell out like an echo of
radiant happiness. Catalina listened, hardly breathing. Involuntarily,
I asked myself if Paula in heaven would be any different from the
little country girl I saw seated near the window at this moment. I had
an instant's impression that a man was standing behind the door, but I
felt this could not be, for I knew that my father would be at his
office. A special light came over the expressive face of Paula as she
“There they need no sunshine bright,
In the city four-square,
For the Lamb is all the light,
And there is no night there.”
And then again the wonderful refrain:
“God shall wipe away all tears;
There's no death, no pain, nor fears;
And they count not time by years,
For there is no night there.”
The sweet sounds died away, and Paula looked smilingly at Catalina
as if asking her opinion of the song.
“What a marvelous song!” exclaimed the poor sick girl. “And, Paula,
you have a voice like an angel!”
I did not hear my little companion's reply. This time I was not
mistaken; there was someone there behind that door. Impelled by
curiosity I ran to open it At first I saw no one in the darkened
passage, but finally I could make out my father moving off down the
hall. When he saw that I had discovered him, he stopped and put a
finger to his lips, and made signs to me to keep silent, but in my
surprise I cried, “Is it you, father?”
“Yes,” he answered, “I came home earlier than I expected. Was that
Paula who was singing in Catalina's room?”
“I—I—don't know,” I hesitated, not knowing what to say.
There was an instant of terrible silence like a calm before the
“You—don't—know,” my father slowly repeated. “You dare to look at
me and say you don't know when you have just this moment come out of
your sister's room?”
“Oh, father, please forgive me,” I exclaimed penitently. “It was
indeed Paula that sang. But don't punish her. She didn't know that you
had forbidden our singing hymns.”
“Who said I was going to punish her?” my father questioned. And I
could see that his anger had cooled. “Come here!”
Taking me by the hand, we went back together to my sister's room.
“Would it tire you, Catalina, to hear Paula sing again?” he asked.
“Why, no, father,” Catalina answered, surprised.
“Then, Paula,” said my father, “sing again that same song.”
And once more we heard, “There's no night there.”
“Who taught you to sing?” my father asked.
“I think it was my father. But in our valley, everybody sings. On
the roads, climbing the hills, caring for the animals, in the meetings;
in fact, everywhere.”
Catalina looked at my father furtively, and noticed that his face
remained serene, almost tender, and so she hastened to profit by the
“Dear father,” she said in a low voice, “Let her sing to us once in
a while; will you? It's such a joy to hear her.”
“Doesn't it tire you?”
“On the contrary, I think it does me good.” And Catalina looked at
her father appealingly.
“Let her sing,” he said, “but leave it to the nightingales to sing
alone. There are so few of them.”
“And won't you let the crows sing along with her too, if we care
“There are too many crows,” said my father, shaking his head.
“You are right, father, and your daughter Catalina is one of the
number, for she's only a poor sick crow. But sometimes, father, you
know the crows envy the nightingales.”
The comparison made my father laugh heartily, and he let himself be
persuaded by his elder daughter—that elder daughter whose voice was so
like that of that dear wife of his, now forever silent.
“Well, crows and nightingales let them sing together,” he said; and
embracing all three of us, he bid us goodnight. He disappeared, but not
without turning for a moment to Paula with the remark, “Good-night, my
little Alpine nightingale.”
And Paula, who did not seem to comprehend a single word of this
conversation, answered gravely, “Good-night, uncle.”
CHAPTER TEN. IN THE COUNTRY
Once a year we were accustomed to visit our grandparents and this
was generally made a real family reunion. There we met with all our
uncles and aunts and cousins. It was also a joyful occasion for Teresa
who was very fond of Justina, grandmother's faithful old servant
Grandfather had been a very successful farmer, intelligent,
hard-working and economical without being stingy. After many years'
work he had amassed a considerable fortune. The big farm which to
Catalina and Rosa was but a dim memory, but whose glories Teresa had
often recounted to us, had been sold quite a number of years before. My
grandfather had then bought a beautiful house nearby, with a few acres
surrounding it just to remind him of his former activities. The garden
itself was large and imposing and well-cared for under the critical
eyes of both of our grandparents, who specialized in new and rare
plants. The flowers, appearing in profusion in all seasons of the year
(even in winter in the great hot-houses), filled the air with their
Our grandparents reigned over this domain and it was here that they
loved to welcome us. Our father was their especial pride and joy as he
was the oldest son.
Our grandfather had a gruff enormous voice and possessed a pair of
great square shoulders; in fact, he was a real “countryman.” But
beneath his rude exterior he had a heart of gold, and no one could gain
the confidence of a little child quicker than he.
Grandmother was of a different type with her long black dress and
her beautiful white hair, of which she was justly proud. She could
easily have been mistaken for a noblewoman. She was a strong character
and had had the advantage of considerable schooling. She was every inch
“the fine lady,” with her firm step and resolute voice and her
brilliant black eyes. Nevertheless, we all loved her dearly, for there
was a simple loving heart hidden away beneath all her magnificence.
Justina, who had been her faithful servant for forty years, never
tired of singing the praises of her “Madame.” If during our short stay
at “Las Lilas” we showed ourselves unduly boisterous, or when we
disobeyed orders, Justina would say to us after we had been properly
reprimanded, “You never, never will be like your grandmother!”
Grandfather always met us at the little railway station. On our
arrival he embraced everybody, including our father whom he would kiss
on both cheeks as if he had been a child. Catalina would first be
hoisted up into the great carriage and we would follow one after the
other. Louis took unto himself the honor of holding the reins, and
after everybody was well-seated, except my father and grandfather who
marched on ahead of the horses, the slow procession to the house would
In half-an-hour we could see the great house where grandma and
Justina, decked out in their Sunday gowns, awaited our arrival. There,
after various comments on our growths and states of health, Catalina
would be conducted by her grandmother to her room to rest after the
tiresome journey, while Justina would carry off Teresa to the kitchen,
and the rest of us would hurry to the orchard where grandfather with a
vigorous hand would shake down the apples and pears into our
outstretched aprons. Those were ecstatic moments when we could bury our
teeth in the newly-fallen fruit. Soon father would cry, “That's enough!
That's enough! There'll be nothing left for anybody else!” But
grandfather continuing to shake down more fruit would answer with his
great gruff voice, “First come, first served! Besides, look over there
to the right! There are thousands of apples that we haven't even
Soon after this there would appear in a cloud of dust, the carriages
of our uncles August and Edward with their families from Havre and
Paris, carrying all sorts of bundles mixed up with the children and
In the doorway of the garden would be our grandmother waiting to
welcome everybody, her numerous grandchildren clambering about her and
embracing her affectionately, each one fighting for the first kiss.
“Me, me, grandma; I'm the smallest.” “No, me, me, grandma; I'm the
biggest” When they had been all finally satisfied, she would embrace
with great tenderness all her sons, inquiring of each in turn as to his
Sometimes in the conversation there would come a cloud of sadness as
some relative would be mentioned who had departed since the last family
reunion. Then finally, after having returned to the garden to play for
a while under the great trees, the bell of the nearby church would
strike the hour of noon, and Justina would appear at the grape arbor
entrance crying, “Come one, come all! The soup is getting cold!”
Then there would be a wild race on the part of all the cousins to
see who would be first at the long table placed in the cool shade under
the great spreading vines, that wonderful table with its wide damask
covering which only appeared on state occasions. Grandma's loving
hospitality was shown in the minutest details of that elaborate feast;
for she had remembered the favorite dishes of each one of her three
sons and each found himself confronted with the delight of his
childhood. When under the maternal eye in bygone days, he was not
allowed to overeat; but now each was left to his own discretion to
satisfy the most ample appetite.
And then came those delicious desserts followed by fruits and nuts
which had been especially kept as the crown of the feast to accompany
the final coffee-cup. Again the afternoon was spent in the garden,
while the babies slept in the shade under the eye of the respective
The most solemn moment of our visit was when we had to make our
report to our grandparents as to our progress in school. I remember
especially one year when Rosa was the first in her class, and Santiago
our tall cousin had taken the first prize in the great school of “Louis
the Great,” from which each year he carried new laurels. For them it
was of course a time of triumph—but for me! oh, with what shame I
presented my report card. My grandmother read it. “Lisita Dumas—last
place!” and I hid my face in my hands.
“Come, come,” grandma said, “don't cry. Try to do better next time.”
My cousins were not quite so charitable as they passed my poor card
from hand to hand.
“Tell us, Lisita,” Santiago said, when he thought we were well out
of ear-shot of our elders, “you certainly do love to ride in the seat
behind, do you not?” and he pulled my hair with the remark, “Better let
somebody else sit there, hereafter.” But grandmother overheard him and
she said, “Go a little slower, my fine fellow. Lisita might have a more
brilliant future than you think. And besides, when you, my fine
grandson, are scintillating in the world of letters and Rosa is
director of the great normal school, perhaps Lisita may be occupying a
comfortable post right here in this great house.” I didn't understand
the full import of these remarks, but I noticed it had the effect of
silencing my tormentor who slunk away abashed.
We would play happily in the garden until supper-time and even the
grown folks joined us in some of our games. Sometimes father would
gather all of us children around him, and we would never tire of
hearing the stories of his adventures when, as a young man, he had gone
far beyond the boundaries of France. These wonderful stories seemed so
strange to us as we looked upon our father's sad and severe
countenance; but our uncles August and Edward informed us that at one
time he was the happiest and gayest of them all.
After supper came the problem of housing us all. The boys always
slept in the hay barn. “A good preparation,” said Uncle August, “for
their future training in the army.” The rest of us found resting-places
somehow here and there in the great house. On the following day we
would gather at breakfast, and then the men folks would be off again to
their various tasks in the big towns. After a good time in the garden
in the morning, the two carriages to Paris and Havre would be loaded up
again, and we would take the train once more, generally leaving
Catalina to pass an additional week in the invigorating air of “Las
Lilas.” This short visit in the country was the great event of the year
in my young life. I talked about it six months beforehand and for six
months afterward. The other scholars made fun of me in school, and
dubbed me “Las Lilas” because I talked so much about my grandfather's
home in the country. But Paula was a most sympathetic listener. She
never tired of hearing me repeat over and over our experiences at “Las
Lilas.” It must be confessed that I exaggerated in describing many
things about my grandfather's place, until my country cousin came to
believe that my grandfather's house was a palace and that the garden
was a veritable Eden.
“You shall see, you shall see!” I exclaimed as I ended my
The cow appeared to be the most interesting thing to Paula. “If your
grandfather has a cow, it must be that he really lives in the country,”
“Of course he lives in the country,” I said, “it is so beautiful
there. But don't you think that we also are living in the country here
in 'The Convent'?” Paula laughed heartily at this but made no further
At last the annual letter of invitation arrived. I recognized it on
account of the beautiful handwriting of my grandmother. “It is for next
Saturday,” announced my father, “and we are all invited to stay until
Monday. And now listen, Paula, this concerns you. Grandmother writes,
'It would delight me very much to embrace our new little relative. I
hope that from now on she will keep a warm place in her heart for her
old grandmother who loves her without having ever met her.'“
Teresa, who was indeed tired out with the care of Catalina, and who
was very sensitive to warm weather, was no less happy than we were, for
she, too, was to go with us. Only Catalina manifested no enthusiasm
over the coming visit. My father observing this said to her anxiously,
“You have nothing to say, daughter mine?”
“I'm not going, father.”
“What's that you say? You've been much better these last days and
are well able to stand the trip. You weren't very well last year, and
yet you went to 'Las Lilas' and found it so beneficial to your health.”
“Yes, I know, father,” answered poor Catalina, “but I know also that
I've always been a source of great trouble for you, and Teresa would
never have a minute's peace because of me. I shall go a little later,
father, when I'm stronger, if grandmother will have me. She knows very
well how I long to go to 'Las Lilas' but I fear that the trip would
only bring on an especial spell of weariness and that would spoil the
fun of everybody. Maria, who works in the garden here, can look after
me for a day or two. She is very kind and thoughtful, and I know she'll
care for me very well.”
We all stared at Catalina! It was the first time in all her history
that I had ever seen her forget herself. It was a great struggle, for
she had become so accustomed to think only of her own comfort. Tears
welled up in her eyes as she smilingly awaited father's decision. “But
this is going to be a great disappointment to you,” he said, passing
his hand over the feverish forehead of the invalid.
“No, father; it will give me great pleasure this time,” came
Catalina's brave answer.
“Be it therefore as you wish,” he said.
Pleasure? I couldn't understand what pleasure there would be for
Catalina to stay behind alone with Maria, especially at this time of
the great event of the year.
My father looked at Catalina tenderly as if he read her very heart,
and saw there something he had never seen before. “Thou hast changed
much, daughter mine, since your last sickness.”
“For better or worse?” asked Catalina with a mischievous smile.
“For better, my daughter. Indeed, far better!”
“It's because I'm older than I was, perhaps, father.”
“No, no; it's more than that.”
“I wonder if I could dare tell you the truth.”
“Never fear. Tell me what's on your mind, Catalina.”
“Well, it's this, father dear. God has spoken to me and I have
“How has He spoken to thee?” said my father, and there was no
sternness in his look either.
Catalina pointed furtively at Paula.
“And how hast thou answered Him?”
“I've asked Him that He might save me and that He might make me a
There was a strange look in my poor father's face as he answered
quietly, “If I could believe that there was a God, I would say that He
had heard thee.”
Catalina wrote a long letter to grandmother, the contents of which
she did not care to show us. So it was as Catalina wished, and Maria
promised to take good care of the invalid.
At last the great day arrived. Paula and I, up at sunrise, scurried
to the window to look at the weather, and oh joy! It was a magnificent
day without a cloud in the sky! A little later when Teresa arrived to
call us, great was her surprise to find us all ready to start.
“What a wonderful thing,” she remarked dryly, “you'd never be late
to school if you did this every morning.”
After the first moment of enthusiasm, Paula strangely enough began
to lose little by little the happy atmosphere which usually surrounded
her. I discovered soon the cause. She was thinking of Catalina.
“It's going to be terribly lonely for her,” she said.
“Never fear,” I said, “she can go another time.”
But she shook her head as if trying to throw off something painful
that seemed to be on her mind.
“Oh, Lisita, if you could but know how lonely Catalina will feel as
she sees us go without her. When I took her breakfast to her yesterday
and saw that she had been crying I simply could not bear the thought of
leaving her at home alone.”
“But if papa says it is all right, it can't be so bad. Besides,
father loves her as much as you do.”
Paula didn't answer me.
Soon the time came to start. Teresa started calling to one and
another. One had lost this thing, another had misplaced something else.
My father scolded and helped, at the same time trying to get us off.
Then Rosa wasn't ready and Louis, always unprepared, couldn't find his
favorite blue necktie. At last we were ready. The only thing that
remained was to say good-bye to Catalina. Louis, impatient to be off,
performed that ceremony quickly; Rosa who had reserved a surprise for
the invalid, put a new book into her hand as she kissed her; Teresa, as
she embraced her in her turn, left many instructions; then, as Paula
came forward, we heard a sob as she buried her face on my oldest
“What's the matter now?” said my father. An unintelligible sound was
heard; but Catalina understood and her eyes moistened with happiness.
“Oh, father,” she said, “I know; she's crying on my account, she
doesn't want to leave me alone here.” “Is that it, Paula?” questioned
my father. “Yes, please leave me here, uncle, I shall be so happy to be
at Catalina's side while you are gone.” But Catalina refused this
sacrifice, saying, “No, no, my dear little Paula. I'll not be lonely.
You have too tender a heart. Now go, things will be all right here.
Everything has been arranged for me, and it will make me happy to know
of the good time you are all to have with our grandmother.”
My father didn't know what to do. The time was passing. “Come,
Paula, come,” he said; “it's time to go.”
Paula raised her head. “If you order me to go, I'll go, for I must
obey you, and I know they are waiting for us. But if you will permit
me to stay”—and she put emphasis on the word permit in her
peculiarly irresistible manner—“I would be a whole lot happier here
than in 'Las Lilas.'“
“Stay then,” said my father, as he added with a smile, “You
certainly are a little despot, for you seem to twist me to your will in
Paula laughed at this, as happy as if she had received the most
valuable of gifts, as she kissed him.
“Oh, yes; kisses are all very well,” said father, pretending to be
angry, “but what will the grandparents say?”
“You will tell them”—but the rest of the sentence I could not hear,
as she bent close to my father's ear.
“Where's Paula?” everybody cried, as we went through the door
“Look,” said my father, pointing to the upper window. There was
Paula, with a radiant face, waving her handkerchief in good-bye to all
“Come, come, hurry up; stop your fooling!” cried Louis.
“I'm staying here.”
“How is that?”
“Oh, I'm just staying with Catalina.”
“That's too much!” cried Louis, “to stay here while the rest of us
go on a holiday. Papa, you won't permit such a silly thing; will you?”
“Well, she begged me with tears to let her stay and there she is,”
“Good-bye, uncle; good-bye, Teresa—A happy journey to you all,”
cried Paula. “Give a good hug and a kiss to grandmother and to
grandfather,” we heard her say as we turned the corner.
“She isn't a bit like the rest of us,” said Louis, “she never seems
to seek her own pleasure, and yet the funny thing about it is, she's
always happy. I can't understand a nature like that.”
“It's because she finds her happiness in making other people happy,”
This was also what our grandmother said, when we explained Paula's
CHAPTER ELEVEN. THE CAT MOTHER
It was the month of October. I was sure that my father would permit
Paula to go to school with me after the summer vacation, but not so.
Catalina herself wished to teach her at home. This decision caused me
many tears and complainings.
Teresa tried to console me. “Don't worry,” she said, “just wait a
little. I know Catalina, she'll soon tire of teaching, and then she'll
let Paula go to school with you.” Teresa was right In the beginning
Catalina was enchanted with the task. Paula was obedient, and she did
the best she could; but she didn't learn very quickly, therefore
Catalina soon tired, and Paula, with a teacher so inexperienced, became
sleepy and inattentive.
So it was that the teacher tired the pupil and the pupil tired the
teacher. Catalina was the first to complain. “Paula doesn't care much
for study,” she said to her father. “I'm afraid I am wasting my time
trying to teach her.”
“Well, then,” said my father, “perhaps the best thing will be to
send her along to school with Lisita.”
Catalina hesitated a moment. She wished to do something for others,
but she was slow to learn how.
“I think it would be better to let her go,” she said resignedly.
So it was that the following Monday my father accompanied us both to
school and duly inscribed her as a student. Paula immediately became
the center of great interest on the part of my school-companions. They
remarked upon the beauty of her eyes and hair, the latter reaching
almost to her knees.
Coming out of class at noon-time all forty-five pupils surrounded
her affectionately, and at the end of a week Paula was the best-known
pupil in the entire school. Catalina was right, however, for Paula was
not really a student, but she applied herself because, as she said, she
did not wish to cause pain to Mademoiselle, the teacher.
As she left the school in the afternoon, the teacher would kiss
Paula with a tenderness not seen toward others. At times Paula would
bring her a few flowers, which caused Mademoiselle's eyes to sparkle
with such happiness that she almost seemed beautiful to us.
“Have you a garden?” she said to us one day.
“How happy I should be to have one. When you have an over-abundance
of flowers don't forget me.”
“Poor Mademoiselle Virtud,” said Paula one day, “I am sure she has
some secret burden.”
“Nobody likes her,” I said. (I remembered that I had twenty-five
lines to copy because I had talked all the afternoon.)
“God loves her!”
“And you?” I questioned.
“Oh, certainly,” said Paula.
“Notwithstanding she is so disagreeable?”
“I do not know. We don't know her outside of school.”
“And I don't want to know her. As for you, you love everybody that
nobody else loves.” And that was true: Paula was always the friend of
the poor and the despised. In that great school which was a world in
miniature, there were many unfortunate little ones who suffered neglect
from their drunken parents; others were cruelly treated at home, and in
the case of still others, their timidity or physical weakness exposed
them to the ridicule of their comrades. In Paula, however, they all
found a friend and a companion who loved them and defended them.
The capacity to love and to make others happy, extended itself also
to the animals, but not to those small boys who destroyed the birds'
nests or threw stones at the horses or dogs—these she attacked without
mercy. In the neighborhood of “The Convent” where we lived, there were
quite a number of this type of boy whose greatest pleasure was to
torture the dogs and cats. One of these especially, the son of the
“Breton,” was a veritable executioner. He never attended school, for
his father never bothered with him, and his mother, poor woman,
accustomed to misery and the blows of her drunken husband, had
apparently lost all semblance of human feeling. This boy spent his time
tormenting anything or anybody who was unable to resist him—old men,
sick people, little children, and especially dumb animals.
One cold day in December Paula and I were walking slowly along the
street, studying our lessons as we walked. Suddenly we heard the
piercing cries of a cat in distress. Paula, always touched by suffering
of any kind, stopped to listen. Louder came the cries of the cat.
Paula threw her grammar on a road-side bench. “Poor little thing,” I
cried, “we can't help him, for I can't see where he can possibly be.”
“Well, I can't stop here,” said Paula. “Come along, we'll soon find
We ran over to the canal which ran along a few feet below the
avenue. Suddenly I was afraid!
“Perhaps Joseph, the Breton's son, is mixed up in this!” I said
“Come along anyway, unless you want me to go alone,” Paula said
quietly. So I followed her.
Sure enough, it was the Breton's son surrounded by a dozen
ragamuffins of his own set. They took no notice of us. He had a
beautiful black cat, that had a string tied to its hind legs. The boy
was swinging it around his head and at times ducking it in the canal
while his companions danced around him with delight.
“Now that he's good and wet, let's bury him,” suggested Joseph.
“Alive?” said his comrades.
“Of course alive! And the old dame, his owner can—”
But here Paula suddenly lunged forward, seizing the wicked youngster
by the wrists with a surprising strength for one of her age.
“You'll do nothing of the kind,” she cried. “Let him go; do you hear
“Let me alone!” said the young bully as he tried to bite her.
Not being able to accomplish this, he gave her a ferocious kick,
which caused Paula to let go with a cry of pain. She now saw that her
efforts were useless.
“See here,” she said to him, after a few seconds' thought, “If you
give me the cat, I'll give you four cents.”
“Ah, you haven't got four cents.”
“Yes, I have; I have it here in my pocket”
“All right, let me have the money.”
“No, no,” said Paula, “if I give you my four cents first, I know you
will never let me have the cat. Come, give him to me,” she said
beseechingly; “he's never done you any harm and you have made him
suffer so much.” But Joseph refused this appeal. With a diabolical grin
he raised the cat again to swing it over his head. There was a meow of
agony—but it was the last one! In spite of her former lack of success,
Paula made one supreme effort to rescue the cat. Somehow the string got
loose, the cat escaped, and was soon lost to view.
Then the rage of the young ruffian knew no bounds as he turned to
“Run, run!” I cried; but Joseph and his companions cut off the only
path of escape.
Crazy with terror, I began to yell, “Help! help!” with all my
strength; but the boys drowned my cries with their own shouts. This
very circumstance saved us. I saw someone coming to our help.
We soon recognized with joy that it was Dr. Lebon. On seeing him the
boys ran away with the exception of Joseph, who was a little too late.
The Doctor, who knew him, suspected he was the guilty one, and
succeeded in getting him by the ear. Then the doctor said to me, “What
has happened, Lisita?” And I told him the whole story.
“Well, he won't do it again; that's one thing certain,” said the
“Oh, let him go!” said Paula generously.
“Paula,” said the doctor with a severity we had never seen in him
before, “Go back to the house with Lisita!”
We had nothing to do but obey. On the way back we could tell by
Joseph's cries that he was having a bad time of it!
Teresa was frightened when she saw the condition of Paula's leg, as
the result of the terrible kick she had received. The doctor soon
arrived at the house, and Paula could scarcely help crying as the
doctor examined her; but he said as he left us, “If I am not mistaken,
Joseph will never trouble you any more.”
This was true. Joseph avoided us for a long time; but he took
revenge on us through the other boys, who would cry after Paula as she
walked up the street, “Cat mother! Cat mother!” This incident won us a
friend. Shortly afterwards, returning from school, an elderly woman
that lived in one of the most miserable huts among the “Red Cottages",
stopped us and asked if one of us was called Paula.
“This is she,” said I, pointing to my cousin.
“Then you are the one that saved my cat,” she said. “How can I thank
you enough, Mademoiselle? For that cat is my one consolation. If you
would be kind enough to visit me sometime, I would be so pleased to see
Paula looked at her in surprise, and said, “I will ask Teresa if we
may come to see you.” Which permission Teresa readily gave.
“It's Louisa. I know her well. She has lived in that little hut for
fifteen years. True, she is a bit weak in her head but she would never
hurt a fly. Speak to her of the Lord Jesus, Paula! It will do her
On the following Thursday, therefore, we went to visit her. As we
left the house, Teresa handed us a jar of preserves, saying, “Give
Louisa this. Poor thing! Not many good things have come into her life.”
Louisa herself answered our knock, “Ah,” she said, “please excuse
the disorder. If I had known you were coming today I would have
straightened things a bit. Sit down here, on this box, Mesdemoiselles.
I am sorry that I have no chairs to offer you. Ah, here comes Cordero!”
she continued, and we could hardly recognize the beautiful black cat
that jumped purring into Paula's lap, as the same cadaverous animal
that was swinging around Joseph's head a few days before.
“It's my one friend,” said the poor old woman, sitting down on
“Do you believe that?” said Paula. “Can you not call us your
friends? And there's another friend who has sent you a present. Our
Teresa sent this for you.” She placed in the eager hands of the old
woman the preserves.
“Is it for me? How can I thank you? For years everybody has made fun
of me, for I never speak to anyone; preferring the company of animals
to that of people.”
Paula had such a sympathetic way of getting at people's hearts, that
instinctively she understood how lonely Louisa had been.
“By the way,” said Paula, “this is for your cat”—and she put two
cents on the table.
The old woman did not seem to understand.
“It's for him, you know,” said Paula, “you can buy some liver with
this. Surely Cordero likes liver!”
The pleasure in Louisa's eyes was almost childlike, as she addressed
her cat saying, “You must thank this good mademoiselle,” and Cordero
jumped down and rubbed against Paula in a most affectionate manner.
It was time to leave as the short day was ending and we had to be in
the house before dark.
“How can I thank you, mademoiselle?” said Louisa. “Do come to see me
soon again, even though I am a poor old woman who nobody loves.”
“Oh, Louisa,” exclaimed Paula, “there is One who loves you: don't
you know Him?”
Louisa shook her head sadly.
“No, nobody loves me. And to tell you the truth, I don't love anyone
“The Lord Jesus loves you, Louisa.”
“The Lord Jesus? Tell me about Him, mademoiselle; I have heard the
name—who is He?”
“The Lord Jesus is He who died on the cross, that you might go to
Heaven. He suffered much before He died. They despised Him. They beat
Him. They spat in His face. Even His own friends deserted Him and He
was so poor that He didn't have any place at night to lay His head.
Yet, He was God Himself. He died for our sins—and He rose from the
dead. He is now in Heaven, and He waits to receive you there, Louisa.
None of us deserve to go to Heaven, but He who was so perfect suffered
in our stead. He died for all of us sinners that we might be pardoned.
I wish I could explain it better, much better, but Jesus loves you,
Louisa. I know He loves you more than you could ever dream.”
Louisa's wrinkled face lighted with a smile; but she did not seem
able to believe or comprehend this good news, which came to her, oh, so
late in life.
“Oh, if it were only true,” she murmured, as she clasped her hands
together and her eyes filled with tears.
“But it is true, Louisa; don't you believe it? See here, He knows
very well you live here alone with your cat, and that you are so sad,
and that you have nobody else to care for you. He wishes to be your
Friend, and He will be if you will ask Him. Why not ask Him now,
“Oh, perhaps so, some day, mademoiselle.”
“Do it now, Louisa.”
“No, no; not now.”
“Oh, why not now, Louisa?”
“Because I don't understand very well, mademoiselle. How could God
love me, a poor, forlorn, useless old woman, who never loved Him, nor
served Him. You come back again. Perhaps I'll end up by understanding
better. And now, good-bye, mesdemoiselles. I have delayed you both too
We shook hands with her. Oh, what a cold hand it was! The touch of
it sent a shiver through me!
“Goodbye, Louisa,” said Paula, and suddenly kissing her, she gave
her a hearty embrace as well and added, “I am going to pray for you,
dear Louisa.” One could see that the poor old woman was greatly touched
as she said simply: “Thank you, mademoiselle, thank you.”
I had almost forgotten Louisa and her cat when a few days later a
neighbor came in with a worried look asking for Teresa. When she
appeared, the woman blurted out the news that Louisa was dying.
“Louisa dying? Nonsense, I saw her on the street yesterday.”
“Perhaps so, for she dragged herself around until the last minute.
But I knew she was ill, so I took her a cup of hot soup this morning. I
found her in bed with a terrible cough, and now she can scarcely
breathe. She keeps calling for Mademoiselle Paula.”
“Have you sent for the doctor?”
“No; she's afraid he'll send her to the hospital and they'll take
away her cat.”
Teresa shrugged her shoulders.
“I'll go at once, and I'll take Paula with me.”
Murmuring her thanks, the woman left. “Can't I go?” I said. “Oh,
Teresa, please let me go too.”
Teresa hesitated. “All right, come along!” she said at last.
Louisa's neighbor had not exaggerated her condition. The poor woman
was sitting up in her bed. Its thin covers could not protect her from
the cold, and a terrible cough racked her thin frame. When, at times,
the cough left her she would fall back on her pillow completely
exhausted. It needed all Teresa's efforts to restore her.
“My poor Louisa!” said Teresa tenderly.
“You were very good to come,” said the neighbor who was staying as
nurse. “And Mademoiselle Paula?”
“Here she is. Come here, Paula.”
And as Paula came near the bed, Louisa said with a weak voice. “Now
I understand the love of God, for when you kissed me and embraced me,
it was that kiss that made me understand that God loves even me. I will
soon be far from the living, but I shall die in the arms of the Lord
“Now, don't cry,” continued Louisa weakly, as she saw us all
weeping. “My misfortunes have been my own fault. I was selfish, I
wished to live alone without God and without hope. I have been
abandoned. I have known what it was to be cold and hungry for many
years; but the happiest time of my life has been these last three days.
They began with your visit, Mademoiselle Paula. That afternoon I
prayed, and I believe God had pity on me. I am sure of that.”
Here Paula broke in: “You had better not talk any more now, Louisa.
Your cough will come back—you are already too tired.”
“Perhaps so,” Louisa said, “but I must speak while I have strength
for it. Oh, Mademoiselle Paula, I did want to thank you before I die!”
“But Louisa dear,” said Paula in the midst of her tears, “I have
done nothing for you; I didn't even know you were ill.”
The poor sick one took Paula's soft hand between her thin ones, and
raised it to her lips, “You have been like God's angel to me.”
“No, no, Louisa, Louisa!”
“Yes, and you loved me, mademoiselle, and your love revealed to me
God's love! May He bless you richly!”
“Amen,” sighed Teresa.
Then again came that terrible cough which seemed to tear the poor
weak body in two.
“I can do no more,” she murmured, as soon as she was able to speak.
“Well,” said Teresa, “you will soon be with the Lord Jesus in
A contented sigh came from the bed as we caught the words, “Oh, what
“Is there nothing you would like us to do for you? No word to send
to some friend or relative?”
“I have no other friend but Cordero, the cat. What will become of
Teresa hated cats, and we never dared bring one into the home, but
now we saw a struggle going on within her, and finally she said, “Would
you be happy if we took him home with us?”
“Oh, indeed, yes,” said the poor dying woman, “but please don't take
him yet. Leave him with me until the end. He has been my only comfort
and the nights are so long.”
Louisa, however, did not remain alone any longer, for Teresa and
several kind neighbors took their turns night and day to care for the
poor invalid. Teresa brought from home pillows and blankets, and had a
good hot fire always going in the grate. Dr. Lebon was called
immediately, but it was too late; he could only make her last hours
more comfortable. A few days later she died in Teresa's arms. A
beautiful smile on the yellow wrinkled face gave it a happy expression
that had never been seen there before.
CHAPTER TWELVE. A TREASURE RESTORED
Our birthdays generally passed without celebration, either in the
form of presents or parties, principally because my father disliked
holiday festivities, as they seemed to bring back to him more bitterly
the loss of her who could no longer share their joy with him. On New
Year's Day, however, he always gave a little gift to each one of us. It
was our custom to write him in turn “A Happy New Year” letter.
Louis would always come from school to visit us during his New
Year's holidays, and we had quite a number of visitors who bored us
dreadfully. For me it was a time of good resolutions, and I would go to
Teresa and say invariably as I embraced her, “I wish you a very happy
New Year, Teresa. Will you please forgive me for all the trouble I have
caused you this past year? And this new year, I am going to be very
good.” Unfortunately Teresa never saw any change.
As Christmas-time drew near, Paula questioned me as to how we
celebrated that day.
“We don't celebrate it,” I said.
“Oh, Lisita, is that true? You do nothing special on that day?”
questioned my poor cousin surprised.
“No, Christmas with us is not nearly so important as the New Year.
Oh, yes; I generally have to put on my Sunday dress, and then I can't
play, for Teresa is afraid I'll soil it.”
“Oh,” said Paula whose great eyes seemed to contemplate an invisible
splendor. “In my country we always had a Christmas-tree, and celebrated
the birth of the Lord Jesus.”
“Tell me about it,” I said, “I have heard about these Christmas
celebrations, but have never seen any.”
“Well,” said Paula, “sit down here, close to the fire, and I'll tell
you what we did last year. Four of our men went to the mountains and
cut down a beautiful pine tree. They had to go up to their waists in
snow, and what a job it was to bring it all the way down to Villar. But
they were all very strong. My father was one of them. They dragged the
tree into the church because there wouldn't have been room for
everybody in the little school-house. We all helped to decorate it with
gold and silver nuts, and we hung apples and oranges everywhere on its
branches. But the beautiful part were the candles. There were hundreds
of them in blue, green, red, white and yellow. If you could only have
seen how beautiful it was, Lisita, when the candles were lit,
especially when they crowned the top of the tree with a lovely white
angel. We sang the wonderful Christmas hymns. Then the pastor gave us a
fine talk about the Saviour. At the close, each of us children was
given an apple, an orange, a little bag of sweets, and a beautiful
“Oh,” said I, “how happy I should be if father would let us go to
see it all. It must be a beautiful country!”
“It is the most beautiful in the world,” Paula assured me, her eyes
“We too shall go and live there when we grow up; shall we not,
“Yes, indeed, Lisita.”
“You know, Paula, father always gives us a New Year's present,” as I
saw tears come into Paula's eyes as she thought of her old home. “What
would you like to have if you could choose?”
“There's just one thing I want,” said Paula, “and that's my little
“But that wouldn't be a present,” I said.
“No, but it would give me more pleasure than any present,” sighed
* * * * *
New Year's Day dawned with splendid weather. It had snowed during
the night and the whole countryside was dressed in white. The sparrows
flew back and forth under our windows, seemingly remembering our custom
to scatter crumbs for them on such an occasion. Of course, we soon
satisfied their hunger.
In the dining-room a huge fire burned, and Teresa with Rosa's help
prepared the New Year's breakfast. Paula helped Catalina to dress, for
Catalina, contrary to her custom, decided to breakfast with us,
although against Teresa's advice, for she feared such early rising
would tire her too much for the rest of the day.
“Yes, but I wish to be on hand when father distributes his New Year
gifts,” our invalid said. So Teresa had to yield.
Our father was late in coming so Paula ran to tell him that
breakfast was ready, and soon back she came with her hand in his, with
that affecting grace that was so habitual to her.
When he had received our “Happy New Years” father asked us if we
wanted the presents before or after breakfast.
“Before! Before!” we all cried.
“Very well,” he said, “I have tried to satisfy everybody's taste, so
I trust everybody will be contented. Here, Paula, this little package
is for you. Catalina assured me that this would give you more pleasure
than anything else.”
Paula took the package and turned it over and over.
“It is a book,” she said in a voice that was none too steady.
“Do you think so?” said Catalina with a smile. “In that case hurry
up, and show us.”
“Hurry up,” cried Louis, handing her his jack-knife. “Cut the string
and open the package. We want to see what it is.”
She obeyed, a bit confused to see all eyes fixed upon her. Inside
she found a little black book with a much-used cover.
She raised her eyes in gratitude to father and tried to thank him,
but could not find a word to say. Eagerly her fingers turned the
precious pages. Suddenly out fell a five-franc-piece.
“There, there,” said my father, as she tried to express her thanks,
“I am more than satisfied, if I have made you happy.”
“Happy!” said Paula, “I am more than happy!” She took her beloved
Book, and as she turned its pages she found still other treasures—a
few faded flowers which to my mind appeared to have no value
whatsoever, and yet I could see that they seemed to call up once more
the precious memories of her past life in that far-off Waldensian
“Dear uncle,” said Paula, “Did you read the Book?”
“Yes, I read part of it, but if I have returned it to you today, it
is not because I have finished reading it, nor is it because Catalina
has begged me to return it to you. It is because you have obliged me to
read another book.”
“I, uncle? What book can that be?”
“Yes, it may seem strange to you, but you see, you have lived among
us in such a way that I am to confess that I wish that my three
daughters would imitate your manner of living. You have made me
comprehend the love that your Bible speaks of, and of which Christ gave
us an example, and which He apparently has put into your life, and so I
give back your Bible to you with all my heart.”
One can imagine our feelings as we listened to this strange
discourse from the lips of him who only a short time before had been so
opposed to such things!
“And then, Paula, I have something more to say,” said my father. “Do
you remember the day when I hit you on the head with your Bible as I
took it away from you? I wish to say that I am sorry beyond expression
for what I did that day;—and now have you pardoned me, little
For reply Paula took my father's hands in hers, then in a flood of
generosity and forgetfulness of self she gave her Bible back to him,
simply saying, “I give it back to you, dearest uncle!”
“You give it back to me!” said my father, stupefied, “You give me
back the Bible you loved so much!” “Yes,” answered Paula, “because
Teresa has promised to give me another.”
“But do you mean to tell me that you would care for a new Bible as
much as this one?”
“Oh, no,” she said, “Father gave me that one, and it's full of his
markings, and it was in that Bible that I learned to love the Lord
“Well, it's because it is the most precious thing that I have in all
the world that I give it to you. Because you see I love you so, and I
would wish ... Oh, how I do wish that you could learn to know Him too.”
“My poor dear child,” said my father, “I cannot accept your
sacrifice, but I shall always remember your thought of me; and in the
meantime, if you like, we can go and buy another Bible like yours that
I, too, may read it. How will that do?” At this Paula clapped her hands
in delight, as she said, “Indeed, that will be wonderful!”
CHAPTER THIRTEEN. THE SCHOOL-TEACHER
AND HER BROTHER
“Lisita,” said Paula to me one day on returning from school, “Mlle.
Virtud was not in class this morning.”
“That's all the same to me,” I said with indifference, “except that
if I had known that, I would have gone to school anyway in spite of my
“Do they still hurt you so badly,” Paula asked.
“Yes, quite a bit; but not so badly as yesterday, and it bores me
terribly to stay at home alone. You see, Teresa makes me clean the
spinach, and Catalina gives me a basketful of stockings to darn, and I
think I'd rather go to school, especially if there is anything the
matter with the teacher, even though my feet hurt worse than a
toothache. Do you ever have chilblains?”
“No, I don't think I ever had them.”
“Well,” I said, “I always seem to be the one that gets
something—something that's bad and horrible.”
“I think that Mlle. Virtud is sick,” continued Paula.
“You're always thinking of that woman. I tell you, it doesn't make
any difference to me what happens to her,” I said impatiently.
“Oh, Lisita, aren't you ashamed to say such a thing?”
“No,” I said, “How do you expect me to like her? No matter what I do
in the class she punishes me for the slightest thing; and not only do I
suffer in class, but I get twenty-five lines to copy after school, so
that I have no time to play with the rest of them. How I do detest that
“Of whom were you speaking?” asked Teresa, who appeared at that
“Of the school-teacher, Mlle. Virtud.”
“I have a good mind to box your ears,” cried Teresa indignantly.
“You detest such a fine young lady who works in your behalf.”
“Oh, Teresa, don't be angry,” I said. “You have no idea how she
makes me suffer. When you were little you never went to school, so you
do not understand. Now, listen—instead of keeping the bad children
after school, she sends us all home with twenty to fifty lines to copy,
while she goes calmly back to her house. The other teachers keep the
bad ones there for ten minutes or so, and that's all there is to it,
which is a whole lot more agreeable.”
“Mlle. Virtud is absolutely right, for she makes the punishment fit
“No, it isn't that,” I answered in a rage; “It's because she doesn't
want to stay in school like the other teachers, the selfish thing! Here
I am right now with lines which were given last Monday, and I'm not
going to do them. She can say what she pleases!”
Paula, whose tender heart would have loved to have been on my side
and also on that of Mlle. Virtud at the same time, suggested that
perhaps she had someone who was ill in the house.
“She,” I cried, “Mile. Virtud! Who do you think would ever have such
a disagreeable thing in the house with them! Besides, she has told us
that her family live far away in the country.”
“I don't know,” said Paula; “but do you remember the day when we saw
her carrying flowers back home with her. I dare say it was for
“Perhaps,” I answered indifferently.
That afternoon Teresa permitted me to go to school, and there I
found the teacher of the Third Year in charge of our class. She was a
beautiful woman with lovely golden hair and blue eyes, and
pink-and-white cheeks that reminded one of a wax doll. “Ah,” said I to
myself, “how I wish I was in the Third Year to have such a beautiful
teacher always in front of me!” She read to us and told us stories
almost all the afternoon, and never punished anybody, and on coming out
of school her two little brothers ran to embrace her affectionately.
“Hurry up, dear sister,” said one of them, “Mama is waiting for us on
“My! How beautiful she is,” I murmured to myself. “How I do love
her! Mlle. Virtud would never be so gentle with her little brothers, if
she ever had any.” Then suddenly I stopped, for it seemed to me that I
heard Paula saying to me sadly, “Are you not ashamed of yourself,
Lisita?” And I looked up to see Paula exchanging a few words with a
poorly-dressed child just before she joined me. “Lisita, it is true,”
Paula said, “Mademoiselle Virtud is quite ill; she tried to get up this
morning and wasn't able to raise her head. Victoria, the little girl
who was speaking to me just now, knows her very well; in fact, she
lives in the same courtyard.”
“Who is taking care of her?” I said.
“No one, as far as I can find out. Do you think Teresa would let us
go to see her?”
“No, I am sure she wouldn't, and for one thing, I'd never go. I
haven't done my fifty lines.”
“Oh, but see; I'll help you do your fifty lines right now.”
“Oh, but that wouldn't be square.”
Paula laughed, “You generally haven't such a delicate conscience.
You know very well that half of the time Rosa does your lines for you.”
“Oh, Paula, I swear to you—”
“No, don't do anything of the kind. It's useless, for I've seen it
myself, and I'm sure teacher would say nothing if I were to help you in
order that we should both be able to see her. I'm sure she would be so
delighted, Lisita. When my father was so ill, all his pupils came to
see him, and he was so happy.”
“Your father wasn't like Mlle. Virtud though. Never! Never! I'll
never go to see her.”
“The Lord Jesus said that when we go to see the sick it is as if we
visited Him. Wouldn't you care to go for love of Him, Lisita?”
“Well, we'll talk about that tomorrow,” I answered, not daring to
refuse on such grounds, and not caring to promise anything either.
Teresa gave her permission, and promised herself to visit the sick
one at the very first opportunity. Paula wrote exactly half of my fifty
lines, and in order to do so she sacrificed her playtime that afternoon
because she wrote so slowly. I performed my twenty-five without further
murmuring, and, exacting a promise from Paula that she would go in
first, I decided to accompany my cousin on her visit to the teacher.
“Take this,” Teresa said to us at the last moment. “It's just a
little chocolate for the sick one, for there is nothing better to
fortify her strength.”
“Oh, many thanks,” said Paula. “You think of everything. By the way
I've got four cents; what do you think we could buy with them?” Teresa
reflected a minute. “Get some oranges, and see that they are good and
ripe. Don't stay late, for the days are getting short, and it gets
terribly cold when the sun goes down.”
Paula herself suddenly became very timid as we entered the Rue
Blanche and asked a young girl where Mlle. Virtud lived.
“Ah, you are looking for Mademoiselle,” said a childish voice.
“It's you, Victoria,” Paula cried, “I'm so glad to find you here.
Yes, we are looking for Mlle. Virtud.”
“Come along, then,” said Victoria as she blew on her hands that were
purple with the cold, “I'll take you to her door.” She took us up four
flights of stairs when at last we came to Mlle Virtud's apartment.
“Here you are,” said our little guide, and downstairs she went. I
started to follow her on down. “Oh, Lisita,” cried Paula; “remember
“Well, why don't you knock?” I said, rather wickedly, as I saw that
Paula was having trouble to muster up her courage.
“I don't know what's the matter with me; I can't seem to do it.”
In a sudden spirit of mischief I suddenly ran to the door and gave
it three tremendous knocks, and then ran into the far comer of the
“Oh, Lisita, how could you,” cried poor dismayed Paula.
Pretty soon we heard someone coming slowly to the door, but as if he
were dragging something behind him with each step, and then the door
opened noiselessly, and there stood a forlorn twisted little figure, a
lad of about ten years. As we looked at his face with its halo of
golden hair we forgot all about his deformities.
“Have you come to see my sister?” he said.
“Yes,” said Paula, “that is, we have come to see Mademoiselle
“She is very, very sick,” he said, and we saw that it was with
difficulty that he restrained his tears. As he opened the door a bit
wider to let us in, we saw that a black shawl had been placed over the
only window in the room, so that it was extremely difficult after the
door was closed for our unaccustomed eyes to see anything in the room.
“Elena,” called the boy softly; “here are some visitors to see you.”
“For me?” said a voice from the darkness—a voice which we
recognized at once.
“Well, then, Gabriel, please take the shawl from the window; they
will find it too dark here.”
“But Elena, the light will make your head ache.”
“No, no, dear; it's alright now I've slept a bit, and I feel
Presently the shawl came down from the window, allowing us to see
the form of poor Mlle. Virtud on the bed.
“Oh,” she said, “so it's you! It's very kind of you, dear children,
to come and see me!”
We stood near the door transfixed as we looked on the face of our
poor sick teacher and we saw what a terrible change a few days had
made. The little boy came and stood near his elder sister with a mixed
air of concern and deep affection.
“And how is everybody at the school?” asked the invalid. And Paula
told her a bit about the small happenings in the class.
“And so Mademoiselle Virginia has taken the class. I am sure you
must love her very much.”
“Not as much as we do you, dear teacher,” said Paula.
“Oh, Paula, you just say that to make me feel good; do you not?” and
poor Mlle. Virtud looked from one to the other of us a bit sadly I
At this, Paula came over to the bed and placed her warm hand on the
thin cheek of the sick one, as she said, “No, Mademoiselle; it is
because it is true, that I said it You are our dear teacher, and we
know that you have sacrificed so much and worked so hard to give us
knowledge, and so that is why we love you.”
“I did my fifty lines!” I burst out, “that is to say, Paula did
twenty-five, and I did the rest.”
“What's that you say?” and a smile of amusement passed over the thin
features of the teacher, and yet a certain tender look came into her
eyes as she said, “You poor little thing! I'd forgotten all about it!”
“Gabriel,” she said, turning to the boy who had been examining us
minutely, “these are the young ladies who have been sending you such
beautiful flowers. You see, he loves flowers so!” explained
Mademoiselle. “Poor child, he cannot walk, and so he has to stay here
in this stuffy room all day long. Before I was ill, I was able to take
him out in his little carriage, and sometimes we would go as far as the
open fields where he could see all the flowers he wanted to, to his
heart's desire, but now that I'm confined to my bed with this
heart-attack, those little excursions have become impossible.”
“Are you very sick, Mademoiselle?” Paula asked.
“Oh, I feel very much better today. I have suffered greatly. I must
get better quickly. Madame Boudre, the principal, wrote me yesterday
that she hoped I would be back very soon in my place in the class.
Madame Boudre doesn't care to have sick people,” and our teacher looked
toward the window with its little white curtains and sighed deeply.
Gabriel came near the bed, “Don't worry about that, sister; when I get
big I will work for you and become rich, and then you won't need to go
to school at all.”
How many things I was discovering, I who thought that the life of
the school-teacher was a bed of roses.
“No, never any more,” continued the little boy, “I know why you're
sick. It's because the school-children trouble you, and as you told me
it gave you so much pain to punish them, but when I get big you shall
see, as I said before.”
Mlle. Virtud looked at the little face with its great earnest eyes.
“I'm afraid you will have to wait a long, long time,” she said
tenderly, “I don't think I ever told you young ladies that I had a
little brother at home. He is the youngest of our family, and I am the
“How is it that Gabriel is not at home with his parents?” questioned
“Because, you see, he needed certain special treatment which my
parents could not give him in the small village where we live; but here
in Rouen there are fine doctors and big hospitals. Of course, I doubt
if he can be restored completely, but we are doing all we can. That is
my one consolation. I didn't expect that he would be with me so long a
time. The first time Gabriel came to Rouen, he went into the big
hospital 'Hotel-de-Dieu' but, after staying there for many
months, his hip seemed to be no better, and they could not keep him any
longer and then he stayed with me here so that I could take him to the
doctor once in a while.”
“You'll tire yourself, Mademoiselle, talking to us,” broke in Paula,
who had learned this much, taking care of Catalina.
“Do you think so,” said Mademoiselle, “I know I'm not very well yet,
but it isn't very often that I have the pleasure of a visit from my
pupils, and so I'm profiting by it. You see, I took Gabriel home once,
but when I started to return, the poor boy begged so hard to come back
with me that finally my parents agreed; so he's been with me now for
several years. We are very happy, are we not, Gabriel? You see, when
I'm in school he's able to tidy up the house and wash the dishes. What
would I do without my little Gabriel?” she said, as she playfully
pulled the little boy's hair.
“And I,” said Gabriel, “What would I do without you? In fact, what
would everybody do around this whole court without you? Wasn't it you
“There, that will do,” said Mlle. Virtud. “You mustn't tell all the
family secrets. We are here in this world to help others; are we not,
“Yes, Mademoiselle,” I answered, and I was filled with fear that
there might be another sermon coming. However, Mlle. Virtud began to
tell us of the rest of the family and of the little village to which
they returned at vacation time; and one could see that her heart was
there with her loved ones. During the next few minutes there was quite
a silence, and I began to shiver with cold, and we noticed that there
was no fire in the grate.
“How pale you are,” said Mademoiselle; “Are you cold?”
“Yes, a little, Mademoiselle,” I said, quite ashamed for my
discomfort to be discovered.
“Poor little girl,” she said. Taking my two hands in her two hot
ones that were burning with fever, “You had better not stay here any
longer as you are not accustomed to the cold. Our neighbor made a
little fire in the grate this morning to cook the breakfast with, but
it's gone out.”
Was it this little touch of tenderness on the part of Mademoiselle,
or remorse for all the wicked feelings I had so long held against my
teacher? Anyway, a flood of tears came as I kneeled beside the bed and
hid my face on the white cover. “Oh, Mademoiselle ... forgive me,” I
murmured between by sobs.
All my pride had broken and I saw myself for what I was, guilty,
unjust and cruel toward this young woman whom I had accused of living
solely for herself. I felt a hand passing slowly over my head.
“I forgive you with all my heart, poor child,” and the invalid's
voice was both sincere and kindly, and I rose and embraced her with a
repentant heart, and with a hearty kiss I buried our old war then and
there, and in that cold room I felt the warmth of the beginning of a
new life for me although at that time I could not have analyzed it.
Suddenly we heard a knock on the door.
“Ah, that will be Madame Bertin,” said Gabriel, as he hitched
himself to the door and opened it, revealing a gray-haired woman who
came in on tiptoe.
“Ah, you have visitors, Mademoiselle,” as she stopped a moment near
“Only two of my pupils who have come to see me. Come in, come in,
it's all right,” insisted our teacher.
“Ah,” said the new arrival with great interest, “so you are my
Victoria's schoolmates. How proud you ought to be to have such a
wonderful teacher!” Here she advanced to the bed. “Well, I declare,”
she said, “you have no more drinking water!” She shook a flask near the
bedside, saying, “I will go and fill it and bring back a little
something to make a fire with so as to get your tea ready. I'm sure
Gabriel must be hungry by this time,” and without waiting for a reply
the good woman went rapidly down the four flights of stairs. Paula then
gave Mademoiselle the small package Teresa had sent, as well as the
little bag of oranges.
“See, Gabriel!” said Mademoiselle as she opened the packages with
delight, “Oranges!—and chocolate! What a treat! You are very good to
remember me in such a lovely way. Please thank your Teresa too.”
“She said she was coming to see you,” said Paula.
At this the poor young woman looked disturbed. “I'm afraid she'll
find things in a very bad state here,” and she colored slightly.
But as we started to go away Paula assured her that Teresa wouldn't
mind a bit.
“Just a moment,” said the invalid; “Would you mind reading me a
chapter out of this book? I have not been able to read it today, as my
head ached too badly. It's a book that I love very much.”
“The Bible!” cried Paula, “Oh, I didn't know that you read it too.”
The young lady shook her head sadly, “I used to read it when I was a
child, Paula. It was and is the beloved Book of my mother, but for
many, many years I never opened it. When your uncle came to inscribe
you as a pupil, he told me how much you loved your father's Bible, and
that started me thinking of my own, hidden in the bottom of my trunk,
and so I began to read many chapters that I remember having read with
my mother, and now I believe that Gabriel would never tire if I read it
to him all day.”
“Tell her to read the story of Jesus healing the sick people,” came
the eager voice of Gabriel.
Mademoiselle smiled, “Gabriel is right. When people are sick they
love to hear of the greatest doctor of all. Read about the ten lepers,
At this point the old lady returned, and she too stood and listened
as Paula began to read the wonderful story.
“And as Jesus came to Jerusalem, He went through Galilee, and
entering into a village, behold, ten lepers stood afar off, and cried,
Jesus, Master, have mercy on us, and He said to them, Go show
yourselves to the priest. And as they went their way, they were healed,
and one of them seeing that he was healed, returned and glorified God
in a loud voice, and cast himself at the feet of Jesus, giving thanks
to Him, and behold, he was a Samaritan. Then said Jesus, Were there not
ten healed? Where are the nine? Only this foreigner has returned to
give glory to God. And He said to him, Rise, therefore; thy faith hath
made thee whole” (Luke 17:11-19). Here Paula stopped, not knowing
whether to go on to the end of the chapter.
Mlle. Virtud then dosed her eyes, but one could see she was not
sleeping. Paula waited in silence, and so did the old lady as she stood
there with her rough, toil-worn hands clasped beneath her apron.
“Read some more,” said Gabriel, “No,” said Mlle. Virtud. “It's time
the children returned, for they must reach home before dark.” She drew
us to her, giving us both a long embrace. “May God bless you both, by
dear young friends! Come back soon to see me.” Then Victoria's mother
embraced us also, saying at the same time, “I have a poor blind
daughter. I would be very grateful if you would stop in to see her the
next time and read her the same story you have just read to
“I don't know how to read,” she continued; “I have such a poor
stupid head, and Victoria doesn't seem to have learned to read very
well. She can show you where we live—and now, goodbye until the next
On our return Teresa prepared supper. She was more hurried than
usual because she had to get the week's wash ready for the next day;
but she listened with great interest, nevertheless, to the story of our
afternoon's visit. “I'm going to see her tomorrow, poor child,” she
That night Teresa came to tuck us in and kiss us goodnight which was
her habit, as she said, to try to take partly the place of our poor
dear mother. I whispered in her ear, “Teresa, I've come to love
“Good! good!” exclaimed the old servant; “that's something new
indeed! And why has the wind so suddenly changed in her direction?”
“It's because I know her now!” I said.
Teresa seated herself on my bed, and in spite of the cold she talked
to me a long time, telling me that my heart's coldness and my
selfishness had caused her much grief. I could see how happy I had made
her to have confessed my faults and thus show the beginning of a great
change. She told me how my mother died with a prayer on her lips for
me. Then die spoke of Paula who thought of nothing except making other
people happy. “Wouldn't you like to be like Paula?” Teresa questioned
me. “Of course, dear Teresa,” I said, “but that's impossible, I'm too
bad for that.”
“Who it is, Lisita, that makes Paula so good?” and Teresa's voice
took on a new and most tender note.
“It's the Lord Jesus!” I answered in a low whisper.
“That's well answered, Lisita! And the same Lord Jesus would do the
like for you. Let me ask you something. Do you not find me
changed—since— since—I began to pray to Him?”
“In what way have you noticed the change?”
“Well, for one thing—wash-day doesn't make you irritable, as it
used to do,” I said.
“That's something, now isn't it? Oh, when one has the peace of God
in the heart, anger doesn't have a chance to get inside as it used to
I looked at her furtively. By the lamplight I could see in those
dark blue eyes such a new, such a tender, confident look, that in spite
of the wrinkled cheeks and her white hair I saw a startling likeness to
Paula herself. I couldn't explain it at the time, but later I
understood—Teresa and Paula were just part of the family of God and it
was His likeness of Jesus, His dear Son, I had seen in both of them.
CHAPTER ONE. SOME YEARS LATER
The years passed swiftly without bringing any great changes in our
quiet life. Our grandparents had aged a bit, and Teresa was not quite
as active as formerly, while a few wrinkles had gathered on our
father's forehead; but all this had come so slowly that the change was
Rosa, who was now eighteen years old, was studying in the city. She
was still the same—studious, faithful and sincere in all that she did.
Her quiet reserved manner caused some people to call her proud, but
those who knew her better loved her, and knew she could be depended on
in time of trouble.
Catalina still suffered somewhat, but now was able to walk around a
bit without crutches, and in spite of her delicate health and poor
twisted body she had come bravely to take her true place among us as
our “big sister,” so loving and solicitous for everybody's welfare that
she came to be known in the neighborhood as “The little mother.”
Paula was now fourteen years of age. In the house, at school, in the
village, everywhere, everybody loved her, and I can say with all
honesty that never a shadow of envy ever disturbed the tender
friendship which had united us to her from the beginning. One could not
possibly be jealous of Paula. All that she possessed was ours. Our joys
were hers. Our sorrows were her sorrows. She had grown in body and
mind, and yet had kept the same characteristics. Always bright and
happy and full of fun, she had the same simple, humble ways as when at
ten years of age she had come among us. Her special summer delight was
to run through the fields, always returning to the house with a big
bunch of wild flowers for Catalina. In one thing only she always seemed
to fail. Teresa had a fearful task in teaching her to sew and to knit.
“What are you going to do in the future if you don't know how to do
“I'm sure I don't know,” Paula would say sadly, and would take up
the work once more with such sweet resignation that Teresa, moved with
compassion, would take the work from her hands saying—“There! There!
Run outdoors now for a bit of fresh air.”
Then away Paula would go into the garden or under the trees that
lined the village street. Soon she was back with such a happy smile
that Teresa forgave her completely.
Once however Teresa lost all patience with her, exclaiming, as she
saw the strange ragged ends she had left in her sewing, “Drop that
work, and go where you please; but remember this, never will you be
called a 'Dorcas.' Never will you be able to sew and provide garments
for the poor. It's not enough to tell them you love them, you must show
it by your works—and the best way to do that would be to learn to be
useful to them.”
Paula sat back stiff and straight in consternation. “Oh, Teresa, I
never, never thought of that!” she said in a tone of greatest remorse,
“Oh, please let me go on! I will try to do better!”
But Teresa had taken away the work, and was not inclined to be
easily persuaded. “No, not now! Another time perhaps you may show what
you can do.”
Paula therefore had to submit; but that was the last time that
Teresa had any reason to complain. That afternoon Paula had gone
straight to her room, and I followed soon after to comfort her, but I
found her kneeling by her bedside pouring out her heart in true
repentance to Him who was ever her unseen Companion. I closed the door
gently behind me and stole away.
Later Paula said to me, “Oh, Lisita, I'm surely bad indeed. One
thing I've certainly hated to do, and that is to sit down and learn to
sew, especially in fine weather like this. I seem to hear a thousand
voices that call me out-of-doors. I never could see any earthly reason
why I should have to learn how to sew, and so I never even tried to
please Teresa in that way. But now she tells me that if I go on like
this I shall never be able to sew for the poor. I never thought of
that! I wonder what the Lord Jesus must think of me. He gave His life
for me, and here I am not willing to learn something that would help me
to put clothes on poor folks! Oh, I must! I must learn to sew, no
matter what it costs.”
That was it—to do something for others, that was the principal
thing in all her thoughts.
In school Paula never did win prizes—nor did I. Both of us were
generally about on an equal level at the bottom of our class.
About a year after our first visit to Mademoiselle Virtud's house,
Madame Boudre had moved us up to the Third Grade. Teresa made a
magnificent apple-cake as a sign of her pleasure. My father also showed
his great satisfaction, and in fact everybody rejoiced to see that at
last we were both making progress. In spite of all, however, there was
one great heavy weight on my heart, and I cried myself to sleep that
night I think Mlle. Virtud also felt badly that we were leaving her,
but she made us promise to come and visit her. “You are no longer my
pupils,” she said, “but you are still, and will be always, my dear
Gabriel was so glad to see us that it was always a joy to go and
play with him on our Thursday half-holidays. Paula always told him
Bible stories, for that seemed to be his chief pleasure, and I taught
him to read. Victoria's mother used to bring her work over to Mlle.
Virtud's room and heard the stories with great delight.
“If I had been able to leave my Victoria in school she would have
become as wise and learned as you, Mesdemoiselles,” she would say a bit
sadly at times. “But there, I can't complain; what would we have done
without the money she earns at the factory?”
One afternoon we said good-bye to Gabriel and mounted the stairs to
visit the blind girl. Left alone for most of the day, she passed the
long hours knitting. She was about the same age as our Catalina, but
she appeared to be much older. The first time we had visited her, she
had hardly raised her head from her work, and showed but little
interest in the stories that her mother had asked us to read to her. It
was not so much indifference as an apparent incapacity to comprehend
the meaning of what she heard. But on this particular afternoon Paula
started singing a hymn. The poor girl suddenly dropped her work in her
lap, and listened with rapt attention. When Paula had finished she
exclaimed “Oh, mamma! mamma! Tell her to please sing again.”
Mme. Bertin could not suppress a cry of delight as she said, “Dear
Mademoiselle Paula, please sing another song! Never have I seen my
Marguerite so happy.” And so Paula sang hymn after hymn. As Paula at
last stopped singing, for the time had come to go home, poor Marguerite
stretched out her arms as if groping for something.
“Please do not be offended, Mademoiselle Paula,” implored Madame
Bertin; “she wants you to come nearer that she may feel your face. The
blind have no other eyes.” Paula kneeled at Marguerite's side and the
blind girl passed her hands gently over the upturned face, pausing an
instant at the broad forehead, then on over the beautiful arched brows
and long eyelashes and the delicately-fashioned nose and lips, that
smiled softly as she touched them.
“You have not seen her hair,” said the mother, as she guided the
girl's hands upward and over the waves of light brown hair that seemed
like an aurora fit for such a face, and then finally down the long
braids that extended below Paula's waist Then with one of those sudden
movements characteristic of the blind, she carried the shining braids
to her lips and kissed them as in an ecstasy. Then, just as suddenly,
in confusion she dropped them and buried her own face in her hands.
At this Paula sprang to her feet and put her arms about the poor
girl, and murmured in her ear, “We do love you so, Marguerite!”
After that visit, little by little Marguerite began to love to hear
us speak of the Saviour. Her indifference and sadness disappeared,
giving place to a quiet peace and joy that was contagious for all who
came in contact with her. Mme. Bertin no longer called her “My poor
daughter,” only “My Marguerite.” For the next two years she became our
constant delight. Teresa at times gave us clothes but slightly worn to
take to her, which gave us almost as much joy as we carried them to
Marguerite as she herself felt on receiving them.
One day Gabriel came running to tell us that Marguerite was quite
ill, and we lost no time in going to see her. With painful feelings of
presentiment we mounted the steep stairs to her room.
As we entered, Madame Bertin came toward us with her apron to her
eyes and Mile. Virtud made signs for us to come over to the bed, as she
slightly raised the sick girl's head.
“Dearest Marguerite,” said our teacher; “Here are Paula and Lisita.”
“May God bless them both,” and Marguerite spread out her ams toward
us, adding, “Oh, Paula, please sing again, 'There's no night there!'“
And Paula sang once more the old hymn.
“In the land of fadeless day
Lies the city foursquare;
It shall never pass away,
And there is no night there.
“God shall wipe away all tears;
There's no death, no pain, nor fears;
And they count not time by years,
For there is no night there.
“Oh, how beautiful!” And it seemed as if the poor blind girl were
straining those sightless orbs for a glimpse of the Beautiful City.
“Don't cry, mother,” she said as she caught a low sob from the other
end of the room. “I am so happy now to go to be with Jesus in His
City.” The poor mother put her face close to her daughter's lips so
that she might not lose a word.
“One regret only I have, Mamma,” Marguerite said; “and that is, that
I have never seen your face. Oh, that I might have seen it just once.”
“In Heaven,” interrupted our teacher, “your eyes will be open
“Oh, yes,” said the dying girl. “There perhaps I will see Mamma and
Victoria. Will you please give Victoria a kiss for me when she comes
home from the factory tonight Tell her I'm so grateful; she has worked
so hard for us!” Then suddenly—“Paula!” she called—“Paula!”
“Here I am, Marguerite,” and Paula came closer, taking her hand.
“Ah, you are here. Thanks, dear Paula,” she gasped. “Many thanks for
telling me about Jesus and His love for me. Sing—”
The sentence was never finished, but Paula's sweet voice rose, as
once again she sang the sublime words:
“There is no night there.”
“Is she dead?” I said, as we looked down on the still white face.
“Her eyes are open now,” said Mlle. Virtud tenderly, “in the City
where there is no night!”
CHAPTER TWO. THE BRETON
It was a snowy, blustery day. It is always a source of pleasure to
see the drifts beginning to bank against the houses across the street
On this afternoon the bushes and roofs were already crowned in white,
and all the trees were festooned as if for a holiday. The smaller
objects in the garden had disappeared under this grand upholstery of
nature, and the rattle of the carts and other ordinary sounds of the
village were muffled in the mantle of snow. To be sure Paula dampened
my pleasure a bit by reminding me that there were many people who were
in great suffering on account of the storm, without proper food, warm
clothing, or fire in their houses.
It had been a hard winter. Many of the factories in town had had to
discharge their workers on account of lack of orders. Happily, Teresa
with Catalina's help had done all she could to aid the poor folks in
our neighborhood. Paula had sewed incessantly. Her stitches were pretty
uneven and the thread frequently knotted in her nervous hands, but
Teresa said that the mistakes she made were more than made up by the
love that she put into her work.
I read to Paula while she sewed, and we were certainly happy when at
last the mountain of old clothes which had been gathered for the poor
had been made over and finally distributed to the needy ones.
I remember especially one poor woman to whom Teresa had sent us with
a package of clothes, who received us with tears of gratitude.
And now, as I sat looking out at the gathering drifts, I heard
Catalina remark in a relieved tone, “At last that's finished!”
“What's finished?” I asked. “My old dress,” she said. “Who would
have thought I could do a job like this! But there it is turned and
darned and lengthened. Happily, I don't believe that poor Celestina
Dubois will be very difficult to please”—and Catalina pulled a comical
As one looked at that peaceful, beautiful face it was hard to
realize that it could belong to the poor, miserable, complaining
invalid of a short time before!
“What a shame that it's still snowing so hard,” she said, “I would
have liked to have sent it over to Celestina today. Teresa says the
poor woman needs it badly. But I suppose we'll have to wait till
“That won't be at all necessary,” said Paula, “We're not afraid of a
little snow; are we, Lisita? If you only knew how I love to go out into
a snowstorm like this!”
“You must be like the mountain goats of your own country,” said
Catalina with a laugh. “To think of getting any pleasure in going out
in a snowstorm!”
“Oh, no!” said Paula. “The goats don't like the cold.”
“Well, I declare!” said Catalina, “I wouldn't have believed that!
Well, run and ask permission of Teresa.”
And Teresa dressed us up as if we were going on a voyage to the
North Pole and gave us a thousand instructions. “Above all things don't
'dilly-dally' on the way,” she said. “The Breton was released from jail
today, and you may depend on it he will not be in a very good humor.
What a shame that Celestina should have such a terrible neighbor. You
can never tell what a man like that may do. If my rheumatism would only
let me, I would gladly go with you.”
“What on earth would we do if we happened to meet the Breton?” I
questioned Paula, and terror began to grip my heart as we drew near the
“Don't you be afraid, Lisita,” said Paula, taking my trembling hand
Celestina received us with exclamations of surprise and delight.
Overcome with emotion, she said, “To think of your coming to see me
through all this terrible storm! I never would have expected you on
such a day!”
We noticed a shade of sadness in her tone, and Paula questioned her
as to the reason.
The old lady shook her head. “No, there's nothing particular,” she
said; “the Lord seems to heap good things upon me; but at times on
nearing the end of the journey the pilgrim gets a bit tired and longs
for the blessed final rest.” Then she paused and turned to us once more
with a smile. “And you, young people, how goes the journey with you?”
“I too find,” said Paula gravely, “that at times the way is
difficult, but as we put our hand in that of the Lord Jesus, He helps
and strengthens us.”
The old lady's eyes were full of amusement as she answered, “My, oh,
me! You talk as wisely as an old traveler who is about to finish his
long journey instead of being still at the bottom of the hill. And your
uncle! Has he begun to go with you yet?” “My uncle,” and Paula
hesitated, “at least he permits us to serve the Lord.”
“But he doesn't let you attend church yet?”
“No, but I think he will some day.”
“Courage, Paula,” said the old woman, “the Lord Jesus has said, 'Be
thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life!' How
happy I shall be when your uncle permits you to attend with us. I know
the Lord has saved you and given you eternal life, and He will do
exceeding abundantly above all you can ask or think. I've learned to
say to Him, 'Thy will be done!' While here on this earth we're all
students in His school. Sometimes the hours are long and the bench is
hard, but if we are attentive and apt in the learning of our lessons,
He is faithful, and oh, so generous in giving us of His good things!
Some things He's tried to teach me, but I'm too dull yet to comprehend,
but I do know that some day He'll let me see it all quite clearly. For
example, it's difficult to understand why He should have given me the
Breton and his children for neighbors. Do you know the family?” she
“Oh, yes, indeed,” said I; “I should say we did.” This long
conversation had made me sleepy, but the mention of the Breton had
brought me wide-awake again.
“It I had known,” continued the old lady, “that on the other side of
the partition I was to hear nothing but quarrels and fightings and
cursing, I would never have moved in here, but more that that, not
content with disturbing the peace from within his own apartment, he
even comes over to my side to torment me here in my small room. The
Breton indeed is a terrible man when he's drunk. I have tried to talk
to him to see if I could do something to change his evil ways, but so
far all my efforts have been useless.”
I interrupted her to ask if she knew he had been liberated from the
jail that very day.
“Oh, yes,” she said; “he made a terrible scene this morning bullying
his poor wife around. The poor soul is certainly worthy of our pity.
But here I am talking on and on without enquiring once as to Catalina's
“It was Catalina herself who sent us with this package for you,”
said Paula. “For me!” cried the old lady. “What's all this?” and she
nervously untied the strings. Then as she saw the good warm dress, her
eyes filled with tears. “May the Lord bless the dear girl! He surely
must have revealed to her my need!”
“Would you mind, please, putting it on? Catalina wanted us to find
out if it fits you,” I said.
The good woman nothing loath tried on the dress as she exclaimed,
“My, oh me, how handsome I am for once in my life, at least,” and a
merry twinkle danced in old Celestina's eyes, “I'll have to keep this
for Sunday wear only.”
“No,” said Paula, “Catalina said to be sure to tell you it was for
everyday wear, for you see how it keeps out the cold.”
“Well, then,” said the old lady, “I suppose I must obey orders. But
my, how beautiful it is, too beautiful for the likes of me!” And
Celestina stroked the lovely cloth with her gnarled and withered
fingers. “How very good the dear Lord is! And now if you don't mind,
let us pray together here to thank Him for all His mercies.” Celestina
who could not kneel, placed her hands on our bowed heads, and after a
heartfelt prayer of thanks asked the Lord to bless us each one and each
member of our family, her neighbors, and lastly herself.
Hardly had she finished when uncertain steps were heard coming down
the passage. The door suddenly burst open and a man staggered into the
“What's this you're doing?” he shouted.
“We're praying,” the old woman answered tranquilly.
“No more praying then! Do you hear me? I forbid you!” he shouted
again in such a terrible voice that it was all I could do to keep from
screaming with fright “You know very well,” said Celestina calmly,
“that you cannot prohibit my doing the thing that pleases me in my own
“And what pleasure do you get out of praying, tell me, you pious old
“Well, if you'll sit down calmly in that chair yonder, I'll answer
“And suppose I don't care to sit down! Do I look as if I were
“Perhaps not, but when you visit your friends you should try to
please them, shouldn't you?”
“What! Do you count me as one of your friends?”
“And why not?”
“This is why!” and the Breton shook his great fist in the old lady's
face. “Oh, I'm a bad one I am! I could kill all three of you in a
jiffy! Why, I just finished a month in the jail for 'regulating' a
fellow-worker at the factory, and I don't mind doing another month for
regulating you people!” And the poor fellow's face was more terrible
than his words, and I thought our “time had come,” as the saying is.
“Now, don't you be afraid,” whispered Celestina, as she drew me
close; “God is with us; don't forget that!”
“Why do you wish to harm us?” she said aloud, fixing her eyes on the
poor drunken brute, in such a calm, loving and compassionate way that
it seemed to calm him a bit.
“We've done nothing against you, and I can't for the life of me see
how we could have offended you. I am glad they let you go free. Now if
you care to accept our hospitality I will make you a cup of coffee.
It's not the best quality but you're welcome to what I have.”
The Breton looked at the old lady in an astonished sort of way.
“You're certainly different from the rest of 'em. Here I threaten to
kill you, and you offer me a cup of coffee! That's not what I deserve,”
and here he broke out laughing immoderately, and sat down by the stove
where a fire was briskly burning.
“Well, this is a whole lot better than the prison anyway,” said the
Breton coolly, as he settled himself to enjoy the warmth.
“I should say so,” said Celestina, “and there's no reason for you to
go back there either.”
“Now none of your sermons, you know, for if you come on with
anything like that I'll be leaving at once,” and it was clear that the
Breton's bad humor was returning.
“Well, that would be to your disadvantage on a cold day like this,”
said Celestina with a dry little smile.
“That's a fact, that's a fact. Brr! What weather!” and the poor
drunkard drew closer to the fire. “Aren't you two afraid to go out in
such a snowstorm?” he said, turning to Paula and me.
Celestina answered for us that we lived in the big house at “The
Convent,” and that we had come to deliver a good warm dress for her to
wear. With that the good woman poured out three cups of coffee, which
she set before the Breton, Paula and myself. “And where's yours?” said
the Breton as he swallowed his coffee in one great gulp.
“Oh, some other time I'll have a cup myself.”
“Well, just as you please,” said our unwelcome guest. “My! but that
warms one up though! My wife never so much as thought to get me a cup
“And do you know why?” questioned Celestina severely.
“I suppose you're going to tell me it's because I don't give her
enough money; is that it?”
“Precisely! And that's the truth; isn't it?”
“Now none of your sermons, as I told you in the beginning; didn't I?
Don't I know? Of course it troubles me to see the children with their
pale faces, that used to be so rosy and fat like these two here. By the
way what's your names?”
Again Celestina answered for us—“The smaller girl is the daughter
of Monsieur Dumas, and the other is her cousin, Mademoiselle Paula
“Paula Javanel! Paula Javanel!” repeated the Breton as if trying to
remember something. “I think I've heard that name before,” and he
looked fixedly at Paula for some seconds, and then suddenly he laughed
immoderately. “Yes, yes; now I remember! Ha! ha! ha! Now I know! You're
the 'Cat Mother'!”
“Cat Mother!” and Celestina looked much puzzled. “What on earth do
you mean?” I had completely forgotten the ridiculous nickname that the
Breton's son had given her, for the boy had run away from home several
“They called me that,” explained Paula, “because I once saved a
But the strong coffee had quite restored the Breton's good humor and
he hastened to add, “Yes, she did; but she hasn't told the whole story!
She's the only person in the whole village that was ever brave enough
to stand up to that big brat of mine. She wrenched the cat out of his
hands, and the boy came back to the house, I remember well, with a pair
of ears well pulled and the air of a whipped dog.”
“But I didn't pull his ears,” said Paula, reddening.
“Well, if you didn't, who did, then?”
But Paula shook her head and would say nothing further.
“Well, anyway, I remember that the boy was made fun of by the whole
neighborhood, and to revenge himself he gave her 'Cat Mother' for a
nickname. He, too, is a bad one like his father. To tell the truth he
never obeyed anybody, and dear knows where he is or what he's doing
now. At least he's not like you two who came here to learn how to pray
“Paula doesn't need to learn how to pray, Monsieur Breton,” said
Celestina, “she's known how to pray for years, not only for herself,
but also for others.”
“For years, you say! And who then taught her to pray?” said the
“It was my father,” said Paula quietly.
“Your father! Well, he wasn't much like me, then; was he!”
“No, he wasn't,” and Paula without a sign of either fear or
abhorrence looked compassionately at the brutalized face that
“And you don't live with him any more?”
“No,” said Paula; “father is in heaven.”
“And whatever would you do if you had a father like me?” and the
poor Breton looked at her keenly.
Paula sat a moment with closed eyes. She recalled the strong noble
face and figure of her dear father and asked God to give her a reply to
the poor drunkard's question.
“I think,” she said at last, “I would ask God Himself to make him a
man of God like my father.”
“And do you believe He could do it?” The Breton looked very
“I'm sure of it!”
“Yes, but you don't know how bad I am.”
“Yes, I know,” said Paula; “everybody in town knows you're a bad
man, but you're no worse than the bandit who was crucified with the
Lord Jesus; and yet Christ saved him; didn't He?”
“That's more or less what I am—a bandit, I suppose. I remember that
story. When I was a little boy my mother told it to me. I never thought
at that time that I'd ever become the thing I am today. What would my
poor mother do if she could see what had become of me?”
“Perhaps she'd pray for you,” Paula said simply.
“She! Yes, I think she would have prayed for me,” he said. “But why
talk about my mother! I, who have just come out of prison;—hated,
despised, and made a laughingstock by everybody in our neighborhood,
even pointed at by the little street-urchins! My children fear me! My
poor wife trembles when I appear! Who would ever think of praying for a
brute like me?”
“I,” said Paula with a voice vibrant with emotion.
“You? Why you scarcely know me!”
“But I do know you, and I've prayed many times for you, Monsieur
Breton. Do you think it didn't distress me when they told me you had
been put in the prison where people say it's so cold and dark inside,
and where many die from the exposure, and what is the greater
calamity—die without hope of salvation.”
“And so, while I was in prison you prayed for me?”
“Well, from the time I heard about it,” said Paula, “I've prayed for
you every night, Monsieur Breton.”
The poor fellow bowed his head. This young girl, so beautiful, so
pure, so innocent, had taken him and his shame, and misery and
wickedness, to the throne of Grace in her prayers each night during his
recent stay in the jail!
“You! You've been praying for me!” The Breton remained silent,
overcome with a greater remorse than he had ever felt in a court of
“If I could believe,” he said in a low voice, “that a man like me
could really change—but no! That's impossible! It's too late!”
“It's not too late,” Celestina said, “God pardons sinners always if
they truly repent. Now you listen to what He says: 'Though your sins be
as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like
crimson, they shall be as wool.' And here's a bit more, 'Seek ye the
Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near; let the
wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let
him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our
God for He will abundantly pardon.' And then St. Paul gives us God's
message also with these words:
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of
the truth. For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men,
the Man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Tim.
“Do you really believe,” said the Breton, as if in a daze, “that
there's hope for such as me?”
“Yes, I do, indeed!” And here Celestina quoted,
“The Lord is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should
perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9).
But the poor Breton shook his head as if to say, “It's impossible!”
Here Paula broke in, “Ask pardon now, and Jesus will pardon you! Ask
it now! Surely you don't want to go on as you have done. The Lord loves
you, and is waiting to save you. He shed His blood on Calvary's cross
to take away the guilt of your sin. Then also, would it not be
wonderful to always have bread in the house—to see that your poor wife
no longer fears you, but instead, welcomes your homecoming. Ask Him
now, Monsieur Breton, and He'll work the miracle in you just as He did
when He made the paralyzed man to walk. You would be so much happier
than you are now.”
She had drawn very close to him, and now she took his great gnarled
hands—those hands that so many times had worn the handcuffs. Taking
them in her own beautiful ones, she raised those wonderful eyes to the
brutal, bloated face, and said simply, “We will help you, Monsieur
“And what are you going to do, Mademoiselle?”
“I don't know yet, but we'll do what we can!”
The poor fellow tried to thank her, but could not utter a word.
Something in his throat seemed to be in the way, and in spite of all
his efforts at self-control, great tears began to run down his cheeks.
Suddenly he turned exclaiming, “Let me alone! Don't you see you're
tearing my very heart out! For thirty long years I've never shed a
Here Celestina quoted Isa. 35:8,9,10: “And a highway shall be there,
and a Way; and it shall be called The Way of Holiness; the unclean
shall not pass over it, but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men,
though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any
ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but
the redeemed shall walk there: and the ransomed of the Lord shall
return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their
heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall
But the Breton already had turned the door-handle,
“You're surely not going out yet!” said the old lady sadly.
“Celestina, I must go! If I stay one minute more I know I must
yield, and I'm not going to do anything foolish. No! No! I've served
the devil too long. But look here! If you wish to help me, then you can
do one thing anyway. You can pray for me!” Saying this, the poor Breton
opened the door and was gone.
CHAPTER THREE. SAVED!
That night on our return we poured into Teresa's sympathetic ears
all that had occurred during our eventful visit that afternoon at
Celestina's house. Then somewhat later as I was helping her with the
dishes in the kitchen, Teresa said, “Do you know, Lisita, it wouldn't
surprise me in the least to see the Breton converted and changed by
God's power into a decent, respectable man. No one seems to be able to
resist Paula when she begins to speak of God's love. She seems truly
inspired by His Holy Spirit. Child though she is, she surely is His
messenger to all with whom she comes in contact But there's just one
thing,”—and Teresa seemed to hesitate to express herself, then finally
she continued, “I cannot seem to shake off the feeling that she will
not be with us much longer. I believe somehow—I know it sounds absurd
in one way, but I have a feeling that God will call her to His side
some day soon.”
“Oh, Teresa!” I cried, “how can you say such a thing! Why, she's
never sick! She's much bigger and stronger and more vigorous than even
I am. And besides, I never, never could bear it to have Paula taken
“Hush! Hush, child! Don't shout that way, Paula will hear you!
Besides it's just a foolish idea of mine, maybe. But if God should wish
it—But there, as you say, what would we do without the dear girl?”
Later when we were alone in our bedroom I said to Paula in an
“You don't feel sick; do you, Paula?”
She looked at me surprised—“I should say not!” She laughed, “What
put such a notion in your head? Do I look as if I was sick?”
I was so relieved! Teresa was quite mistaken!
“No!” continued Paula, “on the contrary, I never felt better in my
life. Since I had that little touch of scarletina a while ago I've
never had an ache or a pain. In fact, as I look around and see so much
sickness and suffering, I long to share my good health with these other
less fortunate ones.”
And as I looked at her tall well-developed figure outlined against
the window, I laughed at my foolish fears. But a few moments later as
she kneeled there in the moonlight in her long white night-dress, and
as I looked at that pure beautiful face with the eyes closed in prayer,
with its frame of glorious hair, I knew that never had I seen anything
so lovely as this child companion of mine just budding into womanhood;
and the one word “Angel” seemed to express the sum of my thoughts
regarding this dear one who had come into my life and who had
transformed so many other lives around me.
As she rose at the conclusion of the prayer, finding me still on my
feet, she said with surprise in her tone, “Not in bed yet, Lisita?”
“No,” I said, confused that she should find me still seated on the
edge of my bed, lost in my own reflections.
Paula suddenly went to the window and looked out, “Oh, Lisita!” she
exclaimed, “how wonderful! Come and see.”
The storm had stopped in the late afternoon, and now the moon shone
in all its splendor, touching the snow with silver and making millions
of its crystals sparkle like diamonds in the moonlight.
“How white and pure and beautiful everything is!” said Paula. “Do
you remember, Lisita, how only yesterday we remarked how squalid and
dirty the whole village looked? And now, what a lovely change!” She
hesitated a moment, and then continued in her quiet, simple way.
“It's God that has done it! It's quite a bit like when one gives
their heart to Jesus Christ. He takes it stained and scarred with sin,
and then He makes it white like the snow. Don't you see, Lisita?”
“Yes, I see,” I said.
“Do you really see, dear Lisita?” And Paula drew me quite close to
her. “Then why don't you give your heart to Him? I do love you so! You
see, I don't wish to seem to be any better than you—but when I get
thinking of the fact that you never really have given your heart to
Him, and if one of us should die—”
I could not bear another word. The very idea of death either for
Paula or myself was simply unbearable. “Stop!” I cried, in such a
terrible tone that Paula, I could see, was frightened. “You mustn't
die! I cannot live, and I won't live without you! I know I'm not
good, but if you weren't here to help me what would I do?”
My overwrought nerves, due to the happenings at that afternoon visit
at Celestina's, combined with what Teresa had suggested, were too much
for me, and here I broke down completely.
“Oh, Lisita!”—there was real consternation in Paula's voice, “I'm
so sorry I hurt you! You must get to bed, and don't let's talk any more
I dreamed of Paula the whole night long. I saw her either dying or
dead, or in heaven with the angels; but in the morning all my fears had
disappeared and a few days later I even forgot the whole thing.
A week passed, and we had seen nothing of the Breton. Paula
mentioned him several times, and I know she was praying for him. Teresa
had gone to see Celestina, but she hadn't seen anything of him either.
Apparently he had gone out early each day, and had returned very late.
He had been the principal subject of our conversation as each night we
came together in the big warm kitchen on those long winter evenings.
Finally one evening just as we were finishing the dishes, there came
two hesitating knocks on the outer door.
“I wonder who can be calling at this hour,” said Rosa.
“It sounds like some child that can't knock very well,” said
Catalina. “Open the door, Lisita!”
Only too glad to abandon my towel, I ran to open the door, but
hardly had I done so when I remained petrified and dumb with surprise,
hardly able to believe my own eyes. There stood the Breton twisting his
battered cap nervously between his bony fingers. The little oil lamp,
which we always kept lighted at night in the passageway, illuminated
his pale face and gaunt figure.
“Good evening, mademoiselle,” he finally managed to say, and then he
stopped, apparently as embarrassed as I was.
“Who it is?” said Teresa, as she started to come to my rescue.
“It's the Breton,” I said.
“Well, tell him to come in,” said the old woman kindly.
As timidly as a child the Breton advanced over the threshold a few
paces, looking about him in a kind of “lost” way until his eyes
encountered Paula, and then he seemed to recover his ease of mind.
“I wish to speak with the Master,” he said—directing his words to
She led him into the study where my father sat, and left them
together and then joined us in the kitchen once more.
“I declare!” said Rosa. “Think of the Breton calling on us! I
thought he hated father since that day he discharged him from the
factory two or three years ago.”
“The Breton knows very well that when your father got rid of him he
well deserved it,” said Teresa, as she adjusted her spectacles and
settled down to her knitting.
My father did not keep him long. From the kitchen we could hear the
door open and my father's voice bidding the Breton a kindly “good
night” Evidently the interview, although short, had been quite a
“Go, tell the Breton to come into the kitchen, Lisita,” said Teresa.
I wondered as I saw him enter with such a humble, frank air, and
with a new look of peace that seemed almost to beautify the brutalized
“Mademoiselle Paula,” he said as he stopped in the middle of our
kitchen, “I wish to say a word or two.”
“To me alone?” said Paula rising.
He hesitated a moment. “No,” he said finally, “I think it's better
to say it to you before everybody here. Do you remember how you spoke
to me on the afternoon of the great snow? I don't remember very well
what you said. My head wasn't in very good condition as I'd left my
wits behind at the liquor shop. But I know you spoke to me of my mother
and you also said that God would change me if I really desired. I
didn't dare believe such a thing, Mademoiselle—it seemed just a bit
too good to believe. That night I simply couldn't sleep. I seemed to
feel my hands in yours and to hear your voice saying, 'I'll do what I
can to help you.' At last I couldn't stand it any longer. I got out on
the floor and kneeled there before God, and I asked Him to have mercy
on me, and change my wicked old heart if it were possible.”
Here he stopped to wipe away the great tears that were rolling down
his cheeks. Then pretty soon he continued, “God did indeed have mercy
on me. I deserved to be refused, but apparently He doesn't treat people
as they deserve to be treated, and now, mademoiselle, will you continue
to help me as you promised to do?”
“Yes, of course,” said Paula; “What can we do for you?”
“Just one thing. Pray for me! That's what I need more than anything
else. I want to be faithful to Him and serve Him, but I don't know how
to begin, and when one has served the devil as many years as I have
it's hard to change masters.”
“The Lord Jesus will help you,” answered Paula.
“He's already done it, Mademoiselle,” said the Breton. “If not, how
could I have endured these last days. At first I had a raging thirst
for more drink until I nearly went crazy. Then my old companions called
me out and urged me to go and drink with them, and I had almost yielded
when suddenly I cried to the Lord Jesus to help me, and then a
wonderful thing happened! All desire for the drink went away, and I've
been free ever since! Then too, I had no work, and my wife taunted me
with that, and I wandered up and down looking everywhere for something
to do. Unfortunately everybody knew me and knew too much about me, so
there was no work for such as me.” Then suddenly the poor, thin face
was illuminated with a smile as the Breton triumphantly said, “I came
to this door tonight as the very last resort, never dreaming that my
old master really would employ me, but just see the goodness of God! I
can face the world again, for I'm going back to my old bench at the
“My! How glad I am!” exclaimed Paula.
“Yes, Mademoiselle, but I have you to thank for your great kindness
“I,” said Paula surprised; “why what have I done?”
“You, Mademoiselle! You made me feel that you really loved me. Also,
you persuaded me that God loved me, miserable sinner that I am. But if
tonight in this district you find one more honorable man and one
criminal less, let us first thank God, and then you, Mademoiselle!”
“Do you own a New Testament?” said Paula as the Breton started to
“A New Testament; what's that?”
“It's a book—a part of the Bible—that tells us about the Lord
Jesus, and how He saves us from the guilt and power of sin, and how we
can serve Him.”
“Well, Mademoiselle,” replied the Breton, “if it's a book, it's of
no use to me. I don't know how to read!”
Paula looked at him with a mixture of surprise and pity.
“I might have been able to read,” continued the poor fellow. “My
mother sent me to school, but I scarcely ever actually appeared in the
school-room. The streets in those days were too attractive a
“But you could begin to learn even now!”
“No, Mademoiselle,” and the Breton shook his head sadly, “It's too
late now to get anything of that sort in this dull head.”
Paula said nothing more at the time, but I could see that she had
something in her mind relative to this new problem.
CHAPTER FOUR. THE YOUNG
The following day Paula had a word with my father regarding the
“Now don't worry any more about the Breton, Paula,” he answered. “He
knows enough to do what's necessary to gain his living, and if he wants
to work faithfully and not spend all his money on drink, he can do that
without knowing how to read. However, if it bothers you because he
cannot read, why don't you advise him to go to night-school? I can't
imagine what could have happened to him, but he's changed mightily, and
for the better. I only hope the change in him will last!”
* * * * *
The days grew longer, the snow disappeared and the trees and fields
began to put on their spring clothes. Week by week the Breton's home
also began to show a marvelous transformation. The pigs who formerly
found the garden a sort of happy rooting-ground now found themselves
confronted with a neat fence that resisted all their attacks, and the
garden itself with its well-raked beds, showed substantial promise of a
harvest of onions, potatoes and cabbage in the near future. Spotless
white curtains and shiny panes of window-glass began to show in place
of the dirty rags and paper which used to stop part of the winter winds
from entering, and the rain which formerly kept merry company with the
wind in that unhappy dwelling now found itself completely shut out by
shingles on the roof and sidewalk; and a certain air of neatness and
order so pervaded the whole place that it became the talk of the little
“That's all very well, but it's not going to last long,” said some.
“Well, we shall soon see,” said others.
The Breton had to stand a good many jests and taunts from his former
companions but he took it all without either complaint or abatement of
“I don't blame you one bit,” he said to one of his tormentors, “for
I was once exactly the same—only I hope some day you'll be different
too. In the meantime, comrade, I'll be praying for you.”
“You must admit I'm a changed man, anyway,” he said one day to a
group who made sport of him.
“That's true, right enough,” said one of them.
“Well, who changed me?”
Various opinions were offered to this question.
“Well, I'll tell you!” he thundered, and that stentorian voice which
always used to dominate every assembly in which he mingled, held them
“It was the Lord Jesus Christ. He died for me—yes, and He died for
every one of you. He shed His blood on Calvary's cross to keep every
man from hell who surrenders to Him in true repentance. Then He does
another thing! His Holy Spirit takes away the bad habits of every man
who surrenders to Him. He said once, 'If the Son shall make you free,
ye shall be free indeed!' Now you look well at me! You know what a
terrible temper I had. You've tried your best in these past weeks to
make me angry but you haven't succeeded. That's a miracle in itself.
You can say what you like to me now but you won't make me lose my
temper. That's not to my credit, let me tell you! It's God Himself
who's done something that I don't yet clearly understand. The money I
earn, I dump it all in the wife's lap, for I know she can handle it
better than I can! Then there's another thing! When I get up in the
morning now, I ask God to help, and He does it. When I go to bed at
night, I pray again. Let me tell you, if I should die I'll go to
heaven, and there I'll meet my dear old mother, for it's not what I've
done, it's what He's done! It isn't that I'm any better than any
of you. No! There isn't one of you as bad as I was,” he continued, “but
if God was able to change and pardon a beast like me, He can surely do
the same with all of you. So what I say is, why don't you all do just
the same as I've done? Surrender yourselves into Christ's hands!”
Little by little, seeing it was useless to try to bring the Breton
back into his old ways, his tormentors were silenced at least, and a
life of new activities commenced for the former drunkard.
“You certainly appear to be quite happy,” said Paula, as we passed
the Breton's garden one evening where he was whistling merrily at his
“I certainly am that,” said he, raising his head. “There's just one
weight on my heart yet, however.”
“And what's that?” Paula's voice was sympathetic.
“It's that I cannot read.”
“But I didn't think that that fact interested you very much.”
“Yes, I know, Mademoiselle, but I didn't comprehend what I had lost,
but now I'd give my left hand if I could only read.”
“Poor Breton,” I said. It seemed to me we were a bit helpless before
such a problem.
“It isn't that I want to become a fine gentleman, and all that”; and
the Breton turned to address me also—“It's simply that I want to be
able to read the Great Book that tells about God and His Son Jesus
Christ. Also I would like to help my children that they might have a
better chance than hitherto I have given them. But there you are! I'm
just a poor ignorant man, and I suppose I always shall be.”
“Well,” said Paula, “why don't you attend the night school?”
“No, Mademoiselle,” and the Breton shook his head; “that's all very
well for the young fellows who have learned a little something and wish
to learn a bit more. But me!—at my age!—and I don't even know the
letter A from B, and I have such a dull head that I would soon tire out
the best of teachers.”
“Well, supposing I tried teaching you?” said Paula timidly.
“You, Mademoiselle!” cried the Breton stupefied, “you to try such a
thing as to teach me!”
“And why not, if my uncle should let me?”
“Well, Mademoiselle, that would be different. I believe that with
you to teach me I might be able to learn,” and the Breton leaned on his
spade for a moment.
“You are so good and kind and patient, I would not be afraid of your
making fun of my stupid efforts. But there, there's no use thinking
about such a thing, for I'm sure the master would never permit it.”
* * * * *
In fact, it did take a good deal to persuade my father, but Paula
won his permission at last.
The Breton came every Saturday night Teresa complained a bit at
first, seeing her kitchen turned into a night-school for such a rough
ignorant workman, but “for Jesus Christ's sake,” as Paula said, she had
finally become resigned to it.
It was both pathetic and comical to see the efforts which the poor
Breton made as he tried to follow with one great finger the letters
which his young teacher pointed out to him. He stumbled on, making many
mistakes but never discouraged. Sometimes the sweat poured from him
when the task appeared too great for him. At such times he would put
his head in his hands for a moment, and then with a great sigh he would
At the end of a month he had learned the alphabet and nothing more,
and even then he would make mistakes in naming some of the letters.
“Oh, let him go!” said Teresa; “He's like myself. He'll never, never
But Paula's great eyes opened wide.
“Why! I simply can't abandon him unless he should give it up
himself. Besides, have you forgotten, Teresa, what it cost me to learn
to sew? But in the end I did learn; didn't I?”
So Teresa was silenced. But once the Breton had conquered this first
barrier to learning his progress was truly surprising. In the factory
his “primer” was always with him. At lunch hours he would either study
alone, or he'd persuade a fellow-worker more advanced than himself to
help him with his lesson. Paula was astonished to see how quickly she
could teach him a verse in the New Testament or a Waldensian hymn she
had learned in the valley back home.
Nevertheless a week or two later she noticed that he seemed to be a
bit distraught, and she feared he was getting weary of his task.
“What's the matter?” she finally asked him.
“Oh, nothing,” and the Breton grinned rather sheepishly.
“Tell me, Breton, what's on your mind?”
He “guffawed” loudly as he replied. “You'd make fun of me sure, if I
told you—and with good reason!”
“I never make fun of anybody,” said Paula reproachfully.
“No, Mademoiselle, I ought to know that better than anybody else!
Well, perhaps it might be well to tell you. If you must know it, it's
this. There are many, I find, that wish they could be in my place
“In your place tonight! I'm afraid I don't understand,” said Paula.
“Well, you see, I've got four or five of my old comrades who also
want to learn to read.”
“What's that you say?” Teresa said, leaving her knitting to stand in
front of the Breton.
“It's true enough, Mademoiselle Teresa, and when you come to think
of it, it's not a bit strange. Down at the factory they all know how
different and how happy I am. And how they did make fun of me
when I started to learn to read; just as they jeered at me when Jesus
Christ first saved me and I learned to pray. But now some of them,
seeing how happy I am, also want to learn to read, and who knows but
some day they will want to know how to pray to the Lord Jesus also.”
Paula's face took on a serious expression—finally, however, she
slowly shook her head.
“You know, with all my heart, I'd just love to see it done; but it's
perfectly useless, I suppose, even to think of it,” she said sadly.
“That's what I thought too,” said the Breton; “I'm sorry I spoke
“Well, I don't know,” continued Paula. “Perhaps if uncle could
arrange somehow—I remember when I was quite small, back there before I
left the valley, my dear god-mother had a night-school for laboring
men. It was just lovely. They learned to read and to write and to
calculate. Then afterwards, each night before they went home they would
sing hymns and read the Bible and pray.”
“Yes, that's all very well,” said Teresa, “but your godmother was a
whole lot older than you are.”
Then turning to the Breton she said, “Why don't you tell your
friends to go to the night-school in town?”
“Well,” said the Breton, “I know that they learn 'many things there,
but they don't teach them about God. However, as I said before, I'm
sorry I mentioned the thing. Let's not speak any more about it”
“Well,” said Paula, “I know what I'm going to do. I'll speak to the
Lord Jesus about it.”
And Paula kept her promise.
One morning, Teresa usually not at all inquisitive, could not seem
to keep her eyes off a certain little group who were engaged in moving
out of one of the “Red Cottages” across the road. More than once she
paused in her work of tidying up the house to peer out of one window or
“That's the very best of all the 'Red Cottages,' and they're moving
out of it” remarked Teresa finally.
“Of what importance is that?” I said to her rather sharply. I was
washing windows, and that task always made me irritable.
“I've got a certain idea!” Teresa said.
“Tell me your big idea,” I said.
“No! You go ahead and wash your windows. I'll tell you tomorrow.”
The next day I had forgotten Teresa and her “idea.” As I started for
school she called after me, “Tell Mademoiselle Virtud, your teacher,
that I want to see her just as soon as possible I have to speak to her
In a flash I remembered what had happened the day before, and I
guessed at once her secret.
“Teresa!” I cried, “I've got it now! You want Mademoiselle Virtud to
occupy the house across the road. Oh, that'll be just wonderful!”
Teresa tried to put on her most severe air, but failed completely.
“Well, supposing that's not so!” she said, as with a grin she pushed
me out of the door.
Mademoiselle Virtud came over that very afternoon. I hadn't been
mistaken. She and Teresa went immediately across the road to see the
empty house, the owner having left the key with us. At the end of a
half-hour they returned.
“It's all arranged,” and Teresa beamed. “She's coming to live here
right across the road. I've thought of the thing for a long time, and
now at last the house I wanted is empty. Monsieur Bouche has promised
to fix the fence and put a new coat of paint on the house, and with
some of our plants placed in the front garden, it will be a fitting
place for your dear teacher and her Gabriel to live in.”
“You'll certainly spoil us!” said Mlle. Virtud. “What a joy it will
be to leave that stuffy apartment in town. And Gabriel is so pale and
weak! This lovely air of the open country will make a new boy of him!”
It was a wonderful time we had, arranging things before our new
neighbors moved in. Teresa bought some neat linen curtains for the
windows of the little house. Paula and I gathered quantities of flowers
from our garden and placed them over the chimney-piece, and on the
bedroom shelves and in the window-seats—and how the floors and windows
did shine after we had finished polishing them!
When our teacher arrived in a coach with Gabriel packed in among the
usual quantity of small household things of all kinds, great was her
gratitude and surprise to find, in the transformed house, such signs of
our care and affection for her. It was indeed the happiest moving day
that could possibly be imagined. There wasn't a great quantity of
furniture, and in an hour or so after our new neighbors' arrival we had
everything installed in its proper place, to say nothing of the bright
fire burning in the tiny grate and the kettle singing merrily above it.
One would hardly have dreamed that it had been an empty house that very
morning. Even Louis who had come home for a week-end holiday had sailed
in and worked with us in putting the little cottage in order.
That night the newly-arrived tenants ate with us, after which Louis
carried Gabriel pick-a-back to his new home across the road.
Our teacher's prophecy regarding Gabriel was a correct one. Day by
day he grew stronger. Teresa looked out for him during school-hours,
and with his bright happy ways he soon became a great favorite with the
* * * * *
“Tell me, Paula,” said my father one evening, “how is the new pupil
“Which new pupil?” our cousin said as she came and stood by my
father's chair, where he sat reading his paper.
“The Breton, of course. Surely you haven't more than one pupil?”
“For the present, no!” she answered, with a queer little smile on
her quiet face.
“For the present, no.” repeated my father; “and what may that mean?”
Paula rested her cheek against the top of my father's head.
“Dearest uncle,” she said, “will you please grant me a great favor?”
“Now, what?” said my father—and the stern, serious face lighted up
with a smile.
“You see, the Breton has almost learned to read, and it would be
just splendid if some of his old comrades and his two sons could learn
“Oh, Paula, Paula!” said my father—“where is all this going to
But Paula was not easily daunted, especially when the thing asked
for was for the benefit of other people.
“Now, why won't you let me teach them, dear uncle?” She came and
kneeled at my father's feet, and took both his hands in hers.
“But you're only a very young and very little student, Paula. You
must be taught yourself before you can teach others.” My father's voice
was very tender, but firm as well, and it didn't look to me as if Paula
would win. She said nothing in reply, but stayed kneeling there at his
feet with those great appealing eyes of hers fixed on his face.
“We shall see, we shall see,” said my father gently, “when you've
finished your own studies. Besides I think you're reasonable enough to
see that such a task along with your studies would be too big a burden
for a child like you. I could not let you take this up.”
“I suppose you're right, dear uncle,” said Paula humbly, as she rose
and rested her head against my father's shoulder, “and yet if you could
only know how happy it would make the Breton and his comrades. And
besides,” she added, “I had fondly hoped that if I could have taught
them, they would learn much about the Lord Jesus and take Him as their
Saviour, as the Breton has done.”
“You seem to think of nothing but how to serve your 'Lord Jesus,'“
and there was a wistful sort of tone in my father's voice.
“Well, am I not His servant?”
“No!” said my father, “I'd call you a soldier of His, and one that's
always under arms!”
“That's because I have such a wonderful, such a kind, and such a
powerful Captain. I wish everybody might come to know Him! And to know
Him is to love Him!”
There followed a moment of silence, so solemn, so sweet, that it
seemed as if a Presence had suddenly entered, and I personally felt my
soul in that moment suddenly lifted toward God as it had never been
before. And as I looked at Paula standing so humbly there her eyes
seemed to say: “Oh, my uncle, my cousin, would that you, too, might
love Him and receive Him as the Saviour of your soul!”
“Listen, Paula,” my father said; “will you leave the Breton and his
friends and his sons in my hands for the present?”
Paula looked at him searchingly for a moment, as if trying to find
out what was in his mind.
“Of course!” she finally said.
“Well, then, just rest content. I'll try to see the thing through
somehow. If I'm not very much mistaken, these proteges of yours will
have very little to complain of.”
“Oh, uncle dear!” shouted Paula, delighted, “what are you planning
“I don't know yet exactly, but I've thought of something. No! No!
Don't try to thank me for anything, for I don't know how it will come
out. But,” he smiled as he laid his hand on Paula's head, “you
certainly have a method of asking for things that I don't seem to find
any way to refuse you.”
CHAPTER FIVE. THE NIGHT SCHOOL
For the first time in my life a great secret had been confided to
me. Of course, I felt quite proud that they had considered me important
enough to be a sharer of the secret. But my! What a struggle it was not
to tell Paula!
In a few days it would be Paula's fifteenth birthday, and the whole
family seemed endued with the same idea, to make it an especially happy
and unforgettable occasion.
Paula must have suspected something with all the coming and going;
the whispering and smothered giggles in corners, etc., but she wasn't
the kind to pry into other people's affairs, and so, no matter what she
may have thought, she kept her own counsel.
On the morning of the great day, which to our great satisfaction,
came on a Sunday, Paula was quite a bit surprised to find that Mlle.
Virtud and Gabriel had been invited over to breakfast; but aside from
that occurrence there was nothing unusual as yet to indicate that we
were celebrating Paula's birthday.
When the meal was finished, however, my father folded up his napkin,
and with an air of mock gravity said, “Why, let me see, this is Paula's
birthday; isn't it? I suppose Paula's been wondering why there were no
gifts piled up on her plate. You see, Paula, we've all combined on the
one gift, but it's too big to put on the dining-table. However, it's
not far away. Let's all go and have a look at it together.”
He led the way out of the house and across the road, and we all
I presume the neighborhood received quite a shock of surprise to see
such a procession of folks coming out of the big house. Many came and
stood in their front door-yards to view the unusual sight, for
instance, of Louis with his arm linked in that of our old servant
Teresa, and Paula herself on our father's arm, and the rest of us
strung out behind.
We finally stopped in front of Mlle. Virtud's newly-painted little
house, with its tiny garden in front in all the splendor of its spring
“Come in, Paula,” said our teacher of former days. “Your present is
in here in this front room.”
We all followed after Paula, eager to see the result of her
inspection of the “present.”
Paula took one step, and then stopped on the threshold.
“What do you think of your birthday present, Paula?” said my father.
“Do you think the Breton and his comrades will be content to come here
to study and to leam to sing, etc., in this room?”
“Oh, uncle dear!” and that was all she could say as she embraced and
kissed him with a gratitude we all knew well was too deep for mere
words to express.
Suddenly Louis pulled her hair a bit, saying, “Well, how about the
rest of us. Aren't you going to thank us too? There are a lot of folks
here that have had a share in this business.”
Paula gave him a smile in which she included all of us in her
thankful joy and gratitude.
“Why!” said Paula, “this was the room everybody thought was useless,
and which was in such bad condition that the landlord didn't think it
worthwhile to fix up!”
“Yes,” said my father; “it's the very room. I confess one would
hardly recognize it, but when Monsieur Bouche understood what it was to
be used for, he went to unusual trouble to fix it properly. You'll have
to thank him especially, Paula. He has a reputation of being not always
“I will take him a lovely bunch of flowers,” said Paula.
“Humph!” said Louis, “I'm sure I don't know what he'd do with them.
He doesn't often get flowers from his tenants.”
Paula walked about the room as in a dream, examining everything.
The table in the center had been loaned by Dr. Lebon. The lovely red
curtains were a present from Mlle. Virtud. Rosa and Louis had given the
two long benches on each side of the table. My father had given the
school-books, and I had bought pencils and copy-books from my monthly
allowance. It was all very simple and severe, but to Paula's eyes these
gifts brought together in the little whitewashed room seemed to her
“Look up there,” said Louis, “you haven't seen that yet,” and Paula
saw hanging from the ceiling a fine new lamp to which a white paper
seemed to be tied. Louis reached up and took down the paper for her,
and she read as follows: “In great gratitude from the Breton.”
“Now, look here,” said Louis, “you don't need to weep over it! The
Breton is only grateful for all you've done for him. Thanks to you,
he's been able to save up a little money lately instead of spending it
all on drink.
“Now, look here,” he continued, “you don't need to weep to an
elaborately embroidered motto on the wall containing the Lord's words
to the weary ones of earth. 'Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are
heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'“
“Oh, it's all too much!” said Paula completely overcome. “How can I
thank you all for what you've done?”
“Your gratitude and happiness is sufficient reward for us,” said my
father. “I don't know what put the idea in our heads. I suppose you
will say it was God, and perhaps you are right. All I know is that I
spoke to Mlle. Virtud of your desire to have a night-school for the
Breton and his friends, and then spoke to others about it and—well,
now you've seen the result. You owe most of your thanks to Mlle. Virtud
who brought the thing about and gave us the use of the room.”
“Which room,” said Mlle. Virtud, with a dry little smile, “had no
value whatsoever, you'll remember.”
“And another thing,” said my father, “she is the one who has taken
over the responsibility of the night-school. Otherwise I could not have
permitted you to take up such a task. Then Rosa is going to help when
she can, and Lisita has an idea she can do something also.”
“And I,” said Louis, “where do I come into the picture?”
With a grin my father turned to his son, “That's where you're only
in the background for once.”
It was decided, in accord with Mlle. Virtud, to have classes twice a
week. Thursdays would be for reading, writing and arithmetic, and
Sundays would be a time for learning songs and for putting their
studies into practice by reading in the Bible, and, for what several
had been asking, namely, to learn how to pray.
If the Breton was a model scholar, this could not be said of his two
younger sons. These boys appeared to be much below the average in
natural intelligence, besides the fact that their ordinary educational
opportunities had, as in the case of Joseph, their older brother, been
decidedly neglected. Their father had compelled them to attend the
“night-school,” but apparently they didn't seem to grasp what it was
all about. Without any apparent cause they both would suddenly duck
down below the table to hide their merriment. Whatever story, no matter
how interesting, was read aloud, they didn't appear to comprehend a
word of it, and if a chapter from the Bible was read they either showed
elaborate signs of boredom or else they would doze in their seats.
Paula would gaze at them sadly—her young heart was grieved at such
The three comrades of the Breton, however, were decidedly different,
taking up their studies with great eagerness and listening well to
everything that was read aloud.
“It's a whole lot better here than spending our money at the liquor
shop,” they would say with a smile of satisfaction.
“I'll say so,” the Breton would chime in. “I'll tell you what,
comrades, if I'd known only before all that one gains in Christ's
service, I would have started long ago on this new life with Him.”
The happiest and most beloved of all in the school was Gabriel. He
was so happy that he was able to come in and study with the others; and
when it came to singing, his marvelously fresh and clear tones
outclassed them all—that is, all but one.
I seem to hear yet those lovely hymns that were sung with such
sincerity and heartiness—but the voice that rang clear and true above
all others is now mingling its notes with the choirs of heaven.
CHAPTER SIX. THE HOUSE OF GOD
It was vacation time—in August. Teresa said she had never seen a
dryer or a hotter summer in her whole existence. Gabriel and his sister
had gone to visit their family in the country and we had our usual “red
letter” time at Grandmother Dumas' house. We had returned from our
visit greatly refreshed—all except Paula, who seemed to have lost
somewhat of that perpetual happiness which, when she appeared on the
scene had always been such a tonic to us all. She had tried her best
not to show it, but she gave us all the impression that she tired very
“I think the reason you tire so soon is because you're growing so
quickly,” said Teresa. Paula laughed and said that that wasn't her
One morning my father seemed to be looking at her more intently than
usual. He finally said, “You're not feeling well; are you, Paula?”
“I'm all right, dear uncle,” she said. “Sometimes I get a bit tired.
I think it must be the heat.”
“But, my dear child, you hardly eat anything at all, and you've lost
those roses in your cheeks.”
He still continued looking at her—then suddenly he said, “I'll tell
you one thing that I think would please you very much. Do you know what
that would be?”
“What, sir?” and Paula seemed to regain all her usual animation.
“I think,” said my father slowly in a low voice as if talking to
himself, “I think you”—and he paused a moment—“What would you say if
you were to go to church with Celestina on Sundays?”
“Oh, dear uncle, could I really go?” Paula jumped to her feet
“Yes, I think I'll let you go—and”—again he hesitated a bit—“if
Teresa, Rosa and Lisita wish to, they may go along too.”
“And you, dear uncle, will you not come with us?” questioned Paula,
as she looked into the sad, stern face that had softened considerably
“We shall see, we shall see. But you'd better not count on me. My,
oh, me! Just see! Those roses have all come back again!”
“Well, but you don't know how happy you've made me!” said Paula as
she fairly danced out of the house with me to tell the news to
“Well,” said Celestina, “all I can say is that the Lord heard my
prayers and yours, dear Paula. It's the great weapon of the weak and
needy, and in fact can be the power to serve all and anyone who will
surrender themselves and all they are into the hands of the Saviour.”
We had seated ourselves near the door of her little cottage.
Something in the deep tones of the old lady's voice seemed to search my
very heart. We always enjoyed listening to this old saint who, like
Enoch and Noah, walked with God. We seemed to be drawn closer to God in
her humble little cottage than in any other place.
“You see,” she continued, “I'm old and quite feeble, and besides I'm
poor, and can't do very much for other folks; but there's one thing I
can do, and that is, pray. And I do pray for everybody—and especially
for you and your family, my dear young friends. God doesn't let me see
many results of my prayers, but that doesn't discourage me. I just keep
everlastingly at it, and I can leave the results to Him. Has He not
said, through the mouth of His Apostle John, 'This is the confidence
that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He
heareth us, and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know
that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.'
“I remember once hearing a certain hymn about prayer. I never could
remember all the verses, but most of it has remained deeply engraved in
my memory although I only heard it once. It was sung by a young
missionary from Africa who happened to be passing through Paris. It was
at a meeting which I attended as a young girl many years ago.”
“Please sing it to us, dear Celestina,” said Paula, “even though you
may not remember it all.”
“Well, my dear young friends,” said Celestina, “that old hymn has
been my comfort and the inspiration of my prayers through all the years
since I heard it sung so long ago in Paris where I lived when I was
young. Here it is”; and as those quavering notes sounded we seemed
lifted toward that heavenly Throne of which she sang.
On heavenly heights an Angel stands.
He takes our prayer in heavenly hands,
And with celestial incense rare,
He mingles every heart-felt prayer
Of those who trust His precious blood
To reconcile their souls to God.
“Then from that glorious, heavenly place
Descend the lightnings of His grace;
To heal, to strengthen, and provide,
For those who trust in Him Who died.
'Who died,' I say?—Yea, He Who rose
Triumphant, Conqueror of His foes!
“Who is this priestly Angel bright,
Who thus dispels our darkest night?
'Tis He who sets the captive free,
Jesus Who died on Calvary's tree;
Who is, Who was, and is to come—
The glory of His Father's Home!
“Well,” said Paula softly as the last note died away, “I've prayed
much for my dear uncle that he might be saved.”
“And God will hear and answer you, my dear, according to the
scripture I've just quoted. Let me tell you something. Your uncle came
here to see me a few days ago, and I believe he is not far from the
Kingdom of God!”
“Oh,” cried Paula, “I would give everything to see him truly saved!”
* * * * *
Never had I seen Paula so happy as when we entered the little old
evangelical church in the Rue San Eloi.
We had had the natural timidity of new-comers, and had feared more
than anything else that battery of eyes which would surely be turned on
us at our entrance. It was therefore a great relief to find that the
meeting had already begun, and an empty pew well toward the back that
held us all, seemed to beckon to us with a sort of mute welcome.
Hardly were we seated when I noticed Paula (who had of course been
accustomed to church-going at her old home in the valley) had kneeled,
and with her eyes closed seemed to be offering a prayer. This was soon
ended and she resumed her seat. It was all so new to me that I could
not at first take in much of the details of the service.
The preacher had a fine noble face which seemed to light up
especially as the hymns were heartily sung by the whole congregation.
Perhaps it was my imagination, but it seemed to me that a quiet
smile of approval passed over his face as his eyes rested on Paula who
so fervently joined in the songs—all of which seemed quite familiar to
It was an affecting thing, that vision of my girl companion. In her
white dress with its blue sash at the waist, and with her wide white
straw hat, she made a lovely picture. In that frank open countenance I
think I read her thoughts. Here in God's house she had entered once
more the Promised Land from which she had been exiled for four long
Suddenly the sun came from behind a cloud, especially designed, I
thought, to send a ray of rose-colored light through one of the
stained-glass windows of the church over that beautiful face at my side
which now showed only rapt attention to the simple gospel message
saturated with God's Word that flowed like a mighty river from the
As we came through the door on our way out, I caught a glimpse of my
father's tall form just disappearing around a bend in the Rue San Eloi.
I think he must have stolen up to the door and had been listening
CHAPTER SEVEN. IN HIS PRESENCE
At times I have wished to efface from my mind the memory of those
last moments that Paula was with us. Yet as I think of the dwelling to
which she has gone, and also the manner in which she went—in the path
of duty—to the House of Glory, as a good soldier of the Cross, I bless
God and kneel in gratitude to Him for having loaned her to us for those
four precious years when He used her to bring us all to the bleeding
side of the Saviour, and thus make us new creatures in Christ Jesus.
* * * * *
It was on the Wednesday after that Sunday when we had first attended
church. It had been a day of terrible heat. The oppressive atmosphere
seemed to promise an electric storm. Louis who had forgotten a study
book when he went to school on Monday, had returned to get it. Paula
had tried to study, but I could see she was having great difficulty.
Suddenly Teresa appeared and called Paula to take a letter which my
father wished to send to a man who lived in the Rue Fourmi.
“Go quickly, Paula, there's a storm brewing, but I think you can
easily get back before it breaks. The Rue Fourmi is not far away.”
Paula had no time to answer before Teresa disappeared again to the
other end of the house.
Paula turned to Louis, who was about to start out for his uncle's
house, where he stayed during the week in order to be near his school.
“Louis dear,” she said, “won't you please take this letter on your
way back to your uncle's house?”
“No,” said Louis sharply; “I never go that way.”
“No, I know that; but it would only be a few steps out of your way
to leave it there, and—well—you see—I have quite a headache.”
“Teresa told you to take the letter, not me. A fig for your
headache! It's only that you're too lazy to stir!” said Louis.
“Louis!” I shouted, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself! You know
well enough Paula's always willing to do anything for anybody! I'd go
myself, but I simply can't leave what I'm doing now. If Teresa had
remembered, she would have given you the letter and you know it! If you
don't take it, I'll tell father!”
“Do as you please,” said Louis coolly. “I'll not be bothered with
I was furious and couldn't keep back the angry tears that now began
to roll down my cheeks.
“Never mind, Lisita,” said Paula, as she ran for her hat. Then as
she went through the door she turned for a last look at Louis, “Won't
you please take it, Louis?” she said.
“No!” said Louis—“and that's that!” and he turned his back to
“Good-bye, Louis dear!” she finally said without the least show of
anger, as she left the house. “We'll be seeing you again on Saturday.”
She ran down the street quickly in order to return before the
gathering storm broke.
Louis followed shortly to return to his uncle's, whistling
cheerfully as he went; but his cheerfulness seemed to me to be a little
too exaggerated to be real.
After I'd finished my task I sought out Teresa at the other end of
the great house.
“Paula has a bad headache,” I said.
“Why didn't she tell me that?” said Teresa. “I'd have sent Louis,
but I didn't think of it at the time”
I opened my mouth to say something, and then I shut it again. I had
begun slowly to learn from Paula's example not to be a “tattle-tale.”
Meanwhile the sky grew darker. Suddenly Teresa said,
“I don't know what's keeping Paula, Here, Lisita! Take this umbrella
and go and meet her. I'm afraid she'll be caught in the rain before she
I soon found her as she turned in at the bottom of the Rue Darnetal.
“We must hurry,” she said as the thunder began to mutter in the
distance. Hardly had she spoken when a flash of lightning almost
blinded us. This was followed almost immediately by a great crash of
thunder that seemed to shake the very ground under our feet. Then came
a sound of confused shouts as if something had happened at the other
end of a cross street that we were passing. Could it be a house had
been struck by the lightning? No, the shouts increased and changed to
cries of terror. Soon we guessed the cause, as we heard a rushing sound
of galloping horses, which, frightened by the flash and the clap of
thunder, came in sight around a bend in the street enveloped in a cloud
of dust, dragging a heavy wagon behind them. Instinctively Paula
retreated to a protecting doorway and I huddled in terror close beside
“Lisita!” she called suddenly. “Look! look!” What I saw was
something that seemed to freeze my blood! Directly in the pathway of
the onrushing horses, totally unconscious of his danger, was a little
boy of about three years old toddling along in the middle of the road.
One instant more and it would have been all over! Suddenly Paula left
our shelter like a shot from a gun. Then I heard a sharp cry that rent
the air like a knife, and then—I can remember little more—just a
confusion of people running hither and thither, and then for me all was
darkness, but in that darkness I seemed to hear still that piercing cry
* * * * *
When I came back to consciousness I found myself on the sofa in our
dining-room, with Catalina bathing my face and hands with cold water.
“Where's Paula?” I cried, for I remembered at once that terrible
scene in the Rue Darnetal.
“Paula is in her room,” said Catalina, turning her head to hide the
tears that would come in spite of all her efforts.
I tried to rise and go to our room.
“Stay where you are, Lisita!” said Catalina. “You may go a bit later
when you're feeling stronger.”
But now a terrible suspicion crossed my mind. “Catalina,” I cried,
almost beside myself with fear, “tell me the truth! Is Paula dead?”
“No, Lisita; Paula's not dead,” as she tried in vain to detain me;
“She is still breathing—and”—but I heard nothing more. My legs
trembled strangely as I stumbled toward our bedroom. Once there, again
that terrible darkness started to come over me, but it was only a
momentary weakness. With an effort I steadied myself as I came near the
bed where my dearest one lay so still—that lovely face so white, the
lips slightly parted with just a faint stirring of the breath.
The room was full of people, some weeping silently, some trying to
choke back their sobs. Others, like my father and Dr. Lebon, with an
agony showing on their faces much more terrible than any tears.
All this I saw as in a horrible dream from which I hoped to awake at
any moment. But, no!—I soon realized it was all too true. This was the
first real grief of my life, and I had to sustain it alone for I had
not yet yielded to Him who sends comfort to His children in their time
of anguish. He did take pity on me, however. In the next room I hid my
grief in Teresa's arms—Teresa, who more than anyone else, knew the
love that had united me to Paula.
“Oh, Teresa,” I cried, when I found myself alone with her, “she must
not die! She must not! I simply cannot live without her, you know that!
Oh, pray for me, dear Teresa. God will hear your prayer. He
probably wouldn't hear mine. Tell Him! Oh, please tell Him, Paula must
“No, Lisita,” Teresa said as she dried my tears; “We must leave
Paula in God's hands. He loves her more than you and I could ever do.
If you could see that poor broken body as I've seen it you would not
ask that she should live! Yes, indeed, she was happy with us. She was
to us all like an angelic messenger sent from God to draw us to Him and
to show us the way to heaven. And now He's called her to Himself almost
without suffering, for she appears to have become insensible from the
instant that the horses struck her down. Listen to me, Lisita! Soon
Paula will be in heaven at her Saviour's side—her Saviour whom she
loved so well; and in her dear father's company of whom she spoke so
“We must think of her happiness, dear Lisita, not our own, from this
day forward. Paula, you remember, never thought of herself. Her thought
was always for others, and it was for another that she died. She gave
her life to save that little boy. So she followed in the footsteps of
her Saviour, as a good soldier of the Lord Jesus who died to save all
who repent and believe on His blessed name.”
The voice of our old servant, so tender, so motherly, seemed to heal
my sorrow. When I became calmer she told me some of the details of the
tragedy. Paula had, dashed in front of the horses just in time to throw
the child out of danger but had been unable to escape herself. That
much I understood; but from that day to this, I have never been able to
bring myself to ask for any more details. It seems I had fainted, and
they carried us both home.
Poor Teresa, I knew how ardently she, too, loved our Paula, but
courageous and unselfish her only thought, as ever, was for us. In
consoling me she forgot her own sorrow. As I looked at that strong calm
face lighted up as from an inner brilliance, it seemed to take on a
striking likeness to the dear one whose life was ebbing away in the
next room. There came to my mind a verse from a Bible story that Paula
had told us once. It was this:
“The spirit of Elijah hath fallen on Elisha.”
* * * * *
A stream of neighbors came in from everywhere. It was in those last
moments as these humble friends passed before that unconscious form
that we came to comprehend how many lives had been touched by the
simple country girl from the Waldensian mountains. Some remembered her
just from the smile with which she always greeted young and old as she
passed up and down the long street at our end of the town. Others spoke
of the loving adoration of the children whom she had protected and
defended. Still others mentioned the kindness she had shown them, and
poured out many stories of Paula's universal love for all—of her
visits to the poor and sick, and of how she had pointed them to the
Saviour who had died to take away their sin; bringing joy and hope and
liberty into many a home where only discord and misery had reigned
So the tears of many of our humble, friendless neighbors mingled
with our own as we waited for the end.
But there was one on whom the blow fell more terribly than on any
one of the rest of us, for it was a bitter mixture of remorse and shame
that Louis had to bear. When he arrived at the house after being
summoned from our uncle's place, and came to a full realization of what
had happened, for an instant he seemed turned to stone. Then a sharp
cry came from him. In that short moment he seemed to change from a
careless, selfish boy to a man—a man awakened at last to his terrible
need of a change and with a transforming purpose in his life from that
Louis demanded that I tell everybody present what had happened that
afternoon. When I refused, he poured out the whole sorry, sordid story
of his selfishness without one word of excuse, saying as he finished,
“So you see, it was I who killed her, for there was no need of her
stirring from the house.” Then he turned to my father imploring him to
punish him severely. He said he could ask no pardon, for he had done
what he considered unpardonable. For answer my father took him in his
arms; and I knew that at that moment my father and Louis came to
understand each other better than they had ever done in their lives
“No, my poor boy,” my father said; “you need no further punishment.
Now go to your heavenly Father and ask Him to make you His child.” And
I know that Louis did so.
* * * * *
In silence we waited. Paula was the bond of love that had united us
all; not only to one another but now also to God. How wonderful, how
beautiful, had been that short life, and how she had poured out her
love upon us. Again the scene came back to me of that moonlight night
at this same bedside, when at prayer she had seemed more like an angel
talking with the One who had sent her to us, than merely the simple,
honest-hearted country girl that she really was.
Suddenly the door opened slowly and a woman poorly dressed entered,
leading a little boy of about three years old. When he saw us he
stopped and turned to hide behind the folds of his mother's dress.
“Come in, come in,” said Teresa kindly, as she led them both to the
side of my dear one lying there so white and still.
“Oh, Carlito,” exclaimed the poor woman turning to her little son as
she dropped upon her knees beside the bed. “How I wish you could
understand! This is that lovely one who saved your life! She took your
place there under the horses' hoofs!” Then taking Paula's two hands in
her own she said, “Oh, Mademoiselle, oh, that you might hear me! Would
that I might do something in return for what you have done for my boy!
Oh, is there nothing I can do?”
“Yes, my dear woman,” said our old servant—and her eyes were
streaming—“I'll tell you what you can do. Nothing would have pleased
Paula better than to have known that you had taken the Lord Jesus as
your Saviour. Also you may take this dear child and dedicate and train
him for God's service in the days to come.”
“That,” said the poor woman, “I solemnly promise to do if you will
show me how.”
Thus it was that our Teresa had the joy of pointing her first soul
to the Saviour.
Tenderly my father cut off two locks of that beautiful hair of our
dear one, and as the woman went out he said. “Take this one and keep it
always in remembrance of the rescuer of your little boy; and this other
one,” and he held out the second to her also, “keep it for him until
he's old enough to understand.”
Taking them from my father's hand she silently kissed them and
placed them in the bosom of her dress as she and her little one glided
through the outer door.
Louis had gone out on a special errand, and he soon returned,
bringing with him from the factory the object of his search. The poor
Breton, followed by his sons and all the other “scholars” of the
night-school, started to enter the room and then stopped abashed at the
threshold. At the invitation of my father however, one by one they all
came to the bedside, pale and shaken with emotion.
“I'm glad you were able to get here before the end came,” said my
father. “Oh, if you could only know how she loved you all!”
The Breton suddenly broke down and cried like a child. When he could
control himself he said, “It was but this very morning that I passed
her on the street. She seemed just like a happy bird as she waved me
'good day,'—and now—now—to find her dying here!”
“May the dear Lord's will be done!” said Teresa.
The poor Breton had buried his face in his hands, but suddenly
looking up, he said humbly,
“You're quite right, Mademoiselle Teresa—but, you see, Mademoiselle
Paula was more to me than it seems she could mean to any one of you. I
was a drunkard and a robber—a monster of iniquity! I was despised and
hated and feared by everybody, and for good reason. But there in
Celestina's kitchen that day, Mademoiselle was not afraid to take these
rough hands—these hands that had been so often stained with crime and
violence in her own pure white ones to tell me she would help me! She
it was who taught me to pray. She it was who had prayed for me while I
was in prison. I have seen men ground to pieces in the gears of a
machine in the factory. I've looked on death in many terrible forms
without shedding a tear—but this one!—oh, Mademoiselle Paula! Would
that I could have died in your place!” And again quivering with
emotion, the Breton turned and leaned against the wall to hide his
Suddenly a convulsion shook the form of my dear one and Dr. Lebon
stepped forward and took her hand. “The end is coming,” he said.
My father dropped on his knees beside the bed. “Oh, Lord,” he said,
“I, too, would be Thine own. Is it too late for me?”
At that moment a hand was laid on his shoulder. It was the same hand
that years ago had been laid on his wife's eyes to close them for the
last time. That same hand had tended and cared faithfully for his
children ever since.
“Monsieur! My good Master!” said Teresa, in a tone of tender love
and respect such as I had never heard her use before, “It is not too
late! He has said, 'Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast
My father looked up. “Well, then, Teresa—I come to Him.”
The dear old woman dropped on her knees and with folded hands simply
said, “Thanks, dear Lord, for Thou hast answered my prayer, and Paula's
* * * * *
The storm of wind and rain had passed. In the little gardens of the
“Red Cottages” across the street, the flowers once again began to raise
their heads and the birds began to sing as the sun came out once more.
Suddenly there came a soft sigh from the still form on the bed. Dr.
Lebon nodded as he turned away. His task was ended. The Good Shepherd
had taken His tired lamb in His arms.
* * * * *
Then the sound of a deep voice was heard, saying,
“Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die it abideth
alone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”