Part 2 out of 4
"'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
"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
"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 sick
"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 him.
"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
"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
"Oh, thank you, thank you so much, uncle," said Paula as she embraced him.
"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 toward
"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 you immediately."
"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 often--often!"
"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
"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.
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 them all."
"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
"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
"Catalina, Lisita and Paula have come to visit you. Would you not like to
"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 to me?"
"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 said.
"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 more."
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 retire.
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 conduct.
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
"That's true; but you couldn't go alone to the city. You'd get lost!"
"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
"How is Catalina now?" was my first question on returning from school.
"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
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
"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 said
"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
"Well, then," I murmured, "perhaps the Lord might hear me also."
Paula turned about and faced me. "But, my dear Lisita, you're not wicked."
"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.
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 puzzled air.
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
"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 preoccupation.)
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 printing."
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
"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
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 'très 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
"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 that!"
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
"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 her chance.
"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 night.
"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
"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 head.
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
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 enough."
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 surprising self-possession.
"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
"What a lot of packages!" said Rosa, on seeing all the bundles tied up with
"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, Paula!"
"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 cards.
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 package.
"One of them is for Rosa and the other is for Louis," said Paula simply.
"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
"I don't know whether I should be angry or content," he said, with a dry
"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, Paula?"
"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 yourself?"
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
My father looked at her searchingly, with that new tenderness which I had
seen frequently lately, and then left the room without another word.
"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.
A LITTLE GLIMPSE OF HEAVEN
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
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 us."
"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
"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 me.
"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 continued:
"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 storm.
"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
"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
Catalina looked at my father furtively, and noticed that his face remained
serene, almost tender, and so she hastened to profit by the occasion.
"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
"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 to?"
"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."
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 delicious
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
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 begin.
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 nurses.
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 health.
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 mothers.
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
"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
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 description.
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," she
"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 comment.
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
"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 answered
"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 real
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
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 sister's shoulder.
"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
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
"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 everything."
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 downstairs.
"Look," said my father, pointing to the upper window. There was Paula, with
a radiant face, waving her handkerchief in good-bye to all of us!
"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," said
"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," said
This was also what our grandmother said, when we explained Paula's absence.
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
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
"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
"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 him."
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 trembling.
"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
"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 me?"
"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
"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 Paula.
"Run, run!" I cried; but Joseph and his companions cut off the only path of
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 doctor.
"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 you."
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 good."
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 another box.
"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
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 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
Louisa shook her head sadly.
"No, nobody loves me. And to tell you the truth, I don't love anyone else
"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
"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, Louisa?"
"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 long."
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
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 Jesus."
"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
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
"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 heaven."
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 him?"
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.
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
"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 little book."
"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, Paula?"
"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 Bible."
"But that wouldn't be a present," I said.
"No, but it would give me more pleasure than any present," sighed Paula.
* * * * *
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
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
"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 Valley.
"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
"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
"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 daughter?"
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
"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 Jesus."
"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!"
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
"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."