Part 3 out of 4
"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 woman!"
"Of whom were you speaking?" asked Teresa, who appeared at that moment.
"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
"Mlle. Virtud is absolutely right, for she makes the punishment fit the
"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 somebody."
"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 the porch."
"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
"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
"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 your promise."
"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 hall.
"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 Virtud."
"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
"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 better."
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
"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 thought.
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
"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
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 oldest."
"How is it that Gabriel is not at home with his parents?" questioned Paula.
"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 who--"
"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, Lisita?"
"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
"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
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
"Ah, you have visitors, Mademoiselle," as she stopped a moment near the
"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
"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, Paula."
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 Mademoiselle."
"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 time."
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 said.
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 Mademoiselle
"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 do."
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.
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 hardly noticed.
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
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 these
"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
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 friends."
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
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
"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 forever."
"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!"
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 smile.
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
"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 morning."
"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
"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
"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 drunkard's
"Don't you be afraid, Lisita," said Paula, taking my trembling hand in
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 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 asked us.
"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
"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
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 health."
"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
"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
Hardly had she finished when uncertain steps were heard coming down the
passage. The door suddenly burst open and a man staggered into the room.
"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 house."
"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 your
"And suppose I don't care to sit down! Do I look as if I were tired?"
"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
"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
"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 of coffee."
"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
Again Celestina answered for us--"The smaller girl is the daughter of
Monsieur Dumas, and the other is her cousin, Mademoiselle Paula Javanel."
"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!" 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 years ago.
"They called me that," explained Paula, "because I once saved a cat's
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 with Celestina."
"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
"For years, you say! And who then taught her to pray?" said the Breton
"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 confronted her.
"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
"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 doubtful.
"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
"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
"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 justice.
"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. 2:3-6).
"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 Breton!"
"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 tear."
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 flee away."
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.
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 from me!"
"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 anxious tone,
"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
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
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 tonight."
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
"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
"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 Teresa.
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
"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 cordial one.
"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 face.
"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
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
"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 master's factory!"
"My! How glad I am!" exclaimed Paula.
"Yes, Mademoiselle, but I have you to thank for your great kindness to me."
"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 leave.
"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 playground."
"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.
THE YOUNG SCHOOL-MISTRESS
The following day Paula had a word with my father regarding the matter.
"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 town.
"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 his
"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 spellbound!
"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 work.
"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
"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
"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
"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 start again.
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 tonight"
"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 about it"
"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 another.
"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 about
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 Bouché 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 neighborhood
* * * * *
"Tell me, Paula," said my father one evening, "how is the new pupil coming
"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
"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
"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 too."
"Oh, Paula, Paula!" said my father--"where is all this going to end?"
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
"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
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 protegés of yours will have very
little to complain of."
"Oh, uncle dear!" shouted Paula, delighted, "what are you planning to do?"
"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."
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
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
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
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 followed.
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 dress.
"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
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
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
"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 Bouché 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 so amiable."
"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 quite
"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 colossal indifference.
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.
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 quickly.
"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 fault.
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
"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 excitedly.
"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 of late.
"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 Celestina.
"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!"
* * * * *