Angelique was dying.
It was ten o’clock one cold morning towards the end of the winter, the air was sharp, and the clear heavens were brightened up by the beautiful sunshine. In her great royal bed, draped with its old, faded, rose-coloured chintz, she lay motionless, having been unconscious during the whole night. Stretched upon her back, her little ivory-like hands carelessly thrown upon the sheet, she no longer even opened her eyes, and her finely-cut profile looked more delicate than ever under the golden halo of her hair; in fact, anyone who had seen her would have thought her already dead, had it not been for the slight breathing movement of her lips.
The day before, Angelique, realising that she was very ill, had confessed, and partaken of the Communion. Towards three o’clock in the afternoon the good Abbe Cornille had brought to her the sacred Viaticum. Then in the evening, as the chill of death gradually crept over her, a great desire came to her to receive the Extreme Unction, that celestial remedy, instituted for the cure of both the soul and body. Before losing consciousness, her last words, scarcely murmured, were understood by Hubertine, as in hesitating sentences she expressed her wish for the holy oils. “Yes — oh yes! — as quickly — as possible — before it is too late.”
But death advanced. They had waited until day, and the Abbe, having been notified, was about to come.
Everything was now ready to receive the clergyman. The Huberts had just finished arranging the room. Under the gay sunlight, which at this early morning hour struck fully upon the window-panes, it looked pure as the dawn in the nudity of its great white walls. The table had been covered with a fresh damask cloth. At the right and the left of the crucifix two large wax-tapers were burning in the silver candelabrum which had been brought up from the parlour, and there were also there the consecrated wafers, the asperges brush, an ewer of water with its basin and a napkin, and two plates of white porcelain, one of which was filled with long bits of cotton, and the other with little cornets of paper. The greenhouses of the lower town had been thoroughly searched, but the only inodorous flowers that had been found were the peonies — great white peonies, enormous tufts of which adorned the table, like a shimmering of white lace. And in the midst of this intense whiteness, Angelique, dying, with closed eyes, still breathed gently with a half-perceptible breath.
The doctor, who had made his first morning visit, had said that she could not live through the day. She might, indeed, pass away at any moment, without even having come to her senses at all. The Huberts, resolute and grave, waited in silent despair. Notwithstanding their grief and tears, it was evidently necessary that this should be the end. If they had ever wished for this death, preferring to lose their dear child rather than to have her rebellious, it was evident that God also wished it with them, and now, that in this last trying moment they were quite powerless, they could only submit themselves to the inevitable. They regretted nothing, although their sorrow seemed greater than they could bear. Since she, their darling, had been there, suffering from her long illness, they had taken the entire care of her day and night, refusing all aid offered them from outside. They were still there alone in this supreme hour, and they waited.
Hubert, scarcely knowing what he did, walked mechanically to the porcelain stove, the door of which he opened, for the gentle roaring of the flaming wood sounded to him like a plaintive moan; then there was a perfect silence. The peonies seemed even to turn paler in the soft heat of the room.
Hubertine, stronger than her husband, and still fully conscious of all she did, listened to the sounds of the Cathedral as they came to her from behind the walls. During the past moment the old stones had vibrated from the swinging of the bell of the great tower. It must certainly be the Abbe Cornille leaving the church with the sacred oils, she thought; so she went downstairs, that she might receive him at the door of the house.
Two minutes later, the narrow stairway of the little tower was filled with a great murmuring sound. Then in the warm chamber, Hubert, struck with astonishment, suddenly began to tremble, whilst a religious fear, mingled with a faint hope, made him fall upon his knees. Instead of the old clergyman whom they had expected, it was Monseigneur who entered. Yes! Monseigneur, in lace surplice, having the violet stole, and carrying the silver vessel in which was the oil for the sick, which he himself had blessed on Holy Thursday. His eagle-like eyes were fixed, as he looked straight before him; his beautiful pale face was really majestic under the thick, curly masses of his white hair. Behind him walked the Abbe Cornille, like a simple clerk, carrying in one hand a crucifix, and under the other a book of ritual service.
Standing for a moment upon the threshold, the bishop said in a deep, grave voice:
“Pax huic domui.” (“Peace be to this house.")
“Et omnibus habitantibus in ea,” replied the priest in a lower tone. (“And to all the inhabitants thereof.")
When they had entered, Hubertine, who had come up the stairs after them, she also trembling from surprise and emotion, went and knelt by the side of her husband. Both of them prostrated themselves most humbly, and prayed fervently from the depths of their souls.
A few hours after his last visit to Angelique, Felicien had had the terrible and dreaded explanation with his father. Early in the morning of that same day he had found open the doors, he had penetrated even into the Oratory, where the Bishop was still at prayer, after one of those nights of frightful struggling against the memories of the past, which would so constantly reappear before him. In the soul of this hitherto always respectful son, until now kept submissive by fear, rebellion against authority, so long a time stifled, suddenly broke forth, and the collision of these two men of the same blood, with natures equally prompt to violence, was intense. The old man had left his devotional chair, and with cheeks growing purple by degrees, he listened silently as he stood there in his proud obstinacy. The young man, with face equally inflamed, poured out everything that was in his heart, speaking in a voice that little by little grew louder and rebuking. He said that Angelique was not only ill, but dying. He told him that in a pressing moment of temptation, overcome by his deep affection, he had wished to take her away with him that they might flee together, and that she, with the submissive humility of a saint, and chaste as a lily, had refused to accompany him. Would it not be a most abominable murder to allow this obedient young girl to die, because she had been unwilling to accept him unless when offered to her by the hand of his father? She loved him so sincerely that she could die for him. In fact, she could have had him, with his name and his fortune, but she had said “No,” and, triumphant over her feelings, she had struggled with herself in order to do her duty. Now, after such a proof of her goodness, could he permit her to suffer so much grief? Like her, he would be willing to give up everything, to die even, if it might be, and he realised that he was cowardly. He despised himself for not being at her side, that they might pass out of life together, by the same breath. Was it possible that anyone could be so cruel as to wish to torment them, that they should both have so sad a death, when one word, one simple word, would secure them such bliss? Ah! the pride of name, the glory of wealth, persistence in one’s determination: all these were nothing in comparison to the fact that by the union of two hearts the eternal happiness of two human beings was assured. He joined his hands together, he twisted them feverishly, quite beside himself as he demanded his father’s consent, still supplicating, already almost threatening. But the Bishop, with face deeply flushed by the mounting of his blood, with swollen lips, with flaming eyes, terrible in his unexpressed anger, at last opened his mouth, only to reply by this word of parental authority: “Never!”
Then Felicien, absolutely raving in his rebellion, lost all control over himself.
He spoke of his mother, he really threatened his father by the remembrance of the dead. It was she who had come back again in the shape of her son to vindicate and reclaim the right of affection. Could it be that his father had never loved her? Had he even rejoiced in her death, since he showed himself so harsh towards those who loved each other, and who wished to live? But he might well do all he could to become cold in the renunciations demanded by the Church; she would come back to haunt and to torture him, because he was willing to torture the child they had had, the living witness of their affection for each other. She would always be there, so long as their son lived. She wished to reappear in the children of their child for ever. And he was causing her to die over again, by refusing to her son the betrothed of his choice, the one through whom the race was to be continued. When a man had once been married to a woman, he should never think of wedding the Church. Face to face with his father, who, motionless, appeared in his fearful silence to grow taller and taller, he uttered unfilial, almost murderous words. Then, shocked at himself, he rushed away, shuddering at the extent to which passion had carried him.
When once more alone, Monseigneur, as if stabbed in the full breast by a sharp weapon, turned back upon himself and struggled deeply with his soul, as he knelt upon his prie-Dieu. A half-rattling sound came from his throat. Oh! these frightful heart contests, these invincible weaknesses of the flesh. This woman, and his beloved dead, who was constantly coming back to life, he adored her now, as he did the first evening when he kissed her white feet; and this son, he idolised him as belonging to her, as a part of her life, which she had left to him. And even the young girl, the little working girl whom he had repulsed, he loved her also with a tenderness like that of his son for her. Now his nights were inexpressibly agitated by all three. Without his having been willing to acknowledge it, had she then touched him so deeply as he saw her in the great Cathedral, this little embroiderer, with her golden hair, her fresh pure neck, in all the perfume of her youth? He saw her again; she passed before him, so delicate, so pure in her victorious submission. No remorse could have come to him with a step more certain or more conquering. He might reject her with a loud voice. He knew well that henceforth she held him strongly by the heart with her humble hands that bore the signs of work. Whilst Felicien was so violently beseeching him, he seemed to see them both behind the blonde head of the petitioner — these two idolised women, the one for whom his son prayed, and the one who had died for her child. They were there in all their physical beauty, in all their loving devotion, and he could not tell where he had found strength to resist, so entirely did his whole being go out towards them. Overcome, sobbing, not knowing how he could again become calm, he demanded from Heaven the courage to tear out his heart, since this heart belonged no longer to God alone.
Until evening Monseigneur continued at prayer. When he at last reappeared he was white as wax, distressed, anxious, but still resolute. He could do nothing more, but he repeated to his son the terrible word —“Never!” It was God alone who had the right to relieve him from his promise; and God, although implored, gave him no sign of change. It was necessary to suffer.
Some days had passed. Felicien constantly wandered round the little house, wild with grief, eager for news. Each time that he saw anyone come out he almost fainted from fear. Thus it happened that on the morning when Hubertine ran to the church to ask for the sacred oils, he learned that Angelique could not live through the day. The Abbe Cornille was not at the Sacristy, and he rushed about the town to find him, still having a last hope that through the intervention of the good man some Divine aid might come. Then, as he brought back with him the sought-for clergyman, his hope left him, and he had a frightful attack of doubt and anger. What should he do? In what way could he force Heaven to come to his assistance? He went away, hastened to the Bishop’s palace, the doors of which he again forced open, and before his incoherent words his father was for a moment frightened. At last he understood. Angelique was dying! She awaited the Extreme Unction, and now God alone could save her. The young man had only come to cry out all his agony, to break all relations with this cruel, unnatural father, and to accuse him to his face of willingly allowing this death. But Monseigneur listened to him without anger: upright and very serious, his eyes suddenly brightened with a strange clearness, as if an inner voice had spoken to him. Motioning to his son to lead the way, he followed him, simply saying at last:
“If God wishes it, I also wish it.”
Felicien trembled so that he could scarcely move. His father consented, freed from his personal vow, to submit himself to the goodwill of the hoped-for miracle. Henceforth they, as individuals, counted for nothing. God must act for himself. Tears blinded him. Whilst in the Sacristy Monseigneur took the sacred oils from the hands of the Abbe Cornille. He accompanied them, almost staggering; he did not dare to enter into the chamber, but fell upon his knees at the threshold of the door, which was open wide.
The voice of the Bishop was firm, as he said:
“Pax huic domui.”
“Et omnibus habitantibus in ea,” the priest replied.
Monseigneur had just placed on the white table, between the two wax-candles, the sacred oils, making in the air the sign of the cross, with the silver vase. Then he took from the hands of the Abbe the crucifix, and approached the sufferer that he might make her kiss it. But Angelique was still unconscious: her eyes were closed, her mouth shut, her hands rigid, and looking like the little stiff figures of stone placed upon tombs. He examined her for a moment, and, seeing by the slight movement of her chest that she was not dead, he placed upon her lips the crucifix. He waited. His face preserved the majesty of a minister of penitence, and no signs of emotion were visible when he realised that not even a quivering had passed over the exquisite profile of the young girl, nor in her beautiful hair. She still lived, however, and that was sufficient for the redemption of her sins.
The Abbe then gave to Monseigneur the vessel of holy water and the asperges brush, and while he held open before him the ritual book, he threw the holy water upon the dying girl, as he read the Latin words, Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor. (“Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.")
The drops sprang forth in every direction, and the whole bed was refreshed by them as if sprinkled with dew. It rained upon her hands and upon her cheeks; but one by one the drops rolled away as if from insensible marble. At last the Bishop turned towards the assistants and sprinkled them in their turn. Hubert and Hubertine, kneeling side by side, in the full union of their perfect faith, bent humbly under the shower of this benediction. Then Monseigneur blessed also the chamber, the furniture, the white walls in all their bare purity, and as he passed near the door he found himself before his son, who had fallen down on the threshold, and was sobbing violently, having covered his face with his burning hands. With a slow movement, he raised three times the asperges brush, and he purified him with a gentle rain. This holy water, spread everywhere, was intended at first to drive away all evil spirits, who were flying by crowds, although invisible. Just at this moment a pale ray of the winter sun passed over the bed, and a multitude of atoms, light specks of dust, seemed to be living therein. They were innumerable as they came down from an angle of the window, as if to bathe with their warmth the cold hands of the dying.
Going again towards the table, Monseigneur repeated the prayer, ”Exaudi nos.” (“Give ear to us.")
He made no haste. It was true that death was there, hovering near the old, faded chintz curtains, but he knew that it was patient, and that it would wait. And although in her state of utter prostration the child could not hear him, he addressed her as he asked her:
“Is there nothing upon your conscience which distresses you? Confess all your doubts and fears, my daughter; relieve your mind.”
She was still in the same position, and she was always silent. When, in vain, he had given time for a reply, he commenced the exhortation with the same full voice, without appearing to notice that none of his words reached her ear.
“Collect your thoughts, meditate, demand from the depths of your soul pardon from God. The Sacrament will purify you, and will strengthen you anew. Your eyes will become clear, your ears chaste, your nostrils fresh, your mouth pure, your hands innocent.”
With eyes fixed upon her, he continued reading to the end all that was necessary for him to say; while she scarcely breathed, nor did one of her closed eyelids move. Then he said:
“Recite the Creed.”
And having waited awhile, he repeated it himself:
“Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem.” (“I believe in one God, the Father Almighty.")
“Amen,” replied the Abbe Cornille.
All this time the heavy sobbing of Felicien was heard, as upon the landing-place he wept in the enervation of hope. Hubert and Hubertine still prayed fervently, with the same anxious waiting and desire, as if they had felt descend upon them all the invisible powers of the Unknown. A change now came in the service, from the murmur of half-spoken prayers. Then the litanies of the ritual were unfolded, the invocation to all the Saints, the flight of the Kyrie Eleison, calling Heaven to the aid of miserable humanity, mounting each time with great outbursts, like the fume of incense.
Then the voices suddenly fell, and there was a deep silence. Monseigneur washed his fingers in the few drops of water that the Abbe poured out from the ewer. At length he took the vessel of sacred oil, opened the cover thereof, and placed himself before the bed. It was the solemn approach of the Sacrament of this last religious ceremony, by the efficacy of which are effaced all mortal or venial sins not pardoned, which rest in the soul after having received the other sacraments, old remains of forgotten sins, sins committed unwittingly, sins of languor which prevented one from being firmly re-established in the grace of God. The pure white chamber seemed to be like the individuals collected therein, motionless, and in a state of surprise and expectation. Where could all these sins be found? They must certainly come from outside in this great band of sun’s rays, filled with dancing specks of dust, which appeared to bring germs of life even to this great royal couch, so white and cold from the coming of death to a pure young maiden.
Monseigneur meditated a moment, fixing his looks again upon Angelique, assuring himself that the slight breath had not ceased, struggling against all human emotion, as he saw how thin she was, with the beauty of an archangel, already immaterial. His voice retained the authority of a divine disinterestedness, and his thumb did not tremble when he dipped it into the sacred oils as he commenced the unctions on the five parts of the body where dwell the senses: the five windows by which evil enters into the soul.
First upon the eyes, upon the closed eyelids, the right and then the left; and slowly, lightly, he traced with his thumb the sign of the Cross.
“Per istam sanctam unctionem, et suam piissimam misericordiam, indulgeat tibi Dominus quidquid per visum deliquisti.” (“By this holy anointing and His gracious mercy, the Lord forgive whatever sins thou hast committed through seeing.")[*]
[*] This formula is repeated with reference to the other senses — hearing, smell, taste, and touch.
And the sins of the sight were redeemed; lascivious looks, immodest curiosity, the pride of spectacles, unwholesome readings, tears shed for guilty troubles.
And she, dear child, knew no other book than the “Golden Legend,” no other horizon than the apse of the Cathedral, which hid from view all the rest of the world. She had wept only in the struggle of obedience and the renunciation of passion.
The Abbe Cornille wiped both her eyes with a bit of cotton, which he afterwards put into one of the little cornets of paper.
Then Monseigneur anointed the ears, with their lobes as delicate and transparent as pearl, first the right ear, afterwards the left, scarcely moistened with the sign of the cross.
“Per istam sanctam unctionem, et suam piissimam misericordiam, indulgeat tibi Dominus quidquid per auditum deliquisti.”
So all the abominations of hearing were atoned for: all the words and music which corrupt, the slanders, the calumnies, the blasphemies, the sinful propositions listened to with complacency, the falsehoods of love which aided the forgetfulness of duty, the profane songs which excited the senses, the violins of the orchestra which, as it were, wept voluptuously under the brilliant lights.
She in her isolated life, like that of a cloistered nun — she had never even heard the free gossip of the neighbours, or the oath of a carman as he whips his horses. The only music that had ever entered her ears was that of the sacred hymns, the rumblings of the organs, the confused murmurings of prayers, with which at times vibrated all this fresh little house, so close to the side of the great church.
The Abbe, after having dried the ears with cotton, put that bit also into one of the white cornets.
Monseigneur now passed to the nostrils, the right and then the left, like two petals of a white rose, which he purified by touching them with the sacred oil and making on them the sign of the cross.
“Per istam sanctam unctionem, et suam piissimam misericordiam, indulgeat tibi Dominus quidquid per odoratum deliquisti.”
And the sense of smell returned to its primitive innocence, cleansed from all stain: not only from the carnal disgrace of perfumes, from the seduction of flowers with breath too sweet, from the scattered fragrances of the air which put the soul to sleep; but yet again from the faults of the interior sense, the bad examples given to others, and the contagious pestilence of scandal. Erect and pure, she had at last become a lily among the lilies, a great lily whose perfume fortified the weak and delighted the strong. In fact, she was so truly delicate that she could never endure the powerful odour of carnations, the musk of lilacs, the feverish sweetness of hyacinths, and was only at ease with the scentless blossoms, like the marguerites and the periwinkles.
Once more the Abbe, with the cotton, dried the anointed parts, and slipped the little tuft into another of the cornets.
Then Monseigneur, descending to the closed mouth, through which the faint breath was now scarcely perceptible, made upon the lower lip the sign of the cross.
“Per istam sanctam unctionem, et suam piissimam misericordiam, indulgeat tibi Dominus quidquid per gustum deliquisti.”
This time it was the pardon for the base gratifications of taste, greediness, too great a desire for wine, or for sweets; but especially the forgiveness for sins of the tongue, that universally guilty member, the provoker, the poisoner, the inventor of quarrels, the inciter to wars, which makes one utter words of error and falsehood which at length obscure even the heavens. Yet her whole mouth was only a chalice of innocence. She had never had the vice of gluttony, for she had taught herself, like Elizabeth, to eat whatever was set before her, without paying great attention to her food. And if it were true that she lived in error, it was the fault of her dream which had placed her there, the hope of a beyond, the consolation of what was invisible, and all the world of enchantment which her ignorance had created and which had made of her a saint.
The Abbe having dried the lips, folded the bit of cotton in the fourth white cornet.
At last Monseigneur anointed first the right and then the left palms of the two little ivory-like hands, lying open upon the sheet, and cleansed them from their sins with the sign of the cross.
“Per istam sanctam unctionem, et suam piissimam misericordiam, indulgeat tibi Dominus quidquid per tactum deliquisti.”
And the whole body was purified, being washed from its last spots — those of the touch the most repugnant of all. Pilfering, fighting, murder, without counting other sins of the breast, the body, and the feet, which were also redeemed by this unction. All which burns in the flesh, our anger, our desires, our unruled passions, the snares and pitfalls into which we run, and all forbidden joys by which we are tempted. Since she had been there, dying from her victory over herself, she had conquered her few failings, her pride and her passion, as if she had inherited original sin simply for the glory of triumphing over it. She knew not, even, that she had had other wishes, that love had drawn her towards disobedience, so armed was she with the breastplate of ignorance of evil, so pure and white was her soul.
The Abbe wiped the little motionless hands, and putting the last puff of cotton in the remaining cornet, he threw the five papers into the fire at the back of the stove.
The ceremony was finished. Monseigneur washed his fingers before saying the final prayer. He had now only to again exhort the dying, in placing in her hand the symbolic taper, to drive away the demons, and to show that she had just recovered her baptismal innocence. But she remained rigid, her eyes closed, her mouth shut as if dead. The holy oils had purified her body, the signs of the cross had left their traces on the five windows of the soul, without making the slightest wave of colour, or of life, mount to her cheeks.
Although implored and hoped for, the prodigy did not appear, and the room was silent and anxious. Hubert and Hubertine, still kneeling side by side, no longer prayed, but, with their eyes fixed upon their darling, gazed so earnestly that they both seemed motionless for ever, like the figures of the donataires who await the Resurrection in a corner of an old painted glass window. Felicien had drawn himself up on his knees and was now at the door, having ceased from sobbing, as with head erect he also might see if God would always remain deaf to their prayers. Was it then a mere lure? Would not this holy Sacrament bring her back to life?
For the last time Monseigneur approached the bed, followed by the Abbe Cornille, who held, already lighted, the wax-taper which was to be placed in the hand of the young girl. And the Bishop, not willing to acknowledge the state of unconsciousness in which she remained, determining to go even to the end of the rite, that God might have time in which to work, pronounced the formula:—
“Accipe lampadem ardentem, custodi unctionem tuam, ut cum Dominus ad judicandum venerit, possis occurrere ei cum omnibus sanctis et vivas in saecula saeculorum.” (“Receive this light, and keep the unction thou hast received, that when the Lord shall come to judgment thou mayest meet Him with all His saints, and live with Him for ever and ever.")
“Amen,” replied the Abbe.
But when they endeavoured to open Angelique’s hand and to press it round the taper, the hand, powerless, as if already dead, escaped them and fell back upon her breast.
Then, little by little, Monseigneur yielded to a great nervous trembling. It was the emotion which, for a long time restrained, now broke out within him, carrying away with it the last rigidity of priesthood. He dearly loved her, this child, from the day when she had come to sob at his feet, so innocent, and showing so plainly the pure freshness of her youth. Since then, in his nights of distress, he had contended chiefly against her, to defend himself from the overwhelming tenderness with which she inspired him. At this moment she was worthy of pity, with this pallor of death, with an ethereal beauty which showed, however, so deep a suffering that he could not look at her without his heart being secretly overwhelmed with distress.
He could no longer control himself. His eyelids were swollen by the great tears which at last rolled down his cheeks. She must not die in this way: he was conquered by her touching charms even in death, and all his paternal feelings went out towards her.
Then Monseigneur, recalling to mind the numerous miracles of his race, the power which had been given them by Heaven to heal, thought that doubtless God awaited his consent as a father. He invoked Saint Agnes, before whom all his ancestors had offered up their devotions, and as Jean V d’Hautecoeur prayed at the bedside of those smitten by the plague and kissed them, so now he prayed and kissed Angelique upon her lips.
“If God wishes, I also wish it.”
Immediately Angelique opened her eyelids. She looked at the Bishop without surprise as she awoke from her long trance, and, her lips still warm from the kiss, smiled upon him. These things were not strange to her, for they certainly must have been realised sooner or later, and it might be that she was coming out of one dream only to have another still; but it seemed to her perfectly natural that Monseigneur should have come to betroth her to Felicien, since the hour for that ceremony had arrived. In a few minutes, unaided, she sat up in the middle of her great royal bed.
The Bishop, radiant, showing by his expression his clear appreciation of the remarkable prodigy, repeated the formula:—
“Accipe lampadem ardentem, custodi unctionem tuam, ut cum Dominus ad judicandum venerit, possis occurrere ei cum omnibus sanctis et vivas in saecula saeculorum.”
“Amen,” replied the Abbe.
Angelique had taken the lighted taper, and held it up with a firm hand. Life had come back to her, like the flame of the candle, which was burning clear and bright, driving away the spirits of the night.
A great cry resounded through the room. Felicien was standing up, as if raised by the power of the miracle, while the Huberts, overwhelmed by the same feeling, remained upon their knees, with wonder-stricken eyes, with delighted countenances, before that which they had seen. The bed had appeared to them enveloped with a brilliant light; white masses seemed still to be mounting up on the rays of the sunlight, and the great walls, the whole room in fact, kept a white lustre, as that of snow.
In the midst of all, Angelique, like a refreshed lily, replaced upon its branch, appeared in the clear light. Her fine golden hair was like a halo of glory around her head, her violet-coloured eyes shone divinely, and her pure face beamed with a living splendour.
Felicien, seeing that she was saved, touched by the Divine grace that Heaven had vouchsafed them, approached her, and knelt by the side of the bed.
“Ah! dear soul, you recognise us now, and you will live. I am yours. My father wishes it to be so, since God has desired it.”
She bowed her head, smiling sweetly as she said, “Oh! I knew it must be so, and waited for it. All that I have foreseen will come to pass.”
Monseigneur, who had regained his usual proud serenity, placed the crucifix once more on her lips, and this time she kissed it as a submissive servant. Then, with a full movement of his hands, through the room, above the heads of all present, the Bishop gave the final benediction, while the Huberts and the Abbe Cornille wept.
Felicien had taken one of the little hands of Angelique, while in the other little hand the taper of innocence burned bright and clear.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:15