The sun shone brightly on the roof of the Cathedral, a fresh odour of lilacs came up from the bushes in the garden of the Bishop. Angelique smiled, as she stood there, dazzled, and as if bathed in the springtide. Then, starting as if suddenly awakened from sleep, she said:
“Father, I have no more gold thread for my work.”
Hubert, who had just finished pricking the tracing of the pattern of a cope, went to get a skein from the case of drawers, cut it, tapered off the two ends by scratching the gold which covered the silk, and he brought it to her rolled up in parchment.
“Is that all you need?”
With a quick glance she had assured herself that nothing more was wanting; the needles were supplied with the different golds, the red, the green, and the blue; there were spools of every shade of silk; the spangles were ready; and the twisted wires for the gold lace were in the crown of a hat which served as a box, with the long fine needles, the steel pincers, the thimbles, the scissors, and the ball of wax. All these were on the frame even, or on the material stretched therein, which was protected by a thick brown paper.
She had threaded a needle with the gold thread. But at the first stitch it broke, and she was obliged to thread it again, breaking off tiny bits of the gold, which she threw immediately into the pasteboard waste-basket which was near her.
“Now at last I am ready,” she said, as she finished her first stitch.
Perfect silence followed. Hubert was preparing to stretch some material on another frame. He had placed the two heavy ends on the chantlate and the trestle directly opposite in such a way as to take lengthwise the red silk of the cope, the breadths of which Hubertine had just stitched together, and fitting the laths into the mortice of the beams, he fastened them with four little nails. Then, after smoothing the material many times from right to left, he finished stretching it and tacked on the nails. To assure himself that it was thoroughly tight and firm, he tapped on the cloth with his fingers and it sounded like a drum.
Angelique had become a most skilful worker, and the Huberts were astonished at her cleverness and taste. In addition to what they had taught her, she carried into all she did her personal enthusiasm, which gave life to flowers and faith to symbols. Under her hands, silk and gold seemed animated; the smaller ornaments were full of mystic meaning; she gave herself up to it entirely, with her imagination constantly active and her firm belief in the infinitude of the invisible world.
The Diocese of Beaumont had been so charmed with certain pieces of her embroidery, that a clergyman who was an archaeologist, and another who was an admirer of pictures, had come to see her, and were in raptures before her Virgins, which they compared to the simple gracious figures of the earliest masters. There was the same sincerity, the same sentiment of the beyond, as if encircled in the minutest perfection of detail. She had the real gift of design, a miraculous one indeed, which, without a teacher, with nothing but her evening studies by lamplight, enabled her often to correct her models, to deviate entirely from them, and to follow her own fancies, creating beautiful things with the point of her needle. So the Huberts, who had always insisted that a thorough knowledge of the science of drawing was necessary to make a good embroiderer, were obliged to yield before her, notwithstanding their long experience. And, little by little, they modestly withdrew into the background, becoming simply her aids, surrendering to her all the most elaborate work, the under part of which they prepared for her.
From one end of the year to the other, what brilliant and sacred marvels passed through her hands! She was always occupied with silks, satins, velvets, or cloths of gold or silver. She embroidered chasubles, stoles, maniples, copes, dalmatics, mitres, banners, and veils for the chalice and the pyx. But, above all, their orders for chasubles never failed, and they worked constantly at those vestments, with their five colours: the white, for Confessors and Virgins; the red, for Apostles and Martyrs; the black, for the days of fasting and for the dead; the violet, for the Innocents; and the green for fete-days. Gold was also often used in place of white or of green. The same symbols were always in the centre of the Cross: the monograms of Jesus and of the Virgin Mary, the triangle surrounded with rays, the lamb, the pelican, the dove, a chalice, a monstrance, and a bleeding heart pierced with thorns; while higher up and on the arms were designs, or flowers, all the ornamentation being in the ancient style, and all the flora in large blossoms, like anemones, tulips, peonies, pomegranates, or hortensias. No season passed in which she did not remake the grapes and thorns symbolic, putting silver on black, and gold on red. For the most costly vestments, she varied the pictures of the heads of saints, having, as a central design, the Annunciation, the Last Supper, or the Crucifixion. Sometimes the orfreys were worked on the original material itself; at others, she applied bands of silk or satin on brocades of gold cloth, or of velvet. And all this efflorescence of sacred splendour was created, little by little, by her deft fingers. At this moment the vestment on which Angelique was at work was a chasuble of white satin, the cross of which was made by a sheaf of golden lilies intertwined with bright roses, in various shades of silk. In the centre, in a wreath of little roses of dead gold, was the monogram of the Blessed Virgin, in red and green gold, with a great variety of ornaments.
For an hour, during which she skilfully finished the little roses, the silence had not been broken even by a single word. But her thread broke again, and she re-threaded her needle by feeling carefully under the frame, as only an adroit person can do. Then, as she raised her head, she again inhaled with satisfaction the pure, fresh air that came in from the garden.
“Ah!” she said softly, “how beautiful it was yesterday! The sunshine is always perfect.”
Hubertine shook her head as she stopped to wax her thread.
“As for me, I am so wearied, it seems as if I had no arms, and it tires me to work. But that is not strange, for I so seldom go out, and am no longer young and strong, as you are at sixteen.”
Angelique had reseated herself and resumed her work. She prepared the lilies by sewing bits of vellum on certain places that had been marked, so as to give them relief, but the flowers themselves were not to be made until later, for fear the gold be tarnished were the hands moved much over it.
Hubert, who, having finished arranging the material in its frame, was about drawing with pumice the pattern of the cope, joined in the conversation and said: “These first warm days of spring are sure to give me a terrible headache.”
Angelique’s eyes seemed to be vaguely lost in the rays which now fell upon one of the flying buttresses of the church, as she dreamily added: “Oh no, father, I do not think so. One day in the lively air, like yesterday, does me a world of good.”
Having finished the little golden leaves, she began one of the large roses, near the lilies. Already she had threaded several needles with the silks required, and she embroidered in stitches varying in length, according to the natural position and movement of the petals, and notwithstanding the extreme delicacy and absorbing nature of this work, the recollections of the previous day, which she lived over again in thought and in silence, now came to her lips, and crowded so closely upon each other that she no longer tried to keep them back. So she talked of their setting out upon their expedition, of the beautiful fields they crossed, of their lunch over there in the ruins of Hautecoeur, upon the flagstones of a little room whose tumble-down walls towered far above the Ligneul, which rolled gently among the willows fifty yards below them.
She was enthusiastic over these crumbling ruins, and the scattered blocks of stone among the brambles, which showed how enormous the colossal structure must have been as, when first built, it commanded the two valleys. The donjon remained, nearly two hundred feet in height, discoloured, cracked, but nevertheless firm, upon its foundation pillars fifteen feet thick. Two of its towers had also resisted the attacks of Time — that of Charlemagne and that of David — united by a heavy wall almost intact. In the interior, the chapel, the court-room, and certain chambers were still easily recognised; and all this appeared to have been built by giants, for the steps of the stairways, the sills of the windows, and the branches on the terraces, were all on a scale far out of proportion for the generation of to-day. It was, in fact, quite a little fortified city. Five hundred men could have sustained there a siege of thirty months without suffering from want of ammunition or of provisions. For two centuries the bricks of the lowest story had been disjointed by the wild roses; lilacs and laburnums covered with blossoms the rubbish of the fallen ceilings; a plane-tree had even grown up in the fireplace of the guardroom. But when, at sunset, the outline of the donjon cast its long shadow over three leagues of cultivated ground, and the colossal Chateau seemed to be rebuilt in the evening mists, one still felt the great strength, and the old sovereignty, which had made of it so impregnable a fortress that even the kings of France trembled before it.
“And I am sure,” continued Angelique, “that it is inhabited by the souls of the dead, who return at night. All kinds of noises are heard there; in every direction are monsters who look at you, and when I turned round as we were coming away, I saw great white figures fluttering above the wall. But, mother, you know all the history of the castle, do you not?”
Hubertine replied, as she smiled in an amused way: “Oh! as for ghosts, I have never seen any of them myself.”
But in reality, she remembered perfectly the history, which she had read long ago, and to satisfy the eager questionings of the young girl, she was obliged to relate it over again.
The land belonged to the Bishopric of Rheims, since the days of Saint Remi, who had received it from Clovis.
An archbishop, Severin, in the early years of the tenth century, had erected at Hautecoeur a fortress to defend the country against the Normans, who were coming up the river Oise, into which the Ligneul flows.
In the following century a successor of Severin gave it in fief to Norbert, a younger son of the house of Normandy, in consideration of an annual quit-rent of sixty sous, and on the condition that the city of Beaumont and its church should remain free and unincumbered. It was in this way that Norbert I became the head of the Marquesses of Hautecoeur, whose famous line from that date became so well known in history. Herve IV, excommunicated twice for his robbery of ecclesiastical property, became a noted highwayman, who killed, on a certain occasion, with his own hands, thirty citizens, and his tower was razed to the ground by Louis le Gros, against whom he had dared to declare war. Raoul I, who went to the Crusades with Philip Augustus, perished before Saint Jean d’Acre, having been pierced through the heart by a lance. But the most illustrious of the race was John V, the Great, who, in 1225, rebuilt the fortress, finishing in less than five years this formidable Chateau of Hautecoeur, under whose shelter he, for a moment, dreamed of aspiring to the throne of France, and after having escaped from being killed in twenty battles, he at last died quietly in his bed, brother-in-law to the King of Scotland. Then came Felician III, who made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem barefooted; Herve VII, who asserted his claims to the throne of Scotland; and still many others, noble and powerful in their day and generation, down to Jean IX, who, under Mazarin, had the grief of assisting at the dismantling of the castle. After a desperate siege, the vaults of the towers and of the donjon were blown up with powder, and the different constructions were set on fire; where Charles VI had been sent to rest, and to turn his attention from his vagaries, and where, nearly two hundred years later, Henri IV had passed a week as Gabrielle D’Estress. Thenceforth, all these royal souvenirs had passed into oblivion.
Angelique, without stopping the movement of her needle, listened eagerly, as if the vision of these past grandeurs rose up from her frame, in proportion as the rose grew there in its delicate life of colour. Her ignorance of general history enlarged facts, and she received them as if they were the basis of a marvellous legend. She trembled with delight, and, transported by her faith, it seemed as if the reconstructed Chateau mounted to the very gates of heaven, and the Hautecoeurs were cousins to the Virgin Mary.
When there was a pause in the recital she asked, “Is not our new Bishop Monseigneur d’Hautecoeur, a descendant of this noted family?”
Hubertine replied that Monseigneur must belong to the younger branch of the family, as the elder branch had been extinct for a very long time. It was, indeed, a most singular return, as for centuries the Marquesses of Hautecoeur and the clergy of Beaumont had been hostile to each other. Towards 1150 an abbot undertook to build a church, with no other resources than those of his Order; so his funds soon gave out, when the edifice was no higher than the arches of the side chapels, and they were obliged to cover the nave with a wooden roof. Eighty years passed, and Jean V came to rebuild the Chateau, when he gave three hundred thousand pounds, which, added to other sums, enabled the work on the church to be continued. The nave was finished, but the two towers and the great front were terminated much later, towards 1430, in the full fifteenth century. To recompense Jean V for his liberality, the clergy accorded to him, for himself and his descendants, the right of burial in a chapel of the apse, consecrated to St. George, and which, since that time, had been called the Chapel Hautecoeur. But these good terms were not of long duration. The freedom of Beaumont was put in constant peril by the Chateau, and there were continual hostilities on the questions of tribute and of precedence. One especially, the right of paying toll, which the nobles demanded for the navigation of the Ligneul, perpetuated the quarrels. Then it was that the great prosperity of the lower town began, with its manufacturing of fine linen and lace, and from this epoch the fortune of Beaumont increased daily, while that of Hautecoeur diminished, until the time when the castle was dismantled and the church triumphed. Louis XIV made of it a cathedral, a bishop’s palace was built in the old enclosure of the monks, and, by a singular chain of circumstances, to-day a member of the family of Hautecoeur had returned as a bishop to command the clergy, who, always powerful, had conquered his ancestors, after a contest of four hundred years.
“But,” said Angelique, “Monseigneur has been married, and has not he a son at least twenty years of age?”
Hubertine had taken up the shears to remodel one of the pieces of vellum.
“Yes,” she replied, “the Abbot Cornille told me the whole story, and it is a very sad history. When but twenty years of age, Monseigneur was a captain under Charles X. In 1830, when only four-and-twenty, he resigned his position in the army, and it is said that from that time until he was forty years of age he led an adventurous life, travelling everywhere and having many strange experiences. At last, one evening, he met, at the house of a friend in the country, the daughter of the Count de Valencay, Mademoiselle Pauline, very wealthy, marvellously beautiful, and scarcely nineteen years of age, twenty-two years younger than himself. He fell violently in love with her, and, as she returned his affection, there was no reason why the marriage should not take place at once. He then bought the ruins of Hautecoeur for a mere song — ten thousand francs, I believe — with the intention of repairing the Chateau and installing his wife therein when all would be in order and in readiness to receive her. In the meanwhile they went to live on one of his family estates in Anjou, scarcely seeing any of their friends, and finding in their united happiness the days all too short. But, alas! at the end of a year Pauline had a son and died.”
Hubert, who was still occupied with marking out his pattern, raised his head, showing a very pale face as he said in a low voice: “Oh! the unhappy man!”
“It was said that he himself almost died from his great grief,” continued Hubertine. “At all events, a fortnight later he entered into Holy Orders, and soon became a priest. That was twenty years ago, and now he is a bishop. But I have also been told that during all this time he has refused to see his son, the child whose birth cost the life of its mother. He had placed him with an uncle of his wife’s, an old abbot, not wishing even to hear of him, and trying to forget his existence. One day a picture of the boy was sent him, but in looking at it he found so strong a resemblance to his beloved dead that he fell on the floor unconscious and stiff, as if he had received a blow from a hammer. . . . Now age and prayer have helped to soften his deep grief, for yesterday the good Father Cornille told me that Monseigneur had just decided to send for his son to come to him.”
Angelique, having finished her rose, so fresh and natural that perfume seemed to be exhaled from it, looked again through the window into the sunny garden, and, as if in a reverie, she said in a low voice: “The son of Monseigneur!”
Hubertine continued her story.
“It seems that the young man is handsome as a god, and his father wished him to be educated for the priesthood. But the old abbot would not consent to that, saying that the youth had not the slightest inclination in that direction. And then, to crown all, his wealth, it is said, is enormous. Two million pounds sterling! Yes, indeed! His mother left him a tenth of that sum, which was invested in land in Paris, where the increase in the price of real estate has been so great, that to-day it represents fifty millions of francs. In short, rich as a king!”
“Rich as a king, beautiful as a god!” repeated Angelique unconsciously, in her dreamy voice.
And with one hand she mechanically took from the frame a bobbin wound with gold thread, in order to make the open-work centre of one of the large lilies. After having loosened the end from the point of the reel, she fastened it with a double stitch of silk to the edge of the vellum which was to give a thickness to the embroidery. Then, continuing her work, she said again, without finishing her thought, which seemed lost in the vagueness of its desire, “Oh! as for me, what I would like, that which I would like above all else ——”
The silence fell again, deep and profound, broken only by the dull sound of chanting which came from the church. Hubert arranged his design by repassing with a little brush all the perforated lines of the drawing, and thus the ornamentation of the cope appeared in white on the red silk. It was he who first resumed speaking.
“Ah! those ancient days were magnificent! Noblemen then wore costumes weighted with embroidery. At Lyons, material was sometimes sold for as much as six hundred francs an ell. One ought to read the by-laws and regulations of the Guild of Master Workmen, where it is laid down that ‘The embroiderers of the King have always the right to summon, by armed force if necessary, the workmen of other masters.’ . . . And then we had coats of arms, too! Azure, a fesso engrailed or, between three fleurs-de-lys of the same, two of them being near the top and the third in the point. Ah! it was indeed beautiful in the days of long ago!”
He stopped a moment, tapping the frame with his fingers to shake off the dust. Then he continued:
“At Beaumont they still have a legend about the Hautecoeurs, which my mother often related to me when I was a child. . . . A frightful plague ravaged the town, and half of the inhabitants had already fallen victims to it, when Jean V, he who had rebuilt the fortress, perceived that God had given him the power to contend against the scourge. Then he went on foot to the houses of the sick, fell on his knees, kissed them, and as soon as his lips had touched them, while he said, ‘If God is willing, I wish it,’ the sufferers were healed. And lo! that is why these words have remained the device of the Hautecoeurs, who all have since that day been able to cure the plague. . . . Ah! what a proud race of men! A noble dynasty! Monseigneur himself is called Jean XII, and the first name of his son must also be followed by a number, like that of a prince.”
He stopped. Each one of his words lulled and prolonged the reverie of Angelique. She continued, in a half-singing tone: “Oh! what I wish for myself! That which I would like above all else ——”
Holding the bobbin, without touching the thread, she twisted the gold by moving it from left to right alternately on the vellum, fastening it at each turn with a stitch in silk. Little by little the great golden lily blossomed out.
Soon she continued: “Yes, what I would like above all would be to marry a prince — a prince whom I had never seen; who would come towards sunset, just before the waning daylight, and would take me by the hand and lead me to his palace. And I should wish him to be very handsome, as well as very rich! Yes, the most beautiful and the wealthiest man that had ever been seen on the earth! He should have superb horses that I could hear neighing under my windows, and jewels which he would pour in streams into my lap, and gold that would fall from my hands in a deluge when I opened them. And what I wish still further is, that this prince of mine should love me to distraction, so that I might also love him desperately. We would then remain very young, very good, and very noble, for ever!”
Hubert, leaving his work, had approached her smilingly; whilst Hubertine, in a friendly way, shook her finger at the young girl.
“Oh, what a vain little creature! Ah! ambitious child, you are quite incorrigible. Now, you are quite beside yourself with your need of being a queen. At all events such a dream is much better than to steal sugar and to be impertinent. But really, you must not indulge in such fancies. It is the Evil One who prompts them, and it is pride that speaks, as well as passion.”
Gay and candid, Angelique looked her in the face as she said: “But mother, mother mine, what are you saying? Is it, then, a sin to love that which is rich and beautiful? I love it because it is rich and beautiful, and so cheers my heart and soul. A beautiful object brightens everything that is near it, and helps one to live, as the sun does. You know very well that I am not selfish. Money? Oh! you would see what a good use I would make of it, if only I had it in abundance! I would rain it over the town; it should be scattered among the miserable. Think what a blessing it would be to have no more poverty! In the first place, as for you and my father, I would give you everything. You should be dressed in robes and garments of brocades, like the lords and ladies of the olden time.”
Hubertine shrugged her shoulders and smiled. “It is ridiculous,” she said. “But, my dear child, you must remember that you are poor, and that you have not a penny for your marriage-portion. How can you, then, for a moment dream of a prince? Are you, then, so desirous to marry a prince?”
“Why should not I wish to marry such a man?” And she looked quite amazed, as she continued: “Marry him? Of course I would do so. Since he would have plenty of money, what difference would it make if I had none? I should owe everything to him, and on that very account I should love him all the more deeply.”
This victorious reasoning enchanted Hubert, who seemed carried above the earth by Angelique’s enthusiasm. He would willingly have accompanied her on the wings of a cloud to the regions of fancy.
“She is right,” he exclaimed.
But his wife glanced at him reprovingly. She became quite stern.
“My child, you will think differently later on, when you know life better.”
“Life? — but I know it already.”
“How is it possible for you to know it? You are too young; you are ignorant of evil. Yet evil exists and is very powerful.”
“Evil — evil?”
Angelique repeated the word very slowly, as if to penetrate its meaning. And in her pure eyes was a look of innocent surprise. Evil? She knew all about it, for she had read of it in the “Golden Legend.” Was not evil Satan himself? And had not she seen how, although he constantly reappeared, he was always overthrown? After every battle he remained crushed to earth, thoroughly conquered, and in a most pitiable state.
“Evil? Ah, mother mine, if you knew how little I fear it! It is only necessary once to conquer it and afterwards life is all happiness.”
Hubertine appeared troubled and looked anxious.
“You will make me almost regret having brought you up in this house, alone with us two, and away from the world as it were. I am really afraid that some day we shall regret having kept you in such complete ignorance of the realities of life. What Paradise are you looking for? What is your idea of the world?”
A look of hope brightened the face of the young girl, while, bending forward, she still moved the bobbin back and forth with a continuous, even motion.
“You then really think, mother, that I am very foolish, do you not? This world is full of brave people. When one is honest and industrious, one is always rewarded. I know also that there are some bad people, but they do not count. We do not associate with them, and they are soon punished for their misdeeds. And then, you see, as for the world, it produces on me, from a distance, the effect of a great garden; yes, of an immense park, all filled with flowers and with sunshine. It is such a blessing to live, and life is so sweet that it cannot be bad.”
She grew excited, as if intoxicated by the brightness of the silks and the gold threads she manipulated so well with her skilful fingers.
“Happiness is a very simple thing. We are happy, are we not? All three of us? And why? Simply because we love each other. Then, after all, it is no more difficult than that; it is only necessary to love and to be loved. So, you see, when the one I expect really comes, we shall recognise each other immediately. It is true I have not yet seen him, but I know exactly what he ought to be. He will enter here and will say: ‘I have come in search of you.’ And I shall reply: ‘I expected you, and will go with you.’ He will take me with him, and our future will be at once decided upon. He will go into a palace, where all the furniture will be of gold, encrusted in diamonds. Oh, it is all very simple!”
“You are crazy; so do not talk any more,” interrupted Hubertine, coldly.
And seeing that the young girl was still excited, and ready to continue to indulge her fancies, she continued to reprove her.
“I beg you to say no more, for you absolutely make me tremble. Unhappy child! When we really marry you to some poor mortal you will be crushed, as you fall to earth from these heights of the imagination. Happiness, for the greater part of the world, consists in humility and obedience.”
Angelique continued to smile with an almost obstinate tranquillity.
“I expect him, and he will come.”
“But she is right,” exclaimed Hubert, again carried away by her enthusiasm. “Why need you scold her? She is certainly pretty, and dainty enough for a king. Stranger things than that have happened, and who knows what may come?”
Sadly Hubertine looked at him with her calm eyes.
“Do not encourage her to do wrong, my dear. You know, better than anyone, what it costs to follow too much the impulses of one’s heart.”
He turned deadly pale, and great tears came to the edge of his eyelids. She immediately repented of having reproved him, and rose to offer him her hands. But gently disengaging himself, he said, stammeringly:
“No, no, my dear; I was wrong. Angelique, do you understand me? You must always listen to your mother. She alone is wise, and we are both of us very foolish. I am wrong; yes, I acknowledge it.”
Too disturbed to sit down, leaving the cope upon which he had been working, he occupied himself in pasting a banner that was finished, although still in its frame. After having taken the pot of Flemish glue from the chest of drawers, he moistened with a brush the underside of the material, to make the embroidery firmer. His lips still trembled, and he remained quiet.
But if Angelique, in her obedience, was also still, she allowed her thoughts to follow their course, and her fancies mounted higher and still higher. She showed it in every feature — in her mouth, that ecstasy had half opened, as well as in her eyes, where the infinite depth of her visions seemed reflected. Now, this dream of a poor girl, she wove it into the golden embroidery. It was for this unknown hero that, little by little, there seemed to grow on the white satin the beautiful great lilies, and the roses, and the monogram of the Blessed Virgin. The stems of the lilies had all the gracious pointings of a jet of light, whilst the long slender leaves, made of spangles, each one being sewed on with gold twist, fell in a shower of stars. In the centre, the initials of Mary were like the dazzling of a relief in massive gold, a marvellous blending of lacework and of embossing, or goffering, which burnt like the glory of a tabernacle in the mystic fire of its rays. And the roses of delicately-coloured silks seemed real, and the whole chasuble was resplendent in its whiteness of satin, which appeared covered almost miraculously with its golden blossoms.
After a long silence, Angelique, whose cheeks were flushed by the blood which mounted into them from her excitement, raised her head, and, looking at Hubertine, said again, a little maliciously:
“I expect him, and he will come.”
It was absurd for her thus to give loose reins to her imagination. But she was willful. She was convinced in her own mind that everything would come to pass, eventually, as she wished it might. Nothing could weaken her happy conviction.
“Mother,” she added, “why do you not believe me, since I assure you it must be as I say?”
Hubertine shrugged her shoulders, and concluded the best thing for her to do was to tease her.
“But I thought, my child, that you never intended being married. Your saints, who seem to have turned your head, they led single lives. Rather than do otherwise they converted their lovers, ran away from their homes, and were put to death.”
The young girl listened and was confused. But soon she laughed merrily. Her perfect health, and all her love of life, rang out in this sonorous gaiety. “The histories of the saints! But that was ages ago! Times have entirely changed since then. God having so completely triumphed, no longer demands that anyone should die for Him.”
When reading the Legend, it was the marvels which fascinated her, not the contempt of the world and the desire for death. She added: “Most certainly I expect to be married; to love and to be loved, and thus be very happy.”
“Be careful, my dear,” said Hubertine, continuing to tease her. “You will make your guardian angel, Saint Agnes, weep. Do not you know that she refused the son of the Governor, and preferred to die, that she might be wedded to Jesus?”
The great clock of the belfry began to strike; numbers of sparrows flew down from an enormous ivy-plant which framed one of the windows of the apse. In the workroom, Hubert, still silent, had just hung up the banner, moist from the glue, that it might dry, on one of the great iron hooks fastened to the wall.
The sun in the course of the morning had lightened up different parts of the room, and now it shone brightly upon the old tools — the diligent, the wicker winder, and the brass chandelier — and as its rays fell upon the two workers, the frame at which they were seated seemed almost on fire, with its bands polished by use, and with the various objects placed upon it, the reels of gold cord, the spangles, and the bobbins of silk.
Then, in this soft, charming air of spring, Angelique looked at the beautiful symbolic lily she had just finished. Opening wide her ingenuous eyes, she replied, with an air of confiding happiness, to Hubertine’s last remark in regard to the child-martyr, Saint Agnes:
“Ah, yes! But it was Jesus who wished it to be so.”
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:02