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are somehow not held in the reputation which attaches to those who are known to have chosen the state religiously. We found her lying in bed shut up in her den. She was not of sound mind; the neighbours complained that she was unsociable, and kept her place so dirty that it was an annoyance to them. “Very well,” said the Sister, “I shall send the police to see to that,” and so we moved on.
“Now I will bring you to an alley where the Ladies of Charity could not go."
“Why not ?”
“It would not be proper for them; their husbands would not like that."
I understood. Presently a woman with a pretty little child in her arms followed the Sister, and presented some petition for help.
“I can do nothing in that," was the answer. The woman in a low voice continued to plead.
“That does not depend upon me, my friend; you must go to the gentlemen of the Bureau.”
I understood the woman to beg for a recommendation to them, but the sister would not yield. “No, no, go to the gentlemen of the Bureau," was all she would say.
The gentlemen of the Bureau answering to our parish officers, it struck me that our visiting ladies would not perhaps think of sending a poor woman with an infant in her arms to look for help there.
“She has three children," said the Sister.
“Poor thing," I responded.
“Now I will take you to see a charming old couple,” she quickly said, and as quickly mounted up a tolerable staircase, and opening a door before I had gained the top, called out in a cheery tone what I translate as, “Hey-day! so you have actually shaved ! Come, that is well !—and the new boots too !”
I had got up and in, and there I saw a comical picture. A good sized decent room, without a single article of furniture; two beds, made like the berths of a ship, in the wall; and the wide, and slightly raised, open hearth
hearth of a French fire-place serving as a seat for an old man and woman, who sat one at each side of a pot hung over the fire, with their heads in the chimney.
No sooner had the white cap appeared, than the old man had drawn his out and begun to rise; he soon stood quite erect, planting himself at the upper end of the room, and facing her, and the door at which she entered, with something of the air of the recruit who had just donned his regimentals, and stood before the drill sergeant; grinning and dipping a shaggy head, and saying, “Yes, my sister! Yes, my sister,” to everything. The old woman was longer about her work of extrication ; for she was infirm in her limbs, and could not reach to her stick, which she kept asking her old man to hand
her, while he, wholly taken up with the admiration he excited, or the inspection he was undergoing, was quite forgetful of his required attentions. I saw the extended band, and reached the stick. She hobbled out with wonderful speed, ranged herself at the old man's side, and there they both stood, like a pair of water-birds, dipping their heads, and seeming to enjoy themselves amazingly.
“So, Monsieur, you have got on the boots too.”
“Yes, my sister," with a grin and a dip accompanying the answer, which were duly repeated by the woman.
They were old boots, about three inches too long, and drolly turned up in front.
“ And the coat.”
“Yes, my sister,” dipping, and moving, or trying to move, in an old coat much too tight.
“ Then we shall see you at Church on Sunday.” “Yes, my sister.”
The little old woman looked like a dried-up Laplander. The sister drew my attention to the only moveable article, except the pot on the fire, that was to be seen in the room ; it was a heap of sand, and she did so in order to explain to me that the old gentleman was by profession a sand collector. I felt a curiosity to know how very long this curious old couple had lived together in the bonds of matrimony; they seemed such a well matched friendly pair, that I thought for nearly half a century they had borne that pleasant yoke without difficulty. “How long have you been married ?" I asked the old dame. The man answered the question, for she looked to him, as a young bride might do on a like occasion.
“Six years,” he replied, holding down the shaggy head with a queer smile, as a boy would do who was telling something of which he was half ashamed and half proud.
“Six years! How old are you, Monsieur ?" “Sixty-seven, and she is—"
“I am seventy-seven," cried the better half, with the vivacity of old age that is proud of its age.
"Ten years older," summed up the sister. "And only married six years.”
“Yes, it was the sister made the match," said the man, smiling at her.
“Yes,” rejoined the old bride," she gave me a wedding robe."
“She got us to the Church,” the other added ; “she made all the marriage."
“Only six years ago !” I cried doubtingly.
“Yes, six years ago," he replied, as if beginning to comprehend my doubtfulness, “but we were thirty-nine years together before that.”
“Now you understand," said the sister ; “ so now we may go; allons, my friends, bon jour ; I shall see you at the Church to-morrow; and don't forget the distribution on New Year's Day."
“Yes,” she said, as we went out, “it is a fact, and you know it is common, for when people are very poor they often have not money to pay the expenses
of marriage. But when they are bonest, and will consent to it, it is our duty to make them marry. So I went round myself and begged for them; and I got some money and some clothes, and we paid the expenses, and dressed up the old couple, and had them to Church, and got them married.”
“But that woman with her three children ?"
“Oh! that is quite another case. We can do nothing there.”
“Now look in here," she added; "here is a real good respectable old widow."
The room was neat and even comfortable; the decently clad old solitary occupant stood at a table breaking some slices of bread into a basin of milk and water, which she was going to put on the fire. A gleam of joy shone over her face as she saw the white cap at her door.
“Ah! you are making your soup."
“God be thanked ! it was you who gave it me from Him. Oh! my sister, day and night I thank and bless both Him and you ; and I pray that He may bless you.”
“That is good. Well, we are to have a distribution of bread; can you come ? or have you any one to send ?”
“Yes, my sister, I can send a neighbour. It is such good bread,” she said, taking up part of a loaf, and showing it to me; “it is she gives it to me; she gives me all; and I bless God, and pray for her.”