From Mme Martin to her brother Isidore CF 7 - March 28, 1864.


From Mme Martin to her brother Isidore 

March 28, 1864

I’m opening my father’s letter to send you a few words and to give you some news from Alençon which perhaps, might interest you, although my father doesn’t want it to affect you.

I don’t know if you knew Monsieur Ch, who owned the big mill and was married to a sister of Madame L. Well! This Monsieur Ch and his wife were having a magnificent house built directly across from the Renaissance Café (rue Saint-Blaise). They took great delight in this house even before they moved in. They were supposed to move into it on Saint John’s Day and were to live in it for the rest of their days. The wife especially felt such great joy in living there that she would say to everyone, “My God! Oh, how happy I am! I lack nothing. I have my health, I have wealth, I can buy all that I desire, and I don’t have any children to disturb my rest. In short, I don’t know anyone as well off as I am.”

I’ve always heard it said, “Misfortune, three times misfortune, to those who talk like that.” And my dear friend, I’m so convinced of the truth of this saying, that at certain times in my life, when I said I was happy, I couldn’t think of it without trembling because it’s certain and proven by experience that happiness is not on earth…. No, happiness can’t be found here below, and it’s a bad sign when all goes well. In His wisdom, God wanted it this way to make us remember that the world is not our true home.

Finally we return to our story:

Monsieur and Madame Ch went out about six o’clock in the evening, on Saturday, to visit their magnificent residence and to spend the evening with their relatives at the Renaissance Café. About 8:30, the gentleman said to his wife, “I have a letter to mail and it’s already late, come with me.” They left immediately and, upon returning, said to themselves, “To save time, let’s take a shortcut by going through our garden.” In fact, their garden does face that place, ending just in front of the café where their relatives were waiting for them. But at the end of the garden a ditch was under construction, and they had to go around it on some boards. Since they couldn’t see very clearly, the gentleman got too close to the ditch and fell in. His wife fell in after him and knocked loose a rock as she fell; it hit her husband and he was killed by the blow. She cried for help, and her cries were heard. She was seriously injured. They brought her to her sister’s house, and she died ten minutes later.

Around 9:30, I heard several footsteps in front of the house and people speaking loudly. I looked outside, and people were carrying the two bodies on stretchers. So here is the terrible story of this “happy couple!”

Little Pauline is becoming cuter and cuter. In a month, I’ll take her to Le Mans. She knows her aunt well (Sister Marie-Dosithée, Zélie’s sister) because on Good Friday, while she was in church and looking at a little paper doll dressed in a Visitation habit that Élise had sent me, she took it, raised it above her head and shouted with all her might, “Here’s my aunt!” That made all the people around her laugh.


© Society of St. Paul / Alba House