From Mme Martin to Mme Guérin CF 21 - January 13, 1867.

From Mme Martin to Mme Guérin

January 13, 1867

My dear sister,

I was so touched by your kind letter. What you confided to me, was it not that you already hope to become a mother? Now the little worries will come, but in the midst of all that, there will also be many joys. I learned from my father that you’ve been sick. I also was sick with my first little girl. I believed that all was lost and I cried, I who so wanted a baby! But that didn’t prevent the little one from being born at the proper time, and she was very strong.

Thank you for the lovely presents you sent my little girls. I can’t tell you how happy you made them. Upon opening the suitcase, there were such cries of joy that my poor father was stunned. After the cries of joy came the tears, and all four of them cried, which was the most amazing thing. The little ones wanted what the big ones had. We had a very hard time making peace. Grandpa had to get angry and threaten to take away all these beautiful toys, but they told him that he was not the one who gave them, that it was their aunt who gave them the toys, and he couldn’t take them away.

I enjoyed myself like a child playing a game of Patience, and I paid for my childishness. I had to make a very urgent order of lace, and, to make up for lost time, I stayed up until one o’clock in the morning.

The white wide-brimmed hat fits little Joseph perfectly. But I’m truly annoyed, my dear sister, that you spent so much money on my children. If I had just one or two, I wouldn’t say anything, but five, it’s too much. If it were necessary to give New Year’s presents to each one, it would never end. The older ones now have enough toys to last their entire childhood. They take good care of their belongings because I don’t give them to them to misuse. So please, let it end there.

I had the happiness of seeing my little Joseph the first of the year. For his New Year’s gift, I dressed him like a prince. If you only knew how beautiful he was, how heartily he laughed! My husband said, “You carry him around like a wooden statue of a saint.” I showed him off, in fact, like a novelty. But ... oh, the vanity of the joys of this world! The next day, at three o’clock in the morning, we heard a loud knock at the door. We got up and went to open the door. Someone said, “Come quickly, your little boy is very sick, and we’re afraid he’s going to die.”

As you can imagine, I didn’t take long to dress and found myself on the road to the country (to Semallé) on the coldest night, in spite of snow and slippery ice. I didn’t ask my husband to come with me, I wasn’t afraid, I would have crossed a forest alone, but he didn’t want to let me leave without him.

The poor little boy had a bad case of erysipelas and his face was in a pitiful state. The doctor told me that he was in very grave danger (Marie-Joseph-Louis died a month later, on February 14, 1867. He was five months old); in other words, I saw him already dead! ... But God didn’t make me wait so long for a little boy to take him from me so soon. He wants to leave him with me, and he’s now thriving. But, would you believe that they blamed me for what happened because I made him come to Alençon in weather that was too cold. As you see, I paid very dearly for my pleasure on New Year’s Day, but I won’t do it again.


© Society of St. Paul / Alba House

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