From Mme Martin to her brother Isidore CF 61 - October 1870.

From Mme Martin to her brother

October 1870

I received your letter when I returned from Le Mans. My little one was already very sick. I was out of my mind. If you knew what happened to my poor little Thérèse. It was her disgraceful wet nurse who made her die of starvation.

I found out, too late, that my child wasn’t being fed by her. As soon as she’d been taken away from the wet nurse the doctor told me. You could have counted her bones, and yet she wasn’t sick at her house, except for three days before I brought her home. Then she recovered a little. I thought she was saved; we saw her getting bigger, but she was too impaired and too weak to overcome it.

She was such a pretty little girl. She had eyes like you never see in babies her age and such fine features! And to think she was allowed to starve to death! Isn’t that appalling? You don’t know how much I was looking forward to raising this little one myself! I was as happy to have her as if she were my first child….

Now I’d like God to give me another child. I don’t want a little boy, but a little Thérèse who will look like her and who won’t go to be with a wet nurse (because this time I’ll have the wet nurse live in my home). No, if God grants me more children, they’ll never leave this house. Perhaps if my poor darling had continued to be breastfed she would have been able to get better, but I looked everywhere and found no one to help me. My husband went to Héloup (a small village 7.6 kilometers southwest of Alençon) at four o’clock in the morning the day after we brought the little one home in order to bring back a wet nurse by ten o’clock. We still had some hope that we could find one, but as it happened the one we’d been counting on had fallen ill. Tell me that we didn’t have misfortune! Finally, it’s over, there’s nothing else we can do. The best thing to do is to resign myself. My child is happy and that consoles me.

I’m very glad your wife has recovered. I was worried. See how happy you are. You weaned your little girl, and she didn’t notice it, and mine died after I watched her dying on my knees for two and a half hours….

Good-bye. Write to me soon. I tell you again, it makes me so happy.

Little Céline is very affectionate; she’s beginning to talk sweetly. Every day I would bemoan the death of my little Thérèse, and I would say, “My poor little girl!” Right away, Céline would come and hang on me, thinking that she was the one I was talking about. She looks everywhere for her little sister and asks for her “sissy” (Céline would say “sesoeur,” baby talk for the word “sister").

To console me, several people have said to the maid that Céline won’t live a long time! It’s true she doesn’t look very well at the moment. Nevertheless, she’s stronger than Jeanne was when I saw her a year ago, but she’s small in size.

Good-bye. Once again, I hug both of you with all my heart. A thousand kisses for Jeanne and Marie.


 © Society of St. Paul / Alba House

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