From Mme Martin to Pauline CF 92 - Avril 11, 1873.


From Mme Martin to Pauline

April 11 (?), 1873

To her daughter Pauline, a boarding student at the Visitation Monastery in Le Mans

My dear little Pauline,

Despite any hope I’d given you, I’m very sad to have to tell you that you’ll not be leaving school for Easter vacation because, you see, it’s impossible. Marie has typhoid fever, and it would be dangerous.

I know that I couldn’t prevent you from seeing your sister. I wouldn’t have that kind of courage, nor would Marie. She can’t insist more as it is. She speaks of her “Little Paulin” all day long. She would want to see you, but you would catch the illness. So this is what’s been decided:

You will come spend a week in Alençon as soon as Marie is recuperating. This is not going to be long. The doctor said the illness couldn’t last longer than twenty-one days, and he’s counting the beginning from the Sunday she felt sick. So a week from Saturday, it will be finished. We’ll wait another week to be cautious, and then your father will come to get you. Take heart, you don’t have to wait more than two weeks.

I assure you, my little Pauline, you won’t be sorry. You’ll be so much happier than if you came now. If you knew what little enjoyment you would have! I’m sad and always at Marie’s side. I don’t even take the time to eat. What’s going to worry me is the fear that you may be sad. If I know that you aren’t, I’ll be happy. I’ll write you every two days until you come.

This evening I have a Sister (a Sister of Mercy ; in 1818, Abbé Bazin founded that community devoted to nursing the sick in their homes) watching over Marie who’s looking after her very well. She tells me that her patient is in absolutely no danger. However, she’s quite sick, our poor Marie! She continually prays to God that He’ll cure her because she’s afraid of losing her prizes. At her suggestion, I’m sending you her paint box so you can play with it. I’m enclosing a piece of thick green parchment. You trace on it and I’ll use it. I’m putting in some cotton to use as a lining. You need to use a number 2 needle just right for sewing the track (to make Alençon lace, first one makes “the track” of the work on colored parchment perforated along the design to be reproduced, lined with fabric. The various stitches of the design are then executed over the outline. See here one from Zélie).

I’ll try to send it to you tomorrow morning. I know you really enjoy making the track for Alençon lace.

If you don’t like this, don’t do it. If you prefer to knit, ask your aunt to have some nice blue and white wool bought for you. You can make some stockings for Thérèse. And if this doesn’t interest you either, buy tapestry wool and make a beautiful little footstool cover or whatever you would like, or else two pictures for my desk. I need them.

Will you write me a little letter and tell me if you’re sad? If you are, it’s better for you to come, and we’ll do what we can to keep you from seeing Marie.

Your father sends you a big hug. He’s also very afraid that you’ll be upset.

My little Pauline, I‘m telling you again that I’m sending you some chocolate so they’ll make you a cup every morning and also so that you can eat some when you have your snack. Marie is better; soon she’ll be cured and then you’ll come. We’ll all go to see your little sister (Thérèse, who was living with her wet nurse, Rose Taillé, in Semallé) as soon as Marie is able to withstand the carriage ride.

If you come now, you’ll go back without seeing Marie or little Thérèse and almost nothing of your mama. You’d have to speak in a low voice. We have to have Céline stay at Mademoiselle Philomène’s house all day because she makes too much noise (Philomène Tessier, a friend of the family, lived with her parents in the Prefecture across the street from the Martin home on the rue Saint-Blaise where her father was an employee). So you would be very unhappy.

I’ll write you a letter on Easter Sunday, and you’ll have it Monday morning.

I recommend, my Pauline, that you prepare for your Easter Duty, and be sure to pray for your sister.


 © Society of St. Paul / Alba House



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