From Sister Marie-Dosithée Guérin to Mrs. Martin – October 22, 1868

From Sister Marie-Dosithée Guérin to Mrs. Martin.

V. + J. (Live Jesus)

From our Monastery in Le Mans

22nd October 1868

My dear Sister,

I am going to begin by scolding you strongly; I prefer having your children (Marie and Pauline, at boarding school since the beginning of term in October) in my charge than you, they are much easier. As for you, there is no way of preventing you from worrying, when you stop worrying about one thing, you start worrying about another. Marie is perfectly used to it here, she is cheerful, joyful and kind, if you don’t believe me ask Miss. Romet (Pauline Romet, Pauline’s godmother) who has seen her. I think that we are going to make a good girl out of her, I do not find she has a bad character, but she is melancholy, which I believe I can correct because I know how to deal with her. I tried my method out last week, she was crying and wanted to see you. After having held her close for a long time, seeing that she would not stop I decided to go about the problem differently, when I left the classroom where I was supervising she came up to me as usual to kiss me, I refused her. She began protesting loudly [1v°] I did not give in and went away, I came back a few minutes later with a sheet of writing paper telling her to write to you asking you to come and fetch her, and I was so heavy hearted and sad that I began to cry in the classroom. Poor Marie shouted as loud as she could that she would never do it again, she kept her word until last Monday when I went to see her and I thought I saw traces of tears. I asked her the reason for this and she said that she hadn’t done her homework correctly. I refused to kiss her again, saying that one does not cry over so little, now she delights me, she is joyful and open, says that she is perfectly used to it here, she loves her teachers, and the girls would certainly be most ungrateful if they did not, because they are real mothers to them. Their little classmates are like little sisters, those poor little girls were so upset when they saw her sad, they did everything they could to comfort her. It is so delightful to see, when I come into the classroom, how quick they are to inform them I’m coming and how they seem to share in their happiness. Pauline’s godmother brought her some cakes and sweets. I wanted them to share the cakes with their classmates, however they wanted to do so anyway, saying [2 r°] that their classmates often gave them things. As for the sweets, I am keeping them and will give them out when they need them and are good.      

Pauline is a little jewel of a child, she is as happy as a lark (sic), is hard-working and does everything as best she can. So you see dear sister that everything is going perfectly well and I am delighted to see my two little doves in the Holy Ark. I hope they will keep the whiteness of their beautiful feathers in all its purity. It was high time they came because otherwise the world’s impure breath would have soiled them quickly.

They have enough clothes for one month. Do not make white wimples for them, my Sr. Marie-Paul who is in charge of clothing prefers black ones. If you have any old worn out gloves that you no longer wear, I would like you to send them, we would cut off the fingers and in winter they can wear them in class.

The sister in charge of dressing their hair is now used to doing plaits for them, we shall not use the combs (decorative combs), and we will not cut their hair even though it would have been necessary. Without a doubt, we wouldn’t have had a hairdresser come in for that, but we would have done it ourselves. Again I say if Marie was my daughter I wouldn’t hesitate to cut her hair short. She hasn’t got a lot of it and what little she has she is losing. However, as we are entering into the winter season, now is not the time to do so.

It is certainly Marie who writes her letters and she does so however she likes. The poor child was unsure about how to go about it, she went to ask the supervising teacher how to do it. The reply was to write as if she was talking to her mother [2v°], besides it is very easy to see that it’s her because it has funny phrasing and is full of spelling mistakes. 

Goodbye dear friend, do not worry, you know full well that I would not want to lie in order to comfort you and that if Marie hadn’t got used to it here I wouldn’t go telling you that she has, I myself wouldn’t be able to keep her if I saw she was sad, I would write to you asking you to come and fetch her.

With love to you as well as my brother-in-law and the little ones (Léonie and Hélène, who were then five and a half and 4 years old).

Your affectionate sister.

Sr. Marie Dosithée Guérin

Of the Von of Holy Mary

B. B. G.

Two pockets are enough

Send me two small ties.


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