“She will surely come,” he said to himself; “she promised she would come.”
A moment later, his sense, quickened by the prolonged silence, caught a subtle evidence or two of approach, and the next moment a penitent knelt noiselessly at the window of his box, and the whisper came tremblingly, in the voice he had waited to hear:
“Benissez-moin, mo’ Pere, pa’ce que mo peche.” (Bless me, father, for I have sinned.)
He gave his blessing.
“Ainsi soit-il—Amen,” murmured the penitent, and then, in the soft accents of the Creole patois, continued:
“’I confess to Almighty God, to the blessed Mary, ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and to all the saints, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.’ I confessed on Saturday, three weeks ago, and received absolution, and I have performed the penance enjoined. Since then”—There she stopped.
There was a soft stir, as if she sank slowly down, and another as if she rose up again, and in a moment she said:
“Olive is my child. The picture I showed to Jean Thompson is the half-sister of my daughter’s father, dead before my child was born. She is the image of her and of him; but, O God! Thou knowest! Oh, Olive, my own daughter!”
She ceased, and was still. Pere Jerome waited, but no sound came. He looked through the window. She was kneeling, with her forehead resting on her arms—motionless.
He repeated the words of absolution. Still she did not stir.
“My daughter,” he said, “go to thy home in peace.” But she did not move.
He rose hastily, stepped from the box, raised her in his arms, and called her by name:
“Madame Delphine!” Her head fell back in his elbow; for an instant there was life in the eyes—it glimmered—it vanished, and tears gushed from his own and fell upon the gentle face of the dead, as he looked up to heaven and cried:
“Lord, lay not this sin to her charge!”
That which in 1835—I think he said thirty-five—was a reality in the Rue Burgundy—I think he said Burgundy—is now but a reminiscence. Yet so vividly was its story told me, that at this moment the old Cafe des Exiles appears before my eye, floating in the clouds of revery, and I doubt not I see it just as it was in the old times.