It was still quite dark in the little room, yet as Madelaine was very tidy, she easily found her clothes, put them on quickly, and going very gently into a narrow yard in front of this wretched room she washed her face, hands, and neck, at the fountain. Perceiving on her return that her mother still slept, she knelt down and repeated her morning prayer, with great attention, then taking up the stocking she was knitting, worked diligently at it until the daylight came feebly in at the little window, when, putting her knitting aside, she lighted the fire in the stove and began to prepare breakfast.
“The smoke suffocates me,” said Madame Tube, as she awoke coughing.
“Good morning, dear mother,” said Madelaine affectionately, “the wood is damp and the stove full of cracks, but I will try if I cannot stop the smoke.” She then took some clay which she had ready wetted in a broken cup, and endeavored to stop the large cracks in the stove, which was of earthenware.
“Raise me a little,” said the mother. Madelaine hastened to her—she put her arms round the child’s neck, who had to exert all her strength to raise her. Madame Tube, whose constant suffering had made her fretful, said, in a complaining tone, “Where does this terrible draught come from, is the window open there?”
Madelaine examined it: “Ah,” said she, “the rain has loosened the paper I had pasted to the broken pane, I will cover it up.” She then placed an old oil painting against it, which looked as if it had often served the same purpose.
“Is the coffee ready?” asked Madame Tube.
“Very soon,” replied Madelaine: “only think, dear mother, I have had some very good beef bones given to me, with which I can make you some nice soup, and the cook at the hotel has promised to keep the coffee-grounds for me every day, so we can have some real coffee this morning, instead of the carrot drink.”
“But why are you going about without shoes,” said her mother to Madelaine, “you will take cold on the damp stones? Why do you not put on your shoes, I say?”
“Do not be angry, dear mother, I must be careful—the soles are already thin, so thin—like paper.”
“Alas! what will become of us?” said Madame Tube.
“Do not fret, dearest mother, I can already earn a little at good Master Teuzer’s, and besides, God who is so very good will not abandon us.”
“It is true,” replied the mother, “but we have waited long.”
“When the need is greatest, help is nearest,” rejoined Madelaine.
“Is Raphael not yet awake?” asked Madame Tube.
Something was at this moment heard to move in the dark-corner behind the stove, and soon after a little boy, half-dressed, came out softly, and feeling his way. Madelaine advanced towards him, and kissing him with much affection, said, “Good morning, my Raphael.”
The little boy returned her caress, and then asked anxiously, “What is the matter with Jacot? he does not sing!”