The hours which always flew so rapidly when Madelaine was engaged in her work, now appeared insupportably long. “How many little cups and plates could I have painted!” she said to herself. “How many rows of my stocking I could have knitted. Yes, work is a real blessing, for all the world I would not be a sluggard.”
At noon, large dishes of soup, vegetables, and bread, were brought in, but although the food was far better than Madelaine was accustomed to, she could not eat.
The afternoon passed wearily away, at last Madelaine took courage and approached the barred window which looked into a street, she saw many people passing, taking home different things intended for Christmas presents. Pastry-cooks carrying baskets and trays full of sugar plums, cakes, and all kinds of sweetmeats. Others bearing Christmas trees—boxes of playthings—rocking-horses—dolls’ houses— hoops—skipping-ropes, and numbers of other delights of children.
As the evening closed in, Madelaine could see the lights burning on the Christmas trees in the neighboring houses, and could hear the distant cries of joy of the children as they received their gifts, and as she thought sadly that she might also have enjoyed the same pleasure at Master Teuzer’s, her tears flowed afresh, and she sunk back into her corner, where at last sleep, that friend of the poor and afflicted, came and closed those red and swollen eyes.
Before six on the following morning, the firing of cannon, which announced Christmas-day, awoke Madelaine from her agitated sleep. At the same time all the church-bells rang a merry peal. Madelaine alone was awake; but as she looked around upon her wretched companions, she felt all the misery of her situation—she thought again of her mother and brother—of their anguish on her account—and falling upon her knees, she poured out all her grief to her Father in heaven, and felt comforted as she remembered that He has said, “Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”
At eight o’clock the jailer’s wife brought in breakfast. Madelaine took courage to address her, and begged for some employment.
This request surprised the woman; she looked pleased at Madelaine, and said, “Work? yes, I have plenty; if you will promise not to run away, and to be very industrious, you can help me scour the coppers.” Madelaine promised readily, and following the woman into the yard, felt less miserable when she found herself in the open air. The jailor’s wife silently observed her for some time as she worked, and then coming to her with a large piece of white bread and butter, she said, “One can easily see that this is not the first time you have done this work; you might well engage yourself as a servant. Stay, eat a little, and rest yourself.”
Just as Madelaine was thanking her for this kindness, a crowd of people hurried into the court, speaking loudly.