I thought he strikingly acted on our Lord’s axiom of “If thine enemy smite thee on the one cheek, offer him the other,” but could not just then enter into it. I longed to give those rascals a good beating.
“Now, then, I’ll set the tune again,” said I, affecting composure.
But, “No, no,” said the girls simultaneously; and “No, no,” said my dear mother. “Don’t you see,” she continued, “I have all this broken glass to pick up? If you will do me a real kindness, you will step round to the glazier, the first thing in the morning, and get him to mend the window before breakfast.”
“I’ll go at once,” said I; but “No, no,” was again the word. My father laid his hand firmly on my right arm, and Madeleine hers on my left. Though her touch was as light as a snow-flake, I would not have shaken it off for the world.
“The streets are unquiet to-night,” said my father, “and I mean no one to go forth till the girls return home, when we will see them safely to their door; going out the back way.”
So we spent the next hour in a sober, subdued manner. Madeleine shyly let me steal her hand and hold it some minutes, as though she knew it would calm me. And so it did; there was much sweetness in that hour, after all.
At length it was time to see them home; my mother kissed and blessed them as if they were going further than into the next street. We went out the back way, my father taking Gabrielle and I Madeleine, and we met with no evil by the way. Being rather high-wrought, I would willingly have faced a little danger for Madeleine’s sake.
I kissed her soft cheek unrebuked, and followed my father through the dark with a happy heart Mechanically, rather than from either devotion or defiance, I began to hum “Chantez de Dieu,” when my father’s warning hand plucked my sleeve, and, at the same instant, a rough voice beside me said, “Hold your peace! Have you not heard of the arret?” and passed on.
We had heard nothing of any arret; but next morning, when I went to the glazier’s, he told me that an order had been issued forbidding the Reformed to sing psalms in the streets and public walks, or even within their own houses loud enough to be heard outside. And he told me he was so full of work that he hardly knew which way to turn, in consequence of the many windows broken over night by evil-disposed men suborned to interrupt psalmody. I asked him, half jesting, if he thought any of the suborned men were glaziers; but it hurt him, for he was as good a Huguenot as any in Nismes.
Going home with him, I saw a horrid sight—a dead body that had been some time buried, torn from the grave, stripped of its shroud, and lying in the gutter. I shuddered, and asked the glazier if we had not better tell the authorities; but he hurried on, saying, “Better let it be. The authorities doubtless know all about it.” So there had we to leave the ghastly object, though its remaining there was equally prejudicial to decency and to health.