“Not willingly, you may be sure. My mother and Madeleine half carried me hither. Then we saw my father’s silk factory in flames, and she ran to find him.”
Madeleine here returned, and said, encouragingly, “I have found where they are; it is a very little way, and they look so comfortable!”
With her help and La Croissette’s I dragged myself along, and though it seemed a long way off, we got there at last; and very snug did the old vault look, with the little brazier and the lamp, and the curtain to keep off the draught, and food and bedding on the floor. I sank down on the straw they had prepared for me, and never was couch of down more grateful to a luxurious man than this poor pallet to me. La Croissette viewed the whole party with keenness, then, putting his bottle to my lips, said, “Take this; there’s a little left.” Whatever it was, it revived me; and then he nodded, said “Bon soir,” and went away.
I now became anxious for my parents, though Madeleine assured me they knew the way to our retreat. A long time passed; the children fell asleep; we remained in anxious suspense. At length we heard footsteps. Were they of friend or foe? Madeleine went out to see. I could not bear her taking on herself every office that ought to devolve upon me, but could not help it. In a few instants she guided my father and mother into our dungeon, holding a hand of each. As they entered, the red fire-light leaped up and showed their grave faces. The first thing my father did, after taking us in at a glance, was to say, “Children, let us pray!”
Even the little ones, roused from their slumber, and but half awake, put up their hands. My mother and the girls knelt; my father stood. His prayer began with earnest thanksgiving that we were all together again, and that, though his worldly substance had been taken from him, there was no loss of life or limb. Then he returned hearty thanks that, in this our day of spiritual trial and temptation, there had been no apostacy, no temporizing cowardice, no falling short. But, he added, he knew, and we all knew, that this was but the beginning of sorrows; that many a sore trial and temptation remained behind; that we had no strength of our own wherewith to meet it; but that there was all-sufficient strength in the great Captain of our salvation. Then he prayed the Lord to give us his strength, sufficient for our day, whatever it might be, even as He had strengthened Daniel in the lions’ den, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, and Peter and Paul and Silas in prison, and John in Patmos; and that we might have grace to rejoice at being accounted worthy to suffer for his name’s sake, and be strengthened to bear testimony even before kings if need were; and to cast all our burden upon Him, not caring much for the things of this life, knowing that he could reduplicate them if it were his will, at any time, as he had done to Job.
While he thus prayed, an ineffable calm and sweetness took possession of me, my eyes involuntarily closed, or, if opened at intervals, only saw vague, uncertain forms, and thus a deep, deep sleep fell on me, without even a dream, that lulled all sense of pain, and loss, and fear, and sorrow, until morning.