According to her simple faith, terrified at the ignorance of the young girls in matters of religion, Dagobert’s wife believed their souls to be in the greatest peril, the more so as, having asked them if they had ever been baptized (at the same time explaining to them the nature of that sacrament), the orphans answered they did not think they had, since there was neither church nor priest in the village where they were born, during their mother’s exile in Siberia.
Placing one’s self in the position of Frances, you understand how much she was grieved and alarmed; for, in her eyes, these young girls, whom she already loved tenderly, so charmed was she with their sweet disposition, were nothing but poor heathens, innocently doomed to eternal damnation. So, unable to restrain her tears, or conceal her horrors, she had clasped them in her arms, promising immediately to attend to their salvation, and regretting that Dagobert had not thought of having them baptized by the way. Now, it must be confessed, that this notion had never once occurred to the ex-grenadier.
When she went to her usual Sunday devotions, Frances had not dared to take Rose and Blanche with her, as their complete ignorance of sacred things would have rendered their presence at church, if not useless, scandalous; but, in her own fervent prayers she implored celestial mercy for these orphans, who did not themselves know the desperate position of their souls.
Rose and Blanche were now left alone, in the absence of Dagobert’s wife. They were still dressed in mourning, their charming faces seeming even more pensive than usual. Though they were accustomed to a life of misfortune, they had been struck, since their arrival in the Rue Brise Miche, with the painful contrast between the poor dwelling which they had come to inhabit, and the wonders which their young imagination had conceived of Paris, that golden city of their dreams. But, soon this natural astonishment was replaced by thoughts of singular gravity for their age. The contemplation of such honest and laborious poverty made the orphans have reflections no longer those of children, but of young women. Assisted by their admirable spirit of justice and of sympathy for all that is good, by their noble heart, by a character at once delicate and courageous, they had observed and meditated much during the last twenty-four hours.
“Sister,” said Rose to Blanche, when Frances had quitted the room, “Dagobert’s poor wife is very uneasy. Did you remark in the night, how agitated she was? how she wept and prayed?”
“I was grieved to see it, sister, and wondered what could be the cause.”
“I am almost afraid to guess. Perhaps we may be the cause of her uneasiness?”
“Why so, sister? Because we cannot say prayers, nor tell if we have ever been baptized?”
“That seemed to give her a good deal of pain, it is true. I was quite touched by it, for it proves that she loves us tenderly. But I could not understand how we ran such terrible danger as she said we did.”