She pronounced these last words with so much animation that her cheeks became slightly flushed. The superior had too much tact and experience not to perceive the sincerity of the words. Thinking herself lucky that the young girl should put this construction upon the affair, she smiled upon her affectionately, and stretched out her arms to her, saying: “It is well, my dear daughter. Come and embrace me!”
“Mother—I am really confused—with so much kindness—”
“No—you deserve it—your words are so full of truth and honesty. Only be persuaded that I have not put you to any trial, because there is no resemblance between the act of a spy and the marks of filial confidence that we require of our members for the sake of watching over their morals. But certain persons—I see you are of the number, my dear daughter—have such fixed principles, and so mature a judgment, that they can do without our advice and guardianship, and can appreciate themselves whatever might be dangerous to their salvation. I will therefore leave the entire responsibility to yourself, and only ask you for such communications as you may think proper to make.”
“Oh, madame! how good you are!” said poor Mother Bunch, for she was not aware of the thousand devices of the monastic spirit, and thought herself already sure of gaining just wages honorably.
“It is not goodness—but justice!” answered Mother Sainte-Perpetue, whose tone was becoming more and more affectionate. “Too much tenderness cannot be shown to pious young women like you, whom poverty has only purified because they have always faithfully observed the divine laws.”