Her tears flowed fast, and she added: “I shall be proud of that all the rest of my life! If only you, too, would forgive me.”
The heart of Giselle was melted by these words.
“Forgive you, my dear little girl? Ah! you have been better than I. I forgot our old friendship for a moment—I was harsh to you; and I have so little right to blame you! But come! Providence may have arranged all for the best, though one of us may have to suffer. Pray for that some one. Good-by—’au revoir!”
She kissed Jacqueline’s forehead and was gone, before her cousin had seized the meaning of her last words. But joy and peace came back to Jacqueline. She had recovered her best friend, and had convinced her of her innocence.
Before Giselle went home to her own house she called on the Abbe Bardin, whom a rather surly servant was not disposed to disturb, as he was just eating his breakfast. The Abbe Bardin was Jacqueline’s confessor, and he held the same relation to a number of other young girls who were among her particular friends. He was thoroughly acquainted with all that concerned their delicate and generally childish little souls. He kept them in the right way, had often a share in their marriages, and in general kept an eye upon them all their lives. Even when they escaped from him, as had happened in the case of Jacqueline, he did not give them up. He commended them to God, and looked forward to the time of their repentance with the patience of a father. The Abbe Bardin had never been willing to exercise any function but that of catechist; he had grown old in the humble rank of third assistant in a great parish, when, with a little ambition, he might have been its rector. “Suffer little children to come unto me,” had been his motto. These words of his Divine Master seemed more often than any others on his lips-lips so expressive of loving kindness, though sometimes a shrewd smile would pass over them and seem to say: “I know, I can divine.” But when this smile, the result of long experience, did not light up his features, the good Abbe Bardin looked like an elderly child; he was short, his walk was a trot, his face was round and ruddy, his eyes, which were short-sighted, were large, wide-open, and blue, and his heavy crop of white hair, which curled and crinkled above his forehead, made him look like a sixty-year-old angel, crowned with a silvery aureole.
Rubbing his hands affably, he came into the little parlor where Madame de Talbrun was waiting for him. There was probably no ecclesiastic in all Paris who had a salon so full of worked cushions, each of which was a keepsake—a souvenir of some first communion. The Abbe did not know his visitor, but the name Talbrun seemed to him connected with an honorable and well-meaning family. The lady was probably a mother who had come to put her child into