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- Paula the Waldensian - 1/32 -


PAULA

THE WALDENSIAN

by Eva Lecomte

_Adapted and translated from the Spanish Version by W. M. Strong_

PREFACE

I Hope and trust that the young people who read this book will have as much joy in the reading of it as I have had in its writing.

Paula's Saviour wishes to be your Saviour too. Paula was by no means perfect, but she did love God with all her heart and her neighbor as herself.

This simple country girl, young and strong, yet so tender-hearted and forgetful of self, appears to me sometimes like one of the clear brooks of my beloved land, pure and fresh, slipping noiselessly between flowered banks of forget-me-nots. It was by love that she "conquered"--as we shall see!

If some day you should come to my country, do not forget that I would have great joy in seeing any of those who have read this book. I live in the little town of Villar at the bottom of the valley, where on every side there are hills and mountains as far as the eye can reach. To me it is the loveliest country in the world and I am sure that Paula thought so too.

And so good-bye, dear young reader! I must not keep you any longer, for I am sure you have a great desire to know about Paula; and anyway, I suppose you will have done what I would have done at your age, namely, read the story first, and left my poor preface to the last--for which I have already pardoned you!

And now, may God bless you, Paula dear, as you walk among these my young friends who read about you! My prayer is that you may shed over them the same sweet ray of celestial light that you have already shed over others.

EVA LECOMTE.

Villar-Pellice, France.

Translator's note:

"Paula" was originally written in French and translated from thence into Spanish; and the present translator having discovered this literary and spiritual jewel, felt that it should be given also to the young people of the English-speaking world, not only that they might know Paula herself, but that, through her, they might become more intimately acquainted with Paula's Saviour and accept Him as their own Redeemer and Lord.

W. M. STRONG.

Coihueco, Chile, South America, 1940.

CONTENTS

PART ONE

1. AN UNEXPECTED LETTER

2. MEMORIES

3. PAULA ARRIVES

4. PAULA'S TREASURES

5. LOUIS' WATCH

6. IN THE MIDST OF DARKNESS

7. CATALINA'S ILLNESS

8. THE FIVE-FRANC PIECE

9. A LITTLE GLIMPSE OF HEAVEN

10. IN THE COUNTRY

11. THE CAT MOTHER

12. A TREASURE RESTORED

13. THE SCHOOL-TEACHER AND HER BROTHER

PART TWO

1. SOME YEARS LATER

2. THE BRETON

3. SAVED!

4. THE YOUNG SCHOOL-MISTRESS

5. THE NIGHT-SCHOOL

6. THE HOUSE OF GOD

7. IN HIS PRESENCE

PART ONE

CHAPTER ONE

AN UNEXPECTED LETTER

Clearly engraved on the walls of my memory there still remains a picture of the great gray house where I spent my childhood. It was originally used for more than a hundred years as the convent of the "White Ladies", with its four long galleries, one above the other, looking proudly down upon the humbler dwellings of the village. On the side of the house, where ran the broad road from Rouen to Darnetal, a high rugged wall surrounded a wide yard, guarded at the entrance by two massive doors, studded with enormous spikes. The naked barrenness of this yard was, to say the least, forbidding in the extreme; but the fertile fields on the other side of the house spread themselves like a vast and beautiful green carpet, dotted here and there with little villages, crowned with church spires and their corresponding belfries, from which on a Sunday morning pealed out the cheerful call to prayer and worship. The ancient convent long before our story begins had been transformed into a lovely dwelling with an immense garden on one side, edged by a dozen little brick houses that seemed so small that they made us children think of certain doll-houses that we used to see in the Paris magazines. They were known locally as the "Red Cottages." A long avenue of ancient elms separated us from these houses of our neighbors, and in front of the cottages stretched a line of stone benches, where, in the shade of the great trees, the old men of the village used to sit and recount to us tales of the days when the Convent flourished. Some of these stories made us shiver. (Indeed, they had a habit of straying into our dreams at night.)

The rest of the land around the Convent had, with the passing of the years, fallen into the hands of the villagers themselves. Each one had a small space for flowers in front and a vegetable garden behind.

Of course, our own garden covering the whole space in front of the Red Cottages, was a much more pretentious affair with its deep well, its many-colored kiosks, and its noisy bee-hives. In fact, it was in our eyes, the most enchanting corner of the earth.

I don't remember all the details about the special thing that happened one day, but I know that I shall never forget it to the end of my life.

We were at tea in the garden. Teresa, our old servant, was walking up and down in her kitchen. She never seemed to have time to sit down to eat Dear old Teresa! She always seemed like a mother to me, for we had lost our own dear mother when I was still in the cradle.

My brother and I had quarrelled over a mere nothing, when we were called in to tea by our father. Of course, we did not dare continue our dispute openly in front of him, but we continued our war-like activities by kicking each other under the table.

Louis was ten years old and I was nine. As he was older and a boy, he of course, considered that he had the right to the last word. Now kicks had replaced words; but as we were seated at quite a distance from one another, we did not succeed in causing very great damage to each other's shins. Notwithstanding this, I began to lose patience, and in order to end the matter, knowing that Louis was not very courageous, I leaned my chair as far inside as I could and let him have one terrific kick. At this, his face changed color and my father now disturbed by the extra noise of my kick, finally began to realize what was happening. I do not know how matters would have terminated, if Teresa had not at this moment come into the garden with a black-bordered letter in her hand which she delivered to our father. He took it silently and opened it as Teresa carried away the tea-pot.

I saw immediately by my father's expression that the letter carried serious news, and I am sure Louis noticed it also for he completely forgot to return my kick.

"Teresa!" called my father.

"All right, I'm coming," said that good lady.

"Read this, and tell me what you think of it," and my father handed the letter to the old servant.

Teresa seated herself at the end of the table between Louis and me, and with her head in her hand commenced to read--Teresa was not very well-educated and she read the letter very slowly and half-aloud. "Who wrote this?" was her first question.

"The Pastor of the village," replied my father.

"A minister!" exclaimed Teresa. "He's a mighty poor writer for a minister,


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