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- Paula the Waldensian - 30/32 -
follows: "In great gratitude from the Breton."
"Now, look here," said Louis, "you don't need to weep over it! The Breton is only grateful for all you've done for him. Thanks to you, he's been able to save up a little money lately instead of spending it all on drink.
"Now, look here," he continued, "you don't need to weep to an elaborately embroidered motto on the wall containing the Lord's words to the weary ones of earth. 'Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'"
"Oh, it's all too much!" said Paula completely overcome. "How can I thank you all for what you've done?"
"Your gratitude and happiness is sufficient reward for us," said my father. "I don't know what put the idea in our heads. I suppose you will say it was God, and perhaps you are right. All I know is that I spoke to Mlle. Virtud of your desire to have a night-school for the Breton and his friends, and then spoke to others about it and--well, now you've seen the result. You owe most of your thanks to Mlle. Virtud who brought the thing about and gave us the use of the room."
"Which room," said Mlle. Virtud, with a dry little smile, "had no value whatsoever, you'll remember."
"And another thing," said my father, "she is the one who has taken over the responsibility of the night-school. Otherwise I could not have permitted you to take up such a task. Then Rosa is going to help when she can, and Lisita has an idea she can do something also."
"And I," said Louis, "where do I come into the picture?"
With a grin my father turned to his son, "That's where you're only in the background for once."
It was decided, in accord with Mlle. Virtud, to have classes twice a week. Thursdays would be for reading, writing and arithmetic, and Sundays would be a time for learning songs and for putting their studies into practice by reading in the Bible, and, for what several had been asking, namely, to learn how to pray.
If the Breton was a model scholar, this could not be said of his two younger sons. These boys appeared to be much below the average in natural intelligence, besides the fact that their ordinary educational opportunities had, as in the case of Joseph, their older brother, been decidedly neglected. Their father had compelled them to attend the "night-school," but apparently they didn't seem to grasp what it was all about. Without any apparent cause they both would suddenly duck down below the table to hide their merriment. Whatever story, no matter how interesting, was read aloud, they didn't appear to comprehend a word of it, and if a chapter from the Bible was read they either showed elaborate signs of boredom or else they would doze in their seats. Paula would gaze at them sadly--her young heart was grieved at such colossal indifference.
The three comrades of the Breton, however, were decidedly different, taking up their studies with great eagerness and listening well to everything that was read aloud.
"It's a whole lot better here than spending our money at the liquor shop," they would say with a smile of satisfaction.
"I'll say so," the Breton would chime in. "I'll tell you what, comrades, if I'd known only before all that one gains in Christ's service, I would have started long ago on this new life with Him."
The happiest and most beloved of all in the school was Gabriel. He was so happy that he was able to come in and study with the others; and when it came to singing, his marvelously fresh and clear tones outclassed them all--that is, all but one.
I seem to hear yet those lovely hymns that were sung with such sincerity and heartiness--but the voice that rang clear and true above all others is now mingling its notes with the choirs of heaven.
THE HOUSE OF GOD
It was vacation time--in August. Teresa said she had never seen a dryer or a hotter summer in her whole existence. Gabriel and his sister had gone to visit their family in the country and we had our usual "red letter" time at Grandmother Dumas' house. We had returned from our visit greatly refreshed--all except Paula, who seemed to have lost somewhat of that perpetual happiness which, when she appeared on the scene had always been such a tonic to us all. She had tried her best not to show it, but she gave us all the impression that she tired very quickly.
"I think the reason you tire so soon is because you're growing so quickly," said Teresa. Paula laughed and said that that wasn't her fault.
One morning my father seemed to be looking at her more intently than usual. He finally said, "You're not feeling well; are you, Paula?"
"I'm all right, dear uncle," she said. "Sometimes I get a bit tired. I think it must be the heat."
"But, my dear child, you hardly eat anything at all, and you've lost those roses in your cheeks."
He still continued looking at her--then suddenly he said, "I'll tell you one thing that I think would please you very much. Do you know what that would be?"
"What, sir?" and Paula seemed to regain all her usual animation.
"I think," said my father slowly in a low voice as if talking to himself, "I think you"--and he paused a moment--"What would you say if you were to go to church with Celestina on Sundays?"
"Oh, dear uncle, could I really go?" Paula jumped to her feet excitedly.
"Yes, I think I'll let you go--and"--again he hesitated a bit--"if Teresa, Rosa and Lisita wish to, they may go along too."
"And you, dear uncle, will you not come with us?" questioned Paula, as she looked into the sad, stern face that had softened considerably of late.
"We shall see, we shall see. But you'd better not count on me. My, oh, me! Just see! Those roses have all come back again!"
"Well, but you don't know how happy you've made me!" said Paula as she fairly danced out of the house with me to tell the news to Celestina.
"Well," said Celestina, "all I can say is that the Lord heard my prayers and yours, dear Paula. It's the great weapon of the weak and needy, and in fact can be the power to serve all and anyone who will surrender themselves and all they are into the hands of the Saviour."
We had seated ourselves near the door of her little cottage. Something in the deep tones of the old lady's voice seemed to search my very heart. We always enjoyed listening to this old saint who, like Enoch and Noah, walked with God. We seemed to be drawn closer to God in her humble little cottage than in any other place.
"You see," she continued, "I'm old and quite feeble, and besides I'm poor, and can't do very much for other folks; but there's one thing I can do, and that is, pray. And I do pray for everybody--and especially for you and your family, my dear young friends. God doesn't let me see many results of my prayers, but that doesn't discourage me. I just keep everlastingly at it, and I can leave the results to Him. Has He not said, through the mouth of His Apostle John, 'This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us, and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.'
"I remember once hearing a certain hymn about prayer. I never could remember all the verses, but most of it has remained deeply engraved in my memory although I only heard it once. It was sung by a young missionary from Africa who happened to be passing through Paris. It was at a meeting which I attended as a young girl many years ago."
"Please sing it to us, dear Celestina," said Paula, "even though you may not remember it all."
"Well, my dear young friends," said Celestina, "that old hymn has been my comfort and the inspiration of my prayers through all the years since I heard it sung so long ago in Paris where I lived when I was young. Here it is"; and as those quavering notes sounded we seemed lifted toward that heavenly Throne of which she sang.
On heavenly heights an Angel stands. He takes our prayer in heavenly hands, And with celestial incense rare, He mingles every heart-felt prayer Of those who trust His precious blood To reconcile their souls to God.
"Then from that glorious, heavenly place Descend the lightnings of His grace; To heal, to strengthen, and provide, For those who trust in Him Who died. 'Who died,' I say?--Yea, He Who rose Triumphant, Conqueror of His foes!
"Who is this priestly Angel bright, Who thus dispels our darkest night? 'Tis He who sets the captive free, Jesus Who died on Calvary's tree; Who is, Who was, and is to come-- The glory of His Father's Home!
"Well," said Paula softly as the last note died away, "I've prayed much for my dear uncle that he might be saved."
"And God will hear and answer you, my dear, according to the scripture I've just quoted. Let me tell you something. Your uncle came here to see me a few days ago, and I believe he is not far from the Kingdom of God!"
"Oh," cried Paula, "I would give everything to see him truly saved!"
* * * * *
Never had I seen Paula so happy as when we entered the little old evangelical church in the Rue San Eloi.
We had had the natural timidity of new-comers, and had feared more than anything else that battery of eyes which would surely be turned on us at our entrance. It was therefore a great relief to find that the meeting had
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