The meal was long, like any Norman meal. Father Caillemer spoke for some time about Father de la Croix-Jugan. He came, he said, to live in Blanchelande, near the ruins of his abbey, and to redeem, by an exemplary life, the crime of his suicide and his life as a partisan. He had chosen Blanchelande for the reason that the evil must be expiated where it caused the most scandal. To these Christian reasons, there was perhaps another less elevated one, which the good priest did not know. The abbot, a party man of great importance, leader of Chouans, was due, at this time, when the war had just ended, but when pacification was not yet tested by the first hope that could be reborn, find himself placed under the surveillance of a worried administration. In Blanchelande, in Lessay, lost country, he was less exposed to the vigilance, necessarily annoying, which all threatened governments exercise, without being able to be reproached for it. Soon the old monk was left there, whose name and adventures had suddenly made the conversation so[Pg 141] Seriously, the priest and Master the Hardouey moved on to other topics of conversation and cheered up towards the end of the meal. An enormous log was burning in the vast fireplace, under the mantle of which the table was placed, and this log, which gradually dissolved into flaming coals, surrounded our three guests in a warm atmosphere and joined its influence to this excitement which comes from any meal made together, especially when it is washed down with an amber, sparkling and sparkling bottled cider, which the priest laughingly called “a pleasant puzzle of the good Lord.”
“Not true, Monsieur le Cure, that he is not bad?” said Master Thomas with the double feeling of the man who possesses and of the man who created; it is a caramel for the color and for the taste. I myself have tasted every apple it has been made of.
-Holy Virgin! replied the priest, his hands clasped on his flap, his favorite pose, and with a damp jubilation on his lips and in his eyes, it must have been like the cider that the famous prior of Regneville was drinking with M. de Matignon when the thunder fell. on the priory and put the canopy over their heads, like a canopy of which they would have been the sticks, without them feeling the slightest thing and only taking the trouble to disturb themselves.
It was an anecdote from the country. The prior of Regneville was one of those great living priests, one of those tithe barns, as they still say in Normandy, whose colossal physique well justified such a name.
He had been very famous in the Cotentin, a country of great eaters and intrepid drinkers, and he had become, at the end of his life, so overweight that he had been obliged to make a circular cut in his table to house the rotunda capacity of its belly. The cure of Blanchelande had known him, during the emigration, in Jersey, where he astonished and amazed the English by the wonders of his stomach, always ready for anything, and the good Abbé Caillemer had kept such a memory of it, that he never finished a generous and cheerful meal without speaking of the prior of Regneville. One could even appreciate the degree of cerebral excitement of the parish priest by the number of anecdotes he told about the prior.
But the gaiety of the two guests did not affect Jeanne. She lived apart from what they said. It was left to the Abbé de la Croix-Jugan. This priest-soldier, this chief of Chouans, this suicide who escaped voluntary death and the fury of the Blues, struck her now by the moral side of the physiognomy, as, in church, he had struck her by the side. outside.[Pg 143] It was a kind of feeling she had, analogous to her first sensation. The horror was always there, but, in this woman of action and race, who had never consoled herself for having humiliated her own in a misalliance, the admiration for this monk released by the civil war, who did not had remembered that one thing, at the cost of saving his soul, was that he was a gentleman, yes, admiration then outweighed the horror and changed it into an enthusiastic and noble pity. While her husband and the priest drank, she stood, grave and without drinking, supporting her right elbow in her left hand, and playing thoughtfully with her brownie., the cross surmounted by a large golden heart that she wore tied to her neck by a black velvet ribbon. Placed in front of the blazing hearth, between the two suppers, the fire in the hearth set her usually pale cheek ablaze, and also the fire of her thoughts! His distracted eye never left the barrel of a hunting rifle which gleamed softly above the mantelpiece, where the peasants usually put their weapons.
The day after this supper, which lasted a little into the night, Jeanne le Hardouey got up early and took care of the details of her house with an activity superior to that which she usually displayed. His tone of command[Pg 144] was shorter, almost hard, and his movements quicker. In very active beings, the feverishness of certain thoughts is revealed by an intensity of habitual life, by a kind of silent transport of the voice, of the gaze and of the gesture, which will perhaps be delirium clearly characterized the next day. The night, passing over Jeanne’s cheek, had not extinguished the flame which the troubles of her soul had kindled almost before her eyes. One might even have noticed that the more the day progressed, the darker this flaming trail. After the midday meal, and when Thomas le Hardouey was in the fields, Jeanne threw her blue pelisse over her shoulders and left the Clos. However, she did not hide from her husband. She was not taking advantage, like many women, as long as he had his back turned to make a step he could have asked her a question about. Maître le Hardouey had great respect for his wife. He never asked him to account for his actions. Ten years of reason and of household consecrated, for Jeanne, an independence that women do not know to such a degree in the cities, where every step they take is a danger and sometimes a perfidy.
She went to visit one of her old acquaintances, La Clotte, as they said in[Pg 145] the country. It is a popular abbreviation of the name Clotilde. Known above all by this name in Blanchelande, Clotilde Mauduit was a paralytic old maid, who had not left her house for several years, and whose youth had, like that of several of her contemporaries, beautiful and passionate, shed a scandalous glow. Proud of her beauty, she had been a good girl until the age of twenty-seven. Her natural coldness had preserved her. But, at the age of twenty-seven, that mad pride, angry at waiting, the rage of a curiosity which ruined Eve, the regret, more frightful than remorse, which began for her at having lost her youth, succumbed. His violent passions, but all head, never descended lower than his eyes. The whole country had courted her without success, when she voluntarily fell on the last flattery of a heap of tributes, piled in vain at her superb feet for ten years. It was the time when Sang-d’Aiglon de Haut-Mesnil made his castle the lair of a nobility which was corrupted in the blood of women, when it was not revived in the blood of enemies. Clotilde Mauduit, after her fall, was one of the village queens of the criminal festivals that were celebrated there. Only, it was not to the kidneys that this bacchante when it was not revived in the blood of enemies. Clotilde Mauduit, after her fall, was one of the village queens of the criminal festivals that were celebrated there. Only, it was not to the kidneys that this bacchante when it was not revived in the blood of enemies. Clotilde Mauduit, after her fall, was one of the village queens of the criminal festivals that were celebrated there. Only, it was not to the kidneys that this bacchante[Pg 146] wore his tiger skin, it was around the heart. Nature had cast this girl of the people into the vast and icy mold of the great coquettes, not of those who take a plethora of imbecile imaginations with the antics of love, but of those who have the murderous calm of sphinxes and which exasperate the guilty passions which they arouse with the cruelties of coolness. At the Château du Haut-Mesnil, the debauchery who attracted him there with so many other beautiful girls from the area called him Hérodiade. It was there that she had known Louisine-à-la-ax, very different from her and from all the other women who sank under the vaults of this devouring castle, under the reddened arch of this oven devouring the sea. debauchery, hence the beauty, modesty, virtue, youth,
Louisine, who had lived pure where the others had lost themselves, did not stay there long after her marriage to Loup de Feuardent. This knowledge of her mother, this childhood friendship, was the main reason which had attracted Jeanne’s interest to La Clotte. Everything that spoke to him about his mother was sacred to him! Yet another reason for this interest which she courageously showed in La Mauduit, for, in the opinion of the country, Clotilde had dishonored herself, and the weight of her dishonor had to[Pg 147] would lighten her, stay on her, is that, proud of her memories as she had been of her beauty, La Clotte, as it was called then, liked to stand up to public contempt by boldly reminding what a world she had once mingled with. She had an exalted respect for ancient extinct families, such as that of the Feuardents. Proud vassal of those who had trained her, she retained a sort of feudal pride even in her dishonor. Old, poor, stricken with paralysis from waist to foot, she had always shown everyone in this country a silent height that her shame had not been able to bow. The companions of her disorders were dead around her; the castle of Haut-Mesnil had collapsed, and the revolution had dispersed the ruins; the infirmities had come; she had found herself isolated in the midst of a generation which had grown up and to whom, from childhood, she had been pointed out as an object of disapproval. Well, in spite of all this, Clotilde Mauduit, or rather La Clotte, had remained all that had been known to her in her culpable prosperity. She lived in a poor hut a few steps from the village of Blanchelande, the only thing she had in the world with a little one.courtil , whose vegetables and fruits she sold, and she lived there in[Pg 148] a contemptuous and fussy loneliness. A neighbor, who calculated that, as a price for her attentions, La Clotte, by dying, would bequeath her the little house or the courtil, sent her her fourteen-year-old daughter every day to look after her. She haunted no one, and no one haunted her … except Jeanne, to whom she had always shown a good face, because of the name of Feuardent, which reminded her of her youth. Jeanne, this mes-ally, who kept in her soul the immortal wound of pride, found a vengeful enjoyment of all that her marriage had made her suffer in her relations with La Clotte, who had cursed as much as she did the inexorable necessity of this marriage, and in whose eyes she was never more than Loup de Feuardent’s daughter. After that, who would not understand the strength of the bond which existed between these two women? … Jeanne-Madelaine, obliged to live with men of the level of her husband; attached to the interests of a farming household; never having known the manners of a higher society, which, without events, would have been his; ignorant but instinctive, felt keenly, only really lived with La Clotte. His compressed patrician soul dilated with this old woman, who spoke to her incessantly of the lords she had known, and whose language inflamed by ignorant but instinctive, felt keenly, only really lived with La Clotte. His compressed patrician soul dilated with this old woman, who spoke to her incessantly of the lords she had known, and whose language inflamed by ignorant but instinctive, felt keenly, only really lived with La Clotte. His compressed patrician soul dilated with this old woman, who spoke to her incessantly of the lords she had known, and whose language inflamed by[Pg 149] solitude, by pride, by character, sometimes had an extraordinary eloquence. For Jeanne, who only knew her missal, La Clotte and her stories were poetry. This lost girl, who had not repented, this old woman hardened in her sin, to whom no one held out her hand, spoke to Mistress le Hardouey’s imagination as she consoled her pride. How could she not have visited it often? … The people of the village were astonished. “What the devil,” they said, “did this witch from La Clotte do to Mistress Le Hardouey so that she would visit her so often in her hovel, and why doesn’t she let her struggle with the demon? , on his pallet, that remnant of shamelessness that shamed all Blanchelande for ten years? ”
That day Jeanne went to La Clotte, driven by a set of circumstances which, since vespers the day before, had surrounded her soul, so to speak, and gave her, without her being able to understand them, the most singular agitations. It was three o’clock in the morning when she arrived at La Clotte. The door of the cottage was wide open, as is the custom in the countryside of Normandy, when the weather is mild. According to its eternal custom, La Clotte was seated on a sort of coarse armchair against the single window that lit from the side of the[Pg 150] roam the smoky, brown interior of his miserable home. The windows of this diamond-shaped window were edged with little lead and so yellowed by the smoke that the most powerful sun of the beautiful days of the year, which set opposite, – for the thatched cottage of La Clotte was set at sunset — could not have crossed them.
Now, as that day, which was a winter day, there was no sun, hardly if a few drops of light passed through this yellowed glass, which seemed to have the opacity of the horn, to fall on Clotilde Mauduit’s worried forehead. She was alone, as almost always when Mother Ingou’s little one was at school or on an errand in Blanchelande. Its spinning wheel, which usually gave out that monotonous and serenely dreamy noise that crosses the threshold in the silent countryside and warns the traveler by the side of the road that work and activity live at the bottom of these hovels that one would say abandoned, her spinning wheel was silent and motionless in front of her. She had pushed it back a little into the window recess, and she was knitting blue woolen stockings, dark blue, almost black, as I saw it worn by all peasant women in my youth. Although age and passions had extended their devastating hands over her, it was easy to see[Pg 151] that she had been a woman “whose beauty, Tainnebouy told me when he spoke to me about it, had shone like a bonfire in the country.” She was tall and erect, with a bust as powerful as her whole person, whose broad lines were still evident, but whose forms had disappeared. Her flat headdress with piped butterflies, which fell almost to his shoulders, dropped around his temples two strong locks of gray hair which seemed to be the iron crown of his proud and gloomy old age. Her face, crisscrossed with wrinkles, hollowed out like a Florentine bronze excavated by Michelangelo, had that expression that strong souls give to their faces when they resist contempt for years. Without the words of the region, we would never have recognized under this face of an ancient medal, with verdigris eyes, the splendid mistress of Remy de Sang-d’Aiglon, a creature carved in the purpurine flesh of girls Norman. Had this woman’s lips been devoured by the vampires of Haut-Mesnil castle? We no longer saw them. The mouth was only a curved, proud line. La Clotte wore a rust-colored corset in drugstore, a pleated petticoat with large black bands on a gray background, and a blue devantey in Siamese. Next to his armchair we[Pg 152] saw her stick of thorn hardened in the oven on which she rested her two hands, when, with the movements of a half-cut serpent which draws its stump while bleeding, she dragged herself to the peat fire of her fireplace in order to watch either the pot that was heating in the hearth, or a few pippin apples or a few chestnuts that were cooking for little Ingou.
“I recognized you at a walk, Mademoiselle de Feuardent ,” she said, when Jeanne appeared at the straw-lined threshold of her house, “I recognized the noise of your hooves.”
La Clotte had never called Jeanne le Hardouey after her husband’s name since her marriage. For her, Jeanne-Madelaine was still Mademoiselle de Feuardent, in spite of the law, and, said this strong village spirit, in spite of the appearances of the men. When she wasn’t cursing this marriage, she forgot about it.
Jeanne wished La Clotte good evening and came to sit on a stool next to the paralytic.
“Ah! she said, I am tired; and she shook her shoulders, as if her pelisse had been leaden. I came too quickly, she added to answer the gaze of La Clotte, who had dropped her knitting on her knees.[Pg 153] and stuck one of her needles in the hair of her temples, looking at her.
-Vere! said La Clotte, “you will have come too quickly.” The clogs weigh death by the mud it makes, and the road must be very bad at the Carrefour des Raines. You, who are not usually red, your cheeks are like fire.
“I almost ran,” continued Jeanne. We go so fast, when we have boredom behind us! There are days, my poor Clotte, when the works, the markets, the house, all this life of occupations which I made for myself, do not prevent having the heart, one does not know why, between two stones, and you know very well that it is always at such times that I come to see you.
“I know it,” said La Clotte gravely, “and I could see clearly that there was not only the fatigue of walking in the state of your colors, my daughter.” So today, she continued after a silence, like a woman who speaks a language already well spoken between them, one of our bad days?
Jeanne made the gesture of a silent confession. She bowed her head.
“Ah! said La Clotte, already elated, those days are not over, my child. You are so young and so strong! The blood of the Feuardent,[Pg 154] who burns your cheeks, will rebel for a long time, before calming down completely.
“Perhaps,” she added, wrinkling the lines on her forehead, “children, if you had any, would do you more good than all the rest; but children who would not be Feuardent! …
And she stopped, as if she had regretted having said too much.
“Here, La Clotte,” said Jeanne-Madelaine, putting her hand on one of the old woman’s withered hands, “I think I’ve had a fever since last night.
And then, she told of her meeting with the shepherd under the porch of the old rectory, and the threat he had thrown at her and which she had not been able to forget.
La Clotte listened to him, casting a deep gaze on her.
“There are other eels under the rock,” she said, nodding her head. Louisine-à-la-ax’s daughter is not afraid of the nonsense shepherds spout to frighten spinners. I’m not saying that they don’t have evil secrets to kill the beasts and get revenge on the masters who chased them away; but what could one of these wretches do against Mademoiselle de Feuardent? You have something else on your mind, my child …
But Jeanne le Hardouey remained silent, and La Clotte, who seemed to seek the thought of Jeanne in her old head, to her, searched the gray hair of her hollowed temple, with the tip of her needle down, as one looks for a lost thing. in the ashes of an extinguished hearth, and continued to stare at her with his dreadful blue eyes.
“You who have known so many people, La Clotte,” said Jeanne le Hardouey, after a few minutes of silence, finally succumbing to her secret thoughts, “have you known, in the past, an abbot of Croix-Jugan?”
“The Abbé de la Croix-Jugan!” Jehoël de la Croix-Jugan! who was called Brother Ranulphe de Blanchelande! cried La Clotte suddenly, having become Clotilde Mauduit again, with the thrill of a memory which galvanized her old age, if I knew him! Yes, my daughter; but why ask me that? Who told you about Father de la Croix-Jugan? I have known him only too well, this Jehoel. It was before the revolution. He was a monk at the abbey. His family had put him there almost at the end of his childhood; and my youth, when I knew him, was already beginning to happen. It was said that, like so many other priests from a large family, he had no vocation, but that, always, among the Croix-Jugan, the last of the children was a monk.[Pg 156] for centuries. If I knew him! Oh! my daughter, as I know you! He often left his monastery, and he came to the lord of Haut-Mesnil on the days they called their sabbath day, and he saw there terrible spectacles for a man who was one day to wear the miter and the abbot’s cross. Jehoël de la Croix-Jugan! as Remy Sang-d’Aiglon de Haut-Mesnil and his friends called him, because they never gave him his religious name of Brother Ranulphe, while he was with them, although he wore the white cassock and his cloak of canon of Saint-Norbert on top, when he came to the castle, between the office and matins. I heard it said that they wanted, by giving him his gentleman’s name, to sink into his heart a disgust even deeper than that which
-How was he when you knew him? said Jeanne-Madelaine eagerly.
“I told you, my daughter, he was very young then,” said La Clotte, “yes, young in age; but whoever saw or heard him would not have said it, for he was dark as an old man. His face never brightened. It was said that he was not happy to be a monk, but he was not, despite his great youth, a man to be[Pg 157] to pity and to wear the tonsure which burned his skull less proudly than he would have made a steel helmet. He was as high as the sky, and I believe pride was his greatest vice. Because I have already told you, my child, we were there, at the Château de Haut-Mesnil, a panicked troop, and never, ever, have I heard that the Abbé de la Croix- Jugan didn’t leave his priestly robe with any of us.
“Why then, if he was what you say,” replied Jeanne, “was he going to the Chateau de Haut-Mesnil?
-Why? who knows why, my daughter? said La Clotte. There he found lords like himself, people of his kind, and occupations which pleased him more than the offices of his abbey. He was not born to do what he did … He often hunted, monk though he was, with the lords of Haut-Mesnil, La Haye and Varanguebec, and it was always he who killed the most wolves or wild boars. How many times have I seen him, at supper, cut off the bleeding head and muddy legs of the beast killed in the morning and plunge them into the tub of brandy, which was set on fire, and whose they smeared our lips. Oh! my daughter, I will not tell you the blasphemies and abominations which he then heard. “Here,” said to him[Pg 158] Richard de Varanguebec by pouring him this fiery brandy, their feast of demons, you like that better than the blood of Christ, chalice drinker! ” But he continued to drink in silence, dark as the wood of Limore, and cold as a rock in the sea, in front of the excesses of which he was witness … No, he was not a man like any other than Jehoel of the Croix-Jugan! When the revolution came, he was one of the first to disappear from his cloister. It is said that he passed through the Bocage, and that he killed as many Blues as he had once killed wolves … But why are you talking to me about the Abbé de la Croix-Jugan, my daughter? … interrupted La Clotte, leaving her memories there, towards which she had rushed, to return to Jeanne le Hardouey’s question.
“It’s because he came back to Blanchelande and he was at vespers yesterday, Mother Clotte,” replied Jeanne-Madelaine.
-He came back! said the old woman brilliantly. Are you sure he’s back, Jeanne de Feuardent? Ah! if you are not mistaken, I will drag myself on my staff to the church to see him again. He was involved in a bad and guilty youth, but the memory of which still haunts me. Sometimes I think, she said, closing her fiery eyes[Pg 159] and rigid as if she were looking within herself, yes, I believe that the vices that we had bewitched you, because why, me here on the edge of my pit, did I want to see this Jehoël de la Croix-Jugan again? ?
“Especially since you wouldn’t recognize him, Mother Clotte!” said Jeanne. When you see him again, you may be challenged to say it’s him. It is said that, in a moment of desperation, when he saw the lost Chouans, he shot himself with a gun in the face. God did not allow him to die of it, but he left the imprint of his unfulfilled crime on his face to terrify others, and perhaps to horrify himself. We all trembled about it yesterday, at the church of Blanchelande, when it appeared there.
-What! resumed La Clotte with a feeling of astonishment, Jeéhoël de la Croix-Jugan no longer has his beautiful face of Saint Michael who kills the dragon! He lost it under the iron of suicide, like us, who found him so beautiful, we, the bad girls of Haut-Mesnil, we also lost our beauty under the sorrows, the abandonment, the misfortunes of time , old age! He is still young, but a gunshot and desperation put him on an equal with us! Ah! Jehoel, Jehoel! she added with that abstraction of old people, which makes them talk, when[Pg 160] they are alone, with the invisible specters of their youth, so you laid your hands on yourself and destroyed this sinister and fatal beauty which promised what you kept! What would Dlaid  Malgy say if she lived and saw you again?
Dlaïde , Norman abbreviation of the name Adélaïde . We write it as it is pronounced in the country.
( Author’s Note. )
“What was Dlaide Malgy, Mother Clotte? said Jeanne le Hardouey, quite disturbed, and whose interest increased as the old woman spoke.
“She was one of us, and perhaps the best,” said La Mauduit; she was your mother’s friend, Jeanne de Feuardent. But unfortunately! Louisine, who was wise, could not save Dlaïde Malgy with her advice. The poor child was lost, like all the haunters of the Château de Haut-Mesnil, like Marie Otto, Julie Travers, Odette Franchomme, and Clotilde Mauduit with them, all proud daughters, who preferred to be mistresses of lords rather than to marry women. peasants, like their mothers. You do not know, Jeanne de Feuardent, you will never know, you who have been forced to marry a vassal of your father, what the love of these men is.[Pg 161] who once were the masters of others, and who boasted that the color of the blood in their veins was not the same as that of our blood. Go! it was impossible to resist. Dlaïde Malgy learned this from her own experience. She was one of the craziest of those fools who gave up their virtue to Sang-d’Aiglon de Haut-Mesnil and his abominable companions. But also that she was punished for it! Ah! we have all been punished! But she was the first who felt the hand of God stretch out like fire on her. In the midst of all these perditions in which our youth were consumed, she loved Jehoël de la Croix-Jugan, the handsome and white monk of Blanchelande, as she had loved no one, as she did not believe, she who had been so laughing. and so light of heart that one could love a man, a being made with earth and who must die! She did not hide it. Beautiful, in love, now shameless, she thought it was easy to make herself loved … But she was deceived. She was despised for her pain. We weren’t in that Jehoel’s passions, if he had any. Roger de la Haye, Richard de Varanguebec, Jacques de Néhou, Lucas de Lablaierie, Guillaume de Hautemer, made fun of Dlaide’s despised love. “Make yourself beautiful and proud now!” they said. You didn’t even know how to set the dress on fire Richard de Varanguebec, Jacques de Néhou, Lucas de Lablaierie, Guillaume de Hautemer, made fun of Dlaide’s despised love. “Make yourself beautiful and proud now!” they said. You didn’t even know how to set the dress on fire Richard de Varanguebec, Jacques de Néhou, Lucas de Lablaierie, Guillaume de Hautemer, made fun of Dlaide’s despised love. “Make yourself beautiful and proud now!” they said. You didn’t even know how to set the dress on fire[Pg 162] tinder from a monk. You have found your master, your master who doesn’t want you. ” She, exasperated by their taunts, swore he would love her. But this oath was a perjury … Jehoel had thoughts that we did not know. The steel of his shotgun was less hard than his proud heart, and the blood of the slaughtered beasts which he brought back on his hands from the depths of the forests, he never wiped it on our aprons! We were nothing to him! One evening, Dlaide, in front of all of us, at one of those meals that lasted for nights, confessed his insane love to him … But, instead of listening to him, he took a brass horn from the wall, and stuck his pale lips, he covered the voice of the unhappy woman with the pitiless sounds of the horn, and for a long time rang her an outrageous and terrible tune, as if he would have been one of the Archangels who will one day sound the last judgment! I would live a hundred years, Jeanne-Madelaine, that I would not forget this formidable movement, and the cruel action of this priest, and the air he had in accomplishing it! For Dlaide, she fell completely mad about it. The poor lost head abandoned herself to the makers of beverages, who gave her powders to make herself loved. She threw them subtly, from behind, into the monk’s glass, at supper; but the powders were lies. Nothing could poison the soul of Jehoel. The poor lost head abandoned herself to the makers of beverages, who gave her powders to make herself loved. She threw them subtly, from behind, into the monk’s glass, at supper; but the powders were lies. Nothing could poison the soul of Jehoel. The poor lost head abandoned herself to the makers of beverages, who gave her powders to make herself loved. She threw them subtly, from behind, into the monk’s glass, at supper; but the powders were lies. Nothing could poison the soul of Jehoel.[Pg 163] Unworthy as he was, did God keep his priest? or did the Spirit of darkness use the Lord’s anointed to better control Dlaid’s heart? … A frightful example for all of us, but which did not benefit us! Dlaide Malgy soon passed for a possessed and a runner of guilledou, in all the country. The women crossed each other when they met her along the paths, or sitting against the hedges, almost like an idiot, she was so heartbroken! Some said that she was not always so quiet … and that, at night, we had often seen her roll around, with cries, on the cat’s heads on the Chaussée de Broquebœuf, screaming in pain. , in the moonlight, like a hungry wolf. Perhaps it was an invention that this sayingof the Chaussée de Broquebœuf … but what is certain is that, in the past, when we went to bathe in the river, I counted many bruises, many blue spots on his poor body, and when I asked him: “What is this? where have you put yourself? … “she said to me, in her bewilderment:” it is gangrene which comes from my heart and which must eat me everywhere. ” Ah! her beauty and health were soon eaten away. The cough took hold of her. She was the weakest of us. But sickness and her body, which melted together like a[Pg 164] tallow in the fire, did not prevent him from leading the life we led in Haut-Mesnil. The debauchees who lived there were not delicate! La Malgy’s love for Jehoël, his illness, his thinness, his languor, which she inflamed by drinking juniper, as one drinks water when one is thirsty, which soon made the hands tremble, the lips turning blue. , losing her voice, nothing stopped the madmen with whom she was surrounded. They liked, they said, to climb into the steeple when it burns! and they passed from hand to hand this dying woman, each of whom took her bite, this consumed girl, who was still blazing inside, but not for them! They killed her like that, the unfortunate one! It didn’t take long … But why are you turning pale, Jeanne de Feuardent? cried, interrupting herself, Clotilde Mauduit, terrified on Jeanne’s face. Ah! my daughter, does Jehoel still have the gift of moving women, now that he is no longer the handsome Jehoel of old? Does he still have that diabolical power that hell for a long time believed granted to this frozen priest, since, despite the change in his face, you turn pale, my daughter, just hearing me speak of it ?. ..
The woman of passions had seen the underground lightning which they sometimes throw from the depths of a soul.
“Did I turn pale then?” Jeanne said, frightened in her turn.
“Yes, my daughter,” said La Clotte, pensive in the face of this pallor, like a doctor penetrating before the first symptom of the hidden illness, and, God punish me, I even believe that you are still turning pale!
Jeanne-Madelaine lowered her eyes and did not answer, for she felt that La Clotte was telling the truth, and that something terrifying and unspeakable was gripping her heart and twisting it even harder than the day before at Vespers, at the same time. hour. Nailed to the stool where she had sat down, she could not even, she, Jeanne the strong, raise her eyelids, heavy as deadly lead, towards La Clotte, who was no longer speaking.
Master Louis Tainnebouy, who was not a moralist and who looked more at the hair of his oxen than at the human soul, had painted me with a harsh and terrible word, in his patois of words and ideas, what I try to express with nuances.
“Women get lost with stories! he told me. The old witch Clotte had écopi on the mistress Hardouey the venom of his radoteries. From that moment on, she was dazed, like Malgy, he added; her blood was turned.