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"I can't explain it to you, Sesoeur. I don't understand it
myself. I love you as I have always loved you; next to God. But if
La Petite goes away I shall die. I can't understand,--help me,
Sesoeur. She seems--she seems like a saviour; like one who had
come and taken me by the hand and was leading me
somewhere-somewhere I want to go."
Ma'ame Pelagie had been sitting beside the bed in her peignoir
and slippers. She held the hand of her sister who lay there, and
smoothed down the woman's soft brown hair. She said not a word,
and the silence was broken only by Mam'selle Pauline's continued
sobs. Once Ma'ame Pelagie arose to mix a drink of orange-flower
water, which she gave to her sister, as she would have offered it
to a nervous, fretful child. Almost an hour passed before Ma'ame
Pelagie spoke again. Then she said:--
"Pauline, you must cease that sobbing, now, and sleep. You will
make yourself ill. La Petite will not go away. Do you hear me?
Do you understand? She will stay, I promise you."
Mam'selle Pauline could not clearly comprehend, but she had
great faith in the word of her sister, and soothed by the promise
and the touch of Ma'ame Pelagie's strong, gentle hand, she fell asleep.
Ma'ame Pelagie, when she saw that her sister slept, arose
noiselessly and stepped outside upon the low-roofed narrow gallery.
She did not linger there, but with a step that was hurried and agitated,
she crossed the distance that divided her cabin from the ruin.
The night was not a dark one, for the sky was clear and the
moon resplendent. But light or dark would have made no difference
to Ma'ame Pelagie. It was not the first time she had stolen away
to the ruin at night-time, when the whole plantation slept; but she
never before had been there with a heart so nearly broken. She was
going there for the last time to dream her dreams; to see the
visions that hitherto had crowded her days and nights, and to bid