FLOWERS OF THE FOREST:
BY THE AUTHOR
"LITTLE HENRY AND HIS BEARER"
EXAMINED AND APPROVED BY THE EDITORS.
PUBLISHED BY LANE & SCOTT,
FOR THE SUNDAY-SCHOOL UNION OF THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL
CHURCH, 00 MULBERRY-STREET.
JOSEPH LONGING, POINTER.
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
I SHALL commence my narrative by stating
that I am a native of France, though now resid.
ing in England, and a very old man. More
than forty years since I was a cure, or, as such
a one would be called in England, a minister
of a small parish situated in a beautiful pro.
vince of Normandy, in France; that province
which gave her conquerors and her princes for
many generations to the country in which I
have now taken up my abode.
While residing in Normandy I was a Pa.
pist, though now, through the influence of a
clearer light shining upon my soul, I am a Pro-
testant; and I humbly pray that my mind may
never again be brought under the dark delu-
sions in which it was involved in my younger
It is possible that my youthful reader may
not precisely understand the points on which
the Protestant and the Papist are at variance.
These particulars are numerous, and many of
them are not easily ascertained, because the Pa.
pists do not present the doctrines of their church
in a simple or well defined form. When a
Protestant refers to the works which are held
in authority among them, and points out the
errors contained therein, they shift their ground,
0 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
and in all possible ways evade a straightforward
line of argument. Their most authenticated
modern formularies are deduced from the de.
crees of the Council of Trent, which commenced
its sittings in 1545, and continued, though a
long interval intervened, until 1563. That
council was held by the command of the pope
at Trent, a city in the north of Italy, and many
authoritative decrees were issued by it, both as
to matters of faith and ceremonies. These were
sanctioned by the highest authority of the church
of Rome, and never have been in any way re.
pealed or modified ; they may therefore be refer.
red to as the authorized statement of popish
doctrines, and Protestants may reason respect.
ing them as the rule of faith of the Romish
Church. It is true that they were not received
with the same degree of implicit submission, by
all the countries which continued to profess
themselves followers of the Church of Rome;
and in Protestant countries at the present day,
the Papists are unwilling to admit fully that
they, as such, are bound by the decrees of the
Council of Trent; their policy appears to con.
sist in continually shifting their position, and
presenting new forms of defence, which being
of a shadowy, mysterious, and irresponsible na.
ture, are incapable of being overturned by the
artillery of reason, or other means which might
be used against their errors, if advanced in a
more substantial form. The Protestant, on the
other hand, uses no subterfuge whereby he may
confound his enemies, and escape the conse.
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. I
quences to which the principles he recognizes
must lead, but simply maintains his belief in
Scripture, and asserts that whatsoever is not
read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not
to be required of any man, that it should be be-
lieved as an article of faith, or be thought re.
quisite or necessary to salvation.
But I forget that I am writing for such as
cannot be supposed to enter fully into discus-
sions of this nature. I shall therefore avoid
going more deeply into them, simply request-
ing my youthful reader to bear these things in
mind, namely, that of the two principal orders
of persons calling themselves Christians, the
first, namely, the Protestants, profess to take
the Bible as their rule of life and of belief; the
second, the Papists, bind themselves to obey the
commandments of their church, of which the
pope is, as they pretend, the father, the spiritual
head, the absolute and infallible ruler; and the
priests of that church assume to themselves a
power and authority far beyond that of anymor-
tal being, in all matters connected with religion,
But to proceed with my narrative : as I be-
fore said, I was born in France, and educated
.for the postoral office; the parish which was
appointed me lies upon the Seine; it extends
along the left bank of that beautiful river, which,
as is well known, rises near Saint Seine, in
Burgundy, and mingles itself with the sea be-
low the city of Rouen.
It is a region rich in orchards and vineyards,
in fragrant meadow lands and thymy downs--
8 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
to the north thereof lies a forest, extending itself
for several leagues over a space most beautifully
diversified with hill and dale, and affording
within its deep recesses such a great variety of
cool grottoes, waterfalls, and natural bowers as I
have seldom seen in any other part of the world.
There is the sweet village, each little dwelling
of which has its thatched roof, its rural porch,
and its gay flower-garden. We had our cha.
teau also, which, being built of gray stone, and
having a commanding site, afforded a pleasing
object to the road which runs from Paris to
Rouen on the other side of the Seine ; its fanes
and turrets at that time being exalted above the
neighboring woods, though, as I now under-
stand, they are levelled to the dust; and near
the chateau was the Tour de Tourterelle, which
gave the title to the family--a huge old tower
coeval with the first dukes of Normandy.
When first admitted to my cure, the family
at the chateau consisted of many individuals,
but one and another of these being removed by
death or marriage, Madame la Baronne only
was left to us after a few years; and such was
the kindness and amiable deportment of this
lady, that it was commonly said of her, that all
the virtues of the long and illustrious line of
ancestry of which she was the last in that part
of the country, had centred in her. In fact, her
conduct merited our sincere affection and grati.
tude; but when we are made acquainted,
through the divine teaching, with the fallen
and corrupt state of human nature, we dare not
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 9
to use or admit that high strain of panegyric
which more presumptuous individuals employ
Between the village and the chateau stood
our church, built also of gray stone, in the Nor.
man Gothic style, and near to the church was a
large black-timbered house, with two gable ends
pointed with wooden crosses, where lived a de-
cayed gentlewoman, a widow, whom I shall call
This lady, being an accomplished woman for
that day, and much reduced in her fortune, re.
ceived young ladies into her house for their
education, and was, I believe, as far as the dark
state of her mind would admit, a faithful and
laborious guide to her young people.
Near to Madame Bul6's seminary was my
own little mansion, nay, so near, that the win.
dow of my study, which was an upper room,
projected over the garden wall of the seminary;
and I used often to amuse myself by showering
bonbons from thence upon the little ones who
were assembled on the lawn beneath.
From the period of my entering my cure
until I was more than forty years of age, I en-
joyed a long interval of comparative peace. I
was fond of a retired life. I had a particular
delight in the study of nature, and in that part
of it especially which refers to the habits and
formation of the vegetable world. I made a
collection of all the plants in the neighbourhood,
and would walk leagues for the chance of ob.
training a new specimen. I had other pursuits
10 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
of the same kind, which filled up the intervals
of my professional duties, and, through the di.
vine goodness, kept me from worse things
during those years of my life in which I cer-
tainly had not that sense of religion which would
have upheld mein situations of stronger excite.
ment. Thus I was carried on a compare.
tively blameless course through a long period
of my life, for which I humbly thank my God,
and take no manner of credit to myself; though
I feel that it is a mercy for which an individual
cannot be too grateful, when he is brought to a
sense of sin and to a knowledge of his own
weakness, to find that, in the days of his spi.
ritual darkness, he has been guarded on the
right hand and on the left, from shoals and
rocks and whirlpools, in which wiser persons
than himself have made terrible shipwrecks.
But, as I said above, I was led on from year to
year in a sort of harmless course ; and whereas
I enjoyed much peace, so was the same be-
stowed upon my neighbours in general, in a
larger proportion than could have been expected,
when the agitated state of our country, as it
regarded religion and politics, is brought under
consideration. In the meantime the little es-
tablishment of Madame Bule was carried on in
a manner so peaceful and tranquil that it can
hardly be questioned but that the protecting
hand of Providence was extended over this aca.
demy, although undoubtedly the instructions
there received, partook of the spiritual darkness
at that period spread over the whole country.
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 11
At length, however, as madame became less
able to exert herself, and as new modes of in-
struction and more fashionable accomplishments
became requisite, in order to satisfy the parents
of the pensioners, (or boarders,) she thought it
right to procure an assistant; and Mademoiselle
Victorie, a young lady who had been educated
in Paris, was appointed to the situation. Thus
the wolf was admitted into the fold; for this
young person, being exceedingly vain and
worldly minded, no sooner found herself esta.
blished in the family of Madame Bul6 than she
began to disturb the peace of its inmates.
All those accomplishments which delight the
senses were what were chiefly held in esteem by
mademoiselle; she had no value for the quali-
ties of the heart, and no discernment of retiring
and humble merit: hence her favours were ever
lavished on the vain and frivolous, provided
they were possessed of such qualities as she
admired; while some of the most amiable
young people in the seminary were continually
exposed either to her ridicule or her reproaches.
In consequence of this unjust conduct she
presently raised a very unamiable feeling among
the young people, many of whom began to form
false estimates of each other's merits, and to
hate and envy those individuals among their
companions who possessed any of those quali-
ties or distinctions whether mental, personal, or
accidental, which were calculated to ensure the
favour of mademoiselle. And then it was that
I first observed a change in the air and appear-
12 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
ance of the young people when they came out
to amuse themselves in their garden during the
intervals of their studies: then it was that the
voice of anger first arose toward my window,
and my ear was then first saluted with the,
tones of discord disturbing the beautiful har-
mony of the scene. I observed, also, after
awhile, that there was an entire cessation of
those games and diversions in which the young
people formerly seemed to take such interest;
neither did I hear those cries of joy proceeding
from the play ground which were in former
periods so delightful to my ear as I sat in my
study-for worldly purposes and feelings had
crept into this little society; and I, as if aware
that these symptoms, observed among these
young people, were only the beginnings of mis-
fortunes, frequently at that time looked back on
the days of innocent (comparatively innocent)
pleasure which were fast passing away, with a
sort of regret which seemed even more bitter
than the occasion warranted;
The time had been, nay, it was hardly gone,
when it had been the chief delight of the pupils
of Madame Bul6 to cultivate flowers in all at.
tainable varieties, and madame had given a
small piece of ground to each little girl for this
I had often busied myself in procuring rare
seeds and fine specimens of flowers for these
young people, by which small services I had
obtained the name of Le Bon PAre,"* Le
The good father.
FLOWmUE OF THE FOREST. 13
Bbn P6re Raffre," and was saluted with ries
of joy whenever I appeared in the garden.
Then with what eager delight did the little re.
bels gather around me, and some indeed were
daring enough to thrust their hands into my
pockets, to rob me of the small packets of seeds
or bulbous roots which had been deposited
therein to attract the pretty thieves. More than
once I have seized a dimpled hand in the very
act of felndy, and then it was my custom to take
out my large clasp knife, to open it wide, to whet
Son the nearest stone, and to pretend that I
wufabout to take instant and cruel revenge;
while the sparkling and blooming delinquents
shrieked and danced around me, now receding,
now advancing, now approaching, now retiring,
14 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
till every avenue of the garden re-echoed with
the merry notes of innocent delight. 0
joyous days of happy and unapprehensive youth,
when the light heart never wearies with the
same jest, however often reacted or repeated,
nor yawns at the oft told tale !
Often too, was I invited to the collation at
four o'clock, when the weather would permit
the little party to enjoy that simple meal in the
open air; and when Father Raffr6 promised his
company, most happy was that little fair one
who could contribute the most elegant decora.
tions for the feast, or supply the most beautiful
baskets bf reeds or osiers to stand in lieu of the
china or plate which adorn the tables of more
As I before said, I was then a Roman Catho-
lic; it was the religion to which I had been
brought up, and although I will not say that
from .time to time some faint apprehensions
might not have crossed my mind even then,
respecting the soundness of the principles in
which I had been nurtured, yet these gleams of
light had hitherto been transitory as the irra-
diations which fall upon the earth when the
morning is spread upon the mountains, and the
clouds are driven forward along the path of the
sun. But this I trust that I may say of myself,
and of many of my brethren at that time,
that, as far as our knowledge went, we were
sincere; and that if we sometimes appeared to
be otherwise, it was because we were not al-
ways assured that our faith had that foundation
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 15
in truth which it must needs have in order to
be effective. Notwithstanding which, I think
I may add that I did endeavour, when thus fa.
miliarly associated with these young people, to
press upon them the importance of spiritual
things, and with this view directed them often
to raise up their hearts to God when employed
in their most ordinary actions. To third piece
of excellent advice I added, as might be expect-
ed, certain admonitions respecting forms, of a
nature which I now see to have been decidedly
prejudicial, inasmuch as outward forms so fri.
volous as those which are commanded by the
church to which I then belonged, have a direct
tendency to lead the mind from seeking that
inward and spiritual grace, of which outward
forms are but the types. Among those forms
which I particularly enforced, I well remember
one, which was that of making the sign of the
cross many times during the day; I also in.
sisted that these young people should repeat
the Ave Maria, and certain bother prayers which
I taught them in thet'atin tongue, as often as
they could make it convenient so to do ; assur-
ing them that by their obedience or disobedi-
ence in these particulars, they would rise or
fall in favour with God and with the church.
Thus I endeavoured, though on false principles,
to shed the odour of sanctity on our little as.
semblios. and for some years I had no strong
reason to perceive that the weapons of warfare
which I had placed in the hands of my little
pupils, were not sufficiently powerful to enable
16 FLOWERS OF 'IHE FOREST.
them to resist the snares of Satan and the dan-
gers of the world. For, as I remarked above,
while Madame Bul alone presided over her
school, and while her pupils were small, the ill
effects of the heartless and formal system in.
culcated by me did not appear; neither did the
evil break out till the general agitation of the
country was in some degree extended to this
little society, by the arrival of Mademoiselle
Victoire, who, according to the prevailing spirit
of the age, no sooner found herself established
in the seminary than she took the lead, before
her superior, and commenced that work of dis.
organization which was already advancing in
At the time of which I am about to speak,
namely, the year 1789, there were in Madame
Bule's seminary three young ladies, whom 1
shall have particular occasion to mention by
and by, and shall therefore proceed to describe
in this place. The eldest of these was named
Susettc, and was, in point of external perfec-
tion, the rose of the parterre-a blooming, live.
ly young person, but of a high and haughty
spirit when opposed; yet one, I think, which
might have been led to any thing by a kind
and gentle hand.
Susette was a chief favourite of Mademoi-
selle Victoire, and had her warm partisans, her
open admirers, and secret enemies in the little
establishment. Neither was she without her
rival; for what favourite is so happy as not to
have sometimes reason to dread the influence
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 17
of another. Mademoiselle was capricious, and
whereas at one time she caressed Susette, at
another time she was all complacency to Fai.
chon, the only young lady among the pupils of
Madame Bule whose pretensions could be
brought in comparison with those of Susette-
but whereas I have called Susette a rose, Fan.
chon, whose hair was of a bright and rich au-
burn, might best have been compared to the
golden lily, the pride and glory of the oriental
gardens-that flower which is, as some pre-
tend, emblazoned on the arms of that noble
house the star of which at one time seemed to
have sunk in hopeless darkness, though it has
since arisen again, we trust, to shine with su.
perior splendour, and with a purer light than in
the period of' its former exaltation. It is my
prayer, my daily and hourly prayer for my king
and myv country, that the same light which has
been vouchsafed to me may be bestowed on
them ; and that as the Holy Scriptures are now,
1 trust, my only rule of life and test of faith, so
also they may henceforward be the strength and
bulwark of the people and land of my fathers.
But to return to my narrative: I must con.
fess that the character of Fanchon never pleased
me; she had none of that candour and open.
ness of temper so agreeable in youth, and which
I would rather see in its excess than its deficien.
cy, although that excess may border on impru-
dence ; for age assuredly must add prudence to
the character, whereas it seldom deducts from
a spirit of cold and selfish caution.
18 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
The third among the pupils of Made Bule
whom I must particularly describe was an Eng.
lish girl, and an orphan. I never knew by
what chance this child had been consigned to
the care of Madame Bulb, neither do I recollect
her real name; but she was called Aim6e by
her preceptress, and by that name she went
among us. Neither do I know more of her
age, than that she was thought too young for
conlbssion till she had been in the house more
than two years, and therefore I judge that she
was between eleven and twelve years of age at
the time of which I am speaking. This little girl
was small for her years, and was one who would
generally have passed unnoticed in a group of
children, yet when closely examined she had one
of the sweetest countenances I ever beheld ; her
hair and complexion marked her Saxon origin,
and the tender innocence and dimpled beauty
of her face brought her frequently in compari-
son, in my imagination, with some such figure
as I have often seen of an infant Jesus, whom
the artist has represented in the arms of his
mother, looking down from some high altar with
love and compassion on the multitude kneeling
before him. Such were the high comparisons
which I made for the lovely little Aimee-yet
why do I call the comparison high Are not
images, however beautiful, however exalted,
however held in honour, but blocks of wood
and stone, carved into the similitude of a man by
the hand of man ? and is not the body of man
the work of God himself, and in every instance
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 19
wonderful and past imitation, and even past
comprehension? for what doth David say on
this subject ? Psalm cxxxix, 14, I am fearfully
and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy
works, and that my soul knoweth right well."
Nevertheless, I own that the time has been
when I bowed with religious awe before the
graven image, and poured forth my soul there-
unto in solemn prayer, without considering any
of those subtle distinctions which the learned
of the papal church pretend to make respecting
relative and inferior honour; for the Roman
Catholic Church, when making its comments on
the first commandment, uses the following ex.
pressions, which I shall give in the form of
question and answer, as I found it in the au.
thorized catechism published in England:-
"* Does the first commandment forbid us to
give any kind of honour to the saints and an.
No; it only forbids us to give them supreme
or divine honour, which belongs to God alone;
but it does not forbid us to give them that infe-
rior honour, which is due to them as the faith-
ful servants and special friends of God.
And is it allowable to honour relics, cruci-
fixes, and holy pictures ?
"; Yes, with an inferior and relative honour,
as they relate to Christ and his saints, and are
memorials of them."
But, as I have already remarked, when kneel-
ing before these crucifixes and images, I fear
that I too often retained but very imperfect ideas
2U FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
of these metaphysical distinctions, and in the
too visible type or representation too often lost
the recollection of the antitype.
To return to little Aimbe; she was a child
exactly formed to be the delight and joy of some
venerable grandmother, or of some widowed
and bereaved wife and mother-one who in
retirement would have been the sweetest friend
and companion which sadness or sorrow could
ever know, being no doubt divinely endowed
with that holy peace of mind and tranquillity of
spirit which the world can never disturb, be.
cause the world can have no intercourse there.
with. Yet, at the same time, being a character
which was so entirely overlooked in scenes of
bustle and worldly commotion, that her compa-
nions seemed seldom to take any farther notice
of her than to push her aside when she crossed
their paths; still, however, she possessed in so
large a degree the spirit of harmlessness so truly
congenial with the Christian character, that it
would have been impossible (one should have
thought) to have hated this little girl. Never-
theless she did incur the active hatred of Made-
moiselle Victoire, and this in a way which such
as are not somewhat skilled in the nature of the
human heart will not easily comprehend, but
which will be evident enough to those to whom
the secret recesses of that fountain of all that
is impure are in some degree revealed. Some
fault had been committed in the house soon
after the arrival of mademoiselle: the blame was
laid on Aimee, and on the bare suspicion ma.
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 21
demoiselle punished her severely, neither would
she remit her punishment till madame inter.
fered; it was found afterward that Aimbe was
innocent, but mademoiselle never pardoned her.
I had observed, as I have before remarked,
that since the arrival of Mademoiselle Victoire
the simple, cheerful spirit which had formerly
animated the family of Madame Bul6 had dis-
appeared; and, instead of the lively games in
which the pupils of all ages had hitherto en-
gaged, I could see from my window that there
were parties formed in the young society. It
was very evident that there was an open rivalry
established between the rose and the fleur de
lis, (by the by, a rivalry of old and renowned
establishment ;) also I could perceive that there
were few of the young people who did not en.
list themselves under one or the other of these
banners, and I could sometimes hear words
running very high among individuals of the
different parties, though I could not exactly
understand the precise subject of these contro-
At length, however, it happened as I was sit.
ting one afternoon with my window open, it
being two days before the feast of Easter, that
I saw the young people proceeding in a body
from the porch; Mademoiselle Victoire was in
the midst of them, and she was talking with
great vivacity on a subject which seemed to in-
terest every one. They advanced in a direction
which brought them nearly under my window,
and then mademoiselle sat down on a garden
22 FLOWERS OF THE FORBBT.
chair in the centre of the grass plat, while her
two favourites stationed themselves on each side
of her, and one by one she called each of the
other young people to the footstool of her throne,
for she sat in much state, and after having looked
into the palm of every hand with the grimaces
used by a fortune-teller, for so I understood the
scene, she dismissed each individual, with some
prognostic or witticism, which, as I perceived,
excited peals of laughter, but not such laughter
as I felt agreeable to me. It appears that the
young people had at that moment forgotten that
it was possible I might be so near them, for
although I could see them well, and distinguish
every gesture, yet I was myself so concealed by
a jessamine just bursting into leaf, which I had
trained over a part of my window, it would not
have been easy for the most penetrating eye to
have detected me behind this natural screen,
and thus as I was not within their view, neither
was I in their thoughts at that period.
This pastime, of whatever tendency it might
have been, had proceeded for some time, and
each of the young people then present had pre.
sented her palm, and heard the prognostics of
her future fate from the self-elected prophetess,
when suddenly a sort of demur arose among
the party, and I saw every one turn to look
around her; at length I heard the voice of ma-
demoiselle calling AimBe, and at the same time
I perceived that the little girl had not been pre-
sent. The next minute all the young patty
began to scatter themselves over the garden, as
FLOWRS OQ TH'E FOREST. 2B
if in quest of the child, and the name of this
little one proceeded from the various parts of
the pleasure ground, and was returned by an
echo, caused by an angle formed by the tower
and the body of the church. Some minutes
elapsed, it seems, before the little lost one was
discovered; she was (as I afterward learned)
at last detected in a bouquet formed of flower.
ing shrubs, at the very bottom of the garden,
cowering down under the shade of a laurusti-
nus, and deeply engaged in reading a very
small book. She was instantly seized upon by
Susette and Fanchon, who both sprang upon
her at the same instant, and dragged her be-
tween them into the awful presence of Made-
24 FLOWERS OF TIfE FOREST.
The little captive uttered no sound, and used
but little resistance ; but when brought directly
before Mademoiselle Victoire, she fell on her
knees, and, pointing to Susette, seemed to be
earnestly imploring some favour of the utmost
importance. What this favour was I could not
discover; but I was made to understand that,
so far from having obtained it, she had only in-
curred more violent displeasure by the strength
of her pleadings, for I saw mademoiselle push
her away several times, and then I heard my
own name repeated, with an assurance that
something, I knew not what, should not be con-
cealed from me.
Being thus, as I considered called upon, I
arose, and putting my head out at the window,
I called to mademoiselle, and asked her what
had happened, and wherefore my name was
Mademoiselle, who had stood up to correct
the child, turned hastily at the sound of my
voice, and approaching as near to me as possi-
ble, My good father, she said, we have need of
your advice and counsel, and we hope that you
will insist that this child shall endure a severe
penance-here she stopped to recover breath, of
which her passion had deprived her, and then
proceeded. This wicked little heretic, she said,
whom madame has always upheld as a sort of
saint among us, has, it seems, retained in her
possession, ever since she came in mnis place,
a volume of the Holy Scriptures in ila native
language, though she knows that cunaro. like
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST T>
herself are not competent to use these holy
books to any advantage. She has actually
been discovered, in a bosquet of this garden,
deep in the study of this volume, using such art
in so doing as shows the blackness and depra-
vity of her heart. Thus speaking, she gave
the child a push from her, with that sort of ex-
pression of abhorrence as one would use to a
And where is this book? I asked. It was
immediately held up to my view by Susette,
and I perceived that it was an abridgment only
of the sacred Scriptures, being an exceedingly
small volume, not above four inches square; it
looked old and much worn; and it struck me
that there was a malicious feeling shown to-
ward the child in making so much of this
insignificant matter, and not, as I thought, much
policy in it, as it related to the interests of the
church to which I was then attached. I there-
fore said, Let the book be given to madame,
and to-morrow I will come over and speak to
her on the subject.
I hoped by this that I should have satisfied
all parties ; but in this I was mistaken. No
sooner did little Aim~c understand that the
tiny volume in question was to be given to
madame, than she dropped on her knees upon
the grass, and looking up to me with streaming
eyes and united hands--O dear father, kind
Father Raffr6, she said, order me the severest
penance, let me live on bread and water for a
year to come, but do not take away my book-
26 TLOWBRS OF THE ORLSt'.
my lovely little book-do not take my poor
Dear child, I replied, dear child wipe away
your tears; to-morrow I will meet yott in the
church, you shall confess all to me about your
little book ; and do not fear, you shafl have jus.
tice done to you. And thus I dismissed the
whole party, though I felt that I had not given
satisfaction to either side by the manner in
which I had answered the appeal. Neither
was I mistaken in this my opinion, for made.
moiselle returned in a very ill humour to the
house; and though Aimee and the affair of the
book were spoken of no more that evening, yet
ihe young ladies began to quarrel with each
other upon these grounds,-namely, that Ma-
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 27
demoiselle Victoire had promised to one a prince
and a coach and six, a duke to another, a ba-
rouche and four and a marquis to another, a
simple baron to another, a rich burgher to an-
other, and to a less favoured one a mere rotu.
rier. As I had suspected, and I afterward
learned, mademoiselle had been telling her pu.
pils their fortunes, or rather had taken this way
of giving them some idea of their several pre-
tensions, and by this means had excited in
their minds every sort of idea which ought to
have been held back from them; and indeed
so high did the rancour of the several parties
rise on this occasion, that Madame Bul6 was
obliged to exert her authority, and very severe
was the reproof she gave when she under-
stood the cause of this uproar which had dis-
turbed her peace. Do you not know, said she,
that the day after to-morrow is Easter, and that
to-morrow you are to meet Father Raffr6 for
confession; and in what spirit or temper will
you be for this sacrament if you retire to rest
in the indulgence of such angry passions ? For
shame, young ladies; do not thus convert an
innocent jest into a subject of discontent and
It is needless surely here to remark that, in
this reproof of Madame Bul6, which was faith-
fully reported to me, there were two important
errors: in the first instance, confession is no
sacrament, neither a part of a sacrament, there
being but two sacraments appointed by our
blessed Saviour, namely, baptism and the sup-
28 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
per of the Lord ;* and the jest of Mademoiselle
Victoire was every thing but innocent, therefore
madame should not have so designated it.
Early the next morning, it was signified to
me that Madame Bul6 desired to speak with
me; and when I had obeyed her summons, the
amiable woman opened her mind to me to the
following effect: My dear Father Raffr6, she
said, my mind has lately been much troubled
respecting my pupils; the time was, as you
well know, when we enjoyed a degree of peace
which is now utterly foreign to our household.
I was then, she added, and the tear was in her
eye when she spoke, more alert and active than
I now am, and better able to endure the fatigues
of my situation. It was then, she continued,
that every hour brought its pleasures, and every
change its delights; my children came with
cheerfulness to their lessons, and left them with
glee to enjoy their sports: if one did amiss, all
were humbled; if one was praised, all were
pleased; if one received a present, all were to
have a share in it ; if one was unwell, all par-
took in her pain. Now the case is entirely al-
tered, I hear of nothing but of rivalries and of
ill will; if I praise one individual I offend
twenty, and if I find fault with one offender I
give cause of triumph to twenty more. It is not
now a question who can do best, but who is most
*The Church of Rome considers that there are
seven sacraments; adding to the two mentioned in the
New Tectamcnt five others, namely, penance, confes-
'ion, orders, matrimony, and extreme unction.
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 29
accomplished or most genteel; and instead of
joy and peace, my household is one continued
scene of dissatisfaction.
And cannot you account, madame, I said,
for this change in the character of your house.
hold ? are you sure that the person whom you
employ to assist you is exactly suited to your
Mademoiselle Victoire, she replied, is diligent
and accomplished ; I might not get a better were
I to dismiss her: but you, my good father, shall
confess my children, and I am sure that they
will find in you a faithful and pious counsellor.
After this conversation I took the earliest op.
portunity of calling the young people to confes-
sion. The church was set aside for that duty ;
and Madame Bule made a point of being in the
church with us, although she did not remain
As a confessor, 1 have, through the course of
a long ministry, heard many awful secrets, and
though I am now no longer of the Romish
Church, I still would make it a point of honour
not to betray any confidence which was placed
in me under the character which I formerly held
of a father confessor. The confessions, how-
ever, which were made to me by the pupils of
Madame Bul6 were not of such a nature as to
render it of the smallest consequence whether
they are or are not divulged ; neither, even if
they were more important, can they possibly
now effect the penitents in the smallest point.
I shall therefore venture to inform my reader
30 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
of what passed that morning in the church be.
tween me and those of the young ladies of the
establishment with whose names and descrip-
tions I have made him acquainted. Susette
was the first who was brought to me, and when
she appeared the traces of tears were upon her
Daughter, I said, you are sad ; what has af-
flicted you ? Open your whole heart to me, and
be assured that the council I shall give you
shall be to your advantage. She immediately
burst into tears, and, speaking passionately,
made it appear that injustice was done to her
by her companions, especially by Fanchon.
Fanchon, she added, who was once my dear.
est friend, is turned against me, and that because
she is jealous of me. Some persons think me
handsomer than she is, and she cannot endure
a rival, and she bears herself maliciously and
spitefully toward me; and if she can find a
flaw in my conduct she is pleased, and makes
it a rule to exhibit it, and to make little errors
appear in the light of serious offences.
I shall not repeat all I said to her on this sub.
ject. No doubt my advice, though in some
points good, was mingled with error, for I re-
member well that, after having pointed out to
her the beauty of charity, and recommended the
exercise of it toward her companions, I added,
for know you not, my daughter, that charity
remits sin, and gives spiritual life to the soul ?"
By which assertion I set charity in the place of
the Saviour, and gave to our good deeds the
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 31
power of redeeming us from the consequence
of our evil ones; whereby I denied the words of
Holy Scripture, for are we not taught that a man
is not justified by the works of the law, but by
the faith of Jesus Christ? Gal. ii, 16.
In reply to what I had said, Susette answer-
ed with a frankness which was natural to her.
She acknowledged that she had a considerable
portion of pride, and that she could neither bear
a rival among her schoolfellows, nor refrain
from despising those whom she thought her in.
feriors. She spoke again of Fanchon as of one
whom she looked upon with envy and jealousy ;
and among others whom she heartily despised
she mentioned Aim6e. In reply to all which I
told her that pride was counted by the church
among the seven deadly sins. Pride." I said,
"is an inordinate love and esteem of our own
worth and excellence-it is a mortal sin, and
can only be remitted by hearty contrition and
the sacraments of baptism and penance."
At the word penance Susette started, as under
fear; on which I spoke soothingly to her, and
added that she need not be afraid, that I would
not he severe.
The sacrament of penance, my daughter,"
I remarked, consists of three parts, contrition,
confession, and satisfaction. The tears ot
contrition I have seen on your features; you
have performed the duty of confession ; and
what now remains to be done is satisfaction."
And in what, asked Susette hastily, does this
duty of satisfaction consist ?
82 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
In what I shall require of you to do, I an.
Then, dear Father Raffri, she answered, you
surely will not make me ask pardon of little
Aim6e, or seek a reconciliation with Fanchon-
and she looked imploringly at me.
I shall exact of you, I replied, before I can
venture to give you absolution, that satisfaction
which the church requires. For satisfaction
which is the third part of the sacrament of pe-
nance, is a faithful performance of the prayers
or good works enjoined by the priest to whom
the penitent confesses."
I am willing, father, she replied, to repeat as
many prayers as you could desire.
Be it so, my daughter, I answered: and I
know not how many Ave Marias and Pater
Nosters I enjoined to be repeated before the
image of the virgin in the closet of Madame
Balu before the hour of mass on the following
day : and thus having slightly healed the wound
of my penitent, or rather administered fresh sub-
ject for future self-satisfaction to one who was
already but too well pleased with herself, and
as it were added fuel to the fire I should have
sought to quench, I dismissed Susette, and pro-
ceeded to confess her rival, who soon after.
ward entered the church, and approached the
The confession of Fanchon was hut a repeti.
tion of that of Susette, with this difference only,
that this second penitent was more reserved and
guarded in her acknowledgment of error than
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 88
the former had been. I was in consequence
less satisfied with her, and doubled her portion
of Ave Marias and Pater Nosters, giving her
also for the performance of her service the gloom
of evening, instead of the bright morning hours:
and this young lady being withdrawn 1 request.
ed that Aim6e might be brought to me.
There was some interval between the depar.
ture of Fanchon (with whom Madame Bul6 had
gone out) and the entrance of Aimbe. I was
left alone, and the scene was an impressive one.
The church was an ancient Gothic edifice, richly
decorated with carved figures and ornaments; I
was in a chapel of the Virgin, which was situ-
ated at the end of a long arched aisle; all was
motionless around me, and no sound was heard
but the soft low murmuring of the wind among
the towers and battlements; my mind was full
of what had just passed, and the anxious inquiry
of Susette respecting what satisfaction I should
require of her recurred to my thoughts. It was
very natural, I perceived, that she should expect
me to insist on her seeking a reconciliation
with those whom she had offended, common
sense dictated such a satisfaction, and common
justice required it; but the church (to which I
then belonged) had demanded no such hard ser-
vice-to put its votaries out of humour with
themselves was no part of its policy. In the
case in question I had acted as a faithful son of
the church; I had regarded its interests, and
the question was suggested to my mind, Had I
or had I not applied a remedy which would
34 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
have the smallest efficacy in humbling a haughty
spirit ? Is then the policy of my church calcu-
lated merely to promote the pleasure and pre-
sent comfort of its votaries, and to quiet and
soothe the conscience, or to remedy the real
evil of our fallen nature ?
I endeavoured to repress and banish these
thoughts, which appeared to be almost blasphe-
mous. I crossed myself and looked up to the
image of the Virgin, repeated the angel's salu.
station, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the
Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among wo.
men : to which I added, in Latin, Hail, Mary,
full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art
thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of
thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God,
pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our
I had scarcely concluded this prayer, when a
soft footfall sounded along the aisle, and turn-
ing around, I saw a small figure just entering
through the narrow sidedoor of the church. It
was AimBe: she was dressed in white, and the
air from without agitated her flaxen ringlets
and snowy drapery as she advanced toward
me, giving almost an etherial lightness to her
appearance. At one moment, as she passed
under each archway, a deep shade was cast on
her figure, and again a golden gloom was shed
upon it, as she traversed those portions of the
pavement on which the rays of the sun descend-
ed through the richly decorated windows above.
The lightness of this infant figure, together
FYrAWEs o THE 'FOArST. 36
witnYte innocent expression of her gentle eye,
B she ascended'the steps of the little chapel at
the door of which I was standing, and looked
up to me half timidly, yet as it were in the no-
ble consciousness of having nothing to conceal,
suggested to my mind the idea of some blessed
spirit just restored to its glorified body, and as.
sending from the grave to mount to that place
ofhappiness which is prepared for the redeem.
ed. The ideal resemblance was presently
heightened in my imagination by the smile
which illuminated every feature, and sparkled
in her eye, as I extended my hand to her, and
said solemnly, "The Saviour of men, and the
Lord of angels bless my little girl, and as she
is called the beloved bi earth, may she be truly
the beloved'in heaven. ItAlbn took my usual
36 FLOWERS OF THB FOREST.
place, and invited her to confession, by asking
her to account to me for the scene of the past
night. This question led to many others, and
in the end I obtained from the dear child the
following narrative of her short but till then
comparatively perfect course, for indeed the
words of the wise man could never have been
more justly applied than to this blameless in.
fant : He being made perfect in a short time,
fulfilled for a long time, for his soul pleased the
Lord; therefore hastened he to take him away
from among the wicked," Wisdom iv, 13, 14.
I was born in England, my father, said the
dear child. I remember well my native place,
it was a white house, and there were woods
near it, and a garden full of flowers; the house
stood on the side of a hill, and from the win.
dows we saw flocks feeding in green fields, and
blue hills at a distance, and villages and groves
of trees, and the woods were so near to us,
that when the windows were opened in the sum.
mer, we heard the wind rustling among the
trees, and blackbirds and linnets singing in the
branches, and waters rushing, and bees hum.
ming. My father used to make me hearken to
these sounds, and now I never hear sounds like
these without thinking of my home. My pa.
rents were alive then, my father dear, continued
the little girl, and my mother, my kind mother,
I remember her dressing room, and her guitar,
and her cabinet. And I had a brother too, he
was a year older than myself, he had golden
hair and soft bright eyes; and I had a very
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 87
little sister too, father; when she was asleep she
looked like an angel; but she died first, and
then, sir, (and the poor little girl burst into tears,)
then grief came; my little sister died, and my
brother died-it was a fever; and I was taken
away and was never sent home again ; and my
parents are dead too, and I am here. I was
brought to this place I know not wherefore, and
I have no home in England to return to: and
the child wiped away a few tears, and then
looked up again, as if awaiting my farther
And arc you happy here, Aime ? I asked.
Yes, father, she replied; madame is very
kind to me.
And have you nothing to complain of? I
None, father, she replied, if I might have my
Why do you love that book so much? I
It was my brother's, she replied; and she
,vept. May I not have it?
But it is not a proper book, Aimee, I said;
and I think you know that it is not proper,
otherwise why did you go into a retired place
to read it ?
I always do, she answered.
And why do you, I asked, if you do not think
you are doing wrong when reading that book?
Because nobody here cares for the things
that are in that book, she answered mildly; and
those are the things which make me happy.
38 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
What things I asked.
The things I learned when I was a baby--
cannot forget them, she replied.
I again asked, What things?
The things papa and mamma taught me, fa-
ther, she answered.
Please to explain yourself, Aimee, I said.
What things did your parents teach you?
They taught me that my heart is bad, sir.
-and that I can do nothing good without God's
Go on, I said.
And that God had sent his Son to die for me,
and his Holy Spirit to make me good; and they
taught me to read-and told me that I was to
love my Bible, and follow all that is written
But how, I asked, can a child like you under-
stand the Bible ?
I don't know, father, she meekly answered.
Do you pretend to say that you do under-
stand it ? I asked, and drew her near to me
as I sat.
I have not got a large Bible she answered;
there are only small bits of the Bible in my
little book; but even my little Bible tells me
many pleasant things.
What pleasant things, Aimee? I asked.
It tells me, she replied, what my Saviour has
done for me, and I find in it the promises of that
happy world where I shall enjoy a home more
pleasant than that which I have lost, and see my
papa and my mamma, and my brother and sis.
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 39
ter again. And sometimes, my father, when I
have been reading that little book all alone in
the garden, or wherever I can get unseen, I have
had such sweet dreams and such delightful
thoughts; I fancy I see the world in that time
when Christ shall be King over all the earth.
And then I fancy I see places like what I re.
member of my happy home, and my papa and
my mamma, and brother and sister, all glorious
like angels, and the Lord Jesus Christ in com.
pany with them, and I am so glad to see them
happy-and every thing that is pleasant in this
place brings these things fresher into my mind ;
and there is a valley, sir, in the forest, which I
often visited last summer, which reminds me
too of these things. And when I hear music,
or the bells ringing, or the organ at mass, all
these things fill my heart with pleasure, and
make me wish that the time might come when
I might go to my dear parents, but I know that
I ought not to be impatient to leave this world,
where you and madame and so many people
are kind to me.
You talk of much kindness, Aimee, I said,
have you no unkindness to complain of? have
you no feelings of malice or envy in your heart ?
you know that if you have such feelings, it is
your duty to confess them.
She looked very earnestly at me, and repeat-
ed the word malice," as if she did not under-
stand the signification, or at any rate as if she
did not take in the purport ofmy question.
To be plain with you, Aimee, I said, are the
40 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
young ladies your companions so kind to you
that you never feel any thing like anger or ill
will toward them? Are you in charity with
every one ?
They were cross with me last night, my
father, she answered.
And are they not so often? I asked.
I don't think they are, she replied.
That is, you do not think much about them,
I do she replied; I love them, yes, I hope I
Then you have not perceived that they are
unkind to you? I added.
Not to me particularly, she answered; they
sometimes quarrel a little among themselves;
but is not that what we must expect ? Are not
our hearts bad, father, and do we not all do
wrong at times? but when they are cross, I think
of my happy home, and then I do not mind it;
and I have such delight sometimes when I am
alone in my room and see the sun set, and think
of that distant time when I shall be with my
beloved Saviour, as I could not describe.
Then it is because your mind is fixed on the
world which is to come, that you do not enter
into the quarrels of your companions. My little
Aimee, I said, if this be the true state of the case,
you are a happy child indeed, happy and blessed
beyond all the children I have ever known, and
tell me, mpy little girl, how long your mind has
been thus devoted to heavenly things?
I do not think that I am devoted to heavenly
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 41
things, father, she replied; for I am not good,
and people who are devoted are good, I have
heard madame say so; but it is now many
months since my parents died, and since I lost
my brother and sister, and from that time-I have
never had so much pleasure in any thing as in
thinking of the time when I shall see my rela-
tions again; and I know that I never shall see
them unless I love my Saviour, and am enabled
to obey him; and these thoughts are always
coming to my mind, and I cannot get rid of
And why, my dear child, I answered, should
you wish to get rid of them ? Do they not make
your happiness, and do they not mark your call
to a holy life ? But think you not, my daughter,
that if you were to intercede with the holy
Virgin and the blessed saints that they would
join their prayers with yours, and that you
might in this manner more easily obtain all
that you desire? and I pointed to the image
above the altar, and directed the child to observe
the benign and beautiful expression of the coun-
tenance of her whom I then called my lady.
That image cannot hear me, she replied.
But she whom it represents, namely, the
holy Mary, can and will hear you, Aimee, I an-
swered; she will unite her prayers with yours,
in order that all you ask may be granted you.
Was not she a woman? said the little girl
She was, I replied; but as our Lord was
truly God, so she, his mother, was the mother
42 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
of God, and therefore is worthy that we should
address our prayers to her."
The little girl looked down upon the pave-
ment, but did not speak till I had repeated some
part of what I had before said; she then lifted
up her gentle eyes, and asked, Do you pray to
the saints, my father ? Is it right to pray to
them? My mamma told me that there is no
other name under heaven by which we can be
saved but that of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I have before hinted that I had already had
some little misgivings respecting the foundation
of my faith; and at that instant such a gleam
of light shot through my hitherto darkened soul,
that I could not answer the child. I remained
silent and confused, while the little one stood
meekly before me, being wholly unconscious of
my embarrassment. The tolling of the clock
was at that moment heard from the tower of the
church ; I availed myself of it to say that I had
an engagement which demanded my immediate
attention, and bestowing a rapidly pronounced
blessing on the little girl, I hastened from the
church, assuring her that I would not only pro.
cure the little book for her, but obtain permis-
sion for her to study it whenever she pleased.
I spent the remainder of that day in the solitude
of my study. This little girl is a heretic, I said
to myself-what indeed our church calls such-
but there is no malice or bitterness in her here-
sy; she has not yet even discovered how wide-
ly our religion differs from her own. There is
therefore no prejudice mingled in her mind with
FLOWERS OF THE FOBEBT. 48
her prepossessions. She takes her faith en-
tirely from the Bible, as she has been taught to
do by her excellent parents; and surely if the
fruit is to prove the nature of the tree, we can-
not doubt, from the beauty of the fruit which
this dear child is able to produce, that the root
is excellent. While meditating on these sub-
jects, I took a dusty Latin Bible, which had
once belonged to a priest of the church of Ge-
neva, from its shelf in my study, and began to
compare its contents with the received doctrines
of our church, and was struck with the~inpa-
rison of Mathew xv, 19, out of the heart pro.
ceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteriis fornica-
tions, thefts, false witness, blasphemies, with
the following clause in our catechism, namely,
" Is it possible to keep them all? (speaking of
the commandments.) Answer. It is, by God's
grace ; Zacharias and Elizabeth were both just
before God, walking in all the commandments
of God without reproof." I felt more and more
confounded while meditating on these things;
and the result of these reflections was, that I
resolved not to speak even to Madame Bule of
the heretical state, as I then apprehended it to
be, of the little Aimee.
Under this embarrassment of mind I remain.
ed in my study several days, or walked in the
most solitary places I could find, meditating on
many things. In the meantime, Susette and
Fanchon having wiped away their offences, as
they thought, by the repetition of the prescribed
modicum of Ave Marias and Pater Nosters, re-
44 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
turned, not in the least humbled thereby, to their
usual situations in the school room, where pre-
sently they failed not to administer fresh cause
of dissatisfaction to each other, which being
taken up by the parties on either side, the whole
household was shortly again all in flames; and
Madame Bul6 found it more difficult than ever
to set things in order. After various admoni-
tions, all of which she found inefficient, the
worthy lady sent a second time for me, and I
undertook to admonish the young people in a
discourse, which, accordingly, I delivered in an
apartment of the house set aside for purposes
of this kind, where I had formerly given many
lectures on different subjects to the young
I took the text or motto of my discourse from
the various beauties exhibited in a highly cul.
tivated garden. I understand, my daughters, I
said, that your minds have lately been painfully,
and I may say sinfully agitated, by envious feel-
ings respecting each other, and by the vain de-
sire of outshining and surpassing each other in
those qualities which you esteem admirable in
a human creature. Of the sinfulness of these
feelings, my dear daughters (I continued) I need
not speak: but on their folly I will enlarge, in-
asmuch as it seems that you are not aware of
this folly. The Almighty is not so partial a
Parent that he has not bestowed some beautiful
and excellent quality on each of his children.
Look at the flowers in that blooming parterre
which extends itself beneath the window!
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 46
among these some attract the eye from a dig.
tance, some shed powerful odours in the air,
some are endowed with healing qualities, some
retire from the view and are only admirable
when closely inspected; some excel in only one
point, some in several, some in every quality
attributable to the vegetable creation; but all
are so exquisite in their way, so perfect in their
conformation and their internal construction,
that the utmost art of man would endeavour in
vain to imitate the simplest, the most humble
flower among them. Go forth into the forest
and observe the leaves of the trees; compare
them one with another; remark the delicacy of
their texture, the infinite variety of their forms,
and make a comparison, if it lies in your power,
of the beauty of one with that of another ; say,
if you can, that one is worthy of admiration
and another of contempt, that one is surpass-
ingly fair and another despicably ugly' And
such are each and all of you, my fair daugh-
ters; all and each of you have some beauty,
some perfection, some lovely quality, external
or internal, which sets you more on a par with
each other than an inconsiderate observer would
at first suppose: thus the rose of this parterre
has no cause to triumph over the violet, neither
has the tulip any occasion to envy the white-
ness of the lily.
Having finished my exordium much to my
own satisfaction, though I believe with little ef-
fect upon my audience, I withdrew, and that very
evening met Mhadame Bul6 at the chateau,
46 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
where Madame la Baronne happening to men.
tion that she intended to give an entertainment
to the young ladies on the day of her fAte, (her
birthday,) Madame Bul thought it necessary
to tell her the state of her family as it regarded
the jealousies and rivalries which subsisted
among her pupils.
Madame la Baronne smiled at this state of
affairs, and after some reflection said, Make my
compliments to your young ladies, Madame
Bul6, and invite them on my part to the cha.
teau. Tell them that my fAte this year is to be
called the Feast of the Flowers, and that I shall
expect each young lady to appear adorned with
a garland or wreath of her favourite flower;
adding, I shall bestow a crown on that young
lady whose ornaments please me best; and lest,
she added, my taste should be disputed, there
shal-be a motto woven with the myrtle of
which my crown is to be composed, which shall
signify the rule by which I am to make my
Madame Bulh' assured Madame la Baronne
that her message should be faithfully delivered,
and I waa very solicitous to know of the lady
what was to be the import of her motto.
I assure you, father, she replied, that it shall
be one you shall not dare to disapprove; but
lest vyu should give a hint to some little fa.
vourite you may have, I cannot tell you. I was
therefore obliged, after having shrugged up my
shoulders several times, to acquiesce in my
PLOWBES OF TBf FOREST. 47
Madame Bul6 did not fail to inform the young
ladies of the kind invitation of the Baronne;
and the next day, when these young people had
concluded their morning exercises, an envoy
was sent to request my company at the collation,
in order that I might be consulted respecting
preparations for the Feast of the Flowers.
As soon as I arrived, various questions were
put to me by one and by another, to many of
which I was not able to answer.
To whom, said one, does Madame la Baronne
mean to give the crown, father, to the one who
has the fairest garland, or to the one whom
otherwise she likes best?
With respect to the beauty of the garland, I
answered, it might perhaps be hard to judge:
tastes may differ, one person may think that no
wreath can be compared to that which is formed
of roses, while another perhaps might prefer a
garland of jasmine as being more elegant.
Then you do not suppose, said another of my
inquirers, that she will bestow the crown on
her who has the fairest wreath ?
Indeed I cannot tell, I replied.
You are in the secret, we know, Father Raffr6,
said Mademoiselle Victoire, we are sure of it.
Well, it may be so, I answered; but you shall
none of you be the better for my knowledge. I
will for once keep what I know to myself.
Mademoiselle would have been angry at this,
had I cared for her anger, but as I did not, she
proceeded to discuss the choice of the garlands
with her favourite pupils.
s8 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
Each one was, it was understood, to select a
different flower, and the eldest chose first;
Susette chose the rose; Fanchon would, she said,
be royal, and adorn herself with the fleur-de-lis,
a third selected the jasmine; a fourth the white
thorn. The laurel, the honeysuckle, the sweet-
scented clematis, the convolvulus, and the
orange flower were none of them forgotten ;
and as there was a fortnight to elapse before
the day of the fete, great pains were taken to
nourish and preserve such flowers as might
then be required to add beauty and fragrance
to the festival.
It was on the eve of the fete, as I was walk-
ing with Madame Bul6 in one of the avenues
of her garden, being deep in conversation on
subjects which at that time exercised our minds,
in common with many others-subjects which
had indeed some tendencies to what our church
would have deemed heretical, for my opinions
on many of our doctrines were beginning to be
more and more confused-when we suddenly
heard several angry voices, proceeding from a
bosquet, in the centre of which was a circular
range of seats, where the young people often
assembled during the hours of leisure. Stand-
ing still and looking though the openings of
the trees, we saw several of the lesser children
gathered around Aimse, who had formed a small
wreath for her waxen baby from an azure-flow.
ring creeper which hung in festoons from an
archway of latticework at the entrance of the
bosquet. The exclamations of rapture uttered
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST 4
by the lesser children had, it seems, attracted
the attention of Susette, Fanchon, and several
others of the greater girls; and Susette haa
expressed so much admiration of the wreath, as
to declare that, after all, Aimee had made the
best choice, and that there was no wreath
hitherto thought of that would prove so light
and beautiful as that she had chosen. It was
just at the moment she had uttered this opi.
nion when madame and I stood to listen to what
The little sly thing! said Fanchon. I doubt
not but that she had a wreath of this kind al-
ways in her mind, and that she would not men-
tion it, lest any of her elders should have in.
sisted on taking it from her.
If she had such an intention, she would have
done well to have waited a little longer, said
Susette; for it is not now too late for us, her
elders to change our minds. I am out of hu.
mour with the idea of wearing red roses; I
have been thinking this very day that I should
prefer another colour for my wreath ; I like that
beautiful azure, and I will wear it ; and there.
fore, my little lady, you must please to look for
some other ornament for yourself.
I am content, replied Aimee, meekly : adding,
If you approve it, mademoiselle, I will help you
to make your garland.
And what will you wear yourself? said Su.
sette : you shall, if you please, adopt the rose I
50 FLOWERS OF THE FORBET.
I beg your pardon, Susette, said Fanchon;
there is no one who can come before me but
yourself; you have given up the rose, and I
claim it. I here give notice that tomorrow I
shall wear a garland of roses; and, as we are
all to be different, no one else is to dare to as-
sume even a rosebud.
So violent an altercation then ensued between
the rivals, that Madame Bule thought it neces.
sary to interfere; and requiring each of the
rival ladies to declare the name of the flower
she meant to adopt, she desired that no change
of plans might henceforth he resorted to. She
did not, however, insist upon the blue wreath
being relinquished to Aimee, as I should have
thought but just; it was evident that she was
under some dread of Susette and Fanchon, and
was afraid of provoking them too far; and it
certainly was not my business to interfere,
neither did I think the matter of sufficient con-
sequence to induce me so to do.
Susette accordingly declared again for her
wreath of roses, while Fanchon adopted that
of the azure creeper, which was in fact a most
elegant ornament. Madame and I then with-
drew; but I had scarcely reached the garden
gate on my way home, when I was overtaken
by Aimee, who, placing her little hand within
mine, said. My father, you walk out, I think,
every morning before breakfast.
I do, my child, I answered.
Will you permit me to accompany you to.
morrow ? said the little girl. I have obtained
rLaWans or THE FORIET.
permission from madame. Will you take ma
to the forest?
Most willingly, I replied. But for what pur-
pose, my child ?
She smiled, and with a sweet innocent air
repeated these wards of an ancient ballad of
her own province :-
The gaaden is gay with the gaudy weed,
And attired like thejewell'd queen;
But the flowers of the forest are fair indeed,
Though oft times doom'd to blow unseen.
The words, Charming little creature what
innocent device has that gentle bosom now con-
ceived 1 were upon my lips, but I did not utter
my thoughts, and simply adfwered, I will be at
the garden gate before six to-morrow morning,
my dear Aimee 1 be sure that you are punctual.
52 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
The dew was still upon the herbage, and
glistened on every leaf, as I knocked at the gar.
den gate; it was opened to me at the first sig-
nal by the little maiden, she ran out to me all
prepared for her appointment, with a neat bas-
ket in her hand.
Good morning, lady fair, I said; a blessing
from above be upon my little girl! But whither
are we to bend our steps ?
To the forest, my father, she replied, where
I know of certain deep shades in which those
flowers grow of which I wish to make my gar-
land. 1 only feared that some other person
might have thought of these flowers of the forest,
which are my delight, and have asserted a prior
right to them, but they have not entered into
the mind of any one; and now no one can
take them from nc.
0, 0, I said, smilingly, you have, I see,
been acting a cunning part, my little one.
Cunning she repeated; ah, Father Raffre,
that is an ugly word; do not call me cunning.
I would rather wear a wreath of asphodel than
be called a cunning girl.
And why not wear a wreath of asphodel ? I
Because it is hitter, very bitter, she replied;
but, continued she, was there any harm in my
thinking of a flower and not mentioning it, lest
it should be chosen ? I would not be cunning,
indeed I would not, for the whole world; and
I have no pretensions to that crown of myrtle
which the lady is to bestow, indeed I have not;
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 68
but I wished for my favourite flower for a very
What might be that very particular reason ?
I will give you my reason, father, she an-
swered, when you have seen my favourite flow-
er: but I must tell you that the discourse you
made to us about a fortnight since was what
led me to think of these things : and then I re-
membered a hymn which I had learned when
I lived at my happy home, and some things
which my dear papa taught me when I was a
very little child, and I put all these things to-
gether, and when I heard of the Feast of the
Flowers I then fixed upon the garland I should
like to wear, though I did not suppose it would
have been left for me.
Indeed, my Aim6e, I answered, you must be
a little more explicit before I can understand
you; please to explain yourself; of what things
did my discourse lead you to think? and how
was what I said connected with what your
father had taught you, and with the hymn you
had learned ? please to explain all these matters
You compared us, sir, replied the little girl,
to so many flowers growing in a garden ; and
what my dear papa taught me when I was a
little child was this, that the church of God in
this world is compared in the Bible to a garden,
in which grow all sorts of beautiful plants and
flowers; he taught me the very verses, and I
have not forgotten them.
64 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
Repeat them, if you please, my dear child, I
said: for, although I confessed it not, I knew
so little of Scripture as to be utterly ignorant
of that beautiful passage to which the child al.
luded. She immediately obeyed, and repeated
A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse;
a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy plants
are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant
fruits; camphire, with spikenard; spikenard
and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all
trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with
all the chief spices: a fountain of gardens, a
well of living waters, and streams from Leba-
non. Canticles iv, 12-15.
Very beautiful, I replied, and well remem.
bered; but tell me who is it that is supposed
to repeat this passage.
She answered, Our Saviour, sir, and he
speaks it of his church.
Then you imagine, I replied, that the garden
enclosed is the true church, and all the plants
therein are the people.
Yes, sir, she said ; those who love God are
the plants growing in this garden, and some of
them are tall and noble, like the cedar tree, and
others are small and of less beauty, others sup-
ply pleasant fruit, others are good only for shade,
others are very lovely to look at, and others fill
the air with sweet odours, but altogether they
make the garden very beautiful, and none are
to be despised.
And do you suppose, Aim6e, I asked, that
FLOWERS OF THE FOBUST. 55
you yourself are one of the members of this
She hesitated a little, and at length said, I
desire to be one, and I hope I am; but I know
that my place, if I have a place in this happy
garden, is a very low one, down in some very
deep valley, and under shade and out of sight.
I think I should not do so well if I were to be
removed to the higher parts of the garden and
clothed with many colours, and made to be an
object of admiration, for when I am praised I
become vain, and take less delight in holy
things than when I am not noticed.
I was on the very point of commending the
ideas of this little girl, when her last remark
gave me a timely check, and I simply said, Ap.
parently your parents took much pains to give
It was the Bible they used to make me un.
derstand, she answered; and when they taught
me any thing in the Bible they showed me
something out of doors by which I was to re.
member it; and by this means, now that they
are gone away, every thing almost which I see
when I walk abroad, reminds me of something
I learned when I was a baby.
That is, I said, they took pains to associate
natural with spiritual things, and by this beau.
tiful mode of instruction they have succeeded
in impressing their holy lessons so strongly
upon your mind that you never can forget them.
Let me tell you, my daughter, that you have
M5 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
reason to bless God for having given you such
Two gentle tears dropped from her eyes as I
spoke; and at the same moment my conscience
reproved me for having bid a child to thank
God for having given her parents who were
heretics! and then again such doubts arose in
my mind respecting my own principles, and
their foundation in truth, that I walked on a
considerable way in silence.
We had left the village and the chateau be.
hind us, and were entering on the precincts of
the forest, before I extricated myself from the
labyrinth of perplexing thoughts in which I
was involved. At length, as we passed under
the shade of the trees which skirted the
wood, I recollected myself, and said, Aim6e,
where are you leading me? How far are we
to go ?
Are you tired, father ? she said. If you wish
it I will go no farther; I can make a wreath of
any flower I see in the hedges.
Tired! my dear child, I said, tired in your
company No; could I not take you by the
hand, and travel the world over with you! but you
have raised some anxious thoughts in my mind.
I have been considering what place I occupy in
that garden of which you have been speaking.
She made no answer. I know not what she
thought, but she took my hand and kissed it
with a courtesy and tenderness which in one so
young was peculiarly touching. I think she
had a religious dread of flattering me on a sub.
FLOWERS OF THE FOBRET. 57
ject so important, yet was anxious to show her
gratitude and affection.
We passed on, and for the space of a quar-
ter of a mile pursued a straight and wide road
which leads through the centre of the wood.
At length, coming to a spot where the shade was
exceedingly thick, she pointed to a very narrow
pathway which put itself into the road, and
asked me if I should object to follow her. I
knew the path; it led to a small but deep valley,
at the bottom of which ran a pure cold stream;
but I was surprised at its being so well known
to the child, and asked her how she came to be
so well acquainted with the windings of the
Last summer, she replied, I was sent, after
an illness, for change of air to a cottage in these
woods, and then I learned to know where beau-
tiful flowers grow, and sweet birds sing; and I
have npt forgotten these places, she added,
smiling, and tripping lightly before me.
But my little guide in her glee had forgotten
that, where she could pass with ease, I, being
taller and larger, would find a thousand obsta.
cles. Accordingly, when she told me that she
had but a very little way to go for the accom.
plishment of her object, I bade her hasten for.
ward, while I followed at my leisure, and in
consequence I soon lost sight of her ; but still
pursuing the same wild and tangled path into
which she had led me, I presently arrived at a
more open part of the forest, from whence I
looked down upon a dingle, in the bottom of
58 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
which was a pool, and on the side of the pool a
sward, which, from its smooth deep green, inti.
mated the moisture of the place. A ruined cot.
tage, of which the gable end and doorway alone
remained entire, peeped out from amid the trees
and underwood. The rays of the morning sun
shot slantingly over the forest, and shed a flick.
ering, trembling light on the whole scene, pre-
senting the most beautiful varieties of light and
shadow. This also was a place for the sweet
singing of birds, and for balmy zephyrs, which,
as they passed, produced that agitation of the
leaves which, together with the rushing of a
waterfall, heard but not seen, filled my senses
with a degree of delight I had not often expe-
rienced. At the moment when I had reached
the brow of the dell, my little guide appeared
near the bottom, springing, like the gazelle,
from one rude step to another, and anon I be-
held her stooping down to gather certain flow.
ers which grew here and there on the green
sward. The rude trunk of a tree near which
I stood formed a convenient seat; I placed my-
self upon it, and quietly awaited the return of
the little AimBe. A quarter of an hour had
hardly elapsed, when I saw her reascending the
rocky side of the glen, and presently she stood
before me, all glowing with delight. At my
feet she set her basket, which was filled with
that lovely flower we call the muguet, better
known by its more appropriate name the lys
des vallees, the lily of the valley.
There, my father, she said, there are the
FLOWERS OF THE FOEBST. OU
flowers which are to compose my garland; and
those are the flowers I would choose for my
device. The rose, added the little girl in high
glee, is the emblem of beauty, the laurel of
glory, the heartsease of content, and the fair
maids of February of innocence-but what are
all these without my lily of the valley ? Tell
me, father dear, what is any good quality with.
out humility ?
Aimee, I said, in amazement and admiration,
not only of the sentiments of this dear child,
but of the elegant manner in which she ex-
pressed them, Aim6e, my little one, who taught
you all this?
She looked innocently upon me, and 'said,
Papa and mamma used to instruct me in these
things; it was poor papa who taught me that
the lily of the valley was the type of humility,
and sometimes when I pleased him he called me
his lily. Ah, sir, I wish I were really like the
lily; for the lily loves the cool valley and sha-
dowy places by the streams of living waters.
Dear child, I answered, you are indeed a lily
of the valley. Would to God, and I crossed
myself as I spoke, would to God I were a lily
No, sir, no, she replied, you shall not be a
lily, but you shall be a noble tree, planted by the
waterside, and I will dwell under your shade.
I was affected, I could not help it; the tear
trembled in my eye; which the little girl ob-
serving, she stooped down and kissed my hand,
at the same time taking up her basket. Having
60 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
obtained what we wanted, we turned our steps
toward our home, and as we went along we re-
marked other flowers growing in the forest;
among these the wood anemone and the party.
coloured vetch particularly attracted our atten.
tion, and we wondered that things so beautiful
should have been formed in places where none
saw and none admired; and this led me to
speak of the infinite goodness of God, and of
his bounty toward the-children of men.
At length we reached our village, and parting
at the garden gate, I retired to my study to ex.
amine the Holy Bible respecting those passages
to which my little companion had alluded. And
in that long quiet day, a day never to be forgot.
ten by me, such convictions flashed upon my
mind respecting the errors of my church, that
before the evening hour I was almost, if not en-
tirely, as much what my people would have
called a heretic, as I now am, although I had
not yet made up my mind to acknowledge my
belief, and give all up for the truth.
Scarcely had the ardent heat of the day sub.
sided, when, according to appointment, I repair.
ed to the chateau; where, on my having passed
the avenue of linden trees, which then extend-
ed from the gate of the domain to the lawn in
front of the mansion, I entered upon a scene
which chased away, for a time, the perplexing
thoughts by which I had been agitated during
the greater part of the morning. Figure to
yourselves, my gentle readers, an ancient, many.
windowed stone mansion, whose fashion spoke
FLOWERS OP THE FOREST. 61
of at least two centuries past, in the almost per-
pendicular roof of which were three tiers of
windows, peeping out from the moss-covered
tiles, closed with wooden shutters instead of
casements. In the front of this ancient and in
some respects dilapidated mansion, extended
the lawn, in the centre of which was a square
marble basin, where a huge Triton spouted
water from a cone to the height of many feet,
affording rather the idea than the reality of
freshness. On each side of the lawn, yet an-
swering exactly to each other, a statue, a bos.
quet, an arbour, and an archway of trelliswork
opening into certain gardens beyond, alternated
with each other, according to the formal taste
then prevalent in my country. The lawn was
set forth with several long tables, covered with
fruit, cakes, cream, and other refreshments;
while on an elevated scaffold near the centre
of the open space was a band of musicians, who
from time to time gave us a national air, while
waiting the commencement of the dancing,
which was to take place toward the end of the
evening. The company for whom this fete was
prepared were, without exception, every inhabi.
tant of the village who was able either to walk
or be carried to the chateau, together with some
superior persons from the neighbourhood, who
had come by special invitation. These, the
superiors of the party, were, with the Baronne,
grouped at the upper end of the lawn, sitting,
standing, or moving about, as it suited them;
the inferior persons being at the lower end, or
62 FLOWERS OF THE ORES'T.
in the centre, according to their stations in so.
city, but all seemed equally gay and happy; I
saw not a solemn countenance as I made my
progress around the circle. I had almost omit-
ted to describe a very important part of the
show, whereat I much wonder, considering that
it is the Feast of the Flowers to which I am en-
deavouring to bring my readers in imagination,
and this was a statue on a pedestal which stood
exactly in a line with the front of the house, at
the bottom of the lawn. This statue was a fe-
male one, and therefore suited very well to serve
as a representation of the goddess Flora; she
was richly decorated with garlands and wreaths,
and on her head was placed the crown of myr-
tie, through which was twisted an azure riband,
on which a motto was wrought in threads of
gold. The crown on the statue was pointed
out to me by a person who stood near it, and
I attempted to decipher the motto, if such there
might be, but I was not able, the riband was
so curiously and artificially twisted that I could
only make out part of a word here and there,
and was therefore obliged to rest in my igno-
The party were all assembled when I arrived
on the lawn, with the exception of the family
of Madame Bul, but while I was paying my
compliments to the Baronne on the arrangement
of the scene, the amiable instructress and her nu.
merous train appeared at the end of the avenue.
There come our queens of the May, said the
Baronne, and she ordered a beautiful and lively
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 08
air to be struck up, while she advanced with
the ladies and gentlemen of the party to meet
the elegant procession. And elegant indeed it
was, elegant and gay, and various and fragrant.
First came Susette and Fanchon, the rival
queens, all attired in white, and decorated, the
one with rose buds, the other with the azure
creeper before mentioned; ribands of rose co.
lour and of blue mingled with the several gar.
lands; the next pair were the acanthus and the
laurel, with scarfs of green and purple; then
came the fragrant hyacinth, and the auricula;
the woodbine and the columbine adorned an.
other smiling pair; and as each couple passed
by the group of ladies and gentlemen, they
greeted and were greeted by smiles and cour.
tesies, as gracefully bestowed and received as
if the lawn had been a royal presence-cham.
ber, and the Baronne a crowned head. As
each pair passed the Baronne the parties sepa-
rated, and formed a variety of blooming and
lively groups around the company, meriting and
receiving that admiration which was due to
their smiling and pleasing figures, and the taste
which each had displayed in the arrangement
of her fragrant ornaments. The last of the
procession was Madame Bul6 herself, leading
the youngest of her pupils and little Aimbe by
the hand; the exercise and excitement of the
scene had given an extraordinary lustre to the
complexion of my little favourite, yet her eyes
retained their usually placid and gentle expres-
sion. She seemed to be attentive to what
64 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
passed, and also pleased, but there was not that
restless anxiety in her countenance which was
remarkable in all those among her companions
who thought they had any chance of obtaining
the crown; her enjoyment of the scene was
therefore as unmixed as it had been when she
was gathering her favourite flowers in the
depths of the forest. She, like the rest of her
companions was attired in white, and with no
other headdress than those clustering ringlets
which, together with the delicate tincture of
her skin, marked her Saxon ancestry. She
had formed a lovely garland of her lilies,
having woven them together with a band of
light green ribands, tied on her right shoulder
with a knot and falling under her left arm. I
saw the eyes of the Baronne rest on this dear
child for a moment; but, as soon as Madame
Bule dropped her hand, she receded into the
back ground, and her elegant form was soon
wholly shrouded by the more splendid figures
of her companions.
Our nation are remarkable for being able to
pay a compliment with grace and delicacy ; and
what occasion, I would ask, could have adnii.
nistered fairer opportunities of doing this with
truth than the present ? Neither were the gen.
tlemen, or even the ladies, then present, slow in
availing themselves of these opportunities;
every comparison or simile in which flowers
have any concern was called forth on the occa-
sion, and the exhilaration of the moment enabled
even the most dull to do this with effect. But
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 6o
did I say dull ? What French woman was ever
dull in a scene such as the lawn then presented 1
Your Feast of the Flowers, Madame la Ba-
ronne, said the Viscomtesse de T-, is splen.
did, is superb-it surpasses all I could have
conceived of a thing of the kind. Yet I can-
not say that these elegant garlands add beauty
to these charming young ladies; I would rather
say that these flowers derive new splendour
from the beauty of those who wear them. And
she appealed for the confirmation of her asser.
tion to the Conte de S- one of the few
specimens then remaining of the court of
Being thus called upon, the old courtier en.
deavoured to produce some compliment of a
superior nature to that of the lady, and asserted
that the roses were grown pale, and the jas.
mines yellow, for envy, to find that their bloom
and sweetness were entirely surpassed by those
who had chosen them for ornaments.
This species of light and trifling conversation
had proceeded for some time, when the Baronne
took her place beneath the statue, and having
commanded the band to cease their strain,
caused the crown to be handed to her; while,
by the direction of Madame Bul6, the young
ladies formed a half circle around her, the rest
of the company, of whatever degree they might
be, gathered close in the back ground.
There was a momentary pause and dead si-
lence in the company, while a servant climbed
upon the high pedestal of the statue and care.
60 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
fully lifted the crown from the head. It was
then delivered into the hands of the Baronne,
and as I stood next to her, I saw that it was a
beautiful thing; it was not of real myrtle, which
would presently have faded, but was an imita-
tion of myrtle, the leaves being formed of foil,
the flowers of gold and mother of pearl, and the
berries of coral; it was beautifully executed,
and the motto, in letters of gold, wrought on a
blue riband, twisted into the wreath. The Vis-
comtesse de T- who stood on the right
hand of the Baronne, as I did at the left, would
have taken it for a moment into her own hands,
exclaiming, Permit me, madame! ah, how
beautiful! it is perfectly captivating! But the
Baronne would not part with it from her hand,
nor suffer the golden letters on the blue riband
to be read.
I am, I feel, she said, in a perilous situation;
I am about to make a choice among so many
beauties, that I shall be in danger of incurring
the odium of possessing a bad taste in still re-
jecting the most worthy, let my choice fall
where it will; and I, therefore, have nothing
but my motto to depend upon to extricate me
from this difficulty, therefore none must see my
motto till I choose to show it myself.
The Baronne then paused, and looked around
tier, and as her eye ran along the lively circle,
I saw that several of the young ladies changed
colour, especially the two at the head, namely,
Susette and Fanchon; and such was indeed
the glowing bloom of one of these young ladies,
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 67
and the elegance of the other, that I never
doubted but that the crown would be adjudged
to one of them.
You are at a loss, madame, I see, said the
Conte de S- and I cannot wonder at your
embarrassment; there are so many beautiful
figures in this circle, that it would be very dif.
ficult to say to whom the golden apple ought
to be given.
Pardon me, monsieur, replied the lady, in a
voice which, though low, was so distinct as to
be heard by all present, but you have mistaken
my intention-it is not to the most beautiful or
the most accomplished, the fairest or the ruddi-
est, the most witty or the most discreet that my
crown is to be given, but to her who, in my
opinion, understands how to select the most
So far we understand madame, said the ab.
be, nor would we be so impolite as to question
your taste. Madame la Baronne can never be
supposed to judge amiss in the eyes of persons
of discernment, but perhaps we may not all
here present be persons of discernment, and
madame has undertaken to render every per-
son in this company satisfied with her decision,
and she depends upon her motto to stop the
mouths of every malcontent. Upon my honour,
madame unless your motto is a very extraordi.
nary one, I do declare, and he shrugged up his
shoulders and smiled, you are in great peril. I
am, I confess, in great pain for you, madame.
Well then, my friend, replied the Baronne,
68 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
I will hasten to place you at ease. Ladies and
gentlemen, you shall hear my motto, and I am
assured that no one here present shall dispute
its authority when I assure them that it is di.
vine, and that it is taken from the Holy Scrip.
tures. So saying, she untwisted the riband
from the myrtle crown; and stating that the
passage was addressed by St. Peter to his fe-
male converts, she proceeded to read it in a
soft, yet clear and distinct voice ; it was to the
following effect :-Whose adorning let it not be
that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and
of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
but let it be the ornament of a meek and quiet
spirit, which is in the sight of God of great
price. 1 Peter iii.
When the Baronne had ceased to read, she
looked up, and her eyes were directed to Aim6e.
The lily of the valley, she said, is the acknow-
ledged emblem of humility; this sweet flower
conceals its beauties within its verdant cover-
ing; it is spotless, pure, and fragrant; its leaves
have a cooling and healing influence; it loves
retirement and shade, yet when brought to view
is exquisitely lovely. The lily, therefore, I must
consider as the best chosen ornament for a
youthful female, and therefore I must adjudge
my crown to her that wears the lily.
There was a murmur of applause throughout
the assembly on this decision, and every eye
was fixed on the little girl, who came blushing
forward at the command of the lady.
Aim6e, said the Baronne, as the dear child
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 60
bowed humbly before her, I rejoice that I can,
with a sincere feeling of love and esteem, be-
stow on you this simple preference; your cha.
racter has long been known to me, and the hu.
mility and meekness of your conduct, since you
entered the family of Madame Bul6 has not
only been noticed by me, but has filled me with
admiration. In those talents and external quali.
ties which are pleasing in our sex you have
many equals now present, and you will tho.
roughly understand that the regard I now ex.
press, has no reference to these qualities, it is
your humility and your holy harmlessness, your
exemption from envy, and your freedom from
bad passions, which are your chief and crown-
ing ornament, even that ornament which is
above all price.
So saying, she raised the myrtle crown above
the head of Aimee, and was about to place it
there, when the little girl, bending low, and fall.
ing on one knee in a manner which I thought
exceedingly graceful, raised her lovely eyes to
the lady and said, Ah, madame, could I wear
that crown I should prove to all here assem-
bled, what is but too true, that I have not de.
served it. I desire, indeed, to be like the lily;
but I am not so. I know my own heart; I
know that it is fill of evil passions, and if I do
not betray these evil passions so often as I feel
them, it is not to my own strength I dare to
give the glory. My dear lady, I implore you,
do not put the crown upon my head.
There was a dead silence in the assembly,
70 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
every one was impressed with a solemn feel-
ing : at length it was broken by the lady, who
said, while holding the myrtle wreath over the
head of the kneeling child, Aim6e, my beloved,
indeed you must not resist our united entrea-
ties, you must submit to wear the honour you
have so justly merited.
Ah, no, lady, lady dear she replied, lifting
up her face as she knelt, with a sweet and un-
affected earnestness; no, no! it cannot be; and
at the same time gently removing the garland
of lilies from her shoulders, and laying it on
the grass at the Baroness' feet. I am neither
worthy to wear the lily or the crown; sweet
lady, place the crown upon the garland, and
then I will endeavour to merit both; at least,
she added, if not in life, yet perhaps in death,
for then-then I shall be But we could
not catch the last part of the sentence, for the
little girl was unable to speak clearly by reason
of her tears.
Aimee! lovely, lovely Aimee! sweet, sweet
child you have conquered, exclaimed the Ba-
ronne, laying the crown at her feet upon the gar-
land, and then coming forward, she embraced the
child, and wept as she pressed her to her heart.
It was an awful feeling that impressed the
company at that moment; the tear was in eve-
ry eye. The abbe whispered to me, Heaven have
mercy upon me, a sinner! If that child thinks
herself impure in the eyes even of her fellow
creatures, what am I in the sight of God? and
he crossed himself. I heard expressions of the
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 71
same nature from many mouths; and Susette
pleased me much, by assuring me that she now
felt ashamed of herself and of her own vain.
glorious opinions of her merits.
It is hardly necessary that I should assure
my reader that the conduct of Aimee on this
and on all other occasions evidently showed
that there was no art or affectation in her con-
duct-no pretence of humility which she did
not actually feel, but really a deep and heart-
felt sense of her own unwprthiness, and an utter
disregard of what effect might result from her
conduct, or what impressions it might make on
those who were present. I mention this, for
although it is a lovely thing to see true humili-
ty in a child; nothing is more displeasing to
God, or more offensive to those of our fellow
creatures whose minds are well regulated, than
to perceive attempts to display a humility which
is not really felt.
In the meantime the Baronne ordered the
garland and crown to be carried to the church
and to be placed in the lady chapel there ; and
it was some time before the assembly could so
ttar divest themselves of their serious feelings
as to enter into the amusements of the evening.
As to myself, I must confess that it was during
that evening that I for the first time made any
serious reflections on the violence which the
mind suffers in being drawn from solemn feel-
ings into those which are merely earthly, and
the contrary; and I was led to think that hu-
man wisdom consisted in avoiding those excite-
72 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
ments of earthly pleasure by which the feelings
more suited to our state as dying creatures are
rendered distasteful and uncongenial to our
After the Feast of the Flowers, several
months passed during which nothing particu.
lar took place in our private circle worthy of
During this period our minds were much agi.
tated by public affairs ; that dreadful revolution
in my country which.was so awful in its pro.
gress, and so wonderful in its effects, had com-
menced. The capital was already in confusion,
but we in the provinces still only heard the
thunder rolling in the distance.
In the meantime, the remainder of the sum.
mer and the whole of the autumn and winter
passed away. In the middle of the winter I
was seized with a rheumatic complaint, which
confined me to my bed till toward the end of
spring. During this period a friend took my
duty, and I saw little of my people; my Bible
was, I thank God, my constant companion at
that time, and the reading thereof, I have rea.
son to think, was blessed to me in a degree
which can hardly be conceived. It was thought,
however, necessary when I left my bed that I
should change the air, and accordingly I was
carried from my bed to the chaise which was
to convey me to the house of a married sister,
who lived not very far from Rouen; there I re-
mained two months, but at the end of that pe.
riod was much distressed by letters from the
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 73
Baronne, who informed me that a contagious
disorder had broken out with violence in the
house of Madame Bul6, that many of the chil-
dren were very ill, and that our little Aimee
was in peril of her life. It was very late in
the spring when I received this news, and as
my health was nearly re-established, I lost no
time, but hastened back to my flock-that flock
which I was soon destined to quit under the
most painful circumstances, and to quit for life;
for the door of my restoration to my former
place is for ever shut against me-my principles
would now be held in abhorrence by those who
loved me formerly-nor could I, even if per-
mitted, now take a part in the services of whose
idolatry I have been long assured. But no more
of this; it has no doubt been good for me, and
for others of my countrymen, that their ancient
ties have been dissolved-ties which bound us
to the world and to a false religion, and which
we should never have had strength to break by
our own efforts.
It was a glorious evening in the end of May
when I arrived within view of my own village,
from which I had been absent many weeks. I
had quitted the public vehicle in which I had
travelled, on the opposite bank of the Seine, and
having crossed the river in a small boat, I pro-
ceeded on foot the short remainder of my jour-
ney. As soon as I left the boat I was in my
own parish-I was in fact at home-and I was
making my way along an embowered pathway
toward the village when I overtook a decent
74 WJAWZU5 OF THE FO31RM
peasant in her best apparel going the isp way.
To my inquiry, How is it with you, neighbour
Mourque 1 How are all our friends ? she re.
plied, Ah Father Raffre, we have lost one of
our fairest flowers, and I am now going to see
the last duties paid to her blessed remains.
Our flowers, I repeated; not my lily, I trust;
is it Aim6e who is no more ?
It is, sir, she replied: and when I last saw
her at the chateau I thought the little angel
would never live to enjoy another fAte; such as
she, rather, are not for this world-nay, her own
very words, when she refused the crown and
spoke of what Lhe should be, proved to me how
it would be, and others said the same. But the
crown and the garland are to be placed on her
coffin, sir; the garland indeed, sir, is withered
and shrunk, but the crown is not made of such
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 75
things as can fade, they tell me; but it will be
a touching spectacle, and surely, sir, there will
not be many absent from the church this even-
ing who were at the lady's Feast of Flowers.
I could not speak-so the good woman pro.
needed without interruption.
She informed me of many things concerning
the sickness and death of the poor child-and
of the grief of the Baronne and of Madame
Bule, who both together, as she said, waited on
the dear child day after day and night after
night; and she told me how she had prayed
while her senses had been continued to her,
and how she had again and again called upon
her Saviour, and spoken of her hope of being
speedily taken to Him who had died for her-
and how she had expressed her love for her in-
structress and the lady of the chateau, and her
tender regard for her schoolfellows-but, add.
ded the peasant, with some emotion of manner
and some expression of regret, it is a grief to
me to think that the poor child was so insensi-
ble when the priest attempted to administer the
last sacrament, that she knew nothing of what
passed, she was as insensible to the holy anoint.
ing as the still-born babe; neither did she take
the smallest cognizance of the holy cross which
was held before her-the Lord have mercy on
her soul! I am thinking, father, could she have
been a heretic? Was she not from England.
Ah! I said, was it so? 'tis true, she was
The woman started at the manner in which
76 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
I spoke, and looked anxiously at me, saying,
Do you doubt, sir, do you doubt of her final
I interrupted her, Ah, would to God, I an.
swered, that I were as blessed and happy as that
dear child now is On whom did she call in her
dying hours, whom did she live only to please,
to whom did she give all the glory, but unto
the only true Saviour-he who is above all
saints and angels, the God incarnate, he by
whom alone the sinner can be saved.
The poor woman crossed herself as I spoke,
and assented to my assertion.
Blessed little lamb! I exclaimed, and art
thou gathered to the fold of the only true Shep-
herd ? Sweet lily of the valley and art thou
removed to a more congenial soil; but who
shall fill the place which thou hast left?
At that instant the tower of the church broke
upon my view as we turned an angle of the
road, and a distant sound of choral harmony
burst upon my ear. I was ashamed of it, but
I could not help it ; I burst into tears and wept
like a child. I did not know till that moment
how dear the orphan Aim6e was to my heart.
I roused myself, however, and walked on, and
a few steps brought me into the entrance of the
village street, and in full view of the western
front of the church, the great door of which
being open, I could distinguish the crowd with.
in, and hear the soft melody of the human voice
attuned with the full.toned organ within, in
such a chant, so solemn, so touching, so sublime
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 77
as seemed to raise my mind above all earthly
feelings, and make me (I was about to say al-
most, but I will say entirely) desire to be with
my Aimbe, absent from the body and present with
my Lord. As I advanced I perceived that all
the houses in the street were deserted, and the
deep silence which reigned amid these dwell-
ings enabled me to hear the requiem more
clearly and more distinctly. At length, as I
passed under the doorway of the church, I
found myself in a crowd, not only of my own
parishioners, but of persons from the neigh-
bouring villages, who had assembled on this so-
lemn occasion; way was, however, immediate.
ly made for me, and I advanced toward the
high altar, before which was the coffin .of my
beloved Aimee, covered with a white pall, and
beyond it, in a semicircle, stood all her former
companions. But there, in that sad hour-sad
for us who remained, yet most blessed for her
who was gone-were no garlands of roses, no
flaunting ribands, no gaudy attire; each fair
young creature wore a long white veil; and
even the once blooming cheeks of Susette were
pale with grief and moist with tears-nay, the
very levity of Mademoiselle Victoire had given
way on this affecting occasion, and she stood a
monument of silent wo. Ah! did she not re-
member then all her cruel carriage toward the
gentle child whose cold remains were stretched
before her ?
On the white pall lay the faded garland of
the lily of the valley; an affecting emblem of
78 FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
her who had plucked those flowers and woven
that garland, affecting to all, yet how much
more so to me, who so well remembered the gay
delight of that beloved Aim6e when she had ob.
tained the object of her innocent and elegant
desires--an emblem consecrated by holy writ,
which says, As for man his days are as grass;
as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth; for
the wind passeth over it and it is gone, and the
place thereof knoweth it no more. Psalm ciii,
15, 16. No eye looked up when I approached
the altar, though all, as I afterward found, had
been aware of my presence. I came up near
to the coffin at the moment when the last note
of the requiem was dying away along the
vaulted aisles, and at the same instant Madame
la Baronne came forward with the myrtle crown
in her hand. The garland had been formed of
perishable materials, but not so the crown-as
compared with the garland of lilies, at least, it
was imperishable-it was fresh and fair as it
had first appeared : it thus formed a beautiful
emblem of that crown of glory which fadeth
not away;" and it was an emblem'which all
present understood, though not one spoke to
point it out. It was laid upon the coffin over the
faded garland by the Baronne herself, and when
she had stooped to kiss the pall, Madame Bul1
and all her pupils stepped forward to follow her
example, after which the service proceeded, and
the remains of our little beloved one were con.
signed to the dust in the vault of the family of
FLOWERS OF THE FOREST. 70
I remained alone in the church when all the
congregation had withdrawn, and it was then
that I solemnly resolved to renounce the vani-
ties in which I had been educated, and, with the
divine help, to quit all earthly considerations
to follow the truth as it is stated in the Holy
Scriptures, unto all extremities to which my
abandonment of the Church of Rome might re-
I was speedily strengthened in this resolution
by the afflictious of my country, and forced by
persecution to fly from that land in which, un.
der more prosperous circumstances I might
have been again involved in the mazes of error
and of death.
And here I close my little narrative, leaving
my Aimee to rest in her cold grave in a distant
This lily of the valley was indeed nipped ere
yet it had attained its perfect growth ; its stem
was cut down to the earth while yet its flower
was in the bud ; but the root has not perished,
it lives still beneath the sod, and in the morning
of the resurrection it shall be translated from
the wild forest of this world to the garden of
our Lord, where it will bloom with a celestial
lustre, and enjoy a never fading verdure. The
grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word
of our God shall stand for ever: and blessed are
the dead that die in the Lord.