A young boy fondly remembered an old dressmaker named Mother Clochette, who used to visit his parents' house every week to do the mending. She was a tall, thin woman with a beard that covered her entire face.
The boy adored her and would often spend time with her in the linen room, listening to her stories while she worked. She told me these simple stories in such a way that they assumed in my mind the stature of unforgettable dramas, of sublime and mysterious poems.
She told me these simple stories in such a way that they assumed in my mind the stature of unforgettable dramas, of sublime and mysterious poems.
One day, the boy found Mother Clochette lying dead on the floor of the linen room. He was devastated and hid in a dark corner of the drawing room, crying. I could not tell you what profound grief, poignant dreadful grief, seized my childish heart.
I could not tell you what profound grief, poignant dreadful grief, seized my childish heart.
As he hid, he overheard his parents talking to the doctor about the cause of her death. The doctor revealed that he had treated Mother Clochette when she was a young and beautiful girl of seventeen.
At that time, a handsome young assistant schoolmaster had come to town and all the girls were smitten with him. Mother Clochette, then known as Hortense, fell in love with him and they arranged a secret meeting in the school loft. However, they were discovered by the headmaster, who locked the door and went to fetch a candle. In a panic, Hortense jumped out of the loft window to avoid being caught, breaking her leg in the process.
The doctor treated her injuries and told her parents that she had been hit by a runaway carriage. The police searched for the culprit, but the truth remained hidden. The doctor considered Hortense a heroine for her sacrifice and never revealed her secret until after her death. She is a martyr, a great soul, a sublime Vestal.
She is a martyr, a great soul, a sublime Vestal.
As the boy listened to the doctor's story, he continued to grieve for the loss of Mother Clochette, who had been a significant figure in his childhood.