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HOME > Short Stories > The Children's Pilgrimage > CHAPTER XII. THE WINSEY FROCK.
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 Her voice almost trembling with suppressed excitement, Cecile turned to her little brother.  
"Maurice, Miss Smith lives here. She is an English lady. I must see her. You will stay outside with Pericard, Maurice; and Toby will take care of you. Don't go away. Just walk up and down. I shan't be long; and, Maurice, you won't go away?"
"No," answered Maurice, "I won't run away. I will eat some of that nice breakfast without waiting for you, Cecile; for I am hungry, but I won't run away."
Then Maurice took Pericard's hand. Toby wagged his tail knowingly, and Cecile ran up the steps of Miss Smith's house. A young girl, with the round fresh face of old England, answered her modest summons.
"Yes," she said, "Miss Smith was at home." She would inquire if she could see the little girl from London. She invited Cecile to step into the hall; and a moment or two later showed her into a very small, neatly furnished parlor. This small room was quite in English fashion, and bore marks of extreme neatness, joined to extremely slender means.
Cecile stood by the round table in the center of the room. She had now taken her purse from the bosom of her dress, and when Miss Smith entered, she came up to her at once, holding it in her hand.
"If you please," said Cecile, "Jesus the Guide says you will take care of this for me. He sent me to you, and said you would take great, great care of my money. 'Tis all quite right. Will you open the purse, please? 'Tis a Russia-leather purse, and there's forty pounds in it, and about eleven or twelve more, I think. I must have some to take me and Maurice and Toby down south. But Jesus says you will take great care of the rest."
"Child," said Miss Smith. She was a very little woman, with a white, thin, and worn face. She looked nearer fifty than forty. Her hair was scanty and gray. When Cecile offered her the purse she flushed painfully, stepped back a pace or two, and pushed it from her.
"Child," she repeated, "are you mad, or is it Satan is sending you here? Pretty little girl, with the English tongue, do you know that I am starving?"
"Oh!" said Cecile. Her face showed compassion, but she did not attempt to take up her purse. On the contrary, she left it on the table close to Miss Smith, and retreated to the farther side herself.
"Starving means being very, very hungry," said Cecile. "I know what that means, just a little. It is a bad feeling. I am sorry. There is a turkey egg waiting for me outside. I will fetch it for you in a moment. But you are quite wrong in saying it was Satan sent me to you. I don't know anything about Satan. It was the blessed, blessed Jesus the Guide sent me. He came last night in a dream. He told me to go to the Faubourg St. G—— and I should find an English lady, and she would take great care of my Russia-leather purse. It was a true warning, just as Joseph's dream was true. He was warned of God in a dream, just as I was last night."
"And I am the only Englishwoman in the faubourg," said Miss Smith. "I have lived here for ten years now, and I never heard of any other. I teach, or, rather, I did teach English in a Pension de Demoiselles close by, and I have been dismissed. I was thought too old-fashioned. I can't get any more employment, and I had just broken into my last franc piece when you came. I might have done without food, but Molly was so hungry. Molly is going to-morrow, and I shall be alone. Yes, little English girl, you do right to reprove me. I, too, have loved the Lord Jesus. Sit down! Sit down on that chair, and tell me, in my own dear tongue, the story of that purse."
"I am not an English girl," said Cecile; "I am French; I come from the south, from the Pyrenees; but my father brought me to England when I was two years old, and I don't know any French. My father died, and I had a stepmother; and my stepmother died, and when she was dying she gave me a charge. It was a great charge, and it weighs heavily on my heart, and makes me feel very old. My stepmother had a daughter who ran away from her when she married my father. My stepmother thinks she went to France, and got lost in France, and she gave me a purse of money—some to give to Lovedy, and some to spend in looking for her. I feel that Lovedy has gone south, and I am going down south, too, to find her. I, and my little brother, and our dog, and a big, kind boy—we are all going south to find Lovedy. And last night Jesus the Guide came to me in a dream, and told me that my purse was in danger, and He told me to come to you. Satan had nothing at all to say to it. It was Jesus sent me to you."
"I believe you, child," said Miss Smith. "You bring the strangest tale, but I believe you. You bring a purse containing a lot of money to a starving woman. Well, I never was brought so low as not to be honest yet. How much money is in the purse, little girl?"
"There are four ten-pound notes—that makes forty pounds," said Cecile—"that is Lovedy's money; there are about eleven pounds of the money I must spend. You must give me that eleven pounds, please, Miss Smith, and you must keep the forty pounds very, very safely until I come for it, or send for it."
"What is your name, little girl?"
"Cecile D'Albert."
"Well, Cecile, don't you think that if you had a dream about the forty pounds being in danger, that the eleven pounds will be in danger too? Someone must have guessed you had that money, little one, and and if they can't get hold of the forty pounds, they will take the eleven."
Cecile felt herself growing a trifle pale.
"I never thought of that," she said. "I cannot look for Lovedy without a little money. What shall I do, Miss Smith?"
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