Short summary - Arsène Guillot
The watchman in the church of St. Roha made a detour. The service had already ended, but in a special place where pious ladies could pray separately from the townspeople, there was one lady - Madame de Pien. The watchman knew her well, because she made large donations to the church.
Then a young girl entered the church. It was evident from her face that she experienced a lot of grief, but there was still a mischievous light in her eyes. She wore a pink hat with fake flowers and a cashmere shawl, from which one could immediately guess about her social status.
The girl spoke to Madame de Pien as she was about to leave, and asked whom she could turn to to light a candle. She told her to contact the watchman. The women left the temple at the same time, dispersed, and then met again. The girl was holding bread in her hands, and her whole appearance said: "Yes, I am poor." Madame de Pienne thought: “Her piety ... is more commendable than mine. Undoubtedly, the coin she gave is a sacrifice a hundred times greater than everything that I give from my bounty to the poor, without denying myself anything ”.
Since then, they met quite often, and Madame de Pienne looked for an excuse to help the poor girl. Once a coffin was brought into the church. Madame de Pienne thought that a stranger had died. He asked the man who was walking behind the coffin, and he replied that one of the residents of the house where he works as a concierge had died, and he was seeing her off out of kindness, since she had no friends and relatives, only a daughter. Madame de Pienne decided to visit the baby.
The next day she was driving along her street, and a carriage blocked her way. Through the window she saw a girl she thought was dead. She lost weight and was in mourning. Her eyes shone feverishly and there was a strange grimace on her face. She looked with unseeing eyes. The carriage drove on.
When Madame de Pienne returned, the street was crowded with people. The servants rushed to the lady and said that a girl had thrown herself out of the window from the fourth floor. She remained alive and only asked for death. No one called either a doctor or a priest, since the girl was considered a cheating sinner - she worked as a dancer in the opera. Madame de Pien realized that this was the same girl. The maid said that her mother had died, she also threw the "khakhal", there was no money, so she and ...
At that moment their doctor came to de Pien for lunch, with whom they were going to the opera afterwards. She asked him to examine the girl. There is a doctor who wanted more than to examine the suicide, but still succumbed to persuasion. When he returned, the doctor said that suicidal women in a shirt are born, and told about another similar case. He said that he would visit her tomorrow (at the request of Madame de Pienne), but she refuses to go to the hospital; also added that she is consumptive. Ms. agreed to cover all costs and tried to justify her jump in front of the doctor by the fact that her need pushed her to do so. Ms. Pien felt guilty because she saw the girl's condition and did not help.
After a few days, the patient got better. The doctor and de Pienne visited her. The girl was glad to see her savior, she thanked her for her help. De Pien asked if she regretted what she had done. The girl, whose name was Arsene Guillot, told her story - she tried to commit suicide because of the man who left her.
Madame de Pienne considered suicide a frivolous act. Arsene admitted that she put a candle in the church on the advice of her mother: she said that after that the girl would find a patron for herself. Madame de Pienne wanted to leave, but a feeling of compassion overcame her disgust for "this fallen woman, convincing her that it is not good to leave her alone in such deep despair."
Arsena said that she had many lovers, but she is poor and is not needed by anyone. And now she is going to die. Madame impulsively said that if she repent, God asks and Madame will help her in this. She sent a priest to her and was aimed at saving her.
One morning the maid informed Madame de Pien that Max Saligny had returned to Paris and was waiting downstairs. He was the nephew of a close acquaintance of Mrs. and spent two years traveling. Max led a rather riotous lifestyle, and his aunt tried to fix it. Before de Pien's marriage, he looked at her tenderly, but the girl's parents turned out to be more far-sighted and found her another husband.
De Pien finished her toilet and went downstairs; Max played the piano and sang to the barcarroll. They started a conversation. It turned out that Max's aunt had died in Rome. Mrs. had to go to dinner at Mrs. Darsena's and she invited Max there, but he said that it was too boring. He told her about his adventures. They started talking about getting married. As a result, Max asked Ms. to find a worthy girl, and then he is ready to marry.
He did not appear to Darsene, but in the morning he came to Madame de Pienne. It turned out that he had dinner with his friends, played cards and even won. He gave all the money to the woman to donate. There was a portrait in his wallet (de Pien is convinced it is hers). She asked him to return the portrait. He brought it the next day, and since then the visits have become shorter, the man sat with a pouty look.
About two weeks after Max's arrival, Madame de Pienne went to visit Arsene. She inquired about her health and volunteered to read her something serious. Arsene fell asleep. Madame decided to wait for the nurse, went to a small corner and began to write a note there.
Someone suddenly entered the room and woke up the patient. It was Max. The lady came out and said that the presence of the man was disturbing the girl. He turned pale and left. Arsene fainted. Then, waking up, she asked if it was the mistress's husband? In response to a negative answer, Arsena shouted: "So it is he who loves you!"
Madame de Pien flushed, said that this man stirred up in her that Arsene had forgotten, that she had promised to renounce the past. She gave her a whole sermon about the future, about heaven. Arsene loved Max. After her lovers ended and she became a beggar, she realized that love for Max was the only memory that did not cause regret.
De Pien urged her to abandon the "criminal delusions" that those days were shameless and vulgar at times, it is necessary to cast aside illusions and avoid the seducer.
A firm belief in her righteousness makes a person insensitive, and, like a surgeon who burns out an ulcer with a hot iron, not listening to the cries of the patient, Madame de Pienne continued her work with truly ruthless firmness.
Then de Pienne decided to persuade Max to repentance. She said that he threw the girl into a "maelstrom of debauchery." Max admitted that Arsena was his mistress, but he did not seduce her. He even sent her money when she asked. He had nothing to reproach himself with.
Madame de Pienne insisted that there is a different morality. He should not visit the girl, so as not to harm her. He refused, saying that he could not harm the patient, it would be better for her if they would visit her, it would be inhuman to leave her. Max assured that he did not love Arsene, beside her he was looking for redemption, punishment ... At these words, de Pien's face lit up, and she allowed him to visit the sick woman.
The next day, Madame de Pienne went to her ward and found her very weak. When the woman said that Max was coming soon, a blush appeared on the girl's cheeks. The conversation did not go well, and then de Pienne asked Max to read aloud. Then they left.
When Madame de Pienne came to Arsene the next day, there was a beautiful bouquet in her room. It was from Max, he used to spoil her a lot. Arsene presented it to the woman, saying that they have too strong a smell. De Pien wanted to leave the camellias - they don't smell, but Arsena refused and told how she and Max once had a fight over a camellia flower in a glass (the woman remembered that she had given this flower to him). Max came and began to read Arsene aloud.
Max said that he wants to go to Greece to do an act worthy of a Christian - to fight the Turks. Madame de Pienne thought that Max loved her, but she was disturbed by the thought that he had feelings for Arsene. She calmed down when she proved to herself the inconsistency of this idea. She built and destroyed castles in the air.
Arsene got worse. Max came, Abbot Dubignon spoke words of consolation. Arsene fainted deeply. Madame de Pien, believing that Arsene was already dead, said, addressing Max: "Poor thing! What good has she seen in her life?" Arsena woke up, said: "I loved." and died. Later, Madame de Pien and Max went abroad together. Madame de Pienne became much less devout, but the inscription on Arsene's tombstone appeared, presumably in her hand: "Poor Arsene! She is praying for us."
The author says that this is a true story.