Nêne/Part 2/Chapter 14

< Nêne‎ | Part 2
Nêne by Ernest Pérochon, translator not mentioned
PART II. Chapter 14


YOUR mother isn't very strong, these days; her rheumatism has been at her again. She's complaining of you because you don't come to see her."

It was a little old man from Le Coudray, passing by the Moulinettes, who was giving to Madeleine the news of her home village.

She shook her head and said with a touch of impatience:

"But I haven't got time! On top of my work, I've got to look after the children. Isn't my brother close by her at present?—And my sisters, with almost all their Sundays free, can't they go over to Le Coudray?"

"You are the eldest," said the old man; "you ought to be the first to be the prop and stay of your mother."

And then, for his own satisfaction, he launched into a long homily full of bitterness.

"Old people are always in the wrong.—What right have they on earth?—So long as they're able to work, well and good!—but after that, they'd better die right away."

Madeleine interrupted him:

"All right! you can tell my mother that I'll go to see her one of these days. Tell her not to worry and take good care of herself, so she'll be well again when I come."

The old man promptly took her up:

"Take good care of herself! How can she? Where will she get the money to buy what she needs, can you tell me that?"

Madeleine blushed:

"I know I'm a little behindhand.—Ask her please to forgive me."

"To my way of thinking, she's already forgiven more than she should.—I happen to know that this is the third time she's reminded you. For my part, I wouldn't have her patience—no, ma'am!"

Madeleine's cheeks grew scarlet.

"Well, if you'll wait a minute, I'll fetch the money now, and you can give it to her."

She opened the door of the wardrobe, where the money drawer was, and said half to herself:

"It's only that I'm not in funds myself, right now——"

She emptied her purse in the drawer.

Could it be possible? All that remained was 12 francs, exactly what she wanted to send her mother. These last weeks she had spent and spent, and now—here was the last of her store. What was to be done? Oh, well, Fridoline would have to contribute a little more, Tiennette would have to do without a new ribbon! She simply couldn't spare any of her last few pennies! How could she refuse the children any wish, now that she was going to lose them? Not she!

She closed the purse, closed the drawer, closed the wardrobe. And to the astonished old man, she said:

"On second thought, my mother will have to wait a little. I'll bring her the money myself, as I want to have a talk with her."