From Marie Guérin to her sister Jeanne - July 3,1890.

From Marie Guérin to her sister Jeanne La Néele - July 3,1890.

Lisieux, 3rd July 90
Dear little Jeanne,

We have entertained our guests at last (Céline et Hélène Maudelonde), and since Céline is giving our news to my dear Mother, it is you who shall receive your sister’s scribble.
The lunch was held in the greatest ceremony; Maria and Ferdinand did everything that was in their power to further enhance the meal. Ferdinand laid the table with newly silver-plated cutlery, fork-stands, the napkins were folded, a white tablecloth covered the table, and then he urged us to serve leftover Picpoul and St. Estephe wine. Everything was done in great pomp; our waiter had even put on his white cravat and took on a serious tone of voice to serve the wine. Dear [I v°] Maria surprised us with a dish of floating islands (‘oeufs à la neige’). All in all we were very pleased with our servants; they looked even more radiant than us.
As for me, I did my cousins the honour of being their waitress. Léonie represented the papa and as such had a cup of coffee accompanied with a bain de pied (in certain parts of Normandy, at the end of a meal, children would hold a little spoon with a sugar-cube on it over the father of the family’s coffee cup for a few drops of eau de vie; or they would dip their sugar in the father’s glass of Calvados. This was the “bain de pied”). Céline filled the role of mistress of the house. Don’t you think that that was kinder of me? I gave my elder cousins the honour that is their due.  

We had put name cards in all the big glasses, and a little rose in the small ones. We adorned ourselves with these roses, and even poor Tom (Thérèse’s spaniel, who had gone to live with the Guérin family in 1889) had his own, which he kept for quite a long time without realizing it.
You can see, dear little Jeanne, that our lunch was had in the proper manner. We were so well received yesterday that I thought I should buy some veal pâté, which pleased our guests more than the dish of cold meat. I went to [2 r°]order it this morning on my way back from Mass and I was promised I would have it for eleven o’clock. It did arrive at the said time, but it was warm! Well, you wouldn’t believe it but it was better at this temperature. Our guests didn’t take coffee, so they were offered Curacao or chartreuse, which they heartily accepted. Yesterday evening we were at the Miss Pigeons’ (Clémence, 56 years old and Joséphine, 57. The Guérin family called them “aunts” out of affection) and you wouldn’t believe how much fun we had after dinner: we did gymnastics, which aunt Clémence willingly played along with. Then we climbed the ladder so we could enter the stairway not through the door but through one of the narrow windows.
Céline Martin fit through easily but when it came to the other Céline’s turn, she took it askew and we thought her hips wouldn’t fit through. I tell you it was Aunt Clémence who suggested this type of game. Would you believe, my little Jeanne, that Céline called the Miss [2 v°] Pigeons “Aunt”, which seemed to please them enormously.
This morning Mère Taillefer came to speak to Papa. As he wasn’t there she asked for the young ladies. I came down and saw the woman, who put on her most pitiful look in order to have me understand that she couldn’t wait until Monday, as she could no longer either walk or move. I consulted Céline who advised me to give her twenty bob.
I was telling Mama the story of the person from the Congregation yesterday. The poor woman was scolded by the Mother Superior for having left me the receipt. It had indeed seemed very suspicious to me, but she told me in such a convincing manner that I kept it. I returned it to her last night after nine o’clock, since I wasn’t at home before then. The convent was closed but the kind messenger was very happy to get up again and receive the note, she went to sleep with her soul at peace.
Dear little Jeanne, my letters should not cost three bob to deliver, they are as thick as newspapers, as a consequence by putting a 0fr 05 stamp on them I don’t think the post office would have anything to recriminate me for.
[2 v° tv] Farewell my dear little Jeanne, I send you my love, and two big kisses, as only you know how to give, for Papa and Mama.

My regards to Doctor La Néele.

Your little sister

Ferdinand went to Grandma’s to ask how she was; she had a very good night, she is very well now. This morning she was at Mass, and we are going to hers for lunch tomorrow.

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