What did Therese say to Our Lord when she went to see Him? Just what came naturally from her heart: "Dear Lord, I love You, I want to love You for those who don’t love You; I want to be always faithful to You, and to make up to You for all the children who never think of You."
While they were out, Therese would ask her father questions about the things she saw, or anything that came into her head. "Papa," she said one day, "what do you say to God when you go to see Him? and to whom did you take off your hat just now? I didn't see anyone."
Her father told her all he said to Jesus in the Tabernacle. He explained to her that he always took off his hat when passing a Church, out of respect for the Blessed Sacrament, also before a Calvary, to honor the Passion, and whenever he met priests, because of their sacred character.
Then Therese continued: "Papa, why do you tell Marie to pay the shopmen quickly?"
"Because, little Queen, we must not live at the expense of others; it is an injustice to make our neighbor work without giving him the payment which is his due. I will tell you a sad story which is true.
"A poor widow with four children, the youngest of them barely two, worked day and night as a milliner to make money to keep her family. The grand ladies for whom she worked paid her very badly, and there were even some who did not pay her at all. She would go back two or three times to the same house, and each time she was turned away. As she herself was honest, and always paid her own debts, a day came when there was nothing to eat in the house, and the children had to go supperless to bed. For several months this sad state of things went on, until at last the poor mother died, worn out with the struggle, leaving four little orphans with no one to care for them."
During this story Therese hung her head, and the tears began to fall. "Oh, Papa," she sobbed in great distress, "what shall we do, that this may never happen again?"
"Well, darling, we will think of what old Tobias said to his son: ‘Remember that the workman deserves his pay; do not sleep even a single night without having paid him his hire.’ I was struck by those words when I was quite a boy."
Then Therese, looking at her father, her eyes round with admiration, exclaimed: "Oh, Papa! if the great men of the Government only knew you, they would make you King, and France would never have been so happy before! But I am glad they don't know you, because you would be unhappy, like all Kings." This outburst of enthusiasm was followed by a silence, after which Therese went on:
"Papa, why do you go to six o'clock Mass every morning in winter, when you could easily go later?"
"Certainly I could, Therese, but I like that Mass, because all the poor people go to it. Besides—I tell you this as if you were a big girl—I go because it gives me the chance of doing a little penance. For penance makes up to God, not for our own sins only but for those of all sinners!"
Therese grew thoughtful. She understood that by making "acts" you correct your faults and offer sacrifices to little Jesus, but how could these same acts help sinners by giving them back the purity of soul which they have lost?
Just at this moment they came to a bend of the road near a stream covered with water lilies. Suddenly there was a loud splash.
"What's that?" cried Therese, and as she spoke Tom's head appeared in the midst of the lilies. Monsieur Martin laughed, and whistled to the dog, who came out dripping.
"What a state you're in, Tom!" said Therese. "Now try and keep still, and don't shake yourself too near us!"
She had hardly said the words when Tom began rolling in the dusty road. In a moment he had lost all his beauty, and looked like a ball of mud.
"How dirty he is!" cried Therese.
"Yes," said her father, "Victoire will have to give him a fine scrubbing when he gets in! That is a picture, hide Queen, of a soul which has soiled itself in the mud of sin, and which needs some charitable hand to wash it clean again!" By this time they had reached home. Therese had walked a long way, and talked a great deal, and she was very thirsty.
"Oh, Pauline," she called out, as soon as she had set foot on the threshold, "you don't know how thirsty I am!"
Pauline, knowing nothing of what Therese had just heard, replied: "Would you like to do without a drink to save a poor sinner?"
Now was the moment to practice what she had been told. "Yes, Pauline," she answered at once, though a big sigh betrayed how much it cost her. But Pauline thought her little girl had done enough by being so ready to make the "act," and after a few minutes brought her a cooling drink. Therese did know if she ought to take it, for fear of not saving sinner. But her "little mother" reassured her saying that besides the merit of her "act," she would have still more merit now by being obedient, and these two "merits" would perhaps save two sinners instead of one.
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