Letter from Monsieur Louis Dufréty to Monsieur le Curé de Torcy: Lille, February 19—.
Monsieur le Curé, I am sending you at once the information you were so kind as to request.
I am writing a really detailed account of what occurred for the Lille Youth Herald, a very modest periodical of ours to which I contribute at odd times. But owing to my present state of health I have been unable as yet to complete the article. I shall take pleasure in sending you a copy as soon as it comes out.
My friend’s visit was a great satisfaction to me. Our affection for each other sprang from the best years of our youth and was such that time does not efface. His first intention, I believe, was just to spend the evening here with me chatting over old times. At about seven o’clock he was not feeling too well. I decided he had better stay the night. My home, simple though it is, seemed to attract him, and I had no difficulty in persuading him to stay. But at the same time, I felt it would be tactful myself to put up with a friend, whose flat was on the same landing.
Towards four o’clock in the morning, being restless and unable to sleep, I went quietly to his room and discovered my poor friend lying unconscious on the floor. We carried him to bed. And though we used all possible care, I fear this moving him was fatal. He vomited blood in great quantities. The lady who shares my life had made a thorough study of medicine and was able to inform me regarding his condition and do all that was required. Her diagnosis was a very grave one. But the haemorrhage had subsided. While I was awaiting the doctor, our friend regained consciousness. Yet he did not speak. Great beads of perspiration were rolling over his brow and cheeks. His eyes, which I could scarcely see under his heavy half-closed lids, told of great anguish. I felt his pulse and it was rapidly growing weak. We sent a boy to go and fetch our parish priest. The dying man motioned to me to give him his rosary. I found it in one of his pockets; and from that moment he held it pressed to his breast. Then some strength returned to him, and in a voice one could hardly hear he asked me for absolution. His face became more at peace, he smiled even. Although I realized I had no right to accede over hastily to this request, it was quite impossible in the name of humanity and friendship, to refuse him. May I add that I was able to discharge this duty in a spirit which need leave you with no possible misgivings.
The priest was still on his way, and finally I was bound to voice my deep regret that such delay threatened to deprive my comrade of the final consolations of our Church. He did not seem to hear me. But a few moments later he put his hand over mine, and his eyes entreated me to draw closer to him. He then uttered these words almost in my ear. And I am quite sure that I have recorded them accurately, for his voice, though halting, was strangely distinct.
“Does it matter? Grace is… everywhere.”
I think he died just then.
Georges Bernanos. The Diary of a Country Priest (pp. 297-298). Classica Libris. Kindle Edition.