De l’amour et de l’indignation furent les aliments dont on 고소득알바 nourrit notre jeune cœur.”—Juliette Adam, Preface to her Souvenirs, I. v.

Despite his intense desire to have his adored child in his own home, Dr. Lambert constrained himself to permit Juliette to remain with her grandparents until she was three. But on his daughter’s fourth anniversary her father put in his paternal claim.

Looking back over more than three score years and ten Mme. Adam still sees that day as the first which stands out clearly in her memory. She remembers it for several reasons—because of the new white frock she wore, embroidered by her grandmother; because the bonne Arthémise on that day called her “Mademoiselle” for the first time; because her grown-up friend Charles, professor at the boys’ school opposite, embraced her; because when her parents arrived late as usual from Blérancourt, on account of the bad roads, her father took her up in his arms, kissed her, and with tears in his eyes said, “Juliette, how you have grown, it is so long since I have seen you—three months.”

But above all that day stands engraved on Juliette’s recollection because in the midst of the birthday feast, there fell like a bombshell descending on the hitherto harmonious family party, her father’s words: “This time we shall take Juliette home with us.” Then there ensued one of those impassioned family scenes which were so frequent in Juliette’s childhood. Mme. Seron refused to give up her granddaughter, Dr. Lambert protested vehemently that he would have his child. The little girl, hardly out of babyhood, was herself appealed to: whom did she love most—her parents or her grandparents? Where would [Pg 11] she like to live—at Chauny or at Blérancourt? But in the end Mme. Seron won the day, as she usually did, and probably for the excellent reason that it was she who held the family purse-strings.

There was, however, in this vehement, romantic, impulsive lady a strain of consistency and logic. Because during that dinner-table wrangle with her son-in-law she had based her claim to Juliette’s remaining with her on the fact that there were better educational facilities at Chauny than at Blérancourt, she felt compelled to act on that assertion. Consequently, she lost no time in sending Juliette, tiny as she was, to school.

But this important crisis in Juliette’s career could not pass without yet another drame de famille. To send so young a child to the pension, to “prison,” as they called it, seemed to the easygoing Dr. Seron and to the bonne Arthémise, who doted on her little charge, as nothing short of cruelty. Like a servant out of one of Molière’s comedies, Arthémise rated her mistress soundly, whereupon she received an entirely disregarded notice to pack up her baggage and be off.

Of this scene the little victim was herself a spectator. And it was as a captive, therefore, that she regarded herself, when her grandmother led her off and delivered her up to her schoolmistress, the grim, moustached Mme. Dufey, who, with what appeared to Juliette a veritable turnkey’s smile, received her with the announcement: “I had the mother, now I have the daughter.”

Then followed a hurricane of a day. Cries, sobs and physical protestations landed the new pupil in the school garret, wherefrom she was extricated in the afternoon by Arthémise, who had come to take her home. But home to her cruel grandmother this wilful child absolutely refused to go. No sooner was she outside the school gates than she set off running in the direction of the village where Arthémise lived. There Arthémise weakly followed her. And it was only late in the evening that the runaway, having been put to sleep in another and pleasanter garret, was driven back to Chauny by her grandfather in his gig.

Juliette felt that she had won a victory. Her grandmother had certainly learnt a lesson. She now realised that her granddaughter was the kind of child she herself had been—one of those who must be led and not driven. [Pg 12] Henceforth Juliette was brought up on what we now call the Montessori system. And the time came when she herself elected to go with one of her playmates to that same school, which she now found quite amusing.

Indeed, considering the strongly pronounced and utterly divergent opinions held as to her upbringing by the four persons who desired to control her, the only possible course was for the child, as soon as she was able, to train herself as far as possible.

But there were certain questions which even this head-strong little girl found settled without her participation. There was notably the religious question. Dr. Lambert, as we have seen, was a bitter anti-clerical, an aggressive agnostic of the old-fashioned Voltairean stamp. Mme. Lambert, Dr. and Mme. Seron were all catholics. And there gnawed at Mme. Lambert’s heart the painful secret that Juliette was still a little heathen, for, as the result of her father’s anti-clericalism, she had never been baptized. To remedy this omission, without confessing it to her parents, Juliette’s mother devised a clever and effectual stratagem. Under the pretext of being present at the wedding of one of her mother’s friends, the little girl was brought over to Blérancourt by her grandfather. Then at the end of the wedding ceremony, she was hurried into one corner of the church and held over what seemed to her a yawning gulf of a basin, where, amidst her violent protestations, she was transformed, as her grandfather afterwards told her, from “a poor little unbaptized girl” into “a big, happy baptized girl.” But this blessed conversion she was carefully enjoined not to mention to her father, because he did not like churches.

Whether the youthful convert would have kept the secret is doubtful. But the opportunity of doing so was reft from her by one of her playmates, who during the wedding festivities called her, in her father’s presence, by her baptismal names of “Camille Ambrosine.” This led to inquiries and to a disclosure, followed, of course, by the inevitable drame de famille. Fortunately for the conspirators an accident to one of Dr. Lambert’s patients put an end to this extremely unpleasant situation. And while the Blérancourt doctor was at the injured man’s bedside his father-in-law seized the occasion to drive the “little bone of contention” back to Chauny.

[Pg 13]

Juliette, having been once captured by her catholic relatives, Dr. Lambert agreed to surrender her mind to their keeping until she had taken her first communion. And he must have been pleased that Mme. Seron, with her usual ambitious desire to force the pace in Juliette’s education, persuaded the Dean to admit her clever little granddaughter into the Church one year earlier than was customary, at ten instead of eleven.