- Project Runeberg -  The story of San Michele /
396

(1929) [MARC] Author: Axel Munthe - Tema: Medicine
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Full resolution (JPEG) - On this page / på denna sida - XXV. The Little Sisters of the Poor

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Monsieur Alphonse was put in his coffin with
his bag as a pillow for his old head, its key still
on its ribbon round his neck. The Little Sisters
do not ask any questions either of the living or
of the dead. All they want to know of those
who come to them for shelter is that they are
old and hungry. The rest concerns God and
not them nor anybody else. They know quite
well that many of their inmates live and die
among them under assumed names. I wanted
to let him take his beloved top hat with him in
the coffin, but the Sisters said it would not do.
I said I was sorry, I felt sure he would have
liked it.

* * *

One night I was awakened by an urgent
message from the Little Sisters of the Poor to
come at once. All the wards of the huge building
were dark and silent but I heard the Sisters
praying in the chapel. I was let into a small
room in the Sisters’ quarters where I had never
been before. On the bed lay a nun, still young,
her face white as the pillow under her head, her
eyes closed, her pulse hardly perceptible. It was
La Mère Générale des Petites Sœurs des Pauvres
who had arrived the same evening from Naples
on her way back to Paris from a journey of
inspection round the world. She was in immediate
danger of death from a severe disease of the
heart. I have stood by the bedside of kings
and queens and of famous men at an hour when
their lives were at stake, maybe even in my
hands. But I never felt the responsibility of
my profession more heavily than I did that night

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