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Our Lady of La Salette

Trahec and the thief.

A man named Trahec, returning from America, where he had made his fortune, came to settle in Morbihan. He bought an old castle with all the properties which depended on it. He was an honest man according to the world, which grants this title to anyone who is neither unjust nor homicidal, even if he had lost his faith. Trahec was like that: not only was he a free thinker, but he had in his heart the hatred of religion and priests. He subscribed to all the publications devoted to the propagation of atheism.

Trahec had the rage of proselytizing. He indoctrinated his farmers, his neighbors, all those who had the bad luck to listen to him. In front of them he railed against the priests: He denied God and laughed at the Gospel.

It happened that one of his farmers was caught while he was stealing his master’s cash box. The thief was seized. As the officers bound his hands, Trahec, from among the crowd, cried out, “It is only fitting that the law should reach people who dishonor their country.”

At these words the thief, raising his head:

“Sir,” he said to him, “it is not for you to come and preach here.
– I have the right to condemn you.
– And I will shut your mouth,” replied the thief, folding his arms. Do you see this man, gentlemen and police? It is him that you should take, and not me. Here is the one who is the cause of my misfortune.
– Shut up, you miserable fool!” said Trahec in exasperation.
– I will not be silent, sir. I was an honest man as long as I believed in God, and I had resigned myself to being a poor laborer, living as best I could from my work; but you have made me lose my faith by your words, by your examples, and by your printed papers. I have often heard you repeat that there is no God, or that if there is one, he does not care about us; finally, that the other world was nonsense…
– And what does all this have to do with your theft, you wretch?
– What does it have to do with you? Is it up to you, an educated man, to ask a fool like me? If there is no other life, if there is no God, if we are only matter, I refuse to eat sick potatoes all my life, do you hear?”

And, as he spoke these words, the thief’s voice had terrifying accents.

Trahec was silent; he was horrified.

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