Dinner at the des Cieux was a strange affair that night. Yveline found both her husband and daughter totally uncommunicative from the time they entered the door onward. They passed the food and poured the wine—and little of that—in complete silence. Attempts by Yveline to make conversation met with one dead end after another. Finally she had had enough.
“I do not understand this silence,” she finally declared. She looked at Madeleine. “I know that you act this way when you break up with a boyfriend, but I was unaware you had one.” She turned to Pierre. “And, of course, you act this way when you lose a major client, but you have not had this experience the entire time you have been on this Island.” She addressed them both. “And these events never have happened at the same time. So why are you two acting this way?”
Pierre brought himself to answer first. “I think Madeleine is the one who should explain this situation.”
Madeleine realised that her father had pulled rank on her, so she went through the whole story of her prayer for Carol and the aftermath.
Now it was Yveline that was a loss for words. They all finished the meal quietly, Pierre retreated to read and watch a little television, Madeleine disappeared to do her homework, and Yveline cleaned up the dishes and table the best she could. After this she quietly stole away to Madeleine’s room. She sat down next to Madeleine, who was obviously struggling to concentrate on her homework.
“Are you well?” Yveline asked.
“I am frightened, Maman,” Madeleine replied. “I do not understand why God is asking me to do these things. And I don’t know what will happen next.”
“Things? What other things have you done?”
“When I went to Beran, I got the same kind of message I got this afternoon, to pray for Terry Marlowe to win her match. And she did—I have never seen her play that way, she is usually rather clumsy.”
“It is hard to understand,” Yveline agreed. “In our church, we read the lives of the saints, and how they performed miracles. In our country, we have many stories from the past about these miracles. But now my own precious child is doing these things, in a place like this. But, perhaps, it is not the first miracle.”
“What do you mean, Maman?”
“When I first met your father, it was during the war. I was a simple Norman girl, he was such a handsome soldier. He said he would come back for me. I did not believe it. I thought he would be killed, or find someone else. But he came back and took me away as his wife.
“He began work for the same company his father worked for. We wanted very much to have a child. But it did not happen for a long time. We thought we would never have children. But then, we were in Saigon, and I found out I was pregnant with you. We could not believe it, and when you were born we were very happy. Your father wanted to wait until we returned to France to have you baptised, but I would not hear of it. So we went to the church and had a Vietnamese priest baptise you. As he did it, I prayed to God that your life would be a very special one, that you would be an extraordinary girl. And you have been, although our moves have made it very difficult for you.
“You are a miracle, Madeleine. The fact that you are here is a miracle—and one that took place away from France, come to think of it. So perhaps we should put our doubts aside and realise that our prayers are being answered, although it is never easy to be different. Today you have opened up a new life for someone who really did not have much hope. Last weekend you gave confidence to someone who honestly is in a difficult situation in this country. Who knows whose life God will enable you to enrich? Only God knows the answer to that. But you must not deny others the benefits of the gifts from the heavens because the consequences are too frightening.
“You are a strong girl, Madeleine. You have already come through many things. You can do what you must do. I know you can.”
“Thank you, Maman,” Madeleine replied, hugging her mother.
“Now you must perform the miracle of doing your homework under difficult conditions,” Yveline said, and they both got a laugh out of that.