The Dream by Emile Zola. Le rêve is a simple tale of the orphan Angélique Marie (b. 1851), adopted by a couple of embroiderers, the Huberts, whose marriage is blighted by a childlessness which they attribute to a curse uttered by Mme Hubert's mother on her deathbed. Angélique is enthralled by the tales of the saints and martyrs — particularly Saint Agnes and Saint George — as told in the Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine. Her dream is to be saved by a handsome prince and to live happily ever after, in the same way the virgin martyrs have their faiths tested on earth before being rescued and married to Jesus in heaven. Her dream is realized when she falls in love with Félicien d'Hautecœur, the last in an old family of knights, heroes, and nobles in the service of Christ and of France. His father, the present Monseigneur, objects to their marrying for reasons of his own. (Before entering the Church he had married for love a woman much younger than himself; when she died giving birth to Félicien, he sent the child away and took holy orders.) Angélique falls ill and pines away. Won over by her virtue and innocence, the Monseigneur finally relents and the lovers are married; but Angélique dies on the steps of the cathedral as she kisses her husband for the first time. Her death, however, is a happy one: her innocence has freed the Huberts and the Monseigneur from their curses.
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