Summary (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
A beautiful young girl, daughter of a prominent family, Gracia had decided to renounce the world in order to enter the benevolent order of St. Vincent de Paul. Her first assignment was in a home for poverty-stricken old men. Among these aged pensioners, her favorite was Gabriel, formerly valet to her own grandfather; but she gave freely of her love and energy to them all. Gradually she became well acquainted with Trajano, a super-annuated anarchist, and with Liborio, a half-witted Cuban, whose only escape from melancholy was accomplished by Gracia’s gifts of cigars and the personal attention she gave him.
She found true happiness in this unselfish service, but her family felt other wise about her choice of a career. They thought that Gracia was wasting herself on old men who were dull and repulsive—her mother and sister did not see how she could bear to go near them. Visiting Gracia at the institution, they begged her to return home. Her father, whom Gracia dearly loved and respected, added his pleas; but the girl, though shaken by this emotional tug of war, still firmly declared that she must dedicate her life and happiness to help atone for the world’s misery.
Ten years passed. Gracia was no longer at the asylum for old men. Halfway through this period of time, she had been transferred to another institution, this one a maternity home for unwed mothers. Here her fidelity to her vows met a stern test, for Gracia found herself sorely...
(The entire section is 1087 words.)
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