He was only five years old when his father died, and his sister Henriette, twelve years older than Ernest, a girl of remarkable character, was henceforth morally the head of the household.
Henriette had accepted in the family of Count Zamoyski an engagement more lucrative than her former place.
Secretly, Renan felt himself cut off from the communion of saints, and yet with his whole heart he desired to live the life of a Catholic priest Hence a struggle between vocation and conviction; owing to Henriette, conviction gained the day.
Not without a struggle Henriette consented not only to the marriage, but to make her home with the young couple, whose housekeeping depended on the sum that she could contribute.
He wished to complete his exploration of the upper range of Lebanon; he remained, therefore, with Henriette to affront the dangerous miasma of a Syrian autumn.