Part 6 out of 12
you say, madame, I should wish to die handsome, in pronouncing the
name of my benefactor."
The eyes of Madame d'Harville filled with tears.
Fleur-de-Marie had said these words so simply; her angelic features,
pale and cast down, her mournful smile, were so much in unison with
her words, that no one could doubt the reality of her gloomy desire.
Madame d'Harville was endowed with too much sensibility not to feel
what was fatal and inflexible in this thought of La Goualeuse-_ "I
shall never forget what I have been" _--a fixed, constant idea,
which would predominate and torture the life of Fleur-de-Marie.
Clemence, ashamed at having for a moment misunderstood the generosity,
always so disinterested, of the prince, also regretted that she should
have had for a moment a feeling of jealousy toward La Goualeuse, who
had expressed, with so much warmth, her gratitude toward her
protector. Strange thing--the admiration which this poor prisoner
showed so vividly for Rudolph, augmented, perhaps, still more the
profound love which Clemence was forever to conceal from him. She
resumed, to drive away her thoughts: "I hope that, in future, you will
be less severe toward yourself. But let us speak of your oath; now I
can understand your silence. You did not wish to denounce the
"Although the Schoolmaster took part in my abduction, he had twice
defended me--I was afraid of being ungrateful toward him."
"And you lent yourself to the designs of these monsters?"
"Yes, madame, I was so much alarmed! La Chouette went to seek
Bras-Rouge; he took me to the guard-house, saying he found me roving
about his inn; I did not deny it; I was arrested, and brought here."
"But your friends at the farm must be very much alarmed."
"Alas, madame, in my fright I did not reflect that my oath would
prevent me from informing them; now it gives me much pain, but I
believe that, without breaking my oath, I can beg you to write to
Madame George, at the farm of Bouqueval, to have no uneasiness about
me, without telling her where I am, for I have promised to be silent."
"My child, these precautions will become useless if, at my
recommendation, you are pardoned; to-morrow you shall return to the
farm, without having broken your oath; you can then consult your
benefactors, to know how far you are restricted by this oath, drawn
from you by threats."
"You think, madame, that, thanks to your kindness, I can hope to leave
"You deserve so much interest, that I shall succeed, I am sure, and I
doubt not that after to-morrow you can go yourself to reassure your
"How can I have merited so much kindness on your ladyship's part? How
can I show my gratitude?"
"By continuing to conduct yourself as you have done. I only regret I
can do nothing for your future welfare-it is a pleasure that your
friends have reserved."
Madame Armand entered suddenly, with an alarmed air.
"Madame," said she to Clemence, with hesitation, "I am grieved at the
message I have to deliver to you."
"What do you mean to say, madame?"
"The Duke de Lucenay is below-he comes from your house, madame."
"You frighten me; what is it?"
"I am ignorant, madame, but M. de Lucenay has information for you, he
says, as sad, as it was unforeseen. He learned at his wife's that you
were here and he came in all haste."
"Sad news!" said Madame d'Harville. Then suddenly she cried in a
heart-rending tone, "My daughter-my child, perhaps! Oh, speak,
"I am ignorant, madame."
"Oh! in mercy, madame, take me to M. de Lucenay," cried Madame
d'Harville, going out, quite bewildered, and followed by Madame
"Poor mother!" said the Gonaleuse, sadly; "oh, now, it is impossible!
At the moment even when she was showing so much benevolence toward me,
such a blow to fall! No, no-once more, it is impossible!"
A FORGED INTIMACY.
We will conduct the reader to the house in the Rue du Temple, the day
of the suicide of M. d'Harville, about three o'clock in the afternoon.
Pipelet, the porter, alone in the lodge, was occupied in mending a
boot. The chaste porter was dejected and melancholy. As a soldier, in
the humiliation of his defeat, passes his hand sadly over his scars,
Pipelet breathed a profound sigh, stopped his work, and moved his
trembling finger over the transverse fracture of his huge hat, made by
an insolent hand. Then all the chagrin, inquietude, and fears of
Alfred Pipelet were awakened in thinking of the inconceivable and
incessant pursuits of the author.
Pipelet had not a very extended or elevated mind; his imagination was
not the most lively nor the most poetical, but he possessed a very
solid, very logical, very common sense.
Cabrion, a painter, formerly a tenant, had seen fit to make the porter
a butt of the most audacious practical jokes, inundating him with
caricatures, laughable labels, and startling appearances before his
unexpectant appalled sight. Unfortunately, by a natural consequence of
the rectitude of his judgment, not being able to comprehend practical
jokes, Pipelet endeavored to find some reasonable motive for the
outrageous conduct of Cabrion, and on this subject he posed himself
with a thousand insoluble questions. Thus, sometimes, a new Paschal,
he felt himself seized with a vertigo in trying to sound the
bottomless abyss which the infernal genius of the painter had dug
under his feet. How many times, in the overflowings of his
imagination, he had been forced to commune within himself thanks to
the frenzied skepticism of Madame Pipelet, who, only looking at facts,
and disdaining to seek after causes, grossly considered the
incomprehensible conduct of Cabrion toward Alfred as simple
Pipelet, a serious man, could not admit of such an interpretation; he
groaned at the blindness of his wife; his dignity as a man revolted at
the thought that he could be the plaything of a combination so vulgar
as a _lark!_ He was absolutely convinced that the unheard-of
conduct of Cabriori concealed some mysterious plot under a frivolous
It was to solve this fatal problem that the man in the big hat
exhausted his powerful logic. "I would sooner lay my head on the
scaffold," said this austere man, who, as soon as he touched them,
increased immensely the importance of any propositions. "I would
sooner lay my head upon the scaffold than admit that, in the mere
intention of a stupid pleasantry, Cabrion could be so obstinately
exasperated against me; a _farce_ is only played for the gallery.
Now, in his last undertaking, this obnoxious creature had no witness;
he acted alone and in obscurity, as always; he clandestinely
introduced himself into the solitude of my lodge to deposit on my
forehead a hideous kiss! I ask any disinterested person, for what
purpose? It was not from bravado--no one saw him; it was not from
pleasure--the laws of nature opposed it; it was not from friendship--I
have but one enemy in the world--it is he. It must, then, be
acknowledged that there is a mystery there which my reason cannot
penetrate! Then to what does this diabolical plot, concerted and
pursued with a persistence which alarms me, tend? That I cannot
comprehend: it is this impossibility to raise the veil, which, by
degrees, is undermining and consuming me."
Such were the painful reflections of Pipelet at the moment when we
present him to our readers. The honest porter had just torn open his
bleeding wounds, by carry--his hand mechanically to the fracture of
his hat, when a piercing voice, coming from one of the upper stories
of the house, made these words resound again: "Mr. Pipelet, quick!
quick! come up! make haste!"
"I do not know that voice," said Alfred, after a moment of anxious
listening, and he let his arm, inclosed in the boot he was mending,
fall on his knees.
"Mr. Pipelet! make haste!" repeated the voice, in a pressing tone.
"That voice is completely strange to me. It is masculine; it calls me,
that I can affirm. It is not a sufficient reason that I should abandon
my lodge. Leave it--desert it in the absence of my wife--never!" cried
Alfred, heroically, "never!"
"Mr. Pipelet," said the voice, "come up quick, Mrs. Pipelet is off in
"Anastasia!" cried Alfred, rising from his seat: then be fell back
again, saying to himself, "child that I am--it is impossible; my wife
went out an hour ago. Yes, but might she not have returned without my
seeing her? This would be rather irregular; but I must declare that it
"Mr. Pipelet, come up; I have your wife in my arms!"
"Some one has my wife in their arms!" said Pipelet, rising abruptly.
"I cannot unlace Mrs. Pipelet all alone!" added the voice.
These words produced a magical effect upon Alfred: his face flushed,
his chastity revolted.
"The masculine and unknown voice speaks of unlacing Anastasia!" cried
he: "I oppose it, I forbid it!" and he rushed out of the lodge; but on
the threshold he stopped.
Pipelet found himself in one of those horribly critical, and eminently
dramatical positions, so often described by poets. On the one hand,
duty retained him in his lodge: on the other, his chaste and conjugal
susceptibility called him to the upper stories of the house. In the
midst of these terrible perplexities, the voice said:
"You don't come, Mr. Pipelet? so much the worse--I cut the strings,
and I shut my eyes!"
This threat decided Pipelet.
"Mossieur!" cried he, in a stentorian voice, "in the name of honor I
conjure you to cut nothing--to leave my wife intact! I come!" and
Alfred rushed upstairs, leaving, in his alarm, the door of the lodge
open. Hardly had he left it, than a man entered quickly, took from the
table a hammer, jumped on the bed, at the back part of the obscure
alcove, and vanished. This operation was done so quickly, that the
porter, remembering almost immediately that he had left the door open,
returned precipitately, shut it, and carried off the key, without
suspecting that any one could have entered in this interval. After
this measure of precaution, Alfred started again to the assistance of
Anastasia, crying, with all his strength, "Cut nothing--I am coming--
here I am--I place my wife under the safeguard of your delicacy!"
Hardly had he mounted the first flight, before he heard the voice of
Anastasia, not from the upper story, but in the alley.
The voice, shriller than ever cried, "Alfred! here you leave the lodge
alone! Where are you, old gadabout?"
At this moment, Pipelet was about placing his right foot on the
landing-place of the first story; he remained petrified, his head
turned toward the bottom of the stairs, his mouth open, his eyes
fixed, his foot raised.
"Alfred!" cried Mrs. Pipelet anew.
"Anastasia is below--she is not above, occupied in being sick," said
Pipelet to himself, faithful to his logical argumentation. "But then
this unknown and masculine voice, who threatened to unlace her, is an
impostor. He has been playing a cruel game with my emotions! What is
his design? There is something extraordinary going on here! No matter:
do your duty, happen what may! After having responded to my wife, I
shall mount to enlighten this mystery and verify this voice."
Pipelet descended, very much troubled, and found himself face to face
with his wife.
"It is you?" said he.
"Well! yes, it is me; who would you have it to be?"
"It is you--my eyes do not deceive me!"
"Ah, now! what is the matter, that makes your big eyes look like
billiard balls? You look at me as if you were going to eat me."
"Your presence reveals to me that something has been passing here--
"What things? Come, give me the key of the lodge; why do you leave it?
I come from the office of the Normandy diligences, where I went in a
hack, to carry the trunk of M. Bradamanti, who did not wish it to be
known that he was about to leave town to-night, and who could not
depend on that little scoundrel Tortillard (Hoppy)--and he is right!"
Saying these words, Mrs. Pipelet took the key, which her husband held
in his hand, opened the lodge, and went in before her husband.
Hardly had they entered, when a person, descending the staircase
lightly, passed rapidly and unperceived before the lodge. It was the
"masculine voice" which had so deeply excited the inquietudes of
Pipelet rested himself heavily on his chair, and said to his wife in a
trembling voice, "Anastasia, I do not feel at my accustomed ease;
things occurring here--events--"
"Now you repeat that again; but things occur everywhere; what is the
matter? Come, let us see--why, you are all wet--all in a perspiration!
what effort have you been making? He's all a-trickling--the old
"Yes, I perspire, as I have reason to;" Pipelet passed his hand over
his face, dripping with moisture; "for there are regular revolutionary
events passing here."
"Again I ask, what is it? You never can remain quiet. You must always
be trotting about like a cat, instead of remaining in your chair to
take care of the lodge."
"If I trot, it is for you."
"Yes; to spare you an outrage for which we both should have groaned
and blushed, I have deserted a post which I consider as sacred as the
"Some one wished to commit an outrage on me--on me!"
"It was not on you, since the outrage of which you were threatened was
to have been accomplished upstairs, and you were gone out--"
"May Old Harry run away with me, if I understand a single word of what
you are singing there. Ah, ah! is it that you are decidedly losing your
noddle? I shall begin to think that you are absent-minded--the fault
of that beggarly Cabrion! Since his games of the other day, I don't
know you; you look struck all of a heap. That being will be always
Hardly had Anastasia pronounced the words than a strange thing came to
pass. Alfred remained sitting, his face turned toward the bed. The
lodge was lighted by the sickly light of a winter's day, and by a
lamp. At the moment his wife pronounced the name Cabrion, Pipelet
thought he saw in the shade of the alcove the immovable, cunning face
of the painter. It was he, his pointed hat, long hair, thin face,
satanic smile, queer beard, and paralyzing gaze. For a moment, Pipelet
thought himself in a dream; he passed his hand over his eyes,
believing that he was the victim of an illusion. It was not an
illusion. Nothing could be more real than this apparition. Frightful
thing! nobody could be seen, but only a head, of which the living
flesh stood out in bold relief from the obscurity of the alcove. At
this sight Pipelet fell over backward, without saying a word; he
raised his right arm toward the bed, and pointed at this terrible
vision, with a gesture so alarming, that Mrs. Pipelet turned to seek
the cause of an alarm of which she soon partook, in spite of her
habitual courage. She recoiled two steps, seized with force the hand
of Alfred, and cried, "Cabrion!"
"Yes," murmured Pipelet, in a hollow voice, almost extinct, shutting
The stupor of the pair paid the greatest honor to the talent of the
artist who had so admirably painted on the pasteboard the features of
Cabrion. Her first surprise over, Anastasia, as bold as a lion, ran to
the bed, got on it, and tore the picture from the wall.
The amazon crowned this valiant enterprise by shouting, as a war-cry,
her favorite exclamation, "Go ahead!"
Alfred, with his eyes closed, his hands stretched forth, remained
immovable, as he had always been accustomed to do in the critical
moments of his life. The convulsive oscillations of his hat alone
revealed, from time to time, the continued violence of his interior
"Open your eyes, old darling," said Mrs. Pipelet, triumphantly; "it's
nothing! it's a picture; the portrait of that scoundrel Cabrion! Look,
see how I stamp upon him!" and Anastasia, in her indignation, threw
the picture on the ground, and trampled it under her feet, crying,
"That's the way I would like to treat his flesh and bones, the
wretch!" then picking it up, "see!" said she, "now it has my marks;
Alfred shook his head negatively, without saying a word, and making a
sign to his wife to take away the detested picture.
"Has ever any one seen such impudence? This is not all; he has
written at the bottom, in red letters, 'Cabrion, to his good friend
Pipelet, for life,'" said the portress, examining the picture by the
"His good friend for life!" murmured Alfred; raising his hands as if
to call heaven to witness this new outrageous irony.
[Illustration: Louise in Prison]
"But how could he do it?" said Anastasia. "This portrait was not there
this morning when I made the bed, very sure. You took the key with you
just now: nobody could have entered while you were absent? How, then,
once more, could this portrait get there? Could it be you, by chance,
who put it there, old darling?"
At this monstrous hypothesis, Alfred bounced from his seat; he opened
his eyes wide and threatening.
"I fasten in my alcove the portrait of this evil-doer, who, not
content with persecuting me by his odious presence, pursues me at
night in my dreams--the daytime in a picture! Would you make me mad,
Anastasia? mad enough to be chained?"
"Well! for the sake of making peace, you might have agreed with
Cabrion during my absence. Where would be the great harm?"
"I make up with--oh, merciful powers! you hear her?"
"And then, he might have given you his portrait, as a pledge of
friendship. If this is so, do not deny it."
"If this is so, it must be confessed you are as capricious as a pretty
"In short, it must have been you who placed the portrait!"
"But who is it then?"
"Yes," cried Pipelet wildly, "it is you; I have reason to believe it
is you. This morning, having my back turned toward the bed I could see
"But, old darling, I tell you it must be you, otherwise I shall think
it was the devil."
"I have not left the lodge, and when I went upstairs to answer to the
call of the masculine organ, I had the key; the door was shut. You
opened it; deny that!"
"Ma foi; it is true!"
"You confess, then?"
"I confess that I comprehend nothing. It's a game, and it is prettily
"A game!" cried Pipelet, carried away by frenzied indignation. "Ah!
there you are again! I tell you, I, that all this conceals some
abominable plot; there is something under all this--a plot. The abyss
is hidden under flowers--they try to stun me to prevent my seeing the
precipice from which they wish to plunge me. It only remains for me to
place myself under the protection of the laws. Happily, the Lord is on
our side;" and Pipelet turned toward the door,
"Where are you going, old darling?"
"To the commissary's, to lodge my complaint, and this portrait as
proof of the persecutions I am overwhelmed with."
"But what will you complain of?"
"What will I complain of? How! my most inveterate enemy shall find
means by proceeding fraudulently to force me to have his portrait in
my house, even on my nuptial bed, and the magistrates will not take me
under the aegis? Give me the portrait, Anastasia--give it to me--not
the side where the painting is, the sight revolts me! The traitor
cannot deny it; it is in his hand; Cabrion to his good friend Pipelet,
for life. For life! Yes, that's it; for my life, without doubt, he
pursues me, and he will finish by having it. I live in continual
alarm: I shall think that this infernal being is here, always here--
under the floor, in the walls, in the ceiling! at night he sees me
reposing in the arms of my wife; in the daytime he is standing behind
me, always with his satanic smile; and who will tell me that even at
this moment he is not here, concealed somewhere, like a venomous
insect? Come, now! are you there, monster? Are you here?" cried
Pipelet, accompanying this furious imprecation with a circular
movement of the head, as if he had wished to interrogate all parts of
"I am here, good friend!" said most affectionately the well-known
voice of Cabrion.
These words seemed to come from the bottom of the alcove, merely from
the effects of ventriloquism; for the infernal artist was standing
outside the door of the lodge, enjoying the smallest details of this
scene; however, after having pronounced these last words, he prudently
made off, not without leaving, as we shall see, a new subject of rage,
astonishment, and meditation to his victim. Mrs. Pipelet, always
courageous and skeptical, looked under the bed, and in every hole and
corner, without success, while M. Pipelet, undone by the last blow,
had fallen on the chair in a state of utter despair.
"It's nothing, Alfred," said Anastasia; "the scoundrel was concealed
behind the door, and while I looked one way, he escaped the other.
Patience, I'll catch him one of these days, and then, let him look
out! he shall taste the handle of my broom!"
The door opened, and Mrs. Seraphin, housekeeper of Jacques Ferrand,
"Good-day, Mrs. Seraphin," said Mrs. Pipelet, who, wishing to conceal
from a stranger her domestic sorrows, assumed a very gracious and
smiling air; "what can I do to serve you?"
"First, tell me, then, what is your new sign?"
"The little sign."
"A little sign?"
"Yes, black with red letters, which is nailed over the door of your
"In the street?"
"Why, yes, in the street, just over your door."
"My dear Mrs. Seraphin, may I never speak again, if I understand a
word; and you, old darling?" Alfred remained dumb.
"In truth, it concerns Mr. Pipelet," said Mrs. Seraphin; "he must
explain this to me."
Alfred uttered a sort of low, inarticulate groan, shaking his hat, a
pantomime signifying that Alfred found himself incapable of explaining
anything to others, being sufficiently preoccupied with an infinity of
problems, each one more difficult of solution than the other.
"Pay no attention, Mrs. Seraphin," said Anastasia. "Poor Alfred has
got the cramp; that makes him--"
"But what is this sign, then, of which you speak?"
"Perhaps our neighbor--"
"No, no; I tell you it is a little sign nailed over your door."
"Come, you want to joke."
"Not at all; I saw it as I came in. There is written on it in large
letters, 'Pipelet and Cabrion, Dealers in Friendship, etc. Apply
"That's written over our door, do you hear, Alfred?"
Pipelet looked at Mrs. Seraphin with a wild stare. He did not
comprehend; he did not wish to comprehend.
"It is in the street--on a sign!" repeated Mrs. Pipelet, confounded at
this new audacity.
"Yes, for I have just read it. Then I said to myself, 'What a funny
thing! Pipelet is a cobbler by trade, and he informs the passer-by
that he is engaged in a _commerce d'amitie_ with Cabrion. What
does it signify? There is something concealed, it is clear; but as
the sign says inquire within, Mrs. Pipelet will explain it." "But look
there," cried Mrs. Seraphin, suddenly, "your husband looks as if he
was sick; take care, he will fall backward!"
Mrs. Pipelet received Alfred in her arms, in a fainting state. This
last blow had been too violent; the man nearly lost all consciousness
as he pronounced these words:
"The creature has publicly posted me."
"I told you, Mrs. Seraphin, Alfred has the cramp, without speaking of
an unchained blackguard, who undermines him with his sorry tricks. The
poor old darling cannot resist it! Happily, I have a drop of bitters
here; probably it will put him on his legs."
In fact, thanks to the infallible remedy of Mrs. Pipelet, Alfred by
degrees recovered his senses; but, alas! hardly had he come to, than
he had to undergo another trial.
A middle-aged person, neatly dressed, and with a pleasing face, opened
the door, and said, "I have just seen on a sign placed over this door,
'Pipelet and Cabrion, Dealers in Friendship.' Can you, if you please,
do me the honor to inform me what this means--you being the porter of
"What this means!" cried Pipelet in a thundering voice, giving vent to
his indignation, too long suppressed; "this means that Mr. Cabrion is
an infamous impostor, sir!"
The man, at this sudden and furious explosion, drew back a step.
Alfred, much exasperated, with a fiery look and purple face, had
stretched his body half out of the lodge, and leaned his contracted
hands on the lower half of the door, while the figures of Mrs.
Seraphin and Anastasia could be vaguely seen in the background, in the
semi-obscure light of the lodge.
"Learn, sir," cried Pipelet, "that I have no dealings with this
scoundrel Cabrion, and that of friendship still less than any other!"
"It is true; and you must be very queer, old noodle that you are to
come and ask such a question," cried Madame Pipelet, sharply, showing
her quarrelsome face over the shoulder of her husband.
"Madame!" said the man sententiously, falling back another step,
"notices are made to be read; you put them up, I read; I have the
right to do so, but you have no right to say such rude things."
"Rude things yourself, you beggarly wretch!" replied Anastasia,
showing her teeth. "You are a low-bred fellow. Alfred, your boot-tree,
till I take the length of his muzzle, to teach him to come and play
the Joe Miller at his age, old clown!"
"Insults when one comes to ask the meaning of a notice placed over
your own door? It shall not pass over in this way, madame!"
"But, sir!" cried the unhappy porter.
"But, sir," answered the quiz, pretending to be angry, "be as friendly
as you please with your Mr. Cabrion, but zounds! don't stick it in
large letters under the noses of the passers-by! I find myself under
the necessity of telling you that you are a pitiful wretch, and that I
shall go and make my complaint to the authorities!" and the quiz
departed in a great rage.
"Anastasia!" said Mr. Pipelet, in a sorrowful tone, "I shall not
survive this, I feel it; I am wounded to death. I have no hope of
escaping him. You see, my name is publicly stuck up alongside of this
wretch. He dares to say that I have a friendly trade with him, and the
public will believe it. I inform you--I say it--I communicate it; it
is monstrous, it is enormous it is an infernal idea: but it must
finish; the measure is full; either he or I must fall in this
struggle!" and, overcoming his habitual apathy, Pipelet, determined on
a vigorous resolution, seized the portrait of Cabrion, and rushed
toward the door.
"Where are you going to, Alfred?"
"To the commissary's. At the same time I am going to tear down this
infamous sign; then with this portrait and this sign in my hand, I
will cry to the commissary, 'Defend me! avenge me! deliver me from
"Well said, old darling; stir yourself, shake yourself; if you cannot
get the sign down, ask the next door to help you, and lend you his
"Rascally Cabrion! Oh, if I had him, and I could do it, I'd fry him on
my stove. I should like so much to see him suffer. Yes, people are
guillotined who do not deserve it as much as he does. The wretch! I
should like to see him on the scaffold, the villain!"
Alfred showed under these circumstances the most sublime equanimity.
Notwithstanding his great causes of revenge against Cabrion, he had
the generosity to feel sentiments akin to pity for him.
"No," said he; "no; even if I could, I would not ask for his head."
"As for me, I would. Go do it!" cried the ferocious Anastasia.
"No," replied Alfred; "I do not like blood; but I have a right to
claim the perpetual seclusion of this evil-doer; my repose requires
it; my health commands it; the law accords me this reparation;
otherwise, I leave la France--ma belle France! That is what they'll
And Alfred, swallowed up in his grief, walked majestically out of the
lodge, like one of those imposing victims of ancient fatality.
Before we relate the conversation between Mrs. Seraphin and Mrs.
Pipelet, we will inform the reader that Anastasia, without suspecting
the least in the world the virtue and devotion of the notary, blamed
extremely the severity he had shown toward Louise Morel and Germain.
Naturally she included Mrs. Seraphin in her reprobation; but like a
skillful politician, for reasons which we will show by and by, she
concealed her feeling for the housekeeper under a most cordial
reception. After having formally disapproved of the unworthy conduct
of Cabrion, Mrs. Seraphin added, "What has become of M. Bradamanti
(Polidori)? Last night I wrote to him--no answer; this morning I came
to find him--no one. I hope this time I shall be more fortunate."
Mrs. Pipelet feigned to be very much vexed.
"Ah!" cried she, "you must have bad luck."
"M. Bradamanti has not come in."
"It is insupportable!"
"It is vexing, my poor Mrs. Seraphin!"
"I have so much to say to him."
"It is just like fate."
"So much the more, as I have to invent so many pretexts for coming
here; for if M. Ferrand ever suspected that I knew a quack, he being
so devout and scrupulous, you can judge of the scene."
"Just like Alfred. He is so prudish, that he is startled at
everything." "And you do not know when Bradamanti will come in?"
"He made an appointment for six or seven o'clock in the evening, for
he told me to say to the person to call again if he had not returned.
Come back this evening, you will be sure to find him." Anastasia added
to herself: "You can count on this: in one hour he will be on the road
"I will return then to-night," said Mrs. Seraphin, much annoyed; "but
I have something else to say to you, my dear Mrs. Pipelet. You know
what has happened to this wench of a Louise, whom every one thought so
"Don't speak of it," answered Mrs. Pipelet, raising her eyes with
compunction, "it makes my hair stand on end."
"I want to tell you that we have no servant; and that if by chance you
should hear a girl spoken of, virtuous, hard-working, honest, you will
be very kind if you will address her to me. Good subjects are so
difficult to find, that one has to look on all sides for them."
"Be quite easy, Mrs. Seraphin. If I hear of any one, I will inform
you. Good places are as difficult to find as good subjects;" then she
added mentally, "Very likely I'd send you a poor girl to be starved to
death in your hovel! Your master is too miserly and too wicked--to
denounce, in one breath, poor Louise and poor M. Germain."
"I need not tell you," said Mrs. Seraphin, "how quiet our house is; a
girl gains much by getting there, and this Louise must have been an
incarnate imp to have turned out so bad, notwithstanding all the good
and holy advice M. Ferrand gave her."
"Certainly, so depend upon me; if I hear any one spoken of that I
think will answer, I will send them to you."
"There is one thing more," said Mrs. Seraphin; "M. Ferrand prefers
that this servant should have no family, because, you comprehend,
having no occasion to go out, she will run less risk; so, if by chance
she could be found, monsieur would prefer an orphan, I suppose; in the
first place, because it would be a good action, and then because,
having no friends, she would have no pretext to go out. This miserable
Louise is a good lesson for him, my poor Mrs. Pipelet! That's what
makes him so hard to please in the choice of a domestic. Such a
scandalous affair in a pious house like ours--how horrid! well,
goodbye; to-night, when I go to see M. Bradamanti, I'll call upon
"Good-bye, Mrs. Seraphin--you will certainly see him to-night."
Mrs. Seraphin took her departure.
"Isn't she crazy after Bradamanti!" said Mrs. Pipelet. "What can she
want with him? and wasn't he crazy for fear he should see her before
he left for Normandy? I was afraid she wouldn't go, as M. Bradamanti
expects the lady who came last night; I couldn't see her, but this
time I'll try to unmask her. But who can this lady of M. Bradamanti's
be? A lady or a common woman? I'd like to know, for I am as curious as
a magpie. It is not my fault--I'm made so. It is my character. Ah,
hold! an idea, a famous one too--to find out her name! I'll try it.
But who comes there? Ah! it is my prince of lodgers. Hail, Mr.
Rudolph," said Mrs. Pipelet, putting herself in the attitude of
carrying arms, the back of her left hand to her wig.
It was Rudolph, as yet ignorant of the death of M. d'Harville. "Good-day,
Madame Pipelet," said he on entering. "Is Mile. Rigolette at home?
I wish to speak to her."
"The poor little puss is always at home at her work! Does she ever
take a holiday?"
"And how is Morel's wife? Does she cheer up any?"
"Yes, Mr. Rudolph, many thanks to you, or to the protector of whom you
are the agent, she and her children are so happy now! They are like
fish _in_ water; they have fire, air, good beds, good food, a
nurse to take care of them, without reckoning little Rigolette, who
working like a little beaver, without appearing to, keeps them under
her eye? and, besides, a negro doctor has been to see them. Mr.
Rudolph, I said to myself, 'Ah! but this is the coalheaver doctor,
this black man; he can feel their pulse without soiling his hands!'
But never mind, color is skin deep; he seems to be a first-rate hand,
all the same. He ordered a potion for Madame Morel, which relieved her
"Poor woman, she must be very sad."
"Oh! yes, Mr. Rudolph, what else? her husband mad, and then her Louise
in prison. Louise is her heart's grief; for an honest family it is
terrible; and when I think that just now Mother Seraphin came here to
say such things about her. If I had not a gudgeon to make her swallow,
old Seraphin would not have got off so easy, but for a quarter of an
hour I gave her fair words. Didn't she have the brass to come and ask
me if I knew of any young body to take the place of Louise, at that
beggar of a notary's? Ain't he close and miserly? Just imagine, they
want an orphan, if she can be found. Do you know why, Mr. Rudolph?
Because she would never want to go out. But that is not it--trash, a
lie! The truth is, that they want to get hold of a girl who, having no
one to advise her, could be ground out of her wages at their pleasure.
Isn't it true?"
"Yes, yes," answered Rudolph, in a thoughtful manner.
Learning that Mrs. Seraphin sought an orphan to take the place of
Louise, Rudolph foresaw in this circumstance a means, perhaps certain
of obtaining the punishment of the notary. While Mrs. Pipelet was
speaking, he arranged in his mind the part a tool of his might play,
as a principal instrument in the just punishment which he wished to
inflict on the executioner of Louise Morel.
"I was sure you would think as I did," said Madame Pipelet; "yes, I
repeat it, and I would sooner die than send any one to them. Am I not
right, Mr. Rudolph?"
"Mrs. Pipelet, will you render me a great service?"
"Lord o' mercy! Mr. Rudolph, do you wish me to throw myself across the
fire, curl my wig with boiling oil? or would you prefer I should bite
some one? Speak, I am wholly yours! I and my heart are your slaves,
"Make yourself easy, Mrs. Pipelet; this is not what I mean. I want a
place for a young orphan. She is a stranger; she has never been at
Paris, and I wish to send her to M. Ferrand's."
"You suffocate me! How? In his barrack? to that Old miser's?"
"It is nevertheless a situation. If the girl should not like it, she
can leave; but, at least, she will for the time earn her living, and I
shall be easy on her account."
"Marry! Mr. Rudolph, it's your affair: you are warned. If,
notwithstanding, you find the place good, you are the master; and,
besides, I must be just--speaking of the notary--if there's something
against, there's also something for him. He is as miserly as a dog,
hard as an ass, bigoted as a sacristan, it is true; but he is as
honest as one can be. He gives small wages, but he pays like a man.
The food is bad. In fine, it is a house where one must work like a
horse, but where there is no risk of a young girl's reputation. Louise
was an exception."
"Madame Pipelet, I am going to confide a secret to your honor."
"On the faith of Anastasia Pipelet, whose maiden name was Galimard, as
true as there is a holiness in heaven, and Alfred wears only green
coats, I shall be as dumb as a fish."
"You must not say a word to Mr. Pipelet."
"I swear it on the head of my old darling! If the motive is honest."
"Oh, Mrs. Pipelet!"
"It is between ourselves, my prince of lodgers. Go on."
"The girl of whom I have spoken has committed a fault."
"I twig! If I had not at fifteen married Alfred, I should have perhaps
committed fifty-hundreds of faults! I, that you see--I was a regular
saltpeter mine unchained! Happily, Pipelet extinguished me in his
virtue; without that I should have committed follies. If your girl has
only committed one fault, there is yet some hope."
"I think so also. The girl was a servant in Germany, at one of my
relatives'; the son of this relative has been the accomplice of the
fault: you comprehend?"
"Whew! I comprehend-as if I had committed the _faux pas_ myself."
"The mother drove away the servant; but the young man was mad enough
to leave his paternal home, and bring this poor girl to Paris."
"Oh, these young folks--"
"After this came reflections--all the wiser as the money they had was
all gone. My young relative called upon me; I consented to give him
enough to return to his mother, but on condition that he should leave
this girl here, and I would endeavor to place her."
"I could not have done better for my own son, if Pipelet had been
pleased to grant me one."
"I am enchanted with your approbation; only as the young girl has no
recommendations, and is a stranger, it is very difficult to find a
place. If you would tell Mrs. Seraphin that one of your relations in
Germany had addressed and recommended this young girl to you, and the
notary would take her in his service, I should be doubly pleased.
Cecily--that is her name--having been only led astray, would be made
correct, certainly, in a house so strict as that of the notary. It is
for this reason I wish to see her enter the service of M. Ferrand. I
need not tell you that, presented by you--a person so respectable--"
"Oh! Mr. Rudolph--"
"Oh, my prince of lodgers-"
"She will be certainly accepted by Madame Seraphin; while, presented
"Understood! It is as if I presented a young man. Oh, well! done! it
suits me. Stick old Seraphin! So much the better! I have a bone to
pick with her. I will answer for the affair, Mr. Rudolph! I'll make
her see stars at noon. I'll tell her I had a cousin, ever so long ago,
settle in Germany, one of the Galimards--my family name; that I have
just received the news that she is defunct, her husband also, and that
their daughter, now an orphan, will be on my hands immediately."
"Very well. You will take Cecily yourself to M. Ferrand, without
saying anything more to Mrs. Seraphin. As it is twenty years since you
have seen your cousin, you will have nothing to answer, except that
since her departure for Germany you have received no news from her."
"Ah, now! but if the young woman only jabbers German?"
"She speaks French perfectly; I will give her her lesson; all you have
to do is to recommend her strongly to Mrs. Seraphin; or, rather, I
think, no--for she would suspect, perhaps, that you wished to force
her. You know it suffices often merely to ask for a thing to have it
"To whom do you tell this? That's the way I always served cajolers. If
they had asked nothing, I do not say--"
"That always happens. You must say, then, that Cecily is an orphan and
a stranger, very young and very handsome; that she is going to be a
heavy charge for you; that you feel but slight affection for her, as
you had quarreled with your cousin, and that you are not much obliged
for such a present as she has made you."
"Oh, my! how cunning you are. But be easy--we two'll fix the pair. I
say, Mr. Rudolph, how we understand each other. When I think that if
you had been of my age in the time when I was a train of powder--_ma
foi_, I don't know--and you?"
"Hush! if Mr. Pipelet--"
"Oh, yes! poor dear man! You don't know a new infamy of Cabrion's? But
I will tell you directly. As to your young girl, be easy; I bet that
I'll lead old Seraphin to ask me to place my relation with them."
"If you succeed, my dear Mrs. Pipelet, there is a hundred francs for
you. I am not rich, but--"
"Do you mock at me, Mr. Rudolph? Do you think I do this from
interested feelings? It is pure friendship--a hundred francs!"
"But remember that if I had this girl for a long time under my charge
it would cost me more than that at the end of some months."
"It is only to oblige you that I shall take the hundred francs, Mr.
Rudolph; but it was a famous ticket in the lottery for us when you
came to this house. I can cry from the roof, you are the prince of
lodgers. Holloa! a hack! It is doubtless the little lady for M.
Bradamanti. She came yesterday; I could not see her. I am going to
trifle with her, to make her show her face; without counting that I
have invented a way to find out her name. You'll see me work; it will
"No, no, Mrs. Pipelet, the name and face of this lady are of no
importance to me," said Rudolph, retreating to the back part of the
"Madame!" cried Anastasia, rushing out before the lady who entered,
"where are you going, madame?"
"To M. Bradamanti's," said the female, visibly annoyed at thus being
stopped in the passage.
"He is not at home."
"It is impossible; I have an appointment with him."
"He is not at home."
"You are mistaken."
"I am not mistaken at all," trying all the time to catch a glimpse of
her face. "M. Bradamanti has gone out, certainly gone out--very
certainly gone out--that is to say, except for a lady."
"Well! it is I! you annoy me; let me pass."
"Your name, madame? I shall soon know if it is the person M.
Bradamanti told me to pass in. If you have not that name, you must
step over my body before you shall enter."
"He told you my name?" cried the lady, with as much surprise as
"What imprudence!" murmured the lady; then, after a moment's pause,
she added impatiently, in a low voice, as if she feared to be
overheard, "Well! I am Lady d'Orbigny!"
At this name Rudolph started. It was the stepmother of Madame
d'Harville. Instead of remaining in the shade he advanced; and, by the
light of the day and the lamp, he easily recognized her, from the
description Clemence had more than once given him.
"Lady d'Orbigny!" repeated Mrs. Pipelet, "that's the name; you can go
The step-mother of Clemence passed rapidly before the lodge.
"Look at that!" cried the portress, in a triumphant manner; "gammoned
the citizen! know her name--she is called D'Orbigny; my means were not
bad, Mr. Rudolph? But what is the matter? You are quite pensive!"
"This lady has been here before?" asked Rudolph.
"Yes, last night; as soon as she was gone, M. Bradamanti went out,
probably to take his place in the diligence for to-day; for on his
return, last night, he begged me to go with his trunk to the office,
as he could not depend upon that little devil Tortillard."
"And where is M. Bradamanti going to? do you know?"
"To Normandy--to Alencon."
Rudolph remembered that the estate of Aubiers, where M. d'Orbigny
resided, was situated in Normandy. There could be no doubt the quack
was going to see the father of Clemence for no good purpose.
"It is the departure of M. Bradamanti that will finely provoke old
Seraphin!" said Madame Pipelet. "She is like a mad wolf after M.
Cesar, who avoids her as much as he can; for he told me to conceal
from her that he was going to leave to-night; thus, when she returns,
she will find nobody at home! I'll profit by this to speak of your
young woman. Apropos, how is she called--Ciec?"
"It is the same as if you said Cecile with an _i_ at the end. All
the same; I must put a piece of paper in my snuff-box to remember this
name--Cici--Casi--Cecily, good, I have it."
"Now I go to see Mlle. Rigolette," said Rudolph; and, singularly
preoccupied with the visit of Madame d'Orbigny to Polidori, he
ascended to the fourth story.
RIGOLETTE'S FIRST GRIEF.
Rigolette's chamber shone with coquettish nicety; a heavy silver
watch, placed on the chimney, marked four o'clock; the very cold
weather having passed, the economical workwoman had not put any fire
in her stove. Hardly could one see from the window any part of the
sky, the rough, irregular mass of roofs, garrets, and high chimneys,
on the other side of the street, forming the horizon.
Suddenly a ray of the sun, astray as it were, glancing between two
high roofs, came to light up, for some moments, with its purple tints,
the windows of the room.
Rigolette was working, seated near the casement, sewing, with her feet
on a stool, placed before her. Thus, as a noble amuses himself
sometimes, through caprice, in concealing the walls of a cottage by
the most splendid draperies, for a moment the setting sun illuminated
the little apartment with a thousand sparkling fires, cast its golden
rays on the gray and green chintz curtains, made the highly-polished
furniture sparkle, the waxed floor to glisten like brass, and
surrounded with gilded wire the bird-cage.
But, alas! notwithstanding the provoking joyousness of this ray of the
sun, its two canaries flew about with an unquiet air, and, contrary to
custom, did not sing.
It was because, contrary to custom, also, Rigolette did not sing. None
of the three warbled without the others. Almost always the fresh and
matinal song of one awoke the song of the others, who, more lazy, did
not leave their nests at so early an hour. Then it was a challenge, a
contest of clear, sonorous, brilliant, silvery notes, in which the
birds did not always have the advantage.
Rigolette sung no more, because, for the first time in her life, she
experienced a _sorrow_.
Until then, the sight of the misery of the Morels had often afflicted
her, but such scenes are too familiar to the poorer classes to make
any durable impression.
After having each day assisted these unfortunates as much as was in
her power, sincerely wept with them, and for them, the girl felt
affected, yet satisfied; affected with their misfortunes, and
satisfied with her conduct toward them. But this was no _sorrow_.
Soon the natural gayety of her character resumed its empire. And
besides, without egotism, but from comparison, she found herself so
happy in her little chamber, on leaving the horrible den of the
Morels, that her ephemeral sadness was soon dissipated.
Before we inform the reader of the cause of the first grief of
Rigolette, we wish to assure him completely as to the virtue of this
young girl. We regret to use the word virtue--a grave, pompous, and
solemn word, which always carries along with it ideas of a grievous
sacrifice, of a painful contest with the passions, austere meditations
on the end of things here below. Such was not the virtue of Rigolette.
She had neither struggled nor meditated. She had worked, laughed, and
It depended on a question of time. She had no leisure to be in love.
Before all--gay, industrious, managing--order, work, gayety, had,
unknown to her, defended, sustained, and saved her. Perhaps this
morality will be found light, easy, and joyous; but what matters the
cause, provided the effect subsists? What matters the direction of the
roots, if the flower blooms brilliant and perfumed. But let us descend
from our Utopian sphere, and return to the cause of Rigolette's first
Except Germain, a good and serious young man, the neighbors of the
grisette had taken, at first, her familiarity and neighborly kindness
for very significant encouragement; but these gentlemen had been
obliged to acknowledge, with as much surprise as vexation, that they
found in Rigolette an amiable and gay companion for their Sunday
recreations, a kind neighbor, and "nice little girl," but nothing
more. Their surprise and their vexation quailed by degrees to the
frank and charming disposition of the grisette, and her neighbors were
proud on Sunday to have on their arm a pretty girl who did them honor
(Rigolette cared little for appearances), and who only cost the
partaking of their modest pleasures, which her presence and
sprightliness enhanced. Besides, the dear girl was so easily
contented; in the days of penury she dined so well and so gayly on a
piece of hot cake, nipped with all the force of her little white
teeth; after which she amused herself so much with a walk on the
boulevards or streets.
Francois Germain alone founded no foolish hopes on the girl's
familiarity. Either from penetration or delicacy of mind, he saw at
once all that could be agreeable in the mode of living offered by
Rigolette. That which, of course, would happen, happened. He became
desperately in love with his neighbor, without daring to speak of this
love. Far from imitating his predecessors, who, soon convinced of the
vanity of their pursuits, had consoled themselves elsewhere, Germain
had deliciously enjoyed his intimacy with the girl, passing with her
not only Sundays, but every evening that he was not occupied.
During these long hours, Rigolette had conducted herself, as always,
lively and gay; Germain tender, attentive, serious, and often a little
melancholy. This sadness was the only inconvenience; for his manners,
naturally uncommon, could not be compared to the ridiculous
pretensions of Girandeau, the traveling clerk, nor to the noisy
eccentricities of Cabrion; M. Girandeau by his inexhaustible
loquacity, and the painter by his hilarity not less so, had the
advantage of Germain, whose gentle gravity awed a little his lively
Rigolette had not, until now, any marked preference for either of her
three lovers; but as she was not wanting in judgment, she found that
Germain alone united all the qualities necessary to make a reasonable
These antecedents disposed of, we will say why Rigolette was sad, and
why neither she nor her birds sung.
Her round, blooming face was rather pale; her large black eyes,
ordinarily bright and sparkling, were cast down and dull; her
expression showed unaccustomed fatigue. She had worked more than half
the night. From time to time she regarded sadly a letter placed open
upon a table beside her; this letter was from Germain, and contained
"MADEMOISELLE.--The place whence I write will tell you the extent of
my misfortune. I am incarcerated as a thief--I am criminal in the eyes
of the world, though I dare to write to you. It would be frightful for
me to think that you also looked upon me as a degraded and guilty
being. I implore you, do not condemn me before having read this
letter. If you cast me off, this last blow will overwhelm me quite.
"For some time past I have not lived in the Rue du Temple, but I knew
through poor Louise that the Morel family, in whom we were so much
interested, were more and more wretched. Alas I my pity for these poor
people has ruined me! I do not repent it, but my fate is a cruel one.
Yesterday, I remained quite late at M. Ferrand's, occupied with some
pressing writings. In the room where I worked was a desk; each day my
patron locked up in it the work I had done. This night he appeared
restless and agitated; he said to me, 'Do not go until these accounts
are finished; you will place them in the desk, of which I leave you
the key,' and he went out.
"My work being finished I opened the drawer to put it away;
mechanically my eyes fell upon an open letter, where I read the name
of Jerome Morel, the artisan. I confess, seeing that it referred to
that unfortunate man, I had the indiscretion to read this letter; I
thus learned that the artisan was to be arrested the next morning for
a note of thirteen hundred francs, at the suit of M. Ferrand, who,
under an assumed name, would cause him to be imprisoned. This notice
was from the agent of my patron. I knew the situation of the family
well enough to foresee what a horrible blow this would be for them. I
was as sorry as I was indignant. Unfortunately, I saw in the same
drawer an open box containing some gold; there was about two thousand
francs. At this moment I heard Louise on the staircase; without
reflecting on the gravity of my action, profiting by the occasion
which chance offered, I took thirteen hundred francs; I went into the
passage and placed the money in the hand of Louise, telling her, 'Your
father is to be arrested to-morrow at daylight for thirteen hundred
francs: here they are; save him, but do not say you had this money
from me. M. Ferrand is a bad man.'
"You see, mademoiselle, my intention was good though my conduct was
culpable; I conceal nothing. Now hear my excuse.
"During a long time, by economy, I have saved and placed at a banker's
the small sum of fifteen hundred francs. About a week ago he notified
me that the term of his obligation toward me being arrived, he held my
funds subject to my order, if I did not wish them to remain with him.
"I thus possessed more than I took from the notary. I could the next
day replace it; but the cashier of the bank did not reach his office
before twelve o'clock, and at daybreak they were to arrest poor Morel.
It was necessary to place him in a situation to pay, otherwise, even
if I were to go and take him from prison, the arrest might have
already killed his wife; besides, the very considerable expenses
attending this would have been at the cost of the artisan. You
comprehend that all these misfortunes would not have happened, if I
could have returned the thirteen hundred francs before M. Ferrand
discovered their loss.
"I left the house, no longer under the impression of indignation and
pity which had made me act in this manner. I reflected on all the
dangers of my position; a thousand fears assailed me. I knew the
severity of the notary; he could, after my departure, return and go to
the bureau, find out the _theft_; for in his eyes, to the eyes of
everybody, it is a theft.
"These ideas quite upset me; although it was late, I ran to the
banker's to beg him to return my money instantly. I should have
explained this extraordinary demand; afterward I would have returned
to M. Ferrand, and replaced the money I had taken.
"The banker, by a fatal chance, had been for two days at Belleville,
his country house. I awaited the daylight with increasing agony; at
length I arrived at Belleville. Everything seemed leagued against me;
the banker had left for Paris; I flew back, I got my money; I went to
M. Ferrand's--all was discovered.
"But this is only a part of my misfortunes; now the notary accuses me
of having stolen fifteen thousand francs in notes, which were, he
said, in the drawer with the two thousand francs in gold. It is a
false accusation, an infamous lie. I avow myself guilty of the first
charge; but by all that is sacred, I swear to you, mademoiselle, that
I am innocent of the second. I have seen no bills in the drawer; there
was only the gold, as I said before.
"Such is the truth, mademoiselle; I am under the charge of an
overwhelming accusation, and yet I affirm that you ought to think me
incapable of telling a falsehood. But who will believe me? Alas! as M.
Ferrand told me, he who has stolen a small sum can easily steal a
large one, and his words deserve no confidence.
"I have always found you so good and devoted to the unfortunate,
mademoiselle, I know you are so faithful and frank, that your heart
will guide you, I hope, in the appreciation of the truth--I ask
nothing more. Give faith to my words, and you will find me as much to
be pitied as blamed; for, I repeat, my intention was good;
circumstances impossible to foresee have ruined me.
"Oh, Mile. Rigolette, I am very unhappy. If you knew what kind of
people I am destined to live among until the day of my trial!
Yesterday they took me to a place which is called the station-house of
the Prefecture of Police. I cannot tell you what I experienced when,
after having mounted a gloomy staircase, I arrived before a door with
an iron wicket, which they opened, and soon closed upon me. I was so
much troubled, that at first I could distinguish nothing. A hot,
disagreeable air struck me in the face; I heard a great noise of
voices mingled with sinister laughs, accents of rage and low songs; I
held myself immovable near the door, looking at the stone flaggings,
daring neither to advance nor raise my eyes, believing that every one
was looking at me. They did not trouble themselves about me; one
prisoner more or less is of no consequence to them; at length I raised
my head. What horrible figures! how many clothed in rags! how many
ragged clothes soiled with mud! All the externals of vice and misery.
There were about forty or fifty, seated, standing, or lying on benches
fastened to the walls; vagabonds, robbers, assassins, in fine, all who
had been arrested that night or day.
"When they perceived me, I found a sad consolation in seeing that they
did not recognize me as one of their fellows. Some of them looked at
me with an insolent and jeering air; then they began to talk among
themselves, in a low tone, and in a hideous language I did not
comprehend. At the end of a short time, the most audacious of them
came and struck me on the shoulder, and asked me for some money to pay
"I gave them some money, in hopes to purchase repose; it was not
enough; they required more; I refused. Then several of them surrounded
me, loading me with threats and insults; they were about to throw
themselves upon me, when happily, attracted by the noise, a keeper
entered. I complained to him; he made them give up the money I had
given them, and told me that, if I wished, I could, for a small
amount, be put alone in a cell. I accepted with gratitude, and left
these bandits in the midst of their threats for the future. The keeper
placed me in a cell, where I passed the rest of the night. It is hence
that I write to you this morning, Mlle. Rigolette. Immediately after
my examination, I shall be conducted to another prison, which is
called La Force, where I fear I shall meet many of my lock-up
companions. The keeper, interested by my grief and tears, has promised
me to send you this letter, although it is strictly forbidden. I
expect, Mlle. Rigolette, a last service of our old friendship, if now
you should not blush at this friendship.
"If you are willing to grant my demand, here it is.
"You will receive with this a small key, and a line for the porter of
the house where I reside, Boulevard Saint Denis, No. 11. I inform him
that you can dispose of all that belongs to me, and that he must obey
your orders. He will show you my room. You will have the kindness to
open my secretary with the key I send you; you will find a large
envelope covering many papers, which I wish you to take care of; one
of them was destined for you, as you will see by the address; others
have been written concerning you, in our happy days. Do not be angry--
you never else would have known it.
"I beg you also to take the small sum of money which is in the
secretary, also a sachet of satin, inclosing a little cravat of orange
silk, that you wore on our last Sunday walk, and gave me the day I
left the Rue du Temple. I wish that, with the exception of some linen,
which you will send to La Force, you would sell the furniture and
effects I possess: acquitted or condemned, I shall not be the less
ruined and obliged to leave Paris. Where shall I go? What are my
resources? Heaven only knows!
"Madame Bouvard, as saleswoman in the Temple, who has already sold and
bought for me, will doubtless arrange all this: she's an honest woman;
this arrangement will spare you much embarrassment, for I know how
precious your time is.
"I have paid my rent in advance; I beg you to give a small gratuity to
the porter. Pardon me, mademoiselle, for imposing on you with these
details, but you are the only person in the world to whom I dare and
can address myself.
"I might have asked this service from one of the clerks at M.
Ferrand's, but I feared his discretion respecting sundry papers: many
of them concerning you, as I have already told you; others have
reference to some sad events of my life.
"Oh! believe me, Mlle. Rigolette, if you grant it, this last proof of
your former affection will be my sole consolation in the great trouble
which crushes me; in spite of myself, I hope you will not refuse me.
"I ask, also, permission to write you sometimes--it will be so
soothing, so precious, to be able to pour out, to disclose to a
benevolent heart, the sorrows which overwhelm me.
"Alas! I am alone in the world; no one feels any interest in me. This
isolated condition was always painful--judge now what it is!
"And yet I am honest; and I have the consciousness of never having
injured any one; of having always, even at the peril of my life, shown
my aversion for evil, as you will see by the papers, which I beg you
to keep and read. But when I say this, who will believe me? M. Ferrand
is respected by everybody; his reputation is well established; he will
crush me; I resign myself, in advance, to my fate.
"In brief, Mlle. Rigolette, if you believe me, you will not have, I
hope, any contempt for me; you will pity me, and you will sometimes
think of a sincere friend; then, if I cause you much--much pity,
perhaps you will push your generosity so far as to come, some day-_a
Sunday_ (alas! what recollections does not the word awaken)--to
brave the reception-room of my prison.
"But, no, no! to see you in such a place--I never can dare. Yet you
are so kind, that--
"I am obliged to stop, and send you this, with the key and the note to
the porter, which I shall write in haste, as the keeper has come to
tell me I am to be taken before the judge. Adieu, adieu, Mlle.
"Do not cast me off. I have no hope but in you--in you alone.
"P.S.--If you answer address your letter to the prison of La Force."
The reader can now comprehend the cause of the first grief of La
Rigolette. Her excellent heart was profoundly affected at a calamity
of which she had not had until then any suspicion. She believed
implicitly in the entire veracity of the story of Germain. Not very
severe, she even found that her old neighbor enormously exaggerated
his fault. To save an unfortunate father, he had taken the money,
which he knew he could return. This action, in the eyes of the
grisette, was only generous.
By one of those inconsistencies natural to women, and above all, to
those of her class, this girl, who until then had felt for Germain, as
for her other neighbors, a joyous and cordial friendship, now
acknowledged a decided preference.
As soon as she knew he was unfortunate, unjustly accused, and a
prisoner, she thought no more of his rivals.
With Rigolette it was not yet love; it was a lively, sincere
affection, filled with commiseration and resolute devotion: a very new
sentiment for her, from the bitterness which was joined to it. Such
was her mental situation when Rudolph entered her room, after having
discreetly knocked at the door.
"Good-day, my neighbor," said Rudolph; "I hope I do not disturb you?"
"No, neighbor; I am, on the contrary, very glad to see you, for I have
"Why do I find you pale? you seem to have been weeping!"
"I should think I have wept! There is reason for it. Poor Germain!
Here, read;" and Rigolette handed to Rudolph the letter. "If this is
not enough to break one's heart! You told me you were interested in
him. Now is the time to show it," added she, while Rudolph read
attentively. "Is this villain, Ferrand, thirsting for the blood of
everybody? First it was Louise, now it is Germain. Oh! I am not cruel;
but if some misfortune should happen to this notary I should be
content! To accuse such an honest young man of having stolen one
thousand three hundred francs! Germain! truth and honesty itself, and
then so regular, so mild, so sad--is he not to be pitied, among all
these scoundrels-in prison! Oh! M. Rudolph, from to-day I begin to see
that all is not _couleur de rose_ in life."
"And what do you mean to do my neighbor?"
"Do? why, everything he asks, and as soon as possible. I should have
already been off, but for this work, which I must finish and take to
the Rue Saint Honore as I go to Germain's room to get the papers he
speaks of. I have passed a part of the night in working, so as to gain
some hours in advance. I am going to have so many things to do,
besides my work, that I must get in readiness. In the first place,
Madame Morel wishes me to see Louise in her prison? It is, perhaps,
very difficult, but I will try. Unfortunately, I do not know who to
address myself to."
"I have thought of that."
"You, my neighbor?"
"Here is a magistrate's order."
"What happiness! Can you not get me one also for the prison of this
unfortunate Germain? it will give him so much pleasure."
"I will give you, also, the means to see Germain."
"Oh, thank you, M. Rudolph."
"You are not afraid, then, to go to the prison?"
"Very certain my heart will beat the first time. But never mind. When
Germain was happy, did I not always find him ready to anticipate all
my wishes? To take me to the theater, or a walk? to read to me at
night? to assist me in arranging my flowers? to wax my floor? Well!
now he is in trouble, it is my turn; a poor little mouse like me can't
do much, I know; but all I can do I will do--he can count on it; he
shall see whether I am a good friend! M. Rudolph, there is one thing
that vexes me; it is his suspicion--he believes me capable of
despising him! I ask you why? This old miser of a notary accuses him
of theft; but what is that to me? I know it is not true. The letter of
Germain proves as clear as day that he is innocent, whom I should
never have thought guilty. Only to see him, to know him, shows he is
incapable of a wrong action. One must be as wicked as M. Ferrand to
maintain such false assertions."
"Bravo, neighbor, I like your indignation!"
"Oh! stop--I wish I was a man, to go see this notary, and say to him:
'Oh! you maintain that Germain has robbed you; well, look here, take
that, you old liar, he won't steal this from you.' And I'd beat him to
"You'd have very expeditious justice," said Rudolph, smiling at the
animation of Rigolette.
"It is so revolting; and, as Germain says in his letter, everybody
will take the master's part against him, because his master is rich,
and thought much of, while Germain is a poor young man without
protection; unless you come to his assistance, M. Rudolph, who know so
many benevolent persons. Can nothing be done?"
"He must wait for his trial. Once acquitted, as I think he will be,
numerous proofs of interest will be shown him, I assure you. But
listen, my neighbor. I know from experience that I can count on your
"Oh, yes, M. Rudolph. I have never been a babbler."
"Well, no one must know, even Germain himself must be ignorant that he
has friends who are watching over him, for he has friends."
"Very powerful and very devoted."
"It would give him so much courage to know it."
"Doubtless; but perhaps he could not keep the secret. Then, M.
Ferrand, alarmed, would be on his guard, his suspicions aroused; and
as he is very cunning, he would make it difficult to get at him; which
would be lamentable, for not only must the innocence of Germain be
proved, but his calumniator unmasked."
"I understand you, M. Rudolph."
"Just so with Louise; I bring you this permission to see her, so that
you can tell her not to speak to any one of what she had revealed to
me. She will know what this means."
"That is sufficient, M. Rudolph."
"In a word, Louise must be careful not to complain in her prison of
the conduct of her master; it is very important. But she must conceal
nothing from the lawyer who will be sent by me to prepare for her
defense; recommend all this to her."
"Be quite easy, neighbor; I will forget nothing. I have a good memory.
But I speak of kindness, when it is you who are good and generous! If
any one's in trouble, you are there at once!"
"I have told you, neighbor, I am only a poor clerk. When, in roving
about, I find good people who deserve protection, I inform a
benevolent person who has all confidence in me, and they are
"Where do you lodge, now that you have given up your room to the
"I lodge--in furnished lodgings."
"Oh, how I detest that. To be where everybody else has been--it is as
if everybody had been in your own room."
"I am only there at night, and then--"
"I conceive--it is less disagreeable. My home, M. Rudolph, rendered me
so happy; I had arranged a life so tranquil, that I should not have
believed it possible to have a sorrow. Yet you see! No, I cannot tell
you what a blow the misfortunes of Germain have caused me. I have seen
the Morels and others--much to be pitied, it is true; but misery is
misery. Among poor folks they expect it; it does not surprise them,
and they help one another as they can. But to see a poor young man,
honest, and good, who has been your friend for a long time, accused of
theft, and imprisoned pell-mell with rogues and cut-throats! Oh, M.
Rudolph! it is true I have no strength against this; it is a
misfortune I have never thought of; it upsets me."
Rigolette's large eyes filled with tears.
"Courage, courage! your gayety will return when your friend is
"Oh, he must be acquitted! They will only have to read to the judges
the letter which he has written me--that will be enough, will it not,
"In reality, this simple and touching letter has all the marks of
truth. You must let me take a copy; it will be useful in his defense."
"Certainly, M. Rudolph. If I did not write like a real cat, in spite
of the lessons Germain gave me, I should propose to copy it for you;
but my writing is so coarse, so crooked, and besides, there are so
many--so many faults."
"I only ask you to lend me this letter until tomorrow."
"There it is, neighbor; but you will take good care of it? I have
burned all the _billets doux_ which M. Cabrion and M. Girandeau
wrote me at the commencement of our acquaintance, with bleeding hearts
and doves on the top of the paper; but this poor letter of Germain, I
will take good care of; it and others also, if he writes them. For, in
truth M. Rudolph, it is a proof in my favor that he asks these little
"Without doubt it proves that you are the best little friend that one
can have. But I reflect--instead of going by and by alone to M.
Germain's, shall I accompany you?"
"With pleasure, neighbor. Night approaches, and I prefer not to be
alone in the streets after dark, especially as I have to go near the
Palais Royal. But to go so far will be tiresome and fatiguing to you,
"Not at all; we will take a hack."
"Really! Oh, how it would amuse me to go in a carriage, if I had not
so much sorrow. And I must have sorrow, for this is the first day
since I lived here that I have not sung. My birds are all astonished.
Poor little things! they do not know what it means; two or three times
Papa Cretu has sung a little to entice me. I wished to amuse him; but
after a moment I began to weep; Ramonette then tried, but I could
answer no more."
[Illustration: MENACED IN PRISON]
"What singular names you have given your birds--Papa Cretu, Ramonette?"
"M. Rudolph, my birds are the joy of my solitude; they are my best
friends. I have given them the names of good people who were the joy
of my childhood, my best friends. Without reckoning, to finish the
resemblance, that Papa Cretu and Ramonette were as gay and tuneful as
the birds of heaven. My adopted parents were thus called. They are
ridiculous names for birds, I know; but it only concerns me. Now, it
was on this very subject that I saw Germain had a good heart."
"He had, eh?"
"Certainly; M. Girandeau and M. Cabrion--M. Cabrion, above all--were
forever making jokes on the names of my birds. 'To call a canary Papa
Cretu, did you ever?' M. Cabrion never finished, and then he would
laugh--such laughs. 'If it were a cock,' said he, 'very well, you I
might call it Cretu (combed). It is the same with the other one;
Ramonette sounds too much like Ramoneur (chimney sweep).' At length he
made me so angry that I would not go out with him for two Sundays,
just to teach him; and I told him, very seriously, that if he
recommenced his jokes, which were unpleasant to me, we should never go
out together again."
"What a courageous resolution!"
"It cost me a good deal, M. Rudolph--I looked so eagerly for my Sunday
excursions. I had a sorrowful heart, I tell you, to remain home all
alone of a fine day; but never mind, I preferred rather to sacrifice
my Sunday than to continue to hear M. Cabrion make fun of what I
respected. Except for this, and the ideas attached to it, I would have
preferred to give other names to my birds. There is, above all, one
name I should have loved to adoration--Humming-Bird. Well, I cannot do
it, because I never shall call my birds otherwise than Cretu and
Ramonette; it would seem to me that I sacrificed them, that I forgot
my kind adopted parents-wouldn't it, M. Rudolph?"
"You are right-a thousand times right. Germain did not make fun of
"On the contrary; only the first time it appeared droll to him, as to
every one else--it is very simple; but when I explained my reasons, as
I had explained them to M. Cabrion, the tears came into his eyes. From
that day I said, `M. Germain has a kind heart; he has nothing against
him but his sadness.' And do you see, M. Rudolph, that he has brought
me misfortune to reproach him for his sadness. Then I did not
comprehend how one could be sad. Now I comprehend it but too well. But
now my work is finished, will you give me my shawl, neighbor It is not
cold enough for a cloak, is it?"
"We shall go in a carriage, and I will bring you back."
"It is true, we shall go and return quicker; it will be so much time
"But, on reflection, how are you going to manage? Your work will
suffer from your visit to the prisons?"
"Oh no, no! I have laid my plans. In the first place, I have my
Sundays; I will go and see Louise and Germain on these days--it will
serve me for a walk and recreation; then, in the week, I shall go to
the prison once or twice; each time will cost me three good hours a
day. Well, to make up for this, I will work one hour more each day,
and I will go to bed at twelve o'clock instead of eleven; that will
give me a clear gain of seven or eight hours each week, which I can
use in going to see Louise and Germain. You see, I am richer than I
appear to be," added Rigolette, smiling.
"And do you not fear this will fatigue you?"
"Bah! I can do it--one can do anything; and, besides, it will not last
"Here is your shawl, neighbor. I shall not be so indiscreet as to
bring my lips too close to this charming neck."
"Oh, neighbor! take care, you prick me."
"Come, the pin is crooked."
"Well, take another--there, on the pincushion. Oh, I forget! Will you
do me a favor, neighbor?"
"Make me a good pen, very coarse, so that I can, on my return, write
to poor Germain that his commissions are executed. He shall have my
letter to-morrow morning early."
"And where are your pens?"
"There, on the table; the knife is in the drawer. Stop, I am going to
light my candle, for it grows quite dark."
"I shall want it to mend the pen."
"And, besides, I can't see to tie my bonnet."
Rigolette took a match, and lit an end of candle, which was in a very
"Dear me! wax candle, neighbor--what luxury!"
"The little I burn costs me a trifle more than a tallow candle, but it
is so much neater."
"Not much dearer?"
"Oh, no. I buy these ends of candles by the pound, and a half-pound
serves me a month."
"But," said Rudolph, mending the pen carefully, while the grisette
tied her bonnet before the glass, "I see no preparations for your
"I haven't a shadow of hunger. I took a cup of milk this morning; I
will take another to-night, with a little bread! I shall have enough."
"Will you not come and eat dinner with me when we come away from
"I thank you, neighbor; I have my heart too full; another time with
pleasure. What do you say to the evening of the day that poor Germain
comes out of prison? I invite myself, and afterward we will go to the
play. Is it agreed?"
"It is, neighbor; I assure you that I shall not forget this
engagement. But to-day you refuse me?"
"Yes, M. Rudolph; I should be too stupid to-day; besides, it would
take up too much time. Only think--it is now, if ever, that I must not
"Come, I will give up this pleasure for to-day."
"Here, take my bundle, neighbor; go before, I will shut the door."
"Here is an excellent pen--now, your bundle."
"Take care you don't tumble it--it is poult de soie--it shows the
folds--hold it in your hand--that way--lightly. Well, pass on, I will
Rudolph descended, preceded by Rigolette. As they passed the lodge
they saw Pipelet, who, with his arms hanging down, advanced toward
them from the bottom of the alley. In one hand he held the sign, which
announced to the public that he would "deal in friendship" with
Cabrion; and in the other, the portrait of the infernal painter.
The despair of Alfred was so overwhelming that his chin rested on his
breast, and nothing could be seen but the top of his hat. On seeing
him approach, with his head down, toward Rudolph and Rigolette, one
would have said it was a goat or a negro butt preparing for combat.
Anastasia appeared on the threshold, and cried at the sight of her
husband. "Well, old darling! here you are, hey? What did the
commissary say to you? Alfred, pay attention; now you are going to
poke yourself against my prince of lodgers. Who has stolen your eyes?
Pardon, M. Rudolph; that beggar Cabrion stupefies him more and more--
he certainly will make him turn to a jackass, my poor love! Alfred,
At this voice, so dear to his heart, Pipelet raised his head; his
features were imprinted with a melancholy bitterness.
"What did the commissary say to you?" repeated Anastasia.
"Anastasia, we must collect the little that we possess, clasp our
friends in our arms, pack our trunks, and expatriate ourselves from
France-from my 'belle France!'-for, sure now of impunity, the monster
is capable of pursuing me everywhere."
"Then, the commissary!"
"The commissary!" cried Pipelet, with savage indignation; "the
commissary laughed in my face."
"Your face! an aged man, who has so respectable an air, that you'd
look as stupid as a goose if one did not know your virtues."
"Well, notwithstanding that, when I had respectfully deposed before
him my heap of complaints and griefs against this infernal Cabrion,
this magistrate, after looking at and laughing--yes, laughing--I say,
laughing indecently--over the sign and portrait which I produced as
justificatory of my complaint, replied, 'My good man, this Cabrion is
a funny fellow--a jester--pay no attention to his jokes. I advise you
now, in a friendly manner, to laugh at them, for really there is
cause.' 'To laugh!' cried I; 'to laugh! but grief is devouring me--my
existence is imbittered by those scoundrels--they pester me--they will
cause me to lose my reason--I demand that they be locked up--exiled,
at least from my street.' At these words the commissary smiled, and
obligingly showed me the door. I understood this gesture of the
magistrate, and here I am."
"Magistrate of nothing at all!" cried Mrs. Pipelet.
"All is finished! Anastasia, all is finished! No more hope! There is
no longer any justice in France! I am atrociously sacrificed!" and by
way of peroration, Pipelet threw, with all his strength, the portrait
and sign to the end of the alley. Rudolph and Rigolette had, in the
obscurity, slightly smiled at Pipelet's despair. After having
addressed some words of consolation to Alfred, whom Anastasia was
calming in the best way she could, the "prince of lodgers" left the
house of the Rue du Temple with Rigolette, and got into a hackney
coach to go to the residence of Francois Germain.
Francois Germain lived on the Boulevard Saint Denis, No. 11. During
the long ride from the Rue du Temple to the Rue Saint Honore, where
the woman lived who supplied Rigolette with work, Rudolph was able to
appreciate still more the girl's excellent feelings. Like all
characters instinctively good and devoted, she was not conscious of
the delicacy and generosity of her conduct, which seemed to her quite
Nothing would have been easier for Rudolph than to have made a liberal
provision for Rigolette, as well for her present wants as the future,
so that she could have gone charitably to console Louise and Germain,
without counting the time she lost in these visits from her work, her
only resource; but the prince feared to weaken the merit of the
grisette's devotion in rendering it too easy; quite decided to
recompense the rare and charming qualities which he had discovered in
her, he wished to follow her to the end of this new and interesting
trial. At the end of an hour the carriage, on its return from her Rue
Saint Honore, stopped on the Boulevard Saint Denis, No. 11, before a
house of modest appearance.
Rudolph assisted Rigolette to alight; she entered the porter's lodge
and communicated to him the intentions of Germain, without forgetting
the promised gratuity. From his amenity of disposition, the clerk was
everywhere loved. The _confrere_ of Pipelet was much concerned to
learn that the house should lose so honest and quiet a lodger: such
were his expressions. The grisette, furnished with a light, rejoined
her companion; the porter was to follow, after a little while, to
receive instructions. The chamber of Germain was on the fourth story.
On arriving at the door, Rigolette said to Rudolph, giving him the
key, "Here, neighbor, open--my hand trembles too much. You will laugh
at me; but, in thinking that poor Germain will never return here, it
seems to me I am about to enter a chamber of the dead."
"Come, be reasonable now, neighbor--have no such ideas!"
"I was wrong, but it was stronger than I;" and she wiped away a tear.
Without being as much moved as his companion, Rudolph nevertheless
experienced a painful impression on entering the modest apartment. He
knew that the unfortunate young man must have passed many sad hours
in this solitude. Rigolette placed the light on a table. Nothing could be
more plain than the furniture of this sleeping-room, composed of a
bed, a chest of drawers, a secretary of black walnut, four straw-bottomed
chairs, and a table; white cotton curtains covered the windows and the
bed recess; the only ornaments on the mantelpiece were a decanter
and a glass. From the appearance of the bed, which was made, it
could be seen that Germain had thrown himself upon it without taking
off his clothes the night preceding his arrest.
"Poor fellow," said Rigolette, sadly, examining, with interest, the
interior of the chamber: "it is easy to see that lie no longer has me
for a neighbor. It is in order, but not neat; there is dust
everywhere, the curtains are smoked, the windows are dirty, the floor
is not washed. Oh! what a difference! Rue du Temple was not handsome,
but it was more gay, because everything shone with neatness, like my
"It was because you were there, to give your advice."
"But see, now," cried Rigolette, showing the bed, "he did not go to
rest the other night, so much was he disturbed. Look here! his
handkerchief, which he has left, has been steeped in tears. That is
plain to be seen;" and she took it, adding, "Germain has kept a little
orange silk cravat of mine, which I gave him when we were happy; I am
sure he will not be angry."
"On the contrary, he will be very happy at this proof of your
"Now let us think of serious matters; I will make a package of linen,
which I shall find in the drawers, to take to him in prison; Mother
Bouvard, whom I shall send here to-morrow, will manage the rest.
First, however, I'll open the secretary and take out the papers and
money which M. Germain begged me keep for him."
"But while I think of it," said Rudolph, "Louise Morel gave me,
yesterday, one thousand three hundred francs in gold, which Germain
had given her to pay the debt of her father, which I had already done;
I have this money; it belongs to Germain, since he has paid back the
notary; I will give it to you; you can add it to the rest."
"As you please, M. Rudolph; yet I would rather not have so large a sum
with me at home, there are so many robbers nowadays. Papers are very
well--there is nothing to fear; but money is dangerous."
"Perhaps you are right, neighbor; shall I take charge of this sum? If
Germain has need of anything, you must let me know at once. I will
leave you my address, and I will send you what he wants."
"I should not have dared to ask this service from you; it will be much
better, neighbor. I will give you also the money I shall receive from
the sale of his effects. Let us see the papers," said the girl,
opening the secretary and several drawers. "Ah, it is probably this.
Here is a large envelope. Oh, my gracious! look here, M. Rudolph, how
sad it is what's written on this." And she read, in a faltering tone:
"In case I should die a violent death, or otherwise, I beg the person
who should open this secretary to carry these papers to Mlle.
Rigolette, seamstress, Rue du Temple, No. 17."
"Can I break the seal, M. Rudolph?"
"Doubtless; does he not say that among these papers there is one
particularly addressed to you?"
The girl broke the seal. Several papers were inclosed; one of them,
bearing the superscription, "_To Mademoiselle Rigolette_"
contained these words: "Mademoiselle--When you read this letter, I
shall no longer exist. If, as I fear, I die a violent death, in
falling a victim to willful murder, some information, under the title
of _Notes of my Life_ may give a clew to my assassins."
"Ah! M. Rudolph," said Rigolette, "I am no longer astonished that he
was so sad. Poor Germain! always pursued by such ideas!"
"Yes; he must have been much afflicted. But his worst days are over,
"I hope so, M. Rudolph. But, however, to be in prison, accused of
"Be comforted. Once his innocence recognized, instead of falling into
an isolated state, he will find friends. You, in the first place; then
a beloved mother, from whom he has been separated since his
"His mother! He has still a mother?"
"Yes. She thinks him lost to her. Judge of her joy when she will see
him again. Do not speak to him of his mother. I confide this secret to
you, because you interest yourself so generously in his favor."
"I thank you, M. Rudolph; you may be assured I will keep your secret,"
and Rigolette continued the reading of the letter:
"If you will, mademoiselle, look over these notes, you will see that I
have been all my life very unhappy, except during the time I passed
with you. What I should never have dared to tell you, you will find
written here, entitled '_My sole days of happiness._'
"Almost every evening, on leaving you, I thus poured out the consoling
thoughts that your affection inspired, and which alone tempered the
bitterness of my life. What was friendship when with you, became love
when absent from you. I have concealed this until this moment, when I
shall be no more for you than perhaps a sad souvenir. My destiny was
so unhappy, that I should never have spoken to you of this sentiment;
although sincere and profound, it would only have made you unhappy.
"One wish alone remains to be fulfilled, and I hope that you will
accomplish it. I have seen with what admirable courage you work, and
how much method and economy was necessary for you to live on the small
amount you earn so industriously. Often, without telling, you, I have
trembled in thinking that a malady, caused, perhaps, by excess of
labor, might reduce you to a situation so frightful that I could not
even think of it without alarm. It is very grateful to me to think
that I can at least spare you the horrors, and, perhaps, in a great
degree, the miseries, which you, in the thoughtlessness of youth, do
not foresee, happily."
"What does he mean, M. Rudolph?" said Rigolette, astonished.
"Continue, we shall see."
"I know on how little you can live, and what a resource the smallest
sum would be to you in a time of difficulty. I am very poor, but, by
economy, I have set aside one thousand five hundred francs, deposited
at a banker's; it is all that I possess. By my will, which you will
find here, I bequeath it to you; accept it from a friend, a good
brother, who is no more."
"Oh! M. Rudolph," said Rigolette, bursting into tears, and giving the
letter to the prince, "this gives me too much pain. Good Germain, thus
to think of me! Oh! what a heart! what an excellent heart!"
"Worthy and good young man!" replied Rudolph, with emotion. "But calm
yourself, my child. Germain is not dead; this anticipation will only
serve as a witness of his love for you."
"It is true. To be beloved by so good a young man is very flattering,
is it not, M. Rudolph?"
"And some day, perhaps, you will participate in this love?"
"M. Rudolph, it is very trying; poor Germain is so much to be pitied!
I'll put myself in his place--if at the moment when I thought myself
abandoned, despised by all the world, a person, a good friend, came to
me, still more kind than I could hope for--I should be so happy!"
After a moment's pause, Rigolette resumed with a sigh, "On the other
hand, we are both so poor, that perhaps it would not be reasonable.
Look here, M. Rudolph, I do not wish to think of that; perhaps I am
mistaken; but I will do all I can for Germain, as long as he remains
in prison. Once free, it will always be time enough to see if it is
love or friendship I feel for him; then if it is love, neighbor, it
will be love. But it grows late, M. Rudolph; will you collect these
papers, while I make up a bundle of linen? Oh! I forgot the sachet
inclosing the little orange cravat, which I have given him. It is in
this drawer, without a doubt. Oh! see how pretty it is, all
embroidered! Poor Germain has guarded it like a relic! I well remember
the last time I wore it, and when I gave it to him. He was so happy,
At this moment some one knocked at the door.
"Who is there?" demanded Rudolph.
"I want to speak to Madame Mathieu," answered a hoarse and husky