Part 17 out of 31
"M. Charlemagne with a woman! Oh, poor dear man!" said the greengrocer,
raising her hands to heaven; "if you saw him, with his greasy hat, his
old gray coat, his patched umbrella, and his simple face, he looks more
like a saint than anything else."
"But then, Mother Arsene, what does the saint do here, all alone for
hours, in that hole at the bottom of the court, where one can hardly see
"That's what I ask myself, my dovey, what can he be doing? It can't be
that he comes to look at his furniture, for he has nothing but a flock-
bed, a table, a stove, a chair, and an old trunk."
"Somewhat in the style of Philemon's establishment," said Rose-Pompon.
"Well, notwithstanding that, Rosey, he is as much afraid that any one
should come into his room, as if we were all thieves, and his furniture
was made of massy gold. He has had a patent lock put on the door, at his
own expense; he never leaves me his key; and he lights his fire himself,
rather than let anybody into his room."
"And you say he is old?"
"Yes, fifty or sixty."
"Just fancy, little viper's eyes, looking as if they had been bored with
a gimlet, in a face as pale as death--so pale, that the lips are white.
That's for his appearance. As for his character, the good old man's so
polite!--he pulls off his hat so often, and makes you such low bows, that
it is quite embarrassing."
"But, to come back to the point," resumed Rose-Pompon, "what can he do
all alone in those two rooms? If Cephyse should take the closet, on
Philemon's return, we may amuse ourselves by finding out something about
it. How much do they want for the little room?"
"Why, it is in such bad condition, that I think the landlord would let it
go for fifty or fifty-five francs a-year, for there is no room for a
stove, and the only light comes through a small pane in the roof."
"Poor Cephyse!" said Rose, sighing, and shaking her head sorrowfully.
"After having amused herself so well, and flung away so much money with
Jacques Rennepont, to live in such a place, and support herself by hard
work! She must have courage!"
"Why, indeed, there is a great difference between that closet and the
coach-and-four in which Cephyse came to fetch you the other day, with all
the fine masks, that looked so gay--particularly the fat man in the
silver paper helmet, with the plume and the top boots. What a jolly
"Yes, Ninny Moulin. There is no one like him to dance the forbidden
fruit. You should see him with Cephyse, the Bacchanal Queen. Poor
laughing, noisy thing!--the only noise she makes now is crying."
"Oh! these young people--these young people!" said the greengrocer.
"Easy, Mother Arsene; you were young once."
"I hardly know. I have always thought myself much the same as I am now."
"And your lovers, Mother Arsene?"
"Lovers! Oh, yes! I was too ugly for that--and too well taken care of."
"Your mother looked after you, then?"
"No, my girl; but I was harnessed."
"Harnessed!" cried Rose-Pompon, in amazement, interrupting the dealer.
"Yes,--harnessed to a water-cart, along with my brother. So, you see,
when we had drawn like a pair of horses for eight or ten hours a day, I
had no heart to think of nonsense."
"Poor Mother Arsene, what a hard life," said Rose-Pompon with interest.
"In the winter, when it froze, it was hard enough. I and my brother were
obliged to be rough-shod, for fear of slipping."
"What a trade for a woman! It breaks one's heart. And they forbid
people to harness dogs!" added Rose-Pompon, sententiously.
"Why, 'tis true," resumed Mother Arsene. "Animals are sometimes better
off than people. But what would you have? One must live, you know. As
you make your bed, you must lie. It was hard enough, and I got a disease
of the lungs by it--which was not my fault. The strap, with which I was
harnessed, pressed so hard against my chest, that I could scarcely
breathe: so I left the trade, and took to a shop, which is just to tell
you, that if I had had a pretty face and opportunity, I might have done
like so many other young people, who begin with laughter and finish--"
"With a laugh t'other side of the mouth--you would say; it is true,
Mother Arsene. But, you see, every one has not the courage to go into
harness, in order to remain virtuous. A body says to herself, you must
have some amusement while you are young and pretty--you will not always
be seventeen years old--and then--and then--the world will end, or you
will get married."
"But, perhaps, it would have been better to begin by that."
"Yes, but one is too stupid; one does not know how to catch the men, or
to frighten them. One is simple, confiding, and they only laugh at us.
Why, Mother Arsene, I am myself an example that would make you shudder;
but 'tis quite enough to have had one's sorrows, without fretting one's
self at the remembrance."
"What, my beauty! you, so young and gay, have had sorrows?"
"Ah, Mother Arsene! I believe you. At fifteen and a half I began to
cry, and never left off till I was sixteen. That was enough, I think."
"They deceived you, mademoiselle?"
"They did worse. They treated me as they have treated many a poor girl,
who had no more wish to go wrong than I had. My story is not a three
volume one. My father and mother are peasants near Saint-Valery, but so
poor--so poor, that having five children to provide for, they were
obliged to send me, at eight years old, to my aunt, who was a charwoman
here in Paris. The good woman took me out of charity, and very kind it
was of her, for I earned but little. At eleven years of age she sent me
to work in one of the factories of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. I don't
wish to speak, ill of the masters of these factories; but what do they
care, if little boys and girls are mixed up pell-mell with young men and
women of eighteen to twenty? Now you see, there, as everywhere, some are
no better than they should be; they are not particular in word or deed,
and I ask you, what art example for the children, who hear and see more
than you think for. Then, what happens? They get accustomed as they
grow older, to hear and see things, that afterwards will not shock them
"What you say there is true, Rose-Pompon. Poor children! who takes any
trouble about them?--not their father or mother, for they are at their
"Yes, yes, Mother Arsene, it is all very well; it is easy to cry down a
young girl that has gone wrong; but if they knew all the ins and outs,
they would perhaps pity rather than blame her. To come back to myself--
at fifteen years old I was tolerably pretty. One day I had something to
ask of the head clerk. I went to him in his private room. He told me he
would grant what I wanted, and even take me under his patronage, if I
would listen to him; and he began by trying to kiss me. I resisted.
Then he said to me:--'You refuse my offer? You shall have no more work;
I discharge you from the factory.'"
"Oh, the wicked man!" said Mother Arsene.
"I went home all in tears, and my poor aunt encouraged me not to yield,
and she would try to place me elsewhere. Yes--but it was impossible; the
factories were all full. Misfortunes never come single; my aunt fell
ill, and there was not a sou in the house; I plucked up my courage, and
returned to entreat the mercy of the clerk at the factory. Nothing would
do. `So much the worse,' said he; `you are throwing away your luck. If
you had been more complying, I should perhaps have married you.' What
could I do, Mother Arsene?--misery was staring me in the face; I had no
work; my aunt was ill; the clerk said he would marry me--I did like so
"And when, afterwards, you spoke to him about marriage?"
"Of course he laughed at me, and in six months left me. Then I wept all
the tears in my body, till none remained--then I was very ill--and then--
I console myself, as one may console one's self for anything. After some
changes, I met with Philemon. It is upon him that I revenge myself for
what others have done to me. I am his tyrant," added Rose-Pompon, with a
tragic air, as the cloud passed away which had darkened her pretty face
during her recital to Mother Arsene.
"It is true," said the latter thoughtfully. "They deceive a poor girl--
who is there to protect or defend her? Oh! the evil we do does not
always come from ourselves, and then--"
"I spy Ninny Moulin!" cried Rose-Pompon, interrupting the greengrocer,
and pointing to the other side of the street. "How early abroad! What
can he want with me?" and Rose wrapped herself still more closely and
modestly in her cloak.
It was indeed Jacques Dumoulin, who advanced with his hat stuck on one
side, with rubicund nose and sparkling eye, dressed in a loose coat,
which displayed the rotundity of his abdomen. His hands, one of which
held a huge cane shouldered like a musket, were plunged into the vast
pockets of his outer garment.
Just as he reached the threshold of the door, no doubt with the intention
of speaking to the portress, he perceived Rose-Pompon. "What!" he
exclaimed, "my pupil already stirring? That is fortunate. I came on
purpose to bless her at the rise of morn!"
So saying, Ninny Moulin advanced with open arms towards Rose-Pompon who
drew back a step.
"What, ungrateful child!" resumed the writer on divinity. "Will you
refuse me the morning's paternal kiss?"
"I accept paternal kisses from none but Philemon. I had a letter from
him yesterday, with a jar of preserves, two geese, a bottle of home-made
brandy, and an eel. What ridiculous presents! I kept the drink, and
changed the rest for two darling live pigeons, which I have installed in
Philemon's cabinet, and a very pretty dove-cote it makes me. For the
rest, my husband is coming back with seven hundred francs, which he got
from his respectable family, under pretence of learning the bass viol,
the cornet-a-piston, and the speaking trumpet, so as to make his way in
society, and a slap-up marriage--to use your expression--my good child."
"Well, my dear pupil, we will taste the family brandy, and enjoy
ourselves in expectation of Philemon and his seven hundred francs."
So saying, Ninny Moulin slapped the pockets of his waistcoat, which gave
forth a metallic sound, and added: "I come to propose to you to embellish
my life, to-day and to-morrow, and even the day after, if your heart is
"If the announcements are decent and fraternal, my heart does not say
"Be satisfied; I will act by you as your grandfather, your great-
grandfather, your family portrait. We will have a ride, a dinner, the
play, a fancy dress ball, and a supper afterwards. Will that suit you?"
"On condition that poor Cephyse is to go with us. It will raise her
"Well, Cephyse shall be of the party."
"Have you come into a fortune, great apostle?"
"Better than that, most rosy and pompous of all Rose-Pom, pons! I am
head editor of a religious journal; and as I must make some appearance in
so respectable a concern, I ask every month for four weeks in advance,
and three days of liberty. On this condition, I consent to play the
saint for twenty-seven days out of thirty, and to be always as grave and
heavy as the paper itself."
"A journal! that will be something droll, and dance forbidden steps all
alone on the tables of the cafes."
"Yes, it will be droll enough; but not for everybody. They are rich
sacristans, who pay the expenses. They don't look to money, provided the
journal bites, tears, burns, pounds, exterminates and destroys. On my
word of honor, I shall never have been in such a fury!" added Ninny
Moulin, with a loud, hoarse laugh. "I shall wash the wounds of my
adversaries with venom of the finest vintage, and gall of the first
For his peroration, Ninny Moulin imitated the pop of uncorking a bottle
of champagne--which made Rose-Pompon laugh heartily.
"And what," resumed she, "will be the name of your journal of
"It will be called `Neighborly Love.'"
"Come! that is a very pretty name."
"Wait a little! there is a second title."
"Let us hear it."
"`Neighborly Love; or, the Exterminator of the Incredulous, the
Indifferent, the Lukewarm, and Others,' with this motto from the great
Bossuet: `Those who are not for us are against us.'"
"That is what Philemon says in the battles at the Chaumiere, when he
shakes his cane."
"Which proves, that the genius of the Eagle of Meaux is universal. I
only reproach him for having been jealous of Moliere."
"Bah! actor's jealousy," said Rose-Pompon.
"Naughty girl!" cried Ninny Moulin, threatening her with his finger.
"But if you are going to exterminate Madame de la Sainte-Colombo, who is
somewhat lukewarm--how about your marriage?"
"My journal will advance it, on the contrary. Only think! editor-In-
chief is a superb position; the sacristans will praise, and push, and
support, and bless me; I shall get La-Sainte-Colombe--and then, what a
life I'll lead!"
At this moment, a postman entered the shop, and delivered a letter to the
greengrocer, saying: "For M. Charlemagne, post-paid!"
"My!" said Rose-Pompon; "it is for the little mysterious old man, who has
such extraordinary ways. Does it come from far?"
"I believe you; it comes from Italy, from Rome," said Ninny Moulin,
looking in his turn at the letter, which the greengrocer held in her
hand. "Who is the astonishing little old man of whom you speak?"
"Just imagine to yourself, my great apostle," said Rose-Pompon, "a little
old man, who has two rooms at the bottom of that court. He never sleeps
there, but comes from time to time, and shuts himself up for hours,
without ever allowing any one to enter his lodging, and without any one
knowing what he does there."
"He is a conspirator," said Ninny Moulin, laughing, "or else a comer."
"Poor dear man," said Mother Arsene, "what has he done with his false
money? He pays me always in sous for the bit of bread and the radish I
furnish him for his breakfast."
"And what is the name of this mysterious chap?" asked Dumoulin.
"M. Charlemagne," said the greengrocer. "But look, surely one speaks of
the devil, one is sure to see his horns."
"Where's the horns?"
"There, by the side of the house--that little old man, who walks with his
neck awry, and his umbrella under his arm."
"M. Rodin!" ejaculated Ninny Moulin, retreating hastily, and descending
three steps into the shop, in order not to be seen. Then he added. "You
say, that this gentleman calls himself--"
"M. Charlemagne--do you know him?" asked the greengrocer.
"What the devil does he do here, under a false name?" said Jacques
Dumoulin to himself.
"You know him?" said Rose-Pompon, with impatience. "You are quite
"And this gentleman has two rooms in this house, and comes here
mysteriously," said Jacques Dumoulin, more and more surprised.
"Yes," resumed Rose-Pompon; "you can see his windows from Philemon's
"Quick! quick! let me go into the passage, that I may not meet him," said
And, without having been perceived by Rodin, he glided from the shop into
the passage, and thence mounted to the stairs, which led to the apartment
occupied by Rose-Pompon.
"Good-morning, M. Charlemagne," said Mother Arsene to Rodin, who made his
appearance on the threshold. "You come twice in a day; that is right,
for your visits are extremely rare."
"You are too polite, my good lady," said Rodin, with a very courteous
bow; and he entered the shop of the greengrocer.
 There are, really, ordinances, full of a touching interest for the
canine race, which forbid the harnessing of dogs.
Rodin's countenance, when he entered Mother Arsene's shop, was expressive
of the most simple candor. He leaned his hands on the knob of his
umbrella, and said: "I much regret, my good lady, that I roused you so
early this morning."
"You do not come often enough, my dear sir, for me to find fault with
"How can I help it, my good lady? I live in the country, and only come
hither from time to time to settle my little affairs."
"Talking of that sir, the letter you expected yesterday has arrived this
morning. It is large, and comes from far. Here it is," said the
greengrocer, drawing it from her pocket; "it cost nothing for postage."
"Thank you, my dear lady," said Rodin, taking the letter with apparent
indifference, and putting it into the side-pocket of his great-coat,
which he carefully buttoned over.
"Are you going up to your rooms, sir?"
"Yes, my good, lady."
"Then I will get ready your little provisions," said Mother Arsene; "as
usual, I suppose, my dear sir?"
"Just as usual."
"It shall be ready in the twinkling of an eye, sir."
So saying, the greengrocer took down an old basket; after throwing into
it three or four pieces of turf, a little bundle of wood, and some
charcoal, she covered all this fuel with a cabbage leaf; then, going to
the further end of the shop, she took from a chest a large round loaf,
cut off a slice, and selecting a magnificent radish with the eye of a
connoisseur, divided it in two, made a hole in it, which she filled with
gray salt joined the two pieces together again, and placed it carefully
by the side of the bread, on the cabbage leaf which separated the
eatables from the combustibles. Finally, taking some embers from the
stove, she put them into a little earthen pot, containing ashes, which
she placed also in the basket.
Then, reascending to her top step, Mother Arsene said to Rodin: "Here is
your basket, sir."
"A thousand thanks, my good lady," answered Rodin, and plunging his hand
into the pocket of his trousers, he drew forth eight sous, which he
counted out only one by one to the greengrocer, and said to her, as he
carried off his store: "Presently, when I come down again, I will return
your basket as usual."
"Quite at your service, my dear sir, quite at your service," said Mother
Rodin tucked his umbrella under his left arm, took up the greengrocer's
basket with his right hand, entered the dark passage, crossed the little
court and mounted with light step to the second story of a dilapidated
building; there, drawing a key from his pocket, he opened a door, which
he locked carefully after him. The first of the two rooms which he
occupied was completely unfurnished, as for the second, it is impossible
to imagine a more gloomy and miserable den. Papering so much worn, torn
and faded, that no one could recognize its primitive color, bedecked the
walls. A wretched flock-bed, covered with a moth-fretted blanket; a
stool, and a little table of worm-eaten wood; an earthenware stove, as
cracked as old china; a trunk with a padlock, placed under the bed--such
was the furniture of this desolate hole. A narrow window, with dirty
panes, hardly gave any light to this room, which was almost deprived of
air by the height of the building in front; two old cotton pocket-
handkerchiefs, fastened together with pins, and made to slide upon a
string stretched across the window, served for curtains. The plaster of
the roof, coming through the broken and disjointed tiles, showed the
extreme neglect of the inhabitant of this abode. After locking his door,
Rodin threw his hat and umbrella on the bed, placed his basket on the
ground, set the radish and bread on the table, and kneeling down before
his stove, stuffed it with fuel, and lighted it by blowing with vigorous
lungs on the embers contained in his earthen pot.
When, to use the consecrated expression, the stove began to draw, Rodin
spread out the handkerchiefs, which served him for curtains; then,
thinking himself quite safe from every eye, he took from the side-pocket
of his great-coat the letter that Mother Arsene had given him. In doing
so, he brought out several papers and different articles; one of these
papers, folded into a thick and rumpled packet, fell upon the table, and
flew open. It contained a silver cross of the Legion of Honor, black
with time. The red ribbon of this cross had almost entirely lost its
original color. At sight of this cross, which he replaced in his pocket
with the medal of which Faringhea had despoiled Djalma, Rodin shrugged
his shoulders with a contemptuous and sardonic air; then, producing his
large silver watch, he laid it on the table by the side of the letter
from Rome. He looked at this letter with a singular mixture of suspicion
and hope, of fear, and impatient curiosity. After a moment's reflection,
he prepared to unseal the envelope; but suddenly he threw it down again
upon the table, as if, by a strange caprice, he had wished to prolong for
a few minutes that agony of uncertainty, as poignant and irritating as
the emotion of the gambler.
Looking at his watch, Rodin resolved not to open the letter, until the
hand should mark half-past nine, of which it still wanted seven minutes.
In one of those whims of puerile fatalism, from which great minds have
not been exempt, Rodin said to himself: "I burn with impatience to open
this letter. If I do not open it till half-past nine, the news will he
favorable." To employ these minutes, Rodin took several turns up and
down the room, and stood in admiring contemplation before two old prints,
stained with damp and age, and fastened to the wall by rusty nails. The
first of these works of art--the only ornaments with which Rodin had
decorated this hole--was one of those coarse pictures, illuminated with
red, yellow, green, and blue, such as are sold at fairs; an Italian
inscription announced that this print had been manufactured at Rome. It
represented a woman covered with rags, bearing a wallet, and having a
little child upon her knees; a horrible hag of a fortune-teller held in
her hands the hand of the little child, and seemed to read there his
future fate, for these words in large blue letters issued from her mouth:
"Sara Papa" (he shall be Pope).
The second of these works of art, which appeared to inspire Rodin with
deep meditations, was an excellent etching, whose careful finish and
bold, correct drawing, contrasted singularly with the coarse coloring of
the other picture. This rare and splendid engraving, which had cost
Rodin six louis (an enormous expense for him), represented a young boy
dressed in rags. The ugliness of his features was compensated by the
intellectual expression of his strongly marked countenance. Seated on a
stone, surrounded by a herd of swine, that he seemed employed in keeping,
he was seen in front, with his elbow resting on his knee, and his chin in
the palm of his hand. The pensive and reflective attitude of this young
man, dressed as a beggar, the power expressed in his large forehead, the
acuteness of his penetrating glance, and the firm lines of the mouth,
seemed to reveal indomitable resolution, combined with superior
intelligence and ready craft. Beneath this figure, the emblems of the
papacy encircled a medallion, in the centre of which was the head of an
old man, the lines of which, strongly marked, recalled in a striking
manner, notwithstanding their look of advanced age, the features of the
young swineherd. This engraving was entitled THE YOUTH of SIXTUS V.; the
color print was entitled The Prediction.
In contemplating these prints more and more nearly, with ardent and
inquiring eye, as though he had asked for hopes or inspirations from
them, Rodin had come so close that, still standing, with his right arm
bent behind his head, he rested, as it were, against the wall, whilst,
hiding his left hand in the pocket of his black trousers, he thus held
back one of the flaps of his olive great-coat. For some minutes, he
remained in this meditative attitude.
Rodin, as we have said, came seldom to this lodging; according to the
rules of his Order, he had till now lived with Father d'Aigrigny, whom he
was specially charged to watch. No member of the Society, particularly
in the subaltern position which Rodin had hitherto held, could either
shut himself in, or possess an article of furniture made to lock. By
this means nothing interferes with the mutual spy-system, incessantly
carried on, which forms one of the most powerful resources of the Company
of Jesus. It was on account of certain combinations, purely personal to
himself, though connected on some points with the interests of the Order,
that Rodin, unknown to all, had taken these rooms in the Rue Clovis. And
it was from the depths of this obscure den that the socius corresponded
directly with the most eminent and influential personages of the sacred
college. On one occasion, when Rodin wrote to Rome, that Father
d'Aigrigny, having received orders to quit France without seeing his
dying mother, had hesitated to set out, the socius had added, in form of
postscriptum, at the bottom of the letter denouncing to the General of
the Order the hesitation of Father d'Aigrigny:
"Tell the Prince Cardinal that he may rely upon me, but I hope for his
active aid in return."
This familiar manner of corresponding with the most powerful dignitary of
the Order, the almost patronizing tone of the recommendation that Rodin
addressed to the Prince Cardinal, proved that the socius, notwithstanding
his apparently subaltern position, was looked upon, at that epoch, as a
very important personage, by many of the Princes of the Church, who wrote
to him at Paris under a false name, making use of a cipher and other
customary precautions. After some moments passed in contemplation,
before the portrait of Sixtus V., Rodin returned slowly to the table, on
which lay the letter, which, by a sort of superstitious delay, he had
deferred opening, notwithstanding his extreme curiosity. As it still
wanted some minutes of half-past nine, Rodin, in order not to lose time,
set about making preparations for his frugal breakfast. He placed on the
table, by the side of an inkstand, furnished with pens, the slice of
bread and the radish; then seating himself on his stool, with the stove,
as it were, between his legs, he drew a horn-handled knife from his
pocket, and cutting alternately a morsel of bread and a morsel of radish,
with a sharp, well-worn blade, he began his temperate repast with a
vigorous appetite, keeping his eye fixed on the hand of his watch. When
it reached the momentous hour, he unsealed the envelope with a trembling
It contained two letters. The first appeared to give him little
satisfaction; for, after some minutes, he shrugged his shoulders, struck
the table impatiently with the handle of his knife, disdainfully pushed
aside the letter with the back of his dirty hand, and perused the second
epistle, holding his bread in one hand, and with the other mechanically
dipping a slice of radish into the gray salt spilt on a corner of the
table. Suddenly, Rodin's hand remained motionless. As he progressed in
his reading, he appeared more and more interested, surprised, and struck.
Rising abruptly, he ran to the window, as if to assure himself, by a
second examination of the cipher, that he was not deceived. The news
announced to him in the letter seemed to be unexpected. No doubt, Rodin
found that he had deciphered correctly, for, letting fall his arms, not
in dejection, but with the stupor of a satisfaction as unforeseen as
extraordinary, he remained for some time with his head down, and his eyes
fixed--the only mark of joy that he gave being manifested by a loud,
frequent, and prolonged respiration. Men who are as audacious in their
ambition, as they are patient and obstinate in their mining and
countermining, are surprised at their own success, when this latter
precedes and surpasses their wise and prudent expectations. Rodin was
now in this case. Thanks to prodigies of craft, address, and
dissimulation, thanks to mighty promises of corruption, thanks to the
singular mixture of admiration, fear, and confidence, with which his
genius inspired many influential persons, Rodin now learned from members
of the pontifical government, that, in case of a possible and probable
occurrence, he might, within a given time, aspire, with a good chance of
success, to a position which has too often excited the fear, the hate, or
the envy of many sovereigns, and which has in turn, been occupied by
great, good men, by abominable scoundrels, and by persons risen from the
lowest grades of society. But for Rodin to attain this end with
certainty, it was absolutely necessary for him to succeed in that
project, which he had undertaken to accomplish without violence, and only
by the play and the rebound of passions skillfully managed. The project
was: To secure for the Society of Jesus the fortune of the Rennepont
This possession would thus have a double and immense result; for Rodin,
acting in accordance with his personal views, intended to make of his
Order (whose chief was at his discretion) a stepping-stone and a means of
intimidation. When his first impression of surprise had passed away--an
impression that was only a sort of modesty of ambition and self-
diffidence, not uncommon with men of really superior powers--Rodin looked
more coldly and logically on the matter, and almost reproached himself
for his surprise. But soon after, by a singular contradiction, yielding
to one of those puerile and absurd ideas, by which men are often carried
away when they think themselves alone and unobserved, Rodin rose
abruptly, took the letter which had caused him such glad surprise, and
went to display it, as it were, before the eyes of the young swineherd in
the picture: then, shaking his head proudly and triumphantly, casting his
reptile-glance on the portrait, he muttered between his teeth, as he
placed his dirty finger on the pontifical emblem: "Eh, brother? and I
After this ridiculous interpolation, Rodin returned to his seat, and, as
if the happy news he had just received had increased his appetite, he
placed the letter before him, to read it once more, whilst he exercised
his teeth, with a sort of joyous fury, on his hard bread and radish,
chanting an old Litany.
There was something strange, great, and, above all, frightful, in the
contrast afforded by this immense ambition, already almost justified by
events, and contained, as it were, in so miserable an abode. Father
d'Aigrigny (who, if not a very superior man, had at least some real
value, was a person of high birth, very haughty, and placed in the best
society) would never have ventured to aspire to what Rodin thus looked to
from the first. The only aim of Father d'Aigrigny, and even this he
thought presumptuous, was to be one day elected General of his Order--
that Order which embraced the world. The difference of the ambitious
aptitudes of these two personages is conceivable. When a man of eminent
abilities, of a healthy and vivacious nature, concentrates all the
strength of his mind and body upon a single point, remaining, like Rodin,
obstinately chaste and frugal, and renouncing every gratification of the
heart and the senses--the man, who revolts against the sacred designs of
his Creator, does so almost always in favor of some monstrous and
devouring passion--some infernal divinity, which, by a sacrilegious pact,
asks of him, in return for the bestowal of formidable power, the
destruction of every noble sentiment, and of all those ineffable
attractions and tender instincts with which the Maker, in His eternal
wisdom and inexhaustible munificence, has so paternally endowed His
During the scene that we have just described, Rodin had not perceived
that the curtain of a window on the third story of the building opposite
had been partially drawn aside, and had half-revealed the sprightly face
of Rose-Pompon, and the Silenus-like countenance of Ninny Moulin. It
ensued that Rodin, notwithstanding his barricade of cotton handkerchiefs,
had not been completely sheltered from the indiscreet and curious
examination of the two dancers of the Storm-blown Tulip.
 According to the tradition, it was predicted to the mother of Sixtus
V., that he would be pope; and, in his youth, he is said to have kept
AN UNEXPECTED VISIT.
Though Rodin had experienced much surprise on reading the second letter
from Rome, he did not choose that his answer should betray any such
amazement. Having finished his frugal breakfast, he took a sheet of
paper, and rapidly wrote in cipher the following note, in the short,
abrupt style that was natural to him when not obliged to restrain himself:
"The information does not surprise me. I had foreseen it all.
Indecision and cowardice always bear such fruit. This is not enough.
Heretical Russia murders Catholic Poland. Rome blesses the murderers,
and curses the victims.
"Let it pass.
"In return, Russia guarantees to Rome, by Austria, the bloody suppression
of the patriots of Romagna.
"That, too, is well.
"The cut-throat band of good Cardinal Albani is not sufficient for the
massacre of the impious liberals. They are weary of the task.
"Not so well. They must go on."
When Rodin had written these last words, his attention was suddenly
attracted by the clear and sonorous voice of Rose-Pompon, who, knowing
her Beranger by heart, had opened Philemon's window, and, seated on the
sill, sang with much grace and prettiness this verse of the immortal
"How wrong you are! Is't you dare say
That heaven ever scowls on earth?
The earth that laughs up to its blue,
The earth that owes it joy and birth?
Oh, may the wine from vines it warms,
May holy love thence fluttering down,
Lend my philosophy their charms,
To drive away care's direful frown!
So, firm let's stand,
Full glass in hand,
And all evoke
The God of honest folk!"
This song, in its divine gentleness, contrasted so strangely with the
cold cruelty of the few lines written by Rodin, that he started and bit
his lips with rage, as he recognized the words of the great poet, truly
Christian, who had dealt such rude blows to the false Church. Rodin
waited for some moments with angry impatience, thinking the voice would
continue; but Rose-Pompon was silent, or only continued to hum, and soon
changed to another air, that of the Good Pope, which she entoned, but
without words. Rodin, not venturing to look out of his window to see who
was this troublesome warbler, shrugged his shoulders, resumed his pen,
"To it again. We must exasperate the independent spirits in all
countries--excite philosophic rage all over Europe make liberalism foam
at the mouth--raise all that is wild and noisy against Rome. To effect
this, we must proclaim in the face of the world these three propositions.
1. It is abominable to assert that a man may be saved in any faith
whatever, provided his morals be pure. 2. It is odious and absurd to
grant liberty of conscience to the people. 3. The liberty of the press
cannot be held in too much horror.
"We must bring the Pap-fed man to declare these propositions in every
respect orthodox--show him their good effect upon despotic governments--
upon true Catholics, the muzzlers of the people. He will fall into the
snare. The propositions once published, the storm will burst forth. A
general rising against Rome--a wide schism--the sacred college divided
into three parties. One approves--the other blames--the third trembles.
The Sick Man, still more frightened than he is now at having allowed the
destruction of Poland, will shrink from the clamors, reproaches, threats,
and violent ruptures that he has occasioned.
"That is well--and goes far.
"Then, set the Pope to shaking the conscience of the Sick Man, to disturb
his mind, and terrify his soul.
"To sum up. Make everything bitter to him--divide his council--isolate
him--frighten him--redouble the ferocious ardor of good Albini--revive
the appetite of the Sanfedists--give them a gulf of liberals--let
there be pillage, rape, massacre, as at Cesena--a downright river of
Carbonaro blood--the Sick Man will have a surfeit of it. So many
butcheries in his name--he will shrink, be sure he will shrink--every day
will have its remorse, every night its terror, every minute its anguish;
and the abdication he already threatens will come at last--perhaps too
soon. That is now the only danger; you must provide against it.
"In case of an abdication, the grand penitentiary has understood me.
Instead of confiding to a general the direction of our Order, the best
militia of the Holy See, I should command it myself. Thenceforward this
militia would give me no uneasiness. For instance: the Janissaries and
the Praetorian Guards were always fatal to authority--why?--because they
were able to organize themselves as defenders of the government,
independently of the government; hence their power of intimidation.
"Clement XIV. was a fool. To brand and abolish our Company was an absurd
fault. To protect and make it harmless, by declaring himself the General
of the Order, is what he should have done. The Company, then at his
mercy, would have consented to anything. He would have absorbed us, made
us vassals of the Holy See, and would no longer have had to fear our
services. Clement XIV. died of the cholic. Let him heed who hears. In
a similar case, I should not die the same death."
Just then, the clear and liquid voice of Rose-Pompon was again heard.
Rodin bounded with rage upon his seat; but soon, as he listened to the
following verse, new to him (for, unlike Philemon's widow, he had not his
Beranger at his fingers' ends), the Jesuit, accessible to certain odd,
superstitious notions, was confused and almost frightened at so singular
a coincidence. It is Beranger's Good Pope who speaks--
"What are monarchs? sheepish sots!
Or they're robbers, puffed with pride,
Wearing badges of crime blots,
Till their certain graves gape wide.
If they'll pour out coin for me,
I'll absolve them--skin and bone!
If they haggle--they shall see,
My nieces dancing on their throne!
So laugh away!
Leap, my fay!
Only watch one hurt the thunder
First of all by Zeus under,
I'm the Pope, the whole world's wonder!"
Rodin, half-risen from his chair, with outstretched neck and attentive
eye, was still listening, when Rose-Pompon, flitting like a bee from
flower to flower of her repertoire, had already begun the delightful air
of Colibri. Hearing no more, the Jesuit reseated himself, in a sort of
stupor; but, after some minutes' reflection, his countenance again
brightened up, and he seemed to see a lucky omen in this singular
incident. He resumed his pen, and the first words he wrote partook, as
it were, of this strange confidence in fate.
"I have never had more hope of success than at this moment. Another
reason to neglect nothing. Every presentiment demands redoubled zeal. A
new thought occurred to me yesterday.
"We shall act here in concert. I have founded an ultra-Catholic paper
called Neighborly Love. From its ultramontane, tyrannical, liberticidal
fury, it will be thought the organ of Rome. I will confirm these
reports. They will cause new terrors.
"That will be well.
"I shall raise the question of the liberty of instruction. The raw
liberals will support us. Like fools, they admit us to equal rights;
when our privileges, our influence of the confessional, our obedience to
Rome, all place us beyond the circle of equal rights, by the advantages
which we enjoy. Double fools! they think us disarmed, because they have
disarmed themselves towards us.
"A burning question--irritating clamors--new cause of disgust for the
Weak Man. Every little makes a mickle.
"That also is very well.
"To sum up all in two words. The end is abdication--the means, vexation,
incessant torture. The Rennepont inheritance wilt pay for the election.
The price agreed, the merchandise will be sold."
Rodin here paused abruptly, thinking he had heard some noise at that door
of his, which opened on the staircase; therefore he listened with
suspended breath; but all remaining silent, he thought he must have been
deceived, and took up his pen:
"I will take care of the Rennepont business--the hinge on which will turn
our temporal operations. We must begin from the foundation--substitute
the play of interests, and the springs of passion, for the stupid club-
law of Father d'Aigrigny. He nearly compromised everything--and yet he
has good parts, knows the world, has powers of seduction, quick insight--
but plays ever in a single key, and is not great enough to make himself
little. In his stead, I shall know how to make use of him. There is
good stuff in the man. I availed myself in time of the full powers given
by the R. F. G.; I may inform Father d'Aigrigny, in case of need, of the
secret engagements taken by the General towards myself. Until now, I
have let him invent for this inheritance the destination that you know
of. A good thought, but unseasonable. The same end, by other means.
"The information was false. There are over two hundred millions. Should
the eventuality occur, what was doubtful must become certain. An immense
latitude is left us. The Rennepont business is now doubly mine, and
within three months, the two hundred millions will be ours, by the free
will of the heirs themselves. It must be so; for this failing, the
temporal part would escape me, and my chances be diminished by one half.
I have asked for full powers; time presses, and I act as if I had them.
One piece of information is indispensable for the success of my projects.
I expect it from you, and I must have it; do you understand me? The
powerful influence of your brother at the Court of Vienna will serve you
in this. I wish to have the most precise details as to the present
position of the Duke de Reichstadt--the Napoleon II. of the Imperialists.
Is it possible, by means of your brother, to open a secret correspondence
with the prince, unknown to his attendants?
"Look to this promptly. It is urgent. This note will he sent off to-
day. I shall complete it to-morrow. It will reach you, as usual, by the
hands of the petty shopkeeper."
At the moment when Rodin was sealing this letter within a double
envelope, he thought that he again heard a noise at the door. He
listened. After some silence, several knocks were distinctly audible.
Rodin started. It was the first time any one had knocked at his door,
since nearly a twelve-month that he occupied this room. Hastily placing
the letter in his great-coat pocket, the Jesuit opened the old trunk
under his bed, took from it a packet of papers wrapped in a tattered
cotton handkerchief, added to them the two letters in cipher he had just
received, and carefully relocked the trunk. The knocking continued
without, and seemed to show more and more impatience. Rodin took the
greengrocer's basket in his hand, tucked his umbrella under his arm, and
went with some uneasiness to ascertain who was this unexpected visitor.
He opened the door, and found himself face to face with Rose-Pompon, the
troublesome singer, and who now, with a light and pretty courtesy, said
to him in the most guileless manner in the world, "M. Rodin, if you
 On page 110 of Lamennais' Affaires de Rome, will be seen the
following admirable scathing of Rome by the most truly evangelical spirit
of our age: "So long as the issue of the conflict between Poland and her
oppressors remained in the balances, the papal official organ contained
not one word to offend the so long victorious nation; but hardly had she
gone down under the Czar's atrocious vengeance, and the long torture of a
whole land doomed to rack, and exile, and servitude began, than this same
journal found no language black enough to stain those whom fortune had
fled. Yet it is wrong to charge this unworthy insult to papal power; it
only cringes to the law which Russia lays down to it, when it says:
"'If you want to keep your own bones unbroken, bide where you are, beside
the scaffold, and, as the victims pass, hoot at them!'"
 See Pope Gregory XVI.'s Encyclical Letter to the Bishops in France,
 Hardly had the Sixteenth Gregory ascended the pontifical throne,
than news came of the rising in Bologna. His first idea was to call the
Austrians, and incite the Sanfedist volunteer bands of fanatics.
Cardinal Albini defeated the liberals at Cesena, where his followers
pillaged churches, sacked the town, and ill-treated women. At Forli,
cold-blooded murders were committed. In 1832 the Sanfedists (Holy
Faithites) openly paraded their medals, bearing the heads of the Duke of
Modem and the Pope; letters issued by the apostolic confederation;
privileges and indulgences. They took the following oath: "I. A. B.,
vow to rear the throne and altar over the bones of infamous freedom-
shriekers, and exterminate these latter without pity for children's cries
and women's tears." The disorders perpetrated by these marauders went
beyond all bounds; the Romish Court regularized anarchy and organized the
Sanfedists into volunteer corps, to which fresh privileges were granted.
[Revue deux Mondes, Nov. 15th, 1844.--"La Revolution en Italie."]
Notwithstanding his surprise and uneasiness, Rodin did not frown. He
began by locking his door after him, as he noticed the young girl's
inquisitive glance. Then he said to her good-naturedly, "Who do you
want, my dear?"
"M. Rodin," repeated Rose-Pompon, stoutly, opening her bright blue eyes
to their full extent, and looking Rodin full in the face.
"It's not here," said he, moving towards the stairs. "I do not know him.
Inquire above or below."
"No, you don't! giving yourself airs at your age!" said Rose-Pompon,
shrugging her shoulders. "As if we did not know that you are M. Rodin."
"Charlemagne," said the socius, bowing; "Charlemagne, to serve you--if I
"You are not able," answered Rose-Pompon, majestically; then she added
with a mocking air, "So, we have our little pussy-cat hiding-places; we
change our name; we are afraid Mamma Rodin will find us out."
"Come, my dear child," said the socius, with a paternal smile; "you have
come to the right quarter. I am an old man, but I love youth--happy,
joyous youth! Amuse yourself, pray, at my expense. Only let me pass,
for I am in a hurry." And Rodin again advanced towards the stairs.
"M. Rodin," said Rose-Pompon, in a solemn voice, "I have very important
things to say to you, and advice to ask about a love affair."
"Why, little madcap that you are! have you nobody to tease in your own
house, that you must come here?"
"I lodge in this house, M. Rodin," answered Rose-Pompon, laying a
malicious stress on the name of her victim.
"You? Oh, dear, only to think I did not know I had such a pretty
"Yes, I have lodged here six months, M. Rodin."
"On the third story, front, M. Rodin."
"It was you, then, that sang so well just now?"
"You gave me great pleasure, I must say."
"You are very polite, M. Rodin."
"You lodge, I suppose, with your respectable family?"
"I believe you, M. Rodin," said Rose-Pompon, casting down her eyes with a
timid air. "I lodge with Grandpapa Philemon, and Grandmamma Bacchanal--
who is a queen and no mistake."
Rodin had hitherto been seriously uneasy, not knowing in what manner Rose
had discovered his real name. But on hearing her mention the Bacchanal
queen, with the information that she lodged in the house, he found
something to compensate for the disagreeable incident of Rose-Pompon's
appearance. It was, indeed, important to Rodin to find out the Bacchanal
Queen, the mistress of Sleepinbuff, and the sister of Mother Bunch, who
had been noted as dangerous since her interview with the superior of the
convent, and the part she had taken in the projected escape of Mdlle. de
Cardoville. Moreover, Rodin hoped--thanks to what he had just heard--to
bring Rose-Pompon to confess to him the name of the person from whom she
had learned that "Charlemagne" masked "Rodin."
Hardly had the young girl pronounced the name of the Bacchanal queen,
than Rodin clasped his hands, and appeared as much surprised as
"Oh, my dear child," he exclaimed, "I conjure you not to jest on this
subject. Are you speaking of a young girl who bears that nickname, the
sister of a deformed needlewoman."
"Yes, sir, the Bacchanal Queen is her nickname," said Rose-Pompon,
astonished in her turn; "she is really Cephyse Soliveau, and she is my
"Oh! she is your friend?" said Rodin, reflecting.
"Yes, sir, my bosom friend."
"So you love her?"
"Like a sister. Poor girl! I do what I can for her, and that's not
much. But how comes it that a respectable man of your age should know
the Bacchanal Queen?--Ah! that shows you have a false name!"
"My dear child, I am no longer inclined to laugh," said Rodin, with so
sorrowful an air, that Rose-Pompon, reproaching herself with her
pleasantry, said to him: "But how comes it that you know Cephyse?"
"Alas! I do not know her--but a young fellow, that I like excessively--"
"Otherwise called Sleepinbuff. He is now in prison for debt," sighed
Rodin. "I saw him yesterday."
"You saw him yesterday?--how strange!" said Rose-Pompon, clapping her
hands. "Quick! quick!--come over to Philemon's, to give Cephyse news of
her lover. She is so uneasy about him."
"My dear child, I should like to give her good news of that worthy
fellow, whom I like in spite of his follies, for who has not been guilty
of follies?" added Rodin, with indulgent good-nature.
"To be sure," said Rose-Pompon, twisting about as if she still wore the
costume of a debardeur.
"I will say more," added Rodin: "I love him because of his follies; for,
talk as we may, my dear child, there is always something good at bottom,
a good heart, or something, in those who spend generously their money for
"Well, come! you are a very good sort of a man," said Rose-Pompon,
enchanted with Rodin's philosophy. "But why will you not come and see
Cephyse, and talk to her of Jacques?"
"Of what use would it be to tell her what she knows already--that Jacques
is in prison? What I should like, would be to get the worthy fellow out
of his scrape."
"Oh, sir! only do that, only get Jacques out of prison," cried Rose-
Pompon, warmly, "and we will both give you a kiss--me and Cephyse!"
"It would be throwing kisses away, dear little madcap!" said Rodin,
smiling. "But be satisfied, I want no reward to induce me to do good
when I can."
"Then you hope to get Jacques out of prison?"
Rodin shook his head, and answered with a grieved and disappointed air.
"I did hope it. Certainly, I did hope it; but now all is changed."
"How's that?" asked Rose-Pompon, with surprise.
"That foolish joke of calling me M. Rodin may appear very amusing to you,
my dear child. I understand it, you being only an echo. Some one has
said to you: `Go and tell M. Charlemagne that he is one M. Rodin. That
will be very funny.'"
"Certainly, I should never myself have thought of calling you M. Rodin.
One does not invent such names," answered Rose-Pompon.
"Well! that person with his foolish jokes, has done, without knowing it,
a great injury to Jacques Rennepont."
"What! because I called you Rodin instead of Charlemagne?" cried Rose-
Pompon, much regretting the pleasantry which she had carried on at the
instigation of Ninny Moulin. "But really, sir," she added, "what can
this joke have to do with the service that you were, about to render
"I am not at liberty to tell you, my child. In truth, I am very sorry
for poor Jacques. Believe me, I am; but do let me pass.
"Listen to me, sir, I beg," said Rose-Pompon; "if I told you the name of
the person who told me to call you Rodin, would you interest yourself
again for Jacques?"
"I do not wish to know any one's secrets, my dear child. In all this,
you have been the echo of persons who are, perhaps, very dangerous; and,
notwithstanding the interest I feel for Jacques Rennepont, I do not wish,
you understand, to make myself enemies. Heaven forbid!"
Rose-Pompon did not at all comprehend Rodin's fears, and upon this he had
counted; for after a second's reflection, the young girl resumed: "Well,
sir--this is too deep for me; I do not understand it. All I know is,
that I am truly sorry if I have injured a good young man by a mere joke.
I will tell you exactly how it happened. My frankness may be of some
"Frankness will often clear up the most obscure matters," said Rodin,
"After all," said Rose-Pompon, "it's Ninny's fault. Why does he tell me
nonsense, that might injure poor Cephyse's lover? You see, sir, it
happened in this way. Ninny Moulin who is fond of a joke, saw you just
now in the street. The portress told him that your name was Charlemagne.
He said to me: 'No; his name is Rodin. We must play him a trick. Go to
his room, Rose-Pompon, knock at the door, and call him M. Rodin. You
will see what a rum face he will make.' I promised Ninny Moulin not to
name him; but I do it, rather than run the risk of injuring Jacques."
At Ninny Moulin's name Rodin had not been able to repress a movement of
surprise. This pamphleteer, whom he had employed to edit the "Neighborly
Love," was not personally formidable; but, being fond of talking in his
drink, he might become troublesome, particularly if Rodin, as was
probable, had often to visit this house, to execute his project upon
Sleepinbuff, through the medium of the Bacchanal Queen. The socius
resolved, therefore, to provide against this inconvenience.
"So, my dear child," said he to Rose-Pompon, "it is a M. Desmoulins that
persuaded you to play off this silly joke?"
"Not Desmoulins, but Dumoulin," corrected Rose. "He writes in the
pewholders' papers, and defends the saints for money; for, if Ninny
Moulin is a saint, his patrons are Saint Drinkard and Saint Flashette, as
he himself declares."
"This gentleman appears to be very gay."
"Oh! a very good fellow."
"But stop," resumed Rodin, appearing to recollect himself; "ain't he a
man about thirty-six or forty, fat, with a ruddy complexion?"
"Ruddy as a glass of red wine," said Rose-Pompon, "and with a pimpled
nose like a mulberry."
"That's the man--M. Dumoulin. Oh! in that case, I am quite satisfied, my
dear child. The jest no longer makes me uneasy; for M. Dumoulin is a
very worthy man--only perhaps a little too fond of his joke."
"Then, sir, you will try to be useful to Jacques? The stupid pleasantry
of Ninny Moulin will not prevent you?"
"I hope not."
"But I must not tell Ninny Moulin that you know it was he who sent me to
call you M. Rodin--eh, sir?"
"Why not? In every case, my dear child, it is always better to speak
frankly the truth."
"But, sir, Ninny Moulin so strongly recommended me not to name him to
"If you have named him, it is from a very good motive; why not avow it?
However, my dear child, this concerns you, not me. Do as you think
"And may I tell Cephyse of your good intentions towards Jacques?"
"The truth, my dear child, always the truth. One need never hesitate to
say what is."
"Poor Cephyse! how happy she will be!" cried Rose-Pompon, cheerfully;
"and the news will come just in time."
"Only you must not exaggerate; I do not promise positively to get this
good fellow out of prison; I say, that I will do what I can. But what I
promise positively is--for, since the imprisonment of poor Jacques, your
friend must be very much straitened--"
"What I promise positively is some little assistance which your friend
will receive to-day, to enable her to live honestly; and if she behaves
well--hereafter--why, hereafter, we shall see."
"Oh, sir! you do not know how welcome will be your assistance to poor
Cephyse! One might fancy you were her actual good angel. Faith! you may
call yourself Rodin, or Charlemagne; all I know is, that you are a nice,
"Come, come, do not exaggerate," said Rodin; "say a good sort of old
fellow; nothing more, my dear child. But see how things fall out,
sometimes! Who could have told me, when I heard you knock at my door--
which, I must say, vexed me a great deal--that it was a pretty little
neighbor of mine, who under the pretext of playing off a joke, was to put
me in the way of doing a good action? Go and comfort your friend; this
evening she will receive some assistance; and let us have hope and
confidence. Thanks be, there are still some good people in the world!"
"Oh, sir! you prove it yourself."
"Not at all! The happiness of the old is to see the young happy."
This was said by Rodin with so much apparent kindness, that Rose-Pompon
felt the tears well up to her eyes, and answered with much emotion: "Sir,
Cephyse and me are only poor girls; there are many more virtuous in the
world; but I venture to say, we have good hearts. Now, if ever you
should be ill, only send for us; there are no Sisters of Charity that
will take better care of you. It is all that we can offer you, without
reckoning Philemon, who shall go through fire and water for you, I give
you my word for it--and Cephyse, I am sure, will answer for Jacques also,
that he will be yours in life and death."
"You see, my dear child, that I was right in saying--a fitful head and a
good heart. Adieu, till we meet again."
Thereupon Rodin, taking up the basket, which he had placed on the ground
by the side of his umbrella, prepared to descend the stairs.
"First of all, you must give me this basket; it will be in your way going
down," said Rose-Pompon, taking the basket from the hands of Rodin,
notwithstanding his resistance. Then she added: "Lean upon my arm. The
stairs are so dark. You might slip."
"I will accept your offer, my dear child, for I am not very courageous."
Leaning paternally on the right arm of Rose-Pompon, who held the basket
in her left hand, Rodin descended the stairs, and crossed the court-yard.
"Up there, on the third story, do you see that big face close to the
window-frame?" said Rose-Pompon suddenly to Rodin, stopping in the centre
of the little court. "That is my Ninny Moulin. Do you know him? Is he
the same as yours?"
"The same as mine," said Rodin, raising his head, and waving his hand
very affectionately to Jacques Dumoulin, who, stupefied thereat, retired
abruptly from the window.
"The poor fellow! I am sure he is afraid of me since his foolish joke,"
said Rodin, smiling. "He is very wrong."
And he accompanied these last words with a sinister nipping of the lips,
not perceived by Rose-Pompon.
"And now, my dear child," said he, as they both entered the passage, "I
no longer need you assistance; return to your friend, and tell her the
good news you have heard."
"Yes, sir, you are right. I burn with impatience to tell her what a good
man you are." And Rose-Pompon sprung towards the stairs.
"Stop, stop! how about my basket that the little madcap carries off with
her?" said Rodin.
"Oh true! I beg your pardon, sir. Poor Cephyse! how pleased she will
be. Adieu, sir!" And Rose-Pompon's pretty figure disappeared in the
darkness of the staircase, which she mounted with an alert and impatient
Rodin issued from the entry. "Here is your basket, my good lady, said
he, stopping at the threshold of Mother Arsene's shop. "I give you my
humble thanks for your kindness."
"For nothing, my dear sir, for nothing. It is all at your service.
Well, was the radish good?"
"Succulent, my dear madame, and excellent."
"Oh! I am glad of it. Shall we soon see you again?"
"I hope so. But could you tell me where is the nearest post-office?"
"Turn to the left, the third house, at the grocer's."
"A thousand thanks."
"I wager it's a love letter for your sweetheart," said Mother Arsene,
enlivened probably by Rose Pompon's and Ninny Moulin's proximity.
"Ha! ha! ha! the good lady!" said Rodin, with a titter. Then, suddenly
resuming his serious aspect, he made a low bow to the greengrocer,
adding: "Your most obedient humble servant!" and walked out into the
We now usher the reader into Dr. Baleinier's asylum, in which Mdlle. de
Cardoville was confined.
Adrienne de Cardoville had been still more strictly confined in Dr.
Baleinier's house, since the double nocturnal attempt of Agricola and
Dagobert, in which the soldier, though severely wounded, had succeeded,
thanks to the intrepid devotion of his son, seconded by the heroic Spoil-
sport, in gaining the little garden gate of the convent, and escaping by
way of the boulevard, along with the young smith. Four o'clock had just
struck. Adrienne, since the previous day, had been removed to a chamber
on the second story of the asylum. The grated window, with closed
shutters, only admitted a faint light to this apartment. The young lady,
since her interview with Mother Bunch, expected to be delivered any day
by the intervention of her friends. But she felt painful uneasiness on
the subject of Agricola and Dagobert, being absolutely ignorant of the
issue of the struggle in which her intended liberators had been engaged
with the people of the asylum and convent. She had in vain questioned
her keepers on the subject; they had remained perfectly mute. These new
incidents had augmented the bitter resentment of Adrienne against the
Princess de Saint Dizier, Father d'Aigrigny, and their creatures. The
slight paleness of Mdlle. de Cardoville's charming face, and her fine
eyes a little drooping, betrayed her recent sufferings; seated before a
little table, with her forehead resting upon one of her hands, half
veiled by the long curls of her golden hair, she was turning over the
leaves of a book. Suddenly, the door opened, and M. Baleinier entered.
The doctor, a Jesuit, in lay attire, a docile and passive instrument of
the will of his Order, was only half in the confidence of Father
d'Aigrigny and the Princess de Saint-Dizier. He was ignorant of the
object of the imprisonment of Mdlle. de Cardoville; he was ignorant also
of the sudden change which had taken place in the relative position of
Father d'Aigrigny and Rodin, after the reading of the testament of Marius
de Rennepont. The doctor had, only the day before, received orders from
Father d'Aigrigny (now acting under the directions of Rodin) to confine
Mdlle. de Cardoville still more strictly, to act towards her with
redoubled severity, and to endeavor to force her, it will be seen by what
expedients, to renounce the judicial proceedings, which she promised
herself to take hereafter against her persecutors. At sight of the
doctor, Mdlle. de Cardoville could not hide the aversion and disdain with
which this man inspired her. M. Baleinier, on the contrary, always
smiling, always courteous, approached Adrienne with perfect ease and
confidence, stopped a few steps from her, as if to study her features
more attentively, and then added like a man who is satisfied with the
observations he had made: "Come! the unfortunate events of the night
before last have had a less injurious influence than I feared. There is
some improvement; the complexion is less flushed, the look calmer, the
eyes still somewhat too bright, but no longer shining with such unnatural
fire. You are getting on so well! Now the cure must be prolonged--for
this unfortunate night affair threw you into a state of excitement, that
was only the more dangerous from your not being conscious of it.
Happily, with care, your recovery will not, I hope, be very much
delayed." Accustomed though she was to the audacity of this tool of the
Congregation, Mdlle. de Cardoville could not forbear saying to him, with
a smile of bitter disdain: "What impudence, sir, there is in your
probity! What effrontery in your zeal to earn your hire! Never for a
moment do you lay aside your mask; craft and falsehood are ever on your
lips. Really, if this shameful comedy causes you as much fatigue as it
does me disgust and contempt, they can never pay you enough."
"Alas!" said the doctor, in a sorrowful tone; "always this unfortunate
delusion, that you are not in want of our care!--that I am playing a
part, when I talk to you of the sad state in which you were when we were
obliged to bring you hither by stratagem. Still, with the exception of
this little sign of rebellious insanity, your condition has marvellously
improved. You are on the high-road to a complete cure. By-and-by, your
excellent heart will render me the justice that is due to me; and, one
day, I shall be judged as I deserve."
"I, believe it, sir; the day approaches, in which you will be judged as
you deserve," said Adrienne, laying great stress upon the two words.
"Always that other fixed idea," said the doctor with a sort of
commiseration. "Come, be reasonable. Do not think of this
"What! renounce my intention to demand at the hands of justice reparation
for myself, and disgrace for you and your accomplices? Never, sir--
"Well!" said the doctor, shrugging his shoulders; "once at liberty, thank
heaven, you will have many other things to think of, my fair enemy."
"You forget piously the evil that you do; but I, sir, have a better
"Let us talk seriously. Have you really the intention of applying to the
courts?" inquired Dr. Baleinier, in a grave tone.
"Yes, sir, and you know that what I intend, I firmly carry out."
"Well! I can only conjure you not to follow out this idea," replied the
doctor, in a still more solemn tone; "I ask it as a favor, in the name of
your own interest."
"I think, sir, that you are a little too ready to confound your interest
"Now come," said Dr. Baleinier, with a feigned impatience, as if quite
certain of convincing Mdlle. de Cardoville on the instant; "would you
have the melancholy courage to plunge into despair two persons full of
goodness and generosity?"
"Only two? The jest would be complete, if you were to reckon three: you,
sir, and my aunt, and Abbe d'Aigrigny; for these are no doubt the
generous persons in whose name you implore my pity."
"No, madame; I speak neither of myself, nor of your aunt, nor of Abbe
"Of whom, then, sir?" asked Mdlle. de Cardoville with surprise.
"Of two poor fellows, who, no doubt sent by those whom you call your
friends, got into the neighboring convent the other night, and thence
into this garden. The guns which you heard go off were fired at them."
"Alas! I thought so. They refused to tell me if either of them was
wounded," said Adrienne, with painful emotion.
"One of them received a wound, but not very serious, since he was able to
fly and escape pursuit."
"Thank God!" cried Mdlle. de Cardoville, clasping her hands with fervor.
"It is quite natural that you should rejoice at their escape, but by what
strange contradiction do you now wish to put the officers of justice on
their track? A singular manner, truly, of rewarding their devotion!"
"What do you say, sir?" asked Mdlle. de Cardoville.
"For if they should be arrested," resumed Dr. Baleinier, without
answering her, "as they have been guilty of housebreaking and attempted
burglary, they would be sent to the galleys."
"Heavens! and for my sake!"
"Yes; it would be for you, and what is worse, by you, that they would be
"By me, sir?"
"Certainly; that is, if you follow up your vengeance against your aunt
and Abbe d'Aigrigny--I do not speak of myself, for I am quite safe; in a
word, if you persist in laying your complaint before the magistrates,
that you have been unjustly confined in this house."
"I do not understand you, sir. Explain yourself," said Adrienne, with
"Child that you are!" cried the Jesuit of the short robe, with an air of
conviction; "do you think that if the law once takes cognizance of this
affair, you can stop short its action where and when you please? When
you leave this house, you lodge a complaint against me and against your
family; well, what happens? The law interferes, inquires, calls
witnesses, enters into the most minute investigations. Then, what
follows? Why, that this nocturnal escalade, which the superior of the
convent has some interest in hushing up, for fear of scandal--that this
nocturnal attempt, I say, which I also would keep quiet, is necessarily
divulged, and as it involves a serious crime, to which a heavy penalty is
attached, the law will ferret into it, and find out these unfortunate
men, and if, as is probable, they are detained in Paris by their duties
or occupations, or even by a false security, arising from the honorable
motives which they know to have actuated them, they will be arrested.
And who will be the cause of this arrest? You, by your deposition
"Oh, sir! that would be horrible; but it is impossible."
"It is very possible, on the contrary," returned M. Baleinier: "so that,
while I and the superior of the convent, who alone are really entitled to
complain, only wish to keep quiet this unpleasant affair, it is you--you,
for whom these unfortunate men have risked the galleys--that will deliver
them up to justice."
Though Mdlle. de Cardoville was not completely duped by the lay Jesuit,
she guessed that the merciful intentions which he expressed with regard
to Dagobert and his son, would be absolutely subordinate to the course
she might take in pressing or abandoning the legitimate vengeance which
she meant to claim of authority. Indeed, Rodin, whose instructions the
doctor was following without knowing it, was too cunning to have it said
to Mdlle. de Cardoville: "If you attempt any proceedings, we denounce
Dagobert and his son;" but he attained the same end, by inspiring
Adrienne with fears on the subject of her two liberators, so as to
prevent her taking any hostile measures. Without knowing the exact law
on the subject, Mdlle. de Cardoville had too much good sense not to
understand that Dagobert and Agricola might be very seriously involved in
consequence of their nocturnal adventure, and might even find themselves
in a terrible position. And yet, when she thought of all she had
suffered in that house, and of all the just resentment she entertained in
the bottom of her heart, Adrienne felt unwilling to renounce the stern
pleasure of exposing such odious machinations to the light of day. Dr.
Baleinier watched with sullen attention her whom he considered his dupe,
for he thought he could divine the cause of the silence and hesitation of
Mdlle. de Cardoville.
"But, sir," resumed the latter, unable to conceal her anxiety, "if I were
disposed, for whatever reason, to make no complaint, and to forget the
wrongs I have suffered, when should I leave this place?"
"I cannot tell; for I do not know when you will be radically cured," said
the doctor, benignantly. "You are in a very good way, but--"
"Still this insolent and stupid acting!" broke forth Mdlle. de
Cardoville, interrupting the doctor with indignation. "I ask, and if it
must be, I entreat you to tell me how long I am to be shut up in this
dreadful house, for I shall leave it some day, I suppose?"
"I hope so, certainly," said the Jesuit of the short robe, with unction;
"but when, I am unable to say. Moreover, I must tell you frankly, that
every precaution is taken against such attempts as those of the other
night; and the most vigorous watch will be maintained, to prevent your
communicating with any one. And all this in your own interest, that your
poor head may not again be dangerously excited."
"So, sir," said Adrienne, almost terrified, "compared with what awaits
me, the last few days have been days of liberty."
"Your interest before everything," answered the doctor, in a fervent
Mdlle. de Cardoville, feeling the impotence of her indignation and
despair, heaved a deep sigh, and hid her face in her hands.
At this moment, quick footsteps were heard in the passage, and one of the
nurses entered, after having knocked at the door.
"Sir," said she to the doctor, with a frightened air, "there are two
gentlemen below, who wish to see you instantly, and the lady also."
Adrienne raised her head hastily; her eyes were bathed in tears.
"What are the names of these persons?" said M. Baleinier, much
"One of them said to me," answered the nurse: "`Go and inform Dr.
Baleinier that I am a magistrate, and that I come on a duty regarding
Mdlle. de Cardoville.'"
"A magistrate!" exclaimed the Jesuit of the short robe, growing purple in
the face, and unable to hide his surprise and uneasiness.
"Heaven be praised!" cried Adrienne, rising with vivacity, her
countenance beaming through her tears with hope and joy; "my friends have
been informed in time, and the hour of justice is arrived!"
"Ask these persons to walk up," said Dr. Baleinier, after a moment's
reflection. Then, with a still more agitated expression of countenance,
he approached Adrienne with a harsh, and almost menacing air, which
contrasted with the habitual placidity of his hypocritical smile, and
said to her in a low voice: "Take care, madame! do not rejoice too soon."
"I no longer fear you," answered Mdlle. de Cardoville, with a bright,
flashing eye. "M. de Montbron is no doubt returned to Paris, and has
been informed in time. He accompanies the magistrate, and comes to
deliver me. I pity you, sir--both you and yours," added Adrienne, with
an accent of bitter irony.
"Madame," cried M. Baleinier, no longer able to dissemble his growing
alarm, "I repeat to you, take care! Remember what I have told you. Your
accusations would necessarily involve the discovery of what took place
the other night. Beware! the fate of the soldier and his son is in your
hands. Recollect they are in danger of the convict's chains."
"Oh! I am not your dupe, sir. You are holding out a covert menace. Have
at least the courage to say to me, that, if I complain to the
magistrates, you will denounce the soldier and his son."
"I repeat, that, if you make any complaint, those two people are lost,"
answered the doctor, ambiguously.
Startled by what was really dangerous in the doctor's threats, Adrienne
asked: "Sir, if this magistrate questions me, do you think I will tell
him a falsehood?"
"You will answer what is true," said M. Baleinier, hastily, in the hope
of still attaining his end. "You will answer that you were in so excited
a state of mind a few days ago, that it was thought advisable, for your
own sake, to bring you hither, without your knowing it. But you are now
so much better, that you acknowledge the utility of the measures taken
with regard to you. I will confirm these words for, after all, it is the
"Never!" cried Mdlle. de Cardoville, with indignation, "never will I be
the accomplice of so infamous a falsehood; never will I be base enough to
justify the indignities that I have suffered!"
"Here is the magistrate," said M. Baleinier, as he caught the sound of
approaching footsteps. "Beware!"
The door opened, and, to the indescribable amazement of the doctor, Rodin
appeared on the threshold, accompanied by a man dressed in black, with a
dignified and severe countenance. In the interest of his projects, and
from motives of craft and prudence that will hereafter be known, Rodin
had not informed Father d'Aigrigny, and consequently the doctor, of the
unexpected visit he intended to pay to the asylum, accompanied by a
magistrate. On the contrary, he had only the day before given orders to
M. Baleinier to confine Mdlle. de Cardoville still more strictly.
Therefore, imagine the stupor of the doctor when he saw the judicial
officer, whose unexpected presence and imposing aspect were otherwise
sufficiently alarming, enter the room, accompanied by Rodin, Abbe
d'Aigrigny's humble and obscure secretary. From the door, Rodin, who was
very shabbily dressed, as usual, pointed out Mdlle. de Cardoville to the
magistrate, by a gesture at once respectful and compassionate. Then,
while the latter, who had not been able to repress a movement of
admiration at sight of the rare beauty of Adrienne, seemed to examine her
with as much surprise as interest, the Jesuit modestly receded several
Dr. Baleinier in his extreme astonishment, hoping to be understood by
Rodin, made suddenly several private signals, as if to interrogate him on
the cause of the magistrate's visit. But this was only productive of
fresh amazement to M. Baleinier; for Rodin did not appear to recognize
him, or to understand his expressive pantomime, and looked at him with
affected bewilderment. At length, as the doctor, growing impatient,
redoubled his mute questionings, Rodin advanced with a stride, stretched
forward his crooked neck, and said, in a loud voice: "What is your
These words, which completely disconcerted Baleinier, broke the silence
which had reigned for some seconds, and the magistrate turned round.
Rodin added, with imperturbable coolness: "Since our arrival, the doctor
has been making all sorts of mysterious signs to me. I suppose he has
something private to communicate, but, as I have no secrets, I must beg
him to speak out loud."
This reply, so embarrassing for M. Baleinier, uttered in a tone of
aggression, and with an air of icy coldness, plunged the doctor into such
new and deep amazement, that he remained for some moments without
answering. No doubt the magistrate was struck with this incident, and
with the silence which followed it, for he cast a look of great severity
on the doctor. Mdlle. de Cardoville, who had expected to have seen M. de
Montbron, was also singularly surprised.
Baleinier, disconcerted for a moment by the unexpected presence of a
magistrate, and by Rodin's inexplicable attitude, soon recovered his
presence of mind, and addressing his colleague of the longer robe, said
to him: "If I make signs to you, sir, it was that, while I wished to
respect the silence which this gentleman"--glancing at the magistrate--
"has preserved since his entrance, I desired to express my surprise at
the unexpected honor of this visit."
"It is to the lady that I will explain the reason for my silence, and beg
her to excuse it," replied the magistrate, as he made a half-bow to
Adrienne, whom he thus continued to address: "I have just received so
serious a declaration with regard to you, madame, that I could not
forbear looking at you for a moment in silence, to see if I could read in
your countenance or in your attitude, the truth or falsehood of the
accusation that has been placed in my hands; and I have every reason to
believe that it is but too well founded."
"May I at length be informed, sir," said Dr. Baleinier, in a polite but
firm tone, "to whom I have the honor of speaking?"
"Sir, I am juge d'instruction, and I have come to inform myself as to a
fact which has been pointed out to me--"
"Will you do me the honor to explain yourself, sir?" said the doctor,
"Sir," resumed the magistrate, M. de Gernande, a man of about fifty years
of age, full of firmness and straightforwardness, and knowing how to
unite the austere duties of his position with benevolent politeness, "you
are accused of having committed--a very great error, not to use a harsher
expression. As for the nature of that error, I prefer believing, sir,
that you (a first rate man of science) may have been deceived in the
calculation of a medical case, rather than suspect you of having
forgotten all that is sacred in the exercise of a profession that is
almost a priesthood."
"When you specify the facts, sir," answered the Jesuit of the short robe,
with a degree of haughtiness, "it will be easy for me to prove that my
reputation as a man of science is no less free from reproach, than my
conscience as a man of honor."
"Madame," said M. de Gernande, addressing Adrienne, "is it true that you
were conveyed to this house by stratagem?"
"Sir," cried M. Baleinier, "permit me to observe, that the manner in
which you open this question is an insult to me."
"Sir, it is to the lady that I have the honor of addressing myself,"
replied M. de Gernande, sternly; "and I am the sole judge of the
propriety of my questions."
Adrienne was about to answer affirmatively to the magistrate, when an
expressive took from Dr. Baleinier reminded her that she would perhaps
expose Dagobert and his son to cruel dangers. It was no base and vulgar
feeling of vengeance by which Adrienne was animated, but a legitimate
indignation, inspired by odious hypocrisy. She would have thought it
cowardly not to unmask the criminals; but wishing to avoid compromising
others, she said to the magistrate, with an accent full of mildness and
dignity: "Permit me, sir, in my turn, rather to ask you a question."
"Will the answer I make be considered a formal accusation?"
"I have come hither, madame, to ascertain the truth, and no consideration
should induce you to dissemble it."
"So be it, sir," resumed Adrienne; "but suppose, having just causes of
complaint, I lay them before you, in order to be allowed to leave this
house, shall I afterwards be at liberty not to press the accusations I
"You may abandon proceedings, madame, but the law will take up your case
in the name of society, if its rights have been inured in your person."
"Shall I then not be allowed to pardon? Should I not be sufficiently
avenged by a contemptuous forgetfulness of the wrongs I have suffered?"
"Personally, madame, you may forgive and forget; but I have the honor to
repeat to you, that society cannot show the same indulgence, if it should
turn out that you have been the victim of a criminal machination--and I
have every reason to fear it is so. The manner in which you express
yourself, the generosity of your sentiments, the calmness and dignity of
your attitude, convince me that I have been well informed."
"I hope, sir," said Dr. Baleinier, recovering his coolness, "that you
will at least communicate the declaration that has been made to you."
"It has been declared to me, sir," said the magistrate, in a stern voice,
"that Mdlle. de Cardoville was brought here by stratagem."
"It is true. The lady was brought here by stratagem," answered the
Jesuit of the short robe, after a moment's silence.
"You confess it, then?" said M. de Gernande.
"Certainly I do, sir. I admit that I had recourse to means which we are
unfortunately too often obliged to employ, when persons who most need our
assistance are unconscious of their own sad state."
"But, sir," replied the magistrate, "it has also been declared to me,
that Mdlle. de Cardoville never required such aid."
"That, sir, is a question of medical jurisprudence, which has to be
examined and discussed," said M. Baleinier, recovering his assurance.
"It will, indeed, sir, be seriously discussed; for you are accused of
confining Mdlle. De Cardoville, while in the full possession of all her
"And may I ask you for what purpose?" said M. de Baleinier, with a slight
shrug of the shoulders, and in a tone of irony. "What interest had I to
commit such a crime, even admitting that my reputation did not place me
above so odious and absurd a charge?"
"You are said to have acted, sir, in furtherance of a family plot,
devised against Mdlle. de Cardoville for a pecuniary motive."
"And who has dared, sir, to make so calumnious a charge?" cried Dr.
Baleinier, with indignant warmth. "Who has had the audacity to accuse a
respectable, and I dare to say, respected man, of having been the
accomplice in such infamy?"
"I," said Rodin, coldly.
"You!" cried Dr. Baleinier, falling back two steps, as if thunderstruck.
"Yes, I accuse you," repeated Rodin, in a clear sharp voice.
"Yes, it was this gentleman who came to me this morning, with ample
proofs, to demand my interference in favor of Mdlle. de Cardoville," said
the magistrate, drawing back a little, to give Adrienne the opportunity
of seeing her defender.
Throughout this scene, Rodin's name had not hitherto been mentioned.
Mdlle. de Cardoville had often heard speak of the Abbe d'Aigrigny's
secretary in no very favorable terms; but, never having seen him, she did
not know that her liberator was this very Jesuit. She therefore looked
towards him, with a glance in which were mingled curiosity, interest,
surprise and gratitude. Rodin's cadaverous countenance, his repulsive
ugliness, his sordid dress, would a few days before have occasioned
Adrienne a perhaps invincible feeling of disgust. But the young lady,
remembering how the sempstress, poor, feeble, deformed, and dressed
almost in rags was endowed notwithstanding her wretched exterior, with
one of the noblest and most admirable hearts, recalled this recollection
in favor of the Jesuit. She forgot that he was ugly and sordid, only to
remember that he was old, that he seemed poor, and that he had come to
her assistance. Dr. Baleinier, notwithstanding his craft,
notwithstanding his audacious hypocrisy, in spite even of his presence of
mind, could not conceal how much he was disturbed by Rodin's
denunciation. His head became troubled as he remembered how, on the
first day of Adrienne's confinement in this house, the implacable appeal
of Rodin, through the hole in the door, had prevented him (Baleinier)
from yielding to emotions of pity, inspired by the despair of this
unfortunate young girl, driven almost to doubt of her own reason. And
yet it was this very Rodin, so cruel, so inexorable, the devoted agent of
Father d'Aigrigny, who denounced him (Baleinier), and brought a
magistrate to set Adrienne at liberty--when, only the day before, Father
d'Aigrigny had ordered an increase of severity towards her!
The lay Jesuit felt persuaded that Rodin was betraying Father d'Aigrigny
in the most shameful manner, and that Mdlle. de Cardoville's friends had
bribed and bought over this scoundrelly secretary. Exasperated by what
he considered a monstrous piece of treachery, the doctor exclaimed, in a
voice broken with rage: "And it is you, sir, that have the impudence to
accuse me--you, who only a few days ago--"
Then, reflecting that the retort upon Rodin would be self-accusation, he
appeared to give way to an excess of emotion, and resumed with
bitterness: "Ah, sir, you are the last person that I should have thought
capable of this odious denunciation. It is shameful!"
"And who had a better right than I to denounce this infamy?" answered
Rodin, in a rude, overbearing tone. "Was I not in a position to learn--
unfortunately, too late--the nature of the conspiracy of which Mdlle. de
Cardoville and others have been the victims? Then, what was my duty as
an honest man? Why, to inform the magistrate, to prove what I set forth,
and to accompany him hither. That is what I have done."
"So, sir," said the doctor, addressing the magistrate, "it is not only
myself that this man accuses, but he dares also--"
"I accuse the Abbe d'Aigrigny," resumed Rodin, in a still louder and more
imperative tone, interrupting the doctor, "I accuse the Princess de
Saint-Dizier, I accuse you, sir--of having, from a vile motive of self-
interest, confined Mdlle. de Cardoville in this house, and the two
daughters of Marshal Simon in the neighboring convent. Is that clear?"
"Alas! it is only too true," said Adrienne, hastily. "I have seen those
poor children all in tears, making signs of distress to me."
The accusation of Rodin, with regard to the orphans, was a new and
fearful blow for Dr. Baleinier. He felt perfectly convinced that the
traitor had passed clear over to the enemy's camp. Wishing therefore to
put an end to this embarrassing scene, he tried to put a good face on the
matter, in spite of his emotion, and said to the magistrate:
"I might confine myself, sir, to silence--disdaining to answer such
accusations, till a judicial decision had given them some kind of
authority. But, strong in a good conscience I address myself to Mdlle.
de Cardoville, and I beg her to say if this very morning I did not inform
her, that her health would soon be sufficiently restored to allow her to
leave this house. I conjure her, in the name of her well-known love of
truth to state if such was not my language, when I was alone with her--"
"Come, sir!" said Rodin, interrupting Baleinier with an insolent air;
"suppose that, from pure generosity, this dear young lady were to admit
as much--what will it prove in your favor?--why, nothing at all."
"What, sir," cried the doctor, "do you presume--"
"I presume to unmask you, without asking your leave. What have you just
told us? Why, that being alone with Mdlle. de Cardoville, you talked to
her as if she were really mad. How very conclusive!"
"But, sir--" cried the doctor.
"But, sir," resumed Rodin, without allowing him to continue, "it is
evident that, foreseeing the possibility of what has occurred to-day,
and, to provide yourself with a hole to creep out at, you have pretended
to believe your own execrable falsehood, in presence of this poor young
lady, that you might afterwards call in aid the evidence of your own
assumed conviction. Come, sir! such stories will not go down with people
of common sense or common humanity."
"Come now, sir!" exclaimed Baleinier, angrily.
"Well, sir," resumed Rodin, in a still louder voice, which completely
drowned that of the doctor; "is it true, or is it not, that you have
recourse to the mean evasion of ascribing this odious imprisonment to a
scientific error? I affirm that you do so, and that you think yourself
safe, because you can now say: `Thanks to my care, the young lady has
recovered her reason. What more would you have?'"
"Yes, I do say that, sir, and I maintain it."
"You maintain a falsehood; for it is proven that the lady never lost her
reason for a moment."
"But I, sir, maintain that she did lose it."
"And I, sir, will prove the contrary," said Rodin.
"You? How will you do that?" cried the doctor.
"That I shall take care not to tell you at present, as you may well
suppose," answered Rodin, with an ironical smile, adding with
indignation: "But, really, sir, you ought to die for shame, to dare to
raise such a question in presence of the lady. You should at least have
spared her this discussion."
"Oh, fie, sir! I say, fie! It is odious to maintain this argument
before her--odious if you speak truth, doubly odious if you lie," said
Rodin, with disgust.
"This violence is inconceivable!" cried the Jesuit of the short robe,
exasperated; "and I think the magistrate shows great partiality in
allowing such gross calumnies to be heaped upon me!"
"Sir," answered M. de Gernande, severely, "I am entitled not only to
hear, but to provoke any contradictory discussion that may enlighten me
in the execution of my duty; it results from all this, that, even in your
opinion, sir, Mdlle. de Cardoville's health is sufficiently good to allow
her to return home immediately."
"At least, I do not see any very serious inconvenience likely to arise
from it, sir," said the doctor: "only I maintain that the cure is not so
complete as it might have been, and, on this subject, I decline all
responsibility for the future."
"You can do so, safely," said Rodin; "it is not likely that the young
lady will ever again have recourse to your honest assistance."
"It is useless, therefore, to employ my official authority, to demand the
immediate liberation of Mdlle. de Cardoville," said the magistrate.
"She is free," said Baleinier, "perfectly free."
"As for the question whether you have imprisoned her on the plea of a
suppositious madness, the law will inquire into it, sir, and you will be
"I am quite easy, sir," answered M. Baleinier, trying to look so; "my
conscience reproaches me with nothing."
"I hope it may turn out well, sir," said M. de Gernande. "However bad
appearances may be, more especially when persons of your station in
society are concerned, we should always wish to be convinced of their
innocence." Then, turning to Adrienne, he added: "I understand, madame,
how painful this scene must be to all your feelings of delicacy and
generosity; hereafter, it will depend upon yourself, either to proceed
for damages against M. Baleinier, or to let the law take its course. One
word more. The bold and upright man"--here the magistrate pointed to
Rodin--"who has taken up your cause in so frank and disinterested a
manner, expressed a belief that you would, perhaps, take charge for the
present of Marshal Simon's daughters, whose liberation I am about to
demand from the convent where they also are confined by stratagem."
"The fact is, sir," replied Adrienne, "that, as soon as I learned the
arrival of Marshal Simon's daughters in Paris, my intention was to offer
them apartments in my house. These young ladies are my near relations.
It is at once a duty and a pleasure for me to treat them as sisters. I
shall, therefore, be doubly grateful to you, sir, if you will trust them
to my care."
"I think that I cannot serve them better," answered M. de Gernande.
Then, addressing Baleinier, he added, "Will you consent, sir, to my
bringing these two ladies hither? I will go and fetch them, while Mdlle.
de Cardoville prepares for her departure. They will then be able to
leave this house with their relation."
"I entreat the lady to make use of this house as her own, until she
leaves it," replied M. Baleinier. "My carriage shall be at her orders to
take her home."
"Madame," said the magistrate, approaching Adrienne, "without prejudging
the question, which must soon be decided by, a court of law, I may at
least regret that I was not called in sooner. Your situation must have
been a very cruel one."
"There will at least remain to me, sir, from this mournful time," said
Adrienne, with graceful dignity, "one precious and touching remembrance--
that of the interest which you have shown me. I hope that you will one
day permit me to thank you, at my own home, not for the justice you have
done me, but for the benevolent and paternal manner in which you have
done it. And moreover, sir," added Mdlle. de Cardoville, with a sweet
smile, "I should like to prove to you, that what they call my cure is
M. de Gernande bowed respectfully in reply. During the abort dialogue of
the magistrate with Adrienne, their backs were both turned to Baleinier
and Rodin. The latter, profiting by this moment's opportunity, hastily
slipped into the doctor's hand a note just written with a pencil in the
bottom of his hat. Baleinier looked at Rodin in stupefied amazement.
But the latter made a peculiar sign, by raising his thumb to his
forehead, and drawing it twice across his brow. Then he remained
impassible. This had passed so rapidly, that when M. de Gernande turned
round, Rodin was at a distance of several steps from Dr. Baleinier, and
looking at Mdlle. de Cardoville with respectful interest.
"Permit me to accompany you, sir," said the doctor, preceding the
magistrate, whom Mdlle. de Cardoville saluted with much affability. Then
both went out, and Rodin remained alone with the young lady.
After conducting M. de Gernande to the outer door of the house, M.
Baleinier made haste to read the pencil-note written by Rodin; it ran as
follows: "The magistrate is going to the convent, by way of the street.
Run round by the garden, and tell the Superior to obey the order I have
given with regard to the two young girls. It is of the utmost
The peculiar sign which Rodin had made, and the tenor of this note,
proved to Dr. Baleinier, who was passing from surprise to amazement, that
the secretary, far from betraying the reverend father, was still acting
for the Greater Glory of the Lord. However, whilst he obeyed the orders,
M. Baleinier sought in vain to penetrate the motives of Rodin's
inexplicable conduct, who had himself informed the authorities of an
affair that was to have been hushed up, and that might have the most
disastrous consequences for Father d'Aigrigny, Madame de Saint-Dizier,
and Baleinier himself. But let us return to Rodin, left alone with
Mdlle, de Cardoville.
FATHER D'AIGRIGNY'S SECRETARY.
Hardly had the magistrate and Dr. Baleinier disappeared, than Mdlle. de
Cardoville, whose countenance was beaming with joy, exclaimed, as she
looked at Rodin with a mixture of respect and gratitude, "At length,
thanks to you, sir, I am free--free! Oh, I had never before felt how
much happiness, expansion, delight, there is in that adorable word--
Her bosom rose and fell, her rosy nostrils dilated, her vermilion lips
were half open, as if she again inhaled with rapture pure and vivifying
"I have been only a few days in this horrible place," she resumed, "but I
have suffered enough from my captivity to make me resolve never to let a
year pass without restoring to liberty some poor prisoners for debt.
This vow no doubt appears to belong a little to the Middle Ages," added
she, with a smile; "but I would fain borrow from that noble epoch
something more than its old windows and furniture. So, doubly thanks,
sir!--for I take you as a partner in that project of deliverance, which
has just (you see) unfolded itself in the midst of the happiness I owe to
you, and by which you seem so much affected. Oh! let my joy speak my
gratitude, and pay you for your generous aid!" exclaimed the young girl
Mdlle. de Cardoville had truly remarked a complete transfiguration in the
countenance of Rodin. This man, lately so harsh, severe, inflexible,
with regard to Dr. Baleinier, appeared now under the influence of the
mildest and most tender sentiments. His little, half-veiled eyes were
fixed upon Adrienne with an expression of ineffable interest. Then, as
if he wished to tear himself from these impressions, he said, speaking to
himself, "Come, come, no weakness. Time is too precious; my mission is
not fulfilled. My dear young lady," added he, addressing himself to
Adrienne, "believe what I say--we will talk hereafter of gratitude--but