Part 19 out of 31
Pierre Simon turned around suddenly, as much struck with the dazzling
beauty of Adrienne as with the words she had just pronounced. He
stammered out in his surprise, "You, madame--a relation--of my children!"
He laid a stress on the last words, and looked at Dagobert in a kind of
"Yes, marshal your children," hastily replied Adrienne; "and the love of
those charming twin sisters--"
"Twin sisters!" cried Pierre Simon, interrupting Mdlle. de Cardoville,
with an outburst of joy impossible to describe. "Two daughters instead
of one! Oh! what happiness for their mother! Pardon me, madame, for
being so impolite," he continued; "and so little grateful for what you
tell me. But you will understand it; I have been seventeen years without
seeing my wife; I come, and I find three loved beings, instead of two.
Thanks, madame: would I could express all the gratitude I owe you! You
are our relation; this is no doubt your house; my wife and children are
with you. Is it so? You think that my sudden appearance might be
prejudicial to them? I will wait--but madame, you, that I am certain are
good as fair--pity my impatience--will make haste to prepare them to
More and more agitated, Dagobert avoided the marshal's gaze, and trembled
like a leaf. Adrienne cast down her eyes without answering. Her heart
sunk within her, at thought of dealing the terrible blow to Marshal
The latter, astonished at this silence, looking at Adrienne, then at the
soldier, became first uneasy, and at last alarmed. "Dagobert!" he
exclaimed, "something is concealed from me!"
"General!" stammered the soldier, "I assure you--I--I--."
"Madame!" cried Pierre Simon, "I conjure you, in pity, speak to me
frankly!--my anxiety is horrible. My first fears return upon me. What
is it? Are my wife and daughters ill? Are they in danger? Oh! speak!
"Your daughters, marshal," said Adrienne "have been rather unwell, since
their long journey--but they are in no danger."
"Oh, heaven! it is my wife!"
"Have courage, sir!" said Mdlle. de Cardoville, sadly. "Alas! you must
seek consolation in the affection of the two angels that remain to you."
"General!" said Dagobert, in a firm grave tone, "I returned from Siberia-
-alone with your two daughters."
"And their mother! their mother!" cried Simon, in a voice of despair.
"I set out with the two orphans the day after her death," said the
"Dead?" exclaimed Pierre Simon, overwhelmed by the stroke; "dead?" A
mournful silence was the only answer. The marshal staggered beneath this
unexpected shock, leaned on the back of a chair for support, and then,
sinking into the seat, concealed his face with his hands. For same
minutes nothing was heard but stifled sobs, for not only had Pierre Simon
idolized his wife, but by one of those singular compromises, that a man
long cruelly tried sometimes makes with destiny, Pierre Simon, with the
fatalism of loving souls, thought he had a right to reckon upon happiness
after so many years of suffering, and had not for a moment doubted that
he should find his wife and child--a double consolation reserved to him
after going through so much. Very different from certain people, whom
the habit of misfortune renders less exacting, Simon had reckoned upon
happiness as complete as had been his misery. His wife and child were
the sole, indispensable conditions of this felicity, and, had the mother
survived her daughters, she would have no more replaced them in his eyes
than they did her. Weakness or avarice of the heart, so it was; we
insist upon this singularity, because the consequences of these incessant
and painful regrets exercised a great influence on the future life of
Marshal Simon. Adrienne and Dagobert had respected the overwhelming
grief of this unfortunate man. When he had given a free course to his
tears, he raised his manly countenance, now of marble paleness, drew his
hand across his blood-shot eyes, rose, and said to Adrienne, "Pardon me,
madame; I could not conquer my first emotion. Permit me to retire. I
have cruel details to ask of the worthy friend who only quitted my wife
at the last moment. Have the kindness to let me see my children--my poor
orphans!--" And the marshal's voice again broke.
"Marshal," said Mdlle. de Cardoville, "just now we were expecting your
dear children: unfortunately, we have been deceived in our hopes."
Pierre Simon first looked at Adrienne without answering, as if he had not
heard or understood.--" But console yourself," resumed the young girl;
"we have yet no reason to despair."
"To despair?" repeated the marshaling by turns at Mdlle. de Cardoville
despair?--of what, in heaven's name?"
"Of seeing your children, marshal," said Adrienne; "the presence of their
father will facilitate the search."
"The search!" cried Pierre Simon. "Then, my daughters are not here?"
"No, sir," said Adrienne, at length; "they have been taken from the
affectionate care of the excellent man who brought them from Russia, to
be removed to a convent."
"Wretch!" cried Pierre Simon, advancing towards Dagobert, with a menacing
and terrible aspect; "you shall answer to me for all!"
"Oh, sir, do not blame him!" cried Mdlle. de Cardoville.
"General," said Dagobert, in a tone of mournful resignation, "I merit
your anger. It is my fault. Forced to absent myself from Paris, I
entrusted the children to my wife; her confessor turned her head, and
persuaded her that your daughters would be better in a convent than at
our house. She believed him, and let them be conveyed there. Now they
say at the convent, that they do not know where they are. This is the
truth: do what you will with me; I have only to silently endure."
"This is infamous!" cried Pierre Simon, pointing to Dagobert, with a
gesture of despairing indignation. "In whom can a man confide, if he has
deceived me? Oh, my God!"
"Stay, marshal! do not blame him," repeated Mdlle. de Cardoville; "do not
think so! He has risked life and honor to rescue your children from the
convent. He is not the only one who has failed in this attempt. Just
now, a magistrate--despite his character and authority--was not more
successful. His firmness towards the superior, his minute search of the
convent, were all in vain. Up to this time it has been impossible to
find these unfortunate children."
"But where's this convent!" cried Marshal Simon, raising his head, his
face all pale and agitated with grief and rage. "Where is it? Do these
vermin know what a father is, deprived of his children?" At the moment
when Marshal Simon, turning towards Dagobert, pronounced these words,
Rodin, holding Rose and Blanche by the hand, appeared at the open door of
the chamber. On hearing the marshal's exclamation, he started with
surprise, and a flash of diabolical joy lit up his grim countenance--for
he had not expected to meet Pierre Simon so opportunely.
Mdlle. de Cardoville was the first to perceive the presence of Rodin.
She exclaimed, as she hastened towards him: "Oh! I was not deceived. He
is still our providence."
"My poor children!" said Rodin, in a low voice, to the young girls, as he
pointed to Pierre Simon, "this is your father!"
"Sir!" cried Adrienne, following close upon Rose and Blanche. "Your
children are here!"
As Simon turned round abruptly, his two daughters threw themselves into
his arms. Here was a long silence, broken only by sobs, and kisses, and
exclamations of joy.
"Come forward, at least, and enjoy the good you have done!" said Mdlle.
de Cardoville, drying her eyes, and turning towards Rodin, who, leaning
against the door, seemed to contemplate this scene with deep emotion.
Dagobert, at sight of Rodin bringing back the children, was at first
struck with stupor, and unable to move a step; but hearing the words of
Adrienne, and yielding to a burst of almost insane gratitude, he threw
himself on his knees before the Jesuit, joined his hands together, and
exclaimed in a broken voice: "You have saved me, by bringing back these
"Oh, bless you, sir!" said Mother Bunch, yielding to the general current.
"My good friends, this is too much," said Rodin, as if his emotions were
beyond his strength; "this is really too much for me. Excuse me to the
marshal, and tell him that I am repaid by the sight of his happiness."
"Pray, sir," said Adrienne, "let the marshal at least have the
opportunity to see and know you."
"Oh, remain! you that have saved us all!" cried Dagobert, trying to stop
"Providence, you know, my dear young lady, does not trouble itself about
the good that is done, but the good that remains to do," said Rodin, with
an accent of playful kindness. "Must I not think of Prince Djalma? My
task is not finished, and moments are precious. Come," he added,
disengaging himself gently from Dagobert's hold, "come the day has been
as good a one as I had hoped.. The Abbe d'Aigrigny is unmasked; you are
free, my dear young lady; you have recovered your cross, my brave
soldier; Mother Bunch is sure of a protectress; the marshal has found his
children. I have my share in all these joys, it is a full share--my
heart is satisfied. Adieu, my friends, till we meet again." So saying,
Rodin waved his hand affectionately to Adrienne, Dagobert, and the
hunchback, and withdrew, waving his hand with a look of delight on
Marshal Simon, who, seated between his daughters, held them in his arms,
and covered them with tears and kisses, remaining quite indifferent to
all that was passing around him.
An hour after this scene, Mdlle. de Cardoville and the sempstress,
Marshal Simon, his two daughters and Dagobert quitted Dr. Beleinier's
In terminating this episode, a few words by way of moral, with regard to
lunatic asylums and convents may not be out of place. We have said, and
we repeat, that the laws which apply to the superintendence of lunatic
asylums appear to us insufficient. Facts that have recently transpired
before the courts, and other facts that have been privately communicated
to us, evidently prove this insufficiency. Doubtless, magistrates have
full power to visit lunatic asylums. They are even required to make such
visits. But we know, from the best authority, that the numerous and
pressing occupations of magistrates, whose number is often out of
proportion with the labor imposed upon them, render these inspections so
rare, that they are, so to speak, illusory. It appears, therefore, to us
advisable to institute a system of inspections, at least twice a month,
especially designed for lunatic asylums, and entrusted to a physician and
a magistrate, so that every complaint may be submitted to a double
examination. Doubtless, the law is sufficient when its ministers are
fully informed; but how many formalities, how many difficulties must be
gone through, before they can be so, particularly when the unfortunate
creature who needs their assistance, already suspected, isolated, and
imprisoned, has no friend to come forward in defence, and demand, in his
or her name, the protection of the authorities! Is it not imperative,
therefore, on the civil power, to meet these necessities by a periodical
and well-organized system of inspection?
What we here say of lunatic asylums will apply with still greater force
to convents for women, seminaries, and houses inhabited by religious
bodies. Recent and notorious facts, with which all France has rung,
have, unfortunately, proved that violence, forcible detention, barbarous
usage, abduction of minors, and illegal imprisonment, accompanied by
torture, are occurrences which, if not frequent, are at least possible in
religious houses. It required singular accidents, audacious and cynical
brutalities; to bring these detestable actions to public knowledge. How
many other victims have been, and, perhaps still are, entombed in those
large silent mansions, where no profane look may penetrate, and which,
through the privileges of the clergy, escape the superintendence of the
civil power. Is it not deplorable that these dwellings should not also
be subject to periodical inspection, by visitors consisting, if it be
desired, of a priest, a magistrate, and some delegate of the municipal
authorities? If nothing takes place, but what is legal, human, and
charitable, in these establishments, which have all the character,
and incur all the responsibility, of public institutions, why this
resistance, this furious indignation of the church party, when any
mention is made of touching what they call their privileges? There is
something higher than the constitutions devised at Rome. We mean the Law
of France--the common law--which grants to all protection, but which, in
return, exacts from all respect and obedience.
THE WANDERING JEW
By Eugene Sue
XL. The East Indian in Paris
XLIII. The Letter
XLIV. Adrienne and Djalma
XLV. The Consultation
XLVI. Mother Bunch's Diary
XLVII. The Diary Continued
XLVIII. The Discovery
XLIX. The Trysting-Place of the Wolves
L. The Common Dwelling-House
LI. The Secret
THE EAST INDIAN IN PARIS.
Since three days, Mdlle. de Cardoville had left Dr. Baleinier's. The
following scene took place in a little dwelling in the Rue Blanche, to
which Djalma had been conducted in the name of his unknown protector.
Fancy to yourself a pretty, circular apartment, hung with Indian drapery,
with purple figures on a gray ground, just relieved by a few threads of
gold. The ceiling, towards the centre, is concealed by similar hangings,
tied together by a thick, silken cord; the two ends of this cord, unequal
in length, terminated, instead of tassels, in two tiny Indian lamps of
gold filigreed-work, marvellously finished. By one of those ingenious
combinations, so common in barbarous countries, these lamps served also
to burn perfumes. Plates of blue crystal, let in between the openings of
the arabesque, and illumined by the interior light, shone with so limpid
an azure, that the golden lamps seemed starred with transparent
sapphires. Light clouds, of whitish vapor rose incessantly from these
lamps, and spread all around their balmy odor.
Daylight was only admitted to this room (it was about two o'clock in the
afternoon) through a little greenhouse, on the other side of a door of
plate-glass, made to slide into the thickness of the wall, by means of a
groove. A Chinese shade was arranged so as to hide or replace this glass
at pleasure. Some dwarf palm tress, plantains, and other Indian
productions, with thick leaves of a metallic green, arranged in clusters
in this conservatory, formed, as it were, the background to two large
variegated bushes of exotic flowers, which were separated by a narrow
path, paved with yellow and blue Japanese tiles, running to the foot of
the glass. The daylight, already much dimmed by the leaves through which
it passed, took a hue of singular mildness as it mingled with the azure
lustre of the perfumed lamps, and the crimson brightness of the fire in
the tall chimney of oriental porphyry. In the obscurity of this
apartment, impregnated with sweet odors and the aromatic vapor of Persian
tobacco, a man with brown, hanging locks, dressed in a long robe of dark
green, fastened round the waist by a parti-colored sash, was kneeling
upon a magnificent Turkey carpet, filling the golden bowl of a hookah;
the long, flexible tube of this pipe, after rolling its folds upon the
carpet, like a scarlet serpent with silver scales, rested between the
slender fingers of Djalma, who was reclining negligently on a divan. The
young prince was bareheaded; his jet-black hair, parted on the middle of
his forehead, streamed waving about his face and neck of antique beauty--
their warm transparent colors resembling amber or topaz. Leaning his
elbow on a cushion, he supported his chin with the palm of his right
hand. The flowing sleeve of his robe, falling back from his arm, which
was round as that of a woman, revealed mysterious signs formerly tattooed
there in India by a Thug's needle. The son of Radja-sing held in his
left hand the amber mouthpiece of his pipe. His robe of magnificent
cashmere, with a border of a thousand hues, reaching to his knee, was
fastened about his slim and well-formed figure by the large folds of an
orange-colored shawl. This robe was half withdrawn from one of the
elegant legs of this Asiatic Antinous, clad in a kind of very close
fitting gaiter of crimson velvet, embroidered with silver, and
terminating in a small white morocco slipper, with a scarlet heel. At
once mild and manly, the countenance of Djalma was expressive of that
melancholy and contemplative calmness habitual to the Indian and the
Arab, who possess the happy privilege of uniting, by a rare combination,
the meditative indolence of the dreamer with the fiery energy of the man
of action--now delicate, nervous, impressionable as women--now
determined, ferocious, and sanguinary as bandits.
And this semi-feminine comparison, applicable to the moral nature of the
Arab and the Indian, so long as they are not carried away by the ardor of
battle and the excitement of carnage, is almost equally applicable to
their physical constitution; for if, like women of good blood, they have
small extremities, slender limbs, fine and supple forms, this delicate
and often charming exterior always covers muscles of steel, full of an
elasticity, and vigor truly masculine. Djalma's oblong eyes, like black
diamonds set in bluish mother-of-pearl, wandered mechanically from the
exotic flowers to the ceiling; from time to time he raised the amber
mouthpiece of the hookah to his lips; then, after a slow aspiration, half
opening his rosy lips, strongly contrasted with the shining enamel of his
teeth, he sent forth a little spiral line of smoke, freshly scented by
the rose-water through which it had passed.
"Shall I put more tobacco in the hookah?" said the kneeling figure,
turning towards Djalma, and revealing the marked and sinister features of
Faringhea the Strangler.
The young prince remained dumb, either that, from an oriental contempt
for certain races, he disdained to answer the half-caste, or that,
absorbed in his reverie, he did not even hear him. The Strangler became
again silent; crouching cross-legged upon the carpet, with his elbows
resting on his knees, and his chin upon his hands, he kept his eyes fixed
on Djalma, and seemed to await the reply or the orders of him whose sire
had been surnamed the Father of the Generous. How had Faringhea, the
sanguinary worshipper of Bowanee, the Divinity of Murder, been brought to
seek or to accept such humble functions? How came this man, possessed of
no vulgar talents, whose passionate eloquence and ferocious energy had
recruited many assassins for the service of the Good Work, to resign
himself to so base a condition? Why, too, had this man, who, profiting
by the young prince's blindness with regard to himself, might have so
easily sacrificed him as an offering to Bowanee--why had he spared the
life of Radja-sings son? Why, in fine, did he expose himself to such
frequent encounters with Rodin, whom he had only known under the most
unfavorable auspices? The sequel of this story will answer all these
questions. We can only say at present, that, after a long interview with
Rodin, two nights before, the Thug had quitted him with downcast eyes and
After having remained silent for some time, Djalma, following with his
eye the cloud of whitish smoke that he had just sent forth into space,
addressed Faringhea, without looking at him, and said to him in the
language, as hyperbolical as concise, of Orientals: "Time passes. The
old man with the good heart does not come. But he will come. His word
is his word."
"His word is his word, my lord," repeated Faringhea, in an affirmative
tone. "When he came to fetch you, three days ago, from the house whither
those wretches, m furtherance of their wicked designs, had conveyed you
in a deep sleep--after throwing me, your watchful and devoted servant,
into a similar state--he said to you: 'The unknown friend, who sent for
you to Cardoville Castle, bids me come to you, prince. Have confidence,
and follow me. A worthy abode is prepared for you.'--And again, he said
to you, my lord: 'Consent not to leave the house, until my return. Your
interest requires it. In three days you will see me again, and then be
restored to perfect freedom.' You consented to those terms, my lord, and
for three days you have not left the house."
"And I wait for the old man with impatience," said Djalma, "for this
solitude is heavy with me. There must be so many things to admire in
Paris. Above all."
Djalma did not finish the sentence, but relapsed into a reverie. After
some moments' silence, the son of Radja-sing said suddenly to Faringhea,
in the tone of an impatient yet indolent sultan: "Speak to me!"
"Of what shall I speak, my lord?"
"Of what you will," said Djalma, with careless contempt, as he fixed on
the ceiling his eyes, half-veiled with languor. "One thought pursues me
--I wish to be diverted from it. Speak to me."
Faringhea threw a piercing glance on the countenance of the young Indian,
and saw that his cheeks were colored with a slight blush. "My lord,"
said the half-caste, "I can guess your thought."
Djalma shook his head, without looking at the Strangler. The latter
resumed: "You are thinking of the women of Paris, my lord."
"Be silent, slave!" said Djalma, turning abruptly on the sofa, as if some
painful wound had been touched to the quick. Faringhea obeyed.
After the lapse of some moments. Djalma broke forth again with
impatience, throwing aside the tube of the hookah, and veiling both eyes
with his hands: "Your words are better than silence. Cursed be my
thoughts, and the spirit which calls up these phantoms!"
"Why should you fly these thoughts, my lord? You are nineteen years of
age, and hitherto all your youth has been spent in war and captivity. Up
to this time, you have remained as chaste as Gabriel, that young
Christian priest, who accompanied us on our voyage."
Though Faringhea did not at all depart from his respectful deference for
the prince, the latter felt that there was something of irony in the tone
of the half-caste, as he pronounced the word "chaste."
Djalma said to him with a mixture of pride and severity: "I do not wish
to pass for a barbarian, as they call us, with these civilized people;
therefore I glory in my chastity."
"I do not understand, my lord."
"I may perhaps love some woman, pure as was my mother when she married my
father; and to ask for purity from a woman, a man must be chaste as she."
At this, Faringhea could not refrain from a sardonic smile.
"Why do you laugh, slave?" said the young prince, imperiously.
"Among civilized people, as you call them, my lord, the man who married
in the flower of his innocence would be mortally wounded with ridicule."
"It is false, slave! He would only be ridiculous if he married one that
was not pure as himself."
"Then, my lord, he would not only be wounded--he would be killed
outright, for he would be doubly and unmercifully laughed at."
"It is false! it is false. Where did you learn all this?"
"I have seen Parisian women at the Isle of France, and at Pondicherry, my
lord. Moreover, I learned a good deal during our voyage; I talked with a
young officer, while you conversed with the young priest."
"So, like the sultans of our harems, civilized men require of women the
innocence they have themselves lost."
"They require it the more, the less they have of it, my lord."
"To require without any return, is to act as a master to his slave; by
"By the right of the strongest--as it is among us, my lord."
"And what do the women do?"
"They prevent the men from being too ridiculous, when they marry, in the
eyes of the world."
"But they kill a woman that is false?" said Djalma, raising himself
abruptly, and fixing upon Faringhea a savage look, that sparkled with
"They kill her, my lord, as with us--when they find her out."
"Despots like ourselves! Why then do these civilized men not shut up
their women, to force them to a fidelity which they do not practise?"
"Because their civilization is barbarous, and their barbarism civilized,
"All this is sad enough, if true," observed Djalma, with a pensive air,
adding, with a species of enthusiasm, employing, as usual, the mystic and
figurative language familiar to the people of his country; "yes, your
talk afflicts me, slave--for two drops of dew blending in the cup of a
flower are as hearts that mingle in a pure and virgin love; and two rays
of light united in one inextinguishable flame, are as the burning and
eternal joys of lovers joined in wedlock."
Djalma spoke of the pure enjoyments of the soul with inexpressible grace,
yet it was when he painted less ideal happiness, that his eyes shone like
stars; he shuddered slightly, his nostrils swelled, the pale gold of his
complexion became vermilion, and the young prince sank into a deep
Faringhea, having remarked this emotion, thus spoke: "If, like the proud
and brilliant king-bird of our woods, you prefer numerous and varied
pleasures to solitary and monotonous amours--handsome, young, rich as you
are, my lord, were you to seek out the seductive Parisians--voluptuous
phantoms of your nights--charming tormentors of your dreams--were you to
cast upon them looks bold as a challenge, supplicating as prayers, ardent
as desires--do you not think that many a half-veiled eye would borrow
fire from your glance? Then it would no longer be the monotonous
delights of a single love, the heavy chain of our life--no, it would be
the thousand pleasures of the harem--a harem peopled with free and proud
beauties, whom happy love would make your slaves. So long constrained,
there is no such thing as excess to you. Believe me, it would then be
you, the ardent, the magnificent son of our country, that would become
the love and pride of these women--the most seductive in the world, who
would soon have for you no looks but those of languor and passion."
Djalma had listened to Faringhea with silent eagerness. The expression
of his features had completely changed; it was no longer the melancholy
and dreaming youth, invoking the sacred remembrance of his mother, and
finding only in the dew of heaven, in the calyx of flowers, images
sufficiently pure to paint the chastity of the love he dreamed of; it was
no longer even the young man, blushing with a modest ardor at the thought
of the permitted joys of a legitimate union. No! the incitements of
Faringhea had kindled a subterraneous fire; the inflamed countenance of
Djalma, his eyes now sparkling and now veiled, his manly and sonorous
respiration, announced the heat of his blood, the boiling up of the
passions, only the more energetic, that they had been hitherto
So, springing suddenly from the divan, supple, vigorous, and light as a
young tiger, Djalma clutched Faringhea by the throat exclaiming: "Thy
words are burning poison!"
"My lord," said Faringhea, without opposing the least resistance, "your
slave is your slave." This submission disarmed the prince.
"My life belongs to you," repeated the half-caste.
"I belong to you, slave!" cried Djalma, repulsing him. "Just now, I hung
upon your lips, devouring your dangerous lies."
"Lies, my lord? Only appear before these women, and their looks will
confirm my words."
"These women love me!--me, who have only lived in war and in the woods?"
"The thought that you, so young, have already waged bloody war on men and
tigers, will make them adore, my lord."
"I tell you, my lord, on seeing your hand, as delicate as theirs, but
which has been so often bathed in hostile blood, they will wish to caress
it; and they will kiss it again, when they think that, in our forests,
with loaded rifle, and a poniard between your teeth, you smiled at the
roaring of a lion or panther for whom you lay in wait."
"But I am a savage--a barbarian."
"And for that very reason you will have them at your feet. They will
feel themselves both terrified and charmed by all the violence and fury,
the rage of jealousy, the passion and the love, to which a man of your
blood, your youth, your ardor must be subject. To-day mild and tender,
to-morrow fierce and suspicious, another time ardent and passionate, such
you will be--and such you ought to be, if you wish to win them. Yes; let
a kiss of rage be heard between two kisses: let a dagger glitter in the
midst of caresses, and they will fall before you, palpitating with
pleasure, love, and fear--and you will be to them, not a man, but a god."
"Dost think so?" cried Djalma, carried away in spite of himself by the
Thug's wild eloquence.
"You know, you feel, that I speak the truth," cried the latter, extending
his arm towards the young Indian.
"Why, yes!" exclaimed Djalma, his eyes sparkling, his nostrils swelling,
as he moved about the apartment with savage bounds. "I know not if I
possess my reason, or if I am intoxicated, but it seems to me that you
speak truth. Yes, I feel that they will love me with madness and fury,
because my love will be mad and furious they will tremble with pleasure
and fear, because the very thought of it makes me tremble with delight
and terror. Slave, it is true; there is something exciting and fearful
in such a love!" As he spoke forth these words, Djalma was superb in his
impetuous sensuality. It is a rare thing to see a young man arrive in
his native purity, at the age in which are developed, in all their
powerful energy, those admirable instincts of love, which God has
implanted in the heart of his creatures, and which, repressed, disguised,
or perverted, may unseat the reason, or generate mad excesses and
frightful crimes--but which, directed towards a great and noble passion,
may and must, by their very violence, elevate man, through devotion and
tenderness, to the limits of the ideal.
"Oh! this woman--this woman, before whom I am to tremble--and who, in
turn, must tremble before me--where is she?" cried Djalma, with redoubled
excitement. "Shall I ever find her?"
"One is a good deal, my lord," replied Faringhea, with his sardonic
coolness; "he who looks for one woman, will rarely succeed in this
country; he who seeks women, is only at a loss to choose."
As the half-caste made this impertinent answer to Djalma, a very elegant
blue-and-white carriage stopped before the garden-gate of the house,
which opened upon a deserted street. It was drawn by a pair of beautiful
blood-horses, of a cream color, with black manes and tails. The
scutcheons on the harness were of silver, as were also the buttons of the
servants' livery, which was blue with white collars. On the blue
hammercloth, also laced with white, as well as on the panels of the
doors, were lozenge-shaped coats of arms, without crest or coronet, as
usually borne by unmarried daughters of noble families. Two women were
in this carriage--Mdlle. de Cardoville and Florine.
To explain the arrival of Mdlle. de Cardoville at the garden-door of the
house occupied by Djalma, we must cast a retrospective glance at previous
events. On leaving Doctor Baleinier's, Mdlle. de Cardoville had gone to
take up her residence in the Rue d'Anjou. During the last few months of
her stay with her aunt, Adrienne had secretly caused this handsome
dwelling to be repaired and furnished, and its luxury and elegance were
now increased by all the wonders of the lodge of Saint-Dizier House. The
world found it very strange, that a lady of the age and condition of
Mdlle. de Cardoville should take the resolution of living completely
alone and free, and, in fact, of keeping house exactly like a bachelor, a
young widow, or an emancipated minor. The world pretended not to know
that Mdlle. de Cardoville possessed what is often wanting in men, whether
of age or twice of age--a firm character, a lofty mind, a generous heart,
strong and vigorous good sense.
Judging that she would require faithful assistance in the internal
management of her house, Adrienne had written to the bailiff of
Cardoville, and his wife, old family servants, to come immediately to
Paris: M. Dupont thus filled the office of steward, and Mme. Dupont that
of housekeeper. An old friend of Adrienne's father, the Count de
Montbron, an accomplished old man, once very much in fashion, and still a
connoisseur in all sorts of elegances, had advised Adrienne to act like a
princess, and take an equerry; recommended for this office a man of good
rearing and ripe age, who, himself an amateur in horses, had been ruined
in England, at Newmarket, the Derby, and Tattersall's, and reduced, as
sometimes happened to gentlemen in that country, to drive the stage-
coaches, thus finding an honest method of earning his bread, and at the
same time gratifying his taste for horses. Such was M. de Bonneville, M.
de Montbron's choice. Both from age and habits, this equerry could
accompany Mdlle. de Cardoville on horseback, and better than any one
else, superintend the stable. He accepted, therefore, the employment
with gratitude, and, thanks to his skill and attention, the equipages of
Mdlle. de Cardoville were not eclipsed in style by anything of the kind
in Paris. Mdlle. de Cardoville had taken back her women, Hebe,
Georgette, and Florine. The latter was at first to have re-entered the
service of the Princess de Saint-Dizier, to continue her part of spy for
the superior of St. Mary's Convent; but, in consequence of the new
direction given by Rodin to the Rennepont affair, it was decided that
Florine, if possible, should return to the service of Mdlle. de
Cardoville. This confidential place, enabling this unfortunate creature
to render important and mysterious services to the people who held her
fate in their hands, forced her to infamous treachery. Unfortunately,
all things favored this machination. We know that Florine, in her
interview with Mother Bunch, a few days after Mdlle. de Cardoville was
imprisoned at Dr. Baleinier's, had yielded to a twinge of remorse, and
given to the sempstress advice likely to be of use to Adrienne's
interests--sending word to Agricola not to deliver to Madame de Saint-
Dizier the papers found in the hiding-place of the pavilion, but only to
entrust them to Mdlle. de Cardoville herself. The latter, afterwards
informed of these details by Mother Bunch, felt a double degree of
confidence and interest in Florine, took her back into her service with
gratitude, and almost immediately charged her with a confidential
mission--that of superintending the arrangements of the house hired for
Djalma's habitation. As for Mother Bunch (yielding to the solicitations
of Mdlle. de Cardoville, and finding she was no longer of use to
Dagobert's wife, of whom we shall speak hereafter), she had consented to
take up her abode in the hotel on the Rue d'Anjou, along with Adrienne,
who with that rare sagacity of the heart peculiar to her, entrusted the
young sempstress, who served her also as a secretary, with the department
Mdlle. de Cardoville had at first thought of entertaining her merely as a
friend, wishing to pay homage in her person to probity with labor,
resignation in sorrow, and intelligence in poverty; but knowing the
workgirl's natural dignity, she feared, with reason that, notwithstanding
the delicate circumspection with which the hospitality would be offered,
Mother Bunch might perceive in it alms in disguise. Adrienne preferred,
therefore, whilst she treated her as a friend, to give her a confidential
employment. In this manner the great delicacy of the needlewoman would
be spared, since she could earn her livelihood by performing duties which
would at the same time satisfy her praiseworthy instincts of charity. In
fact, she could fulfil, better than any one, the sacred mission confided
to her by Adrienne. Her cruel experience in misfortune, the goodness of
her angelic soul, the elevation of her mind, her rare activity, her
penetration with regard to the painful secrets of poverty, her perfect
knowledge of the industrial classes, were sufficient security for the
tact and intelligence with which the excellent creature would second the
generous intentions of Mdlle. de Cardoville.
Let us now speak of the divers events which, on that day, preceded the
coming of Mdlle. de Cardoville to the garden-gate of the house in the Rue
Blanche. About ten o'clock in the morning, the blinds of Adrienne's
bedchamber, closely shut, admitted no ray of daylight to this apartment,
which was only lighted by a spherical lamp of oriental alabaster,
suspended from the ceiling by three long silver chains. This apartment,
terminating in a dome, was in the form of a tent with eight sides. From
the ceiling to the floor, it was hung with white silk, covered with long
draperies of muslin, fastened in large puffs to the wall, by bands caught
in at regular distances by plates of ivory. Two doors, also of ivory,
admirably encrusted with mother-of-pearl, led, one to the bath-room, the
other to the toilet-chamber, a sort of little temple dedicated to the
worship of beauty, and furnished as it had been at the pavilion of Saint-
Dizier House. Two other compartments of the wall were occupied by
windows, completely veiled with drapery. Opposite the bed, enclosing
splendid fire-dogs of chased silver, was a chimney-piece of white marble,
like crystallized snow, on which were sculptured two magnificent
caryatides, and a frieze representing birds and flowers. Above this
frieze, carved in openwork with extreme delicacy, was a marble basket,
filled with red camellias. Their leaves of shining green their flowers
of a delicate rosy hue, were the only colors that disturbed the
harmonious whiteness of this virgin retreat. Finally, half surrounded by
waves of white muslin, which poured down from the dome like a mass of
light clouds, the bed was visible--very low, and resting on feet of
carved ivory, which stood upon the ermine carpet that covered the floor.
With the exception of a plinth, also in ivory, admirably inlaid with
mother-of-pearl, the bed was entirely covered with white satin, wadded
and quilted like an immense scent-bag. The cambric sheets, trimmed with
lace, being a little disturbed on one side, discovered the corner of a
white taffety mattress, and a light counterpane of watered stuff--for an
equal temperature always reigned in this apartment, warm as a fine spring
From a singular scruple, arising from the same sentiment which had caused
Adrienne to have inscribed on a masterpiece of goldsmith's work the name
of the maker instead of that of the seller, she had wished all these
articles, so costly and sumptuous, to be manufactured by workmen chosen
amongst the most intelligent, honest, and industrious of their class,
whom she had supplied with the necessary materials. In this manner she
had been able to add to the price of the work the profit usually gained
by the middle man, who speculates in such labor; this notable
augmentation of wages had spread happiness and comfort through a hundred
necessitous families, who, blessing the munificence of Adrienne, gave
her, as she said, the right to enjoy her luxury as a good action.
Nothing could be fresher or more charming than the interior of this
bedchamber. Mdlle. de Cardoville had just awoke; she reposed in the
middle of this flood of muslin, lace, cambric, and white silk, in a
position full of sweet grace. Never during the night did she cover that
beautiful golden hair (a certain recipe, said the Greeks, for preserving
it for a long while in magnificence). Every evening, her women arranged
her long silky curls in flat tresses, forming two broad bands, which,
descending sufficiently low almost entirely to conceal the small ear, the
rosy lobe of which was alone visible, were joined to the large plait
behind the head.
This head-dress, borrowed from Greek antiquity, set off to admiration the
pure, fine features of Mdlle. de Cardoville, and made her look so much
younger, that, instead of eighteen, one would hardly have given her
fifteen years of age. Gathered thus closely about the temples, the hair
lost its transparent and brilliant hues, and would have appeared almost
brown, but for the golden tints which played here and there, amid the
undulations of the tresses. Lulled in that morning torpor, the warm
languor of which is so favorable to soft reveries, Adrienne leaned with
her elbow on the pillow, and her head a little on one side, which
displayed to advantage the ideal contour of her bared neck and shoulders;
her smiling lips, moist and rosy, were, like her cheeks, cold as if they
had just been bathed in ice-water; her snow-white lids half veiled the
large, dark, soft eyes, which now gazed languidly upon vacancy, and now
fixed themselves with pleasure upon the rosy flowers and green leaves in
the basket of camellias. Who can paint the matchless serenity of
Adrienne's awaking--when the fair and chaste soul roused itself in the
fair and chaste body? It was the awakening of a heart as pure as the
fresh and balmy breath of youth, that made her bosom rise and fall in its
white, immaculate purity. What creed, what dogma, what formula, what
religious symbol, oh! paternal and divine Creator! can ever give a more
complete idea of Thy harmonious and ineffable power, than the image of a
young maiden awaking in the bloom of her beauty, and in all the grace of
that modesty with which Thou hast endowed her, seeking, in her dreamy
innocence, for the secret of that celestial instinct of love, which Thou
hast placed in the bosom of all Thy creatures--oh! Thou whose love is
eternal, and goodness infinite!
The confused thoughts which, since her sleep, had appeared gently to
agitate Adrienne, absorbed her more and more; her head resting on her
bosom, her beautiful arm upon the couch, her features without becoming
precisely sad, assumed an expression of touching melancholy. Her dearest
desire was accomplished; she was about to live independent and alone.
But this affectionate, delicate, expansive, and marvellously complete
nature, felt that God had not given her such rare treasures, to bury them
in a cold and selfish solitude. She felt how much that was great and
beautiful might be inspired by love, both in herself, and in him that
should be worthy of her. Confiding in her courage, and the nobleness of
her character, proud of the example that she wished to give to other
women, knowing that all eyes would be fixed enviously upon her, she felt,
as it were, only too sure of herself; far from fearing that she should
make a bad choice, she rather feared, that she should not find any from
whom to choose, so pure and perfect was her taste. And, even had she met
with her own ideal, she had views so singular and so just, so
extraordinary and yet so sensible, with regard to the independence and
dignity of woman, that, inexorably determined to make no concession upon
this head, she asked herself if the man of her choice would ever accept
the hitherto unheard-of conditions that she meant to impose. In
recalling to her remembrance the possible suitors that she had met in the
world, she remembered also the dark, but true picture, which Rodin had
drawn with so much caustic bitterness. She remembered, too, not without
a certain pride, the encouragement this man had given her, not by
flattery, but by advising her to follow out and accomplish a great,
generous, and beautiful design. The current or the caprice of fancy soon
brought Adrienne to think of Djalma. Whilst she congratulated herself on
having paid to her royal kinsman the duties of a kingly hospitality, the
young lady was far from regarding the prince as the hero of her future.
And first she said to herself, not unreasonably, that this half-savage
boy, with passions, if not untamable, yet untamed, transported on a
sudden into the midst of a refined civilization, would be inevitably
destined to fiery trials and violent transformations. Now Mdlle. de
Cardoville, having nothing masculine or despotic in her character, had no
wish to civilize the young savage. Therefore, notwithstanding the
interest, or rather because of the interest, which she felt for the young
Indian, she was firmly resolved, not to make herself known to him, till
after the lapse of two or three months; and she determined also, that,
even if Djalma should learn by chance that she was his relation, she
would not receive his visit. She desired, if not to try him, at least to
leave him free in all his acts, so that he might expend the first fire of
his passions, good or bad. But not wishing to abandon him quite without
defence to the perils of Parisian life, she requested the Count de
Montbron, in confidence, to introduce Prince Djalma to the best company
in Paris, and to enlighten him by the counsels of his long experience.
M. de Montbron had received the request of Mdlle. de Cardoville with the
greatest pleasure, taking delight, he said, in starting his royal tiger
in drawing-rooms, and bringing him into contact with the flower of the
fine ladies and gentlemen of Paris, offering at the same time to wager
any amount in favor of his half-savage pupil.
"As for myself, my dear Count," said Adrienne to M. de Montbron, with her
usual frankness, "my resolution is not to be shaken. You have told me
the effect that will be produced in the fashionable world, by the first
appearance of Prince Djalma, an Indian nineteen years of age, of
surprising beauty, proud and wild as a young lion arriving from his
forest; it is new, it is extraordinary, you added; and, therefore, all
the coquetries of civilized life will pursue him with an eagerness which
makes me tremble for him. Now, seriously, my dear count it will not suit
me to appear as the rival of so many fine ladies, who are about to expose
themselves intrepidly to the claws of the young tiger. I take great
interest in him, because he is my cousin, because he is handsome, because
he is brave, and above all because he does not wear that horrible
European dress. No doubt these are rare qualities--but not sufficient to
make me change my mind. Besides, the good old philosopher, my new
friend, has given me advice about this Indian, which you, my dear Count,
who are not a philosopher, will yet approve. It is, for some time, to
receive visits at home, but not to visit other people--which will spare
me the awkwardness of meeting my royal cousin, and allow me to make a
careful choice, even amongst my usual society. As my house will be an
excellent one, my position most unusual, and as I shall be suspected of
all sorts of naughty secrets, I shall be in no want of inquisitive
visitors, who will amuse me a good deal, I assure you."
And as M. de Montbron asked, if the exile of the poor young Indian tiger
was to last long, Adrienne answered: "As I shall see most of the
persons, to whom you will introduce him, I shall be pleased to hear
different opinions about him. If certain men speak well of him, and
certain women ill, I shall have good hope of him. In a word, the opinion
that I come to, in sifting the true from the false (you may leave that to
my sagacity), will shorten or prolong the exile of my royal cousin."
Such were the formal intentions of Mdlle. de Cardoville with regard to
Djalma, even on the day she went with Florine to the house he occupied.
In a word, she had positively resolved not to be known to him for some
months to come.
After long reflecting that morning, on the chances that might yet offer
themselves to satisfy the wants of her heart, Adrienne fell into a new,
deep reverie. This charming creature, so full of life and youth, heaved
a low sigh, raised her arms above her head, turned her profile towards
the pillow, and remained for some moments as if powerless and vanquished.
Motionless beneath the white tissues that wrapped her round, she looked
like a fair, marble statue, visible beneath a light layer of snow.
Suddenly, Adrienne raised herself up, drew her hand across her brow, and
rang for her women. At the first silver tone of the bell, the two ivory
doors opened. Georgette appeared on the threshold of the dressing-room,
from which Frisky, a little black and-tan dog, with his golden collar,
escaped with a joyful barking. Hebe appeared at the same time on the
threshold of the bath-room. At the further end of this apartment,
lighted from above, might be seen upon a green mat of Spanish leather,
with golden ornaments, a crystal bath in the form of a long shell. The
three only divisions in this masterpiece of glass work, were concealed by
the elegant device of several large reeds in silver, which rose from the
wide base of the bath, also of wrought silver, representing children and
dolphins playing, among branches of natural coral, and azure shells.
Nothing could be more pleasing than the effect of these purple reeds and
ultramarine shells, upon a dull ground of silver; the balsamic vapor,
which rose from the warm, limpid, and perfumed water, that filled the
crystal shell, spread through the bath-room, and floated like a light
cloud into the sleeping-chamber.
Seeing Hebe in her fresh and pretty costume, bringing her a long bathing-
gown, hanging upon a bare and dimpled arm, Adrienne said to her: "Where
is Florine, my child?"
"Madame, she went downstairs two hours ago; she was wanted for something
"Who wanted her?"
"The young person who serves Madame as secretary. She went out this
morning very early; and, as soon as she returned, she sent for Florine,
who has not come back since."
"This absence no doubt relates to some important affair of my angelic
minister of succor," said Adrienne, smiling, and thinking of the
hunchback. Then she made a sign to Hebe to approach her bed.
About two hours after rising, Adrienne, having had herself dressed, as
usual, with rare elegance, dismissed her women, and sent for Mother
Bunch, whom she treated with marked deference, always receiving her
alone. The young sempstress entered hastily, with a pale, agitated
countenance, and said, in a trembling voice: "Oh, madame! my
presentiments were justified. You are betrayed."
"Of what presentiments do you speak, my dear child!" said Adrienne, with
surprise. "Who betrays me?"
"M. Rodin!" answered the workgirl.
On hearing the accusation brought against Rodin, Mdlle. de Cardoville
looked at the denunciator with new astonishment. Before continuing this
scene, we may say that Mother Bunch was no longer clad in her poor, old
clothes, but was dressed in black, with as much simplicity as taste. The
sad color seemed to indicate her renunciation of all human vanity, the
eternal mourning of her heart, and the austere duties imposed upon her by
her devotion to misfortune. With her black gown, she wore a large
falling collar, white and neat as her little gauze cap, with its gray
ribbons, which, revealing her bands of fine brown hair, set off to
advantage her pale and melancholy countenance, with its soft blue eyes.
Her long, delicate hands, preserved from the cold by gloves, were no
longer, as formerly, of a violet hue, but of an almost transparent
Her agitated features expressed a lively uneasiness. Extremely
surprised, Mdlle. de Cardoville exclaimed: "What do you say?"
"M. Rodin betrays you, madame."
"M. Rodin? Impossible!"
"Oh, madame! my presentiments did not deceive me."
"The first time I saw M. Rodin, I was frightened in spite of myself. My
heart sank within me, and I trembled--for you, madame."
"For me?" said Adrienne. "Why did you not tremble for yourself, my poor
"I do not know, madame; but such was my first impression. And this fear
was so invincible, that, notwithstanding the kindness that M. Rodin
showed my sister, he frightened me, none the less."
"That is strange. I can understand as well as any one the almost
irresistible influence of sympathies or aversions; but, in this
instance--However," resumed Adrienne, after a moment's reflection, "no
matter for that; how have these suspicions been changed to certainty?"
"Yesterday, I went to take to my sister Cephyse, the assistance that M.
Rodin had given me, in the name of a charitable person. I did not find
Cephyse at the friend's who had taken care of her; I therefore begged the
portress, to inform my sister that I would call again this morning. That
is what I did; but you must excuse me, madame, some necessary details."
"Speak, speak, my dear."
"The young girl who had received my sister," said Mother Bunch, with
embarrassment, casting down her eyes and blushing, "does not lead a very
regular life. A person, with whom she has gone on several parties of
pleasure, one M. Dumoulin, had informed her of the real name of M. Rodin,
who has a kind of lodging in that house, and there goes by the name of
"That is just what he told us at Dr. Baleinier's; and, the day before
yesterday, when I again alluded to the circumstance, he explained to me
the necessity in which he was, for certain reasons, to have a humble
retreat in that remote quarter--and I could not but approve of his
"Well, then! yesterday, M. Rodin received a visit from the Abbe
"The Abbe d'Aigrigny!" exclaimed Mdlle. de Cardoville.
"Yes, madame; he remained for two hours shut up with M. Rodin."
"My child, you must have been deceived."
"I was told, madame, that the Abbe d'Aigrigny had called in the morning
to see M. Rodin; not finding him at home, he had left with the portress
his name written on a slip of paper, with the words, 'I shall return in
two hours.' The girl of whom I spoke, madame, had seen this slip of
paper. As all that concerns M. Rodin appears mysterious enough, she had
the curiosity to wait for M. d'Aigrigny in the porter's lodge, and, about
two hours afterwards, he indeed returned, and saw M. Rodin."
"No, no," said Adrienne, shuddering; "it is impossible. There must be
"I think not, madame; for, knowing how serious such a discovery would be,
I begged the young girl to describe to me the appearance of M.
"The Abbe d'Aigrigny, she told me, is about forty years of age. He is
tall and upright, dresses plainly, but with care; has gray eyes, very
large and piercing, thick eyebrows, chestnut-colored hair, a face closely
shaved, and a very decided aspect."
"It is true," said Adrienne, hardly able to believe what she heard. "The
description is exact."
"Wishing to have all possible details," resumed Mother Bunch, "I asked
the portress if M. Rodin and the Abbe d'Aigrigny appeared to be at
variance when they quitted the house? She replied no, but that the Abbe
said to M. Rodin, as they parted at the door: 'I will write to you
tomorrow, as agreed.'"
"Is it a dream? Good heaven!" said Adrienne, drawing her hands across
her forehead in a sort of stupor. "I cannot doubt your word, my poor
friend; and yet it is M. Rodin who himself sent you to that house, to
give assistance to your sister: would he have wilfully laid open to you
his secret interviews with the Abbe d'Aigrigny? It would have been bad
policy in a traitor."
"That is true, and the same reflection occurred to me. And yet the
meeting of these two men appeared so dangerous to you, madame, that I
returned home full of terror."
Characters of extreme honesty are very hard to convince of the treachery
of others: the more infamous the deception, the more they are inclined to
doubt it. Adrienne was one of these characters, rectitude being a prime
quality of her mind. Though deeply impressed by the communication, she
remarked: "Come, my dear, do not let us frighten ourselves too soon, or
be over-hasty in believing evil. Let us try to enlighten ourselves by
reasoning, and first of all remember facts. M. Rodin opened for me the
doors of Dr. Baleinier's asylum; in my presence, he brought, his charge
against the Abbe d'Aigrigny; he forced the superior of the convent to
restore Marshal Simon's daughters, he succeeded in discovering the
retreat of Prince Djalma--he faithfully executed my intentions with
regard to my young cousin; only yesterday, he gave me the most useful
advice. All this is true--is it not?"
"Now suppose that M. Rodin, putting things in their worst light, had some
after-thought--that he hopes to be liberally rewarded, for instance;
hitherto, at least, he has shown complete disinterestedness."
"That also is true, madame," said poor Mother Bunch, obliged, like
Adrienne, to admit the evidence of fixed facts.
"Now let us look to the possibility of treachery. Unite with the Abbe
d'Aigrigny to betray me! Betray me?--how? and for what purpose? What
have I to fear? Is it not the Abbe d'Aigrigny, on the contrary, is it
not Madame de Saint-Dizier, who have to render an account for the
injuries they have done me?"
"But, then, madame, how do you explain the meeting of these two men, who
have so many motives for mutual aversion? May there not be some dark
project still behind? Besides, madame, I am not the only one to think
"How is that?"
"This morning, on my return, I was so much agitated, that Mdlle. Florine
asked me the cause of my trouble. I know, madame, how much she is
devoted to you."
"Nobody could be more so; only recently, you yourself informed me of the
signal service she rendered, during my confinement at Dr. Baleinier's."
"Well, madame, this morning, on my return, thinking it necessary to have
you informed as soon as possible, I told all to Mdlle. Florine. Like me
--even more, perhaps--she was terrified at the meeting of Rodin and M.
"After a moment's reflection, she said to me: 'It is, I think, useless to
disturb my mistress at present; it can be of no importance whether she is
informed of this treachery two or three hours sooner or later; during
that time I may be able to discover something more. I have an idea,
which I think a good one. Make my excuses to my mistress; I shall soon
be back.' Then Florine sent for a hackney-coach, and went out."
"Florine is an excellent girl," said Mdlle. de Cardoville, with a smile,
for further reflection had quite reassured her: "but, on this occasion, I
think that her zeal and good heart have deceived her, as they have you,
my poor friend. Do you know, that we are two madcaps, you and I, not to
have thought of one thing, which would have put us quite at our ease?"
"How so, madame?"
"The Abbe d'Aigrigny fears M. Rodin; he may have sought him out, to
entreat his forbearance. Do you not find this explanation both
satisfactory and reasonable?"
"Perhaps so, madame," said Mother Bunch, after a moment's reflection;
"yes, it is probable." But after another silence, and as if yielding to
a conviction superior to every possible argument, she exclaimed: "And
yet, no; believe me, madame, you are deceived. I feel it. All
appearances may be against what I affirm; yet, believe me, these
presentiments are too strong not to be true. And have you not guessed
the most secret instincts of my heart? Why should I not be able to guess
the dangers with which you are menaced?"
"What do you say? what have I guessed?" replied Mdlle. de Cardoville,
involuntarily impressed by the other's tone of conviction and alarm.
"What have you guessed?" resumed the latter. "All the troublesome
susceptibility of an unfortunate creature, to whom destiny has decreed a
life apart. If I have hitherto been silent, it is not from ignorance of
what I owe you. Who told you, madame, that the only way to make me
accept your favors without blushing, was to give me some employment, that
would enable me to soothe the misfortunes I had so long shared? Who told
you, when you wished me to have a seat at your table, and to treat as
your friend the poor needlewoman, in whose person you sought to honor,
resignation and honest industry--who told you, when I answered with tears
of gratitude and regret, that it was not false modesty, but a
consciousness of my own ridiculous deformity, that made me refuse your
offer? Who told you that, but for this, I should have accepted it
proudly, in the name of all my low-born sisters? But you replied to me
with the touching words: 'I understand your refusal, my friend; it is not
occasioned by false modesty, but by a sentiment of dignity that I love
and respect.' Who told you," continued the workgirl, with increasing
animation, "that I should be so happy to find a little solitary retreat
in this magnificent house, which dazzles me with its splendor? Who
guided you in the choice of the apartment (still far too good) that you
have provided for me? Who taught you, that, without envying the beauty
of the charming creatures that surround you, and whom I love because they
love you, I should always feel, by an involuntary comparison, embarrassed
and ashamed before them? Who told you therefore to send them away,
whenever you wished to speak with me? Yes! who has revealed to you all
the painful and secret susceptibilities of a position like mine! Who has
revealed them to you? God, no doubt! who in His infinite majesty creates
worlds, and yet cares for the poor little insect hidden beneath the
grass. And you think, that the gratitude of a heart you have understood
so well, cannot rise in its turn to the knowledge of what may be hurtful
to you? No, no, lady; some people have the instinct of self-
preservation; others have the still more precious instinct that enables
them to preserve those they love. God has given me this instinct. I
tell you that you are betrayed!" And with animated look, and cheeks
slightly colored with emotion, the speaker laid such stress upon the last
words, and accompanied them with such energetic gesture, that Mdlle. de
Cardoville already shaken by the girl's warmth, began almost to share in
her apprehensions. Then, although she had before learned to appreciate
the superior intelligence of this poor child of the people, Mdlle. de
Cardoville had never till now heard her friend express herself with so
much eloquence--an eloquence, too, that was inspired by the noblest
sentiments. This circumstance added to the impression made upon
Adrienne. But at the moment she was about to answer, a knock was heard
at the door of the room, and Florine entered.
On seeing the alarmed countenance of her waiting-maid, Mdlle. de
Cardoville said hastily: "Well, Florine! what news? Whence come you, my
"From Saint-Dizier House, madame."
"And why did you go there?" asked Mdlle. de Cardoville, with surprise.
"This morning," said Florine, glancing at the workgirl, "madame, there,
confided to me her suspicions and uneasiness. I shared in them. The
visit of the Abbe d'Aigrigny to M. Rodin appeared to me very serious. I
thought, if it should turn out that M. Rodin had been during the last few
days to Saint-Dizier House, there would be no longer any doubt of his
"True," said Adrienne, more and more uneasy. "Well?"
"As I had been charged to superintend the removal from the lodge, I knew
that several things had remained there. To obtain admittance, I had to
apply to Mrs. Grivois. I had thus a pretext for returning to the hotel."
"What next, Florine, what next?"
"I endeavored to get Mrs. Grivois to talk of M. Rodin; but it was in
"She suspected you," said the workgirl. "It was to be anticipated."
"I asked her," continued Florine, "if they had seen M. Rodin at the hotel
lately. She answered evasively. Then despairing of getting anything out
of her," continued Florine, "I left Mrs. Grivois, and that my visit might
excite no suspicion, I went to the pavilion--when, as I turn down the
avenue--whom do I see? why, M. Rodin himself, hastening towards the
little garden-door, wishing no doubt to depart unnoticed by that way."
"Madame, you hear," cried Mother Bunch, clasping her hands with a
supplicating air; "such evidence should convince you."
"M. Rodin at the Princess de Saint-Dizier's!" cried Mdlle. de Cardoville,
whose glance, generally so mild, now suddenly flashed with vehement
indignation. Then she added, in a tone of considerable emotion,
"At sight of M. Rodin, I stopped," proceeded Florine, "and keeping a
little on one side, I gained the pavilion without being seen. I looked
out into the street, through the closed blinds, and perceived a hackney
coach. It was waiting for M. Rodin, for, a minute after, he got into it,
saying to the coachman, 'No. 39, Rue Blanche'
"The prince's!" exclaimed Mdlle. de Cardoville.
"Yes, M. Rodin was to see him to-day," said Adrienne, reflecting.
"No doubt he betrays you, madame, and the prince also; the latter will be
made his victim more easily than you."
"Shame! shame!" cried Mdlle. de Cardoville, on a sudden, as she rose, all
her features contracted with painful anger. "After such a piece of
treachery, it is enough to make us doubt of everything--even of
"Oh, madame! is it not dreadful?" said Mother Bunch, shuddering.
"But, then, why did he rescue me and mine, and accuse the Abbe
d'Aigrigny?" wondered Mdlle. de Cardoville. "Of a truth, it is enough to
make one lose one's reason. It is an abyss--but, oh! how frightful is
"As I returned," said Florine, casting a look of affectionate devotion on
her mistress, "I thought of a way to make all clear; but there is not a
minute to lose."
"What do you mean?" said Adrienne, looking at Florine with surprise.
"M. Rodin will soon be alone with the prince," said Florine.
"No doubt," replied Adrienne.
"The prince always sits in a little room that opens upon a greenhouse.
It is there that he will receive M. Rodin."
"What then?" resumed Adrienne.
"This greenhouse, which I had arranged according to your orders, has only
one issue--by a door leading into a little lane. The gardener gets in
that way every morning, so as not to have to pass through the apartments.
Having finished his work, he does not return thither during the day."
"What do you mean? what is your project?" said Adrienne, looking at
Florine with growing surprise.
"The plants are so disposed, that, I think, if even the shade were not
there, which screens the glass that separates the saloon from the
greenhouse, one might get near enough to hear what was passing in the
room, without being seen. When I was superintending the arrangements, I
always entered by this greenhouse door. The gardener had one key, and I
another. Luckily, I have not yet parted with mine. Within an hour, you
may know how far to trust M. Rodin. If he betrays the prince, he betrays
"What say you?" cried Mdlle. de Cardoville.
"Set out instantly with me; we reach the side door; I enter alone, for
precaution sake--if all is right, I return--"
"You would have me turn spy?" said Mdlle. de Cardoville, haughtily,
interrupting Florine. "You cannot think it.
"I beg your pardon, madame," said the girl, casting down her eyes, with
confused and sorrowful air; "you had suspicions, and me seems 'tis the
only way to confirm or destroy them."
"Stoop to listen to a conversation--never!" replied Adrienne.
"Madame," said Mother Bunch, suddenly, after same moments' thought,
"permit me to tell you that Mdlle. Florine is right. The plan proposed
is a painful one, but it is the only way in which you can clear up,
perhaps, for ever, your doubts as to M. Rodin. Notwithstanding the
evidence of facts, in spite of the almost certainty of my presentiments,
appearances may deceive us. I was the first who accused M. Rodin to you.
I should not forgive myself all the rest of my life, did I accuse him
wrongfully. Beyond doubt, it is painful, as you say, madame, to listen
to a conversation--" Then, with a violent effort to console herself, she
added, as she strove to repress her tears, "Yet, as your safety is at
stake, madame--for, if this be treachery, the future prospect is
dreadful--I will go in your place--to--"
"Not a word more, I entreat you," cried Mdlle. de Cardoville,
interrupting. "Let you, my poor friend, do for me what I thought
degrading to do myself? Never!"
Then, turning to Florine, she added, "Tell M. de Bonneville to have the
carriage got ready on the instant."
"You consent, then!" cried Florine, clasping her hands, and not seeking
to conceal her joy; and her eyes also became full of tears.
"Yes, I consent," answered Adrienne, with emotion. "If it is to be war--
war to the knife, that they would wage with me--I must be prepared for
it; and, come to think of it, it would only be weakness and folly not to
put myself on my guard. No doubt this step costs me much, and is very
repugnant to me, but it is the only way to put an end to suspicions that
would be a continual torment to me, and perhaps to prevent still greater
evils. Yes! for many important reasons, this interview of M. Rodin with
Prince Djalma may be doubly decisive to me--as to the confidence, or the
inexorable hate, that I must henceforth feel for M. Rodin. So, Florine,
quick!--my cloak and bonnet, and the carriage. You will go with me. As
for you, my dear, pray wait for me here," she added, turning to the work-
Half an hour after this conversation, Adrienne's carriage stopped, as we
have before seen, at the little garden-gate of the house in the Rue
Blanche. Florine entered the greenhouse and soon returned to her
mistress. "The shade is down, madame. M. Rodin has just entered the
prince's room." Mdlle. de Cardoville was, therefore, present, though
invisible, at the following scene, which took place between Rodin and
Some minutes before the entrance of Mdlle. de Cardoville into the
greenhouse, Rodin had been introduced by Faringhea into the presence of
the prince, who, still under the influence of the burning excitement into
which he had been plunged by the words of the half-caste, did not appear
to perceive the Jesuit. The latter, surprised at the animated expression
of Djalma's countenance, and his almost frantic air, made a sign of
interrogation to Faringhea, who answered him privately in the following
symbolical manner:--After laying his forefinger on his head and heart, he
pointed to the fire burning in the chimney, signifying by his pantomimic
action that the head and heart of Djalma were both in flames. No doubt
Rodin understood him, for an imperceptible smile of satisfaction played
upon his wan lips; then he said aloud to Faringhea, "I wish to be alone
with the prince. Let down the shade and see that we are not
interrupted." The half-caste bowed, and touched a spring near the sheet
of plate-glass, which slid into the wall as the blind descended; then,
again bowing, Faringhea left the room. It was shortly after that Mdlle.
de Cardoville and Florine entered the greenhouse, which was now only
separated from the room in which was Djalma, by the transparent thickness
of a shade of white silk, embroidered with large colored birds. The
noise of the door, which Faringhea closed as he went out, seemed to
recall the young Indian to himself; his features, though still animated,
recovered their habitual expression of mildness and gentleness; he
started, drew his hand across his brow, looked around him, as if waking
up from a deep reverie, and then, advancing towards Rodin, with an air as
respectful as confused, he said to him, using the expression commonly
applied to old men in his country, "Pardon me, father." Still following
the customs of his nation, so full of deference towards age, he took
Rodin's hand to raise it to his lips, but the Jesuit drew back a step,
and refused his homage.
"For what do you ask pardon, my dear prince?" said he to Djalma.
"When you entered, I was in a dream; I did not come to meet you. Once
more, pardon me, father!"
"Once more, I forgive you with all my heart, my dear prince. But let us
have some talk. Pray resume your place on the couch, and your pipe, too,
if you like it."
But Djalma, instead of adopting the suggestion, and throwing himself on
the divan, according to his custom, insisted on seating himself in a
chair, notwithstanding all the persuasions of "the Old Man with the Good
Heart," as he always called the Jesuit.
"Really, your politeness troubles me, my dear prince," said Rodin; "you
are here at home in India; at least, we wish you to think so."
"Many things remind me of my country," said Djalma, in a mild grave tone.
"Your goodness reminds me of my father, and of him who was a father to
me," added the Indian, as he thought of Marshal Simon, whose arrival in
Paris had been purposely concealed from him.
After a moment's silence, he resumed in a tone full of affectionate
warmth, as he stretched out his hand to Rodin, "You are come, and I am
"I understand your joy, my dear prince, for I come to take you out of
prison--to open your cage for you. I had begged you to submit to a brief
seclusion, entirely for your own interest."
"Can I go out to-morrow?"
"To-day, my dear prince, if you please."
The young Indian reflected for a moment, and then resumed, "I must have
friends, since I am here in a palace that does not belong to me."
"Certainly you have friends--excellent friends," answered Rodin. At
these words, Djalma's countenance seemed to acquire fresh beauty. The
most noble sentiments were expressed in his fine features; his large
black eyes became slightly humid, and, after another interval of silence,
he rose and said to Rodin with emotion: "Come!"
"Whither, dear prince?" said the other, much surprised.
"To thank my friends. I have waited three days. It is long."
"Permit me dear prince--I have much to tell you on this subject--please
to be seated."
Djalma resumed his seat with docility. Rodin continued: "It is true that
you have friends; or rather, you have a friend. Friends are rare."
"What are you?"
"Well, then, you have two friends, my dear prince--myself, whom you know,
and one other, whom you do not know, and who desires to remain unknown to
"Why?" answered Rodin, after a moment's embarrassment. "Because the
happiness he feels in giving you these proofs of his friendship and even
his own tranquillity, depend upon preserving this mystery."
"Why should there be concealment when we do good?"
"Sometimes, to conceal the good we do, my dear prince."
"I profit by this friendship; why should he conceal himself from one?"
These repeated questions of the young Indian appeared to puzzle Rodin,
who, however, replied: "I have told you, my dear prince, that your secret
friend would perhaps have his tranquillity compromised, if he were
"If he were known--as my friend?"
"Exactly so, dear prince."
The countenance of Djalma immediately assumed an appearance of sorrowful
dignity; he raised his head proudly, and said in a stern and haughty
voice: "Since this friend hides himself from me, he must either be
ashamed of me, or there is reason for me to be ashamed of him. I only
accept hospitality from those who are worthy of me, and who think me
worthy of them. I leave this house." So saying, Djalma rose with such
an air of determination, that Rodin exclaimed: "Listen to me, my dear
prince. Allow me to tell you, that your petulance and touchiness are
almost incredible. Though we have endeavored to remind you of your
beautiful country, we are here in Europe, in France, in the centre of
Paris. This consideration may perhaps a little modify your views.
Listen to me, I conjure you."
Notwithstanding his complete ignorance of certain social
conventionalisms, Djalma had too much good sense and uprightness, not to
appreciate reason, when it appeared reasonable. The words of Rodin
calmed him. With that ingenuous modesty, with which natures full of
strength and generosity are almost always endowed, he answered mildly:
"You are right, father. I am no longer in my own country. Here the
customs are different. I will reflect upon it."
Notwithstanding his craft and suppleness, Rodin sometimes found himself
perplexed by the wild and unforseen ideas of the young Indian. Thus he
saw, to his great surprise, that Djalma now remained pensive for some
minutes, after which he resumed in a calm but firm tone: "I have obeyed
you, father: I have reflected."
"Well, my dear prince?"
"In no country in the world, under no pretext, should a man of honor
conceal his friendship for another man of honor."
"But suppose there should be danger in avowing this friendship?" said
Rodin, very uneasy at the turn the conversation was taking. Djalma eyed
the Jesuit with contemptuous astonishment, and made no reply.
"I understand your silence, my dear prince: a brave man ought to defy
danger. True; but if it should be you that the danger threatens, in case
this friendship were discovered, would not your man of honor be
excusable, even praiseworthy, to persist in remaining unknown?"
"I accept nothing from a friend, who thinks me capable of denying him
"Dear prince--listen to me."
"I have said it," replied Djalma, in an abrupt and almost sovereign tone,
as he walked towards the door.
"But suppose a woman were concerned," cried Rodin, driven to extremity,
and hastening after the young Indian, for he really feared that Djalma
might rush from the house, and thus overthrow all his projects.
At the last words of Rodin the Indian stopped abruptly. "A woman!" said
he, with a start, and turning red. "A woman is concerned?"
"Why, yes! suppose it were a woman," resumed Rodin, "would you not then
understand her reserve, and the secrecy with which she is obliged to
surround the marks of affection she wishes to give you?"
"A woman! repeated Djalma, in a trembling voice, clasping his hands in
adoration; and his beautiful countenance was expressive of the deepest
emotion. "A woman!" said he again. "A Parisian?"
"Yes, my dear prince, as you force me to this indiscretion, I will
confess to you that your friend is a real Parisian--a noble matron,
endowed with the highest virtues--whose age alone merits all your
"She is very old, then?" cried poor Djalma, whose charming dream was thus
"She may be a few years older than I am," answered Rodin, with an
ironical smile, expecting to see the young man express a sort of comical
disappointment or angry regret.
But it was not so. To the passionate enthusiasm of love, which had for a
moment lighted up the prince's features, there now succeeded a respectful
and touching expression. He looked at Rodin with emotion, and said to
him in a broken voice: "This woman, is then, a mother to me?"
It is impossible to describe with what a pious, melancholy, and tender
charm the Indian uttered the word mother.
"You have it, my dear prince; this respectable lady wishes to be a mother
to you. But I may not reveal to you the cause of the affection she feels
for you. Only, believe me--this affection is sincere, and the cause
honorable. If I do not tell you her secret, it is that, with us, the
secrets of women, young or old, are equally sacred."
"That is right, and I will respect it. Without seeing her, I will love
her--as I love God, without seeing Him."
"And now, my dear prince, let me tell you what are the intentions of your
maternal friend. This house will remain at your disposal, as long as you
like it; French servants, a carriage, and horses, will be at your orders;
the charges of your housekeeping will be paid for you. Then, as the son
of a king should live royalty, I have left in the next room a casket
containing five hundred Louis; every month a similar sum will be
provided: if it should not be found sufficient for your little
amusements, you will tell me, and it shall be augmented."
At a movement of Djalma, Rodin hastened to add: "I must tell you at once,
my dear prince, that your delicacy may be quite at ease. First of all,
you may accept anything from a mother; next, as in about three months you
will come into possession of an immense inheritance, it will be easy for
you, if you feel the obligation a burden--and the sum cannot exceed, at
the most, four or five thousand Louis--to repay these advances. Spare
nothing, then, but satisfy all your fancies. You are expected to appear
in the great world of Paris, in a style becoming the son of a king who
was called the Father of the Generous. So once again I conjure you not
to be restrained by a false delicacy; if this sum should not be
"I will ask for more. My mother is right; the son of a monarch ought to
Such was the answer of the Indian, made with perfect simplicity, and
without any appearance of astonishment at these magnificent offers. This
was natural. Djalma would have done for others what they were doing for
him, for the traditions of the prodigal magnificence and splendid
hospitality of Indian princes are well known. Djalma had been as moved
as grateful, on hearing that a woman loved him with maternal affection.
As for the luxury with which she nought to surround him, he accepted it
without astonishment and without scruple. This resignation, again,
somewhat disconcerted Rodin, who had prepared many excellent arguments to
persuade the Indian to accept his offers.
"Well, then, it's all agreed, my dear prince," resumed the Jesuit. "Now,
as you must see the world, it's just as well to enter by the best door,
as we say. One of the friends of your maternal protectress, the Count de
Montbron, an old nobleman of the greatest experience, and belonging to
the first society, will introduce you in some of the best houses in
"Will you not introduce me, father?"
"Alas! my dear prince, look at me. Tell me, if you think I am fitted
for such an office. No. no; I live alone and retired from the world.
And then," added Rodin, after a short silence, fixing a penetrating,
attentive, and curious look upon the prince, as if he would have
subjected him to a sort of experiment by what follows; "and then, you
see, M. de Montbron will be better able than I should, in the world you
are about to enter, to enlighten you as to the snares that will be laid
for you. For if you have friends, you have also enemies--cowardly
enemies, as you know, who have abused your confidence in an infamous
manner, and have made sport of you. And as, unfortunately, their power
is equal to their wickedness, it would perhaps be more prudent in you to
try to avoid them--to fly, instead of resisting them openly."
At the remembrance of his enemies, at the thought of flying from them,
Djalma trembled in every limb; his features became of a lurid paleness;
his eyes wide open, so that the pupil was encircled with white, sparkled
with lurid fire; never had scorn, hatred, and the desire of vengeance,
expressed themselves so terribly on a human face. His upper lip, blood-
red, was curled convulsively, exposing a row of small, white, and close-
set teeth, and giving to his countenance lately so charming, an air of
such animal ferocity, that Rodin started from his seat, and exclaimed:
"What is the matter, prince? You frighten me."
Djalma did not answer. Half leaning forward, with his hands clinched in
rage, he seemed to cling to one of the arms of the chair, for fear of
yielding to a burst of terrific fury. At this moment, the amber
mouthpiece of his pipe rolled, by chance, under one of his feet; the
violent tension, which contracted all the muscles of the young Indian,
was so powerful, and notwithstanding his youth and his light figure, he
was endowed with such vigor, that with one abrupt stamp he powdered to
dust the piece of amber, in spite of its extreme hardness.
"In the name of heaven, what is the matter, prince?" cried Rodin.
"Thus would I crush my cowardly enemies!" exclaimed Djalma, with menacing
and excited look. Then, as if these words had brought his rage to a
climax, he bounded from his seat, and, with haggard eyes, strode about
the room for some seconds in all directions, as if he sought for some
weapon, and uttered from time to time a hoarse cry, which he endeavored
to stifle by thrusting his clinched fist against his mouth, whilst his
jaws moved convulsively. It was the impotent rage of a wild beast,
thirsting for blood. Yet, in all this, the young Indian preserved a
great and savage beauty; it was evident that these instincts of
sanguinary ardor and blind intrepidity, now excited to this pitch by
horror of treachery and cowardice, when applied to war, or to those
gigantic Indian hunts, which are even more bloody than a battle, must
make of Djalma what he really was a hero.
Rodin admired, with deep and ominous joy, the fiery impetuosity of
passion in the young Indian, for, under various conceivable
circumstances, the effect must be terrible. Suddenly, to the Jesuit's
great surprise, the tempest was appeased. Djalma's fury was calmed thus
instantaneously, because refection showed him how vain it was: ashamed of
his childish violence, he cast down his eyes. His countenance remained
pale and gloomy; and, with a cold tranquillity, far more formidable than
the violence to which he had yielded, he said to Rodin: "Father, you will
this day lead me to meet my enemies."
"In what end, my dear prince? What would you do?"
"Kill the cowards!"
"Kill them! you must not think of it."
"Faringhea will aid me."
"Remember, you are not on the banks of the Ganges, and here one does not
kill an enemy like a hunted tiger."
"One fights with a loyal enemy, but one kills a traitor like an accursed
dog," replied Djalma, with as much conviction as tranquillity.
"Ah, prince, whose father was the Father of the Generous," said Rodin, in
a grave voice; "what pleasure can you find in striking down creatures as
cowardly as they are wicked?"
"To destroy what is dangerous, is a duty."
"So prince, you seek for revenge."
"I do not revenge myself on a serpent," said the Indian, with haughty
bitterness; "I crush it."
"But, my dear prince, here we cannot get rid of our enemies in that
manner. If we have cause of complaint--"
"Women and children complain," said Djalma, interrupting Rodin: "men
"Still on the banks of the Ganges, my dear prince. Here society takes
your cause into its own hands, examines, judges, and if there be good
"In my own quarrel, I am both judge and executioner."
"Pray listen to me; you have escaped the odious snares of your enemies,
have you not?--Well! suppose it were thanks to the devotion of the
venerable woman who has for you the tenderness of a mother, and that she
were to ask you to forgive them--she, who saved you from their hands--
what would you do then?"
The Indian hung his head, and was silent. Profiting by his hesitation,
Rodin continued: "I might say to you that I know your enemies, but that
in the dread of seeing you commit some terrible imprudence, I would
conceal their names from you forever. But no! I swear to you, that if
the respectable person, who loves you as her son, should find it either
right or useful that I should tell you their names, I will do so--until
she has pronounced, I must be silent."
Djalma looked at Rodin with a dark and wrathful air. At this moment,
Faringhea entered, and said to Rodin: "A man with a letter, not finding
you at home, has been sent on here. Am I to receive it? He says it
comes from the Abbe d'Aigrigny.
"Certainly," answered Rodin. "That is," he added, "with the prince's
Djalma nodded in reply; Faringhea went out.
"You will excuse what I have done, dear prince. I expected this morning
a very important letter. As it was late in coming to hand, I ordered it
to be sent on."
A few minutes after, Faringhea returned with the letter, which he
delivered to Rodin--and the half-caste again withdrew.
ADRIENNE AND DJALMA.
When Faringhea had quitted the room, Rodin took the letter from Abbe
d'Aigrigny with one hand, and with the other appeared to be looking for
something, first in the side pocket of his great-coat, then in the pocket
behind, then in that of his trousers; and, not finding what he sought, he
laid the letter on his knee, and felt himself all over with both hands,
with an air of regret and uneasiness. The divers movements of this
pantomime, performed in the most natural manner, were crowned by the
"Oh! dear me! how vexatious!"
"What is the matter?" asked Djalma, starting from the gloomy silence in
which he had been plunged for some minutes.
"Alas! my dear prince!" replied Rodin, "the most vulgar and puerile
accident may sometimes cause the greatest inconvenience. I have
forgotten or lost my spectacles. Now, in this twilight, with the very
poor eyesight that years of labor have left me, it will be absolutely
impossible for me to read this most important letter--and an immediate
answer is expected--most simple and categorical--a yes or a no. Times
presses; it is really most annoying. If," added Rodin, laying great
stress on his words, without looking at Djalma, but so as the prince
might remark it; "if only some one would render me the service to read it
for me; but there is no one--no--one!"
"Father," said Djalma, obligingly, "shall I read it for you. When I have
finished it, I shall forget what I have read."
"You?" cried Rodin, as if the proposition of the Indian had appeared to
him extravagant and dangerous; "it is impossible, prince, for you to read
"Then excuse my having offered," said Djalma mildly.
"And yet," resumed Rodin, after a moment's reflection, and as if speaking
to himself, "why not?"
And he added, addressing Djalma: "Would you really be so obliging, my
dear prince? I should not have ventured to ask you this service."
So saying, Rodin delivered the letter to Djalma, who read aloud as
follows: "'Your visit this morning to Saint-Dizier House can only be
considered, from what I hear, as a new act of aggression on your part.
"'Here is the last proposition I have to make. It may be as fruitless as
the step I took yesterday, when I called upon you in the Rue Clovis.
"'After that long and painful explanation, I told you that I would write
to you. I keep my promise, and here is my ultimatum.
"'First of all, a piece of advice. Beware! If you are determined to
maintain so unequal a struggle, you will be exposed even to the hatred of
those whom you so foolishly seek to protect. There are a thousand ways
to ruin you with them, by enlightening them as to your protects. It will
be proved to them, that you have shared in the plat, which you now
pretend to reveal, not from generosity, but from cupidity.'" Though
Djalma had the delicacy to feel that the least question on the subject of
this letter would be a serious indiscretion, he could not forbear turning
his head suddenly towards the Jesuit, as he read the last passage.
"Oh, yes! it relates to me. Such as you see me, my dear prince," added
he, glancing at his shabby clothes, "I am accused of cupidity."
"And who are these people that you protect?"
"Those I protect?" said Rodin feigning some hesitation, as if he had been
embarrassed to find an answer; "who are those I protect? Hem--hem--I
will tell you. They are poor devils without resources; good people
without a penny, having only a just cause on their side, in a lawsuit in
which they are engaged. They are threatened with destruction by powerful
parties--very powerful parties; but, happily, these latter are known to
me, and I am able to unmask them. What else could have been? Being
myself poor and weak, I range myself naturally on the side of the poor
and weak. But continue, I beg of you."
Djalma resumed: "'You have therefore every-thing to fear if you persist
in your hostility, and nothing to gain by taking the side of those whom
you call your friends. They might more justly be termed your dupes, for
your disinterestedness would be inexplicable, were it sincere. It must
therefore conceal some after-thought of cupidity.
"'Well! in that view of the case, we can offer you ample compensation--
with this difference, that your hopes are now entirely founded on the
probable gratitude of your friends, a very doubtful chance at the best,
whereas our offers will be realized on the instant. To speak clearly,
this is what we ask, what we exact of you. This very night, before
twelve, you must have left Paris, and engage not to return for six
months.'" Djalma could not repress a movement of surprise, and looked at
"Quite natural," said the latter; "the cause of my poor friends would be
judged by that time, and I should be unable to watch over them. You see
how it is, my dear prince," added Rodin, with bitter indignation. "But
please continue, and excuse me for having interrupted you; though,
indeed, such impudence disgusts me."
Djalma continued: "'That we may be certain of your removal from Paris for
six months, you will go to the house of one of our friends in Germany.
You will there be received with generous hospitality, but forcibly
detained until the expiration of the term.'"
"Yes, yes! a voluntary prison," said Rodin.
"'On these conditions, you will receive a pension of one thousand francs
a month, to begin from your departure from Paris, ten thousand francs
down, and twenty thousand at the end of the six months--the whole to be
completely secured to you. Finally, at the end of the six months, we
will place you in a position both honorable and independent.'"
Djalma having stopped short, with involuntary indignation, Rodin said to
him: "Let me beg you to continue, my dear prince. Read to the end, and
it will give you some idea of what passes in the midst of our
Djalma resumed: "'You know well enough the course of affairs, and what we
are, to feel that in providing for your absence, we only wish to get rid
of an enemy, not very dangerous, but rather troublesome. Do not be
blinded by your first success. The results of your denunciation will be
stifled, because they are calumnious. The judge who received your
evidence will soon repent his odious partiality. You may make what use
you please of this letter. We know what we write, to whom we write, and
how we write. You will receive this letter at three o'clock; if by four
o'clock we have not your full and complete acceptance, written with your
own hand at the bottom of this letter, war must commence between us--and
not from to-morrow, but on the instant.'"
Having finished reading the letter, Djalma looked at Rodin, who said to
him: "Permit me to summon Faringhea."
He rang the bell, and the half-caste appeared. Rodin took the letter
from the hands of Djalma, tore it into halves, rubbed it between his
palms, so as to make a sort of a ball, and said to the half-caste, as he
returned it to him: "Give this palter to the person who waits for it,
and tell him that is my only answer to his shameless and insolent letter;
you understand me--this shameless and insolent letter."
"I understand." said the half-caste; and he went out.
"This will perhaps be a dangerous war for you, father, said the Indian,
"Yes, dear prince, it may be dangerous, but I am not like you; I have no
wish to kill my enemies, because they are cowardly and wicked. I fight
them under the shield of the law. Imitate me in this." Then, seeing
that the countenance of Djalma darkened, he added: "I am wrong. I will
advise you no more on this subject. Only, let us defer the decision to
the judgment of your noble and motherly protectress. I shall see her to-
morrow; if she consents, I will tell you the names of your enemies. If
"And this woman, this second mother," said Djalma, "is her character
such, that I can rely on her judgment?"
"She!" cried Rodin, clasping his hands, and speaking with increased
excitement. "Why, she is the most noble, the most generous, the most
valiant being upon earth!--why, if you were really her son, and she loved
you with all the strength of maternal affection, and a case arose in
which you had to choose between an act of baseness and death, she would
say to you: 'Die!' though she might herself die with you."
"Oh, noble woman! so was my mother!" cried Djalma, with enthusiasm.
"Yes," resumed Rodin, with growing energy, as he approached the window
concealed by the shade, towards which he threw an oblique and anxious
glance, "if you would imagine your protectress, think only of courage,
uprightness, and loyalty personified. Oh! she has the chivalrous
frankness of the brave man, joined with the high-souled dignity of the
woman, who not only never in her life told a falsehood, never concealed a
single thought, but who would rather die than give way to the least of
those sentiments of craft and dissimulation, which are almost forced upon
ordinary women by the situation in which they are placed."
It is difficult to express the admiration which shone upon the
countenance of Djalma, as he listened to this description. His eyes
sparkled, his cheeks glowed, his heart palpitated with enthusiasm.
"That is well, noble heart!" said Rodin to him, drawing still nearer to
the blind; "I love to see your soul sparkle through your eyes, on hearing
me speak thus of your unknown protectress. Oh! but she is worthy of the
pious adoration which noble hearts and great characters inspire!"
"Oh! I believe you," cried Djalma, with enthusiasm; "my heart is full of
admiration and also of astonishment, for my mother is no more, and yet
such a woman exists!"
"Yes, she exists. For the consolation of the afflicted, for the glory of
her sex, she exists. For the honor of truth, and the shame of falsehood,
she exists. No lie, no disguise, has ever tainted her loyalty, brilliant
and heroic as the sword of a knight. It is but a few days ago that this
noble woman spoke to me these admirable words, which, in all my life, I
shall not forget: 'Sir,' she said, 'if ever I suspect any one that I love
Rodin did not finish. The shade, so violently shaken that the spring
broke, was drawn up abruptly, and, to the great astonishment of Djalma,
Mdlle. de Cardoville appeared before him. Adrienne's cloak had fallen
from her shoulders, and in the violence of the movement with which she
had approached the blind, her bonnet, the strings of which were untied,
had also fallen. Having left home suddenly, with only just time to throw
a mantle over the picturesque and charming costume which she often chose
to wear when alone, she appeared so radiant with beauty to Djalma's
dazzled eyes, in the centre of those leaves and flowers, that the Indian
believed himself under the influence of a dream.
With clasped hands, eyes wide open, the body slightly bent forward, as if
in the act of prayer, he stood petrified with admiration, Mdlle. de
Cardoville, much agitated, and her countenance glowing with emotion,
remained on the threshold of the greenhouse, without entering the room.
All this had passed in less time than it takes to describe it. Hardly
had the blind been raised, than Rodin, feigning surprise, exclaimed: "You
"Oh, sir!" said Adrienne, in an agitated voice, "I come to terminate the
phrase which you have commenced. I told you, that when a suspicion
crossed my mind, I uttered it aloud to the person by whom it was
inspired. Well! I confess it: I have failed in this honesty. I came
here as a spy upon you, when your answer to the Abbe d'Aigrigny was
giving me a new pledge of your devotion and sincerity. I doubted your
uprightness at the moment when you were bearing testimony to my
frankness. For the first time in my life, I stooped to deceit; this
weakness merits punishment, and I submit to it--demands reparation, and I
make it--calls for apologies, and I tender them to you." Then turning
towards Djalma, she added: "Now, prince, I am no longer mistress of my
secret. I am your relation, Mdlle. de Cardoville; and I hope you will
accept from a sister the hospitality that you did not refuse from a
Djalma made no reply. Plunged in ecstatic contemplation of this sudden
apparition, which surpassed his wildest and most dazzling visions, he
felt a sort of intoxication, which, paralyzing the power of thought,
concentrated all his faculties in the one sense of sight; and just as we
sometimes seek in vain to satisfy unquenchable thirst, the burning look
of the Indian sought, as it were, with devouring avidity, to take in all
the rare perfections of the young lady. Verily, never had two more
divine types of beauty met face to face. Adrienne and Djalma were the
very ideal of a handsome youth and maiden. There seemed to be something
providential in the meeting of these two natures, so young and so
vivacious, so generous and so full of passion, so heroic and so proud,
who, before coming into contact, had, singularly enough, each learned the
moral worth of the other; for if, at the words of Rodin, Djalma had felt
arise in his heart an admiration, as lively as it was sudden, for the
valiant and generous qualities of that unknown benefactress, whom he now
discovered in Mdlle. de Cardoville, the latter had, in her turn, been
moved, affected, almost terrified, by the interview she had just
overheard, in which Djalma had displayed the nobleness of his soul, the
delicate goodness of his heart, and the terrible transports of his
temper. Then she had not been able to repress a movement of
astonishment, almost admiration, at sight of the surprising beauty of the
prince; and soon after, a strange, painful sentiment, a sort of electric
shock, seemed to penetrate all her being, as her eyes encountered
Cruelly agitated, and suffering deeply from this agitation, she tried to
dissemble the impression she had received, by addressing Rodin, to
apologize for having suspected him. But the obstinate silence of the
Indian redoubled the lady's painful embarrassment. Again raising her
eyes towards the prince, to invite him to respond to her fraternal offer,
she met his ardent gaze wildly fixed upon her, and she looked once more
with a mixture of fear, sadness, and wounded pride; then she
congratulated herself on having foreseen the inexorable necessity of
keeping Djalma at a distance from her, such apprehension did this ardent
and impetuous nature already inspire. Wishing to put an end to her
present painful situation, she said to Rodin, in a low and trembling
voice, "Pray, sir, speak to the prince; repeat to him my offers. I
cannot remain longer." So saying, Adrienne turned, as if to rejoin
Florine. But, at the first step, Djalma sprang towards her with the
bound of a tiger, about to be deprived of his prey. Terrified by the
expression of wild excitement which inflamed the Indian's countenance,
the young lady drew back with a loud scream.
At this, Djalma remembered himself, and all that had passed. Pale with
regret and shame, trembling, dismayed, his eyes streaming with tears, and
all his features marked with an expression of the most touching despair,
he fell at Adrienne's feet, and lifting his clasped hands towards her,
said in a soft, supplicating, timid voice: "Oh, remain! remain! do not
leave me. I have waited for you so long!" To this prayer, uttered with
the timid simplicity of a child, and a resignation which contrasted
strangely with the savage violence that had so frightened Adrienne, she
replied, as she made a sign to Florine to prepare for their departure:
"Prince, it is impossible for me to remain longer here."
"But you will return?" said Djalma, striving to restrain his tears. "I
shall see you again?"
"Oh, no! never--never!" said Mdlle. de Cardoville, in a failing voice.