Part 22 out of 31
forward, pressed his forehead hard against the breast of his adversary.
"The Wolf will break the Devourer's teeth, and he shall devour no more,"
said the quarryman.
"You are no true Wolf," answered the smith, redoubling his efforts; "the
true Wolves are honest fellows, and do not come ten against one."
"True or false, I will break your teeth."
"And I your paw," said the smith, giving so violent a wrench to the leg
of the quarryman, that the latter uttered a cry of acute pain, and, with
the rage of a wild beast, butting suddenly forward with his head,
succeeded in biting Agricola in the side of the neck.
The pang of this bite forced Agricola to make a movement, which enabled
the quarryman to disengage his leg. Then, with a superhuman effort, he
threw himself with his whole weight on Agricola, and brought him to the
ground, falling himself upon him.
At this juncture, Angela's mother, leaning from one of the windows of the
Common Dwelling-house, exclaimed in a heart-rending voice: "Help,
Agricola!--they are killing my child!"
"Let me go--and on, my honor--I will fight you tomorrow, or when you
will," said Agricola, panting for breath.
"No warmed-up food for me; I eat all hot," answered the quarryman,
seizing the smith by the throat, whilst he tried to place one of his
knees upon his chest.
"Help!--they are killing my child!" cried Angela's mother, in a voice of
"Mercy! I ask mercy! Let me go!"' said Agricola, making the most
violent efforts to escape.
"I am too hungry," answered the quarryman.
Exasperated by the terror which Angela's danger occasioned him, Agricola
redoubled his efforts, when the quarryman suddenly felt his thigh seized
by the sharp teeth of a dog, and at the same instant received from a
vigorous hand three or four heavy blows with a stick upon his head. He
relaxed his grasp, and fell stunned upon his hand and knee, whilst he
mechanically raised his other arm to parry the blows, which ceased as
soon as Agricola was delivered.
"Father, you have saved me!" cried the smith, springing up. "If only I
am in time to rescue Angela!"
"Run!--never mind me!" answered Dagobert; and Agricola rushed into the
Dogabert, accompanied by Spoil-sport, had come, as we have already said,
to bring Marshal Simon's daughters to their grandfather. Arriving in the
midst of the tumult, the soldier had collected a few workmen to defend
the entrance of the chamber, to which the marshal's father had been
carried in a dying state. It was from this post that the soldier had
seen Agricola's danger. Soon after, the rush of the conflict separated
Dagobert from the quarryman, who remained for some moments insensible.
Arrived in two bounds at the Common Dwelling-house, Agricola succeeded in
forcing his way through the men who defended the staircase, and rushed
into the corridor that led to Angela's chamber. At the moment he reached
it, the unfortunate girl was mechanically guarding her face with both
hands against Ciboule, who, furious as the hyena over its prey, was
trying to scratch and disfigure her.
To spring upon the horrible hag, seize her by her yellow hair with
irresistible hand, drag her backwards, and then with one cuff, stretch
her full length upon the ground, was for Agricola an achievement as rapid
as thought. Furious with rage, Ciboule rose again almost instantly; but
at this moment, several workmen, who had followed close upon Agricola,
were able to attack with advantage, and whilst the smith lifted the
fainting form of Angela, and carried her into the next room, Ciboule and
her band were driven from that part of the house.
After the first fire of the assault, the small number of real Wolves,
who, as Agricola said, were in the main honest fellows, but had the
weakness to let themselves be drawn into this enterprise, under the
pretext of a quarrel between rival unions, seeing the excesses committed
by the rabble who accompanied them, turned suddenly round, and ranged
themselves on the side of the Devourers.
"There are no longer here either Wolves or Devourers," said one of the
most determined Wolves to Olivier, with whom he had been fighting roughly
and fairly; "there are none here but honest workmen, who must unite to
drive out a set of scoundrels, that have come only to break and pillage."
"Yes," added another; "it was against our will that they began by
breaking your windows."
"The big blaster did it all," said another; "the true Wolves wash their
hands of him. We shall soon settle his account."
"We may fight every day--but we ought to esteem each other."
This defection of a portion of the assailants (unfortunately but a small
portion) gave new spirit to the workmen of the factory, and all together,
Wolves and Devourers, though very inferior in number, opposed themselves
to the band of vagabonds, who were proceeding to new excesses. Some of
these wretches, still further excited by the little man with the ferret's
face, a secret emissary of Baron Tripeaud, now rushed in a mass towards
the workshops of M. Hardy. Then began a lamentable devastation. These
people, seized with the mania of destruction, broke without remorse
machines of the greatest value, and most delicate construction; half-
manufactured articles were pitilessly destroyed; a savage emulation
seemed to inspire these barbarians, and those workshops, so lately the
model of order and well-regulated economy, were soon nothing but a wreck;
the courts were strewed with fragments of all kinds of wares, which were
thrown from the windows with ferocious outcries, or savage bursts of
laughter. Then, still thanks to the incitements of the little man with
the ferret's face, the books of M. Hardy, archives of commercial
industry, so indispensable to the trader, were scattered to the wind,
torn, trampled under foot, in a sort of infernal dance, composed of all
that was most impure in this assembly of low, filthy, and ragged men and
women, who held each other by the hand, and whirled round and round with
horrible clamor. Strange and painful contrasts! At the height of the
stunning noise of these horrid deeds of tumult and devastation, a scene
of imposing and mournful calm was taking place in the chamber of Marshal
Simon's father, the door of which was guarded by a few devoted men. The
old workman was stretched on his bed, with a bandage across his blood-
stained white hair. His countenance was livid, his breathing oppressed,
his look fixed and glazed.
Marshal Simon, standing at the head of the bed, bending over his father,
watched in despairing anguish the least sign of consciousness on the part
of the dying man, near whom was a physician, with his finger on the
failing pulse. Rose and Blanche, brought hither by Dagobert, were
kneeling beside the bed, their hands clasped, and their eyes bathed in
tears; a little further, half hidden in the shadows of the room, for the
hours had passed quickly, and the night was at hand, stood Dagobert
himself, with his arms crossed upon his breast, and his features
painfully contracted. A profound and solemn silence reigned in this
chamber, only interrupted by the broken sobs of Rose and Blanche, or by
Father Simon's hard breathing. The eyes of the marshal were dry, gloomy,
and full of fire. He only withdrew them from his father's face, to
interrogate the physician by a look. There are strange coincidences in
life. That physician was Dr. Baleinier. The asylum of the doctor being
close to the barrier that was nearest to the factory, and his fame being
widely spread in the neighborhood, they had run to fetch him on the first
call for medical assistance.
Suddenly, Dr. Baleinier made a movement; the marshal, who had not taken
his eyes off him, exclaimed: "Is there any hope?"
"At least, my lord duke, the pulse revives a little."
"He is saved!" said the marshal.
"Do not cherish false hopes, my lord duke," answered the doctor, gravely:
"the pulse revives, owing to the powerful applications to the feet, but I
know not what will be the issue of the crisis."
"Father! father! do you hear me?" cried the marshal, seeing the old man
slightly move his head, and feebly raise his eyelids. He soon opened his
eyes, and this time their intelligence had returned.
"Father! you live--you know me!" cried the marshal, giddy with joy and
"Pierre! are you there?" said the old man, in a weak voice. "Your hand--
give--it--" and he made a feeble movement.
"Here, father!" cried the marshal, as he pressed the hands of the old man
in his own.
Then, yielding to an impulse of delight, he bent over his father, covered
his hands, face, and hair with kisses, and repeated: "He lives! kind
heaven, he lives! he is saved!"
At this instant, the noise of the struggle which had recommenced between
the rabble, the Wolves, and the Devourers, reached the ears of the dying
"That noise! that noise!" said he: "they are fighting."
"It is growing less, I think," said the marshal, in order not to agitate
"Pierre," said the old man, in a weak and broken voice, "I have not long
"Let me speak, child; if I can but tell you all."
"Sir," said Baleinier piously to the old workman, "heaven may perhaps
work a miracle in your favor; show yourself grateful, and allow a priest--"
"A priest! Thank you, sir--I have my son," said the old man; "in his
arms, I will render up my soul--which has always been true and honest."
"You die?" exclaimed the marshal; "no! no!"
"Pierre," said the old man, in a voice which, firm at first, gradually
grew fainter, "just now--you ask my advice in a very serious matter. I
think, that the wish to tell you of your duty--has recalled me--for a
moment--to life--for I should die miserable--if I thought you in a road
unworthy of yourself and me. Listen to me, my son--my noble son--at this
last hour, a father cannot deceive himself. You have a great duty to
perform---under pain--of not acting like a man of honor--under pain of
neglecting my last will. You ought, without hesitation--"
Here the voice failed the old man. When he had pronounced the last
sentence, he became quite unintelligible. The only words that Marshal
Simon could distinguish, were these: "Napoleon II.--oath--dishonor--my
Then the old workman again moved his lips mechanically--and all was
over. At the moment he expired, the night was quite come, and terrible
shouts were heard from without, of "Fire! Fire!" The conflagration had
broken out in one of the workshops, filled with inflammable stuff, into
which had glided the little man with the ferret's face. At the same
time, the roll of drums was heard in the distance, announcing the arrival
of a detachment of troops from town.
During an hour, in spite of every effort, the fire had been spreading
through the factory. The night is clear, cold, starlight; the wind blows
keenly from the north, with a moaning sound. A man, walking across the
fields, where the rising ground conceals the fire from him, advances with
slow and unsteady steps. It is M. Hardy. He had chosen to return home
on foot, across the country, hoping that a walk would calm the fever in
his blood--an icy fever, more like the chill of death. He had not been
deceived. His adored mistress--the noble woman, with whom he might have
found refuge from the consequences of the fearful deception which had
just been revealed to him--had quitted France. He could have no doubt of
it. Margaret was gone to America. Her mother had exacted from her, in
expiation of her fault, that she should not even write to him one word of
farewell--to him, for whom she had sacrificed her duty as a wife.
Margaret had obeyed.
Besides, she had often said to him: "Between my mother and you, I should
She had not hesitated. There was therefore no hope, not the slightest;
even if an ocean had not separated him from Margaret, he knew enough of
her blind submission to her mother, to be certain that all relations
between them were broken off forever. It is well. He will no longer
reckon upon this heart--his last refuge. The two roots of his life have
been torn up and broken, with the same blow, the same day, almost at the
same moment. What then remains for thee, poor sensitive plant, as thy
tender mother used to call thee? What remains to console thee for the
loss of this last love--this last friendship, so infamously crushed? Oh!
there remains for thee that one corner of the earth, created after the
image of thy mind that little colony, so peaceful and flourishing, where,
thanks to thee, labor brings with it joy and recompense. These worthy
artisans, whom thou hast made happy, good, and grateful, will not fail
thee. That also is a great and holy affection; let it be thy shelter in
the midst of this frightful wreck of all thy most sacred convictions!
The calm of that cheerful and pleasant retreat, the sight of the
unequalled happiness of thy dependents, will soothe thy poor, suffering
soul, which now seems to live only for suffering. Come! you will soon
reach the top of the hill, from which you can see afar, in the plain
below, that paradise of workmen, of which you are the presiding divinity.
M. Hardy had reached the summit of the hill. At that moment the
conflagration, repressed for a short time, burst forth with redoubled
fury from the Common Dwelling-house, which it had now reached. A bright
streak, at first white, then red, then copper-colored, illuminated the
distant horizon. M. Hardy looked at it with a sort of incredulous,
almost idiotic stupor. Suddenly, an immense column of flame shot up in
the thick of a cloud of smoke, accompanied by a shower of sparks, and
streamed towards the sky, casting a bright reflection over all the
country, even to M. Hardy's feet. The violence of the north wind,
driving the flames in waves before it, soon brought to the ears of M.
Hardy the hurried clanging of the alarm-bell of the burning factory.
 We wish it to be understood, that the necessities of our story alone
have made the Wolves the assailants. While endeavoring to paint the
evils arising the abuse of the spirit of association, we do not wish to
ascribe a character of savage hostility to one sect rather than to the
other to the Wolves more than to the Devourers. The Wolves, a club of
united stone-cutters, are generally industrious, intelligent workmen,
whose situation is the more worthy of interest, as not only their labors,
conducted with mathematical precision, are of the rudest and most
wearisome kind, but they are likewise out of work during three or four
months of the year, their profession being, unfortunately, one of those
which winter condemns to a forced cessation. A number of Wolves, in
order to perfect themselves in their trade, attend every evening a course
of linear geometry, applied to the cutting of stone, analogous to that
given by M. Agricole Perdignier, for the benefit of carpenters. Several
working stone-cutters sent an architectural model in plaster to the last
A few days have elapsed since the conflagration of M. Hardy's factory.
The following scene takes place in the Rue Clovis, in the house where
Rodin had lodged, and which was still inhabited by Rose-Pompon, who,
without the least scruple, availed herself of the household arrangements
of her friend Philemon. It was about noon, and Rose-Pompon, alone in the
chamber of the student, who was still absent, was breakfasting very gayly
by the fireside; but how singular a breakfast! what a queer fire! how
strange an apartment!
Imagine a large room, lighted by two windows without curtains--for as
they looked on empty space, the lodger had fear of being overlooked. One
side of this apartment served as a wardrobe, for there was suspended
Rose-Pompon's flashy costume of debardeur, not far from the boat-man's
jacket of Philemon, with his large trousers of coarse, gray stuff,
covered with pitch (shiver my timbers!), just as if this intrepid mariner
had bunked in the forecastle of a frigate, during a voyage round the
globe. A gown of Rose Pompon's hung gracefully over a pair of
pantaloons, the legs of which seemed to come from beneath the petticoat.
On the lowest of several book-shelves, very dusty and neglected, by the
side of three old boots (wherefore three boots?) and a number of empty
bottles, stood a skull, a scientific and friendly souvenir, left to
Philemon by one of his comrades, a medical student. With a species of
pleasantry, very much to the taste of the student-world, a clay pipe with
a very black bowl was placed between the magnificently white teeth of
this skull; moreover, its shining top was half hidden beneath an old hat,
set knowingly on one side, and adorned with faded flowers and ribbons.
When Philemon was drunk, he used to contemplate this bony emblem of
mortality, and break out into the most poetical monologues, with regard
to this philosophical contrast between death and the mad pleasures of
life. Two or three plaster casts, with their noses and chins more or
less injured, were fastened to the wall, and bore witness to the
temporary curiosity which Philemon had felt with regard to phrenological
science, from the patient and serious study of which he had drawn the
following logical conclusion:--That, having to an alarming extent the
bump of getting into debt, he ought to resign himself to the fatality of
this organization, and accept the inconvenience of creditors as a vital
necessity. On the chimney-piece, stood uninjured, in all its majesty,
the magnificent rowing-club drinking-glass, a china teapot without a
spout, and an inkstand of black wood, the glass mouth of which was
covered by a coat of greenish and mossy mould. From time to time, the
silence of this retreat was interrupted by the cooing of pigeons, which
Rose-Pompon had established with cordial hospitality in the little study.
Chilly as a quail, Rose-Pompon crept close to the fire, and at the same
time seemed to enjoy the warmth of a bright ray of sunshine, which
enveloped her in its golden light. This droll little creature was
dressed in the oddest costume, which, however, displayed to advantage the
freshness of her piquant and pretty countenance, crowned with its fine,
fair hair, always neatly combed and arranged the first thing in the
morning. By way of dressing-gown, Rose-Pompon had ingeniously drawn over
her linen, the ample scarlet flannel shirt which belonged to Philemon's
official garb in the rowing-club; the collar, open and turned down,
displayed the whiteness of the young girl's under garment, as also of her
neck and shoulders, on whose firm and polished surface the scarlet shirt
seemed to cast a rosy light. The grisette's fresh and dimpled arms half
protruded from the large, turned-up sleeves; and her charming legs were
also half visible, crossed one over the other, and clothed in neat white
stockings, and boots. A black silk cravat formed the girdle which
fastened the shirt round the wasp-like waist of Rose-Pompon, just above
those hips, worthy of the enthusiasm of a modern Phidias, and which gave
to this style of dress a grace very original.
We have said, that the breakfast of Rose-Pompon was singular. You shall
judge. On a little table placed before her, was a wash-hand-basin, into
which she had recently plunged her fresh face, bathing it in pure water.
From the bottom of this basin, now transformed into a salad-bowl, Rose-
Pompon took with the tips of her fingers large green leaves, dripping
with vinegar, and crunched them between her tiny white teeth, whose
enamel was too hard to allow them to be set on edge. Her drink was a
glass of water and syrup of gooseberries, which she stirred with a wooden
mustard-spoon. Finally, as an extra dish, she had a dozen olives in one
of those blue glass trinket-dishes sold for twenty-five sous. Her
dessert was composed of nuts, which she prepared to roast on a red-hot
shovel. That Rose-Pompon, with such an unaccountable savage choice of
food, should retain a freshness of complexion worthy of her name, is one
of those miracles, which reveal the mighty power of youth and health.
When she had eaten her salad, Rose-Pompon was about to begin upon her
olives, when a low knock was heard at the door, which was modestly bolted
on the inside.
"Who is there?" said Rose-Pompon.
"A friend--the oldest of the old," replied a sonorous, jovial voice.
"Why do you lock yourself in?"
"What! is it you, Ninny Moulin?"
"Yes, my beloved pupil. Open quickly. Time presses."
"Open to you? Oh, I dare say!--that would be pretty, the figure I am!"
"I believe you! what does it matter what figure you are? It would be
very pretty, thou rosiest of all the roses with which Cupid ever adorned
"Go and preach fasting and morality in your journal, fat apostle!" said
Rose--Pompon, as she restored the scarlet shirt to its place, with
Philemon's other garments.
"I say! are we to talk much longer through the door, for the greater
edification of our neighbors?" cried Ninny Moulin. "I have something of
importance to tell you--something that will astonish you--"
"Give me time to put on my gown, great plague that you are!"
"If it is because of my modesty, do not think of it. I am not over nice.
I should like you very well as you are!"
"Only to think that such a monster is the favorite of all the
churchgoers!" said Rose-Pompon, opening the door as she finished
fastening her dress.
"So! you have at last returned to the dovecot, you stray girl!" said
Ninny Moulin, folding his arms, and looking at Rose-Pompon with comic
seriousness. "And where may you have been, I pray? For three days the
naughty little bird has left its nest."
"True; I only returned home last night. You must have called during my
"I came, every day, and even twice a day, young lady, for I have very
serious matters to communicate."
"Very serious matters? Then we shall have a good laugh at them."
"Not at all--they are really serious," said Ninny Moulin, seating
himself. "But, first of all, what did you do during the three days that
you left your conjugal and Philemonic home? I must know all about it,
before I tell you more."
"Will you have some olives?" said Rose-Pompon, as she nibbled one of them
"Is that your answer?--I understand!--Unfortunate Philemon!"
"There is no unfortunate Philemon in the case, slanderer. Clara had a
death in her house, and, for the first few days after the funeral she was
afraid to sleep alone."
"I thought Clara sufficiently provided against such fears."
"There you are deceived, you great viper! I was obliged to go and keep
the poor girl company."
At this assertion, the religious pamphleteer hummed a tune, with an
incredulous and mocking air.
"You think I have played Philemon tricks?" cried Rose-Pompon, cracking a
nut with the indignation of injured innocence.
"I do not say tricks; but one little rose-colored trick."
"I tell you, that it was not for my pleasure I went out. On the
contrary--for, during my absence, poor Cephyse disappeared."
Yes, Mother Arsene told me that the Bacchanal-Queen was gone on a
journey. But when I talk of Philemon, you talk of Cephyse; we don't
"May I be eaten by the black panther that they are showing at the Porte-
Saint-Martin if I do not tell you the truth. And, talking of that, you
must get tickets to take me to see those animals, my little Ninny Moulin!
They tell me there never were such darling wild beasts."
"Now really, are you mad?"
"That I should guide your youth, like a venerable patriarch, through the
dangers of the Storm-blown Tulip, all well and good--I ran no risk of
meeting my pastors and masters; but were I to take you to a Lent-
Spectacle (since there are only beasts to be seen), I might just run
against my sacristans--and how pretty I should look with you on my arm!"
"You can put on a false nose, and straps to your trousers, my big Ninny;
they will never know you."
"We must not think of false noses, but of what I have to tell you, since
you assure me that you have no intrigue in hand."
"I swear it!" said Rose-Pompon, solemnly, extending her left hand
horizontally, whilst with her right she put a nut into her mouth. Then
she added, with surprise, as she looked at the outside coat of Ninny
Moulin, "Goodness gracious! what full pockets you have got! What is
there in them?"
"Something that concerns you, Rose-Pompon," said Dumoulin, gravely.
"Rose-Pompon!" said Ninny Moulin, suddenly, with a majestic air; "will
you have a carriage? Will you inhabit a charming apartment, instead of
living in this dreadful hole? Will you be dressed like a duchess?"
"Now for some more nonsense! Come, will you eat the olives? If not, I
shall eat them all up. There is only one left."
Without answering this gastronomic offer, Ninny Moulin felt in one of his
pockets, and drew from it a case containing a very pretty bracelet, which
he held up sparkling before the eyes of the young girl.
"Oh! what a sumptuous bracelet!" cried she, clapping her hands. "A
green-eyed serpent biting his tail--the emblem of my love for Philemon."
"Do not talk of Philemon; it annoys me," said Ninny Moulin, as he clasped
the bracelet round the wrist of Rose-Pompon, who allowed him to do it,
laughing all the while like mad, and saying to him, "So you've been
employed to make a purchase, big apostle, and wish to see the effect of
it. Well! it is charming!"
"Rose-Pompon," resumed Ninny Moulin, "would you like to have a servant, a
box at the Opera, and a thousand francs a month for your pin-money?"
"Always the same nonsense. Get along!" said the young girl, as she held
up the bracelet to the light, still continuing to eat her nuts. "Why
always the same farce, and no change of bills?"
Ninny Moulin again plunged his hand into his pocket, and this time drew
forth an elegant chain, which he hung round Rose-Pompon's neck.
"Oh! what a beautiful chain!" cried the young girl, as she looked by
turns at the sparkling ornament and the religious writer. "If you chose
that also, you have a very good taste. But am I not a good natured girl
to be your dummy, just to show off your jewels?"
"Rose-Pompon," returned Ninny Moulin, with a still more majestic air,
"these trifles are nothing to what you may obtain, if you will but follow
the advice of your old friend."
Rose began to look at Dumoulin with surprise, and said to him, "What does
all this mean, Ninny Moulin? Explain yourself; what advice have you to
Dumoulin did not answer, but replunging his hand into his inexhaustible
pocket, he fished up a parcel, which he carefully unfolded, and in which
was a magnificent mantilla of black lace. Rose-Pompon started up, full
of new admiration, and Dumoulin threw the rich mantilla over the young
"It is superb! I have never seen anything like it! What patterns! what
work!" said Rose-Pompon, as she examined all with simple and perfectly
disinterested curiosity. Then she added, "Your pocket is like a shop;
where did you get all these pretty things?" Then, bursting into a fit of
laughter, which brought the blood to her cheeks, she exclaimed, "Oh, I
have it! These are the wedding-presents for Madame de la Sainte-Colombe.
I congratulate you; they are very choice."
"And where do you suppose I should find money to buy these wonders?"
said Ninny Moulin. "I repeat to you, all this is yours if you will but
listen to me!"
"How is this?" said Rose-Pompon, with the utmost amazement; "is what you
tell me in downright earnest?"
"In downright earnest."
"This offer to make me a great lady?"
"The jewels might convince you of the reality of my offers."
"And you propose all this to me for some one else, my poor Ninny Moulin?"
"One moment, said the religious writer, with a comical air of modesty,
"you must know me well enough, my beloved pupil, to feel certain that I
should be incapable of inducing you to commit an improper action. I
respect myself too much for that--leaving out the consideration that it
would be unfair to Philemon, who confided to me the guardianship of your
"Then, Ninny Moulin," said Rose-Pompon, more and more astonished, "on my
word of honor, I can make nothing of it.
"Yet, 'tis all very simple, and I--"
'Oh! I've found it," cried Rose-Pompon, interrupting Ninny Moulin; "it
is some gentleman who offers me his hand, his heart, and all the rest of
it. Could you not tell me that directly?"
"A marriage? oh, laws, yes!" said Dumoulin, shrugging his shoulders.
"What! is it not a marriage?" said Rose-Pompon, again much surprised.
"And the offers you make me are honest ones, my big apostle?"
"They could not be more so." Here Dumoulin spoke the truth.
"I shall not have to be unfaithful to Philemon?"
"Or faithful to any one else?"
Rose-Pompon looked confounded. Then she rattled on: "Come, do not let
us have any joking! I am not foolish enough to imagine that I am to live
just like a duchess, just for nothing. What, therefore, must I give in
"Nothing at all."
"Not even that," said Ninny Moulin, biting his nail-tip.
"But what am I to do, then?"
"Dress yourself as handsomely as possible, take your ease, amuse
yourself, ride about in a carriage. You see, it is not very fatiguing--
and you will, moreover, help to do a good action."
"What! by living like a duchess?"
"Yes! so make up your mind. Do not ask me for any more details, for I
cannot give them to you. For the rest, you will not be detained against
your will. Just try the life I propose to you. If it suits you, go on
with it; if not, return to your Philemonic household."
"Only try it. What can you risk?"
"Nothing; but I can hardly believe that all you say is true. And then,"
added she, with hesitation, "I do not know if I ought--"
Ninny Moulin went to the window, opened it, and said to Rose-Pompon, who
ran up to it, "Look there! before the door of the house."
"What a pretty carriage! How comfortable a body'd be inside of it!"
"That carriage is yours. It is waiting for you."
"Waiting for me!" exclaimed Rose-Pompon; "am I to decide as short as
"Or not at all."
"On the instant."
"But where will they take me?"
"How should I know?"
"You do not know where they will take me?"
"Not I,"--and Dumoulin still spoke the truth--"the coachman has his
"Do you know all this is very funny, Ninny Moulin?"
"I believe you. If it were not funny, where would be the pleasure?"
"You are right."
"Then you accept the offer? That is well. I am delighted both for you
"Yes; because, in accepting, you render me a great service."
"You? How so?"
"It matters little, as long as I feel obliged to you."
"Come, then; let us set out!"
"Bah! after all, they cannot eat me," said Rose-Pompon, resolutely.
With a skip and a jump, she went to fetch a rose-colored cap, and, going
up to a broken looking-glass, placed the cap very much cocked on one side
on her bands of light hair. This left uncovered her snowy neck, with the
silky roots of the hair behind, and gave to her pretty face a very
mischievous, not to say licentious expression.
"My cloak!" said she to Ninny Moulin, who seemed to be relieved from a
considerable amount of uneasiness, since she had accepted his offer.
"Fie! a cloak will not do," answered her companion, feeling once more in
his pocket and drawing out a fine Cashmere shawl, which he threw over
"A Cashmere!" cried the young girl, trembling with pleasure and joyous
surprise. Then she added, with an air of heroism: "It is settled! I
will run the gauntlet." And with a light step she descended the stairs,
followed by Ninny Moulin.
The worthy greengrocer was at her post. "Good-morning, mademoiselle; you
are early to-day," said she to the young girl.
"Yes, Mother Arsene; there is my key."
"Thank you, mademoiselle."
"Oh! now I think of it," said Rose Pompon, suddenly, in a whisper, as she
turned towards Ninny Moulin, and withdrew further from the portress,
"what is to became of Philemon?"
"If he should arrive--"
"Oh! the devil!" said Ninny Moulin, scratching his ear.
"Yes; if Philemon should arrive, what will they say to him? for I may be
a long time absent."
"Three or four months, I suppose."
"I should think not."
"Oh! very good!" said Rose-Pompon. Then, turning towards the
greengrocer, she said to her, after a moment's reflection: "Mother
Arsene, if Philemon should come home, you will tell him I have gone out--
"And that he must not forget to feed my pigeons, which are in his study."
"Good-bye, Mother Arsene."
"Good-bye, mademoiselle." And Rose-Pompon entered the carriage in
triumph, along with Ninny Moulin.
"The devil take me if I know what is to come of all this," said Jacques
Dumoulin to himself, as the carriage drove rapidly down the Rue Clovis.
"I have repaired my error--and now I laugh at the rest."
The following scene took place a few days after the abduction of Rose-
Pompon by Ninny Moulin. Mdlle. de Cardoville was seated in a dreamy
mood, in her cabinet, which was hung with green silk, and furnished with
an ebony library, ornamented with large bronze caryatides. By some
significant signs, one could perceive that Mdlle. de Cardoville had
sought in the fine airs some relief from sad and serious thoughts. Near
an open piano, was a harp, placed before a music-stand. A little
further, on a table covered with boxes of oil and water-color, were
several brilliant sketches. Most of them represented Asiatic scenes,
lighted by the fires of an oriental sun. Faithful to her fancy of
dressing herself at home in a picturesque style, Mademoiselle de
Cardoville resembled that day one of those proud portraits of Velasquez,
with stern and noble aspect. Her gown was of black moire, with wide-
swelling petticoat, long waist, and sleeve slashed with rose-colored
satin, fastened together with jet bugles. A very stiff, Spanish ruff
reached almost to her chin, and was secured round her neck by a broad
rose-colored ribbon. This frill, slightly heaving, sloped down as far as
the graceful swell of the rose-colored stomacher, laced with strings of
jet beads, and terminating in a point at the waist. It is impossible to
express how well this black garment, with its ample and shining folds,
relieved with rose-color and brilliant jet, skin, harmonized with the
shining whiteness of Adrienne's and the golden flood of her beautiful
hair, whose long, silky ringlets descended to her bosom.
The young lady was in a half-recumbent posture, with her elbow resting on
a couch covered with green silk. The back of this piece of furniture,
which was pretty high towards the fireplace, sloped down insensibly
towards the foot. A sort of light, semicircular trellis-work, in gilded
bronze, raised about five feet from the ground, covered with flowering
plants (the admirable passiflores quadrangulatoe, planted in a deep ebony
box, from the centre of which rose the trellis-work), surrounded this
couch with a sort of screen of foliage enamelled with large flowers,
green without, purple within, and as brilliant as those flowers of
porcelain, which we receive from Saxony. A sweet, faint perfume, like a
faint mixture of jasmine with violet, rose from the cup of these
admirable passiflores. Strange enough, a large quantity of new books
(Adrienne having bought them since the last two or three days) and quite
fresh-cut, were scattered around her on the couch, and on a little table;
whilst other larger volumes, amongst which were several atlases full of
engravings, were piled on the sumptuous fur, which formed the carpet
beneath the divan. Stranger still, these books, though of different
forms, and by different authors, alt treated of the same subject. The
posture of Adrienne revealed a sort of melancholy dejection. Her cheeks
were pale; a light blue circle surrounded her large, black eyes, now
half-closed, and gave to them an expression of profound grief. Many
causes contributed to this sorrow--amongst others, the disappearance of
Mother Bunch. Without absolutely believing the perfidious insinuations
of Rodin, who gave her to understand that, in the fear of being unmasked
by him, the hunchback had not dared to remain in the house, Adrienne felt
a cruel sinking of the heart, when she thought how this young girl, in
whom she had had so much confidence, had fled from her almost sisterly
hospitality, without even uttering a word of gratitude; for care had been
taken not to show her the few lines written by the poor needlewoman to
her benefactress, just before her departure.
She had only been told of the note of five hundred francs found on her
desk; and this last inexplicable circumstance had contributed to awaken
cruel suspicions in the breast of Mdlle. de Cardoville. She already felt
the fatal effects of that mistrust of everything and everybody, which
Rodin had recommended to her; and this sentiment of suspicion and reserve
had the more tendency to become powerful, that, for the first time in her
life, Mdlle. de Cardoville, until then a stranger to all deception, had a
secret to conceal--a secret, which was equally her happiness, her shame,
and her torment. Half-recumbent on her divan, pensive and depressed,
Adrienne pursued, with a mind often absent, one of her newly purchased
books. Suddenly, she uttered an exclamation of surprise; the hand which
held the book trembled like a leaf, and from that moment she appeared to
read with passionate attention and devouring curiosity. Soon, her eyes
sparkled with enthusiasm, her smile assumed ineffable sweetness, and she
seemed at once proud, happy, delighted--but, as she turned over the last
page, her countenance expressed disappointment and chagrin. Then she
recommenced this reading, which had occasioned her such sweet emotion,
and this time she read with the most deliberate slowness, going over each
page twice, and spelling, as it were, every line, every word. From time
to time, she paused, and in a pensive mood, with her forehead leaning on
her fair hand, she seemed to reflect, in a deep reverie, on the passages
she had read with such tender and religious love. Arriving at a passage
which so affected her, that a tear started in her eye, she suddenly
turned the volume, to see on the cover the name of the author. For a few
seconds, she contemplated this name with a singular expression of
gratitude, and could not forbear raising to her rosy lips the page on
which it was printed. After reading many times over the lines with which
she had been so much struck, forgetting, no doubt, the letter in the
spirit, she began to reflect so deeply, that the book glided from her
hand, and fell upon the carpet. During the course of this reverie, the
eyes of the young girl rested, at first mechanically, upon an admirable
bas-relief, placed on an ebony stand, near one of the windows. This
magnificent bronze, recently cast after a plaster copy from the antique,
represented the triumph of the Indian Bacchus. Never, perhaps, had
Grecian art attained such rare perfection. The youthful conqueror, half-
clad in a lion's skin, which displayed his juvenile grace and charming
purity of form shone with divine beauty. Standing up in a car, drawn by
two tigers, with an air at once gentle and proud, he leaned with one hand
upon a thyrsus, and with the other guided his savage steeds in tranquil
majesty. By this rare mixture of grace, vigor, and serenity, it was easy
to recognize the hero who had waged such desperate combats with men and
with monsters of the forest. Thanks to the brownish tone of the figure,
the light, falling from one side of the sculpture, admirably displayed
the form of the youthful god, which, carved in relievo, and thus
illumined, shone like a magnificent statue of pale gold upon the dark
fretted background of the bronze.
When Adrienne's look first rested on this rare assemblage of divine
perfections, her countenance was calm and thoughtful. But this
contemplation, at first mechanical, became gradually more and more
attentive and conscious, and the young lady, rising suddenly from her
seat, slowly approached the bas-relief, as if yielding to the invincible
attraction of an extraordinary resemblance. Then a slight blush appeared
on the cheeks of Mdlle. de Cardoville, stole across her face, and spread
rapidly to her neck and forehead. She approached still closer, threw
round a hasty glance, as if half-ashamed, or as if she had feared to be
surprised in a blamable action, and twice stretched forth her hand,
trembling with emotion, to touch with the tips of her charming fingers
the bronze forehead of the Indian Bacchus. And twice she stopped short,
with a kind of modest hesitation. At last, the temptation became too
strong for her. She yielded to it; and her alabaster finger, after
delicately caressing the features of pale gold, was pressed more boldly
for an instant on the pure and noble brow of the youthful god. At this
pressure, though so slight, Adrienne seemed to feel a sort of electric
shock; she trembled in every limb, her eyes languished, and, after
swimming for an instant in their humid and brilliant crystal, were
raised, half-closed, to heaven. Then her head was thrown a little way
back, her knees bent insensibly, her rosy lips were half opened, as if to
give a passage to her heated breath, for her bosom heaved violently, as
thought youth and life had accelerated the pulsations of her heart, and
made her blood boil in her veins. Finally, the burning cheeks of
Adrienne betrayed a species of ecstasy, timid and passionate, chaste and
sensual, the expression of which was ineffably touching.
An affecting spectacle indeed is that of a young maiden, whose modest
brow flushes with the first fires of a secret passion. Does not the
Creator of all things animate the body as well as the soul, with a spark
of divine energy? Should He not be religiously glorified in the
intellect as in the senses, with which He has so paternally endowed His
creatures? They are impious blasphemers who seek to stifle the celestial
senses, instead of guiding and harmonizing them in their divine flight.
Suddenly, Mdlle. de Cardoville started, raised her head, opened her eyes
as if awakening from a dream, withdrew abruptly from the sculptures, and
walked several times up and down the room in an agitated manner, pressing
her burning hands to her forehead. Then, falling, as it were, exhausted
on her seat, her tears flowed in abundance. The most bitter grief was
visible in her features, which revealed the fatal struggle that was
passing within her. By degrees, her tears ceased. To this crisis of
painful dejection succeeded a species of violent scorn and indignation
against herself, which were expressed by these words that escaped her:
"For the first time in my life, I feel weak and cowardly. Oh yes!
The sound of a door opening and closing, roused Mdlle. de Cardoville from
her bitter reflections. Georgette entered the room, and said to her
mistress: "Madame, can you receive the Count de Montbron?"
Adrienne, too well-bred to exhibit before her women the sort of
impatience occasioned by this unseasonable visit, said to Georgette: "You
told M. de Montbron that I was at home?"
"Then beg him to walk in." Though Mdlle. de Cardoville felt at that
moment much vexed at the arrival of Montbron, let us hasten to say, that
she entertained for him an almost filial affection, and a profound
esteem, though, by a not unfrequent contrast, she almost always differed
from him in opinion. Hence arose, when Mdlle. de Cardoville had nothing
to disturb her mind, the most gay and animated discussions, in which M.
de Montbron, notwithstanding his mocking and sceptical humor, his long
experience, his rare knowledge of men and things, his fashionable
training, in a word, had not always the advantage, and even acknowledged
his defeat gayly enough. Thus, to give an idea of the differences of the
count and Adrienne, before, as he would say laughingly, he had made
himself her accomplice, he had always opposed (from other motives than
those alleged by Madame de Saint-Dizier) Adrienne's wish to live alone
and in her own way; whilst Rodin, on the contrary, by investing the young
girl's resolve on this subject with an ideal grandeur of intention, had
acquired a species of influence over her. M. de Montbron, now upwards of
sixty years of age, had been a most prominent character during the
Directory, Consulate, and the Empire. His prodigal style of living, his
wit, his gayety, his duels, his amours, and his losses at play, had given
him a leading influence in the best society of his day; while his
character, his kind-heartedness, and liberality, secured him the lasting
friendship of nearly all his female friends. At the time we now present
him to the reader, he was still a great gambler; and, moreover, a very
lucky gambler. He had, as we have stated, a very lordly style; his
manners were decided, but polished and lively; his habits were such as
belong to the higher classes of society, though he could be excessively
sharp towards people whom he did not like. He was tall and thin, and his
slim figure gave him an almost youthful appearance; his forehead was
high, and a little bald; his hair was gray and short, his countenance
long, his nose aquiline, his eyes blue and piercing, and his teeth white,
and still very good.
"The Count de Montbron," said Georgette, opening the door. The count
entered, and hastened to kiss Adrienne's hand, with a sort of paternal
"Come!" said M. de Montbron to himself; "let us try to discover the truth
I am in search of, that we may escape a great misfortune."
Mdlle. de Cardoville, not wishing to betray the cause of the violent
feelings which agitated her, received M. de Montbron with a feigned and
forced gayety. On the other hand, notwithstanding his tact and knowledge
of the world, the count was much embarrassed how to enter upon the
subject on which he wished to confer with Adrienne, and he resolved to
feel his way, before seriously commencing the conversation. After
looking at the young lady for some seconds, M. de Montbron shook his
head, and said, with a sigh of regret: "My dear child, I am not pleased."
"Some affair of the heart, or of hearts, my dear count?" returned
"Of the heart," said M. de Montbron.
"What! you, so great a player, think more of a woman's whim than a throw
of the dice?"
"I have a heavy heart, and you are the cause of it, my dear child."
"M. de Montbron, you will make me very proud," said Adrienne, with a
"You would be wrong, for I tell you plainly, my trouble is caused by your
neglect of your beauty. Yes, your countenance is pale, dejected,
sorrowful; you have been low-spirited for the last few days; you have
something on your mind, I am sure of it."
"My dear M. de Montbron, you have so much penetration, that you may be
allowed to fall for once, as now. I am not sad, I have nothing on my
mind, and--I am about to utter a very silly piece of impertinence--I have
never thought myself so pretty."
"On the contrary, nothing could be more modest than such an assertion.
Who told you that falsehood? a woman?"
"No; it was my heart, and it spoke the truth," answered Adrienne, with a
slight degree of emotion. "Understand it, if you can," she added.
"Do you mean that you are proud of the alteration in your features,
because you are proud of the sufferings of your heart?" said M. de
Montbron, looking at Adrienne with attention. "Be it so; I am then
right. You have some sorrow. I persist in it," added the count,
speaking with a tone of real feeling, "because it is painful to me."
"Be satisfied; I am as happy as possible--for every instant I take
delight in repeating, how, at my age, I am free--absolutely free!"
"Yes; free to torment yourself, free to be miserable."
"Come, come, my dear count!" said Adrienne, "you are recommencing our old
quarrel. I still find in you the ally of my aunt and the Abbe
"Yes; as the republicans are the allies of the legitimists--to destroy
each other in their turn. Talking of your abominable aunt, they say that
she holds a sort of council at her house these last few days, a regular
mitred conspiracy. She is certainly in a good way."
"Why not? Formerly, she would have wished to be Goddess of Reason, now,
we shall perhaps see her canonized. She has already performed the first
part of the life of Mary Magdalen."
"You can never speak worse of her than she deserves, my dear child.
Still, though for quite opposite reasons, I agreed with her on the
subject of your wish to reside alone."
"I know it."
"Yes; and because I wished to see you a thousand times freer than you
really are, I advised you--"
"No doubt; you would have had your dear liberty, with its consequences,
only, instead of Mdlle. de Cardoville, we should have called you Madame
Somebody, having found an excellent husband to be responsible for your
"And who would have been responsible for this ridiculous husband? And
who would bear a mocked and degraded name? I, perhaps?" said Adrienne,
with animation. "No, no, my dear count, good or ill, I will answer for
my own actions; to my name shall attach the reputation, which I alone
have formed. I am as incapable of basely dishonoring a name which is not
mine, as of continually bearing it myself, if it were not held in,
esteem. And, as one can only answer for one's own actions, I prefer to
keep my name."
"You are the only person in the world that has such ideas."
"Why?" said Adrienne, laughing. "Because it appears to me horrible, to
see a poor girl lost and buried in some ugly and selfish man, and become,
as they say seriously, the better half of the monster--yes! a fresh and
blooming rose to become part of a frightful thistle!--Come, my dear
count; confess there is something odious in this conjugal
metempsychosis," added Adrienne, with a burst of laughter.
The forced and somewhat feverish gayety of Adrienne contrasted painfully
with her pale and suffering countenance; it was so easy to see that she
strove to stifle with laughter some deep sorrow, that M. de Montbron was
much affected by it; but, dissembling his emotion, he appeared to reflect
a moment, and took up mechanically one of the new, fresh-cut books, by
which Adrienne was surrounded. After casting a careless glance at this
volume, he continued, still dissembling his feelings: "Come, my dear
madcap: this is another folly. Suppose I were twenty years old, and that
you did me the honor to marry me--you would be called Lady de Montbron, I
"How perhaps? Would you not bear my name, if you married me?"
"My dear count," said Adrienne, with a smile, "do not let us pursue this
hypothesis, which can only leave us--regrets."
Suddenly, M. de Montbron started, and looked at Mdlle, de Cardoville with
an expression of surprise. For some moments, whilst talking to Adrienne,
he had mechanically--taken up two or three of the volumes scattered over
the couch, and had glanced at their titles in the same careless manner.
The first was the "Modern History of India." The second, "Travels in
India." The third, "Letters on India." Much surprised, M. de Montbron
had continued his investigation, and found that the fourth volume
continued this Indian nomenclature, being "Rambles in India." The fifth
was, "Recollections of Hindostan." The sixth, "Notes of a Traveller in
the East Indies."
Hence the astonishment, which, for many serious reasons, M. de Montbron
had no longer been able to conceal, and which his looks betrayed to
Adrienne. The latter, having completely forgotten the presence of the
accusing volumes by which she was surrounded, yielded to a movement of
involuntary confusion, and blushed slightly; but, her firm and resolute
character again coming to her aid, she looked full at M. de Montbron, and
said to him: "Well, my dear count! what surprises you?"
Instead of answering, M. de Montbron appeared still more absorbed in
thought, and contemplating the young girl, he could not forbear saying to
himself: "No, no--it is impossible--and yet--"
"It would, perhaps, be indiscreet in me to listen to your soliloquy, my
dear count," said Adrienne.
"Excuse me, my dear child; but what I see surprises me so much--"
"And pray what do you see?"
"The traces of so great and novel an interest in all that relates to
India," said M. de Montbron, laying a slight stress on his words, and
fixing a piercing look upon the young girl.
"Well!" said Adrienne, stoutly.
"Well! I seek the cause of this sudden passion--"
"Geographical?" said Mdlle. de Cardoville, interrupting M. de Montbron:
"you may find this taste somewhat serious for my age my dear count--but
one must find occupation for leisure hours--and then, having a cousin,
who is both an Indian and a prince, I should like to know something of
the fortunate country from which I derive this savage relationship."
These last words were pronounced with a bitterness that was not lost on
M. de Montbron: watching Adrienne attentively, he observed: "Meseems, you
speak of the prince with some harshness."
"No; I speak of him with indifference."
"Yet he deserves a very different feeling."
"On the part of some other person, perhaps," replied Adrienne, dryly.
"He is so unhappy!" said M, de Montbron, in a tone of sincere pity.
"When I saw him the other day, he made my heart ache."
"What have I to do with it?" exclaimed Adrienne, with an accent of
painful and almost angry impatience.
"I should have thought that his cruel torments at least deserved your
pity," answered the count gravely.
"Pity--from me!" cried Adrienne, with an air of offended pride. Then
restraining herself, she added coldly: "You are jesting, M. de Montbron.
It is not in sober seriousness that you ask me to take interest in the
amorous torments of your prince."
There was so much cold disdain in these last words of Adrienne, her pale
and agitated countenance betrayed such haughty bitterness, that M. de
Montbron said, sorrowfully: "It is then true; I have not been deceived.
I, who thought, from our old and constant friendship, that I had some
claim to your confidence have known nothing of it--while you told all to
another. It is painful, very painful to me."
"I do not understand you, M. de Montbron."
"Well then, since I must speak plainly," cried the count, "there is, I
see, no hope for this unhappy boy--you love another."
As Adrienne started--"Oh! you cannot deny it," resumed the count; "your
paleness and melancholy for the last few days, your implacable
indifference to the prince--all prove to me that you are in love."
Hurt by the manner in which the count spoke of the sentiment he
attributed to her, Mdlle. de Cardoville answered with dignified
stateliness: "You must know, M. de Montbron, that a secret discovered is
not a confidence. Your language surprises me.
"Oh, my dear friend, if I use the poor privilege of experience--if I
guess that you are in love--if I tell you so, and even go so far as to
reproach you with it--it is because the life or death of this poor prince
is concerned; and I feel for him as if he were my son, for it is
impossible to know him without taking the warmest interest in him."
"It would be singular," returned Adrienne, with redoubled coldness, and
still more bitter irony, "if my love--admitting I were in love--could
have any such strange influence on Prince Djalma. What can it matter to
him?" added she, with almost agonizing disdain.
"What can it matter to him? Now really, my dear friend, permit me to
tell you, that it is you who are jesting cruelly. What! this unfortunate
youth loves you with all the blind ardor of a first love--twice has
attempted to terminate by suicide the horrible tortures of his passion--
and you think it strange that your love for another should be with him a
question of life or death!"
"He loves me then?" cried the young girl, with an accent impossible to
"He loves you to madness, I tell you; I have seen it."
Adrienne seemed overcome with amazement. From pale, she became crimson;
as the redness disappeared, her lips grew white, and trembled. Her
emotion was so strong, that she remained for some moments unable to
speak, and pressed her hand to her heart, as if to moderate its
M. de Montbron, almost frightened at the sudden change in Adrienne's
countenance, hastily approached her, exclaiming: "Good heaven, my poor
child! what is the matter?"
Instead of answering, Adrienne waved her hand to him, in sign that he
should not be alarmed; and, in fact, the count was speedily
tranquillized, for the beautiful face, which had so lately been
contracted with pain, irony, and scorn, seemed now expressive of the
sweetest and most ineffable emotions; Adrienne appeared to luxuriate in
delight, and to fear losing the least particle of it; then, as reflection
told her, that she was, perhaps, the dupe of illusion or falsehood, she
exclaimed suddenly, with anguish, addressing herself to M. de Montbron:
"But is what you tell me true?"
"What I tell you!"
"Yes--that Prince Djalma--"
"Loves you to madness?--Alas! it is only too true."
"No, no," cried Adrienne, with a charming expression of simplicity; "that
could never be too true."
"What do you say?" cried the count.
"But that woman?" asked Adrienne, as if the word scorched her lips.
"She who has been the cause of all these painful struggles."
"That woman--why, who should it be but you?"
"What, I? Oh! tell me, was it I?"
"On my word of honor. I trust my experience. I have never seen so
ardent and sincere a passion."
"Oh! is it really so? Has he never had any other love?"
"Yet I was told so."
"Had fallen violently in love, two days after I saw him."
"M. Rodin told you that!" cried M. de Montbron, as if struck with a
sudden idea. "Why, it is he who told Djalma that you were in love with
some one else."
"And this it was which occasioned the poor youth's dreadful despair."
"It was this which occasioned my despair."
"You love him, then, just as he loves you!" exclaimed M. de Montbron,
transported with joy.
"Love him!" said Mdlle. de Cardoville. A discreet knock at the door
"One of your servants, no doubt. Be calm," said the count.
"Come in," said Adrienne, in an agitated voice.
"What is it?" said Mdlle. de Cardoville. Florine entered the room.
"M. Rodin has just been here. Fearing to disturb mademoiselle, he would
not come in; but he will return in half an hour. Will mademoiselle
"Yes, yes," said the count to Florine; "even if I am still here, show him
in by all means. Is not that your opinion?" asked M. de Montbron of
"Quite so," answered the young girl; and a flash of indignation darted
from her eyes, as she thought of Rodin's perfidy.
"Oho! the old knave!" said M. de Montbron, "I always had my doubts of
that crooked neck!" Florine withdrew, leaving the count with her
Mdlle. de Cardoville was transfigured. For the first time her beauty
shone forth in all its lustre. Until now overshadowed by indifference,
or darkened by grief, she appeared suddenly illumined by a brilliant ray
of sunshine. The slight irritation caused by Rodin's perfidy passed like
an imperceptible shade from her brow. What cared she now for falsehood
and perfidy? Had they not failed? And, for the future, what human power
could interpose between her and Djalma, so sure of each other? Who would
dare to cross the path of those two things, resolute and strong with the
irresistible power of youth, love, and liberty? Who would dare to follow
them into that blazing sphere, whither they went, so beautiful and happy,
to blend together in their inextinguishable love, protected by the proof-
armor of their own happiness? Hardly had Florine left the room, when
Adrienne approached M. de Montbron with a rapid step. She seemed to have
become taller; and to watch her advancing, light, radiant, and
triumphant, one might have fancied her a goddess walking upon clouds.
"When shall I see him?" was her first word to M. de Montbron.
"Well--say to-morrow; he must be prepared for so much happiness; in so
ardent a nature, such sudden, unexpected joy might be terrible."
Adrienne remained pensive for a moment, and then said rapidly: "To-
morrow--yes--not before to-morrow. I have a superstition of the heart."
"What is it?"
"You shall know. HE LOVES ME--that word says all, contains all,
comprehends all, is all--and yet I have a thousand questions to ask with
regard to him--but I will ask none before to-morrow, because, by a
mysterious fatality, to-morrow is with me a sacred anniversary. It will
be an age till then; but happily, I can wait. Look here!"
Beckoning M. de Montbron, she led him to the Indian Bacchus. "How much
it is like him!" said she to the count.
"Indeed," exclaimed the latter, "it is strange!"
"Strange?" returned Adrienne, with a smile of gentle pride; "strange,
that a hero, a demi-god, an ideal of beauty, should resemble Djalma?"
"How you love him!" said M. de Montbron, deeply touched, and almost
dazzled by the felicity which beamed from the countenance of Adrienne.
"I must have suffered a good deal, do you not think so?" said she, after
a moment's silence.
"If I had not made up my mind to come here to-day, almost in despair,
what would have happened?"
"I cannot tell; I should perhaps have died, for I am wounded mortally
here"--she pressed her hand to her heart. "But what might have been
death to me, will now be life."
"It was horrible," said the count, shuddering. "Such a passion, buried
in your own breast, proud as you are--"
"Yes, proud--but not self-conceited. When I learned his love for
another, and that the impression which I fancied I had made on him at our
first interview had been immediately effaced, I renounced all hope,
without being able to renounce my love. Instead of shunning his image, I
surrounded myself with all that could remind me of him. In default of
happiness, there is a bitter pleasure in suffering through what we love."
"I can now understand your Indian library."
Instead of answering the count, Adrienne took from the stand one of the
freshly-cut volumes, and, bringing it to M. de Montbron, said to him,
with a smile and a celestial expression of joy and happiness: "I was
wrong--I am vain. Just read this--aloud, if you please. I tell you that
I can wait for to-morrow." Presenting the book to the count, she pointed
out one passage with the tip of her charming finger. Then she sank down
upon the couch, and, in an attitude of deep attention, with her body bent
forward, her hands crossed upon the cushion, her chin resting upon her
hands, her large eyes fixed with a sort of adoration on the Indian
Bacchus, that was just opposite to her, she appeared by this impassioned
contemplation to prepare herself to listen to M. de Montbron.
The latter, much astonished, began to read, after again looking at
Adrienne, who said to him, in her most coaxing voice, "Very slowly, I beg
M. de Montbron then read the following passage from the journal of a
traveller in India: "'When I was at Bombay, in 1829, I constantly heard
amongst the English there, of a young hero, the son of--'"
The count having paused a second, by reason of the barbarous spelling of
the name of Djalma's father, Adrienne immediately said to him, in her
soft voice: "The son of Kadja-sing."
"What a memory!" said the count, with a smile. And he resumed: "'A young
hero, the son of Kadja-sing, king of Mundi. On his return from a distant
and sanguinary expedition amongst the mountains against this Indian king,
Colonel Drake was filled with enthusiasm for this son of Kadja-sing,
known as Djalma. Hardly beyond the age of childhood, this young prince
has in the course of this implacable war given proofs of such chivalrous
intrepidity, and of so noble a character, that his father has been
surnamed the Father of the Generous.'"
"That is a touching custom," said the count. "To recompense the father,
as it were, by giving him a surname in honor of his son, is a great idea.
But how strange you should have met with this book!" added the count, in
surprise. "I can understand; there is matter here to inflame the coolest
"Oh! you will see, you will see," said Adrienne.
The count continued to read: "'Colonel Drake, one of the bravest and best
officers of the English army, said yesterday, in my presence, that having
been dangerously wounded, and taken prisoner by Prince Djalma, after an
energetic resistance, he had been conveyed to the camp established in the
Here there was the same hesitation on the part of the count, on seeing a
still more barbarous name than the first; so, not wishing to try the
adventure, he paused, and said to Adrienne, "Now really, I give this up."
"And yet it is so easy!" replied Adrienne; and she pronounced with
inexpressible softness, a name in itself soft, "The village of
"You appear to have an infallible process for remembering geographical
names," said the count, continuing: "'Once arrived at the camp, Colonel
Drake received the kindest hospitality, and Prince Djalma treated him
with the respect of a son. It was there that the colonel became
acquainted with some facts, which carried to the highest pitch his
enthusiasm for prince Djalma. I heard him relate the two following.
"'In one of the battles, the prince was accompanied by a young Indian of
about twelve years of age, whom he loved tenderly, and who served him as
a page, following him on horseback to carry his spare weapons. This
child was idolized by its mother; just as they set out on the expedition,
she had entrusted her son to Prince Djalma's care, saying, with a
stoicism worthy of antiquity, "Let him be your brother." "He shall be my
brother," had replied the prince. In the height of a disastrous defeat,
the child is severely wounded, and his horse killed; the prince, at peril
of his life, notwithstanding the perception of a forced retreat,
disengages him, and places him on the croup of his own horse; they are
pursued; a musket-ball strikes their steed, who is just able to reach a
jungle, in the midst of which, after some vain efforts, he falls
exhausted. The child is unable to walk, but the prince carries him in
his arms, and hides with him in the thickest part of the jungle. The
English arrive, and begin their search; but the two victims escape.
After a night and a day of marches, counter-marches, stratagems,
fatigues, unheard-of perils, the prince, still, carrying the child, one
of whose legs is broken, arrives at his father's camp, and says, with the
utmost simplicity, "I had promised his mother that I would act a
brother's part by him--and I have done so."'
"That is admirable!" cried the count.
"Go on--pray go on!" said Adrienne, drying a tear, without removing her
eyes from the bas-relief, which she continued to contemplate with growing
The count continued: "'Another time, Prince Djalma, followed by two black
slaves, went, before sunrise, to a very wild spot, to seize a couple of
tiger cubs only a few days old. The den had been previously discovered.
The two old tigers were still abroad. One of the blacks entered the den
by a narrow aperture; the other, aided by Djalma, cut down a tolerably
large tree, to prepare a trap for one of the old tigers. On the side of
the aperture, the cavern was exceedingly steep. The prince mounted to
the top of it with agility, to set his trap, with the aid of the other
black. Suddenly, a dreadful roar was heard; and, in a few bounds, the
tigress, returning from the chase, reached the opening of the den. The
black who was laying the trap with the prince had his skull fractured by
her bite; the tree, falling across the entrance, prevented the female
from penetrating the cavern, and at the same time stopped the exit of the
black who had seized the cubs.
"'About twenty feet higher, upon a ledge of rock, the prince lay flat on
the ground, looking down upon this frightful spectacle. The tigress,
rendered furious by the cries of her little ones, gnawed the hands of the
black, who, from the interior of the den, strove to support the trunk of
the tree, his only rampart, whilst he uttered the most lamentable
"It is horrible!" said the count.
"Oh! go on! pray go on!" exclaimed Adrienne, with excitement; "you will
see what can be achieved by the heroism of goodness."
The count pursued: "'Suddenly the prince seized his dagger between his
teeth, fastened his sash to a block of stone, took his axe in one hand,
and with the other slid down this substitute for a rope; falling a few
steps from the wild beast, he sprang upon her, and, swift as lightning,
dealt her two mortal strokes, just as the black, losing his strength, was
about to drop the trunk of the tree, sure to have been torn to pieces.'"
"And you are astonished at his resemblance with the demi-god, to whom
fable itself ascribes no more generous devotion!" cried the young lady,
with still increasing excitement.
"I am astonished no longer, I only admire," said the count, in a voice of
emotion; "and, at these two noble instances of heroism, my heart beats
with enthusiasm, as if I were still twenty."
"And the, noble heart of this traveller beat like yours at the recital,"
said Adrienne; "you will see."
"'What renders so admirable the intrepidity of the prince, is, that,
according to the principle of Indian castes, the life of a slave is of no
importance; thus a king's son, risking his life for the safety of a poor
creature, so generally despised, obeyed an heroic and truly Christian
instinct of charity, until then unheard of in this country."
"'Two such actions," said Colonel Drake, with good reason, "are
sufficient to paint the man;" it is with a feeling of profound respect
and admiration, therefore, that I, an obscure traveller, have written the
name of Prince Djalma in my book; and at the same time, I have
experienced a kind of sorrow, when I have asked myself what would be the
future fate of this prince, buried in the depths of a savage country,
always devastated by war. However humble may be the homage that I pay to
this character, worthy of the heroic age, his name will at least be
repeated with generous enthusiasm by all those who have hearts that beat
in sympathy with what is great and noble.'"
"And just now, when I read those simple and touching lines," resumed
Adrienne, I could not forbear pressing my lips to the name of the
"Yes; he is such as I thought him," cried the count, with still more
emotion, as he returned the book to Adrienne, who rose, with a grave and
touching air, and said to him: "It was thus I wished you to know him,
that you might understand my adoration; for this courage, this heroic
goodness, I had guessed beforehand, when I was an involuntary listener to
his conversation. From that moment, I knew him to be generous as
intrepid, tender and sensitive as energetic and resolute; and when I saw
him so marvellously beautiful--so different, in the noble character of
his countenance, and even in the style of his garments, from all I had
hitherto met with--when I saw the impression that I made upon him, and
which I perhaps felt still more violently--I knew that my whole life was
bound up with his love."
"And now, what are your plans?"
"Divine, radiant as my heart. When he learns his happiness, I wish that
Djalma should feel dazzled as I do, so as to prevent my gazing on my sun;
for I repeat, that until tomorrow will be a century to me. Yes, it is
strange! I should have thought that after such a discovery, I should
feel the want of being left alone, plunged in an ocean of delicious
dreams. But no! from this time till to-morrow--I dread solitude--I feel
a kind of feverish impatience--uneasy--ardent--Oh! where is the
beneficent fairy, that, touching me with her wand, will lull me into
slumber till to-morrow!"
"I will be that beneficent fairy," said the count, smiling.
"And how so?"
"The power of my wand is this: I will relieve you from a portion of your
thoughts by making them materially visible."
"Pray explain yourself."
"And my plan will have another advantage for you. Listen to me; you are
so happy now that you can hear anything. Your odious aunt, and her
equally odious friends, are spreading the report that your residence with
"Was rendered necessary by the derangement of my mind," said Adrienne,
with a smile; "I expected that."
"It is stupid enough; but, as your resolution to live alone makes many
envious of you, and many hostile, you must feel that there will be no
want of persons ready to believe the most absurd calumny possible."
"I hope as much. To pass for mad in the eyes of fools is very
"Yes; but to prove to fools that they are fools, and that in the face of
all Paris, is much more amusing. Now, people begin to talk of your
absence; you have given up your daily rides; for some time my niece has
appeared alone in our box at the Opera; you wish to kill the time till
to-morrow--well! here is an excellent opportunity. It is two o'clock; at
halfpast three, my niece will come in the carriage; the weather is
splendid; there is sure to be a crowd in the Bois de Boulogne. You can
take a delightful ride, and be seen by everybody. Then, as the air and
movement will have calmed your fever of happiness, I will commence my
magic this evening, and take you to India."
"Into the midst of one of those wild forests, in which roar the lion, the
panther, and the tiger. We will have this heroic combat, which so moved
you just now, under our own eyes, in all its terrible reality."
"Really, my dear count, you must be joking."
"Not at all; I promise to show you real wild beasts, formidable tenants
of the country of our demigod--growling tigers--roaring lions--do you not
think that will be better than books?"
"Come! I must give you the secret of my supernatural power. On returning
from your ride, you shall dine with my niece, and we will go together to
a very curious spectacle now exhibiting at the Porte-Saint-Martin
Theatre. A most extraordinary lion-tamer there shows you a number of
wild beasts, in a state of nature, in the midst of a forest (here only
commences the illusion), and has fierce combats with them all--tigers,
lions, and panthers. All Paris is crowding to these representations, and
all Paris will see you there, more charming than ever."
"I accept your offer," said Adrienne, with childish delight. "Yes, you
are right. I feel a strange pleasure in beholding these ferocious
monsters, who will remind me of those that my demi-god so heroically
overcame. I accept also, because, for the first time in my life, I am
anxious to be admired--even by everybody. I accept finally because--"
Here Mdlle. de Cardoville was interrupted by a low knock at the door, and
by the entrance of Florine, who announced M. Rodin.
Rodin entered. A rapid glance at Mdlle. de Cardoville and M. de Montbron
told him at once that he was in a dilemma. In fact, nothing could be
less encouraging than the faces of Adrienne and the count. The latter,
when he disliked people, exhibited his antipathy, as we have already
said, by an impertinently aggressive manner, which had before now
occasioned a good number of duels. At sight of Rodin, his countenance at
once assumed a harsh and insolent expression; resting his elbow on the
chimney-piece, and conversing with Adrienne, he looked disdainfully over
his shoulder, without taking the least notice of the Jesuit's low bow.
On the other hand, at sight of this man, Mdlle. de Cardoville almost felt
surprise, that she should experience no movement of anger or hatred. The
brilliant flame which burned in her heart, purified it from every
vindictive sentiment. She smiled, on the contrary; for, glancing with
gentle pride at the Indian Bacchus, and then at herself, she asked
herself what two beings, so young, and fair, and free, and loving, could
have to fear from this old, sordid man, with his ignoble and base
countenance, now advancing towards her with the writhing of a reptile.
In a word, far from feeling anger or aversion with regard to Rodin, the
young lady seemed full of the spirit of mocking gayety, and her large
eyes, already lighted up with happiness, now sparkled with irony and
mischief. Rodin felt himself ill at ease. People of his stamp greatly
prefer violent to mocking enemies. They can encounter bursts of rage--
sometimes by falling on their knees, weeping, groaning, and beating their
breasts--sometimes by turning on their adversary, armed and implacable.
But they are easily disconcerted by biting raillery; and thus it was with
Rodin. He saw that between Adrienne de Cardoville and M. de Montbron, he
was about to be placed in what is vulgarly termed a "regular fix."
The count opened the fire; still glancing over his shoulder, he said to
Rodin: 'Ah! you are here, my benevolent gentleman!"
"Pray, sir, draw a little nearer," said Adrienne, with a mocking smile.
"Best of friends and model of philosophers--as well as declared enemy of
all fraud and falsehood--I have to pay you a thousand compliments."
"I accent anything from you, my dear young lady, even though undeserved,"
said the Jesuit, trying to smile, and thus exposing his vile yellow
teeth; "but may I be informed how I have earned these compliments?"
"Your penetration, sir, which is rare--" replied Adrienne.
"And your veracity, sir," said the count, "which is perhaps no less rare--"
"In what have I exhibited my penetration, my dear young lady?" said
Rodin, coldly. "In what my veracity?" added he, turning towards M. de
"In what, sir?" said Adrienne. "Why, you have guessed a secret
surrounded by difficulties and mystery. In a word, you have known how to
read the depths of a woman's heart."
"I, my dear young lady?"
"You, sir! rejoice at it, for your penetration has had the most fortunate
"And your veracity has worked wonders," added the count.
"It is pleasant to do good, even without knowing it," said Rodin, still
acting on the defensive, and throwing side glances by turns on the count
and Adrienne; "but will you inform me what it is that deserves this
"Gratitude obliges me to inform you of it," said Adrienne, maliciously;
"you have discovered, and told Prince Djalma, that I was passionately in
love. Well! I admire your penetration; it was true."
"You have also discovered, and told this lady, that Prince Djalma was
passionately in love," resumed the count. "Well! I admire your
penetration, my dear sir; it was true."
Rodin looked confused, and at a loss for a reply.
"The person that I loved so passionately," said Adrienne, "was the
"The person that the prince loved so passionately," resumed the count,
"was this lady."
These revelations, so sudden and alarming, almost stunned Rodin; he
remained mute and terrified, thinking of the future.
"Do you understand now, sir, the extent of our gratitude towards you?"
resumed Adrienne, in a still more mocking tone. "Thanks to your
sagacity, thanks to the touching interest you take in us, the prince and
I are indebted to you for the knowledge of our mutual sentiments."
The Jesuit had now gradually recovered his presence of mind, and his
apparent calmness greatly irritated M. de Montbron, who, but for
Adrienne's presence, would have assumed another tone than jests.
"There is some mistake," said Rodin, "in what you have done me the honor
to tell me, my dear young lady. I have never in my life spoken of the
sentiments, however worthy and respectable, that you may entertain for
"That is true," replied Adrienne; "with scrupulous and exquisite
discretion, whenever you spoke to me of the deep love felt by Prince
Djalma, you carried your reserve and delicacy so far as to inform me that
it was not I whom he loved."
"And the same scruple induced you to tell the prince that Mdlle. de
Cardoville loved some one passionately--but that he was not the person,"
added the count.
"Sir," answered Rodin, dryly, "I need hardly tell you that I have no
desire to mix myself up with amorous intrigues."
"Come! this is either pride or modesty," said the count, insolently.
"For your own interest, pray do not advance such things; for, if we took
you at your word, and it became known, it might injure some of the nice
little trades that you carry on."
"There is one at least," said Rodin, drawing himself up as proudly as
M. de Montbron, "whose rude apprenticeship I shall owe to you. It is the
wearisome one of listening to your discourse."
"I tell you what, my good sir!" replied the count, disdainfully: "you
force me to remind you that there are more ways than one of chastising
"My dear count!" said Adrienne to M. de Montbron, with an air of
With perfect coolness, Rodin replied: "I do not exactly see, sir, first,
what courage is shown by threatening a poor old man like myself, and,
"M. Rodin," said the count, interrupting the Jesuit, "first, a poor old
man like you, who does evil under the shelter of the age he dishonors,
is both cowardly and wicked, and deserves a double chastisement;
secondly, with regard to this question of age, I am not aware that
gamekeepers and policemen bow down respectfully to the gray coats of old
wolves, and the gray hairs of old thieves. What do you think, my good
Still impassible, Rodin raised his flabby eyelids, fixed for hardly a
second his little reptile eye upon the count, and darted at him one of
his rapid, cold, and piercing glances--and then the livid eyelid again
covered the dull eye of that corpse-like face.
"Not having the disadvantage of being an old wolf, and still less an old
thief," said Rodin, quietly, "you will permit me, sir, to take no account
of the pursuit of hunters and police. As for the reproaches made me, I
have a very simple method of answering--I do not say of justifying
myself--I never justify myself--"
"You don't say!" said the count.
"Never," resumed Rodin coolly; "my acts are sufficient for that. I will
then simply answer that seeing the deep, violent, almost fearful
impression made by this lady on the prince--"
"Let this assurance which you give me of the prince's love," said
Adrienne interrupting Rodin with an enchanting smile, "absolve you of all
the evil you wished to do me. The sight of our happiness be your only
"It may be that I need neither absolution nor punishment, for, as I have
already had the honor to observe to the count, my dear young lady, the
future will justify my acts. Yes; it was my duty to tell the prince that
you loved another than himself, and to tell you that he loved another
than yourself--all in your mutual interest. That my attachment for you
may have misled me, is possible--I am not infallible; but, after my past
conduct towards you, my dear young lady, I have, perhaps, some right to
be astonished at seeing myself thus treated. This is not a complaint.
If I never justify myself, I never complain either."
"Now really, there is something heroic in all this, my good sir," said
the count. "You do not condescend to complain or justify yourself, with
regard to the evil you have done."
"The evil I have done?" said Rodin, looking fixedly at the count. "Are
we playing at enigmas?"
"What, sir!" cried the count, with indignation: "is it nothing, by your
falsehoods, to have plunged the prince into so frightful a state of
despair, that he has twice attempted his life? Is it nothing, by similar
falsehoods, to have induced this lady to believe so cruel and complete an
error, that but for the resolution I have to-day taken, it might have led
to the most fatal consequences?"
"And will you do me the honor to tell me, sir, what interest I could have
in all this despair and error, admitting even that I had wished to
"Some great interest no doubt," said the count, bluntly; "the more
dangerous that it is concealed. You are one of those, I see, to whom the
woes of others are pleasure and profit."
"That is really too much, sir," said Rodin, bowing; "I should be quite
contented with the profit."
"Your impudent coolness will not deceive me; this is a serious matter,"
said the count. "It is impossible that so perfidious a piece of roguery
can be an isolated act. Who knows but this may still be one of the
fruits of Madame de Saint-Dizier's hatred for Mdlle. de Cardoville?"
Adrienne had listened to the preceding discussion with deep attention.
Suddenly she started, as if struck by a sudden revelation.
After a moment's silence, she said to Rodin, without anger, without
bitterness, but with an expression of gentle and serene calmness: "We are
told, sir, that happy love works miracles. I should be tempted to
believe it; for, after some minutes' reflection, and when I recall
certain circumstances, your conduct appears to me in quite a new light."
"And what may this new perspective be, my dear young lady?"
"That you may see it from my point of view, sir, allow me to remind you
of a few facts. That sewing-girl was generously devoted to me; she had
given me unquestionable proofs of her attachment. Her mind was equal to
her noble heart; but she had an invincible dislike to you. All on a
sudden she disappears mysteriously from my house, and you do your best to
cast upon her odious suspicions. M. de Montbron has a paternal affection
for me; but, as I must confess, little sympathy for you; and you have
always tried to produce a coldness between us. Finally, Prince Djalma
has a deep affection for me, and you employ the most perfidious treachery
to kill that sentiment within him. For what end do you act thus? I do
not know; but certainly with some hostile design."
"It appears to me, madame," said Rodin, severely, "that you have
forgotten services performed."
"I do not deny, sir, that you took me from the house of Dr. Baleinier;
but, a few days sooner or later, I must infallibly have been released by
M. de Montbron."
"You are right, my dear child," said the count; "it may be that your
enemies wished to claim the merit of what must necessarily have happened
through the exertions of your friends."
"You are drowning, and I save you--it is all a mistake to feel grateful,"
said Rodin, bitterly; "some one else would no doubt have saved you a
"The comparison is wanting in exactness," said Adrienne, with a smile; "a
lunatic asylum is not a river, and though, from what I see, I think you
quite capable of diving, you have had no occasion to swim on this
occasion. You merely opened a door for me, which would have opened of
itself a little later."
"Very good, my dear child!" said the count, laughing heartily at
"I know, sir, that your care did not extend to me only. The daughters of
Marshal Simon were brought back by you; but we may imagine that the claim
of the Duke de Ligny to the possession of his daughters would not have
been in vain. You returned to an old soldier his imperial cross, which
he held to be a sacred relic; it is a very touching incident. Finally,
you unmasked the Abbe d'Aigrigny and Dr. Baleinier: but I had already
made up my mind to unmask then. However, all this proves that you are a
very clever man--"
"Oh, madame!" said Rodin, humbly.
"Full of resources and invention--"
"It is not my fault if, in our long interview at Dr. Baleinier's, you
betrayed that superiority of mind which struck me so forcibly, and which
seems to embarrass you so much at present. What would you have, sir?--
great minds like yours find it difficult to maintain their incognito.
Yet, as by different ways--oh! very different," added the young lady,
maliciously, "we are tending to the same end (still keeping in view our
conversation at Dr. Baleinier's), I wish, for the sake of our future
communion, as you call it, to give you a piece of advice, and speak
frankly to you."
Rodin had listened to Mdlle. de Cardoville with apparent impassibility,
holding his hat under his arm, and twirling his thumbs, whilst his hands
were crossed upon his waistcoat. The only external mark of the intense
agitation into which he was thrown by the calm words of Adrienne, was
that the livid eyelids of the Jesuit, which had been hypocritically
closed, became gradually red, as the blood flowed into them.
Nevertheless, he answered Mdlle. de Cardoville in a firm voice, and with
a low bow: "Good advice and frankness are always excellent things."
"You see, sir," resumed Adrienne, with some excitement, "happy love
bestows such penetration, such energy, such courage, as enables one to
laugh at perils, to detect stratagems, and to defy hatred. Believe me,
the divine light which surrounds two loving hearts will be sufficient to
disperse all darkness, and reveal every snare. You see, in India--excuse
my weakness, but I like to talk of India," added the young girl, with a
smile of indescribable grace and meaning--"in India, when travellers
sleep at night, they kindle great fires round their ajoupa (excuse this
touch of local coloring), and far as extends the luminous circle, it puts
to flight by its mere brilliancy, all the impure and venomous reptiles
that shun the day and live only in darkness."
"The meaning of this comparison has quite escaped me," said Rodin,
continuing to twirl his thumbs, and half raising his eyelids, which were
getting redder and redder.
"I will speak more plainly," said Adrienne, with a smile. "Suppose, sir,
that the last is a service which you have rendered me and the prince--for
you only proceed by way of services--that, I acknowledge, is novel and
"Bravo, my dear child!" said the count, joyfully. "The execution will be
"Oh! this is meant for an execution?" said Rodin, still impassible.
"No, sir," answered Adrienne, with a smile; "it is a simple conversation
between a poor young girl and an old philosopher, the friend of humanity.
Suppose, then, that these frequent services that you have rendered to me
and mine have suddenly opened my eyes; or, rather," added the young girl,
in a serious tone, "suppose that heaven, who gives to the mother the
instinct to defend her child, has given me, along with happiness, the
instinct to preserve my happiness, and that a vague presentiment, by
throwing light on a thousand circumstances until now obscure, has
suddenly revealed to me that, instead of being the friend, you are
perhaps, the most dangerous enemy of myself and family."
"So we pass from the execution to suppositions," said Rodin, still
"And from suppositions, sir, if you must have it, to certainty," resumed
Adrienne, with dignified firmness; "yes, now I believe that I was for
awhile your dupe, and I tell you, without hate, without anger, but with
regret--that it is painful to see a man of your sense and intelligence
stoop to such machinations, and, after having recourse to so many
diabolical manoeuvres, finish at last by being ridiculous; for, believe
me, there is nothing more ridiculous for a man like you, than to be
vanquished by a young girl, who has no weapon, no defence, no instructor,
but her love. In a word, sir, I look upon you from to-day as an
implacable and dangerous enemy; for I half perceive your aim, without
guessing by what means you will seek to accomplish it, No doubt your
future means will be worthy of the past. Well! in spite of all this, I
do not fear you. From tomorrow, my family will be informed of
everything, and an active, intelligent, resolute union will keep us all
upon our guard, for it doubtless concerns this enormous inheritance, of
which they wish to deprive us. Now, what connection can there be between
the wrongs I reproach you with and the pecuniary end proposed? I do not
at all know--but you have told me yourself that our enemies are so
dangerously skillful, and their craft so far-reaching, that we must
expect all, be prepared for all. I will remember the lesson. I have
promised you frankness, sir, and now I suppose you have it."
"It would be an imprudent frankness if I were your enemy," said Rodin,
still impassible; "but you also promised me some advice, my dear young
"My advice will be short; do not attempt to continue the struggle,
because, you see, there is something stronger than you and yours--it is a
woman's resolve, defending her happiness."
Adrienne pronounced these last words with so sovereign a confidence; her
beautiful countenance shone, as is it were, with such intrepid joy, that
Rodin, notwithstanding his phlegmatic audacity, was for a moment
frightened. Yet he did not appear in the least disconcerted; and, after
a moment's silence, he resumed, with an air of almost contemptuous
compassion: "My dear young lady, we may perhaps never meet again; it is
probable. Only remember one thing, which I now repeat to you: I never
justify myself. The future will provide for that. Notwithstanding
which, my dear young lady, I am your humble servant;" and he made her a
"Count, I beg to salute you most respectfully," he added, bowing still
more humbly to M. de Montbron; and he went out.
Hardly had Rodin left the room than Adrienne ran to her desk, and writing
a few hasty lines, sealed the note, and said to M. de Montbron: "I shall
not see the prince before to-morrow--as much from superstition of the
heart as because it is necessary for my plans that this interview should
be attended with some little solemnity. You shall know all; but I write
to him on the instant, for, with an enemy like M. Rodin, one must be
prepared for all."
"You are right, my dear child; quick! the letter." Adrienne gave it to
"I tell him enough," said she, "to calm his grief; and not enough to
deprive me of the delicious happiness of the surprise I reserve for to-
"All this has as much sense as heart in it: I will hasten to the prince's
abode, to deliver your letter. I shall not see him, for I could not
answer for myself. But come! our proposed drive, our evening's
amusement, are still to hold good."
"Certainly. I have more need than ever to divert my thoughts till to-
morrow. I feel, too, that the fresh air will do me good, for this
interview with M. Rodin has warmed me a little."
"The old wretch! but we will talk further of him. I will hasten to the
prince's and return with Madame de Morinval, to fetch you to the Champs-
The Count de Montbron withdrew precipitately, as joyful at his departure
as he had been sad on his arrival.
It was about two hours after the interview of Rodin with Mdlle. de
Cardoville. Numerous loungers, attracted to the Champs-Elysees by the
serenity of a fine spring day (it was towards the end of the month of
March) stopped to admire a very handsome equipage. A bright-blue open
carriage, with white-and-blue wheels, drawn by four superb horses, of
cream color, with black manes, and harness glittering with silver
ornaments, mounted by two boy postilions of equal size, with black velvet
caps, light-blue cassimere jackets with white collars, buckskin breeches,
and top-boots; two tall, powdered footmen, also in light-blue livery,