Part 23 out of 31
with white collars and facings, being seated in the rumble behind.
No equipage could have been turned out in better style. The horses, full
of blood, spirit, and vigor, were skillfully managed by the postilions,
and stepped with singular regularity, gracefully keeping time in their
movements, champing their bits covered with foam, and ever and anon
shaking their cockades of blue and white silk, with long floating ends,
and a bright rose blooming in the midst.
A man on horseback, dressed with elegant simplicity, keeping at the other
side of the avenue, contemplated with proud satisfaction this equipage
which he had, as it were, created. It was M. de Bonneville--Adrienne's
equerry, as M. de Montbron called him--for the carriage belonged to that
young lady. A change had taken place in the plan for this magic day's
amusement. M. de Montbron had not been able to deliver Mdlle. de
Cardoville's note to Prince Djalma. Faringhea had told him that the
prince had gone that morning into the country with Marshal Simon, and
would not be back before evening. The letter should be given him on his
arrival. Completely satisfied as to Djalma, knowing that he could find
these few lines, which, without informing him of the happiness that
awaited him, would at least give him some idea of it, Adrienne had
followed the advice of M. de Montbron, and gone to the drive in her own
carriage, to show all the world that she had quite made up her mind, in
spite of the perfidious reports circulated by the Princess de Saint-
Dizier, to keep to her resolution of living by herself in her own way.
Adrienne wore a small white bonnet, with a fall of blonde, which well
became her rosy face and golden hair; her high dress of garnet-colored
velvet was almost hidden beneath a large green cashmere shawl. The young
Marchioness de Morinval, who was also very pretty and elegant, was seated
at her right. M. de Montbron occupied the front seat of the carriage.
Those who know the Parisian world, or rather, that imperceptible fraction
of the world of Paris which goes every fine, sunny day to the Champs-
Elysees, to see and be seen, will understand that the presence of Mdlle.
de Cardoville on that brilliant promenade was an extraordinary and
The world (as it is called) could hardly believe its eyes, on seeing this
lady of eighteen, possessed of princely wealth, and belonging to the
highest nobility, thus prove to every one, by this appearance in public,
that she was living completely free and independent, contrary to all
custom and received notions of propriety. This kind of emancipation
appeared something monstrous, and people were almost astonished that the
graceful and dignified bearing of the young lady should belie so
completely the calumnies circulated by Madame de Saint-Dizier and her
friends, with regard to the pretended madness of her niece. Many beaux,
profiting by their acquaintance with the Marchioness de Morinval or M. de
Montbron, came by turns to pay their respects, and rode for a few minutes
by the side of the carriage, so as to have an opportunity of seeing,
admiring, and perhaps hearing, Mdlle. de Cardoville; she surpassed their
expectations, by talking with her usual grace and spirit. Then surprise
and enthusiasm knew no bounds. What had at first been blamed as an
almost insane caprice, was now voted a charming originality, and it only
depended on Mdlle. de Cardoville herself, to be declared from that day
the queen of elegance and fashion. The young lady understood very well
the impression she had made; she felt proud and happy, for she thought of
Djalma; when she compared him to all these men of fashion, her happiness
was the more increased. And, verily, these young men, most of whom had
never quitted Paris, or had ventured at most as far as Naples or Baden,
looked insignificant enough by the side of Djalma, who, at his age, had
so many times commanded and combated in bloody wars, and whose reputation
far courage and generosity, mentioned by travellers with admiration, had
already reached from India to Paris. And then, how could these charming
exquisites, with their small hats, their scanty frock-coats, and their
huge cravats, compare with the Indian prince, whose graceful and manly
beauty was still heightened by the splendor of a costume, at once so rich
and so picturesque?
On this happy day, all was joy and love for Adrienne. The sun, setting
in a splendidly serene sky, flooded the promenade with its golden light.
The air was warm. Carriages and horsemen passed and repassed in rapid
succession; a light breeze played with the scarfs of the women, and the
plumes in their bonnets; all around was noise, movement, sunshine.
Adrienne, leaning back in her carriage, amused herself with watching this
busy scene, sparkling with Parisian luxury; but, in the vortex of this
brilliant chaos, she saw in thought the mild, melancholy countenance of
Djalma--when suddenly something fell into her lap, and she started. It
was a bunch of half-faded violets. At the same instant she heard a
child's voice following the carriage, and saying: "For the love of
heaven, my good lady, one little sou!" Adrienne turned her head, and saw
a poor little girl, pale and wan, with mild, sorrowful features, scarcely
covered with rags, holding out her hand, and raising her eyes in
supplication. Though the striking contrast of extreme misery, side by
side with extreme luxury, is so common, that it no longer excites
attention, Adrienne was deeply affected by it. She thought of Mother
Bunch, now, perhaps, the victim of frightful destitution.
"Ah! at least," thought the young lady, "let not this day be one of
happiness for me alone!"
She leaned from the carriage-window, and said to the poor child: "Have
you a mother, my dear?"
"No, my lady, I have neither father nor mother."
"Who takes care of you?"
"No one, my lady. They give me nosegays to sell, and I must bring home
money--or they beat me."
"Poor little thing!"
"A sou, my good lady--a sou, for the love of heaven!" said the child,
continuing to follow the carriage, which was then moving slowly.
"My dear count," said Adrienne, smiling, and addressing M. de Montbron,
"you are, unfortunately, no novice at an elopement. Please to stretch
forth your arms, take up that child with both hands, and lift her into
the carriage. We can hide her between Lady de Morinval and myself; and
we can drive away before any one perceives this audacious abduction."
"What!" said the count, in surprise. "You wish--"
"Yes; I beg you to do it."
"What a folly!"
"Yesterday, you might, perhaps, have treated this caprice as a folly; but
to-day," said Adrienne, laying great stress upon the word, and glancing
at M. de Montbron with a significant air, "to-day, you should understand
that it is almost a duty."
"Yes, I understand you, good and noble heart!" said the count, with
emotion; while Lady de Morinval, who knew nothing of Mdlle. de
Cardoville's love for Djalma, looked with as much surprise as curiosity
at the count and the young lady.
M. de Montbron, leaning from the carriage, stretched out his arms towards
the child, and said to her: "Give me your hands, little girl."
Though much astonished, the child obeyed mechanically, and held out both
her little arms; then the count took her by the wrists, and lifted her
lightly from the ground, which he did the more easily, as the carnage was
very low, and its progress by no means rapid. More stupefied than
frightened, the child said not a word. Adrienne and Lady de Morinval
made room for her to crouch down between them, and the little girl was
soon hidden beneath the shawls of the two young women. All this was
executed so quickly, that it was hardly perceived by a few persons
passing in the side-avenues.
"Now, my dear count," said Adrienne, radiant with pleasure, "let us make
off at once with our prey."
M. de Montbron half rose, and called to the postilions. "Home!" and the
four horses started at once into a rapid and regular trot.
"This day of happiness now seems consecrated, and my luxury is excused,"
thought Adrienne; "till I can again meet with that poor Mother Bunch, and
from this day I will make every exertion to find her out, her place will
at least not be quite empty."
There are often strange coincidences in life. At the moment when this
thought of the hunchback crossed the mind of Adrienne, a crowd had
collected in one of the side-avenues, and other persons soon ran to join
"Look, uncle!" said Lady de Morinval; "how many people are assembled
yonder. What can it be? Shall we stop, and send to inquire?"
"I am sorry, my dear, but your curiosity cannot be satisfied," said the
count, drawing out his watch; "it will soon be six o'clock, and the
exhibition of the wild beasts begin at eight. We shall only just have
time to go home and dine. Is not that your opinion, my dear child?" said
he to Adrienne.
"And yours, Julia?" said Mdlle. de Cardoville to the marchioness.
"Oh, certainly!" answered her friend.
"I am the less inclined to delay," resumed the count, "as when I have
taken you to the Porte-Saint-Martin, I shall be obliged to go for half-
an-hour to my club, to ballot for Lord Campbell, whom I propose."
"Then, Adrienne and I will be left alone at the play, uncle?"
"Your husband will go with you, I suppose."
"True, dear uncle; but do not quite leave us, because of that."
"Be sure I shall not: for I am curious as you are to see these terrible
animals, and the famous Morok, the incomparable lion-tamer."
A few minutes after, Mdlle. de Cardoville's carriage had left the Champs-
Elysees, carrying with it the little girl, and directing its course
towards the Rue d'Anjou. As the brilliant equipage disappeared from the
scene, the crowd, of which we before have spoken, greatly increased about
one of the large trees in the Champs-Elysees, and expressions of pity
were heard here and there amongst the groups. A lounger approached a
young man on the skirts of the crowd, and said to him: "What is the
"I hear it is a poor young girl, a hunchback, that has fallen from
"A hunchback! is that all? There will always be enough hunchbacks," said
the lounger, brutally, with a coarse laugh.
"Hunchback or not, if she dies of hunger," answered the young man,
scarcely able to restrain his indignation, "it will be no less sad--and
there is really nothing to laugh at, sir."
"Die of hunger! pooh!" said the lounger, shrugging his shoulders. "It is
only lazy scoundrels, that will not work, who die of hunger. And it
serves them right."
"I wager, sir, there is one death you will never die of," cried the young
man, incensed at the cruel insolence of the lounger.
"What do you mean?" answered the other, haughtily.
"I mean, sir, that your heart is not likely to kill you."
"Sir!" cried the lounger in an angry tone.
"Well! what, sir?" replied the young man, looking full in his face.
"Nothing," said the lounger, turning abruptly on his heel, and grumbling
as he sauntered towards an orange-colored cabriolet, on which was
emblazoned an enormous coat-of-arms, surmounted by a baron's crest. A
servant in green livery, ridiculously laced with gold, was standing
beside the horse, and did not perceive his master.
"Are you catching flies, fool?" said the latter, pushing him with his
cane. The servant turned round in confusion. "Sir," said he.
"Will you never learn to call me Monsieur le Baron, rascal?" cried his
master, in a rage--"Open the door directly!"
The lounger was Baron Tripeaud, the manufacturing baron the stock-jobber.
The poor hunchback was Mother Bunch, who had, indeed fallen with hunger
and fatigue, whilst on her way to Mdlle. de Cardoville's. The
unfortunate creature had found courage to brave the shame of the ridicule
she so much feared, by returning to that house from which she was a
voluntary exile; but this time, it was not for herself, but for her
sister Cephyse--the Bacchanal Queen, who had returned to Paris the
previous day, and whom Mother Bunch now sought, through the means of
Adrienne, to rescue from a most dreadful fate.
Two hours after these different scenes, an enormous crowd pressed round
the doors of the Porte-Saint-Martin, to witness the exercises of Morok,
who was about to perform a mock combat with the famous black panther of
Java, named Death. Adrienne, accompanied by Lord and Lady de Morinval,
now stepped from a carriage at the entrance of the theatre. They were to
be joined in the course of the evening by M. de Montbron, whom they had
dropped, in passing, at his club.
BEHIND THE SCENES.
The large theatre of the Porte-Saint-Martin was crowded by an impatient
multitude. All Paris had hurried with eager and burning curiosity to
Morok's exhibition. It is quite unnecessary to say that the lion-tamer
had completely abandoned his small taste in religious baubles, which he
had so successfully carried on at the White Falcon Inn at Leipsic. There
were, moreover, numerous tokens by which the surprising effects of
Morok's sudden conversion had been blazoned in the most extraordinary
pictures: the antiquated baubles in which he had formerly dealt would
have found no sale in Paris. Morok had nearly finished dressing himself,
in one of the actor's rooms, which had been lent to him. Over a coat of
mail, with cuishes and brassarts, he wore an ample pair of red trousers,
fastened round his ankles by broad rings of gilt brass. His long caftan
of black cloth, embroidered with scarlet and gold, was bound round his
waist and wrist by other large rings of gilt metal. This sombre costume
imparted to him an aspect still more ferocious. His thick and red-haired
beard fell in large quantities down to his chest, and a long piece of
white muslin was folded round his red head. A devout missionary in
Germany and an actor in Paris, Morok knew as well as his employers, the
Jesuits, how to accommodate himself to circumstances.
Seated in one corner of the room, and contemplating with a sort of stupid
admiration, was Jacques Rennepont, better known as "Sleepinbuff" (from
the likelihood that he would end his days in rags, or his present
antipathy to great care in dress). Since the day Hardy's factory had
been destroyed by fire, Jacques had not quitted Morok, passing the nights
in excesses, which had no baneful effects on the iron constitution of the
lion-tamer. On the other's features, on the contrary, a great alteration
was perceptible; his hollow cheeks, marble pallor, his eyes, by turns
dull and heavy, or gleaming with lurid fire, betrayed the ravages of
debauchery, his parched lips were almost constantly curled by a bitter
and sardonic smile. His spirit, once gay and sanguine, still struggled
against the besotting influence of habitual intoxication. Unfitted for
labor, no longer able to forego gross pleasures, Jacques sought to drown
in wine a few virtuous impulses which he still possessed, and had sunk so
low as to accept without shame the large dole of sensual gratification
proffered him by Morok, who paid all the expenses of their orgies, but
never gave him money, in order that he might be completely dependent on
him. After gazing at Morok for some time in amazement, Jacques said to
him, in a familiar tone: "Well, yours is a famous trade; you may boast
that, at this moment, there are not two men like you in the whole world
That's flattering. It's a pity you don't stick to this fine trade."
"What do you mean?"
"Why, how is the conspiracy going on, in whose honor you make me keep it
up all day and all night?"
"It is working, but the time is not yet come; that is why I wish to have
you always at hand, till the great day. Do you complain?"
"Hang it, no!" said Jacques. "What could I do? Burnt up with brandy as
I am, if I wanted to work, I've no longer the strength to do so. I have
not, like you, a head of marble, and a body of iron; but as for fuddling
myself with gunpowder, instead of anything else, that'll do for me; I'm
only fit for that work now--and then, it will drive away thought."
"Oh what kind?"
"You know that when I do think, I think only of one thing," said Jacques,
"The Bacchanal queen?--still?" said Morok, in a disdainful tone.
"Still! rather: when I shall think of her no longer, I shall be dead--or
"You were never better or more intelligent, you fool!" replied Morok,
fastening his turban. The conversation was here interrupted. Morok's
aider entered hastily.
The gigantic form of this Hercules had increased in width. He was
habited like Alcides; his enormous limbs, furrowed with veins as thick as
whipcord, were covered with a close-fitting flesh-colored garment, to
which a pair of red drawers formed a strong contrast.
"Why do you rush in like a storm, Goliath?" said Morok.
"There's a pretty storm in the house; they are beginning to get
impatient, and are calling out like madmen. But if that were all!"
"Well, what else?"
"Death will not be able to play this evening."
Morok turned quickly around. He seemed uneasy. "Why so?" he exclaimed.
"I have just seen her! she's crouching at the bottom of her cage; her
ears lie so close to her head, she looks as if they had been cut off.
You know what that means."
"Is that all?" said Morok, turning to the glass to complete his head-
"It's quite enough; she's in one of her tearing fits. Since that night
in Germany, when she ripped up that old hack of a white horse, I've not
seen her look so savage! her eyes shine like burning candles."
"Then she must have her fine collar on," said Morok, quietly.
"Her fine collar?"
"Yes; her spring-collar."
"And I must be lady's-maid," said the giant. "A nice toilet to attend
"Hold your tongue!"
"That's not all--" continued Goliath, hesitating.
"I might as well tell you at once."
"Will you speak?"
"Well! he is here."
"Who, you stupid brute?"
Morok started; his arms fell powerless by his side. Jacques was struck
with the lion-tamer's paleness and troubled countenance.
"The Englishman!--you have seen him?" cried Morok, addressing Goliath.
"You are quite sure?"
"Quite sure. I was looking through the peep-hole in the curtain; I saw
him in one of the stage-boxes--he wishes to see things close; he's easy
to recognize, with his pointed forehead, big nose, and goggle eyes."
Morok shuddered again; usually fierce and unmoved, he appeared to be more
and more agitated, and so alarmed, that Jacques said to him: "Who is this
"He has followed me from Strasburg, where he fell in with me," said
Morok, with visible dejection. "He travelled with his own horses, by
short stages, as I did; stopping where I stopped, so as never to miss one
of my exhibitions. But two days before I arrived at Paris, he left me--I
thought I was rid of him," said Morok, with a sigh.
"Rid of him!--how you talk!" replied Jacques, surprised; "such a good
customer, such an admirer!"
"Aye!" said Morok, becoming more and more agitated; "this wretch has
wagered an enormous sum, that I will be devoured in his presence, during
one of my performances: he hopes to win his wager--that is why he
follows me about."
Sleepinbuff found the John Bull's idea so amusingly eccentric, that, for
the first time since a very long period, he burst into a peal of hearty
laughter. Morok, pale with rage, rushed towards him with so menacing an
air, that Goliath was obliged to interpose.
"Come, come," said Jacques, "don't be angry; if it is serious, I will not
laugh any more."
Morok was appeased, and said to Sleepinbuff in a hoarse voice: "Do you
think me a coward?"
"No, by heaven!"
"Well! And yet this Englishman, with his grotesque face, frightens me
more than any tiger or my panther!"
"You say so, and I believe it," replied Jacques; "but I cannot understand
why the presence of this man should alarm you."
"But consider, you dull knave!" cried Morok, "that, obliged to watch
incessantly the least movement of the ferocious beast, whom I keep in
subjection by my action and my looks, there is something terrible in
knowing that two eyes are there--always there--fixed--waiting till the
least absence of mind shall expose me to be torn in pieces by the
"Now, I understand," said Jacques, shuddering in his turn. "It is
"Yes; for once there, though I may not see this cursed Englishman, I
fancy I have his two round eyes, fixed and wide open, always before me.
My tiger Cain once nearly mutilated my arm, when my attention was drawn
away by this Englishman, whom the devil take! Blood and thunder!" cried
Morok: "this man will be fatal to me." And Morok paced the room in great
"Besides, Death lays her ears close to her skull," said Goliath,
brutally. "If you persist--mind, I tell you--the Englishman will win his
wager this evening."
"Go away, you brute!--don't vex my head with your confounded
predictions," cried Morok: "go and prepare Death's collar."
"Well, every one to his taste; you wish the panther to taste you," said
the giant, stalking heavily away, after this joke.
"But if you feel these fears," said Jacques, "why do you not say that the
panther is ill?"
Morok shrugged his shoulders, and replied with a sort of feverish
ferocity, "Have you ever heard of the fierce pleasure of the gamester,
who stakes his honor, his life, upon a card? Well! I too--in these
daily exhibitions where my life is at stake--find a wild, fierce pleasure
in braving death, before a crowded assembly, shuddering and terrified at
my audacity. Yes, even in the fear with which this Englishman inspires
me, I find, in spite of myself, a terrible excitement, which I abhor, and
which yet subjugates me."
At this moment, the stage-manager entered the room, and interrupted the
beast-tamer. "May we give the signal, M. Morok?" said the stage-manager.
"The overture will not last above ten minutes."
"I am ready," said Morok.
"The police-inspector has just now given orders, that the double chain of
the panther, and the iron ring riveted to the floor of the stage, at the
end of the cavern in the foreground, shall be again examined; and
everything has been reported quite secure."
"Yes--secure--except for me," murmured the beast-tamer.
"So, M. Morok, the signal may be given?"
"The signal may--be given," replied Morok. And the manager went out.
UP WITH THE CURTAIN.
The usual bell sounded with solemnity behind the scenes the overture
began, and, to say the truth, but little attention was paid to it. The
interior of the theatre offered a very animated view. With the exception
of two stage-boxes even with the dress circle, one to the left, the other
to the right of the audience, every seat was occupied. A great number of
very fashionable ladies, attracted, as is always the case, by the strange
wildness of the spectacle, filled the boxes. The stalls were crowded by
most of the young men who; in the morning, had walked their horses on the
Champs-Elysees. The observations which passed from one stall to another,
will give some idea of their conversation.
"Do you know, my dear boy, there would not be so crowded or fashionable
an audience to witness Racine's Athalia?"
"Undoubtedly. What is the beggarly howling of an actor, compared to the
roaring of the lion?"
"I cannot understand how the authorities permit this Morok to fasten his
panther with a chain to an iron ring in the corner of the stage. If the
chain were to break?"
"Talking of broken chains--there's little Mme. de Blinville, who is no
tigress. Do you see her in the second tier, opposite?"
"It becomes her very well to have broken, as you say, the marriage chain;
she looks very well this season."
"Oh! there is the beautiful Duchess de Saint-Prix; all the world is here
to-night--I don't speak of ourselves."
"It is a regular opera night--what a festive scene!"
"Well, after all, people do well to amuse themselves, perhaps it will not
be for long."
"Suppose the cholera were to come to Paris?"
"Do you believe in the cholera?"
"To be sure I do! He's coming from the North, with his walking-stick
under his arm."
"The devil take him on the road! don't let us see his green visage here."
"They say he's at London."
"A pleasant journey to him."
"Come, let us talk of something else; it may be a weakness, if you
please, but I call this a dull subject."
"I believe you."
"Oh! gentlemen--I am not mistaken--no--it is she!"
"Mdlle. de Cardoville! She is coming into the stage-box with Morinval
and his wife. It is a complete resuscitation: this morning on the
Champs-Elysees; in the evening here."
"Faith, you are right! It is Mdlle. de Cardoville."
"Good heaven! how lovely she is!"
"Lend me your eyeglass."
"Well, what do you think of her?"
"And in addition to her beauty, an inexhaustible flow of wit, three
hundred thousand francs a year, high birth, eighteen years of age, and--
free as air."
"Yes, that is to say, that, provided it pleased her, I might be to-
morrow--or even to-day--the happiest of men."
"It is enough to turn one's brain."
"I am told that her mansion, Rue d'Anjou, is like an enchanted palace; a
great deal is said about a bath-room and bedroom, worthy of the Arabian
"And free as air--I come back to that."
"Ah! if I were in her place!"
"My levity would be quite shocking."
"Oh! gentlemen, what a happy man will he be who is loved first!"
"You think, then, that she will have many lovers?"
"Being as free as air--"
"All the boxes are full, except the stage-box opposite to that in which
Mdlle. de Cardoville is seated. Happy the occupiers of that box!"
"Did you see the English ambassador's lady in the dress circle?"
"And the Princess d'Alvimar--what an enormous bouquet!"
"I should like to know the name--of that nosegay."
"How flattering for the lions and tigers, to attract so fashionable an
"Do you notice, gentlemen, how all the women are eye-glassing Mdlle. de
"She makes a sensation."
"She is right to show herself; they gave her out as mad."
"Oh! gentlemen, what a capital phiz!"
"There--in the omnibus-box beneath Mdlle. de Cardoville's."
"It's a Nuremburg nutcracker."
"Did you ever see such round, staring eyes?"
"And the nose!"
"And the forehead!"
"It's a caricature."
"Order, order! the curtain rises."
And, in fact, the curtain rose. Some explanation is necessary for the
clear understanding of what follows. In the lower stage-box, to the left
of the audience, were several persons, who had been referred to by the
young men in the stalls. The omnibus-box was occupied by the Englishman,
the eccentric and portentous bettor, whose presence inspired Morok with
so much dread.
It would require Hoffman's rare and fantastic genius to describe worthily
that countenance, at once grotesque and frightful, as it stood out from
the dark background of the box. This Englishman was about fifty years
old; his forehead was quite bald, and of a conical shape; beneath this
forehead, surmounted by eyebrows like parenthesis marks, glittered large,
green eyes, remarkably round and staring, and set very close to a hooked
nose, extremely sharp and prominent; a chin like that on the old-
fashioned nutcrackers was half-hidden in a broad and ample white cravat,
as stiffly-starched as the round-cornered shirt-collar, which nearly
touched his ears. The face was exceedingly thin and bony, and yet the
complexion was high-colored, approaching to purple, which made the bright
green of the pupils, and the white of the other part of the eyes, still
more conspicuous. The mouth, which was very wide, sometimes whistled
inaudibly the tune of a Scotch jig (always the same tune), sometimes was
slightly curled with a sardonic smite. The Englishman was dressed with
extreme care; his blue coat, with brass buttons, displayed his spotless
waistcoat, snowy, white as his ample cravat; his shirt was fastened with
two magnificent ruby studs, and his patrician hands were carefully kid-
To any one who knew the eccentric and cruel desire which attracted this
man to every representation, his grotesque face became almost terrific,
instead of exciting ridicule; and it was easy to understand the dread
experience by Morok at sight of those great, staring round eyes, which
appeared to watch for the death of the lion-tamer (what a horrible
death!) with unshaken confidence. Above the dark box of the Englishman,
affording a graceful contrast, were seated the Morinvals and Mdlle. de
Cardoville. The latter was placed nearest the stage. Her head was
uncovered, and she wore a dress of sky-blue China crepe, ornamented at
the bosom with a brooch of the finest Oriental pearls--nothing more; yet
Adrienne, thus attired, was charming. She held in her hand an enormous
bouquet, composed of the rarest flowers of India: the stephanotis and the
gardenia mingled the dead white of their blossoms with the purple
hibiscus and Java amaryllis.
Madame de Morinval, seated on the opposite side of the box, was dressed
with equal taste and simplicity; Morinval, a fair and very handsome young
man, of elegant appearance, was behind the two ladies. M. de Montbron
was expected to arrive every moment. The reader will please to recollect
that the stage-box to the right of the audience, opposite Adrienne's, had
remained till then quite empty. The stage represented one of the
gigantic forests of India. In the background, tall exotic trees rose in
spiral or spreading forms, among rugged masses of perpendicular rocks,
with here and there glimpses of a tropical sky. The side-scenes formed
tufts of trees, interspersed with rocks; and at the side which was
immediately beneath Adrienne's box appeared the irregular opening of a
deep and gloomy cavern, round which were heaped huge blocks of granite,
as if thrown together by some convulsion of nature. This scenery, full
of a wild and savage grandeur, was wonderfully "built up," so as to make
the illusion as complete as possible; the footlights were lowered, and
being covered with a purple shade, threw over this landscape a subdued
reddish light, which increased the gloomy and startling effect of the
whole. Adrienne, leaning forward from the box, with cheeks slightly
flushed, sparkling eyes, and throbbing heart, sought to trace in this
scene the solitary forest described by the traveller who had eulogized
Djalma's generosity and courage, when he threw himself upon a ferocious
tigress to save the life of a poor black slave. Chance coincided
wonderfully indeed with her recollections. Absorbed in the contemplation
of the scenery and the thoughts it awakened in her heart, she paid no
attention to what was passing in the house. And yet something calculated
to excite curiosity was taking place in the opposite stage-box.
The door of this box opened. A man about forty years of age, of a yellow
complexion, entered; he was clothed after the East Indian fashion, in a
long robe of orange silk, bound round the waist with a green sash, and he
wore a small white turban. He placed two chairs at the front of the box;
and, having glanced round the house for a moment, he started, his black
eyes sparkled, and he went out quickly. That man was Faringhea. His
apparition caused surprise and curiosity in the theatre; the majority of
the spectators not having, like Adrienne, a thousand reasons for being
absorbed in the contemplation of a picturesque set scene. The public
attention was still more excited when they saw the box which Faringhea
had just left, entered by a youth of rare beauty, also dressed Oriental
fashion, in a long robe of white Cashmere with flowing sleeves, with a
scarlet turban striped with gold on his head, and a sash to correspond,
in which was stuck a long dagger, glittering with precious stones. This
young man was Prince Djalma. For an instant he remained standing at the
door, and cast a look of indifference upon the immense theatre, crowded
with people; then, stepping forward with a majestic and tranquil air, the
prince seated himself negligently on one of the chairs, and, turning his
head in a few moments towards the entrance, appeared surprised at not
seeing some person whom he doubtless expected. This person appeared at
length; the boxkeeper had been assisting her to take off her cloak. She
was a charming, fair-haired girl, attired with more show than taste, in a
dress of white silk, with broad cherry-colored stripes, made ultra-
fashionably low, and with short sleeves; a large bow of cherry-colored
ribbon was placed on each side of her light hair, and set off the
prettiest, sprightliest, most wilful little face in the world.
It was Rose-Pompon. Her pretty arms were partly covered by long white
gloves, and ridiculously loaded with bracelets: in her hand she carried
an enormous bouquet of roses.
Far from imitating the calm demeanor of Djalma, Rose-Pompon skipped into
the box, moved the chairs about noisily, and fidgeted on her seat for
some time, to display her fine dress; then, without being in the least
intimidated by the presence of the brilliant assembly, she, with a little
coquettish air, held her bouquet towards Djalma, that he might smell it,
and appeared finally to establish herself on her seat. Faringhea came
in, shut the door of the box, and seated himself behind the prince.
Adrienne, still completely absorbed in the contemplation of the Indian
forest, and in her own sweet thoughts, had not observed the newcomers.
As she was turning her head completely towards the stage, and Djalma
could not, for the moment, see even her profile, he, on his side, had not
recognized Mdlle. de Cardoville.
The pantomime opening, by which was introduced the combat of Morok with
the black panther, was so unmeaning, that the majority of the audience
paid no attention to it, reserving all their interest for the scene in
which the lion-tamer was to make his appearance.
This indifference of the public explains the curiosity excited in the
theatre by the arrival of Faringhea and Djalma--a curiosity which
expressed itself (as at this day, when uncommon foreigners appear in
public) by a slight murmur and general movement amongst the crowd. The
sprightly, pretty face of Rose-Pompon, always charming, in spite of her
singularly staring dress, in style so ridiculous for such a theatre, and
her light and familiar manner towards the handsome Indian who accompanied
her, increased and animated the general surprise; for, at this moment,
Rose-Pompon, yielding without reserve to a movement of teasing coquetry,
had held up, as we have already stated, her large bunch of roses to
Djalma. But the prince, at sight of the landscape which reminded him of
his country, instead of appearing sensible to this pretty, provocation,
remained for some minutes as in a dream, with his eyes fixed upon the
stage. Then Rose-Pompon began to beat time on the front of the box with
her bouquet, whilst the somewhat too visible movement of her pretty
shoulders showed that this devoted dancer was thinking of fast-life
dances, as the orchestra struck up a more lively strain.
Placed directly opposite the box in which Faringhea, Djalma, and Rose-
Pompon had just taken their seats, Lady Morinval soon perceived the
arrival of these two personages, and particularly the eccentric
coquetries of Rose-Pompon. Immediately, the young marchioness, leaning
over towards Mdlle. de Cardoville, who was still absorbed in memories
ineffable, said to her, laughing: "My dear, the most amusing part of the
performance is not upon the stage. Look just opposite."
"Just opposite?" repeated Adrienne, mechanically: and, turning towards
Lady Morinval with an air of surprise, she glanced in the direction
She looked--what did she see?--Djalma seated by the side of a young
woman, who was familiarly offering to his sense of smell the perfume of
her bouquet. Amazed, struck almost literally to the heart, as by an
electric shock, swift, sharp, and painful, Adrienne became deadly pale.
From instinct, she shut her eyes for a second, in order not to see--as
men try to ward off the dagger, which, having once dealt the blow,
threatens to strike again. Then suddenly, to this feeling of grief
succeeded a reflection, terrible both to her love and to her wounded
"Djalma is present with this woman, though he must have received my
letter," she said to herself,--"wherein he was informed of the happiness
that awaited him."
At the idea of so cruel an insult, a blush of shame and indignation
displaced Adrienne's paleness, who overwhelmed by this sad reality, said
to herself: "Rodin did not deceive me."
We abandon all idea of picturing the lightning-like rapidity of certain
emotions which in a moment may torture--may kill you in the space of a
minute. Thus Adrienne was precipitated from the most radiant happiness
to the lowest depths of an abyss of the most heart-rending grief, in less
than a second; for a second had hardly elapsed before she replied to Lady
Morinval: "What is there, then, so curious, opposite to us, my dear
This evasive question gave Adrienne time to recover her self-possession.
Fortunately, thanks to the thick folds of hair which almost entirely
concealed her cheeks, the rapid and sudden changes from pallor to blush
escaped the notice of Lady Morinval, who gayly replied: "What, my dear,
do you not perceive those East Indians, who have just entered the box
immediately opposite to ours? There, just before us!"
"Yes, I see them; but what then?" replied Adrienne, in a firm tone.
"And don't you observe anything remarkable?" said the marchioness.
"Don't be too hard, ladies," laughingly interposed the marquis; "we ought
to allow the poor foreigners some little indulgence. They are ignorant
of our manners and customs; were it not for that, they would never appear
in the face of all Paris in such dubious company."
"Indeed," said Adrienne, with a bitter smile, "their simplicity is
touching; we must pity them."
"And, unfortunately, the girl is charming, spite of her low dress and
bare arms," said the marchioness; "she cannot be more than sixteen or
seventeen at most. Look at her, my dear Adrienne; what a pity!"
"It is one of your charitable days, my dear Julia," answered Adrienne;
"we are to pity the Indians, to pity this creature, and--pray, whom else
are we to pity?"
"We will not pity that handsome Indian, in his red-and-gold turban," said
the marquis, laughing, "for, if this goes on, the girl with the cherry-
colored ribbons will be giving him a kiss. See how she leans towards her
"They are very amusing," said the marchioness, sharing the hilarity of
her husband, and looking at Rose-Pompom through her glass; then she
resumed, in about a minute, addressing herself to Adrienne: "I am quite
certain of one thing. Notwithstanding her giddy airs, that girl is very
fond of her Indian. I just saw a look that expresses a great deal."
"Why so much penetration, my dear Julia?" said Adrienne, mildly; "what
interest have we to read the heart of that girl?"
"Why, if she loves her sultan, she is quite in the right," said the
marquis, looking through his opera-glass in turn; "for, in my whole life,
I never saw a more handsome fellow than that Indian. I can only catch
his side-face, but the profile is pure and fine as an antique cameo. Do
you not think so?" added the marquis, leaning towards Adrienne. "Of
course, it is only as a matter of art, that I permit myself to ask you
"As a work of art," answered Adrienne, "it is certainly very fine."
"But see!" said the marchioness; "how impertinent the little creature
is!--She is actually staring at us."
"Well!" said the marquis; "and she is actually laying her hand quite
unceremoniously on her sultan's shoulder, to make him share, no doubt, in
her admiration of you ladies."
In fact, Djalma, until now occupied with the contemplation of the scene
which reminded him of his country, had remained insensible to the
enticements of Rose-Pompon, and had not yet perceived Adrienne.
"Well, now!" said Rose-Pompon, bustling herself about in front of the
box, and continuing to stare at Mdlle. de Cardoville, for it was she, and
not the marchioness, who now drew her attention; "that is something quite
out of the common way--a pretty woman, with red hair; but such sweet red,
it must be owned. Look, Prince Charming!"
And so saying, she tapped Djalma lightly on the shoulder; he started at
these words, turned round, and for the first time perceived Mdlle. de
Though he had been almost prepared for this meeting, the prince was so
violently affected by it, that he was about involuntarily to rise, in a
state of the utmost confusion; but he felt the iron hand of Faringhea
laid heavily on his shoulder, and heard him whisper in Hindostanee:
"Courage! and by to-morrow she will be at your feet."
As Djalma still struggled to rise, the half-caste added to restrain him:
"Just now, she grew pale and red with jealousy. No weakness, or all is
"So! there you are again, talking your dreadful gibberish," said Rose-
Pompon, turning round towards Faringhea. "First of all, it is not
polite; and then the language is so odd, that one might suppose you were
"I spoke of you to my master," said the half-caste; "he is preparing a
surprise for you."
"A surprise? oh! that is different. Only make haste--do you hear, Prince
Charming!" added she, looking tenderly at Djalma.
"My heart is breaking," said Djalma, in a hollow voice to Faringhea,
still using the language of India.
"But to-morrow it will bound with joy and love," answered the half-caste.
"It is only by disdain that you can conquer a proud woman. To-morrow, I
tell you, she will be trembling, confused, supplicating, at your feet!"
"To-morrow, she will hate me like death!" replied the prince, mournfully.
"Yes, were she now to see you weak and cowardly. It is now too late to
draw back; look full at her, take the nosegay from this girl, and raise
it to your lips. Instantly, you will see yonder woman, proud as she is,
grow pale and red, as just now. Then will you believe me?"
Reduced by despair to make almost any attempt, and fascinated, in spite
of himself, by the diabolical hints of Faringhea, Djalma looked for a
second full at Mdlle. de Cardoville; then, with a trembling hand he took
the bouquet from Rose-Pompon, and, again looking at Adrienne, pressed it
to his lips.
Upon this insolent bravado, Mdlle. de Cardoville could not restrain so
sudden and visible a pang, that the prince was struck by it.
"She is yours," said the half-caste, to him. "Did you see, my lord, how
she trembled with jealousy?--Only have courage! and she is yours. She
will soon prefer you to that handsome young man behind her--for it is he
whom she has hitherto fancied herself in love with."
As if the half-caste had guessed the movement of rage and hatred, which
this revelation would excite in the heart of the prince, he hastily
added: "Calmness and disdain! Is it not his turn now to hate you?"
The prince restrained himself, and drew his hand across his forehead
which glowed with anger.
"There now! what are you telling him, that vexes him so?" said Rose-
Pompon to Faringhea, with pouting lip. Then, addressing Djalma, she
continued: "Come, Prince Charming, as they say in the fairy-tale, give me
back my flowers."
As she took it again, she added: "You have kissed it, and I could almost
eat it." Then, with a sigh, and a passionate glance at Djalma, she said
softly to herself: "That monster Ninny Moulin did not deceive me. All
this is quite proper; I have not even that to reproach myself with." And
with her little white teeth, she bit at a rosy nail of her right hand,
from which she had just drawn the glove.
It is hardly necessary to say, that Adrienne's letter had not been
delivered to the prince, and that he had not gone to pass the day in the
country with Marshal Simon. During the three days in which Montbron had
not seen Djalma, Faringhea had persuaded him, that, by affecting another
passion, he would bring Mdlle. de Cardoville to terms. With regard to
Djalma's presence at the theatre, Rodin had learned from her maid,
Florine, that her mistress was to go in the evening to the Porte-Saint-
Martin. Before Djalma had recognized her, Adrienne, who felt her
strength failing her, was on the point of quitting the theatre; the man,
whom she had hitherto placed so high, whom she had regarded as a hero and
a demi-god and whom she had imagined plunged in such dreadful despair,
that, led by the most tender pity, she had written to him with simple
frankness, that a sweet hope might calm his grief--replied to a generous
mark of sincerity and love, by making himself a ridiculous spectacle with
a creature unworthy of him. What incurable wounds for Adrienne's pride!
It mattered little, whether Djalma knew or not, that she would be a
spectator of the indignity. But when she saw herself recognized by the
prince, when he carried the insult so far as to look full at her, and, at
the same time, raise to his lips the creature's bouquet who accompanied
him, Adrienne was seized with noble indignation, and felt sufficient
courage to remain: instead of closing her eyes to evidence, she found a
sort of barbarous pleasure in assisting at the agony and death of her
pure and divine love. With head erect, proud and flashing eye, flushed
cheek, and curling lip, she looked in her turn at the prince with
disdainful steadiness. It was with a sardonic smile that she said to the
marchioness, who, like many others of the spectators was occupied with
what was passing in the stage-box: "This revolting exhibition of savage
manners is at least in accordance with the rest of the performance."
"Certainly," said the marchioness; "and my dear uncle will have lost,
perhaps, the most amusing part."
"Montbron?" said Adrienne, hastily, with hardly repressed bitterness;
"yes, he will regret not having seen all. I am impatient for his
arrival. Is it not to him that I am indebted for his charming evening?"
Perhaps Madame de Morinval would have remarked the expression of bitter
irony, that Adrienne could not altogether dissemble, if suddenly a hoarse
and prolonged roar had net attracted her attention, as well as that of
the rest of the audience, who had hitherto been quite indifferent to the
scenes intended for an introduction to the appearance of Morok. Every
eye was now turned instinctively towards the cavern situated to the left
of the stage, just below Mdlle. de Cardoville's box; a thrill of
curiosity ran through the house. A second roar, deeper and more
sonorous, and apparently expressive of more irritation than the first,
now rose from the cave, the mouth of which was half-hidden by artificial
brambles, made so as to be easily put on one side. At this sound, the
Englishman stood up in his little box, leaned half over the front, and
began to rub his hands with great energy; then, remaining perfectly
motionless, he fixed his large, green, glittering eyes on the mouth of
At these ferocious howlings, Djalma also had started, notwithstanding the
frenzy of love, hate, and jealousy, to which he was a prey. The sight of
this forest, and the roarings of the panther, filled him with deep
emotion, for they recalled the remembrance of his country, and of those
great hunts which, like war, have their own terrible excitement. Had he
suddenly heard the horns and gongs of his father's army sounding to the
charge, he could not have been transported with more savage ardor. And
now deep growls, like distant thunder, almost drowned the roar of the
panther. The lion and tiger, Judas and Cain answered her from their dens
at the back of the stage. On this frightful concert, with which his ears
had been familiar in the midst of the solitudes of India, when he lay
encamped, for the purposes of the chase or of war, Djalma's blood boiled
in his veins. His eyes sparkled with a wild ardor. Leaning a little
forward, with both hands pressed on the front of the box, his whole body
trembled with a convulsive shudder. The audience, the theatre, Adrienne
herself no longer existed for him; he was in a forest of his own lands,
tracking the tiger.
Then there mingled with his beauty so intrepid and ferocious an
expression, that Rose-Pompon looked at him with a sort of terror and
passionate admiration. For the first time in her life, perhaps, her
pretty blue eyes, generally so gay and mischievous; expressed a serious
emotion. She could not explain what she felt; but her heart seemed
frightened, and beat violently, as though some calamity were at hand.
Yielding to a movement of involuntary fear, she seized Djalma by the arm,
and said to him: "Do not stare so into that cavern; you frighten me."
Djalma did not hear what she said.
"Here he is! here he is!" murmured the crowd, almost with one voice, as
Morok appeared at the back of the stage.
Dressed as we have described, Morok now carried in addition a bow and a
long quiver full of arrows. He slowly descended the line of painted
rocks, which came sloping down towards the centre of the stage. From
time to time, he stopped as if to listen, and appeared to advance with
caution. Looking from one side to the other, his eyes involuntarily
encountered the large, green eyes of the Englishman, whose box was close
to the cavern. Instantly the lion-tamer's countenance was contracted in
so frightful a manner, that Lady Morinval, who was examining him closely
with the aid of an excellent glass, said hastily to Adrienne: "My dear,
the man is afraid. Some misfortune will happen."
"How can accidents happen," said Adrienne, with a sardonic smile, "in the
midst of this brilliant crowd, so well dressed and full of animation!
Misfortunes here, this evening! why, dear Julia, you do not think it. It
is in darkness and solitude that misfortunes come--never in the midst of
a joyous crowd, and in all this blaze of light."
"Good gracious, Adrienne! take care!" cried the marchioness, unable to
repress an exclamation of alarm, and seizing her arm, as if to draw her
closer; "do you not see it?" And with a trembling hand, she pointed to
the cavern's mouth. Adrienne hastily bent forward, and looked in that
direction. "Take care, do not lean so forward!" exclaimed Lady Morinval.
"Your terrors are nonsensical, my dear," said the marquis to his wife.
"The panther is securely chained; and even were it to break its chains
(which is impossible), we are here beyond its reach."
A long murmur of trembling curiosity here ran through the house, and
every eye was intently fixed on the cavern. From amongst the artificial
brambles, which she abruptly pushed aside with her broad chest, the black
panther suddenly appeared. Twice she stretched forth her flat head,
illumined by yellow, flaming eyes; then, half-opening her blood-red jaws,
she uttered another roar, and exhibited two rows of formidable fangs. A
double iron chain, and a collar also of iron, painted black, blended with
the ebon shades of her hide, and with the darkness of the cavern. The
illusion was complete, and the terrible animal seemed to be at liberty in
"Ladies," said the marquis, suddenly, "look at those Indians. Their
emotion makes them superb!"
In fact, the sight of the panther had raised the wild ardor of Djalma to
its utmost pitch. His eyes sparkled in their pearly orbits like two
black diamonds; his upper lip was curled convulsively with an expression
of animal ferocity, as if he were in a violent paroxysm of rage.
Faringhea, now leaning on the front of the box, was also greatly excited,
by reason of a strange coincidence. "That black panther of so rare a
breed," thought he, "which I see here at Paris, upon the stage, must be
the very one that the Malay"--the Thug who had tatooed Djalma at Java
during his sleep--"took quite young from his den, and sold to a European
captain. Bowanee's power is everywhere!" added the Thug, in his
"Do you not think," resumed the marquis, addressing Adrienne, "that those
Indians are really splendid in their present attitude?"
"Perhaps they may have seen such a hunt in their own country," said
Adrienne, as if she would recall and brave the most cruel remembrances.
"Adrienne," said the marchioness, suddenly, in an agitated voice, "the
lion-tamer has now come nearer--is not his countenance fearful to look
at?--I tell you he is afraid."
"In truth," observed the marquis, this time very seriously, "he is
dreadfully pale, and seems to grow worse every minute, the nearer he
approaches this side. It is said that, were he to lose his presence of
mind for a single moment, he would run the greatest danger."
"O! it would be horrible!" cried the marchioness, addressing Adrienne,
"if he were wounded--there--under our eyes!"
"Every wound does not kill," replied her friend, with an accent of such
cold indifference, that the marchioness looked at her with surprise, and
said to her: "My dear girl, what you say there is cruel!"
"It is the air of the place that acts on me," answered Adrienne, with an
"Look! look! the lion-tamer is about to shoot his arrow at the panther,"
said the marquis, suddenly. "No doubt, he will next perform the hand to
Morok was at this moment in front of the stage, but he had yet to
traverse its entire breadth to reach the cavern's mouth. He stopped an
instant, adjusted an arrow to the string, knelt down behind a mass of
rock, took deliberate aim--and then the arrow hissed across the stage,
and was lost in the depths of the cavern, into which the panther had
retired, after showing for a moment her threatening head to the audience.
Hardly had the arrow disappeared, than Death, purposely irritated by
Goliath (who was invisible) sent forth a howl of rage, as if she had been
really wounded. Morok's actions became so expressive, he evinced so
naturally his joy at having hit the wild beast, that a tempest of
applause burst from every quarter of the house. Then, throwing away his
bow, he drew a dagger from his girdle, took it between his teeth, and
began to crawl forward on hands and knees, as though he meant to surprise
the wounded panther in his den. To render the illusion perfect, Death,
again excited by Goliath, who struck him with an iron bar, sent forth
frightful howlings from the depths of the cavern.
The gloomy aspect of the forest, only half-lighted with a reddish glare,
was so effective--the howlings of the panther were so furious--the
gestures, attitude, and countenance of Morok were so expressive of
terror, that the audience, attentive and trembling, now maintained a
profound silence. Every one held his breath, and a kind of shudder came
over the spectators, as though they expected some horrible event. What
gave such a fearful air of truth to the pantomime of Morok, was that, as
he approached the cavern step by step, he approached also the
Englishman's box. In spite of himself, the lion-tamer, fascinated by
terror, could not take his eyes from the large green eyes of this man,
and it seemed as if every one of the abrupt movements which he made in
crawling along, was produced by a species of magnetic attraction, caused
by the fixed gaze of the fatal wagerer. Therefore, the nearer Morok
approached, the more ghastly and livid he became. At sight of this
pantomime, which was no longer acting, but the real expression of intense
fear, the deep and trembling silence which had reigned in the theatre was
once more interrupted by acclamations, with which were mingled the
roarings of the panther, and the distant growls of the lion and tiger.
The Englishman leaned almost out of his box, with a frightful sardonic
smile on his lip, and with his large eyes still fixed, panted for breath.
The perspiration ran down his bald red forehead, as if he had really
expended an incredible amount of magnetic power in attracting Morok, whom
he now saw close to the cavern entrance. The moment was decisive.
Crouching down with his dagger in his hand, following with eye and
gesture Death's every movement, who, roaring furiously, and opening wide
her enormous jaws, seemed determined to guard the entrance of her den,
Morok waited for the moment to rush upon her. There is such fascination
in danger, that Adrienne shared, in spite of herself, the feeling of
painful curiosity, mixed with terror, that thrilled through all the
spectators. Leaning forward like the marchioness, and gazing upon this
scene of fearful interest, the lady still held mechanically in her hand
the Indian bouquet preserved since the morning. Suddenly, Morok raised a
wild shout, as he rushed towards Death, who answered this exclamation by
a dreadful roar, and threw herself upon her master with so much fury,
that Adrienne, in alarm, believing the man lost, drew herself back, and
covered her fact with her hands. Her flowers slipped from her grasp,
and, falling upon the stage, rolled into the cavern in which Morok was
struggling with the panther.
Quick as lightning, supple and agile as a tiger, yielding to the
intoxication of his love, and to the wild ardor excited in him by the
roaring of the panther, Djalma sprang at one bound upon the stage, drew
his dagger, and rushed into the cavern to recover Adrienne's nosegay. At
that instant, Morok, being wounded, uttered a dreadful cry for help; the
panther, rendered still more furious at sight of Djalma, make the most
desperate efforts to break her chain. Unable to succeed in doing so, she
rose upon her hind legs, in order to seize Djalma, then within reach of
her sharp claws. It was only by bending down his head, throwing himself
on his knees, and twice plunging his dagger into her belly with the
rapidity of lightning, that Djalma escaped certain death. The panther
gave a howl, and fell with her whole weight upon the prince. For a
second, during which lasted her terrible agony, nothing was seen but a
confused and convulsive mass of black limbs, and white garments stained
with blood--and then Djalma rose, pale, bleeding, for he was wounded--and
standing erect, his eye flashing with savage pride, his foot on the body
of the panther, he held in his hand Adrienne's bouquet, and cast towards
her a glance which told the intensity of his love. Then only did
Adrienne feel her strength fail her--for only superhuman courage had
enabled her to watch all the terrible incidents of the struggle.
THE WANDERING JEW
By Eugene Sue
XV. The Constant Wanderer
XVI. The Luncheon
XVII. Rendering the Account
XVIII. The Square of Notre Dame
XIX. The Cholera Masquerade
XX. The Defiance
XXI. Brandy to the Rescue
XXIII. The Poisoner
XXV. The Murderers
XXVI. The Patient
XXVII. The Lure
XXVIII. Good News
XXIX. The Operation
XXX. The Torture
XXXI. Vice and Virtue
THE CONSTANT WANDERER.
It is night. The moon shines and the stars glimmer in the midst of a
serene but cheerless sky; the sharp whistlings of the north wind, that
fatal, dry, and icy breeze, ever and anon burst forth in violent gusts.
With its harsh and cutting breath, it sweeps Montmartre's Heights. On
the highest point of the hills, a man is standing. His long shadow is
cast upon the stony, moon-lit ground. He gazes on the immense city,
which lies outspread beneath his feet. PARIS--with the dark outline of
its towers, cupolas, domes, and steeples, standing out from the limpid
blue of the horizon, while from the midst of the ocean of masonry, rises
a luminous vapor, that reddens the starry azure of the sky. It is the
distant reflection of the thousand fires, which at night, the hour of
pleasures, light up so joyously the noisy capital.
"No," said the wayfarer; "it is not to be. The Lord will not exact it.
Is not twice enough?
"Five centuries ago, the avenging hand of the Almighty drove me hither
from the uttermost confines of Asia. A solitary traveller, I had left
behind me more grief, despair, disaster, and death, than the innumerable
armies of a hundred devastating conquerors. I entered this town, and it
too was decimated.
"Again, two centuries ago, the inexorable hand, which leads me through
the world, brought me once more hither; and then, as the time before, the
plague, which the Almighty attaches to my steps, again ravaged this city,
and fell first on my brethren, already worn out with labor and misery.
"My brethren--mine?--the cobbler of Jerusalem, the artisan accursed by
the Lord, who, in my person, condemned the whole race of workmen, ever
suffering, ever disinherited, ever in slavery, toiling on like me without
rest or pause, without recompense or hope, till men, women, and children,
young and old, all die beneath the same iron yoke--that murderous yoke,
which others take in their turn, thus to be borne from age to age on the
submissive and bruised shoulders of the masses.
"And now, for the third time in five centuries, I reach the summit of one
of the hills that overlook the city. And perhaps I again bring with me
fear, desolation, and death.
"Yet this city, intoxicated with the sounds of its joys and its nocturnal
revelries, does not know--oh! does not know that I am at its gates.
"But no, no! my presence will not be a new calamity. The Lord, in his
impenetrable views, has hitherto led me through France, so as to avoid
the humblest hamlet; and the sound of the funeral knell has not
accompanied my passage.
"And, moreover, the spectre has left me--the green, livid spectre, with
its hollow, bloodshot eyes. When I touched the soil of France, its damp
and icy hands was no longer clasped in mine--and it disappeared.
"And yet--I feel that the atmosphere of death is around me.
"The sharp whistlings of that fatal wind cease not, which, catching me in
their whirl, seem to propagate blasting and mildew as they blow.
"But perhaps the wrath of the Lord is appeased, and my presence here is
only a threat--to be communicated in some way to those "whom it should
"Yes; for otherwise he would smite with a fearful blow, by first
scattering terror and death here in the heart of the country, in the
bosom of this immense city!
"Oh! no, no! the Lord will be merciful. No! he will not condemn me to
this new torture.
"Alas! in this city, my brethren are more numerous and miserable than
elsewhere. And should I be their messenger of death?"
"No! the Lord will have pity. For, alas! the seven descendants of my
sister have at length met in this town. And to them likewise should I be
the messenger of death, instead of the help they so much need?
"For that woman, who like me wanders from one border of the earth to the
other, after having once more rent asunder the nets of their enemies, has
gone forth upon her endless journey.
"In vain she foresaw that new misfortunes threatened my sister's family.
The invisible hand, that drives me on, drives her on also.
"Carried away, as of old, by the irresistible whirlwind, at the moment of
leaving my kindred to their fate, she in vain cried with supplicating
tone: `Let me at least, O Lord, complete my task!'--'GO ON!--`A few days,
in mercy, only a few poor days!'--'GO ON'--'I leave those I love on the
brink of the abyss!'--'GO ON! GO ON!'
"And the wandering star--again started on its eternal round. And her
voice, passing through space, called me to the assistance of mine own.
"When that voice readied me, I knew that the descendants of my sister
were still exposed to frightful perils. Those perils are even now on the
"Tell me, O Lord! will they escape the scourge, which for so many
centuries has weighed down our race?
"Wilt thou pardon me in them? wilt thou punish me in them? Oh, that they
might obey the last will of their ancestor!
"Oh, that they might join together their charitable hearts, their valor
and their strength, their noble intelligence, and their great riches!
"They would then labor for the future happiness of humanity--they would
thus, perhaps, redeem me from my eternal punishment!
"The words of the Son of Man, LOVE YE ONE ANOTHER, will be their only
end, their only means.
"By the help of those all-powerful words, they will fight and conquer the
false priests, who have renounced the precepts of love, peace, and hope,
for lessons of hatred, violence, and despair.
"Those false priests, who, kept in pay by the powerful and happy of this
world, their accomplices in every age, instead of asking here below for
some slight share of well-being for my unfortunate brethren, dare in thy
name, O Lord God, to assert that the poor are condemned to endless
suffering in this world--and that the desire or the hope to suffer less
is a crime in thine eyes--because the happiness of the few, and the
misery of nearly the whole human race, is (O blasphemy!) according to thy
will. Is not the very contrary of those murderous words alone worthy of
"In mercy, hear me, Lord! Rescue from their enemies the descendants of
my sister--the artisan as the king's son. Do not let them destroy the
germ of so mighty and fruitful an association, which, with thy blessing,
would make an epoch in the annals of human happiness!
"Let me unite them, O Lord, since others would divide them--defend them,
since others attack; let me give hope to those who have ceased to hope,
courage to those who are brought low with fear--let me raise up the
falling, and sustain those who persevere in the way of the righteous!
"And, peradventure, their struggles, devotion, virtue, and grief, may
expiate my fault--that of a man, whom misfortune alone rendered unjust
"Oh! since Thy Almighty hand hath led me hither--to what end I know not--
lay aside Thy wrath, I beseech Thee--let me be no longer the instrument
of Thy vengeance!
"Enough of woe upon the earth! for the last two years, Thy creatures have
fallen by thousands upon my track. The world is decimated. A veil of
mourning extends over all the globe.
"From Asia to the icy Pole, they died upon the path of the wanderer.
Dost Thou not hear the long-drawn sigh that rises from the earth unto
Thee, O Lord?
"Mercy for all! mercy for me!--Let me but unite the descendants of my
sister for a single day, and they will be saved!"
As he pronounced these words, the wayfarer sank upon his knees, and
raised to heaven, his supplicating hands. Suddenly, the wind blew with
redoubled violence; its sharp whistlings were changed into the roar of a
The traveller shuddered; in a voice of terror he exclaimed: "The blast of
death rises in its fury--the whirlwind carries me on--Lord! Thou art then
deaf to my prayer?"
"The spectre! oh, the spectre! it is again here! its green face twitching
with convulsive spasms--its red eyes rolling in their orbits. Begone!
begone!--its hand, oh! its icy hand has again laid hold of mine. Have
"Oh, Lord! the pestilence--the terrible plague--must I carry it into this
city?--And my brethren will perish the first--they, who are so sorely
smitten even now! Mercy!"
"And the descendants of my sister. Mercy! Mercy!"
"Oh, Lord, have pity!--I can no longer keep my ground; the spectre drags
me to the slope of the hill; my walk is rapid as the deadly blast that
rages behind me; already do I behold the city gates. Have mercy, Lord,
on the descendants of my sister! Spare them; do not make me their
executioner; let them triumph over their enemies!"
"GO ON! GO ON!"
"The ground flies beneath my feet; there is the city gate. Lord, it is
yet time! Oh, mercy for that sleeping town! Let it not waken to cries of
terror, despair, and death! Lord, I am on the threshold. Must it be?--
Yes, it is done. Paris, the plague is in thy bosom. The curse--oh, the
"GO ON! GO ON! GO ON!"
The morning after the doomed traveller, descending the heights of
Montmartre, had entered the walls of Paris, great activity reigned in St.
Dizier House. Though it was hardly noon, the Princess de St. Dizier,
without being exactly in full dress (she had too much taste for that),
was yet arrayed with more care than usual. Her light hair, instead of
being merely banded, was arranged in two bunches of curls, which suited
very well with her full and florid cheeks. Her cap was trimmed with
bright rose-colored ribbon, and whoever had seen the lady in her tight-
fitting dress of gray-watered silk would have easily guessed that Mrs.
Grivois, her tirewoman, must have required the assistance and the efforts
of another of the princess's women to achieve so remarkable a reduction
in the ample figure of their mistress.
We shall explain the edifying cause of this partial return to the
vanities of the world. The princess, attended by Mrs. Grivois, who acted
as housekeeper, was giving her final orders with regard to some
preparations that were going on in a vast parlor. In the midst of this
room was a large round table, covered with crimson velvet, and near it
stood several chairs, amongst which, in the place of honor, was an arm-
chair of gilded wood. In one corner, not far from the chimney, in which
burned an excellent fire, was a buffet. On it were the divers materials
for a most dainty and exquisite collation. Upon silver dishes were piled
pyramids of sandwiches composed of the roes of carp and anchovy paste,
with slices of pickled tunny-fish and Lenigord truffles (it was in Lent);
on silver dishes, placed over burning spirits of wine, so as to keep them
very hot, tails of Meuse crawfish boiled in cream, smoked in golden-
colored pastry, and seemed to challenge comparison with delicious little
Marennes oyster-patties, stewed in Madeira, and flavored with a seasoning
of spiced sturgeon. By the side of these substantial dishes were some of
a lighter character, such as pineapple tarts, strawberry-creams (it was
early for such fruit), and orange-jelly served in the peel, which had
been artistically emptied for that purpose. Bordeaux, Madeira, and
Alicant sparkled like rubies and topazes in large glass decanters, while
two Sevres ewers were filled, one with coffee a la creme, the other with
vanilla chocolate, almost in the state of sherbet, from being plunged in
a large cooler of chiselled silver, containing ice.
But what gave to this dainty collation a singularly apostolic and papal
character were sundry symbols of religious worship carefully represented.
Thus there were charming little Calvaries in apricot paste, sacerdotal
mitres in burnt almonds, episcopal croziers in sweet cake, to which the
princess added, as a mark of delicate attention, a little cardinal's hat
in cherry sweetmeat, ornamented with bands in burnt sugar. The most
important, however, of these Catholic delicacies, the masterpiece of the
cook, was a superb crucifix in angelica, with a crown of candied berries.
These are strange profanations, which scandalize even the least devout.
But, from the impudent juggle of the coat of Triers, down to the
shameless jest of the shrine at Argenteuil, people, who are pious after
the fashion of the princess, seem to take delight in bringing ridicule
upon the most respectable traditions.
After glancing with an air of satisfaction at these preparations for the
collation, the lady said to Mrs. Grivois, as she pointed to the gilded
arm-chair, which seemed destined for the president of the meeting: "Is
there a cushion under the table, for his Eminence to rest his feet on?
He always complains of cold."
"Yes, your highness," said Mrs. Grivois, when she had looked under the
table; "the cushion is there."
"Let also a pewter bottle be filled with boiling water, in case his
Eminence should not find the cushion enough to keep his feet warm."
"Yes, my lady."
"And put some more wood on the fire."
"But, my lady, it is already a very furnace. And if his Eminence is
always too cold, my lord the Bishop of Halfagen is always too hot. He
The princess shrugged her shoulders, and said to Mrs. Grivois: "Is not
his Eminence Cardinal Malipieri the superior of his Lordship the Bishop
"Yes, your highness."
"Then, according to the rules of the hierarchy, it is for his Lordship to
suffer from the heat, rather than his Eminence from the cold. Therefore,
do as I tell you, and put more wood on the fire. Nothing is more
natural; his Eminence being an Italian, and his Lordship coming from the
north of Belgium, they are accustomed to different temperatures."
"Just as your highness pleases," said Mrs. Grivois, as she placed two
enormous logs on the fire; "but in such a heat as there is here his
Lordship might really be suffocated."
"I also find it too warm; but does not our holy religion teach us lessons
of self-sacrifice and mortification?" said the princess, with a touching
expression of devotion.
We have now explained the cause of the rather gay attire of the princess.
She was preparing for a reception of prelates, who, along with Father
d'Aigrigny and other dignitaries of the Church, had already held at the
princely house a sort of council on a small scale. A young bride who
gives her first ball, an emancipated minor who gives his first bachelor's
dinner, a woman of talent who reads aloud for the first time her first
unpublished work, are not more joyous and proud, and, at the same time,
more attentive to their guests, than was this lady with her prelates. To
behold great interests discussed in her house, and in her presence, to
hear men of acknowledged ability ask her advice upon certain practical
matters relating to the influence of female congregations, filled the
princess with pride, as her claims to consideration were thus sanctioned
by Lordships and Eminences, and she took the position, as it were, of a
mother of the Church. Therefore, to win these prelates, whether native
or foreign, she had recourse to no end of saintly flatteries and
sanctified coaxing. Nor could anything be more logical than these
successive transfigurations of this heartless woman, who only loved
sincerely and passionately the pursuit of intrigue and domination. With
the progress of age, she passed naturally from the intrigues of love to
those of politics, and from the latter to those of religion.
At the moment she finished inspecting her preparations, the sound of
coaches was heard in the courtyard, apprising her of the arrival of the
persons she had been expecting. Doubtless, these persons were of the
highest rank, for contrary to all custom, she went to receive them at the
door of her outer saloon. It was, indeed, Cardinal Malipieri, who was
always cold, with the Belgian Bishop of Halfagen, who was always hot.
They were accompanied by Father d'Aigrigny. The Roman cardinal was a
tall man, rather bony than thin, with a yellowish puffy countenance,
haughty and full of craft; he squinted a good deal, and his black eyes
were surrounded by a deep brown circle. The Belgian Bishop was short,
thick, and fat, with a prominent abdomen, an apoplectic complexion, a
slow, deliberate look, and a soft, dimpled, delicate hand.
The company soon assembled in the great saloon. The cardinal instantly
crept close to the fire, whilst the bishop, beginning to sweat and blow,
cast longing glances at the iced chocolate and coffee, which were to aid
him in sustaining the oppressive heat of the artificial dog-day. Father
d'Aigrigny, approaching the princess, said to her in a low voice: "Will
you give orders for the admittance of Abbe Gabriel de Rennepont, when he
"Is that young priest then here?" asked the princess, with extreme
"Since the day before yesterday. We had him sent for to Paris, by his
superiors. You shall know all. As for Father Rodin, let Mrs. Grivois
admit him, as the other day, by the little door of the back stairs."
"He will come to-day?"
"He has very important matters to communicate. He desires that both the
cardinal and the bishop should be present for they have been informed of
everything at Rome by the Superior General, in their quality of
The princess rang the bell, gave the necessary orders, and, returning
towards the cardinal, said to him, in a tone of the most earnest
solicitude: "Does your Eminence begin to feel a little warmer? Would
your Eminence like a bottle of hot water to your feet? Shall we make a
larger fire for your Eminence?"
At this proposition, the Belgian bishop, who was wiping the perspiration
from his forehead, heaved a despairing sigh.
"A thousand thanks, princess," answered the cardinal to her, in very good
French, but with an intolerable Italian accent; "I am really overcome
with so much kindness."
"Will not your Lordship take some refreshment?" said the princess to the
bishop, as she turned towards the sideboard.
"With your permission, madame, I will take a little iced coffee," said
the prelate, making a prudent circuit to approach the dishes without
passing before the fire.
"And will not your Eminence try one of these little oyster-patties? They
are quite hot," said the princess.
"I know them already, princess," said the cardinal, with the air and look
of an epicure; "they are delicious, and I cannot resist the temptation."
"What wine shall I have the honor to offer your Eminence?" resumed the
"A little claret, if you please, madame;" and as Father d'Aigrigny
prepared to fill the cardinal's glass, the princess disputed with him
"Your Eminence will doubtless approve what I have done," said Father
d'Aigrigny to the cardinal, whilst the latter was gravely despatching the
oyster-patties, "in not summoning for to-day the Bishop of Mogador, the
Archbishop of Nanterre, and our holy Mother Perpetue, the lady-superior
of St. Mary Convent, the interview we are about to have with his
Reverence Father Rodin and Abbe Gabriel being altogether private and
"Our good father was perfectly right," said the cardinal; "for, though
the possible consequences of this Rennepont affair may interest the whole
Church, there are some things that are as well kept secret."
"Then I must seize this opportunity to thank your Eminence for having
deigned to make an exception in favor of a very obscure and humble
servant of the Church," said the princess to the cardinal, with a very
deep and respectful curtsey.
"It is only just and right, madame," replied the cardinal, bowing as he
replaced his empty glass upon the table; "we know how much the Church is
indebted to you for the salutary direction you give to the religious
institutions of which you are the patroness."
"With regard to that, your Eminence may be assured that I always refuse
assistance to any poor person who cannot produce a certificate from the
"And it is only thus, madame," resumed the cardinal, this time allowing
himself to be tempted by the attractions of the crawfish's tails, "it is
only thus that charity has any meaning. I care little that the
irreligious should feel hunger, but with the pious it is different;" and
the prelate gayly swallowed a mouthful. "Moreover," resumed he, "it is
well known with what ardent zeal you pursue the impious, and those who
are rebels against the authority of our Holy Father."
"Your Eminence may feel convinced that I am Roman in heart and soul; I
see no difference between a Gallican and a Turk," said the princess,
"The princess is right," said the Belgian bishop: "I will go further, and
assert that a Gallican should be more odious to the church than a pagan.
In this respect I am of the opinion of Louis XIV. They asked him a favor
for a man about the court. `Never,' said the great king; `this person is
a Jansenist.'--`No, sire; he is an atheist.'--'Oh! that is different; I
will grant what he asks,' said the King."
This little episcopal jest made them all laugh. After which Father
d'Aigrigny resumed seriously, addressing the cardinal: "Unfortunately, as
I was about to observe to your Eminence with regard to the Abbe Gabriel,
unless they are very narrowly watched, the lower clergy have a tendency
to become infected with dissenting views, and with ideas of rebellion
against what they call the despotism of the bishops."
"This young man must be a Catholic Luther!" said the bishop. And,
walking on tip-toe, he went to pour himself out a glorious glass of
Madeira, in which he soaked some sweet cake, made in the form of a
Led by his example, the Cardinal, under pretence of warming his feet by
drawing still closer to the fire, helped himself to an excellent glass of
old Malaga, which he swallowed by mouthfuls, with an air of profound
meditation; after which he resumed: "So this Abbe Gabriel starts as a
reformer. He must be an ambitious man. Is he dangerous?"
"By our advice his superiors have judged him to be so. They have ordered
him to come hither. He will soon be here, and I will tell your Eminence
why I have sent for him. But first, I have a note on the dangerous
tendencies of the Abbe Gabriel. Certain questions were addressed to him,
with regard to some of his acts, and it was in consequence of his answers
that his superiors recalled him."
So saying, Father d'Aigrigny, took from his pocket-book a paper, which he
read as follows:
"`Question.--Is it true that you performed religious rites for an
inhabitant of your parish who died in final impenitence of the most
detestable kind, since he had committed suicide?
"`Answer of Abbe Gabriel.--I paid him the last duties, because, more than
any one else, because of his guilty end, he required the prayers of the
church. During the night which followed his interment I continually
implored for him the divine mercy.
"`Q.--Is it true that you refused a set of silver-gilt sacramental
vessels, and other ornaments, with which one of the faithful, in pious
zeal, wished to endow your parish?
"`A.--I refused the vessels and embellishments, because the house of the
Lord should be plain and without ornament, so as to remind the faithful
that the divine Saviour was born in a stable. I advised the person who
wished to make these useless presents to my parish to employ the money in
judicious almsgiving, assuring him it would be more agreeable to the
"What a bitter and violent declamation against the adorning of our
temples!" cried the cardinal. "This young priest is most dangerous.
Continue, my good father."
And, in his indignation, his Eminence swallowed several mouthfuls of
strawberry-cream. Father d'Aigrigny continued.
"`Q.--Is it true that you received in your parsonage, and kept there for
some days, an inhabitant of the village, by birth a Swiss, belonging to
the Protestant communion? Is it true that not only you did not attempt
to convert him to the one Catholic and Apostolic faith, but that you
carried so far the neglect of your sacred duties as to inter this heretic
in the ground consecrated for the repose of true believers?
"`A.--One of my brethren was houseless. His life had been honest and
laborious. In his old age his strength had failed him, and sickness had
come at the back of it; almost in a dying state, he had been driven from
his humble dwelling by a pitiless landlord, to whom he owed a year's
rent. I received the old man in my house, and soothed his last days.
The poor creature had toiled and suffered all his life; dying, he uttered
no word of bitterness at his hard fate; he recommended his soul to God
and piously kissed the crucifix. His pure and simple spirit returned to
the bosom of its Creator. I closed his eyes with respect, I buried him,
I prayed for him; and, though he died in the Protestant faith, I thought
him worthy of a place in consecrated ground.'"
"Worse and worse!" said the cardinal. "This tolerance is monstrous. It
is a horrible attack on that maxim of Catholicism: `Out of the pale of
the Church there is no salvation.'"
"And all this is the more serious, my lord," resumed Father d'Aigrigny,
"because the mildness, charity, and Christian devotion of Abbe Gabriel
have excited, not only in his parish, but in all the surrounding
districts, the greatest enthusiasm. The priests of the neighboring
parishes have yielded to the general impulse, and it must be confessed
that but for his moderation a wide-spread schism would have commenced."
"But what do you hope will result from bringing him here?" said the
"The position of Abbe Gabriel is complicated; first of all, he is the
heir of the Rennepont family."
"But has he not ceded his rights?" asked the cardinal.
"Yes, my lord; and this cession, which was at first informal, has lately,
with his free consent, been made perfectly regular in law; for he had
sworn, happen what might, to renounce his part of the inheritance in
favor of the Society of Jesus. Nevertheless, his Reverence Father Rodin
thinks, that if your Eminence, after explaining to Abbe Gabriel that he
was about to be recalled by his superiors, were to propose to him some
eminent position at Rome, he might be induced to leave France, and we
might succeed in arousing within him those sentiments of ambition which
are doubtless only sleeping for the present; your Eminence, having
observed, very judiciously, that every reformer must be ambitious."
"I approve of this idea," said the cardinal, after a moment's reflection;
"with his merit and power of acting on other men, Abbe Gabriel may rise
very high, if he is docile; and if he should not be so, it is better for
the safety of the Church that he should be at Rome than here--for you
know, my good father, we have securities that are unfortunately wanting
After some moments of silence, the cardinal said suddenly to Father
d'Aigrigny: "As we were talking of Father Rodin, tell me frankly what you
think of him."
"Your Eminence knows his capacity," said Father d'Aigrigny, with a
constrained and suspicious air; "our reverend Father-General--"
"Commissioned him to take your place," said the cardinal; "I know that.
He told me so at Rome. But what do you think of the character of Father
Rodin? Can one have full confidence in him?"
"He has so complete, so original, so secret, and so impenetrable a mind,"
said Father d'Aigrigny, with hesitation, "that it is difficult to form
any certain judgment with respect to him."
"Do you think him ambitious?" said the cardinal, after another moment's
pause. "Do you not suppose him capable of having other views than those
of the greater glory of his Order?--Come, I have reasons for speaking
thus," added the prelate, with emphasis.
"Why," resumed Father d'Aigrigny, not without suspicion, for the game is
played cautiously between people of the same craft, "what should your
Eminence think of him, either from your own observation, or from the
report of the Father-General?"
"I think--that if his apparent devotion to his Order really concealed
some after-thought--it would be well to discover it--for, with the
influence that he has obtained at Rome (as I have found out), he might
one day, and that shortly, become very formidable."
"Well!" cried Father d'Aigrigny, impelled by his jealousy of Rodin; "I
am, in this respect, of the same opinion as your Eminence; for I have
sometimes perceived in him flashes of ambition, that were as alarming as
they were extraordinary--and since I must tell all to your Eminence--"
Father d'Aigrigny was unable to continue; at this moment Mrs. Grivois,
who had been knocking at the door, half-opened it, and made a sign to her
mistress. The princess answered by bowing her head, and Mrs. Grivois
again withdrew. A second afterwards Rodin entered the room.
 It is known that, in 1845, the Inquisition, solitary confinement,
etc., still existed at Rome.
RENDERING THE ACCOUNT.
At sight of Rodin, the two prelates and Father d'Aigrigny rose
spontaneously, so much were they overawed by the real superiority of this
man; their faces, just before contracted with suspicion and jealousy,
suddenly brightened up, and seemed to smile on the reverend father with
affectionate deference. The princess advanced some steps to meet him.
Rodin, badly dressed as ever, leaving on the soft carpet the muddy track
of his clumsy shoes, put his umbrella into one corner, and advanced
towards the table--not with his accustomed humility, but with slow step,
uplifted head, and steady glance; not only did he feel himself in the
midst of his partisans, but he knew that he could rule them all by the
power of his intellect.
"We were speaking of your reverence, my dear, good father," said the
cardinal, with charming affability.
"Ah!" said Rodin, looking fixedly at the prelate; "and what were you
"Why," replied the Belgian bishop, wiping his forehead, "all the good
that can be said of your reverence."
"Will you not take something, my good father?" said the princess to
Rodin, as she pointed to the splendid sideboard.
"Thank you, madame, I have eaten my radish already this morning."
"My secretary, Abbe Berlini, who was present at your repast, was, indeed,
much astonished at your reverence's frugality," said the prelate: "it is
worthy of an anchorite."
"Suppose we talk of business," said Rodin, abruptly, like a man
accustomed to lead and control the discussion.
"We shall always be most happy to hear you," said the prelate. "Your
reverence yourself fixed to-day to talk over this great Rennepont affair.
It is of such importance, that it was partly the cause of my journey to
France; for to support the interests of the glorious Company of Jesus,
with which I have the honor of being associated, is to support the
interests of Rome itself, and I promised the reverend Father-General that
I would place myself entirely at your orders."
"I can only repeat what his Eminence has just said," added the bishop.
"We set out from Rome together, and our ideas are just the same."
"Certainly," said Rodin, addressing the cardinal, "your Eminence may
serve our cause, and that materially. I will tell you how presently."
Then, addressing the princess, he continued: "I have desired Dr.
Baleinier to come here, madame, for it will be well to inform him of
"He will be admitted as usual," said the princess.
Since Rodin's arrival Father d'Aigrigny had remained silent; he seemed
occupied with bitter thoughts, and with some violent internal struggle.
At last, half rising, he said to the prelate, in a forced tone of voice:
"I will not ask your Eminence to judge between the reverend Father Rodin
and myself. Our General has pronounced, and I have obeyed. But, as your
Eminence will soon see our superior, I should wish that you would grant
me the favor to report faithfully the answers of Father Rodin to one or
two questions I am about to put to him."
The prelate bowed. Rodin looked at Father d'Aigrigny with an air of
surprise, and said to him, dryly: "The thing is decided. What is the use
"Not to justify myself," answered Father d'Aigrigny, "but to place
matters in their true light before his Eminence."
"Speak, then; but let us have no useless speeches," said Rodin, drawing
out his large silver watch, and looking at it. "By two o'clock I must be
"I will be as brief as possible," said Father d'Aigrigny, with repressed
resentment. Then, addressing Rodin, he resumed: "When your reverence
thought fit to take my place, and to blame, very severely perhaps, the
manner in which I had managed the interests confided to my care, I
confess honestly that these interests were gravely compromised."
"Compromised?" said Rodin, ironically; "you mean lost. Did you not order
me to write to Rome, to bid them renounce all hope?"
"That is true," said Father d'Aigrigny.
"It was then a desperate case, given up by the best doctors," continued
Rodin, with irony, "and yet I have undertaken to restore it to life. Go
And, plunging both hands into the pockets of his trousers, he looked
Father d'Aigrigny full in the face.
"Your reverence blamed me harshly," resumed Father d'Aigrigny, "not for
having sought, by every possible means, to recover the property odiously
diverted from our society--"
"All your casuists authorize you to do so," said the cardinal; "the texts
are clear and positive; you have a right to recover; per fas aut nefas
what has been treacherously taken from you."
"And therefore," resumed Father d'Aigrigny, "Father Rodin only reproached
me with the military roughness of my means. `Their violence,' he said,
`was in dangerous opposition to the manners of the age.' Be it so; but
first of all, I could not be exposed to any legal proceedings, and, but
for one fatal circumstance, success would have crowned the course I had
taken, however rough and brutal it may appear. Now, may I ask your
"What I have done more than you?" said Rodin to Father d'Aigrigny, giving
way to his impertinent habit of interrupting people; "what I have done
better than you?--what step I have taken in the Rennepont affair, since I
received it from you in a desperate condition? Is that what you wish to
"Precisely," said Father d'Aigrigny, dryly.
"Well, I confess," resumed Rodin, in a sardonic tone, "just as you did
great things, coarse things, turbulent things, I have been doing little,
puerile, secret things. Oh, heaven! you cannot imagine what a foolish
part I, who passed for a man of enlarged views, have been acting for the
last six weeks."
"I should never have allowed myself to address such a reproach to your
reverence, however deserved it may appear," said Father d'Aigrigny, with
a bitter smile.
"A reproach?" said Rodin, shrugging his shoulders; "a reproach? You
shall be the judge. Do you know what I wrote about you, some six weeks
ago? Here it is: `Father d'Aigrigny has excellent qualities. He will be
of much service to me'--and from to-morrow I shall employ you very
actively, added Rodin, by way of parenthesis--`but he is not great enough
to know how to make himself little on occasion.' Do you understand?"
"Not very well," said Father d'Aigrigny, blushing.
"So much the worse for you," answered Rodin; "it only proves that I was
right. Well, since I must tell you, I have been wise enough to play the
most foolish part for six whole weeks. Yes, I have chatted nonsense with
a grisette--have talked of liberty, progress, humanity, emancipation of
women, with a young, excited girl; of Napoleon the Great, and all sorts
of Bonapartist idolatry, with an old, imbecile soldier; of imperial
glory, humiliation of France, hopes in the King of Rome, with a certain
marshal of France, who, with a heart full of adoration for the robber of
thrones, that was transported to Saint-Helena, has a head as hollow and
sonorous as a trumpet, into which you have only to blow some warlike or
patriotic notes, and it will flourish away of itself, without knowing why
or how. More than all this, I have talked of love affairs with a young
tiger. When I told you it was lamentable to see a man of any
intelligence descend, as I have done, to all such petty ways of
connecting the thousand threads of this dark web, was I not right? Is it
not a fine spectacle to see the spider obstinately weaving its net?--to
see the ugly little black animal crossing thread upon thread, fastening
it here, strengthening it there, and again lengthening it in some other
place? You shrug your shoulders in pity; but return two hours after--
what will you find? The little black animal eating its fill, and in its
web a dozen of the foolish flies, bound so securely, that the little
black animal has only to choose the moment of its repast."
As he uttered those words, Rodin smiled strangely; his eyes, gradually
half closed, opened to their full width, and seemed to shine more than
usual. The Jesuit felt a sort of feverish excitement, which he
attributed to the contest in which he had engaged before these eminent
personages, who already felt the influence of his original and cutting
Father d'Aigrigny began to regret having entered on the contest. He
resumed, however, with ill-repressed irony: "I do not dispute the
smallness of your means. I agree with you, they are very puerile--they
are even very vulgar. But that is not quite sufficient to give an
exalted notion of your merit. May I be allowed to ask--"
"What these means have produced?" resumed Rodin, with an excitement that
was not usual with him. "Look into my spider's web, and you will see