Part 25 out of 31
Father d'Aigrigny as the quarryman laid his formidable hand upon him,
saying to Ciboule: "Make an end of that one--I will begin this one!"
 This fact is historical. A man was murdered because a phial full of
ammonia was found upon him. On his refusal to drink it, the populace,
persuaded that the bottle contained poison, tore him to pieces.
IN THE CATHEDRAL.
Night was almost come, as the mutilated body of Goliath was thrown into
the river. The oscillations of the mob had carried into the street,
which runs along the left side of the cathedral, the group into whose
power Father d'Aigrigny had fallen. Having succeeded in freeing himself
from the grasp of the quarryman, but still closely pressed by the
multitude that surrounded him, crying, "Death to the poisoner!" he
retreated step by step, trying to parry the blows that were dealt him.
By presence of mind, address, and courage, recovering at that critical
moment his old military energy, he had hitherto been able to resist and
to remain firm on his feet--knowing, by the example of Goliath, that to
fall was to die. Though he had little hope of being heard to any
purpose, the abbe continued to call for help with all his might.
Disputing the ground inch by inch, he manoeuvred so as to draw near one
of the lateral walls of the church, and at length succeeded in ensconcing
himself in a corner formed by the projection of a buttress, and close by
a little door.
This position was rather favorable. Leaning with his back against the
wall, Father d'Aigrigny was sheltered from the attacks of a portion of
his assailants. But the quarryman, wishing to deprive him of this last
chance of safety, rushed upon him, with the intention of dragging him out
into the circle where he would have been trampled under foot. The fear
of death gave Father d'Aigrigny extraordinary strength, and he was able
once more to repulse the quarryman, and remain entrenched in the corner
where he had taken refuge. The resistance of the victim redoubled the
rage of the assailants. Cries of murderous import resounded with new
violence. The quarryman again rushed upon Father d'Aigrigny, saying,
"Follow me, friends! this lasts too long. Let us make an end of it."
Father d'Aigrigny saw that he was lost. His strength was exhausted, and
he felt himself sinking; his legs trembled under him, and a cloud
obscured his sight; the howling of the furious mob began to sound dull
upon his ear. The effects of violent contusions, received during the
struggle, both on the head and chest, were now very perceptible. Two or
three times, a mixture of blood and foam rose to the lips of the abbe;
his position was a desperate one.
"To be slaughtered by these brutes, after escaping death so often in
war!" Such was the thought of Father d'Aigrigny, as the quarryman rushed
Suddenly, at the very moment when the abbe, yielding to the instinct of
self-preservation, uttered one last call for help, in a heart-piercing
voice, the door against which he leaned opened behind him, and a firm
hand caught hold of him, and pulled him into the church. Thanks to this
movement, performed with the rapidity of lightning, the quarryman, thrown
forward in his attempt to seize Father d'Aigrigny, could not check his
progress, and found himself just opposite to the person who had come, as
it were, to take the place of the victim.
The quarryman stopped short, and then fell back a couple of paces, so
much was he amazed at this sudden apparition, and impressed, like the
rest of the crowd, with a vague feeling of admiration and respect at
sight of him who had come so miraculously to the aid of Father
d'Aigrigny. It was Gabriel. The young missionary remained standing on
the threshold of the door. His long black cassock was half lost in the
shadows of the cathedral; whilst his angelic countenance, with its border
of long light hair, now pale and agitated by pity and grief, was
illumined by the last faint rays of twilight. This countenance shone
with so divine a beauty, and expressed such touching and tender
compassion, that the crowd felt awed as, with his large blue eyes full of
tears, and his hands clasped together, he exclaimed, in a sonorous voice:
"Have mercy, my brethren! Be humane--be just!"
Recovering from his first feeling of surprise and involuntary emotion,
the quarryman advanced a step towards Gabriel, and said to him: "No mercy
for the poisoner! we must have him! Give him up to us, or we go and take
"You cannot think of it, my brethren," answered Gabriel; "the church is a
sacred place--a place of refuge for the persecuted."
"We would drag our prisoner from the altar!" answered the quarryman,
roughly; "so give him up to us."
"Listen to me, my brethren," said Gabriel, extending his arms towards
"Down with the shaveling!" cried the quarryman; "let us go in and hunt
him up in the church!"
"Yes, yes!" cried the mob, again led away by the violence of this wretch,
"down with the black gown!"
"They are all of a piece!"
"Down with them!"
"Let us do as we did at the archbishop's!"
"Or at Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois!"
"What do our likes care for a church?"
"If the priests defend the poisoners, we'll pitch them into the water
"I'll show you the lead!" cried the quarryman; and followed by Ciboule,
and a good number of determined men, he rushed towards Gabriel.
The missionary, who for some moments had watched the increasing fury of
the crowd, had foreseen this movement; hastily retreating into the
church, he succeeded, in spite of the efforts of the assailants, in
nearly closing the door, and in barricading it by the help of a wooden
bar, which he held in such a manner as would enable the door to resist
for a few minutes.
Whilst he thus defended the entrance, Gabriel shouted to Father
d'Aigrigny: "Fly, father! fly through the vestry! the other doors are
The Jesuit, overpowered by fatigue, covered with contusions, bathed in
cold sweat, feeling his strength altogether fail, and too soon fancying
himself in safety, had sunk, half fainting, into a chair. At the voice
of Gabriel, he rose with difficulty, and, with a trembling step,
endeavored to reach the choir, separated from the rest of the church by
an iron railing.
"Quick, father!" added Gabriel, in alarm, using every effort to maintain
the door, which was now vigorously assailed. "Make haste! In a few
minutes it will be too late. All alone!" continued the missionary, in
despair, "alone, to arrest the progress of these madmen!"
He was indeed alone. At the first outbreak of the attack, three or four
sacristans and other members of the establishment were in the church;
but, struck with terror, and remembering the sack of the archbishop's
palace, and of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois, they had immediately taken
flight. Some of them had concealed themselves in the organ-loft and
others fled into the vestry, the doors of which they locked after them,
thus cutting off the retreat of Gabriel and Father d'Aigrigny. The
latter, bent double by pain, yet roused by the missionary's portentive
warning, helping himself on by means of the chairs he met with on his
passage, made vain efforts to reach the choir railing. After advancing a
few steps, vanquished by his suffering, he staggered and fell upon the
pavement, deprived of sense and motion. At the same moment, Gabriel, in
spite of the incredible energy with which the desire to save Father
d'Aigrigny had inspired him, felt the door giving way beneath the
formidable pressure from without.
Turning his head, to see if the Jesuit had at least quitted the church,
Gabriel, to his great alarm, perceived that he was lying motionless at a
few steps from the choir. To abandon the half-broken door, to run to
Father d'Aigrigny, to lift him in his arms, and drag him within the
railing of the choir, was for the young priest an action rapid as
thought; for he closed the gate of the choir just at the instant that the
quarryman and his band, having finished breaking down the door, rushed in
a body into the church.
Standing in front of the choir, with his arms crossed upon his breast,
Gabriel waited calmly and intrepidly for this mob, still more exasperated
by such unexpected resistance.
The door once forced, the assailants rushed in with great violence. But
hardly had they entered the church, than a strange scene took place. It
was nearly dark; only a few silver lamps shed their pale light round the
sanctuary, whose far outlines disappeared in the shadow. On suddenly
entering the immense cathedral, dark, silent, and deserted, the most
audacious were struck with awe, almost with fear in presence of the
imposing grandeur of that stony solitude. Outcries and threats died away
on the lips of the most furious. They seemed to dread awaking the echoes
of those enormous arches, those black vaults, from which oozed a
sepulchral dampness, which chilled their brows, inflamed with anger, and
fell upon their shoulders like a mantle of ice.
Religious tradition, routine, habit, the memories of childhood, have so
much influence upon men, that hardly had they entered the church, than
several of the quarryman's followers respectfully took off their hats,
bowed their bare heads, and walked along cautiously, as if to check the
noise of their footsteps on the sounding stones. Then they exchanged a
few words in a low and fearful whisper. Others timidly raised their eyes
to the far heights of the topmost arches of that gigantic building, now
lost in obscurity, and felt almost frightened to see themselves so little
in the midst of that immensity of darkness. But at the first joke of the
quarryman, who broke this respectful silence, the emotion soon passed
"Blood and thunder!" cried he; "are you fetching breath to sing vespers?
If they had wine in the font, well and good!"
These words were received with a burst of savage laughter. "All this
time the villain will escape!" said one.
"And we shall be done," added Ciboule.
"One would think we had cowards here, who are afraid of the sacristans!"
cried the quarryman.
"Never!" replied the others in chorus; "we fear nobody."
"Yes, yes--forward!" was repeated on all sides. And the animation, which
had been calmed down for a moment, was redoubled in the midst of renewed
tumult. Some moments after, the eyes of the assailants, becoming
accustomed to the twilight, were able to distinguish in the midst of the
faint halo shed around by a silver lamp, the imposing countenance of
Gabriel, as he stood before the iron railing of the choir.
"The poisoner is here, hid in some corner," cried the quarryman. "We
must force this parson to give us back the villain."
"He shall answer for him!"
"He took him into the church."
"He shall pay for both, if we do not find the other!"
As the first impression of involuntary respect was effaced from the minds
of the crowd, their voices rose the louder, and their faces became the
more savage and threatening, because they all felt ashamed of their
momentary hesitation and weakness.
"Yes, yes!" cried many voices, trembling with rage, "we must have the
life of one or the other!"
"Or of both!"
"So much the worse for this priest, if he wants to prevent us from
serving out our poisoner!"
"Death to him! death to him!"
With this burst of ferocious yells, which were fearfully re-echoed from
the groined arches of the cathedral, the mob, maddened by rage, rushed
towards the choir, at the door of which Gabriel was standing. The young
missionary, who, when placed on the cross by the savages of the Rocky
Mountains, yet entreated heaven to spare his executioners, had too much
courage in his heart, too much charity in his soul, not to risk his life
a thousand times over to save Father d'Aigrigny's--the very man who had
betrayed hire by such cowardly and cruel hypocrisy.
The quarryman, followed by his gang, ran towards Gabriel, who had
advanced a few paces from the choir-railing, and exclaimed, his eyes
sparkling with rage: "Where is the poisoner? We will have him!"
"Who has told you, my brethren, that he is a poisoner?" replied Gabriel,
with his deep, sonorous voice. "A poisoner! Where are the proofs--
witnesses or victims?"
"Enough of that stuff! we are not here for confession," brutally answered
the quarryman, advancing towards him in a threatening manner. "Give up
the man to us; he shall be forthcoming, unless you choose to stand in his
"Yes, yes!" exclaimed several voices; "they are `in' with one another!
One or the other we will have!"
"Very well, then; since it is so," said Gabriel, raising his head, and
advancing with calmness, resignation; and fearlessness; "he or me," added
he;--"it seems to make no difference to you--you are determined to have
blood--take mine, and I will pardon you, my friends; for a fatal delusion
has unsettled your reason."
These words of Gabriel, his courage, the nobleness of his attitude, the
beauty of his countenance, had made an impression on some of the
assailants, when suddenly a voice exclaimed: "Look! there is the
poisoner, behind the railing!"
"Where--where?" cried they.
"There--don't you see?--stretched on the floor."
On hearing this, the mob, which had hitherto formed a compact mass, in
the sort of passage separating the two sides of the nave, between the
rows of chairs, dispersed in every direction, to reach the railing of the
choir, the last and only barrier that now sheltered Father d'Aigrigny.
During this manoeuvre the quarryman, Ciboule, and others, advanced
towards Gabriel, exclaiming, with ferocious joy: "This time we have him.
Death to the poisoner!"
To save Father d'Aigrigny, Gabriel would have allowed himself to be
massacred at the entrance of the choir; but, a little further on, the
railing, not above four feet in height, would in another instant be
scaled or broken through. The Missionary lost all hope of saving the
Jesuit from a frightful death. Yet he exclaimed: "Stop, poor deluded
people!"--and, extending his arms, he threw himself in front of the
His words, gesture, and countenance, were expressive of an authority at
once so affectionate and so fraternal, that there was a momentary
hesitation amongst the mob. But to this hesitation soon succeeded the
most furious cries of "Death; death!"
"You cry for his death?" cried Gabriel, growing still paler.
"Well, let him die," cried the missionary, inspired with a sudden
thought; "let him die on the instant!"
These words of the young priest struck the crowd with amazement. For a
few moments, they all stood mute, motionless, and as it were, paralyzed,
looking at Gabriel in stupid astonishment.
"This man is guilty, you say," resumed the young missionary, in a voice
trembling with emotion. "You have condemned him without proof, without
witnesses--no matter, he must die. You reproach him with being a
poisoner; where are his victims? You cannot tell--but no matter; he is
condemned. You refuse to hear his defense, the sacred right of every
accused person--no matter; the sentence is pronounced. You are at once
his accusers, judges, and executioners. Be it so!--You have never seen
till now this unfortunate man, he has done you no harm, he has perhaps
not done harm to any one--yet you take upon yourselves the terrible
responsibility of his death--understand me well--of his death. Be it so
then! your conscience will absolve you--I will believe it. He must die;
the sacredness of God's house will not save him--"
"No, no!" cried many furious voices.
"No," resumed Gabriel, with increasing warmth; "no you have determined to
shed his blood, and you will shed it, even in the Lord's temple. It is,
you say, your right. You are doing an act of terrible justice. But why
then, so many vigorous arms to make an end of one dying man? Why these
outcries? this fury? this violence? Is it thus that the people, the
strong and equitable people, are wont to execute their judgments? No,
no; when sure of their right, they strike their enemies, it is with the
calmness of the judge, who, in freedom of soul and conscience, passes
sentence. No, the strong and equitable people do not deal their blows
like men blind or mad, uttering cries of rage, as if to drown the sense
of some cowardly and horrible murder. No, it is not thus that they
exercise the formidable right, to which you now lay claim--for you will
"Yes, we will have it!" shouted the quarryman, Ciboule, and others of the
more pitiless portion of the mob; whilst a great number remained silent,
struck with the words of Gabriel, who had just painted to them, in such
lively colors, the frightful act they were about to commit.
"Yes," resumed the quarryman, "it is our right; we have determined to
kill the poisoner!"
So saying, and with bloodshot eyes, and flushed cheek, the wretch
advanced at the head of a resolute group, making a gesture as though he
would have pushed aside Gabriel, who was still standing in front of the
railing. But instead of resisting the bandit, the missionary advanced a
couple of steps to meet him, took him by the arm, and said in a firm
And dragging, as it were, with him the stupefied quarryman, whose
companions did not venture to follow at the moment, struck dumb as they
were by this new incident, Gabriel rapidly traversed the space which
separated him from the choir, opened the iron gate, and, still holding
the quarryman by the arm, led him up to the prostrate form of Father
d'Aigrigny, and said to him: "There is the victim. He is condemned.
"I" cried the quarryman, hesitating; "I--all alone!"
"Oh!" replied Gabriel, with bitterness, "there is no danger. You can
easily finish him. Look! he is broken down with suffering; he has hardly
a breath of life left; he will make no resistance. Do not be afraid!"
The quarryman remained motionless, whilst the crowd, strangely impressed
with this incident, approached a little nearer the railing, without
daring to come within the gate.
"Strike then!" resumed Gabriel, addressing the quarryman, whilst he
pointed to the crowd with a solemn gesture; "there are the judges; you
are the executioner."
"No!" cried the quarryman, drawing back, and turning away his eyes; "I'm
not the executioner--not I!"
The crowd remained silent. For a few moments, not a word, not a cry,
disturbed the stillness of the solemn cathedral. In a desperate case,
Gabriel had acted with a profound knowledge of the human heart. When the
multitude, inflamed with blind rage, rushes with ferocious clamor upon a
single victim, and each man strikes his blow, this dreadful species of
combined murder appears less horrible to each, because they all share in
the common crime; and then the shouts, the sight of blood, the desperate
defence of the man they massacre, finish by producing a sort of ferocious
intoxication; but, amongst all those furious madmen, who take part in the
homicide, select one, and place him face to face with the victim, no
longer capable of resistance, and say to him, "Strike!"--he will hardly
ever dare to do so.
It was thus with the quarryman; the wretch trembled at the idea of
committing a murder in cold blood, "all alone." The preceding scene had
passed very rapidly; amongst the companions of the quarryman, nearest to
the railing, some did not understand an impression, which they would
themselves have felt as strongly as this bold man, if it had been said to
them: "Do the office of executioner!" These, therefore, began to murmur
aloud at his weakness. "He dares not finish the poisoner," said one.
"He is afraid."
"He draws back." Hearing these words, the quarryman ran to the gate,
threw it wide open, and, pointing to Father d'Aigrigny, exclaimed: "If
there is one here braver than I am, let him go and finish the job--let
him be, the executioner--come!"
On this proposal the murmurs ceased. A deep silence reigned once more in
the cathedral. All those countenances, but now so furious, became sad,
confused, almost frightened.
The deluded mob began to appreciate the ferocious cowardice of the action
it had been about to commit. Not one durst go alone to strike the half-
expiring man. Suddenly, Father d'Aigrigny uttered a dying rattle, his
head and one of his arms stirred with a convulsive movement, and then
fell back upon the stones as if he had just expired.
Gabriel uttered a cry of anguish, and threw himself on his knees close to
Father d'Aigrigny, exclaiming: "Great Heaven! he is dead!"
There is a singular variableness in the mind of a crowd, susceptible
alike to good or evil impressions. At the heart-piercing cry of Gabriel,
all these people, who, a moment before, had demanded, with loud uproar,
the massacre of this man, felt touched with a sudden pity. The words:
"He is dead!" circulated in low whispers through the crowd accompanied by
a slight shudder, whilst Gabriel raised with one hand the victim's heavy
head, and with the other sought to feel if the pulse still beat beneath
the ice-cold skin.
"Mr. Curate," said the quarryman, bending towards Gabriel, "is there
really no hope?"
The answer was waited for with anxiety, in the midst of deep silence.
The people hardly ventured to exchange a few words in whispers.
"Blessed be God!" exclaimed Gabriel, suddenly. "His heart beats."
"His heart beats," repeated the quarryman, turning his head towards the
crowd, to inform them of the good news.
"Oh! his heart beats!" repeated the others, in whispers.
"There is hope. We may yet save him," added Gabriel with an expression
of indescribable happiness.
"We may yet save him," repeated the quarryman, mechanically.
"We may yet save him," muttered the crowd.
"Quick, quick," resumed Gabriel, addressing the quarryman; "help me,
brother. Let us carry him to a neighboring house, where he can have
The quarryman obeyed with readiness. Whilst the missionary lifted Father
d'Aigrigny by holding him under the arms, the quarryman took the legs of
the almost inanimate body. Together, they carried him outside of the
choir. At sight of the formidable quarryman, aiding the young priest to
render assistance to the man whom he had just before pursued with menaces
of death, the multitude felt a sudden thrill of compassion. Yielding to
the powerful influence of the words and example of Gabriel, they felt
themselves deeply moved, and each became anxious to offer services.
"Mr. Curate, he would perhaps be better on a chair, that one could carry
upright," said Ciboule.
"Shall I go and fetch a stretcher from the hospital?" asked another.
"Mr. Curate, let me take your place; the body is too heavy for you."
"Don't trouble yourself," said a powerful man, approaching the missionary
respectfully; "I can carry him alone."
"Shall I run and fetch a coach, Mr. Curate?" said a young vagabond,
taking off his red cap.
"Right," said the quarryman; "run away, my buck!"
"But first, ask Mr. Curate if you are to go for a coach," said Ciboule,
stopping the impatient messenger.
"True," added one of the bystanders; "we are here in a church, and Mr.
Curate has the command. He is at home."
"Yes, yes; go at once, my child," said Gabriel to the obliging young
Whilst the latter was making his way through the crowd, a voice said:
"I've a little wicker-bottle of brandy; will that be of any use?"
"No doubt," answered Gabriel, hastily; "pray give it here. We can rub
his temples with the spirit, and make him inhale a little."
"Pass the bottle," cried Ciboule; "but don't put your noses in it!" And,
passed with caution from hand to hand, the flask reached Gabriel in
Whilst waiting for the coming of the coach, Father d'Aigrigny had been
seated on a chair. Whilst several good-natured people carefully
supported the abbe, the missionary made him inhale a little brandy. In a
few minutes, the spirit had a powerful influence on the Jesuit; he made
some slight movements, and his oppressed bosom heaved with a deep sigh.
"He is saved--he will live," cried Gabriel, in a triumphant voice; "he
will live, my brothers!"
"Oh! glad to hear it!" exclaimed many voices.
"Oh, yes! be glad, my brothers!" repeated Gabriel; "for, instead of being
weighed down with the remorse of crime, you will have a just and
charitable action to remember. Let us thank God, that he has changed
your blind fury into a sentiment of compassion! Let us pray to Him, that
neither you, nor those you love, may ever be exposed to such frightful
danger as this unfortunate man has just escaped. Oh, my brothers!" added
Gabriel, as he pointed to the image of Christ with touching emotion,
which communicated itself the more easily to others from the expression
of his angelic countenance; "oh, my brothers! let us never forget, that
HE, who died upon that cross for the defence of the oppressed, for the
obscure children of the people like to ourselves, pronounced those
affectionate words so sweet to the heart; `Love ye one another!'--Let us
never forget it; let us love and help one another, and we poor people
shall then become better, happier, just. Love--yes, love ye one another-
-and fall prostrate before that Saviour, who is the God of all that are
weak, oppressed, and suffering in this world!"
So saying, Gabriel knelt down. All present respectfully followed his
example, such power was there in his simple and persuasive words. At
this moment, a singular incident added to the grandeur of the scene. We
have said that a few seconds before the quarryman and his band entered
the body of the church, several persons had fled from it. Two of these
had taken refuge in the organ-loft, from which retreat they had viewed
the preceding scene, themselves remaining invisible. One of these
persons was a young man charged with the care of the organ, and quite
musician enough to play on it. Deeply moved by the unexpected turn of an
event which at first appeared so tragical, and yielding to an artistical
inspiration, this young man, at the moment when he saw the people
kneeling with Gabriel, could not forbear striking the notes. Then a sort
of harmonious sigh, at first almost insensible, seemed to rise from the
midst of this immense cathedral, like a divine aspiration. As soft and
aerial as the balmy vapor of incense, it mounted and spread through the
lofty arches. Little by little the faint, sweet sounds, though still as
it were covered, changed to an exquisite melody, religious, melancholy,
and affectionate, which rose to heaven like a song of ineffable gratitude
and love. And the notes were at first so faint, so covered, that the
kneeling multitude had scarcely felt surprise, and had yielded insensibly
to the irresistible influence of that enchanting harmony.
Then many an eye, until now dry and ferocious, became wet with tears--
many hard hearts beat gently, as they remembered the words pronounced by
Gabriel with so tender an accent: "Love ye one another!" It was at this
moment that Father d'Aigrigny came to himself--and opened his eyes. He
thought himself under the influence of a dream. He had lost his senses
in sight of a furious populace, who, with insult and blasphemy on their
lips, pursued him with cries of death even to the sanctuary of the
temple. He opened his eyes--and, by the pale light of the sacred lamps,
to the solemn music of the organ, he saw that crowd, just now so menacing
and implacable, kneeling in mute and reverential emotion, and humbly
bowing their heads before the majesty of the shrine.
Some minutes after, Gabriel, carried almost in triumph on the shoulders
of the crowd, entered the coach, in which Father d'Aigrigny, who by
degrees had completely recovered his senses, was already reclining. By
the order of the Jesuit, the coach stopped before the door of a house in
the Rue de Vaugirard; he had the strength and courage to enter this
dwelling alone; Gabriel was not admitted, but we shall conduct the reader
At the end of the Rue de Vaugirard, there was then a very high wall, with
only one small doorway in all its length. On opening this door, you
entered a yard surrounded by a railing, with screens like Venetian
blinds, to prevent your seeing between the rails. Crossing this
courtyard, you come to a fine large garden, symmetrically planted, at the
end of which stood a building two stories high, looking perfectly
comfortable, without luxury, but with all that cozy simplicity which
betokens discreet opulence. A few days had elapsed since Father
d'Aigrigny had been so courageously rescued by Gabriel from the popular
fury. Three ecclesiastics, wearing black gowns, white bands, and square
caps, were walking in the garden with a slow and measured step. The
youngest seemed to be about thirty years of age; his countenance was
pale, hollow, and impressed with a certain ascetic austerity. His two
companions, aged between fifty or sixty, had, on the contrary, faces at
once hypocritical and cunning; their round, rosy cheeks shone brightly in
the sunshine, whilst their triple chins, buried in fat, descended in soft
folds over the fine cambric of their bands. According to the rules of
their order (they belonged to the Society of Jesus), which forbade their
walking only two together, these three members of the brotherhood never
quitted each other a moment.
"I fear," said one of the two, continuing a conversation already begun,
and speaking of an absent person, "I fear, that the continual agitation
to which the reverend father has been a prey, ever since he was attacked
with the cholera, has exhausted his strength, and caused the dangerous
relapse which now makes us fear for his life."
"They say," resumed the other, "that never was there seen anxiety like to
"And moreover," remarked the young priest, bitterly, "it is painful to
think, that his reverence Father Rodin has given cause for scandal, by
obstinately refusing to make a public confession, the day before
yesterday when his situation appeared so desperate, that, between two
fits of a delirium, it was thought right to propose to him to receive the
"His reverence declared that he was not so ill as they supposed,"
answered one of the fathers, "and that he would have the last duties
performed when he thought necessary."
"The fact is, that for the last ten days, ever since he was brought here
dying, his life has been, as it were, only a long and painful agony; and
yet he continues to live."
"I watched by him during the first three days of his malady, with M.
Rousselet, the pupil of Dr. Baleinier," resumed the youngest father; "he
had hardly a moment's consciousness, and when the Lord did grant him a
lucid interval, he employed it in detestable execrations against the fate
which had confined him to his bed."
"It is said," resumed the other, "that Father Rodin made answer to his
Eminence Cardinal Malipieri, who came to persuade him to die in an
exemplary manner, worthy of a son of Loyola, our blessed founder"--at
these words, the three Jesuits bowed their heads together, as if they had
been all moved by the same spring--"it is said, that Father Rodin made
answer to his eminence: `I do not need to confess publicly; I WANT TO
LIVE, AND I WILL LIVE.'"
"I did not hear that," said the young priest, with an indignant air; "but
if Father Rodin really made use of such expressions, it is--"
Here, no doubt, reflection came to him just in time, for he stole a
sidelong glance at his two silent, impassible companions, and added: "It
is a great misfortune for his soul; but I am certain, his reverence has
"It was only as a calumnious report, that I mentioned those words," said
the other priest, exchanging a glance with his companion.
One of the garden gates opened, and one of the three reverend fathers
exclaimed, at the sight of the personage who now entered: "Oh! here is
his Eminence Cardinal Malipieri, coming to pay a visit to Father Rodin."
"May this visit of his eminence," said the young priest, calmly, "be more
profitable to Father Rodin than the last!"
Cardinal Malipieri was crossing the garden, on his way to the apartment
occupied by Rodin.
Cardinal Malipieri, whom we saw assisting at the sort of council held at
the Princess de Saint-Dizier's, now on his way to Rodin's apartment, was
dressed as a layman, but enveloped in an ample pelisse of puce-colored
satin, which exhaled a strong odor of camphor, for the prelate had taken
care to surround himself with all sorts of anti-cholera specifics.
Having reached the second story of the house, the cardinal knocked at a
little gray door. Nobody answering, he opened it, and, like a man to
whom the locality was well known, passed through a sort of antechamber,
and entered a room in which was a turn-up bed. On a black wood table
were many phials, which had contained different medicines. The prelate's
countenance seemed uneasy and morose; his complexion was still yellow and
bilious; the brown circle which surrounded his black, squinting eyes
appeared still darker than usual.
Pausing a moment, he looked round him almost in fear, and several times
stopped to smell at his anti-cholera bottle. Then, seeing he was alone,
he approached a glass over the chimney-piece, and examined with much
attention the color of his tongue; after some minutes spent in this
careful investigation, with the result of which he appeared tolerably
satisfied, he took some preservative lozenges out of a golden box, and
allowed them to melt in his mouth, whilst he closed his eyes with a
sanctified air. Having taken these sanitary precautions, and again
pressed his bottle to his nose, the prelate prepared to enter the third
room, when he heard a tolerably loud noise through the thin partition
which separated him from it, and, stopping to listen, all that was said
in the next apartment easily reached his ear.
"Now that my wounds are dressed, I will get up," said weak, but sharp and
"Do not think of it, reverend father," was answered in a stronger tone;
"it is impossible."
"You shall see if it is impossible," replied the other voice.
"But, reverend father, you will kill yourself. You are not in a state to
get up. You will expose yourself to a mortal relapse. I cannot consent
To these words succeeded the noise of a faint struggle, mingled with
groans more angry than plaintive, and the voice resumed: "No, no, father;
for your own safety, I will not leave your clothes within your reach. It
is almost time for your medicine; I will go and prepare it for you."
Almost immediately after, the door opened, and the prelate saw enter a
man of about twenty-five years of age, carrying on his arm an old olive
great-coat and threadbare black trousers, which he threw down upon a
This personage was Ange Modeste Rousselet, chief pupil of Dr. Baleinier;
the countenance of the young practitioner was mild, humble, and reserved;
his hair, very short in front, flowed down upon his neck behind. He made
a slight start in surprise on perceiving the cardinal, and bowed twice
very low, without raising his eyes.
"Before anything else," said the prelate, with his marked Italian accent,
still holding to his nose his bottle of camphor, "have any choleraic
"No, my lord; the pernicious fever, which succeeded the attack of
cholera, still continues."
"Very good. But will not the reverend father be reasonable? What was
the noise that I just heard?"
"His reverence wished absolutely to get up and dress himself; but his
weakness is so great, that he could not have taken two steps from the
bed. He is devoured by impatience, and we fear that this agitation will
cause a mortal relapse."
"Has Dr. Baleinier been here this morning?"
"He has just left, my lord."
"What does he think of the patient?"
"He finds him in the most alarming state, my lord. The night was so bad,
that he was extremely uneasy this morning. Father Rodin is at one of
those critical junctures, when a few hours may decide the life or death
of the patient. Dr. Baleinier is now gone to fetch what is necessary for
a very painful operation, which he is about to perform on the reverend
"Has Father d'Aigrigny been told of this?"
"Father d'Aigrigny is himself very unwell, as your eminence knows; he has
not been able to leave his bed for the last three days."
"I inquired about him as I came up," answered the prelate, "and I shall
see him directly. But, to return to Father Rodin, have you sent for his
confessor, since he is in a desperate state, and about to undergo a
"Dr. Baleinier spoke a word to him about it, as well as about the last
sacraments; but Father Rodin exclaimed, with great irritation, that they
did not leave him a moment's peace, that he had as much care as any one
for his salvation, and that--"
"Per Bacco! I am not thinking of him," cried the cardinal, interrupting
Ange Modeste Rousselet with his pagan oath, and raising his sharp voice
to a still higher key; "I am not thinking of him, but of the interests of
the Company. It is indispensable that the reverend father should receive
the sacraments with the most splendid solemnity, and that his end should
not only be Christian, but exemplary. All the people in the house, and
even strangers, should be invited to the spectacle, so that his edifying
death may produce an excellent sensation."
"That is what Fathers Grison and Brunet have already endeavored to
persuade his reverence, my lord; but your Eminence knows with what
impatience Father Rodin received this advice, and Dr. Baleinier did not
venture to persist, for fear of advancing a fatal crisis."
"Well, I will venture to do it; for in these times of revolutionary
impiety, a solemnly Christian death would produce a very salutary effect
on the public. It would indeed be proper to make the necessary
preparations to embalm the reverend father: he might then lie in state
for some days, with lighted tapers, according to Romish custom. My
secretary would furnish the design for the bier; it would be very
splendid and imposing; from his position in the Order, Father Rodin is
entitled to have everything in the most sumptuous style. He must have at
least six hundred tapers, and a dozen funeral lamps, burning spirits of
wine, to hang just over the body, and light it from above: the effect
would be excellent. We must also distribute little tracts to the people,
concerning the pious and ascetic life of his reverence--"
Here a sudden noise, like that of some piece of metal thrown angrily on
the floor, was heard from the next room, in which was the sick man, and
interrupted the prelate in his description.
"I hope Father Rodin has not heard you talk of embalming him, my lord,"
said Rousselet, in a whisper: "his bed touches the partition, and almost
everything is audible through it."
"If Father Rodin has heard me," answered the cardinal, sinking his voice,
and retiring to the other end of the room, "this circumstance will enable
me to enter at once on the business; but, in any case, I persist in
believing that the embalming and the lying in state are required to make
a good effect upon the public. The people are already frightened at the
cholera, and such funeral pomp would have no small influence on the
"I would venture to observe to your Eminence, that here the laws are
opposed to such exhibitions."
"The laws--already the laws!" said the cardinal, angrily; "has not Rome
also her laws? And is not every priest a subject of Rome? Is it not
But, not choosing, doubtless, to begin a more explicit conversation with
the young doctor, the prelate resumed, "We will talk of this hereafter.
But, tell me, since my last visit, has the reverend father had any fresh
attacks of delirium?"
"Yes, my lord; here is the note, as your Eminence commanded." So saying
Rousselet delivered a paper to the prelate. We will inform the reader
that this part of the conversation between Rousselet and the cardinal was
carried on at a distance from the partition, so that Rodin could hear
nothing of it, whilst that which related to the embalming had been
perfectly audible to him.
The cardinal, having received the note from Rousselet, perused it with an
expression of lively curiosity. When he had finished, he crumpled it in
his hand, and said, without attempting to dissemble his vexation, "Always
nothing but incoherent expression. Not two words together, from which
you can draw any reasonable conclusion. One would really think this man
had the power to control himself even in his delirium, and to rave about
insignificant matters only."
Then, addressing Rousselet, "You are sure that you have reported
everything that escaped from him during his delirium?"
"With the exception of the same phrases, that he repeated over and over
again, your Eminence may be assured that I have not omitted a single
word, however unmeaning."
"Show me into Father Rodin's room," said the prelate, after a moment's
"But, my lord," answered the young doctor, with some hesitation, "the fit
has only left him about an hour, and the reverend father is still very
"The more the reason," replied the prelate, somewhat indiscreetly.
Then, recollecting himself, he added, "He will the better appreciate the
consolations I have to offer. Should he be asleep, awake him, and
announce my visit."
"I have only orders to receive from your Eminence," said Rousselet,
bowing, and entering the next room.
Left alone, the cardinal said to himself, with a pensive air, "I always
come back to that. When he was suddenly attacked by the cholera, Father
Rodin believed himself poisoned by order of the Holy See. He must then
have been plotting something very formidable against Rome, to entertain
so abominable a fear. Can our suspicions be well founded? Is he acting
secretly and powerfully on the Sacred College? But then for what end?
This it has been impossible to penetrate, so faithfully has the secret
been kept by his accomplices. I had hoped that, during his delirium, he
would let slip some word that would put us on the trace of what we are so
much interested to discover. With so restless and active a mind,
delirium is often the exaggeration of some dominant idea; yet here I have
the report of five different fits--and nothing--no, nothing but vague,
The return of Rousselet put an end to these reflections. "I am sorry to
inform my lord that the reverend father obstinately refuses to see any
one. He says that he requires absolute repose. Though very weak, he has
a savage and angry look, and I should not be surprised if he overheard
your Eminence talk about embalming him."
The cardinal, interrupting Rousselet, said to him, "Did Father Rodin have
his last fit of delirium in the night?"
"Between three and half-past five this morning, my lord."
"Between three and half-past five," repeated the prelate, as if he wished
to impress this circumstance on his memory, "the attack presented no
"No, my lord; it consisted of rambling, incoherent talk, as your Eminence
may see by this note."
Then, as he perceived the prelate approaching Father Rodin's door,
Rousselet added, "The reverend father will positively see no one, my
lord; he requires rest, to prepare for the operation; it might be
Without attending to these observations, the cardinal entered Rodin's
chamber. It was a tolerably large room, lighted by two windows, and
simply but commodiously furnished. Two logs were burning slowly in the
fireplace, in which stood a coffee-pot, a vessel containing mustard-
poultice, etc. On the chimney-piece were several pieces of rag, and some
linen bandages. The room was full of that faint chemical odor peculiar
to the chambers of the sick, mingled with so putrid a stench, that the
cardinal stopped at the door a moment, before he ventured to advance
further. As the three reverend fathers had mentioned in their walk,
Rodin lived because he had said to himself, "I want to live, and I will
For, as men of timid imaginations and cowardly minds often die from the
mere dread of dying, so a thousand facts prove that vigor of character
and moral energy may often struggle successfully against disease, and
triumph over the most desperate symptoms.
It was thus with the Jesuit. The unshaken firmness of his character, the
formidable tenacity of his will (for the will has sometimes a mysterious
and almost terrific power), aiding the skillful treatment of Dr.
Baleinier, had saved him from the pestilence with which he had been so
suddenly attacked. But the shock had been succeeded by a violent fever,
which placed Rodin's life in the utmost peril. This increased danger had
caused the greatest alarm to Father d'Aigrigny, who felt, in spite of his
rivalry and jealousy, that Rodin was the master-spirit of the plot in
which they were engaged, and could alone conduct it to a successful
The curtains of the room was half closed, and admitted only a doubtful
light to the bed on which Rodin was lying. The Jesuit's features had
lost the greenish hue peculiar to cholera patients, but remained
perfectly livid and cadaverous, and so thin, that the dry, rugged skin
appeared to cling to the smallest prominence of bone. The muscles and
veins of the long, lean, vulture-like neck resembled a bundle of cords.
The head, covered with an old, black, filthy nightcap, from beneath which
strayed a few thin, gray hairs, rested upon a dirty pillow; for Rodin
would not allow them to change his linen. His iron-gray beard had not
been shaved for some time, and stood out like the hairs of a brush.
Under his shirt he wore an old flannel waistcoat full of holes. He had
one of his arms out of bed, and his bony hairy hand, with its bluish
nails, held fast a cotton handkerchief of indescribable color.
You might have taken him for a corpse, had it not been for the two
brilliant sparks which still burned in the depths of his eyes. In that
look, in which seemed concentrated all the remaining life and energy of
the man, you might read the most restless anxiety. Sometimes his
features revealed the sharpest pangs; sometimes the twisting of his
hands, and his sudden starts, proclaimed his despair at being thus
fettered to a bed of pain, whilst the serious interests which he had in
charge required all the activity of his mind. Thus, with thoughts
continually on the stretch, his mind often wandered, and he had fits of
delirium, from which he woke as from a painful dream. By the prudent
advice of Dr. Baleinier, who considered him not in a state to attend to
matters of--importance, Father d'Aigrigny had hitherto evaded Rodin's
questions with regard to the Rennepont affair, which he dreaded to see
lost and ruined in consequence of his forced inaction. The silence of
Father d'Aigrigny on this head, and the ignorance in which they kept him,
only augmented the sick man's exasperation. Such was the moral and
physical state of Rodin, when Cardinal Malipieri entered his chamber
against his will.
To understand fully the tortures of Rodin, reduced to inactivity by
sickness, and to explain the importance of Cardinal Malipieri's visit, we
must remember the audacious views of the ambitious Jesuit, who believed
himself following in the steps of Sixtus V., and expected to become his
equal. By the success of the Rennepont affair, to attain to the
generalship of his Order, by the corruption of the Sacred College to
ascend the pontifical throne, and then, by means of a change in the
statutes of the Company, to incorporate the Society of Jesus with the
Holy See, instead of leaving it independent, to equal and almost always
rule the Papacy--such were the secret projects of Rodin.
Their possibility was sanctioned by numerous precedents, for many mere
monks and priests had been suddenly raised to the pontifical dignity.
And as for their morality, the accession of the Borgias, of Julius II.,
and other dubious Vicars of Christ, might excuse and authorize the
pretensions of the Jesuits.
Though the object of his secret intrigues at Rome had hitherto been
enveloped in the greatest mystery, suspicions had been excited in regard
to his private communications with many members of the Sacred College. A
portion of that college, Cardinal Malipieri at the head of them, had
become very uneasy on the subject, and, profiting by his journey to
France, the cardinal had resolved to penetrate the Jesuit's dark designs.
If, in the scene we have just painted, the cardinal showed himself so
obstinately bent on having a conference with Rodin, in spite of the
refusal of the latter, it was because the prelate hoped, as we shall soon
see, to get by cunning at the secret, which had hitherto been so well
concealed. It was, therefore, in the midst of all these extraordinary
circumstances, that Rodin saw himself the victim of a malady, which
paralyzed his strength, at the moment when he had need of all his
activity, and of all the resources of his mind. After remaining for some
seconds motionless near the door, the cardinal, still holding his bottle
under his nose, slowly approached the bed where Rodin lay.
The latter, enraged at this perseverance, and wishing to avoid an
interview which for many reasons was singularly odious to him, turned his
face towards the wall, and pretended to be asleep. Caring little for
this feint, and determined to profit by Rodin's state of weakness, the
prelate took a chair, and, conquering his repugnance, sat down close to
the Jesuit's bed.
"My reverend and very dear father, how do you find yourself?" said he to
him, in a honeyed tone, which his Italian accent seemed to render still
more hypocritical. Rodin pretended not to hear, breathed hard, and made
no answer. But the cardinal, not without disgust, shook with his gloved
hand the arm of the Jesuit, and repeated in a louder voice: "My reverend
and very dear father, answer me, I conjure you!"
Rodin could not restrain a movement of angry impatience, but he continued
silent. The cardinal was not a man to be discouraged by so little; he
again shook the arm of the Jesuit, somewhat more roughly, repeating, with
a passionless tenacity that would have incensed the most patient person
in the world: "My reverend and very dear father, since you are not
asleep, listen to me, I entreat of you."
Irritable with pain, exasperated by the obstinacy of the prelate, Rodin
abruptly turned his head, fixed on the Roman his hollow eyes, shining
with lurid fire, and, with lips contracted by a sardonic smile, said to
him, bitterly: "You must be very anxious, my lord, to see me embalmed,
and lie in state with tapers, as you were saying just now, for you thus
to come to torment me in my last moments, and hasten my end!"
"Oh, my good father! how can you talk so?" cried the cardinal, raising
his hands as if to call heaven to witness to the sincerity of the tender
interest he felt for the Jesuit.
"I tell you that I heard all just now, my lord; for the partition is
thin," added Rodin, with redoubled bitterness.
"If you mean that, from the bottom of my soul, I desired that you should
make an exemplary and Christian end, you are perfectly right, my dear
father. I did say so; for, after a life so well employed, it would be
sweet to see you an object of adoration for the faithful!"
"I tell you, my lord," cried Rodin, in a weak and broken voice, "that it
is ferocious to express such wishes in the presence of a dying man.
Yes," he added, with growing animation, that contrasted strongly with his
weakness, "take care what you do; for if I am too much plagued and
pestered--if I am not allowed to breathe my last breath quietly--I give
you notice that you will force me to die in anything but a Christian
manner, and if you mean to profit by an edifying spectacle, you will be
This burst of anger having greatly fatigued Rodin, his head fell back
upon the pillow, and he wiped his cracked and bleeding lips with his old
"Come, come, be calm, my very dear father," resumed the cardinal, with a
patronizing air; "do not give way to such gloomy ideas. Doubtless,
Providence reserves you for great designs, since you have been already
delivered from so much peril. Let us hope that you will be likewise
saved from your present danger."
Rodin answered by a hoarse growl, and turned his face towards the wall.
The imperturbable prelate continued: "The views of Providence are not
confined to your salvation, my very dear father. Its power has been
manifested in another way. What I am about to tell you is of the highest
importance. Listen attentively."
Without turning his head, Rodin muttered in a tone of angry bitterness,
which betrayed his intense sufferings: "They desire my death. My chest
is on fire, my head racked with pain, and they have no pity. Oh, I
suffer the tortures of the damned!"
"What! already" thought the Roman, with a smile of sarcastic malice; then
he said aloud: "Let me persuade you, my very dear father--make an effort
to listen to me; you will not regret it."
Still stretched upon the bed, Rodin lifted his hands clasped upon his
cotton handkerchief with a gesture of despair, and then let them fall
again by his side.
The cardinal slightly shrugged his shoulders, and laid great stress on
what follows, so that Rodin might not lose a word of it: "My dear father,
it has pleased Providence that, during your fit of raving, you have made,
without knowing it, the most important revelations."
The prelate waited with anxious curiosity for the effect of the pious
trap he had laid for the Jesuit's weakened faculties. But the latter,
still turned towards the wall, did not appear to have heard him and
"You are, no doubt, reflecting on my words, my dear father," resumed the
cardinal; "you are right, for it concerns a very serious affair. I
repeat to you that Providence has allowed you, during your delirium, to
betray your most secret thoughts--happily, to me alone. They are such as
would compromise you in the highest degree. In short, during your
delirium of last night, which lasted nearly two hours, you unveiled the
secret objects of your intrigues at Rome with many of the members of the
The cardinal, rising softly, stooped over the bed to watch the expression
of Rodin's countenance. But the latter did not give him time. As a
galvanized corpse starts into strange and sudden motion, Rodin sprang
into a sitting posture at the last words of the prelate.
"He has betrayed himself," said the cardinal, in a low voice, in Italian.
Then, resuming his seat, he fixed on the Jesuit his eyes, that sparkled
with triumphant joy.
Though he did not hear the exclamation of Malipieri, nor remark the
expression of his countenance, Rodin, notwithstanding his state of
weakness, instantly felt the imprudence of his start. He pressed his
hand to his forehead, as though he had been seized with a giddiness;
then, looking wildly round him, he pressed to his trembling lips his old
cotton handkerchief, and gnawed it mechanically for some seconds.
"Your emotion and alarm confirm the sad discoveries I have made," resumed
the cardinal, still more rejoicing at the success of his trick; "and now,
my dear father," added he, "you will understand that it is for your best
interest to enter into the most minute detail as to your projects and
accomplices at Rome. You may then hope, my dear father, for the
indulgence of the Holy See--that is, if your avowals are sufficiently
explicit to fill up the chasms necessarily left in a confession made
Rodin, recovered from his first surprise, perceived, but too late, that
he had fallen into a snare, not by any words he had spoken, but by his
too significant movements. In fact, the Jesuit had feared for a moment
that he might have betrayed himself during his delirium, when he heard
himself accused of dark intrigues with Rome; but, after some minutes of
reflection, his common sense suggested: "If this crafty Roman knew my
secret, he would take care not to tell me so. He has only suspicions,
confirmed by my involuntary start just now."
Rodin wiped the cold sweat from his burning forehead. The emotion of
this scene augmented his sufferings, and aggravated the danger of his
condition. Worn out with fatigue, he could not remain long in a sitting
posture, and soon fell back upon the bed.
"Per Bacco!" said the cardinal to himself, alarmed at the expression of
the Jesuit's face; "if he were to die before he had spoken, and so escape
Then, leaning over the bed, the prelate asked: "What is the matter, my
very dear father?"
"I am weak, my lord--I am in pain--I cannot express what I suffer."
"Let us hope, my very dear father, that this crisis will have no fatal
results; but the contrary may happen, and it behooves the salvation of
your soul to make instantly the fullest confession. Were it even to
exhaust your strength, what is this perishable body compared to eternal
"Of what confession do you speak, my lord?" said Rodin, in a feeble and
yet sarcastic tone.
"What confession!" cried the amazed cardinal; "why, with regard to your
dangerous intrigues at Rome."
"What intrigues?" asked Rodin.
"The intrigues you revealed during your delirium," replied the prelate,
with still more angry impatience. "Were not your avowals sufficiently
explicit? Why, then, this culpable hesitation to complete them?"
"My avowals--were explicit--you assure me?" said Rodin, pausing after
each word for want of breath, but without losing his energy and presence
"Yes, I repeat it," resumed the cardinal; "with the exception of a few
chasms, they were most explicit."
"Then why repeat them?" said Rodin, with the same sardonic smile on his
"Why repeat them?" cried the angry prelate. "In order to gain pardon;
for if there is indulgence and mercy for the repentant sinner, there must
be condemnation and curses for the hardened criminal!"
"Oh, what torture! I am dying by slow fire!" murmured Rodin. "Since I
have told all," he resumed, "I have nothing more to tell. You know it
"I know all--doubtless, I know all," replied the prelate, in a voice of
thunder; "but how have I learned it? By confessions made in a state of
unconsciousness. Do you think they will avail you anything? No; the
moment is solemn--death is at hand, tremble to die with a sacrilegious
falsehood on your lips," cried the prelate, shaking Rodin violently by
the arm; "dread the eternal flames, if you dare deny what you know to be
the truth. Do you deny it?"
"I deny nothing," murmured Rodin, with difficulty. "Only leave me
"Then heaven inspires you," said the cardinal, with a sigh of
satisfaction; and, thinking he had nearly attained his object, he
resumed, "Listen to the divine word, that will guide you, father. You
"I was--delirious--and cannot--(oh! how I suffer!)" added Rodin, by way
of parenthesis; "and cannot therefore--deny--the nonsense--I may have
"But when this nonsense agrees with the truth," cried the prelate,
furious at being again deceived in his expectation; "but when raving is
an involuntary, providential revelation--"
"Cardinal Malipieri--your craft is no match--for my agony," answered
Rodin, in a failing voice. "The proof--that I have not told my secret--
if I have a secret--is--that you want to make me tell it!" In spite of
his pain and weakness, the Jesuit had courage to raise himself in the
bed, and look the cardinal full in the face, with a smile of bitter
irony. After which he fell back on the pillow, and pressed his hands to
his chest, with a long sigh of anguish.
"Damnation! the infernal Jesuit has found me out!" said the cardinal to
himself, as he stamped his foot with rage. "He sees that he was
compromised by his first movement; he is now upon his guard; I shall get
nothing more from him--unless indeed, profiting by the state of weakness
in which he is, I can, by entreaties, by threats, by terror--"
The prelate was unable to finish. The door opened abruptly, and Father
d'Aigrigny entered the room, exclaiming with an explosion of joy:
By the alteration in the countenance of Father d'Aigrigny, his pale
cheek, and the feebleness of his walk, one might see that the terrible
scene in the square of Notre-Dame, had violently reacted upon his health.
Yet his face was radiant and triumphant, as he entered Rodin's chamber,
exclaiming: "Excellent news!"
On these words, Rodin started. In spite of his weakness, he raised his
head, and his eves shone with a curious, uneasy, piercing expression.
With his lean hand, he beckoned Father d'Aigrigny to approach the bed,
and said to him, in a broken voice, so weak that it was scarcely audible:
"I am very ill--the cardinal has nearly finished me--but if this
excellent news--relates to the Rennepont affair--of which I hear nothing
--it might save me yet!"
"Be saved then!" cried Father d'Aigrigny, forgetting the recommendations
of Dr. Baleinier; "read, rejoice! What you foretold is beginning to be
So saying, he drew a paper from his pocket, and delivered it to Rodin,
who seized it with an eager and trembling hand. Some minutes before,
Rodin would have been really incapable of continuing his conversation
with the cardinal, even if prudence had allowed him to do so; nor could
he have read a single line, so dim had his sight become. But, at the
words of Father d'Aigrigny, he felt such a renewal of hope and vigor,
that, by a mighty effort of energy and will, he rose to a sitting
posture, and, with clear head, and look of intelligent animation, he read
rapidly the paper that Father d'Aigrigny had just delivered to him.
The cardinal, amazed at this sudden transfiguration, asked himself if he
beheld the same man, who, a few minutes before, had fallen back on his
bed, almost insensible. Hardly had Rodin finished reading, than he
uttered a cry of stifled joy, saying, with an accent impossible to
describe: "ONE gone! it works--'tis well!" And, closing his eyes in a
kind of ecstatic transport, a smile of proud triumph overspread his face,
and rendered him still more hideous, by discovering his yellow and
gumless teeth. His emotion was so violent, that the paper fell from his
"He has fainted," cried Father d'Aigrigny, with uneasiness, as he leaned
over Rodin. "It is my fault, I forgot that the doctor cautioned me not
to talk to him of serious matters."
"No; do not reproach yourself," said Rodin, in a low voice, half-raising
himself in the bed. "This unexpected joy may perhaps cure me. Yes--I
scarce know what I feel--but look at my cheeks--it seems to me, that, for
the first time since I have been stretched on this bed of pain, they are
a little warm."
Rodin spoke the truth. A slight color appeared suddenly on his livid and
icy cheeks; his voice though still very weak, became less tremulous, and
he exclaimed, in a tone of conviction that startled Father d'Aigrigny and
the prelate, "This first success answers for the others. I read the
future. Yes, yes; our cause will triumph. Every member of the execrable
Rennepont family will be crushed--and that soon you will see--"
Then, pausing, Rodin threw himself back on the pillow, exclaiming: "Oh! I
am choked with joy. My voice fails me."
"But what is it?" asked the cardinal of Father d'Aigrigny.
The latter replied, in a tone of hypocritical sanctity: "One of the heirs
of the Rennepont family, a poor fellow, worn out with excesses and
debauchery, died three days ago, at the close of some abominable orgies,
in which he had braved the cholera with sacrilegious impiety. In
consequence of the indisposition that kept me at home, and of another
circumstance, I only received to-day the certificate of the death of this
victim of intemperance and irreligion. I must proclaim it to the praise
of his reverence"--pointing to Rodin--"that he told me, the worst enemies
of the descendants of that infamous renegade would be their own bad
passions, and that the might look to them as our allies against the whole
impious race. And so it has happened with Jacques Rennepont."
"You see," said Rodin, in so faint a voice that it was almost
unintelligible, "the punishment begins already. One of the Renneponts is
dead--and believe me--this certificate," and he pointed to the paper that
Father d'Aigrigny held in his hand, "will one day be worth forty millions
to the Society of Jesus--and that--because--"
The lips alone finished the sentence. During some seconds, Rodin's voice
had become so faint, that it was at last quite imperceptible. His
larynx, contracted by violent emotion, no longer emitted any sound. The
Jesuit, far from being disconcerted by this incident, finished his
phrase, as it were, by expressive pantomime. Raising his head proudly he
tapped his forehead with his forefinger, as if to express that it was to
his ability this first success was owing. But he soon fell back again on
the bed, exhausted, breathless, sinking, with his cotton handkerchief
pressed once more to his parched lips. The good news, as Father
d'Aigrigny called it, had not cured Rodin. For a moment only, he had had
the courage to forget his pain. But the slight color on his cheek soon
disappeared; his face became once more livid. His sufferings, suspended
for a moment, were so much increased in violence, that he writhed beneath
the coverlet, and buried his face in the pillow, extending his arms above
his head, and holding them stiff as bars of iron. After this crisis,
intense as it was rapid: during which Father d'Aigrigny and the prelate
bent anxiously over him, Rodin, whose face was bathed in cold sweat, made
a sign that he suffered less, and that he wished to drink of a potion to
which he pointed. Father d'Aigrigny fetched it for him, and while the
cardinal held him up with marked disgust, the abbe administered a few
spoonfuls of the potion, which almost immediately produced a soothing
"Shall I call M. Rousselet?" said Father d'Aigrigny, when Rodin was once
more laid down in bed.
Rodin shook his head; then, with a fresh effort, he raised his right
hand, opened it, and pointed with his forefinger to a desk in a corner of
the room, to signify that, being no longer able to speak, he wished to
"I understand your reverence," said Father d'Aigrigny; "but first calm
yourself. Presently, if you require it. I will give you writing-
Two knocks at the outer door of the next room interrupted this scene.
From motives of prudence, Father d'Aigrigny had begged Rousselet to
remain in the first of the three rooms. He now went to open the door,
and Rousselet handed him a voluminous packet, saying: "I beg pardon for
disturbing you, father, but I was told to let you have these papers
"Thank you, M. Rousselet," said Father d'Aigrigny; "do you know at what
hour Dr. Baleinier will return?"
"He will not be long, father, for he wishes to perform before night the
painful operation, that will have a decisive effect on the condition of
Father Rodin. I am preparing what is necessary for it," added Rousselet,
as he pointed to a singular and formidable apparatus, which Father
d'Aigrigny examined with a kind of terror.
"I do not know if the symptom is a serious one," said the Jesuit; "but
the reverend father has suddenly lost his voice."
"It is the third time this has happened within the last week," said
Rousselet; "the operation of Dr. Baleiner will act both on the larynx and
on the lungs."
"Is the operation a very painful one?" asked Father d'Aigrigny.
"There is, perhaps, none more cruel in surgery," answered the young
doctor; "and Dr. Baleinier has partly concealed its nature from Father
"Please to wait here for Dr. Baleinier, and send him to us as soon as he
arrives," resumed Father d'Aigrigny: and, returning to the sick chamber,
he sat down by the bedside, and said to Rodin, as he showed him the
letter: "Here are different reports with regard to different members of
the Rennepont family, whom I have had looked after by others, my
indisposition having kept me at home for the last few days. I do not
know, father, if the state of your health will permit you to hear--"
Rodin made a gesture, at once so supplicating and peremptory, that Father
d'Aigrigny felt there would be at least as much danger in refusing as in
granting his request; so, turning towards the cardinal, still
inconsolable at not having discovered the Jesuit's secret, he said to him
with respectful deference, pointing at the same time to the letter: "Have
I the permission of your Eminence?"
The prelate bowed, and replied: "Your affairs are ours, my dear father.
The Church must always rejoice in what rejoices your glorious Company."
Father d'Aigrigny unsealed the packet, and found in it different notes in
different handwritings. When he had read the first, his countenance
darkened, and he said, in a grave tone: "A misfortune--a great
Rodin turned his head abruptly, and looked at him with an air of uneasy
"Florine is dead of the cholera," answered Father d'Aigrigny; "and what
is the worst," added he, crumpling the note between his hands, "before
dying, the miserable creature confessed to Mdlle. de Cardoville that she
long acted as a spy under the orders of your reverence."
No doubt the death of Florine, and the confession she had made, crossed
some of the plans of Rodin, for he uttered an inarticulate murmur, and
his countenance expressed great vexation.
Passing to another note, Father d'Aigrigny continued: "This relates to
Marshal Simon, and is not absolutely bad, but still far from
satisfactory, as it announces some amelioration in his position. We
shall see if it merits belief, by information from another source." `
Rodin made a sign of impatience, to hasten Father d'Aigrigny to read the
note, which he did as follows. "`For some days, the mind of the marshal
has appeared to be less sorrowful, anxious and agitated. He lately
passed two hours with his daughters, which had not been the case for some
time before. The harsh countenance of the soldier Dagobert is becoming
smoother--a sure sign of some amelioration in the condition of the
marshal. Detected by their handwriting, the last anonymous letters were
returned by Dagobert to the postman, without having been opened by the
marshal. Some other method must be found to get them delivered.'"
Looking at Rodin, Father d'Aigrigny said to him: "Your reverence thinks
with me that this note is not very satisfactory?"
Rodin held down his head. One saw by the expression of his countenance
how much he suffered by not being able to speak. Twice he put his hand
to his throat, and looked at Father d'Aigrigny with anguish.
"Oh!" cried Father d'Aigrigny, angrily, when he had perused another note,
"for one lucky chance, to-day brings some very black ones."
At these words turning hastily to Father d'Aigrigny, and extending his
trembling hands, Rodin questioned him with look and gesture. The
cardinal, sharing his uneasiness, exclaimed: "What do you learn by this
note, my dear father?"
"We thought the residence of M. Hardy in our house completely unknown,"
replied Father d'Aigrigny, "but we now fear that Agricola Baudoin has
discovered the retreat of his old master, and that he has even
communicated with him by letter, through a servant of the house. So,"
added the reverend father, angrily, "during the three days that I have
not been able to visit the pavilion, one of my servants must have been
bought over. There is one of them, a man blind of one eye, whom I have
always suspected--the wretch! But no: I will not yet believe this
treachery. The consequences would be too deplorable; for I know how
matters stand, and that such a correspondence might ruin everything. By
awaking in M. Hardy memories with difficulty laid asleep, they might
destroy in a single day all that has been done since he inhabits our
house. Luckily, this note contains only doubts and fears; my other
information will be more positive, and will not, I hope, confirm them."
"My dear father," said the cardinal, "do not despair. The Lord will not
abandon the good cause!"
Father d'Aigrigny seemed very little consoled by this assurance. He
remained still and thoughtful, whilst Rodin writhed his head in a
paroxysm of mute rage, as he reflected on this new check.
"Let us turn to the last note," said Father d'Aigrigny, after a moment of
thoughtful silence. "I have so much confidence in the person who sends
it, that I cannot doubt the correctness of the information it contains.
May it contradict the others!"
In order not to break the chain of facts contained in this last note,
which was to have so startling an effect on the actors in this scene, we
shall leave it to the reader's imagination to supply the exclamations of
surprise, hate, rage and fear of Father d'Aigrigny, and the terrific
pantomime of Rodin, during the perusal of this formidable document, the
result of the observations of a faithful and secret agent of the reverend
fathers. Comparing this note with the other information received, the
results appeared more distressing to the reverend fathers. Thus Gabriel
had long and frequent conferences with Adrienne, who before was unknown
to him. Agricola Baudoin had opened a communication with Francis Hardy,
and the officers of justice were on the track of the authors and
instigators of the riot which had led to the burning of the factory of
Baron Tripeaud's rival. It seemed almost certain that Mdlle. de
Cardoville had had an interview with Prince Djalma.
This combination of facts showed that, faithful to the threats she had
uttered to Rodin, when she had unmasked the double perfidy of the
reverend father, Mdlle. de Cardoville was actively engaged in uniting the
scattered members of her family, to form a league against those dangerous
enemies, whose detestable projects, once unveiled and boldly encountered,
could hardly have a chance of success. The reader will now understand
the tremendous effect of this note on Father d'Aigrigny and Rodin--on
Rodin, stretched powerless on a bed of pain at the moment when the
scaffolding, raised with so much labor, seemed to be tumbling around him.
We have given up the attempt to paint the countenance, attitude, and
gesticulation of Rodin during the reading of this note, which seemed to
ruin all his most cherished hopes. Everything was failing at once, at
the moment when only superhuman trust in the success of his plans could
give him sufficient energy to strive against mortal sickness. A single,
absorbing thought had agitated him even to delirium: What progress,
during his illness, had been made in this immense affair? He had first
heard a good piece of news, the death of Jacques Rennepont; but now the
advantages of this decease, which reduced the number of the heirs from
seven to six, were entirely lost. To what purpose would be this death,
if the other members of the family, dispersed and persecuted with such
infernal perseverance, were to unite and discover the enemies who had so
long aimed at them in darkness? If all those wounded hearts were to
console, enlighten, support each other, their cause would be gained, and
the inheritance rescued from the reverend fathers. What was to be done?
Strange power of the human will!--Rodin had one foot in the grave, he was
almost at the last gasp; his voice had failed him. And yet that
obstinate nature, so full of energy and resources, did not despair. Let
but a miracle restore his health, and that firm confidence in the success
of his projects which has given him power to struggle against disease,
tells him that he could yet save all--but then he must have health and
life! Health! life! His physician does not know if he will survive the
shock--if he can bear the pain--of a terrible operation. Health! life!
and just now Rodin heard talk of the solemn funeral they had prepared for
him. And yet--health, life, he will have them. Yes; he has willed to
live--and he has lived--why should he not live longer? He will live--
because he has willed it.
All that we have just written passed though Rodin's mind in a second.
His features, convulsed by the mental torment he endured, must have
assumed a very strange expression, for Father d'Aigrigny and the cardinal
looked at him in silent consternation. Once resolved to live, and to
sustain a desperate struggle with the Rennepont family, Rodin acted in
consequence. For a few moments Father d'Aigrigny and the prelate
believed themselves under the influence of a dream. By an effort of
unparalleled energy, and as if moved by hidden mechanism, Rodin sprang
from the bed, dragging the sheet with him, and trailing it, like a
shroud, behind his livid and fleshless body. The room was cold; the face
of the Jesuit was bathed in sweat; his naked and bony feet left their
moist print upon the stones.
"What are you doing? It is death!" cried Father d'Aigrigny, rushing
towards Rodin, to force him to lie down again.
But the latter, extending one of his skeleton arms, as hard as iron,
pushed aside Father d'Aigrigny with inconceivable vigor, considering the
state of exhaustion in which he had so long been.
"He has the strength of a man in a fit of epilepsy," said Father
d'Aigrigny, recovering his balance.
With a steady step Rodin advanced to the desk on which Dr. Baleinier
daily wrote his prescriptions. Seating himself before it, the Jesuit
took pen and paper, and began to write in a firm hand. His calm, slow,
and sure movements had in them something of the deliberateness remarked
in somnambulists. Mute and motionless, hardly knowing whether they
dreamed or not, the cardinal and Father d'Aigrigny remained staring at
the incredible coolness of Rodin, who, half-naked, continued to write
with perfect tranquillity.
"But, father," said the Abbe d'Aigrigny, advancing towards him, "this is
Rodin shrugged his shoulders, stopped him with a gesture and made him a
sign to read what he had just written.
The reverend father expected to see the ravings of a diseased brain; but
he took the note, whilst Rodin commenced another.
"My lord," exclaimed Father d'Aigrigny, "read this!"
The cardinal read the paper, and returning it to the reverend father with
equal amazement, added: "It is full of reason, ability, and resources.
We shall thus be able to neutralize the dangerous combination of Abbe
Gabriel and Mdlle. de Cardoville, who appear to be the most formidable
leaders of the coalition."
"It is really miraculous," said Father d'Aigrigny.
"Oh, my dear father!" whispered the cardinal, shaking his head; "what a
pity that we are the only witnesses of this scene! What an excellent
MIRACLE we could have made of it! In one sense, it is another Raising of
"What an idea, my lord!" answered Father d'Aigrigny, in a low voice. "It
is perfect--and we must not give it up--"
This innocent little plot was interrupted by Rodin, who, turning his
head, made a sign to Father d'Aigrigny to approach, and delivered to him
another sheet, with this note attached: "To be executed within an hour."
Having rapidly perused the paper, Father d'Aigrigny exclaimed: "Right! I
had not thought of that. Instead of being fatal, the correspondence
between Agricola and M. Hardy may thus have the best results. Really,"
added the reverend father in a low voice to the prelate, while Rodin
continued to write, "I am quite confounded. I read--I see--and yet I can
hardly believe my eyes. Just before, exhausted and dying--and now with
his mind as clear and penetrating as ever. Can this be one of the
phenomena of somnambulism, in which the mind alone governs and sustains
Suddenly the door opened, and Dr. Baleinier entered the room. At sight
of Rodin, seated half-naked at the desk, with his feet upon the cold
stones, the doctor exclaimed, in a tone of reproach and alarm: "But, my
lord--but, father--it is murder to let the unhappy man do this!--If he is
delirious from fever, he must have the strait-waistcoat, and be tied down
So saying. Dr. Baleinier hastily approached Rodin, and took him by the
arm. Instead of finding the skin dry and chilly, as he expected, he
found it flexible, almost damp. Struck with surprise, the doctor sought
to feel the pulse of the left hand, which Rodin resigned, to him, whilst
he continued working with the right.
"What a prodigy!" cried the doctor, as he counted Rodin's pulse; "for a
week past, and even this morning, the pulse has been abrupt,
intermittent, almost insensible, and now it is firm, regular--I am really
puzzled--what then has happened? I can hardly believe what I see," added
the doctor, turning towards Father d'Aigrigny and the cardinal.
"The reverend father, who had first lost his voice, was next seized with
such furious and violent despair caused by the receipt of bad news,"
answered Father d'Aigrigny, "that we feared a moment for his life; while
now, on the contrary, the reverend father has gained sufficient strength
to go to his desk, and write for some minutes, with a clearness of
argument and expression, which has confounded both the cardinal and
"There is no longer any doubt of it," cried the doctor. "The violent
despair has caused a degree of emotion, which will admirably prepare the
reactive crisis, that I am now almost certain of producing by the
"You persist in the operation?" whispered Father d'Aigrigny, whilst Rodin
continued to write.
"I might have hesitated this morning; but, disposed as he now is for it,
I must profit by the moment of excitement, which will be followed by
"Then, without the operation--" said the cardinal.
"This fortunate and unexpected crisis will soon be over, and the reaction
may kill him, my lord."
"Have you informed him of the serious nature of the operation?"
"Pretty nearly, my lord."
"But it is time to bring him to the point."
"That is what I will do, my lord," said Dr. Baleinier; and approaching
Rodin, who continued to write, he thus addressed him, in a firm voice:
"My reverend father, do you wish to be up and well in a week?"
Rodin nodded, full of confidence, as much as to say: "I am up already."
"Do not deceive yourself," replied the doctor. "This crisis is
excellent, but it will not last, and if we would profit by it, we must
proceed with the operation of which I have spoken to you--or, I tell you
plainly, I answer for nothing after such a shock."
Rodin was the more struck with these words, as, half an hour ago, he had
experienced the short duration of the improvement occasioned by Father
d'Aigrigny's good news, and as already he felt increased oppression on
Dr. Baleinier, wishing to decide him, added: "In a word, father, will you
live or die?"
Rodin wrote rapidly this answer, which he gave to the doctor: "To live, I
would let you cut me limb from limb. I am ready for anything." And he
made a movement to rise.
"I must tell you, reverend father, so as not to take you by surprise,"
added Dr. Baleinier, "that this operation is cruelly painful."
Rodin shrugged his shoulders and wrote with a firm hand: "Leave me my
head; you may take all the rest."
The doctor read these words aloud, and the cardinal and Father d'Aigrigny
looked at each other in admiration of this dauntless courage.
"Reverend father," said Dr. Baleinier, "you must lie down."
Rodin wrote: "Get everything ready. I have still some orders to write.
Let me know when it is time."
Then folding up a paper, which he had sealed with a wafer, Rodin gave
these words to Father d'Aigrigny: "Send this note instantly to the agent
who addressed the anonymous letters to Marshal Simon."
"Instantly, reverend father," replied the abbe; "I will employ a sure
"Reverend father," said Baleinier to Rodin, "since you must write, lie
down in bed, and write there, during our little preparations."
Rodin made an affirmative gesture, and rose. But already the prognostics
of the doctor were realized. The Jesuit could hardly remain standing for
a second; he fell back into a chair, and looked at Dr. Baleinier with
anguish, whilst his breathing became more and more difficult.
The doctor said to him: "Do not be uneasy. But we must make haste. Lean
upon me and Father d'Aigrigny."
Aided by these two supporters, Rodin was able to regain the bed. Once
there, he made signs that they should bring him pen, ink, and paper.
Then he continued to write upon his knees, pausing from time to time, to
breathe with great difficulty.
"Reverend father," said Baleinier to d'Aigrigny, "are you capable of
acting as one of my assistants in the operation? Have you that sort of
"No," said the reverend father; "in the army I could never assist at an
amputation. The sight of blood is too much for me."
"There will be no blood," said the doctor, "but it will be worse. Please
send me three of our reverend fathers to assist me, and ask M. Rousselet
to bring in the apparatus."
Father d'Aigrigny went out. The prelate approached the doctor, and
whispered, pointing to Rodin: "Is he out of danger?"
"If he stands the operation--yes, my lord."
"Are you sure that he can stand it?"
"To him I should say `yes,' to you `I hope so.'"
`And were he to die, would there be time to administer the sacraments in
public, with a certain pomp, which always causes some little delay?"
"His dying may continue, my lord--a quarter of an hour."
"It is short, but we must be satisfied with that," said the prelate.
And, going to one of the windows, he began to tap with his fingers on the
glass, while he thought of the illumination effects, in the event of
Rodin's lying in state. At this moment, Rousselet entered, with a large
square box under his arm. He placed it on the drawers, and began to
arrange his apparatus.
"How many have you prepared?" said the doctor.
"Four will do, but it is well to be fully provided. The cotton is not
"And how is the reverend father?" asked the pupil.
"Humph!" answered the doctor, in a whisper. "The chest is terribly
clogged, the respiration hissing, the voice gone--still there is a
"All my fear is, sir, that the reverend father will not be able to stand
the dreadful pain."
"It is another chance; but, under the circumstances, we must risk all.
Come, my dear boy, light the--taper; I hear our assistants."
Just then Father d'Aigrigny entered the room, accompanied by the three
Jesuits, who, in the morning, had walked in the garden. The two old men,
with their rosy cheeks, and the young one, with the ascetic countenance,
all three dressed in black, with their square caps and white bands,
appeared perfectly ready to assist Dr. Baleinier in his formidable
"Reverend fathers," said Dr. Baleinier, graciously, to the three, "I
thank you for your kind aid. What you have to do is very simple, and, by
the blessing of heaven, this operation will save the life of our dear
The three black-gowns cast up their eyes piously, and then bowed
altogether, like one man. Rodin, indifferent to what was passing around
him, never ceased an instant to write or reflect. Nevertheless, in spite
of his apparent calmness, he felt such difficulty in breathing, that more
than once Dr. Baleinier had turned round uneasily, as he heard the
stifled rattling in the throat of the sick man. Making a sign to his
pupil, the doctor approached Rodin and said to him: "Come, reverend
father; this is the important moment. Courage!"
No sign of alarm was expressed in the Jesuit's countenance. His features
remained impassible as those of a corpse. Only, his little reptile eyes
sparkled still more brightly in their dark cavities. For a moment, he
looked round at the spectators of this scene; then, taking his pen
between his teeth, he folded and wafered another letter, placed it on the
table beside the bed, and nodded to Dr. Baleinier, as if to say: "I am
"You must take off your flannel waistcoat, and your shirt, father." Rodin
hesitated an instant, and the doctor resumed: "It is absolutely
Aided by Baleinier, Rodin obeyed, whilst the doctor added, no doubt to
spare his modesty: "We shall only require the chest, right and left, my
And now, Rodin, stretched upon his back, with his dirty night-cap still
on his head, exposed the upper part of a livid trunk, or rather, the bony
cage of a skeleton, for the shadows of the ribs and cartilages encircled
the skin with deep, black lines. As for the arms, they resembled bones
twisted with cord and covered with tanned parchment.
"Come, M. Rousselet, the apparatus!" said Baleinier.
Then addressing the three Jesuits, he added: "Please draw near,
gentlemen; what you have to do is very simple, as you will see."
It was indeed very simple. The doctor gave to each of his four
assistants a sort of little steel tripod about two inches in diameter and
three in height; the circular centre of this tripod was filled with
cotton; the instrument was held in the left hand by means of a wooden
handle. In the right hand each assistant held a small tin tube about
eighteen inches long; at one end was a mouthpiece to receive the lips of
the operator, and the other spread out so as to form a cover to the
little tripod. These preparations had nothing alarming in them. Father
d'Aigrigny and the prelate, who looked on from a little distance, could
not understand how this operation should be so painful. They soon
Dr. Baleinier, having thus provided his four assistants, made them
approach Rodin, whose bed had been rolled into the middle of the room.
Two of them were placed on one side, two on the other.
"Now, gentlemen," said Dr. Baleinier, "set light to the cotton; place the
lighted part on the skin of his reverence, by means of the tripod which
contains the wick; cover the tripod with the broad part of the tube, and
then blow through the other end to keep up the fire. It is very simple,
as you see."
It was, in fact, full of the most patriarchal and primitive ingenuity.
Four lighted cotton rocks, so disposed as to burn very slowly, were
applied to the two sides of Rodin's chest. This is vulgarly called the
moxa. The trick is done, when the whole thickness of the skin has been
burnt slowly through. It lasts seven or eight minutes. They say that an
amputation is nothing to it. Rodin had watched the preparations with
intrepid curiosity. But, at the first touch of the four fires, he
writhed like a serpent, without being able to utter a cry. Even the
expression of pain was denied him. The four assistants being disturbed
by, the sudden start of Rodin, it was necessary to begin again.
"Courage, my dear father! offer these sufferings to the Lord!" said Dr.
Baleinier, in a sanctified tone. "I told you the operation would he very
painful; but then it is salutary in proportion. Come; you that have
shown such decisive resolution, do not fail at the last movement!"
Rodin had closed his eyes, conquered by the first agony of pain. He now
opened them, and looked at the doctor as if ashamed of such weakness.
And yet on the sides of his chest were four large, bleeding wounds--so
violent had been the first singe. As he again extended himself on the
bed of torture, Rodin made a sign that he wished to write. The doctor
gave him the pen, and he wrote as follows, by way of memorandum; "It is
better not to lose any time. Inform Baron Tripeaud of the warrant issued
against Leonard, so that he may be on his guard."
Having written this note, the Jesuit gave it to Dr. Baleinier, to hand it
to Father d'Aigrigny, who was as much amazed as the doctor and the
cardinal, at such extraordinary presence of mind in the midst of such
horrible pain. Rodin, with his eyes fixed on the reverend father, seemed
to wait with impatience for him to leave the room to execute his orders.
Guessing the thought of Rodin, the doctor whispered Father d'Aigrigny,
who went out.
"Come, reverend father," said the doctor, "we must begin again. This
time do not move."
Rodin did not answer, but clasped his hands over his head, closed his
eyes, and presented his chest. It was a strange, lugubrious, almost
fantastic spectacle. The three priests, in their long black gowns,
leaned over this body, which almost resembled a corpse, and blowing
through their tubes into the chest of the patient, seemed as if pumping
up his blood by some magic charm. A sickening odor of burnt flesh began
to spread through the silent chamber, and each assistant heard a slight
crackling beneath the smoking trivet; it was the skin of Rodin giving way
to the action of fire, and splitting open in four different parts of his
chest. The sweat poured from his livid face, which it made to shine; a
few locks of his gray hair stood up stiff and moist from his temples.
Sometimes the spasms were so violent, that the veins swelled on his
stiffened arms, and were stretched like cords ready to break.
Enduring this frightful torture with as much intrepid resignation as the
savage whose glory consists in despising pain, Rodin gathered his
strength and courage from the hope--we had almost said the certainty--of
life. Such was the make of this dauntless character, such the energy of
this powerful mind, that, in the midst of indescribable torments, his one
fixed idea never left him. During the rare intervals of suffering--for
pain is equal even at this degree of intensity--Rodin still thought of
the Rennepont inheritance, and calculated his chances, and combined his
measures, feeling that he had not a minute to lose. Dr. Baleinier
watched him with extreme attention, waiting for the effects of the
reaction of pain upon the patient, who seemed already to breathe with
Suddenly Rodin placed his hand on his forehead, as if struck with some
new idea, and turning his head towards Dr. Baleinier, made a sign to him
to suspend the operation.
"I must tell you, reverend father," answered the doctor. "that it is not
half finished, and, if we leave off, the renewal will be more painful--"
Rodin made a sign that he did not care, and that he wanted to write.
"Gentlemen, stop a moment," said Dr. Baleinier; "keep down your moxas,
but do not blow the fire."
So the fire was to burn slowly, instead of fiercely, but still upon the
skin of the patient. In spite of this pain, less intense, but still
sharp and keen, Rodin, stretched upon his back, began to write, holding
the paper above his head. On the first sheet he traced some alphabetic
signs, part of a cipher known to himself alone. In the midst of the
torture, a luminous idea had crossed his mind; fearful of forgetting it
amidst his sufferings, he now took note of it. On another paper he wrote
the following, which was instantly delivered to Father d'Aigrigny: "Send
B. immediately to Faringhea, for the report of the last few days with
regard to Djalma, and let B. bring it hither on the instant." Father
d'Aigrigny went out to execute this new order. The cardinal approached a
little nearer to the scene of the operation, for, in spite of the bad
odor of the room, he took delight in seeing the Jesuit half roasted,
having long cherished against him the rancor of an Italian and a priest.
"Come, reverend father," said the doctor to Rodin, "continue to be
admirably courageous, and your chest will free itself. You have still a
bitter moment to go through--and then I have good hope."
The patient resumed his former position. The moment Father d'Aigrigny
returned, Rodin questioned him with a look, to which the reverend father
replied by a nod. At a sign from the doctor, the four assistants began
to blow through the tubes with all their might. This increase of torture
was so horrible, that, in spite of his self-control, Rodin gnashed his
teeth, started convulsively, and so expanded his palpitating chest, that,
after a violent spasm, there rose from his throat and lungs a scream of
terrific pain--but it was free, loud, sonorous.
"The chest is free!" cried the doctor, in triumph. "The lungs have play-
-the voice returns--he is saved!--Blow, gentlemen, blow; and, reverend
father, cry out as much as you please: I shall be delighted to hear you,
for it will give you relief. Courage! I answer for the result. It is a
wonderful cure. I will publish it by sound of trumpet."
"Allow me, doctor," whispered Father d'Aigrigny, as he approached Dr.
Baleinier; "the cardinal can witness, that I claimed beforehand the
publication of this affair--as a miraculous fact."
"Let it be miraculous then," answered Dr. Baleinier, disappointed--for he
set some value on his own work.
On hearing he was saved, Rodin though his sufferings were perhaps worse
than ever, for the fire had now pierced the scarf-skin, assumed almost an
infernal beauty. Through the painful contraction of his features shone
the pride of savage triumph; the monster felt that he was becoming once
more strong and powerful, and he seemed conscious the evils that his
fatal resurrection was to cause. And so, of still writhing beneath the
flames, he pronounced these words, the first that struggled from his
chest: "I told you I should live!"
"You told us true," cried the doctor, feeling his pulse; "the circulation
is now full and regular, the lungs are free. The reaction is complete.
You are saved."
At this moment, the last shreds of cotton had burnt out. The trivets
were withdrawn, and on the skeleton trunk of Rodin were seen four large
round blisters. The skin still smoked, and the raw flesh was visible
beneath. In one of his sudden movements, a lamp had been misplaced, and
one of these burns was larger than the other, presenting as it were to
the eye a double circle. Rodin looked down upon his wounds. After some
seconds of silent contemplation, a strange smile curled his lips.
Without changing his position, he glanced at Father d'Aigrigny with an
expression impossible to describe, and said to him, as he slowly counted
the wounds touching them with his flat and dirty nail: "Father
d'Aigrigny, what an omen!--Look here! one Rennepont--two Renneponts--
three Renneponts--four Renneponts--where is then the fifth!--Ah! here--
this wound will count for two. They are twins." And he emitted a
little dry, bitter laugh. Father d'Aigrigny, the cardinal, and Dr.
Baleinier, alone understood the sense of these mysterious and fatal
words, which Rodin soon completed by a terrible allusion, as he
exclaimed, with prophetic voice, and almost inspired air: "Yes, I say it.
The impious race will be reduced to ashes, like the fragments of this
poor flesh. I say it, and it will be so. I said I would live--and I do
 Jacques Rennepont being dead, and Gabriel out of the field, in
consequence of his donation, there remained only five persons of the
family--Rose and Blanche, Djalma, Adrienne, and Hardy.
VICE AND VIRTUE.
Two days have elapsed since Rodin was miraculously restored to life. The
reader will not have forgotten the house in the Rue Clovis, where the
reverend father had an apartment, and where also was the lodging of
Philemon, inhabited by Rose-Pompon. It is about three o'clock in the
afternoon. A bright ray of light, penetrating through a round hole in