Part 27 out of 31
in the future! If you knew all the cherished longings of my tenderness!
Your wife, the charming Angela, with her angel face and angel-soul--oh!
in my turn, I can say to, you, 'Look at me, and see how sweet that name
is to my lips and heart!' Yes, your charming, your good Angela will call
me Magdalen--and your children, Agricola, your children!--dear little
creatures!--to them also I shall be Magdalen--their good Magdalen--and
the love I shall bear them will make them mine, as well as their
mother's--and I shall have my part in every maternal care--and they will
belong to us three; will they not, Agricola?--Oh! let me, let me weep!
These tears without bitterness do me so much good; they are tears that
need not be concealed. Thank heaven! thank you, my friend! those other
tears are I trust dried forever."
For some seconds, this affecting scene had been overlooked by an
invisible witness. The smith and Mother Bunch had not perceived Mdlle.
de Cardoville standing on the threshold of the door. As Mother Bunch had
said, this day, which dawned with all under such fatal auspices, had
become for all a day of ineffable felicity. Adrienne, too, was full of
joy, for Djalma had been faithful to her, Djalma loved her with passion.
The odious appearances, of which she had been the dupe and victim,
evidently formed part of a new plot of Rodin, and it only remained for
Mdlle. de Cardoville to discover the end of these machinations.
Another joy was reserved for her. The happy are quick in detecting
happiness in others, and Adrienne guessed, by the hunchback's last words,
that there was no longer any secret between the smith and the sempstress.
She could not therefore help exclaiming, as she entered: "Oh! this
will be the brightest day of my life, for I shall not be happy alone!"
Agricola and Mother Bunch turned round hastily. "Lady," said the smith,
"in spite of the promise I made you, I could not conceal from Magdalen
that I knew she loved me!"
"Now that I no longer blush for this love before Agricola, why should I
blush for it before you, lady, that told me to be proud of it, because it
is noble and pure?" said Mother Bunch, to whom her happiness gave
strength enough to rise, and to lean upon Agricola's arm.
"It is well, my friend," said Adrienne, as she threw her arms round her
to support her; "only one word, to excuse the indiscretion with which you
will perhaps reproach me. If I told your secret to M. Agricola--"
"Do you know why it was, Magdalen?" cried the smith, interrupting
Adrienne. "It was only another proof of the lady's delicate generosity.
'I long hesitate to confide to you this secret,' said she to me this
morning, 'but I have at length made up my mind to it. We shall probably
find your adopted sister; you have been to her the best of brothers: but
many times, without knowing it, you have wounded her feelings cruelly--
and now that you know her secret, I trust in your kind heart to keep it
faithfully, and so spare the poor child a thousand pangs--pangs the more
bitter, because they come from you, and are suffered in silence. Hence,
when you speak to her of your wife, your domestic happiness, take care
not to gall that noble and tender heart.'--Yes, Magdalen, these were the
reasons that led the lady to commit what she called an indiscretion."
"I want words to thank you now and ever," said Mother Bunch.
"See, my friend," replied Adrienne, "how often the designs of the wicked
turn against themselves. They feared your devotion to me, and therefore
employed that unhappy Florine to steal your journal--"
"So as to drive me from your house with shame, lady, When I supposed my
most secret thoughts an object of ridicule to all. There can be no doubt
such was their plan," said Mother Bunch.
"None, my child. Well! this horrible wickedness, which nearly caused
your death, now turns to the confusion of the criminals. Their plot is
discovered--and, luckily, many other of their designs," said Adrienne, as
she thought of Rose-Pompon.
Then she resumed, with heartfelt joy: "At last, we are again united,
happier than ever, and in our very happiness we shall find new resources
to combat our enemies. I say our enemies--for all that love me are
odious to these wretches. But courage, the hour is come, and the good
people will have their turn."
"Thank heaven, lady," said the smith; "or my part, I shall not be wanting
in zeal. What delight to strip them of their mask!"
"Let me remind you, M. Baudoin, that you have an appointment for to-
morrow with M. Hardy."
"I have not forgotten it, lady, any more than the generous offers I am to
convey to him."
"That is nothing. He belongs to my family. Tell him (what indeed I
shall write to him this evening), that the funds necessary to reopen his
factory are at his disposal; I do not say so for his sake only, but for
that of a hundred families reduced to want. Beg him to quit immediately
the fatal abode to which they have taken him: for a thousand reasons he
should be on his guard against all that surround him."
"Be satisfied, lady. The letter he wrote to me in reply to the one I got
secretly delivered to him, was short, affectionate, sad--but he grants me
the interview I had asked for, and I am sure I shall be able to persuade
him to leave that melancholy dwelling, and perhaps to depart with me, he
has always had so much confidence in my attachment."
"Well, M. Baudoin, courage!" said Adrienne, as she threw her cloak over
the workgirl's shoulders, and wrapped her round with care. "Let us be
gone, for it is late. As soon as we get home, I will give you a letter
for M. Hardy, and to-morrow you will come and tell me the result of your
visit. No, not to-morrow," she added, blushing slightly. "Write to me
to-morrow, and the day after, about twelve, come to me."
Some minutes later, the young sempstress, supported by Agricola and
Adrienne, had descended the stairs of that gloomy house, and, being
placed in the carriage by the side of Mdlle. de Cardoville, she earnestly
entreated to be allowed to see Cephyse; it was in vain that Agricola
assured her it was impossible, and that she should see her the next day.
Thanks to the information derived from Rose-Pompon, Mdlle. de Cardoville
was reasonably suspicious of all those who surrounded Djalma, and she
therefore took measures, that, very evening, to have a letter delivered
to the prince by what she considered a sure hand.
THE TWO CARRIAGES.
It is the evening of the day on which Mdlle. de Cardoville prevented the
sewing-girl's suicide. It strikes eleven; the night is dark; the wind
blows with violence, and drives along great black clouds, which
completely hide the pale lustre of the moon. A hackney-coach, drawn by
two broken-winded horses, ascends slowly and with difficulty the slope of
the Rue Blanche, which is pretty steep near the barrier, in the part
where is situated the house occupied by Djalma.
The coach stops. The coachman, cursing the length of an interminable
drive "within the circuit," leading at last to this difficult ascent,
turns round on his box, leans over towards the front window of the
vehicle, and says in a gruff tone to the person he is driving: "Come! are
we almost there? From the Rue de Vaugirard to the Barriere Blanche, is a
pretty good stretch, I think, without reckoning that the night is so
dark, that one can hardly see two steps before one--and the street-lamps
not lighted because of the moon, which doesn't shine, after all!"
"Look out for a little door with a portico-drive on about twenty yards
beyond--and then stop close to the wall," answered a squeaking voice,
impatiently, and with an Italian accent.
"Here is a beggarly Dutchman, that will make me as savage as a bear?"
muttered the angry Jehu to himself. Then he added: "Thousand thunders! I
tell you that I can't see. How the devil can I find out your little
"Have you no sense? Follow the wall to the right, brush against it, and
you will easily find the little door. It is next to No. 50. If you do
not find it, you must be drunk," answered the Italian, with increased
The coachman only replied by swearing like a trooper, and whipping up his
jaded horses. Then, keeping close to the wall, he strained his eyes in
trying to read the numbers of the houses, by the aid of his carriage-
After some moments, the coach again stopped. "I have passed No. 50, and
here is a little door with a portico," said the coachman. "Is that the
"Yes," said the voice. "Now go forward some twenty yards, and then
"Well! I never--"
"Then get down from your box, and give twice three knocks at the little
door we have just passed--you understand me?--twice three knocks."
"Is that all you give me to drink?" cried the exasperated coachman.
"When you have taken me back to the Faubourg Saint-Germain, where I live,
you shall have something handsome, if you do but manage matters well."
"Ha! now the Faubourg Saint-Germain! Only that little bit of distance!"
said the driver, with repressed rage. "And I who have winded my horses,
wanted to be on the boulevard by the time the play was out. Well, I'm
blowed!" Then, putting a good face on his bad luck, and consoling
himself with the thought of the promised drink-money, he resumed: "I am
to give twice three knocks at the little door?"
"Yes; three knocks first--then pause--then three other knocks. Do you
"Tell the person who comes, that he is waited for, and bring him here to
"The devil burn you!" said the coachman to himself, as he turned round on
the box, and whipped up his horses, adding: "this crusty old Dutchman has
something to do with Free-masons, or, perhaps, smugglers, seeing we are
so near the gates. He deserves my giving him in charge, for bringing me
all the way from the Rue de Vaugirard."
At twenty steps beyond the little door, the coach again stopped, and the
coachman descended from the box to execute the orders he had received.
Going to the little door, he knocked three times; then paused, as he had
been desired, and then knocked three times more. The clouds, which had
hitherto been so thick as entirely to conceal the disk of the moon, just
then withdrew sufficiently to afford a glimmering light, so that when the
door opened at the signal, the coachman saw a middle-sized person issue
from it, wrapped in a cloak, and wearing a colored cap.
This man carefully locked the door, and then advanced two steps into the
street. "They are waiting for you," said the coachman; "I am to take you
along with me to the coach."
Preceding the man with the cloak, who only answered him by a nod, he led
him to the coach-door, which he was about to open, and to let down the
step, when the voice exclaimed from the inside: "It is not necessary.
The gentleman may talk to me through the window. I will call you when it
is time to start."
"Which means that I shall be kept here long enough to send you to all the
devils!" murmured the driver. "However, I may as well walk about, just
to stretch my legs."
So saying, he began to walk up and down, by the side of the wall in which
was the little door. Presently he heard the distant sound of wheels,
which soon came nearer and nearer, and a carriage, rapidly ascending the
slope, stopped on the other side of the little garden-door.
"Come, I say! a private carriage!" said the coachman. "Good horses
those, to come up the Rue Blanche at a trot."
The coachman was just making this observation, when, by favor of a
momentary gleam of light, he saw a man step from the carriage, advance
rapidly to the little door, open it, and go in, closing it after him.
"It gets thicker and thicker!" said the coachman. "One comes out, and
the other goes in."
So saying, he walked up to the carriage. It was splendidly harnessed,
and drawn by two handsome and vigorous horses. The driver sat
motionless, in his great box-coat, with the handle of his whip resting on
his right knee.
"Here's weather to drive about in, with such tidy dukes as yours,
comrade!" said the humble hackney-coachman to this automaton, who
remained mute and impassible, without even appearing to know that he was
"He doesn't understand French--he's an Englishman. One could tell that
by his horses," said the coachman, putting this interpretation on the
silence of his brother whip. Then, perceiving a tall footman at a little
distance, dressed in a long gray livery coat, with blue collar and silver
buttons, the coachman addressed himself to him, by way of compensation,
but without much varying his phrase: "Here's nice weather to stand about
in, comrade!" On the part of the footman, he was met with the same
"They're both Englishmen," resumed the coachman, philosophically; and,
though somewhat astonished at the incident of the little door, he
recommenced his walk in the direction of his own vehicle.
While these facts were passing, the man in the cloak, and the man with
the Italian accent continued their conversation, the one still in the
coach, and the other leaning with his hand on the door. It had already
lasted for some time, and was carried on in Italian. They were evidently
talking of some absent person, as will appear from the following.
"So," said the voice from the coach, "that is agreed to?"
"Yes, my lord," answered the man in the cloak; "but only in case the
eagle should become a serpent."
"And, in the contrary event, you will receive the other half of the ivory
crucifix I gave you."
"I shall know what it means, my lord."
"Continue to merit and preserve his confidence."
"I will merit and preserve it, my lord, because I admire and respect this
man, who is stronger than the strongest, by craft, and courage, and will.
I have knelt before him with humility, as I would kneel before one of the
three black idols that stand between Bowanee and her worshippers; for his
religion, like mine, teaches to change life into nothingness."
"Humph!" said the voice, in a tone of some embarrassment; "these
comparisons are useless and inaccurate. Only think of obeying him,
without explaining your obedience."
"Let him speak, and I perform his will! I am in his hands like a corpse,
as he himself expresses it. He has seen, he sees every day, my devotion
to his interests with regard to Prince Djalma. He has only to say: 'Kill
him!'and this son of a king--"
"For heaven's salve, do not have such ideas!" cried the voice,
interrupting the man in the cloak. "Thank heaven, you will never be
asked for such proofs of your submission."
"What I am ordered I do. Bowanee sees me."
"I do not doubt your zeal. I know that you are a loving and intelligent
barrier, placed between the prince and many guilty interests; and it is
because I have heard of that zeal, of your skill in circumventing this
young Indian, and, above all, of the motives of your blind devotion, that
I have wished to inform you of everything. You are the fanatical
worshipper of him you serve. That is well; man should be the obedient
slave of the god he chooses for himself."
"Yes, my lord; so long as the god remains a god."
"We understand each other perfectly. As for your recompense, you know
what I have promised."
"My lord, I have my reward already."
"I know what I know."
"Very well. Then as for secrecy--"
"You have securities, my lord."
"Yes--and sufficient ones."
"The interest of the cause I serve, my lord, would alone be enough to
secure my zeal and discretion."
"True; you are a man of firm and ardent convictions."
"I strive to be so, my lord."
"And, after all, a very religious man in your way. It is very
praiseworthy, in these irreligious times, to have any views at all on
such matters--particularly when those views will just enable me to count
upon your aid."
"You may count upon it, my lord, for the same reason that the intrepid
hunter prefers a jackal to ten foxes, a tiger to ten jackals, a lion to
ten tigers, and the welmiss to ten lions."
"What is the welmiss?"
"It is what spirit is to matter, the blade to the scabbard, the perfume
to the flower, the head to the body."
"I understand. There never was a more just comparison. You are a man of
sound judgment. Always recollect what you have just told me, and make
yourself more and more worthy of the confidence of--your idol."
"Will he soon be in a state to hear me, my lord?"
"In two or three days, at most. Yesterday a providential crisis saved
his life; and he is endowed with so energetic a will, that his cure will
be very rapid."
"Shall you see him again to-morrow, my lord?"
"Yes, before my departure, to bid him farewell."
"Then tell him a strange circumstance, of which I have not been able to
inform him, but which happened yesterday."
"What was it?"
"I had gone to the garden of the dead. I saw funerals everywhere, and
lighted torches, in the midst of the black night, shining upon tombs.
Bowanee smiled in her ebon sky. As I thought of that divinity of
destruction, I beheld with joy the dead-cart emptied of its coffins. The
immense pit yawned like the mouth of hell; corpses were heaped upon
corpses, and still it yawned the same. Suddenly, by the light of a
torch, I saw an old man beside me. He wept. I had seen him before. He
is a Jew--the keeper of the house in the Rue Saint-Francois--you know
what I mean." Here the man in the cloak started.
"Yes, I know; but what is the matter? why do you stop short?"
"Because in that house there has been for a hundred and fifty years the
portrait of a man whom I once met in the centre of India, on the banks of
the Ganges." And the man in the cloak again paused and shuddered.
"A singular resemblance, no doubt."
"Yes, my lord, a singular resemblance--nothing more."
"But the Jew--the old Jew?"
"I am coming to that, my lord. Still weeping, he said to a gravedigger,
'Well! and the coffin?' 'You were right,' answered the man; 'I found it
in the second row of the other grave. It had the figure of a cross on
it, formed by seven black nails. But how could you know the place and
the mark?' 'Alas! it is no matter,' replied the old Jew, with bitter
melancholy. 'You see that I was but too well informed on the subject.
But where is the coffin?' 'Behind the great tomb of black marble; I have
hidden it there. So make haste; for, in the confusion, nothing will be
noticed. You have paid me well, and I wish you to succeed in what you
"And what did the old Jew do with the coffin marked with the seven black
"Two men accompanied him, my lord, bearing a covered litter, with
curtains drawn round it. He lighted a lantern, and, followed by these
two men, went towards the place pointed out by the gravedigger. A
stoppage, occasioned by the dead-carts, made me lose sight of the old
Jew, whom I was following amongst the tombs. Afterwards I was unable to
"It is indeed a strange affair. What could this old Jew want with the
"It is said, my lord, that they use dead bodies in preparing their magic
"Those unbelievers are capable of anything--even of holding communication
with the Enemy of mankind. However, we will look after this: the
discovery may be of importance."
At this instant a clock struck twelve in the distance.
"Yes, my lord."
"I must be gone. Good-bye--but for the last time swear to me that,
should matters so turn out, as soon as you receive the other half of the
ivory crucifix I have just given you, you will keep your promise."
"I have sworn it by Bowanee, my lord."
"Don't forget that, to make all sure, the person who will deliver to you
the other half of the crucifix is to say--come, what is he to say?"
"He is to say, my lord: 'There is many a slip 'twixt the cup and the
"Very well. Adieu! secrecy and fidelity!"
"Secrecy and fidelity, my lord," answered the man in the cloak.
Some seconds after the hackney-coach started, carrying with it Cardinal
Malipieri, one of the speakers in the above dialogue. The other, whom
the reader has no doubt recognized as Faringhea, returned to the little
garden-door of the house occupied by Djalma. At the moment he was
putting the key into the lock, the door opened, to his great
astonishment, and a man came forth. Faringhea rushed upon the unknown,
seized him violently by the collar, and exclaimed: "Who are you? whence
The stranger evidently found the tone of this question anything but
satisfactory; for, instead of answering, he struggled to disengage
himself from Faringhea's hold, and cried out, in a loud voice: "Help!
Instantly the carriage, which had been standing a few yards off, dashed
up at full speed, and Peter, the tall footman, seizing the half-breed by
the shoulders, flung him back several paces, and thus made a seasonable
diversion in favor of the unknown.
"Now, sir," said the latter to Faringhea, shaking himself, and still
protected by the gigantic footman, "I am in a state to answer your
questions, though you certainly have a very rough way of receiving an old
acquaintance. I am Dupont, ex-bailiff of the estate of Cardoville, and
it was I who helped to fish you out of the water, when the ship was
wrecked in which you had embarked."
By the light of the carriage-lamps, indeed, the half-caste recognized the
good, honest face of Dupont, formerly bailiff, and now house-steward, to
Mdlle. de Cardoville. It must not be forgotten that Dupont had been the
first to write to Mdlle. de Cardoville, to ask her to interest herself
for Djalma, who was then detained at Cardoville Castle by the injuries he
had received during the shipwreck.
"But, sir, what is your business here? Why do you introduce yourself
clandestinely into this house?" said Faringhea, in an abrupt and
"I will--just observe to you that there is nothing clandestine in the
matter. I came here in a carriage, with servants in the livery of my
excellent mistress, Mdlle. de Cardoville, charged by her, without any
disguise or mystery, to deliver a letter to Prince Djalma, her cousin,"
replied Dupont, with dignity.
On these words, Faringhea trembled with mute rage, as he answered: "And
why, sir, come at this late hour, and introduce yourself by this little
"I came at this hour, my dear sir, because such was Mdlle. de
Cardoville's command, and I entered by this little gate because there is
every reason to believe that if I had gone around to the other I should
not have been permitted to see the prince."
"You are mistaken, sir," replied the half-caste.
"It is possible: but as we knew that the prince usually passed a good
portion of the night in the little saloon, which communicates with the
greenhouse, and as Mdlle. de Cardoville had kept a duplicate key of this
door, I was pretty certain, by taking this course, to be able to deliver
into the prince's own hands the letter from Mdlle. de Cardoville, his
cousin, which I have now had the honor of doing, my dear sir; and I have
been deeply touched by the kindness with which the prince deigned to
receive me and to remember our last interview."
"And who kept you so well informed, sir, of the prince's habits?" said
Faringhea, unable to control his vexation.
"If I have been well informed as to his habits, my dear sir, I have had
no such correct knowledge of yours," answered Dupont, with a mocking air;
"for I assure you that I had no more notion of seeing you than you had of
So saying, M. Dupont bowed with something like mock politeness to the
half-caste, and got into the carriage, which drove off rapidly, leaving
Faringhea in a state of the utmost surprise and anger.
The morning after--Dupont's mission to Prince Djalma, the latter was
walking with hasty and impatient step up and down the little saloon,
which communicated, as we already know, with the greenhouse from which
Adrienne had entered when she first appeared to him. In remembrance of
that day, he had chosen to dress himself as on the occasion in question;
he wore the same tunic of white cashmere, with a cherry-colored turban,
to match with his girdle; his gaiters, of scarlet velvet, embroidered
with silver, displayed the fine form of his leg, and terminated in small
white morocco slippers, with red heels. Happiness has so instantaneous,
and, as it were, material an influence upon young, lively, and ardent
natures, that Djalma, dejected and despairing only the day before, was no
longer like the same person. The pale, transparent gold of his
complexion was no longer tarnished by a livid hue. His large eyes, of
late obscured like black diamonds by a humid vapor, now shone with mild
radiance in the centre of their pearly setting; his lips, long pale, had
recovered their natural color, which was rich and soft as the fine purple
flowers of his country.
Ever and anon, pausing in his hasty walk, he stopped suddenly, and drew
from his bosom a little piece of paper, carefully folded, which he
pressed to his lips with enthusiastic ardor. Then, unable to restrain
the expression of his full happiness, he uttered a full and sonorous cry
of joy, and with a bound he was in front of the plate-glass which
separated the saloon from the conservatory, in which he had first seen
Mdlle. de Cardoville. By a singular power of remembrance, or marvellous
hallucination of a mind possessed by a fixed idea, Djalma had often seen,
or fancied he saw, the adored semblance of Adrienne appear to him through
this sheet of crystal. The illusion had been so complete, that, with his
eyes ardently fixed on the vision he invoked, he had been able, with the
aid of a pencil dipped in carmine, to trace with astonishing exactness,
the profile of the ideal countenance which the delirium of his
imagination had presented to his view. It was before these delicate
lines of bright carmine that Djalma now stood in deep contemplation,
after perusing and reperusing, and raising twenty times to his lips, the
letter he had received the night before from the hands of Dupont. Djalma
was not alone. Faringhea watched all the movements of the prince, with a
subtle, attentive, and gloomy aspect. Standing respectfully in a corner
of the saloon, the half-caste appeared to be occupied in unfolding and
spreading out Djalma's sash, light, silky Indian web, the brown ground of
which was almost entirely concealed by the exquisite gold and silver
embroidery with which it was overlaid.
The countenance of the half-caste wore a dark and gloomy expression. He
could not deceive himself. The letter from Mdlle. de Cardoville,
delivered by Dupont to Djalma, must have been the cause of the delight he
now experienced, for, without doubt, he knew himself beloved. In that
event, his obstinate silence towards Faringhea, ever since the latter had
entered the saloon, greatly alarmed the half-caste, who could not tell
what interpretation to put upon it. The night before, after parting with
Dupont, he had hastened, in a state of anxiety easily understood, to look
for the prince, in the hope of ascertaining the effect produced by Mdlle.
de Cardoville's letter. But he found the parlor door closed, and when he
knocked, he received no answer from within. Then, though the night was
far advanced, he had dispatched a note to Rodin, in which he informed him
of Dupont's visit and its probable intention. Djalma had indeed passed
the night in a tumult of happiness and hope, and a fever of impatience
quite impossible to describe. Repairing to his bed-chamber only towards
the morning, he had taken a few moments of repose, and had then dressed
himself without assistance.
Many times, but in vain, the half-caste had discreetly knocked at the
door of Djalma's apartment. It was only in the early part of the
afternoon that the prince had rung the bell to order his carriage to be
ready by half-past two. Faringhea having presented himself, the prince
had given him the order without looking at him, as he might have done to
any other of his servants. Was this suspicion, aversion, or mere absence
of mind on the part of Djalma? Such were the questions which the half-
caste put to himself with growing anguish; for the designs of which he
was the most active and immediate instrument might all be ruined by the
least suspicion in the prince.
"Oh! the hours--the hours--how slow they are!" cried the young Indian,
suddenly, in a low and trembling voice.
"The day before yesterday, my lord, you said the hours were very long,"
observed Faringhea, as he drew near Djalma in order to attract his
attention. Seeing that he did not succeed in this he advanced a few
steps nearer, and resumed: "Your joy seems very great, my lord; tell the
cause of it to your poor and faithful servant, that he also may rejoice
If he heard the words, Djalma did not pay any attention to them. He made
no answer, and his large black eyes gazed upon vacancy. He seemed to
smile admiringly upon some enchanting vision, and he folded his two hands
upon his bosom, in the attitude which his countrymen assume at the hour
of prayer. After some instants of contemplation, he said: "What o'clock
is it?"--but he asked this question of himself, rather than of any third
"It will soon be two o'clock, my lord," said Faringhea.
Having heard this answer, Djalma seated himself, and hid his face in his
hands, as if completely absorbed in some ineffable meditation. Urged on
by his growing anxiety, and wishing at any cost to attract the attention
of Djalma, Faringhea approached still nearer to him, and, almost certain
of the effect of the words he was about to utter, said to him in a slow
and emphatic voice: "My lord, I am sure that you owe the happiness which
now transports you to Mdlle. de Cardoville."
Hardly had this name been pronounced, than Djalma started from his chair,
looked the half-breed full in the face, and exclaimed, as if only just
aware of his presence, "Faringhea! you here!--what is the matter?"
"Your faithful servant shares in your joy, my lord."
"That which the letter of Mdlle. de Cardoville has occasioned, my lord."
Djalma returned no answer, but his eye shone with so much serene
happiness, that the half-caste recovered from his apprehensions. No
cloud of doubt or suspicion obscured the radiant features of the prince.
After a few moments of silence, Djalma fixed upon the half-caste a look
half-veiled with a tear of joy, and said to him, with the expression of
one whose heart overflows with love and happiness: "Oh! such delight is
good--great--like heaven!--for it is heaven which--"
"You deserve this happiness, my lord, after so many sufferings."
"What sufferings?--Oh! yes. I formerly suffered at Java; but that was
"My lord, this great good fortune does not astonish me. What have I
always told you? Do not despair; feign a violent passion for some other
woman, and then this proud young lady--"
At these words Djalma looked at the half-caste with so piercing a glance,
that the latter stopped short; but the prince said to him with
affectionate goodness, "Go on! I listen."
Then, leaning his chin upon his hand, and his elbow on his knee, he gazed
so intently on Faringhea, and yet with such unutterable mildness, that
even that iron soul was touched for a moment with a slight feeling of
"I was saying, my lord," he resumed, "that by following the counsels of
your faithful slave, who persuaded you to feign a passionate love for
another woman, you have brought the proud Mdlle. de Cardoville to come to
you. Did I not tell you it would be so?"
"Yes, you did tell me so," answered Djalma, still maintaining the same
position, and examining the half-caste with the same fixed and mild
The surprise of Faringhea increased; generally, the prince, without
treating him with the least harshness, preserved the somewhat distant and
imperious manners of their common country, and he had never before spoken
to him with such extreme mildness. Knowing all the evil he had done the
prince, and suspicious as the wicked must ever be, the half-caste thought
for a moment, that his master's apparent kindness might conceal a snare.
He continued, therefore, with less assurance, "Believe me, my lord, this
day, if you do but know how to profit by your advantages, will console
you for all your troubles, which have indeed been great--for only
yesterday, though you were generous enough to forget it, only yesterday
you suffered cruelly--but you were not alone in your sufferings. This
proud young lady suffered also!"
"Do you think so?" said Djalma.
"Oh! it is quite sure, my lord. What must she not have felt, when she
saw you at the theatre with another woman!--If she loved you only a
little, she must have been deeply wounded in her self-esteem; if she
loved you with passion, she must have been struck to the heart. At
length, you see, wearied out with suffering, she has come to you."
"So that, any way, she must have suffered--and that does not move your
pity?" said Djalma, in a constrained, but still very mild voice.
"Before thinking of others, my lord, I think of your distresses; and they
touch me too nearly to leave me any pity for other woes," added Faringhea
hypocritically, so greatly had the influence of Rodin already modified
the character of the Phansegar.
"It is strange!" said Djalma, speaking to himself, as he viewed the half-
caste with a glance still kind but piercing.
"What is strange, my lord?"
"Nothing. But tell me, since your advice has hitherto prospered so well,
what think you of the future?"
"Of the future, my lord?"
"Yes; in an hour I shall be with Mdlle. de Cardoville."
"That is a serious matter, my lord. The whole future will depend upon
"That is what I was just thinking."
"Believe me, my lord, women never love any so well, as the bold man who
spares them the embarrassment of a refusal."
"Explain more fully."
"Well, my lord, they despise the timid and languishing lover, who asks
humbly for what he might take by force."
"But to-day I shall meet Mdlle. de Cardoville for the first time."
"You have met her a thousand times in your dreams, my lord; and depend
upon it, she has seen you also in her dreams, since she loves you. Every
one of your amorous thoughts has found an echo in her heart. All your
ardent adorations have been responded to by her. Love has not two
languages, and, without meeting, you have said all that you had to say to
each other. Now, it is for you to act as her master, and she will be
"It is strange--very strange!" said Djalma, a second time, without
removing his eyes from Faringhea's face.
Mistaking the sense which the prince attached to these words, the half-
caste resumed: "Believe me, my lord, however strange it may appear, this
is the wisest course. Remember the past. Was it by playing the part of
a timid lover that you have brought to your feet this proud young lady,
my lord? No, it was by pretending to despise her, in favor of another
woman. Therefore, let us have no weakness. The lion does not woo like
the poor turtle-dove. What cares the sultan of the desert for a few
plaintive howls from the lioness, who is more pleased than angry at his
rude and wild caresses? Soon submissive, fearful and happy, she follows
in the track of her master. Believe me, my lord--try everything--dare
everything--and to-day you will become the adored sultan of this young
lady, whose beauty all Paris admires."
After some minutes' silence, Djalma, shaking his head with an expression
of tender pity, said to the half-caste, in his mild, sonorous voice: "Why
betray me thus? Why advise me thus wickedly to use violence, terror, and
surprise, towards an angel of purity, whom I respect as my mother? Is it
not enough for you to have been so long devoted to my enemies, whose
hatred has followed me from Java?"
Had Djalma sprung upon the half-caste with bloodshot eye, menacing brow,
and lifted poniard, the latter would have been less surprised, and
perhaps less frightened, than when he heard the prince speak of his
treachery in this tone of mild reproach.
He drew back hastily, as if about to stand on his guard. But Djalma
resumed, with the same gentleness, "Fear nothing. Yesterday I should
have killed you! But to-day happy love renders me too just, too merciful
for that. I pity you, without any feeling of bitterness--for you must
have been very unhappy, or you could not have become so wicked."
"My lord!" said the half-caste, with growing amazement.
"Yes, you must have suffered much, and met with little mercy, poor
creature, to have become so merciless, in your hate, and proof against
the sight of a happiness like mine. When I listened to you just now, and
saw the sad perseverance of your hatred, I felt the deepest commiseration
"I do not know, my lord--but--" stammered the half-caste, and was unable
to find words to proceed.
"Come, now--what harm have I ever done you?"
"None, my lord," answered Faringhea.
"Then why do you hate me thus? why pursue me with so much animosity? Was
it not enough to give me the perfidious counsel to feign a shameful love
for the young girl that was brought hither, and who quitted the house
disgusted at the miserable part she was to play?"
"Your feigned love for that young girl, my lord," replied Faringhea,
gradually recovering his presence of mind, "conquered the coldness of--"
"Do not say that," resumed the prince, interrupting him with the same
mildness. "If I enjoy this happiness, which makes me compassionate
towards you, and raises me above myself, it is because Mdlle de
Cardoville now knows that I have never for a moment ceased to love her as
she ought to be loved, with adoration and reverence. It was your
intention to have parted us forever, and you had nearly succeeded."
"If you think this of me, my lord, you must look upon me as your most
"Fear nothing, I tell you. I have no right to blame you. In the madness
of my grief, I listened to you and followed your advice. I was not only
your dupe, but your accomplice. Only confess that, when you saw me at
your mercy, dejected, crushed, despairing, it was cruel in you to advise
the course that might have been most fatal to me."
"The ardor of my zeal may have deceived me, my lord."
"I am willing to believe it. And yet again to-day there were the same
evil counsels. You had no more pity for my happiness than for my sorrow.
The rapture of my heart inspires you with only one desire--that of
changing this rapture into despair."
"I, my lord!"
"Yes, you. It was your intention to ruin me--to dishonor me forever in
the eyes of Mdlle. de Cardoville. Now, tell me--why this furious hate?
what have I done to you?"
"You misjudge me, my lord--and--"
"Listen to me. I do not wish you to be any longer wicked and
treacherous. I wish to make you good. In our country, they charm
serpents, and tame the wildest tigers. You are a man, with a mind to
reason, a heart to love, and I will tame you too by gentleness. This day
has bestowed on me divine happiness; you shall have good cause to bless
this day. What can I do for you? what would you have--gold? You shall
have it. Do you desire more than gold? Do you desire a friend, to
console you for the sorrows that made you wicked, and to teach you to be
good? Though a king's son, I will be that friend--in spite of the evil--
ay, because of the evil you have done me. Yes; I will be your sincere
friend, and it shall be my delight to say to myself: 'The day on which I
learned that my angel loved me, my happiness was great indeed--for, in
the morning, I had an implacable enemy, and, ere night, his hatred was
changed to friendship.' Believe me, Faringhea, misery makes crime, but
happiness produces virtue. Be happy!"
At this moment the clock struck two. The prince started. It was time to
go on his visit to Adrienne. The handsome countenance of Djalma, doubly
embellished by the mild, ineffable expression with which it had been
animated whilst he was talking to the half-caste, now seemed illumined
with almost divine radiance.
Approaching Faringhea, he extended his hand with the utmost, grace and
courtesy, saying to him, "Your hand!"
The half-caste, whose brow was bathed with a cold sweat, whose
countenance was pale and agitated, seemed to hesitate for an instant;
then, overawed, conquered, fascinated, he offered his trembling hand to
the prince, who pressed it, and said to him, in their country's fashion,
"You have laid your hand honestly in a friend's; this hand shall never be
closed against you. Faringhea, farewell! I now feel myself more worthy
to kneel before my angel."
And Djalma went out, on his way to the appointment with Adrienne. In
spite of his ferocity, in spite of the pitiless hate he bore to the whole
human race, the dark sectary of Bowanee was staggered by the noble and
clement words of Djalma, and said to himself, with terror, "I have taken
his hand. He is now sacred for me."
Then, after a moment's silence, a thought occurred to him, and he
exclaimed, "Yes--but he will not be sacred for him who, according to the
answer of last night, waits for him at the door of the house."
So saying, the half-caste hastened into the next room, which looked upon
the street, and, raising a corner of the curtain, muttered anxiously to
himself, "The carriage moves off--the man approaches. Perdition! it is
gone and I see no more."
By a singular coincidence of ideas, Adrienne, like Djalma, had wished to
be dressed exactly in the same costume as at their interview in the house
in the Rue Blanche. For the site of this solemn meeting, so important to
her future happiness, Adrienne had chosen, with habitual tact, the grand
drawing-room of Cardoville House, in which hung many family portraits.
The most apparent were those of her father and mother. The room was
large and lofty, and furnished, like those which preceded it, with all
the imposing splendor of the age of Louis XIV. The ceiling, painted by
Lebrun, to represent the Triumph of Apollo, displayed his bold designing
and vigorous coloring, in the centre of a wide cornice, magnificently
carved and gilt, and supported at its angles by four large gilt figures,
representing the Seasons. Huge panels, covered with crimson damask, and
set in frames, served as the background to the family portraits which
adorned this apartment. It is easier to conceive than describe the
thousand conflicting emotions which agitated the bosom of Mdlle. de
Cardoville as the moment approached for her interview with Djalma. Their
meeting had been hitherto prevented by so many painful obstacles, and
Adrienne was so well aware of the vigilant and active perfidy of her
enemies, that even now she doubted of her happiness. Every instant, in
spite of herself, her eyes wandered to the clock. A few minutes more,
and the hour of the appointment would strike. It struck at last. Every
reverberation was echoed from the depth of Adrienne's heart. She
considered that Djalma's modest reserve had, doubtless, prevented his
coming before the moment fixed by herself. Far from blaming this
discretion, she fully appreciated it. But, from that moment, at the
least noise in the adjoining apartments, she held her breath and listened
with the anxiety of expectation.
For the first few minutes which followed the hour at which she expected
Djalma, Mdlle. de Cardoville felt no serious apprehension, and calmed her
impatience by the notion (which appears childish enough to those who have
never known the feverish agitation of waiting for a happy meeting), that
perhaps the clocks in the Rue Blanche might vary a little from those in
the Rue d'Anjou. But when this supposed variation, conceivable enough in
itself, could no longer explain a delay of a quarter of an hour, of
twenty minutes, of more, Adrienne felt her anxiety gradually increase.
Two or three times the young girl rose, with palpitating heart, and went
on tip-toe to listen at the door of the saloon. She heard nothing. The
clock struck half-past three.
Unable to suppress her growing terror, and clinging to a last hope,
Adrienne returned towards the fireplace and rang the bell. After which
she endeavored to compose her features, so as to betray no outward sign
of emotion. In a few seconds, a gray-haired footman, dressed in black,
opened the door, and waited in respectful silence for the orders of his
mistress. The latter said to him, in a calm voice, "Andrew, request Hebe
to give you the smelling bottle that I left on the chimney-piece in my
room, and bring it me here." Andrew bowed; but just as he was about to
withdraw to execute Adrienne's orders, which was only a pretext to enable
her to ask a question without appearing to attach much importance to it
in her servant's eyes, already informed of the expected visit of the
prince, Mdlle. de Cardoville added, with an air of indifference. "Pray,
is that clock right?"
Andrew drew out his watch, and replied as he cast his eyes upon it, "Yes,
mademoiselle. I set my watch by the Tuileries. It is more than half-
"Very well--thank you!" said Adrienne kindly.
Andrew again bowed; but, before going out, he said to Adrienne, "I forgot
to tell you, lady, that Marshal Simon called about an hour ago; but, as
you were only to be at home to Prince Djalma, we told him that you
received no company."
"Very well," said Adrienne. With another low bow, Andrew quitted the
room, and all returned to silence.
For the precise reason that, up to the last minute of the hour previous
to the time fixed for her interview with Djalma, the hopes of Adrienne
had not been disturbed by the slightest shadow of doubt, the
disappointment she now felt was the more dreadful. Casting a desponding
look at one of the portraits placed above her, she murmured, with a
plaintive and despairing accent, "Oh, mother!"
Hardly had Mdlle. de Cardoville uttered the words than the windows were
slightly shaken by a carriage rolling into the courtyard. The young lady
started, and was unable to repress a low cry of joy. Her heart bounded
at the thought of meeting Djalma, for this time she felt that he was
really come. She was quite as certain of it as if she had seen him. She
resumed her seat and brushed away a tear suspended from her long
eyelashes. Her hand trembled like a leaf. The sound of several doors
opening and shutting proved that the young lady was right in her
conjecture. The gilded panels of the drawing-room door soon turned upon
their hinges, and the prince appeared.
While a second footman ushered in Djalma, Andrew placed on a gilded
table, within reach of his mistress, a little silver salver, on which
stood the crystal smelling-bottle. Then he withdrew, and the door of the
room was closed. The prince and Mdlle. de Cardoville were left alone
ADRIENNE AND DJALMA.
The prince had slowly approached Mdlle. de Cardoville. Notwithstanding
the impetuosity of the Oriental's passions, his uncertain and timid step-
-timid, yet graceful--betrayed his profound emotion. He did not venture
to lift his eyes to Adrienne's face; he had suddenly become very pale,
and his finely formed hands, folded over his bosom in the attitude of
adoration, trembled violently. With head bent down, he remained standing
at a little distance from Adrienne. This embarrassment, ridiculous in
any other person, appeared touching in this prince of twenty years of
age, endowed with an almost fabulous intrepidity, and of so heroic and
generous a character, that no traveller could speak of the son of Kadja-
sing without a tribute of admiration and respect. Sweet emotion! chaste
reserve! doubly interesting if we consider that the burning passions of
this youth were all the more inflammable, because they had hitherto been
held in check.
No less embarrassed than her cousin, Adrienne de Cardoville remained
seated. Like Djalma, she cast down her eyes; but the burning blush on
her cheeks, the quick heaving of her virgin bosom, revealed an emotion
that she did not even attempt to hide. Notwithstanding the powers of her
mind, by turns gay, graceful, and witty--notwithstanding the decision of
her proud and independent character, and her complete acquaintance with
the manners of the world--Adrienne shared Djalma's simple and enchanting
awkwardness, and partook of that kind of temporary weakness, beneath
which these two pure, ardent, and loving beings appeared sinking--as if
unable to support the boiling agitation of the senses, combined with the
intoxicating excitement of the heart. And yet their eyes had not met.
Each seemed to fear the first electric shock of the other's glance--that
invincible attraction of two impassioned beings--that sacred fire, which
suddenly kindles the blood, and lifts two mortals from earth to heaven;
for it is to approach the Divinity to give one's self up with religious
fervor to the most noble and irresistible sentiment that He has implanted
within us--the only sentiment that, in His adorable wisdom, the Dispenser
of all good has vouchsafed to sanctify, by endowing it with a spark of
His own creative energy.
Djalma was the first to raise his eyes. They were moist and sparkling.
The excitement of passionate love, the burning ardor of his age, so long
repressed, the intense admiration in which he held ideal beauty, were all
expressed in his look, mingled with respectful timidity, and gave to the
countenance of this youth an undefinable, irresistible character. Yes,
irresistible!--for, when Adrienne encountered his glance, she trembled in
every limb, and felt herself attracted by a magnetic power. Already, her
eyes were heavy with a kind of intoxicating languor, when, by a great
effort of will and dignity, she succeeded in overcoming this delicious
confusion, rose from her chair, and said to Djalma in a trembling voice:
"Prince, I am happy to receive you here." Then, pointing to one of the
portraits suspended above her, she added, as if introducing him to a
living person: "Prince--my mother!"
With an instinct of rare delicacy, Adrienne had thus summoned her mother
to be present at her interview with Djalma. It seemed a security for
herself and the prince, against the seductions of a first interview--
which was likely to be all the more perilous, that they both knew
themselves madly loved that they both were free, and had only to answer
to Providence for the treasures of happiness and enjoyment with which He
had so magnificently endowed them. The prince understood Adrienne's
thoughts; so that, when the young lady pointed to the portrait, Djalma,
by a spontaneous movement full of grace and simplicity, knelt down before
the picture, and said to it in a gentle, but manly voice: "I will love
and revere you as my mother. And, in thought, my mother too shall be
present, and stand like you, beside your child!"
No better answer could have been given to the feeling which induced
Mdlle. de Cardoville to place herself, as it were, under the protection
of her mother. From that moment, confident in Djalma, confident in
herself, the young lady felt more at her ease, and the delicious sense of
happiness replaced those exciting emotions, which had at first so
violently agitated her.
Then, seating herself once more, she said to Djalma, as she pointed to
the opposite chair: "Pray take a seat, my dear cousin; and allow me to
call you so, for there is too much ceremony in the word prince; and do
you call me cousin also, for I find other names too grave. Having
settled this point, we can talk together like old friends."
"Yes cousin," answered Djalma, blushing.
"And, as frankness is proper between friends," resumed Adrienne, "I have
first to make you a reproach," she added, with a half-smile.
The prince had remained standing, with his arm resting on the chimney-
piece, in an attitude full of grace and respect.
"Yes, cousin," continued Adrienne, "a reproach, that you will perhaps
forgive me for making. I had expected you a little sooner."
"Perhaps, cousin, you may blame me for having come so soon."
"What do you mean?"
"At the moment when I left home, a man, whom I did not know, approached
my carriage, and said to me, with such an air of sincerity that I
believed him: 'You are able to save the life of a person who has been a
second father to you. Marshal Simon is in great danger, and, to rescue
him, you must follow me on the instant--'"
"It was a snare," cried Adrienne, hastily. "Marshal Simon was here,
scarcely an hour ago."
"Indeed!" exclaimed Djalma, joyfully, and as if he had been relieved from
a great weight. "Then there will be nothing to sadden this happy day!"
"But, cousin," resumed Adrienne, "how came you not to suspect this
"Some words, which afterwards escaped from him, inspired me with doubts,"
answered Djalma: "but at first I followed him, fearing the marshal might
be in danger--for I know that he also has enemies."
"Now that I reflect on it, you were quite right, cousin, for some new
plot against the marshal was probable enough; and the least doubt was
enough to induce you to go to him."
"I did so--even though you were waiting for me."
"It was a generous sacrifice; and my esteem for you is increased by it,
if it could be increased," said Adrienne, with emotion. "But what became
of this man?"
"At my desire, he got into the carriage with me. Anxious about the
marshal, and in despair at seeing the time wasted, that I was to have
passed with you, cousin, I pressed him with all sorts of questions.
Several times, he replied to me with embarrassment, and then the idea
struck me that the whole might be a snare. Remembering all that they had
already attempted, to ruin me in your opinion, I immediately changed my
course. The vexation of the man who accompanied me then because so
visible, that I ought to have had no doubt upon the subject. Still, when
I thought of Marshal Simon, I felt a kind of vague remorse, which you,
cousin, have now happily set at rest."
"Those people are implacable!" said Adrienne; "but our happiness will be
stronger than their hate."
After a moment's silence, she resumed, with her habitual frankness: "My
dear cousin, it is impossible for me to conceal what I have at heart.
Let us talk for a few seconds of the past, which was made so painful to
us, and then we will forget it forever, like an evil dream."
"I will answer you sincerely, at the risk of injuring myself," said the
"How could you make up your mind to exhibit yourself in public with--?"
"With that young girl?" interrupted Djalma.
"Yes, cousin," replied Mdlle. de Cardoville, and she waited for Djalma's
answer with anxious curiosity.
"A stranger to the customs of this country," said Djalma, without any
embarrassment, for he spoke the truth, "with a mind weakened with
despair, and misled by the fatal counsels of a man devoted to my enemies,
I believed, even as I was told, that, by displaying before you the
semblance of another love, I should excite your jealousy, and thus--"
"Enough, cousin; I understand it all," said Adrienne hastily,
interrupting Djalma in her turn, that she might spare him a painful
confession. "I too must have been blinded by despair, not to have seen
through this wicked plot, especially after your rash and intrepid action.
To risk death for the sake of my bouquet!" added Adrienne, shuddering at
the mere remembrance. "But one last question," she resumed, "though I am
already sure of your answer. Did you receive a letter that I wrote to
you, on the morning of the day in which I saw you at the theatre?"
Djalma made no reply. A dark cloud passed over his fine countenance,
and, for a second, his features assumed so menacing an expression, that
Adrienne was terrified at the effect produced by her words. But this
violent agitation soon passed away, and Djalma's brow became once more
calm and serene.
"I have been more merciful that I thought," said the prince to Adrienne,
who looked at him with astonishment. "I wished to come hither worthy of
you, my cousin. I pardoned the man who, to serve my enemies, had given
me all those fatal counsels. The same person, I am sure, must have
intercepted your letter. Just now, at the memory of the evils he thus
caused me, I, for a moment, regretted my clemency. But then, again, I
thought of your letter of yesterday--and my anger is all gone."
"Then the sad time of fear and suspicion is over--suspicion, that made me
doubt of your sentiments, and you of mine. Oh, yes! far removed from us
be that fatal past!" cried Adrienne de Cardoville, with deep joy..
Then, as if she had relieved her heart from the last thought of sadness,
she continued: "The future is all your own--the radiant future, without
cloud or obstacle, pure in the immensity of its horizon, and extending
beyond the reach of sight!"
It is impossible to describe the tone of enthusiastic hope which
accompanied these words. But suddenly Adrienne's features assumed an
expression of touching melancholy, and she added, in a voice of profound
emotion: "And yet--at this hour--so many unfortunate creatures suffer
This simple touch of pity for the misfortunes of others, at the moment
when the noble maiden herself attained to the highest point of happiness,
had such an effect on Djalma, that involuntarily he fell on his knees
before Adrienne, clasped his hands together, and turned towards her his
fine countenance, with an almost daring expression. Then, hiding his
face in his hands, he bowed his head without speaking a single word.
There was a moment of deep silence. Adrienne was the first to break it,
as she saw a tear steal through the slender fingers of the prince.
"My friend! what is the matter?" she exclaimed, as with a movement rapid
as thought, she stooped forward, and taking hold of Djalma's hands, drew
them from before his face. That face was bathed in tears.
"You weep!" cried Mdlle. de Cardoville, so much agitated that she kept
the hands of Djalma in her own; and, unable to dry his tears, the young
Hindoo allowed them to flow like so many drops of crystal over the pale
gold of his cheeks.
"There is not in this wide world a happiness like to mine!" said the
prince, in his soft, melodious voice, and with a kind of exhaustion:
"therefore do I feel great sadness, and so it should be. You give me
heaven--and were I to give you the whole earth, it would be but a poor
return. Alas! what can man do for a divinity, but humbly bless and
adore? He can never hope to return the gifts bestowed: and this makes
him suffer--not in his pride--but in his heart!"
Djalma did not exaggerate. He said what he really felt: and the rather
hyperbolical form, familiar to Oriental nations, could alone express his
thought. The tone of his regret was so sincere, his humility so gentle
and full of simplicity, that Adrienne, also moved to tears, answered him
with an effusion of serious tenderness, "My friend, we are both at the
supreme point of happiness. Our future felicity appears to have no
limits, and yet, though derived from different sources, sad reflections
have come to both of us. It is, you see, that there are some sorts of
happiness, which make you dizzy with their own immensity. For a moment,
the heart, the mind, the soul, are incapable of containing so much bliss;
it overflows and drowns us. Thus the flowers sometimes hang their heads,
oppressed by the too ardent rays of the sun, which is yet their love and
life. Oh, my friend! this sadness may be great, but it also sweet!"
As she uttered these words, the voice of Adrienne grew fainter and
fainter, and her head bowed lower, as if she were indeed sinking beneath
the weight of her happiness. Djalma had remained kneeling before her,
his hands in hers--so that as she thus bent forward, her ivory forehead
and golden hair touched the amber-colored brow and ebon curls of Djalma.
And the sweet, silent tears of the two young lovers flowed together, and
mingled as they fell on their clasped hands.
Whilst this scene was passing in Cardoville House, Agricola had gone to
the Rue de Vaugirard, to deliver a letter from Adrienne to M. Hardy.
As we have already said, M. Hardy occupied a pavilion in the "Retreat"
annexed to the house in the Rue de Vaugirard, inhabited by a goodly
number of the reverend fathers of the Company of Jesus. Nothing could be
calmer and more silent than this dwelling. Every one spoke in whispers,
and the servants themselves had something oily in their words, something
sanctified in their very walk.
Like all that is subject to the chilling and destructive influences of
these men, this mournfully quiet house was entirely wanting in life and
animation. The boarders passed an existence of wearisome and icy
monotony, only broken by the use of certain devotional exercises; and
thus, in accordance with the selfish calculation of the reverend fathers,
the mind, deprived of all nourishment and all external support, soon
began to droop and pine away in solitude. The heart seemed to beat more
slowly, the soul was benumbed, the character weakened; at last, all
freewill, all power of discrimination, was extinguished, and the
boarders, submitting to the same process of self-annihilation as the
novices of the Company, became, like them, mere "corpses" in the hands of
The object of these manoeuvres was clear and simple. They secured the
means of obtaining all kinds of donations, the constant aim of the
skillful policy and merciless cupidity of these priests. By the aid of
enormous sums, of which they thus become the possessors or the trustees,
they follow out and obtain the success of their projects, even though
murder, incendiarism, revolt, and all the horrors of civil war, excited
by and through them, should drench in blood the lands over which they
seek to extend their dark dominion.
Such, then, was the asylum of peace and innocence in which Francois Hardy
had taken refuge. He occupied the ground-floor of a summer-house, which
opened upon a portion of the garden. His apartments had been judiciously
chosen, for we know with what profound and diabolical craft the reverend
fathers avail themselves of material influences, to make a deep
impression upon the minds they are moulding to their purpose. Imagine a
prospect bounded by a high wall, of a blackish gray, half-covered with
ivy, the plant peculiar to ruins. A dark avenue of old yew-trees, so fit
to shade the grave with their sepulchral verdure, extended from this wall
to a little semicircle, in front of the apartment generally occupied by
M. Hardy. Two or three mounds of earth, bordered with box, symmetrically
cut, completed the charms of this garden, which in every respect
resembled a cemetery.
It was about two o'clock in the afternoon. Though the April sun shone
brightly, its rays, intercepted by the high wall of which we have spoken,
could not penetrate into that portion of the garden, obscure, damp, and
cold as a cavern, which communicated with M. Hardy's apartment. The room
was furnished with a perfect sense of the comfortable. A soft carpet
covered the floor; thick curtains of dark green baize, the same color as
the walls, sheltered an excellent bed, and hung in folds about the glass-
door, which opened on the garden. Some pieces of mahogany furniture,
plain, but very clean and bright, stood round the room. Above the
secretary, placed just in front of the bed, was a large ivory crucifix,
upon a black velvet ground. The chimney-piece was adorned with a clock,
in an ebony case, with ivory ornaments representing all sorts of gloomy
emblems, such as hour-glasses, scythes, death's-heads, etc. Now imagine
this scene in twilight, with its solitary and mournful silence, only
broken at the hour of prayer by the lugubrious sound of the bells of the
neighboring chapel, and you will recognize the infernal skill, with which
these dangerous priests know how to turn to account every external
object, when they wish to influence the mind of those they are anxious to
And this was not all. After appealing to the senses, it was necessary to
address themselves to the intellect--and this was the method adopted by
the reverend fathers. A single book--but one--was left, as if by chance,
within reach. This book was Thomas a Kempis' "Imitation." But as it
might happen that M. Hardy would not have the courage or the desire to
read this book, thoughts and reflections borrowed from its merciless
pages, and written in very large characters, were suspended in black
frames close to the bed, or at other parts within sight, so that,
involuntarily, in the sad leisure of his inactive dejection, the
dweller's eyes were almost necessarily attracted by them. To that fatal
circle of despairing thoughts they confined the already weakened mind of
this unfortunate man, so long a prey to the most acute sorrow. What he
read mechanically, every instant of the day and night, whenever the
blessed sleep fled from his eyes inflamed with tears, was not enough
merely to plunge the soul of the victim into incurable despair, but also
to reduce him to the corpse-like obedience required by the Society of
Jesus. In that awful book may be found a thousand terrors to operate on
weak minds, a thousand slavish maxims to chain and degrade the
And now imagine M. Hardy carried wounded into this house; while his
heart, torn by bitter grief and the sense of horrible treachery, bled
even faster than his external injuries. Attended with the utmost care,
and thanks to the acknowledged skill of Dr. Baleinier, M. Hardy soon
recovered from the hurts he had received when he threw himself into the
embers of his burning factory. Yet, in order to favor the projects of
the reverend fathers, a drug, harmless enough in its effects, but
destined to act for a time upon the mind of the patient, and often
employed for that purpose in similar important cases by the pious doctor,
was administered to Hardy, and had kept him pretty long in a state of
mental torpor. To a soul agonized by cruel deceptions, it appears an
inestimable benefit to be plunged into that kind of torpor, which at
least prevents one from dwelling upon the past.
Hardy resigned himself entirely to this profound apathy, and at length
came to regard it as the supreme good. Thus do unfortunate wretches,
tortured by cruel diseases, accept with gratitude the opiate which kills
them slowly, but which at least deadens the sense of pain.
In sketching the portrait of M. Hardy, we tried to give some idea of the
exquisite delicacy of his tender soul, of his painful susceptibility with
regard to anything base or wicked, and of his extreme goodness,
uprightness, and generosity. We now allude to these admirable qualities,
because we must observe, that with him, as with almost all who possess
them, they were not, and could not be, united with an energetic and
resolute character. Admirably persevering in good deeds, the influence
of this excellent man, was insinuating rather than commanding; it was not
by the bold energy and somewhat overbearing will, peculiar to other men
of great and noble heart, that Hardy had realized the prodigy of his
Common Dwelling-house; it was by affectionate persuasion, for with him
mildness took the place of force. At sight of any baseness or injustice,
he did not rouse himself, furious and threatening; but he suffered
intense pain. He did not boldly attack the criminal, but he turned away
from him in pity and sorrow. And then his loving heart, so full of
feminine delicacy, had an irresistible longing for the blessed contact of
dear affections; they alone could keep it alive. Even as a poor, frail
bird dies with the cold, when it can no longer lie close to its brethren,
and receive and communicate the sweet warmth of the maternal nest. And
now this sensitive organization, this extremely susceptible nature,
receives blow after blow from sorrows and deceptions, one of which would
suffice to shake, if it did not conquer, the firmest and most resolute
character. Hardy's best friend has infamously betrayed him. His adored
mistress has abandoned him.
The house which he had founded for the benefit of his workmen, whom he
loved as brethren, is reduced to a heap of ashes. What then happens?
All the springs of his soul are at once broken. Too feeble to resist
such frightful attacks, too fatally deceived to seek refuge in other
affections, too much discouraged to think of laying the first stone of
any new edifice--this poor heart, isolated from every salutary influence,
finds oblivion of the world and of itself in a kind of gloomy torpor.
And if some remaining instincts of life and affection, at long intervals,
endeavored to rouse themselves within him, and if, half-opening his
mind's eye, which he had kept closed against the present, the past, and
the future, Hardy looks around him--what does he see? Only these
sentences, so full of terrible despair:
"Thou art nothing but dust and ashes. Grief and tears art thy portion.
Believe not in any son of man. There are no such things as friendship or
ties of kindred. All human affections are false. Die in the morning,
and thou wilt be forgotten before night. Be humble--despise thyself--and
let others despise thee. Think not, reason not, live not--but commit thy
fate to the hands of a superior, who will think and reason for thee.
Weep, suffer, think upon death. Yes, death! always death--that should be
thy thought when thou thinkest--but it is better not to think at all.
Let a feeling of ceaseless woe prepare thy way to heaven. It is only by
sorrow that we are welcome to the terrible God whom we adore!"
Such were the consolations offered to this unfortunate man. Affrighted,
he again closed his eyes, and fell back into his lethargy. As for
leaving this gloomy retreat, he could not, or rather he did not desire to
do so. He had lost the power of will; and then, it must be confessed, he
had finished by getting accustomed to this house, and liked it well--they
paid him such discreet attentions, and yet left him so much alone with
his grief--there reigned all around such a death-like silence, which
harmonized closely with the silence of his heart; and that was now the
tomb of his last love, last friendship, last hope. All energy was dead
within him! Then began that slow, but inevitable transformation, so
judiciously foreseen by Rodin, who directed the whole of this
machination, even in its smallest details. At first alarmed by the
dreadful maxims which surrounded him, M. Hardy had at length accustomed
himself to read them over almost mechanically, just as the captive, in
his mournful hours of leisure, counts the nails in the door of his
prison, or the bars of the grated window. This was already a great point
gained by the reverend fathers.
And soon his weakened mind was struck with the apparent correctness of
these false and melancholy aphorisms.
Thus he read: "Do not count upon the affection of any human creature"--
and he had himself been shamefully betrayed.
"Man is born to sorrow and despair"--and he was himself despairing.
"There is no rest save in the cessation of thought"--and the slumber of
his mind had brought some relief to his pain.
Peepholes, skillfully concealed by the hangings and in the wainscoting of
these apartments, enabled the reverend fathers at all times to see and
hear the boarders, and above all to observe their countenance and manner,
when they believed themselves to be alone. Every exclamation of grief
which escaped Hardy in his gloomy solitude, was repeated to Father
d'Aigrigny by a mysterious listener. The reverend father, following
scrupulously Rodin's instructions, had at first visited his boarder very
rarely. We have said, that when Father d'Aigrigny wished it, he could
display an almost irresistible power of charming, and accordingly he
threw all his tact and skill into the interviews he had with Hardy, when
he came from time to time to inquire after his health. Informed of
everything by his spies, and aided by his natural sagacity, he soon saw
all the use that might be made of the physical and moral prostration of
the boarder. Certain beforehand that Hardy would not take the hint, he
spoke to him frequently of the gloom of the house, advising him
affectionately to leave it, if he felt oppressed by its monotony, or at
all events to seek beyond its walls for some pleasure and amusement. To
speak of pleasure and amusement to this unfortunate man, was in his
present state to insure a refusal, and so it of course happened. Father
d'Aigrigny did not at first try to gain the recluse's confidence, nor did
he speak to him of sorrow; but every time he came, he appeared to take
such a tender interest in him, and showed it by a few simple and well-
timed words. By degrees, these interviews, at first so rare, became more
frequent and longer. Endowed with a flow of honeyed, insinuating, and
persuasive eloquence, Father d'Aigrigny naturally took for his theme
those gloomy maxims, to which Hardy's attention was now so often
Supple, prudent, skillful, knowing that the hermit had hitherto professed
that generous natural religion which teaches the grateful adoration of
God, the love of humanity, the worship of what is just and good, and
which, disdaining dogmas, professes the same veneration for Marcus
Aurelius as for Confucius, for Plato as for Christ, for Moses as for
Lycurgus--Father d'Aigrigny did not at first attempt to convert him, but
began by incessantly reminding him of the abominable deceptions practised
upon him; and, instead of describing such treachery as an exception in
life--instead of trying to calm, encourage, and revive his drooping soul-
-instead of exhorting Hardy to seek oblivion and consolation in the
discharge of his duties toward humanity, towards his brethren, whom he
had previously loved and succored--Father d'Aigrigny strove to inflame
the bleeding wounds of the unfortunate man, painted the human race in the
most atrocious blackness, and, by declaring all men treacherous,
ungrateful, wicked, succeeded in rendering his despair incurable. Having
attained this object, the Jesuit took another step. Knowing Hardy's
admirable goodness of heart, and profiting by the weakened state of his
mind, he spoke to him of the consolation to be derived by a man
overwhelmed with sorrow, from the belief that every one of his tears,
instead of being unfruitful, was in fact agreeable to God, and might aid
in the salvation of souls--the belief, as the reverend father adroitly
added, that by faith alone can sorrow be made useful to humanity, and
acceptable to Divinity.
Whatever impiety, whatever atrocious Machiavelism there was in these
detestable maxims, which make of a loving-kind Deity a being delighted
with the tears of his creatures, was thus skillfully concealed from
Hardy's eyes, whose generous instincts were still alive. Soon did this
loving and tender soul, whom unworthy priests were driving to a sort of
moral suicide, find a mournful charm in the fiction, that his sorrows
would at least be profitable to other men. It was at first only a
fiction; but the enfeebled mind which takes pleasure in such a fable,
finishes by receiving it as a reality, and by degrees will submit to the
consequences. Such was Hardy's moral and physical state, when, by means
of a servant who had been bought over, he received from Agricola Baudoin
a letter requesting an interview. Alone, the workman could not have
broken the band of the Jesuit's pleadings, but he was accompanied by
Gabriel, whose eloquence and reasonings were of a most convincing nature
to a spirit like Hardy's.
It is unnecessary to point out to the reader, with what dignified reserve
Gabriel had confined himself to the most generous means of rescuing Hardy
from the deadly influence of the reverend fathers. It was repugnant to
the great soul of the young missionary, to stoop to a revelation of the
odious plots of these priests. He would only have taken this extreme
course, had his powerful and sympathetic words have failed to have any
effect on Hardy's blindness. About a quarter of an hour had elapsed
since Gabriel's departure, when the servant appointed to wait on this
boarder of the reverend fathers entered and delivered to him a letter.
"From whom is this?" asked Hardy.
"From a boarder in the house, sir," answered the servant bowing.
This man had a crafty hypocritical face; he wore his hair combed over his
forehead, spoke in a low voice, and always cast clown his eyes. Waiting
the answer, he joined his hands, and began to twiddle his thumbs. Hardy
opened the letter, and read as follows:
"SIR,--I have only just heard, by mere chance, that you also inhabit this
respectable house: a long illness, and the retirement in which I live,
will explain my ignorance of your being so near. Though we have only met
once, sir, the circumstance which led to that meeting was of so serious a
nature, that I cannot think you have forgotten it."
Hardy stopped, and tasked his memory for an explanation, and not finding
anything to put him on the right track, he continued to read:
"This circumstance excited in me a feeling of such deep and respectful
sympathy for you, sir, that I cannot resist my anxious desire to wait
upon you, particularly as I learn, that you intend leaving this house to-
day--a piece of information I have just derived from the excellent and
worthy Abbe Gabriel, one of the men I most love, esteem, and reverence.
May I venture to hope, sir, that just at the moment of quitting our
common retreat to return to the world, you will deign to receive
favorably the request, however intrusive, of a poor old man, whose life
will henceforth be passed in solitude, and who cannot therefore have any
prospect of meeting you, in that vortex of society which he has abandoned
forever. Waiting the honor of your answer, I beg you to accept, sir, the
assurance of the sentiments of high esteem with which I remain, sir, with
the deepest respect,
"Your very humble and most obedient servant,
After reading this letter and the signature of the writer, Hardy remained
for some time in deep thought, without being able to recollect the name
of Rodin, or to what serious circumstances he alluded.
After a silence of some duration, he said to the servant "M. Rodin gave
you this letter?"
"And who is M. Rodin?"
"A good old gentleman, who is just recovering from a long illness, that
almost carried him off. Lately, he has been getting better, but he is
still so weak and melancholy, that it makes one sad to see him. It is a
great pity, for there is not a better and more worthy gentleman in the
house--unless it be you, sir," added the servant, bowing with an air of
"M. Rodin;" said Hardy, thoughtfully. "It is singular, that I should not
remember the name nor any circumstance connected with it."
"If you will give me your answer, sir," resumed the servant, "I will take
it to M. Rodin. He is now with Father d'Aigrigny, to whom he is bidding
"Yes, sir, the post-horses have just come."
"Post-horses for whom?" asked Hardy.
"For Father d'Aigrigny, sir."
"He is going on a journey then!" said Hardy, with some surprise.
"Oh! he will not, I think be long absent," said the servant, with a
confidential air, "for the reverend father takes no one with him, and but
very light luggage. No doubt, the reverend father will come to say
farewell to you, sir, before he starts. But what answer shall I give M.
The letter, just received, was couched in such polite terms--it spoke of
Gabriel with so much respect--that Hardy, urged moreover by a natural
curiosity, and seeing no motive to refuse this interview before quitting
the house, said to the servant: "Please tell M. Rodin, that if he will
give himself the trouble to come to me, I shall be glad to see him."
"I will let him know immediately, sir," answered the servant, bowing as
he left the room.
When alone, Hardy, while wondering who this M. Rodin could be, began to
make some slight preparations for his departure. For nothing in the
world would he have passed another night in this house; and, in order to
keep up his courage, he recalled every instant the mild, evangelical
language of Gabriel, just as the superstitious recite certain litanies,
with a view of escaping from temptation.
The servant soon returned, and said: "M. Rodin is here, sir."
"Beg him to walk in."
Rodin entered, clad in his long black dressing-gown, and with his old
silk cap in his hand. The servant then withdrew. The day was just
closing. Hardy rose to meet Rodin, whose features he did not at first
distinguish. But as the reverend father approached the window, Hardy
looked narrowly at him for an instant, and then uttered an exclamation,
wrung from him by surprise and painful remembrance. But, recovering
himself from this first movement, Hardy said to the Jesuit, in an
agitated voice: "You here, sir? Oh, you are right! It was indeed a very
serious circumstance that first brought us together."
"Oh, my dear sir!" said Rodin, in a kindly and unctuous tone; "I was sure
you would not have forgotten me."
It will doubtless be remembered that Rodin had gone (although a stranger
to Hardy) to visit him at his factory, and inform him of De Blessac's
shameful treachery--a dreadful blow, which had only preceded by a few
moments a second no less horrible misfortune; for it was in the presence
of Rodin that Hardy had learned the unexpected departure of the woman he
adored. Painful to him must have been the sudden appearance of Rodin.
Yes, thanks to the salutary influence of Gabriel's counsels, he recovered
himself by degrees, and the contraction of his features being succeeded
by a melancholy calm, he said to Rodin: "I did not indeed expect to meet
you, sir, in this house."
"Alas, sir!" answered Rodin, with a sigh, "I did not expect to come
hither, probably to end my days beneath this roof, when I went, without
being acquainted with you, but only as one honest man should serve
another, to unveil to you a great infamy."
"Indeed, sir, you then rendered me a true service; perhaps, in that
painful moment, I did not fully express my gratitude; for, at the same
moment in which you revealed to me the treachery of M. de Blessac--"
"You were overwhelmed by another piece of painful intelligence," said
Rodin, interrupting M. Hardy; "I shall never forget the sudden arrival of
that poor woman, who, pale and affrighted, and without considering my
presence, came to inform you that a person who was exceedingly dear to
you had quitted Paris abruptly."
"Yes, sir; and, without stopping to thank you, I set out immediately,"
answered Hardy, with a mournful air.
"Do you know, sir," said Rodin, after a moment's silence, "that there are
sometimes very strange coincidences?"
"To what do you allude, sir?"
"While I went to inform you that you were betrayed in
so infamous a manner--I was myself--"
Rodin paused, as if unable to control his deep emotion, and his
countenance wore the expression of such overpowering grief that Hardy
said to him, with interest: "What ails you, sir?"
"Forgive me," replied Rodin, with a bitter smile. "Thanks to the ghostly
counsels of the angelic Abbe Gabriel, I have reached a sort of
resignation. Still, there are certain memories which affect me with the
most acute pain. I told you," resumed Rodin, in a firmer voice, "or was
going to tell you, that the very day after that on which I informed you
of the treachery practised against you, I was myself the victim of a
frightful deception. An adopted son--a poor unfortunate child, whom I
had brought up--" He paused again, drew his trembling hand over his
eyes, and added: "Pardon me, sir, for speaking of matters which must be
indifferent to you. Excuse the intrusive sorrow of a poor, broken-
hearted old man!"
"I have suffered too much myself, sir, to be indifferent to any kind of
sorrow," replied Hardy. "Besides, you are no stranger to me--for you did
me a real service--and we both agree in our veneration for the same young
"The Abbe Gabriel!" cried Rodin, interrupting Hardy; "ah, sir! he is my
deliverer, my benefactor. If you knew all his care and devotion, during
my long illness, caused by intense grief--if you knew the ineffable
sweetness of his counsels--"
"I know them, sir," cried Hardy; "oh, yes! I know how salutary is the
"In his mouth, sir, the precepts of religion are full of mildness,"
resumed Rodin, with excitement. "Do they not heal and console? do they
not make us love and hope, instead of fear and tremble?"
"Alas, sir! in this very house," said Hardy, "I have been able to make
"I was happy enough," said Rodin, "to have the angelic Abbe Gabriel for
my confessor, or, rather, my confidant."
"Yes," replied Hardy, "for he prefers confidence to confession."
"How well you know him!" said Rodin, in a tone of the utmost simplicity.
Then he resumed: "He is not a man but an angel. His words would convert
the most hardened sinner. Without being exactly impious, I had myself
lived in the profession of what is called Natural Religion; but the
angelic Abbe Gabriel has, by degrees, fixed my wavering belief, given it
body and soul, and, in fact, endowed me with faith."
"Yes! he is a truly Christian priest--a priest of love and pardon!" cried
"What you say is perfectly true," replied Rodin; "for I came here almost
mad with grief, thinking only of the unhappy boy who had repaid my
paternal goodness with the most monstrous ingratitude, and sometimes I
yielded to violent bursts of despair, and sometimes sank into a state of
mournful dejection, cold as the grave itself. But, suddenly, the Abbe
Gabriel appeared--and the darkness fled before the dawning of a new day."
"You were right, sir; there are strange coincidences," said Hardy,
yielding more and more to the feeling of confidence and sympathy,
produced by the resemblance of his real position to Rodin's pretended
one. "And to speak frankly," he added, "I am very glad I have seen you
before quitting this house. Were I capable of falling back into fits of
cowardly weakness, your example alone would prevent me. Since I listen
to you, I feel myself stronger in the noble path which the angelic Abbe
Gabriel has opened before me, as you so well express it."
"The poor old man will not then regret having listened to the first
impulse of his heart, which urged him to come to you," said Robin, with a
touching expression. "You will sometimes remember me in that world to
which you are returning?"
"Be sure of it, sir; but allow me to ask one question: You remain, you
say, in this house?"
"What would you have me do? There reigns here a calm repose, and one is
not disturbed in one's prayers," said Rodin, in a very gentle tone. "You
see, I have suffered so much--the conduct of that unhappy youth was so
horrible--he plunged into such shocking excesses--that the wrath of
heaven must be kindled against him. Now I am very old, and it is only by
passing the few days that are left me in fervent prayer that I can hope
to disarm the just anger of the Lord. Oh! prayer--prayer! It was the
Abbe Gabriel who revealed to me all its power and sweetness--and
therewith the formidable duties it imposes."
"Its duties are indeed great and sacred," answered Hardy, with a pensive
"Do you remember the life of Rancey?" said Rodin, abruptly, as he darted
a peculiar glance at Hardy.
"The founder of La Trappe?" said Hardy, surprised at Rodin's question. I
remember hearing a very vague account, some time ago, of the motives of
"There is, mark you, no more striking an example of the power of prayer,
and of the state of almost divine ecstasy, to which it may lead a
religious soul. In a few words, I will relate to you this instructive
and tragic history. Rancey--but I beg your pardon; I fear I am
trespassing on your time."
"No, no," answered Hardy, hastily; "You cannot think how interested I am
in what you tell me. My interview with the Abbe Gabriel was abruptly
broken off, and in listening to you I fancy that I hear the further
development of his views. Go on, I conjure you.
"With all my heart. I only wish that the instruction which, thanks to
our angelic priest, I derived from the story of Rancey might be as
profitable to you as it was to me."
"This, then, also came from the Abbe Gabriel?"
"He related to me this kind of parable in support of his exhortations,"
replied Rodin. "Oh, sir! do I not owe to the consoling words of that
young priest all that has strengthened and revived my poor old broken
"Then I shall listen to you with a double interest."
"Rancey was a man of the world," resumed Rodin, as he looked attentively
at Hardy; "a gentleman--young, ardent, handsome. He loved a young lady
of high rank. I cannot tell what impediments stood in the way of their
union. But this love, though successful, was kept secret, and every
evening Rancey visited his mistress by means of a private staircase. It
was, they say, one of those passionate loves which men feel but once in
their lives. The mystery, even the sacrifice made by the unfortunate
girl, who forgot every duty, seemed to give new charms to this guilty
passion. In the silence and darkness of secrecy, these two lovers passed
two years of voluptuous delirium, which amounted almost to ecstasy."
At these words Hardy started. For the first time of late his brow was
suffused with a deep blush; his heart throbbed violently; he remembered
that he too had once known the ardent intoxication of a guilty and hidden
love. Though the day was closing rapidly, Rodin cast a sidelong glance
at Hardy, and perceived the impression he had made. "Some times," he
continued, "thinking of the dangers to which his mistress was exposed, if
their connection should be discovered, Rancey wished to sever these
delicious ties; but the girl, beside herself with passion, threw herself
on the neck of her lover, and threatened him, in the language of intense
excitement, to reveal and to brave all, if he thought of leaving her.
Too weak and loving to resist the prayers of his mistress, Rancey again
and again yielded, and they both gave themselves up to a torrent of
delight, which carried them along, forgetful of earth and heaven!"
M. Hardy listened to Rodin with feverish and devouring avidity. The
Jesuit, in painting, with these almost sensual colors, an ardent and
secret love, revived in Hardy burning memories, which till now had been
drowned in tears. To the beneficent calm produced by the mild language
of Gabriel had succeeded a painful agitation, which, mingled with the
reaction of the shocks received that day, began to throw his mind into a
strange state of confusion.
Rodin, having so far succeeded in his object, continued as follows: "A
fatal day came at last. Rancey, obliged to go to the wars, quitted the
girl; but, after a short campaign, he returned, more in love than ever.
He had written privately, to say he would arrive almost immediately after
his letter. He came accordingly. It was night. He ascended, as usual,
the private staircase which led to the chamber of his mistress; he
entered the room, his heart beating with love and hope. His mistress had
died that morning!"
"Ah!" cried Hardy, covering his face with his hands, in terror.
"She was dead," resumed Rodin. "Two wax-candles were burning beside the
funeral couch. Rancey could not, would not believe that she was dead.
He threw himself on his knees by the corpse. In his delirium, he seized
that fair, beloved head, to cover it with kisses. The head parted from
the body, and remained in his hands! Yes," resumed Rodin as Hardy drew
back, pale and mute with terror, "yes, the girl had fallen a victim to so
swift and extraordinary a disease, that she had not been able to receive
the last sacraments. After her death, the doctors, in the hope of
discovering the cause of this unknown malady, had begun to dissect that
As Rodin reached this part of his narrative, night was almost come. A
sort of hazy twilight alone reigned in this silent chamber, in the centre
of which appeared the pale and ghastly form of Rodin, clad in his long
black gown, whilst his eyes seemed to sparkle with diabolic fire.
Overcome by the violent emotions occasioned by this story, in which
thoughts of death and voluptuousness, love and horror, were so strangely
mingled, Hardy remained fixed and motionless, waiting for the words of
Rodin, with a combination of curiosity, anguish and alarm.
"And Rancey?" said he, at last, in an agitated voice, whilst he wiped the
cold sweat from his brow.
"After two days of furious delirium," resumed Rodin, "he renounced the
world, and shut himself up in impenetrable solitude. The first period of
his retreat was frightful; in his despair, he uttered loud yells of grief
and rage, that were audible at some distance. Twice he attempted
suicide, to escape from the terrible visions."
"He had visions, then?" said Hardy, with an increased agony of curiosity.
"Yes," replied Rodin, in a solemn tone, "he had fearful visions. He saw
the girl, who, for his sake, had died in mortal sin, plunged in the heat
of the everlasting flames of hell! On that fair face, disfigured by
infernal tortures, was stamped the despairing laugh of the damned! Her
teeth gnashed with pain; her arms writhed in anguish! She wept tears of
blood, and, with an agonized and avenging voice, she cried to her
seducer: 'Thou art the cause of my perdition--my curse, my curse be upon
As he pronounced these last words, Rodin advanced three steps nearer to
Hardy, accompanying each step with a menacing gesture. If we remember
the state of weakness, trouble, and fear, in which M. Hardy was--if we
remember that the Jesuit had just roused in the soul of this unfortunate
man all the sensual and spiritual memories of a love, cooled, but not
extinguished, in tears--if we remember, too, that Hardy reproached
himself with the seduction of a beloved object, whom her departure from
her duties might (according to the Catholic faith) doom to everlasting
flames--we shall not wonder at the terrible effect of this
phantasmagoria, conjured up in silence and solitude, in the evening dusk,
by this fearful priest.
The effect on Hardy was indeed striking, and the more dangerous, that the
Jesuit, with diabolical craft, seemed only to be carrying out, from
another point of view, the ideas of Gabriel. Had not the young priest
convinced Hardy that nothing is sweeter, than to ask of heaven
forgiveness for those who have sinned, or whom we have led astray? But
forgiveness implies punishment; and it was to the punishment alone that
Rodin drew the attention of his victim, by painting it in these terrible
hues. With hands clasped together, and eye fixed and dilated, Hardy
trembled in all his limbs, and seemed still listening to Rodin, though
the latter had ceased to speak. Mechanically, he repeated: "My curse, my
curse be upon thee?"
Then suddenly he exclaimed, in a kind of frenzy: "The curse is on me
also! The woman, whom I taught to forget her sacred duties, and to
commit mortal sin--one day plunged in the everlasting flames--her arms
writhing in agony--weeping tears of blood--will cry to me from the
bottomless pit: 'My curse, my curse be upon thee!'--One day," he added,
with redoubled terror, "one day?--who knows? perhaps at this moment!--for
if the sea voyage had been fatal to her--if a shipwreck--oh, God! she too
would have died in mortal sin--lost, lost, forever!--Oh, have mercy on
her, my God! Crush me in Thy wrath--but have mercy on her--for I alone am
And the unfortunate man, almost delirious, sank with clasped hands upon
"Sir," cried Rodin, in an affectionate voice, as he hastened to lift him
up, "my dear sir--my dear friend--be calm! Comfort yourself. I cannot
bear to see you despond. Alas! my intention was quite the contrary to
"The curse! the curse! yes, she will curse me also--she, that I loved so
much--in the everlasting flames!" murmured Hardy, shuddering, and
apparently insensible to the other's words.
"But, my dear sir, listen to me, I entreat you," resumed the latter; "let
me finish my story, and then you will find it as consoling as it now
seems terrible. For heaven's sake, remember the adorable words of our
angelic Abbe Gabriel, with regard to the sweetness of prayer."
At the name of Gabriel, Hardy recovered himself a little, and exclaimed,
in a heart-rending tone: "Ay! his words were sweet and beneficent. Where
are they now? For mercy's sake, repeat to me those consoling words."
"Our angelic Abbe Gabriel," resumed Rodin, "spoke to you of the sweetness
"Oh, yes! prayer!"
"Well, my dear sir, listen to me, and you shall see how prayer saved
Rancey, and made a saint of him. Yes, these frightful torments, that I
have just described, these threatening visions, were all conquered by
prayer, and changed into celestial delights."
"I beg of you," said Hardy, in a faint voice, "speak to me of Gabriel,
speak to me of heaven--but no more flames--no more hell--where sinful
women weep tears of blood--"
"No, no," replied Rodin; and even as, in describing hell, his tone had
been harsh and threatening, it now became warm and tender, as he uttered
the following words: "No; we will have no more images of despair--for, as
I have told you, after suffering infernal tortures, Rancey, thanks to the
power of prayer, enjoyed the delights of paradise."
"The delights of paradise?" repeated Hardy, listening with anxious
"One day, at the height of his grief, a priest, a good priest--another
Abbe Gabriel--came to Rancey. Oh, happiness! oh, providential change!
In a few days, he taught the sufferer the sacred mysteries of prayer--
that pious intercession of the creature, addressed to the Creator, in
favor of a soul exposed to the wrath of heaven. Then Rancey seemed
transformed. His grief was at once appeased. He prayed; and the more he
prayed, the greater was his hope. He felt that God listened to his
prayer. Instead of trying to forget his beloved, he now thought of her
constantly, and prayed for her salvation. Happy in his obscure cell,
alone with that adored remembrance, he passed days and nights in praying
for her--plunged in an ineffable, burning, I had almost said amorous
It is impossible to give an idea of the tone of almost sensual energy
with which Rodin pronounced the word "amorous." Hardy started, changing
from hot to cold. For the first time, his weakened mind caught a glimpse
of the fatal pleasures of asceticism, and of that deplorable catalepsy,
described in the lives of St. Theresa, St. Aubierge and others.
Rodin perceived the other's thoughts, and continued "Oh, Rancey was not
now the man to content himself with a vague, passing prayer, uttered in
the whirl of the world's business, which swallows it up, and prevents it
from reaching the ear of heaven. No, no; in the depth of solitude, he
endeavored to make his prayers even more efficacious, so ardently did he
desire the eternal salvation of his mistress."
"What did he do then--oh! what did he do in his solitude?" cried Hardy,
who was now powerless in the hands of the Jesuit.
"First of all," said Rodin, with a slight emphasis, "he became a monk."
"A monk!" repeated Hardy, with a pensive air.
"Yes," resumed Rodin, "he became a monk, because his prayers were thus
more likely to be favorably accepted. And then, as in solitude our
thoughts are apt to wander, he fasted, and mortified his flesh, and
brought into subjection all that was carnal within him, so that, becoming
all spirit, his prayers might issue like a pure flame from his bosom, and
ascend like the perfume of incense to the throne of the Most High!"
"Oh! what a delicious dream!" cried Hardy, more and more under the
influence of the spell; "to pray for the woman we have adored, and to
"Yes; spirit, perfume, light!" said Rodin, with emphasis. "But it is no
dream. How many monks, how many hermits, like Rancey, have, by prayers,
and austerity, and macerations, attained a divine ecstasy! and if you
only knew the celestial pleasures of such ecstasies!--Thus, after he
became a monk, the terrible dreams were succeeded by enchanting visions.
Many times, after a day of fasting, and a night passed in prayers and
macerations, Rancey sank down exhausted on the floor of his cell! Then
the spirit freed itself from the vile clogs of matter. His senses were
absorbed in pleasure; the sound of heavenly harmony struck upon his
ravished car; a bright, mild light, which was not of this world, dawned
upon his half-closed eyes; and, at the height of the melodious vibrations
of the golden harps of the Seraphim, in the centre of a glory, compared
to which the sun is pale, the monk beheld the image of that beloved
"Whom by his prayers he had at length rescued from the eternal flames?"
said Hardy, in a trembling voice.
"Yes, herself," replied Rodin, with eloquent enthusiasm, for this monster
was skilled in every style of speech. "Thanks to the prayers of her
lover, which the Lord had granted, this woman no longer shed tears of
blood--no longer writhed her beautiful arms in the convulsions of
infernal anguish. No, no; still fair--oh! a thousand times fairer than
when she dwelt on earth--fair with the everlasting beauty of angels--she
smiled on her lover with ineffable ardor, and, her eyes beaming with a
mild radiance, she said to him in a tender and passionate voice: 'Glory
to the Lord! glory to thee, O my beloved! Thy prayers and austerities
have saved me. I am numbered amongst the chosen. Thanks, my beloved,
and glory!'--And therewith, radiant in her felicity, she stooped to kiss,
with lips fragrant with immortality, the lips of the enraptured monk--and
their souls mingled in that kiss, burning as love, chaste as divine grace
immense as eternity!"
"Oh!" cried Hardy, completely beside himself; "a whole life of prayer,
fasting, torture, for such a moment--with her, whom I mourn--with her,
whom I have perhaps led to perdition!"
"What do you say? such a moment!" cried Rodin, whose yellow forehead was
bathed in sweat like that of a magnetizer, and who now took Hardy by the
hand, and drew still closer, as if to breathe into him the burning
delirium; "it was not once in his religious life--it was almost every
day, that Rancey, plunged in divine ecstasy, enjoyed these delicious,
ineffable, superhuman pleasures, which are to the pleasures of earth what