Part 28 out of 31
eternity is to man's existence!"
Seeing, no doubt, that Hardy was now at the point to which he wished to
bring him, and the night being almost entirely come, the reverend father
coughed two or three times in a significant manner, and looked towards
the door. At this moment, Hardy, in the height of his frenzy, exclaimed,
with a supplicating voice: "A cell--a tomb--and the Ecstatic Vision!"
The door of the room opened, and Father d'Aigrigny entered, with a cloak
under his arm. A servant followed him, bearing a light.
About ten minutes after this scene, a dozen robust men with frank, open
countenances, led by Agricola, entered the Rue de Vaugirard, and advanced
joyously towards the house of the reverend fathers. It was a deputation
from the former workmen of M. Hardy. They came to escort him, and to
congratulate him on his return amongst them. Agricola walked at their
head. Suddenly he saw a carriage with post-horses issuing from the
gateway of the house. The postilion whipped up the horses, and they
started at full gallop. Was it chance or instinct? The nearer the
carriage approached the group of which he formed a part, the more did
Agricola's heart sink within him.
The impression became so vivid that it was soon changed into a terrible
apprehension; and at the moment when the vehicle, which had its blinds
down, was about to pass close by him, the smith, in obedience to a
resistless impulse, exclaimed, as he rushed to the horses' heads: "Help,
friends! stop them!"
"Postilion! ten louis if you ride over him!" cried from the carriage the
military voice of Father d'Aigrigny.
The cholera was still raging. The postilion had heard of the murder of
the poisoners. Already frightened at the sudden attack of Agricola, he
struck him a heavy blow on the head with the butt of his whip which
stretched him senseless on the ground. Then, spurring with all his
might, he urged his three horses into a triple gallop, and the carriage
rapidly disappeared, whilst Agricola's companions, who had neither
understood his actions nor the sense of his words, crowded around the
smith, and did their best to revive him.
Other events took place a few days after the fatal evening in which M.
Hardy, fascinated and misled by the deplorable, mystic jargon of Rodin,
had implored Father d'Aigrigny on his knees to remove him far from Paris,
into some deep solitude where he might devote himself to a life of prayer
and ascetic austerities. Marshal Simon, since his arrival in Paris, had
occupied, with his two daughters, a house in the Rue des Trois-Freres.
Before introducing the reader into this modest dwelling, we are obliged
to recall to his memory some preceding facts. The day of the burning of
Hardy 's factory, Marshal Simon had come to consult with his father on a
question of the highest importance, and to communicate to him his painful
apprehensions on the subject of the growing sadness of his twin
daughters, which he was unable to explain.
Marshal Simon held in religious reverence the memory of the Great
Emperor. His gratitude to the hero was boundless, his devotion blind,
his enthusiasm founded upon reason, his affection warm as the most
sincere and passionate friendship. But this was not all.
One day the emperor, in a burst of joy and paternal tenderness, had led
the marshal to the cradle of the sleeping King of Rome, and said to him,
as he proudly pointed to the beautiful child: "My old friend, swear to me
that you will serve the son as you have served the father!"
Marshal Simon took and kept that vow. During the Restoration, the chief
of a military conspiracy in favor of Napoleon II., he had attempted in
vain to secure a regiment of cavalry, at that time commanded by the
Marquis d'Aigrigny. Betrayed and denounced, the marshal, after a
desperate duel with the future Jesuit, had succeeded in reaching Poland,
and thus escaping a sentence of death. It is useless to repeat the
series of events which led the marshal from Poland to India, and then
brought him back to Paris after the Revolution of July--an epoch at which
a number of his old comrades in arms had solicited and obtained from the
government, without his knowledge, the confirmation of the rank and title
which the emperor had bestowed upon him just before Waterloo.
On his return to Paris, after his long exile, in spite of all the
happiness he felt in at length embracing his children, Marshal Simon was
deeply affected on learning the death of their mother, whom he adored.
Till the last moment, he had hoped to find her in Paris. The
disappointment was dreadful, and he felt it cruelly, though he sought
consolation in his children's affection.
But soon new causes of trouble and anxiety were interwoven with his life
by the machinations of Rodin. Thanks to the secret intrigues of the
reverend father at the Courts of Rome and Vienna, one of his emissaries,
in a condition to inspire full confidence, and provided with undeniable
evidence to support his words, went to Marshal Simon, and said to him:
"The son of the emperor is dying, the victim of the fears with which the
name of Napoleon still inspires Europe.
"From this slow expiring, you, Marshal Simon, one of the emperor's most
faithful friends, are able to rescue this unfortunate prince.
"The correspondence in my hand proves that it would be easy to open
relations, of the surest and most secret nature, with one of the most
influential persons about the King of Rome, and this person would be
disposed to favor the prince's escape.
"It is possible, by a bold, unexpected stroke, to deliver Napoleon II.
from the custody of Austria, which would leave him to perish by inches in
an atmosphere that is fatal to him.
"The enterprise may be a rash one, but it has chances of success that you
Marshal Simon, more than any other, could change into certainties; for
your devotion to the emperor is well known, and we remember with what
adventurous audacity you conspired, in 1815, in favor of Napoleon II."
The state of languor and decline of the King of Rome was then in France a
matter of public notoriety. People even went so far as to affirm that
the son of the hero was carefully trained by priests, who kept him in
complete ignorance of the glory of his paternal name; and that, by the
most execrable machinations, they strove day by day to extinguish every
noble and generous instinct that displayed itself in the unfortunate
youth. The coldest hearts were touched and softened at the story of so
sad and fatal a destiny. When we remember the heroic character and
chivalrous loyalty of Marshal Simon, and his passionate devotion to the
emperor, we can understand how the father of Rose and Blanche was more
interested than any one else in the fate of the young prince, and how, if
occasion offered, he would feel himself obliged not to confine his
efforts to mere regrets. With regard to the reality of the
correspondence produced by Rodin's emissary, it had been submitted by the
marshal to a searching test, by means of his intimacy with one of his old
companions in arms, who had been for a long period on a mission to
Vienna, in the time of the empire. The result of this investigation,
conducted with as much prudence as address, so that nothing should
transpire, showed that the marshal might give his serious attention to
the advances made him.
Hence, this proposition threw the father of Rose and Blanche into a cruel
perplexity; for, to attempt so bold and dangerous an enterprise, he must
once more abandon his children; whilst, on the contrary, if, alarmed at
this separation, he renounced the endeavor to save the King of Rome,
whose lingering death was perfectly true and well authenticated, the
marshal would consider himself as false to the vow he had sworn to the
emperor. To end these painful hesitations, full of confidence in the
inflexible uprightness of his father's character, the marshal had gone to
ask his advice; unfortunately the old republican workman, mortally
wounded during the attack on M. Hardy's factory, but still pondering over
the serious communication of his son, died with these words upon his
Lips: "My son, you have a great duty to perform, under pain of not acting
like a man of honor, and of disobeying my last will. You must, without
But, by a deplorable fatality, the last words, which would have completed
the sense of the old workman's thought, were spoken in so feeble a voice
as to be quite unintelligible. He died, leaving Marshal Simon in a worse
state of anxiety, as one of the two courses open to him had now been
formally condemned by his father, in whose judgment he had the most
implicit and merited confidence. In a word, his mind was now tortured by
the doubt whether his father had intended, in the name of honor and duty,
to advise him not to abandon his children, to engage in so hazardous an
enterprise, or whether, on the contrary, he had wished him to leave them
for a time, to perform the vow made to the emperor, and endeavor at least
to rescue Napoleon II. from a captivity that might soon be mortal.
This perplexity, rendered more cruel by certain circumstances, to be
related hereafter, the tragical death of his father, who had expired in
his arms; the incessant and painful remembrance of his wife, who had
perished in a land of exile; and finally, the grief he felt at perceiving
the overgrowing sadness of Rose and Blanche, occasioned severe shocks to
Marshal Simon. Let us add that, in spite of his natural intrepidity, so
nobly proved by twenty years of war, the ravages of the cholera, the same
terrible malady to which his wife had fallen a victim in Siberia, filled
the marshal with involuntary dread. Yes, this man of iron nerves, who
had coolly braved death in so many battles, felt the habitual firmness of
his character give way at sight of the scenes of desolation and mourning
which Paris offered at every step. Yet, when Mdlle. de Cardoville
gathered round her the members of her family, to warn them against the
plot of their enemies, the affectionate tenderness of Adrienne for Rose
and Blanche appeared to exercise so happy an influence on their
mysterious sorrow, that the marshal, forgetting for a moment his fatal
regrets, thought only of enjoying this blessed change, which, alas! was
but of short duration. Having now recalled these facts to the mind of
the reader, we shall continue our story.
We have stated that Marshal Simon occupied a small house in the Rue des
Trois-Freres. Two o'clock in the afternoon had just struck in the
marshal's sleeping-chamber, a room furnished with military simplicity.
In the recess, in which stood the bed, hung a trophy composed of the arms
used by the marshal during his campaigns. On the secretary opposite was
a small bronze bust of the emperor, the only ornament of the apartment.
Out of doors the temperature was far from warm, and the marshal had
become susceptible to cold during his long residence in India. A good
fire therefore blazed upon the hearth. A door, concealed by the
hangings, and leading to a back staircase, opened slowly, and a man
entered the chamber. He carried a basket of wood, and advanced leisurely
to the fireplace, before which he knelt clown, and began to arrange the
logs symmetrically in a box that stood besides the hearth. After some
minutes occupied in this manner, still kneeling, he gradually approached
another door, at a little distance from the chimney, and appeared to
listen with deep attention, as if he wished to hear what was passing in
the next room.
This man, employed as an inferior servant in the house, had the most
ridiculously stupid look that can be imagined. His functions consisted
in carrying wood, running errands, etc. In other respects he was a kind
of laughing-stock to the other servants. In a moment of good humor,
Dagobert, who filled the post of major-domo, had given this idiot the
name of "Loony" (lunatic), which he had retained ever since, and which he
deserved in every respect, as well for his awkwardness and folly as for
his unmeaning face, with its grotesquely flat nose, sloping chin, and
wide, staring eyes. Add to this description a jacket of red stuff, and a
triangular white apron, and we must acknowledge that the simpleton was
quite worthy of his name.
Yet, at the moment when Loony listened so attentively at the door of the
adjoining room, a ray of quick intelligence animated for an instant his
dull and stupid countenance.
When he had thus listened for a short time, Loony returned to the
fireplace, still crawling on his knees; then rising, he again took his
basket half full of wood, and once more approaching the door at which he
had listened knocked discreetly. No one answered. He knocked a second
time, and more loudly. Still there was the same silence.
Then he said, in a harsh, squeaking, laughable voice: "Ladies, do you
want any wood, if you please, for your fire?"
Receiving no answer, Loony placed his basket on the ground, opened the
door gently, and entered the next room, after casting a rapid glance
around. He came out again in a few seconds, looking from side to side
with an anxious air, like a man who had just accomplished some important
and mysterious task.
Taking up his basket, he was about to leave Marshal Simon's room, when
the door of the private staircase was opened slowly and with precaution,
and Dagobert appeared.
The soldier, evidently surprised at the servant's presence, knitted his
brows, and exclaimed abruptly, "What are you doing here?"
At this sudden interrogation, accompanied by a growl expressive of the
ill-humor of Spoil-sport, who followed close on his master's heels, Loony
uttered a cry of real or pretended terror. To give, perhaps, an
appearance of greater reality to his dread, the supposed simpleton let
his basket fall on the ground, as if astonishment and fear had loosened
his hold of it.
"What are you doing, numbskull?" resumed Dagobert, whose countenance was
impressed with deep sadness, and who seemed little disposed to laugh at
the fellow's stupidity.
"Oh, M. Dagobert! how you frighten me! Dear me! what a pity I had not an
armful of plates, to prove it was not my fault if I broke them all."
"I ask what you are doing," resumed the soldier.
"You see, M. Dagobert," replied Loony, pointing to his basket, "that I
came with some wood to master's room, so that he might burn it, if it was
cold--which it is."
"Very well. Pick up your wood, and begone!"
"Oh, M. Dagobert! my legs tremble under me. How you did scare me, to be
"Will you begone, brute?" resumed the veteran; and seizing Loony by the
arm, he pushed him towards the door, while Spoil-sport, with recumbent
ears, and hair standing up like the quills of a porcupine, seemed
inclined to accelerate his retreat.
"I am going, M. Dagobert, I am going," replied the simpleton, as he
hastily gathered up his basket; "only please to tell the dog--"
"Go to the devil, you stupid chatterbox!" cried Dagobert, as he pushed
Loony through the doorway.
Then the soldier bolted the door which led to the private staircase, and
going to that which communicated with the apartments of the two sisters,
he double-locked it. Having done this, he hastened to the alcove in
which stood the bed and taking down a pair of loaded pistols, he
carefully removed the percussion caps, and, unable to repress a deep
sigh, restored the weapons to the place in which he had found them.
Then, as if on second thoughts, he took down an Indian dagger with a very
sharp blade, and drawing it from its silver-gilt sheath, proceeded to
break the point of this murderous instrument, by twisting it beneath one
of the iron castors of the bed.
Dagobert then proceeded to unfasten the two doors, and, returning slowly
to the marble chimney-piece, he leaned against it with a gloomy and
pensive air. Crouching before the fire, Spoil-sport followed with an
attentive eye the least movement of his master. The good dog displayed a
rare and intelligent sagacity. The soldier, having drawn out his
handkerchief, let fall, without perceiving it, a paper containing a roll
of tobacco. Spoil-sport, who had all the qualities of a retriever of the
Rutland race, took the paper between his teeth, and, rising upon his
hind-legs, presented it respectfully to Dagobert. But the latter
received it mechanically, and appeared indifferent to the dexterity of
his dog. The grenadier's countenance revealed as much sorrow as anxiety.
After remaining for some minutes near the fire, with fixed and meditative
look, he began to walk about the room in great agitation, one of his
hands thrust into the bosom of his long blue frock-coat, which was
buttoned up to the chin, and the other into one of his hind-pockets.
From time to time he stopped abruptly, and seemed to make reply to his
own thoughts, or uttered an exclamation of doubt and uneasiness; then,
turning towards the trophy of arms, he shook his head mournfully, and
murmured, "No matter--this fear may be idle; but he has acted so
extraordinarily these two days, that it is at all events more prudent--"
He continued his walk, and said, after a new and prolonged silence: "Yes
he must tell me. It makes me too uneasy. And then the poor children--it
is enough to break one's heart."
And Dagobert hastily drew his moustache between his thumb and forefinger,
a nervous movement, which with him was an evident symptom of extreme
agitation. Some minutes after, the soldier resumed, still answering his
inward thoughts: "What can it be? It is hardly possible to be the
letters, they are too infamous; he despises them. And yet But no, no--
he is above that!"
And Dagobert again began to walk with hasty steps. Suddenly, Spoil-sport
pricked up his ears, turned his head in the direction of the staircase
door, and growled hoarsely. A few seconds after, some one knocked at the
"Who is there?" said Dagobert. There was no answer, but the person
knocked again. Losing patience, the soldier went hastily to open it, and
saw the servant's stupid face.
"Why don't you answer, when I ask who knocks!" said the soldier, angrily.
"M. Dagobert, you sent me away just now, and I was afraid of making you
cross, if I said I had come again."
"What do you want? Speak then--come in, stupid!" cried the exasperated.
Dagobert, as he pulled him into the room.
"M. Dagobert, don't be angry--I'll tell you all about it--it is a young
"He wants to speak to you directly, Mr. Dagobert."
"His name, M. Dagobert?" replied Loony, rolling about and laughing with
an idiotic air.
"Yes, his name. Speak, idiot!"
"Oh, M. Dagobert! it's all in joke that you ask me his name!"
"You are determined, fool that you are, to drive me out of my senses!"
cried the soldier, seizing Loony by the collar. "The name of this young
"Don't be angry, M. Dagobert. I didn't tell you the name because you
"Beast!" said Dagobert, shaking his fist at him.
"Yes, you do know it, M. Dagobert, for the young man is your own son. He
is downstairs, and wants to speak to you directly--yes, directly."
The stupidity was so well assumed, that Dagobert was the dupe of it.
Moved to compassion rather than anger by such imbecility, he looked
fixedly at the servant, shrugged his shoulders, and said, as he advanced
towards the staircase, "Follow me!"
Loony obeyed; but, before closing the door, he drew a letter secretly
from his pocket, and dropped it behind him without turning his head,
saying all the while to Dagobert, for the purpose of occupying his
attention: "Your son is in the court, M. Dagobert. He would not come up
--that's why he is still downstairs!"
Thus talking, he closed the door, believing he had left the letter on the
floor of Marshal Simon's room. But he had reckoned without Spoil-sport.
Whether he thought it more prudent to bring up the rear, or, from
respectful deference for a biped, the worthy dog had been the last to
leave the room, and, being a famous carrier, as soon as he saw the letter
dropped by Loony, he took it delicately between his teeth, and followed
close on the heels of the servant, without the latter perceiving this new
proof of the intelligence and sagacity of Spoil-sport.
THE ANONYMOUS LETTERS.
We will explain presently what became of the letter, which Spoil-sport
held between his teeth, and why he left his master, when the latter ran
to meet Agricola. Dagobert had not seen his son for some days.
Embracing him cordially, he led him into one of the rooms on the ground-
floor, which he usually occupied. "And how is your wife?" said the
soldier to his son.
"She is well, father, thank you."
Perceiving a great change in Agricola's countenance, Dagobert resumed:
"You look sad. Has anything gone wrong since I saw you last?"
"All is over, father. We have lost him," said the smith, in a tone of
"M. Hardy!--why, three days ago, you told me you were going to see him."
"Yes, father, I have seen him--and my dear brother Gabriel saw him and
spoke to him--how he speaks! with a voice that comes from the heart!--and
he had so revived and encouraged him, that M. Hardy consented to return
amongst us. Then I, wild with joy, ran to tell the good news to some of
my mates, who were waiting to hear the result of nay interview with M.
Hardy. I brought them all with me to thank and bless him. We were
within a hundred yards of the house belonging to the black-gowns--"
"Ali, the black-gowns!" said Dagobert, with a gloomy air. "Then some
mischief will happen. I know them."
"You are not mistaken, father," answered Agricola, with a sigh. "I was
running on with my comrades, when I saw a carriage coming towards us.
Some presentiment told me that they were taking away M. Hardy."
"By force!" said Dagobert, hastily.
"No," answered Agricola, bitterly; "no--the priests are too cunning for
that. They know how to make you an accomplice in the evil they do you.
Shall I not always remember how they managed with my good mother?"
"Yes, the worthy woman! there was a poor fly caught in the spider's web.
But this carriage, of which you speak?"
"On seeing it start from the house of the black-gowns," replied Agricola,
"my heart sank within me; and, by an impulse stronger than myself, I
rushed to the horses' heads, calling on my comrades to help me. But the
postilion knocked me down and stunned me with a blow from his whip. When
I recovered my senses, the carriage was already far away."
"You were not hurt?" cried Dagobert, anxiously, as he examined his son
from top to toe.
"No, father; a mere scratch."
"What did you next, my boy?"
"I hastened to our good angel, Mdlle. de Cardoville, and told her all.
'You must follow M. Hardy on the instant,' said she to me. 'Take my
carriage and post-horses. Dupont will accompany you; follow M. Hardy
from stage to stage; should you succeed in overtaking him your presence
and your prayers may perhaps conquer the fatal influence that these
priests have acquired over him.'"
"It was the best advice she could give you. That excellent young lady is
"An hour after, we were upon our way, for we learned by the returned
postilions, that M. Hardy had taken the Orleans road. We followed him as
far as Etampes. There we heard that he had taken a cross-road, to reach
a solitary house in a valley about four leagues from the highway. They
told us that this house called the Val-de-St. Herem, belonged to certain
priests, and that, as the night was so dark, and the road so bad, we had
better sleep at the inn, and start early in the morning. We followed
this advice, and set out at dawn. In a quarter of an hour, we quitted
the high-road for a mountainous and desert track. We saw nothing but
brown rocks, and a few birch trees. As we advanced, the scene became
wilder and wilder. We might have fancied ourselves a hundred leagues
from Paris. At last we stopped in front of a large, old, black-looking
house with only a few small windows in it, and built at the foot of a
high, rocky mountain. In my whole life I have never seen anything so
deserted and sad. We got out of the carriage, and I rang the bell. A
man opened the door. 'Did not the Abbe d'Aigrigny arrive here last night
with a gentleman?' said I to this man, with a confidential air. 'Inform
the gentleman directly, that I come on business of importance, and that I
must see him forthwith.'--The man, believing me an accomplice, showed us
in immediately; a moment after, the Abbe d'Aigrigny opened the door, saw
me, and drew back; yet, in five minutes more, I was in presence of M.
"Well!" said Dagobert, with interest.
Agricola shook his head sorrowfully, and replied: "I knew by the very
countenance of M. Hardy, that all was over. Addressing me in a mild but
firm voice, he said to me: 'I understand, I can even excuse, the motives
that bring you hither. But I am quite determined to live henceforth in
solitude and prayer. I take this resolution freely and voluntarily,
because I would fain provide for the salvation of my soul. Tell your
fellows that my arrangements will be such as to leave them a good
remembrance of me.'--And as I was about to speak, M. Hardy interrupted
me, saying: 'It is useless, my friend. My determination is unalterable.
Do not write to me, for your letters would remain unanswered. Prayer
will henceforth be my only occupation. Excuse me for leaving you, but I
am fatigued from my journey!'--He spoke the truth for he was as pale as a
spectre, with a kind of wildness about the eyes, and so changed since the
day before, as to be hardly the same man. His hand, when he offered it
on parting from me, was dry and burning. The Abbe d'Aigrigny soon came
in. 'Father,' said M. Hardy to him, 'have the goodness to see M. Baudoin
to the door.'--So saying, he waved his hand to me in token of farewell,
and retired to the next chamber. All was over; he is lost to us
"Yes," said Dagobert, "those black-gowns have enchanted him, like so many
"In despair," resumed Agricola, "I returned hither with M. Dupont. This,
then, is what the priests have made of M. Hardy--of that generous man,
who supported nearly three hundred industrious workmen in order and
happiness, increasing their knowledge, improving their hearts, and
earning the benediction of that little people, of which he was the
providence. Instead of all this, M. Hardy is now forever reduced to a
gloomy and unavailing life of contemplation."
"Oh, the black-gowns!" said Dagobert, shuddering, and unable to conceal a
vague sense of fear. "The longer I live, the more I am afraid of them.
You have seen what those people did to your poor mother; you see what
they have just done to M. Hardy; you know their plots against my two poor
orphans, and against that generous young lady. Oh, these people are very
powerful! I would rather face a battalion of Russian grenadiers, than a
dozen of these cassocks. But don't let's talk of it. I have causes
enough beside for grief and fear."
Then seeing the astonished look of Agricola, the soldier, unable to
restrain his emotion, threw himself into the arms of his son, exclaiming
with a choking voice: "I can hold out no longer. My heart is too full.
I must speak; and whom shall I trust if not you?"
"Father, you frighten me!" said Agricola, "What is the matter?"
"Why, you see, had it not been for you and the two poor girls, I should
have blown out my brains twenty times over rather than see what I see--
and dread what I do."
"What do you dread, father?"
"Since the last few days, I do not know what has come over the marshal--
but he frightens me."
"Yet in his last interviews with Mdlle. de Cardoville--"
"Yes, he was a little better. By her kind words, this generous young
lady poured balm into his wounds; the presence of the young Indian
cheered him; he appeared to shake off his cares, and his poor little
girls felt the benefit of the change. But for some days, I know not what
demon has been loosed against his family. It is enough to turn one's
head. First of all, I am sure that the anonymous letters have begun
"What letters, father?"
"The anonymous letters."
"But what are they about?"
"You know how the marshal hated that renegade, the Abbe d'Aigrigny. When
he found that the traitor was here, and that he had persecuted the two
orphans, even as he persecuted their mother to the death--but that now he
had become a priest--I thought the marshal would have gone mad with
indignation and fury. He wishes to go in search of the renegade. With
one word I calmed him. 'He is a priest,' I said; 'you may do what you
will, insult or strike him--he will not fight. He began by serving
against his country, he ends by becoming a bad priest. It is all in
character. He is not worth spitting upon.'--'But surely I may punish the
wrong done to my children, and avenge the death of my wife,' cried the
marshal, much exasperated.--'They say, as you well know, that there are
courts of law to avenge your wrongs,' answered I; 'Mdlle. de Cardoville
has lodged a charge against the renegade, for having attempted to confine
your daughters in a convent. We must champ the bit and wait."'
"Yes," said Agricola, mournfully, "and unfortunately there lacks proof to
bring it home to the Abbe d'Aigrigny. The other day, when I was examined
by Mdlle. de Cardoville's lawyer, with regard to our attempt on the
convent, he told me that we should meet with obstacles at every step, for
want of legal evidence, and that the priests had taken their precautions
with so much skill that the indictment would be quashed."
"That is just what the marshal thinks, my boy, and this increases his
irritation at such injustice."
"He should despise the wretches."
"But the anonymous letters!"
"Well, what of them, father?"
"You shall know all. A brave and honorable man like the marshal, when
his first movement of indignation was over, felt that to insult the
renegade disguised in the garb of a priest, would be like insulting an
old man or a woman. He determined therefore to despise him, and to
forget him as soon as possible. But then, almost every day, there came
by the post anonymous letters, in which all sorts of devices were
employed, to revive and excite the anger of the marshal against the
renegade by reminding him of all the evil contrived by the Abbe
d'Aigrigny against him and his family. The marshal was reproached with
cowardice for not taking vengeance on this priest, the persecutor of his
wife and children, the insolent mocker at his misfortunes."
"And from whom do you suspect these letters to come, father?"
"I cannot tell--it is that which turns one's brain. They must come from
the enemies of the marshal, and he has no enemies but the black-gowns."
"But, father, since these letters are to excite his anger against the
Abbe d'Aigrigny, they can hardly have been written by priests."
"That is what I have said to myself."
"But what, then, can be their object?"
"Their object? oh, it is too plain!" cried Dagobert. "The marshal is
hasty, ardent; he has a thousand reasons to desire vengeance on the
renegade. But he cannot do himself justice, and the other sort of
justice fails him. Then what does he do? He endeavors to forget, he
forgets. But every day there comes to him an insolent letter, to provoke
and exasperate his legitimate hatred, by mockeries and insults. Devil
take me! my head is not the weakest--but, at such a game, I should go
"Father, such a plot would be horrible, and only worthy of hell!"
"And that is not all."
"The marshal has received other letters; those he has not shown me--but,
after he had read the first, he remained like a man struck motionless,
and murmured to himself: 'They do not even respect that--oh! it is too
much--too much!'--And, hiding his face in his hands he wept."
"The marshal wept!" cried the blacksmith, hardly able to believe what he
"Yes," answered Dagobert, "he wept like a child."
"And what could these letters contain, father?"
"I did not venture to ask him, he appeared so miserable and dejected."
"But thus harassed and tormented incessantly, the marshal must lead a
"And his poor little girls too! he sees them grow sadder and sadder,
without being able to guess the cause. And the death of his father,
killed almost in his arms! Perhaps, you will think all this enough; but,
no! I am sure there is something still more painful behind. Lately, you
would hardly know the marshal. He is irritable about nothing, and falls
into such fits of passion, that--" After a moment's hesitation, the
soldier resumed: "I way tell this to you, my poor boy. I have just been
upstairs, to take the caps from his pistols."
"What, father!" cried Agricola; "you fear--"
"In the state of exasperation in which I saw him yesterday, there is
everything to fear."
" What then happened?"
"Since some time, he has often long secret interviews with a gentleman,
who looks like an old soldier and a worthy man. I have remarked that the
gloom and agitation of the marshal are always redoubled after one of
these visits. Two or three times, I have spoken to him about it; but I
saw by his look, that I displeased him, and therefore I desisted.
"Well! yesterday, this gentleman came in the evening. He remained here
until eleven o'clock, and his wife came to fetch him, and waited for him
in a coach. After his departure, I went up to see if the marshal wanted
anything. He was very pale, but calm; he thanked me, and I came down
again. You know that my room is just under his. I could hear the
marshal walking about as if much agitated, and soon after he seemed to be
knocking down the furniture. In alarm, I once more went upstairs. He
asked me, with an irritated air, what I wanted, and ordered me to leave
the room. Seeing him in that way, I remained; he grew more angry, still
I remained; perceiving a chair and table thrown down, I pointed to them
with so sad an air that he understood me. You know that he has the best
heart in the world, so, taking me by the hand, he said to me: 'Forgive me
for causing you this uneasiness, my good Dagobert; but just now, I lost
my senses, and gave way to a burst of absurd fury; I think I should have
thrown myself out of the window, had it been open. I only hope, that my
poor dear girls have not heard me,' added he, as he went on tip-toe to
open the door which communicates with his daughters' bedroom. When he
had listened anxiously for a moment, he returned to me, and said:
"Luckily, they are asleep.'--Then I asked him what was the cause of his
agitation, and if, in spite of my precautions, he had received any more
anonymous letters. 'No,' replied he, with a gloomy air; 'but leave me,
my friend. I am now better. It has done me good to see you. Good--
night, old comrade! go downstairs to bed.'--I took care not to contradict
him; but, pretending to go down, I came up again, and seated myself on
the top stair, listening. No doubt, to calm himself entirely, the
marshal went to embrace his children, for I heard him open and shut their
door. Then he returned to his room, and walked about for a long time,
but with a more quiet step. At last, I heard him throw himself on his
bed, and I came down about break of day. After that, all remained
"But whatever can be the matter with him, father?"
"I do not know. When I went up to him, I was astonished at the agitation
of his countenance, and the brilliancy of his eyes. He would have looked
much the same, had he been delirious, or in a burning fever--so that,
when I heard him say, he could have thrown himself out of the window, had
it been open, I thought it more prudent to remove the caps from his
"I cannot understand it!" said Agricola. "So firm, intrepid, and cool a
man as the marshal, a prey to such violence!"
"I tell you that something very extraordinary is passing within him. For
two days, he has not been to see his children, which is always a bad sign
with him--to say nothing of the poor little angels themselves, who are
miserable at the notion that they have displeased their father. They
displease him! If you only knew the life they lead, dear creatures! a
walk or ride with me and their companion, for I never let them go out
alone, and, the rest of their time, at their studies, reading, or
needlework--always together--and then to bed. Yet their duenna, who is,
I think, a worthy woman, tells me that sometimes at night, she has seen
them shed tears in their sleep. Poor children! they have hitherto known
but little happiness," added the soldier, with a sigh.
At this moment, hearing some one walk hastily across the courtyard,
Dagobert raised his eyes, and saw Marshal Simon, with pale face and
bewildered air, holding in his two hands a letter, which he seemed to
read with devouring anxiety.
THE GOLDEN CITY.
While Marshal Simon was crossing the little court with so agitated an
air, reading the anonymous letter, which he had received by Spoil-sport's
unexpected medium, Rose and Blanche were alone together, in the sitting-
room they usually occupied, which had been entered for a moment by Loony
during their absence. The poor children seemed destined to a succession
of sorrows. At the moment their mourning for their mother drew near its
close, the tragical death of their grandfather had again dressed them in
funereal weeds. They were seated together upon a couch, in front of
their work-table. Grief often produces the effect of years. Hence, in a
few months, Rose and Blanche had become quite young women. To the
infantine grace of their charming faces, formerly so plump and rosy, but
now pale and thin, had succeeded an expression of grave and touching
sadness. Their large, mild eyes of limpid azure, which always had a
dreamy character, were now never bathed in those joyous tears, with which
a burst of frank and hearty laughter used of old to adorn their silky
lashes, when the comic coolness of Dagobert, or some funny trick of
Spoil-sport, cheered them in the course of their long and weary
In a word, those delightful faces, which the flowery pencil of Greuze
could alone have painted in all their velvet freshness, were now worthy
of inspiring the melancholy ideal of the immortal Ary Scheffer, who gave
us Mignon aspiring to Paradise, and Margaret dreaming of Faust. Rose,
leaning back on the couch, held her head somewhat bowed upon her bosom,
over which was crossed a handkerchief of black crape. The light
streaming from a window opposite, shone softly on her pure, white
forehead, crowned by two thick bands of chestnut hair. Her look was
fixed, and the open arch of her eyebrows, now somewhat contracted,
announced a mind occupied with painful thoughts. Her thin, white little
hands had fallen upon her knees, but still held the embroidery, on which
she had been engaged. The profile of Blanche was visible, leaning a
little towards her sister, with an expression of tender and anxious
solicitude, whilst her needle remained in the canvas, as if she had just
ceased to work.
"Sister," said Blanche, in a low voice, after some moments of silence,
during which the tears seemed to mount to her eyes, "tell me what you are
thinking of. You look so sad."
"I think of the Golden City of our dreams," replied Rose, almost in a
whisper, after another short silence.
Blanche understood the bitterness of these words. Without speaking, she
threw herself on her sister's neck, and wept. Poor girls! the Golden
City of their dreams was Paris, with their father in it--Paris, the
marvellous city of joys and festivals, through all of which the orphans
had beheld the radiant and smiling countenance of their sire! But, alas!
the Beautiful City had been changed into a place of tears, and death, and
mourning. The same terrible pestilence which had struck down their
mother in the heart of Siberia, seemed to have followed them like a dark
and fatal cloud, which, always hovering above them, hid the mild blue of
the sky, and the joyous light of the sun.
The Golden City of their dreams! It was the place, where perhaps one day
their father would present to them two young lovers, good and fair as
themselves. "They love you," he was to say; "they are worthy of you.
Let each of you have a brother, and me two sons." Then what chaste,
enchanting confusion for those two orphans, whose hearts, pure as
crystal, had never reflected any image but that of Gabriel, the celestial
messenger sent by their mother to protect them!
We can therefore understand the painful emotion of Blanche, when she
heard her sister repeat, with bitter melancholy, those words which
described their whole situation: "I think of the Golden City of our
"Who knows?" proceeded Blanche, drying her sister's tears; "perhaps,
happiness may yet be in store for us."
"Alas! if we are not happy with our father by us--shall we ever be so?"
"Yes, when we rejoin our mother," said Blanche, lifting her eyes to
"Then, sister, this dream may be a warning--it is so like that we had in
"The difference being that then the Angel Gabriel came down from heaven
to us, and that this time he takes us from earth, to our mother."
"And this dream will perhaps come true, like the other, my sister. We
dreamt that the Angel Gabriel would protect us, and he came to save us
from the shipwreck."
"And, this time, we dream that he will lead us to heaven. Why should not
that happen also?"
"But to bring that about, sister, our Gabriel, who saved us from the
shipwreck, must die also. No, no; that must not happen. Let us pray
that it may not happen."
"No, it will not happen--for it is only Gabriel's good angel, who is so
like him, that we saw in our dreams."
"Sister, dear, how singular is this dream!--Here, as in Germany, we have
both dreamt the same--three times, the very same!"
"It is true. The Angel Gabriel bent over us, and looked at us with so
mild and sad an air, saying: 'Come, my children! come, my sisters! Your
mother waits for you. Poor children, arrived from so far!' added he in
his tender voice: 'You have passed over the earth, gentle and innocent as
two doves, to repose forever in the maternal nest.'"
"Yes, those were the words of the archangel," said the other orphan, with
a pensive air; "we have done no harm to any one, and we have loved those
who loved us--why should we fear to die?"
"Therefore, dear sister, we rather smiled than wept, when he took us by
the hand, and, spreading wide his beautiful white wings, carried us along
with him to the blue depths of the sky."
"To heaven, where our dear mother waited for us with open arms, her face
all bathed in tears."
"Oh, sweet sister! one has not dreams like ours for nothing. And then,"
added she, looking at Rose, with a sad smile that went to the heart, "our
death might perhaps end the sorrow, of which we have been the cause."
"Alas! it is not our fault. We love him so much. But we are so timid
and sorrowful before him, that he may perhaps think we love him not."
So saying, Rose took her handkerchief from her workbasket, to dry her
fears; a paper, folded in the form of a letter, fell out.
At this sight, the two shuddered, and pressed close to one mother, and
Rose said to Blanche, in a trembling voice: "Another of these letters!--
Oh, I am afraid! It will doubtless be like the last."
"We must pick it up quickly, that it may not be seen," said Blanche,
hastily stooping to seize the letter; "the people who take interest in us
might otherwise be exposed to great danger."
"But how could this letter come to us?"
"How did the others come to be placed right under our hand, and always in
the absence of our duenna?"
"It is true. Why seek to explain the mystery? We should never be able
to do so. Let us read the letter. It will perhaps be more favorable to
us than the last." And the two sisters read as follows:--
"Continue to love your father, dear children, for he is very miserable,
and you are the involuntary cause of his distress. You will never know
the terrible sacrifices that your presence imposes on him; but, alas! he
is the victim of his paternal duties. His sufferings are more cruel than
ever; spare him at least those marks of tenderness, which occasion him so
much more pain than pleasure. Each caress is a dagger-stroke, for he
sees in you the innocent cause of his misfortunes. Dear children, you
must not therefore despair. If you have enough command over yourselves,
not to torture him by the display of too warm a tenderness, if you can
mingle some reserve with your affection, you will greatly alleviate his
sorrow. Keep these letters a secret from every one, even from good
Dagobert, who loves you so much; otherwise, both he and you, your father,
and the unknown friend who is writing to you, will be exposed to the
utmost peril, for your enemies are indeed formidable. Courage and hope!
May your father's tenderness be once more free from sorrow and regret!--
That happy day is perhaps not so far distant. Burn this letter like all
The above note was written with so much cunning that, even supposing the
orphans had communicated it to their father or Dagobert, it would at the
worst have been considered a strange, intrusive proceeding, but almost
excusable from the spirit in which it was conceived. Nothing could have
been contrived with more perfidious art, if we consider the cruel
perplexity in which Marshal Simon was struggling between the fear of
again leaving his children and the shame of neglecting what he considered
a sacred duty. All the tenderness, all the susceptibility of heart which
distinguished the orphans, had been called into play by these diabolical
counsels, and the sisters soon perceived that their presence was in fact
both sweet and painful to their father; for sometimes he felt himself
incapable of leaving them, and sometimes the thought of a neglected duty
spread a cloud of sadness over his brow. Hence the poor twins could not
fail to value the fatal meaning of the anonymous letters they received.
They were persuaded that, from some mysterious motive, which they were
unable to penetrate, their presence was often importunate and even
painful to their father. Hence the growing sadness of Rose and Blanche--
hence the sort of fear and reserve which restrained the expression of
their filial tenderness. A most painful situation for the marshal, who
deceived by inexplicable appearances, mistook, in his turn, their manner
of indifference to him--and so, with breaking heart, and bitter grief
upon his face, often abruptly quitted his children to conceal his tears!
And the desponding orphans said to each other: "We are the cause of our
father's grief. It is our presence which makes him so unhappy."
The reader may new judge what ravages such a thought, when fixed and
incessant, must have made on these young, loving, timid, and simple
hearts. Haw could the orphans be on their guard against such anonymous
communications, which spoke with reverence of all they loved, and seemed
every day justified by the conduct of their father? Already victims of
numerous plots, and hearing that they were surrounded by enemies, we can
understand, how faithful to the advice of their unknown friend, they
forbore to confide to Dagobert these letters, in which he was so justly
appreciated. The object of the proceeding was very plain. By
continually harassing the marshal on all sides, and persuading him of the
coldness of his children, the conspirators might naturally hope to
conquer the hesitation which had hitherto prevented his again quitting
his daughters to embark in a dangerous enterprise. To render the
marshal's life so burdensome that he would desire to seek relief from his
torments in airy project of daring and generous chivalry, was one of the
ends proposed by Rodin--and, as we have seen, it wanted neither logic nor
After having read the letter, the two remained for a moment silent and
dejected. Then Rose, who held the paper in her hand, started up
suddenly, approached the chimneypiece, and threw the letter into the
fire, saying, with a timid air: "We must burn it quickly, or perhaps some
great danger will ensue."
"What greater misfortune can happen to us," said Blanche, despondingly,
"than to cause such sorrow to our father? What can be the reason of it?"
"Perhaps," said Rose, whose tears were slowly trickling down her cheek,
"he does not find us what he could have desired. He may love us well as
the children of our poor mother, but we are not the daughters he had
dreamed of. Do you understand me, sister?"
"Yes, yes--that is perhaps what occasioned all his sorrow. We are so
badly informed, so wild, so awkward, that he is no doubt ashamed of us;
and, as he loves us in spite of all, it makes him suffer."
"Alas! it is not our fault. Our dear mother brought us up in the deserts
of Siberia as well as she could."
"Oh! father himself does not reproach us with it; only it gives him
"Particularly if he has friends whose daughters are very beautiful, and
possessed of all sorts of talents. Then he must bitterly regret that we
are not the same."
"Dost remember when he took us to see our cousin, Mdlle. Adrienne, who
was so affectionate and kind to us, that he said to us, with admiration:
'Did you notice her, my children? How beautiful she is, and what talent,
what a noble heart, and therewith such grace and elegance!'"
"Oh, it is very true! Mdlle. de Cardoville is so beautiful, her voice is
so sweet and gentle, that, when we saw and heard her, we fancied that all
our troubles were at an end."
"And it is because of such beauty, no doubt, that our father, comparing
us with our cousin and so many other handsome young ladies, cannot be
very proud of us. And he, who is so loved and honored, would have liked
to have been proud of his daughters."
Suddenly Rose laid her hand on her sister's arm, and said to her, with
anxiety: "Listen! listen! they are talking very loud in father's
"Yes," said Blanche, listening in her turn; "and I can hear him walking.
That is his step."
"Good heaven! how he raises his voice; he seems to be in a great passion;
he will perhaps come this way."
And at the thought of their father's coming--that father who really
adored them--the unhappy children looked in terror at each other. The
sound of a loud and angry voice became more and more distinct; and Rose,
trembling through all her frame, said to her sister: "Do not let us
remain here! Come into our room."
"We should hear, without designing it, the words of our father--and he
does not perhaps know that we are so near."
"You are right. Come, come!" answered Blanche, as she rose hastily from
"Oh! I am afraid. I have never heard him speak in so angry a tone."
"Oh! kind heaven!" said Blanche, growing pale, as she stopped
involuntarily. "It is to Dagobert that he is talking so loud."
"What can be the matter--to make our father speak to him in that way?"
"Alas! some great misfortune must have happened."
"Oh, sister! do not let us remain here! It pains me too much to hear
Dagobert thus spoken to."
The crash of some article, hurled with violence and broken to pieces in
the next room, so frightened the orphans, that, pale and trembling with
emotion, they rushed into their own apartment, and fastened the door. We
must now explain the cause of Marshal Simon's violent anger.
THE STUNG LION.
This was the scene, the sound of which had so terrified Rose and Blanche.
At first alone in his chamber, in a state of exasperation difficult to
describe, Marshal Simon had begun to walk hastily up and down, his
handsome, manly face inflamed with rage, his eyes sparkling with
indignation, while on his broad forehead, crowned with short-cut hair
that was now turning gray, large veins, of which you might count the
pulsations, were swollen almost to bursting; and sometimes his thick,
black moustache was curled with a convulsive motion, not unlike that
which is seen in the visage of a raging lion. And even as the wounded
lion, in its fury, harassed and tortured by a thousand invisible darts,
walks up and down its den with savage wrath, so Marshal Simon paced the
floor of his room, as if bounding from side to side; sometimes he
stooped, as though bending beneath the weight of his anger; sometimes, on
the contrary, he paused abruptly, drew himself up to his full height,
crossed his arms upon his vigorous chest, and with raised brow,
threatening and terrible look, seemed to defy some invisible enemy, and
murmur confused exclamations. Then he stood like a man of war and battle
in all his intrepid fire.
And now he stamped angrily with his foot, approached the chimney-piece,
and pulled the bell so violently that the bell-rope remained in his hand.
A servant hastened to attend to this precipitate summons. "Did you not
tell Dagobert that I wished to speak to him?" cried the marshal.
"I executed your grace's orders, but M. Dagobert was accompanying his son
to the door, and--"
"Very well!" interrupted Marshal Simon, with an abrupt and imperious
The servant went out, and his master continued to walk up and down with
impatient steps, crumpling, in his rage, a letter that he held in his
left hand. This letter had been innocently delivered by Spoil-sport,
who, seeing him come in, had run joyously to meet him. At length the
door opened, and Dagobert appeared. "I have been waiting for you a long
time, sirrah!" cried the marshal, in an irritated tone.
Dagobert, more pained than surprised at this burst of anger, which he
rightly attributed to the constant state of excitement in which the
marshal had now been for some time past, answered mildly: "I beg your
pardon, general, but I was letting out my son--"
"Read that, sir!" said the marshal abruptly, giving him the letter.
While Dagobert was reading it, the marshal resumed, with growing anger,
as he kicked over a chair that stood in his way: "Thus, even in my own
house, there are wretches bribed to harass me with incredible
perseverance. Well! have you read it, sir?"
"It is a fresh insult to add to the others," said Dagobert, coolly, as he
threw the letter into the fire.
"The letter is infamous--but it speaks the truth," replied the marshal.
Dagobert looked at him in amazement.
"And can you tell who brought me this infamous letter" continued the
marshal. "One would think the devil had a hand in it--for it was your
"Spoil-sport?" said Dagobert, in the utmost surprise.
"Yes," answered the marshal, bitterly; "it is no doubt a joke of your
"I have no heart for joking, general," answered Dagobert, more and more
saddened by the irritable state of the marshal; "I cannot explain how it
happened. Spoil-sport is a good carrier, and no doubt found the letter
in the house--"
"And who can have left it there? Am I surrounded by traitors? Do you
keep no watch? You, in whom I have every confidence?"
"Listen to me, general--"
But the marshal proceeded, without waiting to hear him. "What! I have
made war for five-and-twenty years, I have battled with armies, I have
struggled victoriously through the evil times of exile and proscription,
I have withstood blows from maces of iron--and now I am to be killed with
pins! Pursued into my own house, harassed with impunity, worn out,
tortured every minute, to gratify some unknown, miserable hate!--When I
say unknown, I am wrong--it is d'Aigrigny, the renegade, who is at the
bottom of all this, I am sure. I have in the world but one enemy, and he
is the man. I must finish with him, for I am weary of this--it is too
"But, general, remember he is a priest--"
"What do I care for that? Have I not seen him handle the sword? I will
yet make a soldier's blood rise to the forehead of the traitor!"
"I tell you, that I must be avenged on some one," cried the marshal, with
an accent of the most violent exasperation; "I tell you, that I mast find
a living representative of these cowardly plots, that I may at once make
an end of him!--They press upon me from all sides; they make my life a
hell--you know it--and you do nothing to save me from these tortures,
which are killing me as by a slow fire. Can I have no one in whom to
"General, I can't let you say that," replied Dagobert, in a calm, but
"And why not?"
"General, I can't let you say that you have no one to trust to. You
might end perhaps in believing it, and then it would be even worse for
yourself, than for those who well know their devotion for you, and would
go through fire and water to serve you. I am one of them--and you know
These simple words, pronounced by Dagobert with a tone of deep
conviction, recalled the marshal to himself; for although his honorable
and generous character might from time to time be embittered by
irritation and grief, he soon recovered his natural equanimity. So,
addressing Dagobert in a less abrupt tone, he said to him, though still
much agitated: "You are right. I could never doubt your fidelity. But
anger deprives me of my senses. This infamous letter is enough to drive
one mad. I am unjust, ungrateful--yes, ungrateful--and to you!"
"Do not think of me, general. With a kind word at the end, you might
blow me up all the year round. But what has happened?"
The general's countenance again darkened, as he answered rapidly: "I am
looked down upon, and despised!"
"Yes I. After all," resumed the marshal bitterly, "why should I conceal
from you this new wound? If I doubted you a moment, I owe you some
compensation, and you shall know all. For some time past, I perceived
that, when I meet any of my old companions in arms, they try to
"What! was it to this that the anonymous letter alluded?"
"Yes; and it spoke the truth," replied the marshal, with a sigh of grief
"But it is impossible, general--you are so loved and respected--"
"Those are mere words; I speak of positive facts. When I appear, the
conversation is often interrupted. Instead of treating me as an old
comrade, they affect towards me a rigorously cold politeness. There are
a thousand little shades, a thousand trifles, which wound the heart, but
which it is impossible to notice--"
"What you are now saying, general, quite confounds me," replied Dagobert.
"You assure me of it, and I am forced to believe you."
"Oh, it is intolerable! I was resolved to ease my heart of it; so, this
morning, I went to General d'Havrincourt, who was colonel with me in the
Imperial Guard; he is honor and honesty itself. I went to him with open
heart. 'I perceive,' said I, 'the coldness that is shown me. Some
calumny must be circulating to my disadvantage. Tell me all about it.
Knowing the attack, I shall be able to defend myself--'
"D'Havrincourt remained impassible ceremoniously polite. To all my
questions he answered coldly: 'I am not aware, my lord duke, that any
calumny has been circulated with regard to you.'--'Do not call me "my
lord duke," my dear D'Havrincourt; we are old fellow-soldiers and
friends, my honor is somewhat touchy, I confess, and I find that you and
our comrades do not receive me so cordially, as in times past. You do
not deny it; I see, I know, I feel it.' To all this D'Havrincourt
answered, with the same coldness: 'I have never seen any one wanting in
respect towards you.'--'I am not talking of respect,' exclaimed I, as I
clasped his hand affectionately, though I observed that he but feebly
returned the pressure; 'I speak of cordiality, confidence, which I once
enjoyed, while now I am treated like a stranger. Why is it? What has
occasioned this change?'--Still cold and reserved, he answered: 'These
distinctions are so nice, marshal, that it is impossible for me to give
you any opinion on the subject.'--My heart swelled with grief and anger.
What was I to do? To quarrel with D'Havrincourt would have been absurd.
A sense of dignity forced me to break off the interview, but it has only
confirmed my fears. Thus," added the marshal, getting more and more
animated, "thus am I fallen from the esteem to which I am entitled, thus
am I despised, without even knowing the cause! Is it not odious? If
they would only utter a charge against me--I should at least be able to
defend myself, and to find an answer. But no, no! not even a word--only
the cold politeness that is worse than any insult. Oh! it is too much,
too much! for all this comes but in addition to other cares. What a life
is mine since the death of my father! If I did but find rest and
happiness at home--but no! I come in, but to read shameful letters; and
still worse," added the marshal, in a heartrending tone, and after a
moment's hesitation, "to find my children grow more and more indifferent
"Yes," continued he, perceiving the amazement of Dagobert, "and yet they
know how much I love them!"
"Your daughters indifferent!" exclaimed Dagobert, in astonishment. "You
make them such a reproach?"
"Oh! I do not blame them. They have hardly had time to know me."
"Not had time to know you?" returned the soldier, in a tone of
remonstrance, and warming up in his turn. "Ah! of what did their mother
talk to them, except you? and I too! what could I teach your children
except to know and love you?"
"You take their part--that is natural--they love you better than they do
me," said the marshal, with growing bitterness. Dagobert felt himself so
painfully affected, that he looked at the marshal without answering.
"Yes!" continued the other; "yes! it may be base and ungrateful--but no
matter!--Twenty times I have felt jealous of the affectionate confidence
which my children display towards you, while with me they seem always to
be in fear. If their melancholy faces ever grow animated for a moment,
it is in talking to you, in seeing you; while for me they have nothing
but cold respect--and that kills me. Sure of the affection of my
children, I would have braved and surmounted every difficulty--" Then,
seeing that Dagobert rushed towards the door which led to the chamber of
Rose and Blanche, the marshal asked: "Where are you going?"
"For your daughters, general."
"To bring them face to face with you--to tell them: 'My children, your
father thinks that you do not love him.'--I will only say that--and then
you will see."
"Dagobert! I forbid you to do it," cried the marshal, hastily.
"I don't care for that--you have no right to be unjust to the poor
children," said the soldier, as he again advanced towards the door.
"Dagobert, I command you to remain here," cried the marshal.
"Listen to me, general. I am your soldier, your inferior, your servant,
if you will," said the old grenadier, roughly; "but neither rank nor
station shall keep me silent, when I have to defend your daughters. All
must be explained--I know but one way--and that is to bring honest people
face to face."
If the marshal had not seized him by the arm, Dagobert would have entered
the apartment of the young girls.
"Remain!" said the marshal, so imperiously that the soldier, accustomed
to obedience, hung his head, and stood still.
"What would you do?" resumed the marshal. "Tell my children, that I
think they do not love me? induce them to affect a tenderness they do not
feel--when it is not their fault, but mine?"
"Oh, general!" said Dagobert, in a tone of despair, "I no longer feel
anger, in hearing you speak thus of your children. It is such grief,
that it breaks my heart!"
Touched by the expression of the soldier's countenance, the marshal
continued, less abruptly: "Come, I may be wrong; and yet I ask you,
without bitterness or jealousy, are not my children more confiding, more
familiar, with you than with me?"
"God bless me, general!" cried Dagobert; "if you come to that, they are
more familiar with Spoil-sport than with either of us. You are their
father; and, however kind a father may be, he must always command some
respect. Familiar with me! I should think so. A fine story! What the
devil should they respect in me, who, except that I am six feet high, and
wear a moustache, might pass for the old woman that nursed them?--and
then I must say, that, even before the death of your worthy father, you
were sad and full of thought; the children have remarked that; and what
you take for coldness on their part, is, I am sure, anxiety for you.
Come, general; you are not just. You complain, because they love you too
"I complain, because I suffer," said the marshal, in an agony of
excitement. "I alone know my sufferings."
"They must indeed be grievous, general," said Dagobert, carried further
than he would otherwise have gone by his attachment for the orphans,
"since those who love you feel them so cruelly."
"What, sir! more reproaches?"
"Yes, general, reproaches," cried Dagobert. "Your children have the
right to complain of you, since you accuse them so unjustly."
"Sir," said the marshal, scarcely able to contain himself, 'this is
enough--this is too much!"
"Oh, yes! it is enough," replied Dagobert, with rising emotion. "Why
defend unfortunate children, who can only love and submit? Why defend
them against your unhappy blindness?"
The marshal started with anger and impatience, but then replied, with a
forced calmness: "I needs must remember all that I owe you--and I will
not forget it, say what you will."
"But, general," cried Dagobert, "why will you not let me fetch your
"Do you not see that this scene is killing me?" cried the exasperated
marshal. "Do you not understand, that I will not have my children
witness what I suffer? A father's grief has its dignity, sir; and you
ought to feel for and respect it."
"Respect it? no--not when it is founded on injustice!"
"And not content with tormenting yourself," cried Dagobert, unable any
longer to control his feelings, "do you know what you will do? You will
make your children die of sorrow. Was it for this, that I brought them
to you from the depths of Siberia?"
"Yes; for the worst ingratitude towards me, is to make your children
"Leave the room, sir!" cried the marshal, quite beside himself, and so
terrible with rage and grief, that Dagobert, regretting that he had gone
so far, resumed: "I was wrong, general. I have perhaps been wanting in
respect to you--forgive me--but--"
"I forgive you--only leave me!" said the marshal, hardly restraining
"One word, general--"
"I entreat you to leave me--I ask it as a service--is that enough?" said
the marshal, with renewed efforts to control the violence of his
A deadly paleness succeeded to the high color which during this painful
scene had inflamed the cheeks of the marshal. Alarmed at this symptom,
Dagobert redoubled his entreaties. "I implore you, general," said he, in
an agitated mice, "to permit me for one moment--"
"Since you will have it so, sir, I must be the one to leave," said the
marshal, making a step towards the door.
These words were said in such a manner, that Dagobert could no longer
resist. He hung his head in despair, looked for a moment in silent
supplication at the marshal, and then, as the latter seemed yielding to a
new movement of rage, the soldier slowly quitted the room.
A few minutes had scarcely elapsed since the departure of Dagobert, when
the marshal, who, after a long and gloomy silence, had repeatedly drawn
near the door of his daughters' apartment with a mixture of hesitation
and anguish, suddenly made a violent effort, wiped the cold sweat from
his brow, and entered the chamber in which Rose and Blanche had taken
Dagobert was right in defending his children, as he paternally called
Rose and Blanche, and yet the apprehensions of the marshal with regard to
the coldness of his daughters, were unfortunately justified by
appearances. As he had told his father, unable to explain the sad, and
almost trembling embarrassment, which his daughters felt in his presence,
he sought in vain for the cause of what he termed their indifference.
Now reproaching himself bitterly for not concealing from them his grief
at the death of their mother, he feared he might have given them to
understand that they would be unable to console him; now supposing that
he had not shown himself sufficiently tender, and that had chilled them
with his military sternness; and now repeating with bitter regret, that,
having always lived away from them, he must be always a stranger to them.
In a word, the most unlikely suppositions presented themselves by turns
to his mind, and whenever such seeds of doubt, suspicion, or fear, are
blended with a warm affection, they will sooner or later develop
themselves with fatal effect. Yet, notwithstanding this fancied
coldness, from which he suffered so much, the affection of the marshal
for his daughters was so true and deep, that the thought of again
quitting them caused the hesitations which were the torment of his life,
and provoked an incessant struggle between his paternal love and the duty
he held most sacred.
The injurious calumnies, which had been so skillfully propagated, that
men of honor, like his old brothers in arms, were found to attach some
credit to them, had been spread with frightful pertinacity by the friends
of the Princess de Saint-Dizier. We shall describe hereafter the meaning
and object of these odious reports, which, joined with so many other
fatal injuries, had filled up the measure of the marshal's indignation.
Inflamed with anger, excited almost to madness by this incessant
"stabbing with pins" (as he had himself called it), and offended at some
of Dagobert's words, he had spoken harshly to him. But, after the
soldier's departure, when left to reflect in silence, the marshal
remembered the warm and earnest expressions of the defender of his
children, and doubt crossed his mind, as to the reality of the coldness
of which he accused them. Therefore, having taken a terrible resolution
in case a new trial should confirm his desponding doubts, he entered, as
we before said, his, daughters' chamber. The discussion with Dagobert
had been so loud, that the sound of the voices had confusedly reached the
ears of the two sisters, even after they had taken refuge in their
bedroom. So that, on the arrival of their father, their pale faces
betrayed their fear and anxiety. At sight of the marshal, whose
countenance was also much agitated, the girls rose respectfully, but
remained close together, trembling in each other's arms. And yet there
was neither anger nor severity on their father's face--only a deep,
almost supplicating grief, which seemed to say: "My children, I suffer--I
have come to you--console me, love me! or I shall die!"
The marshal's countenance was at this moment so expressive, that, the
first impulse of fear once surmounted, the sisters were about to throw
themselves into his arms; but remembering the recommendations of the
anonymous letter, which told them how painful any effusion of their
tenderness was to their father, they exchanged a rapid glance, and
remained motionless. By a cruel fatality, the marshal at this moment
burned to open his arms to his children. He looked at them with love, he
even made a slight movement as if to call them to him; but he would not
attempt more, for fear of meeting with no response. Still the poor
children, paralyzed by perfidious counsels, remained mute, motionless,
"It is all over," thought he, as he gazed upon them. "No chord of
sympathy stirs in their bosom. Whether I go---whether I remain--matters
not to them. No, I am nothing to these children--since, at this awful
moment, when they see me perhaps for the last time, no filial instinct
tells them that their affection might save me still!"
During these terrible reflections, the marshal had not taken his eyes off
his children, and his manly countenance assumed an expression at once so
touching and mournful--his look revealed so painfully the tortures of his
despairing soul--that Rose and Blanche, confused, alarmed, but yielding
together to a spontaneous movement, threw themselves on their father's
neck, and covered him with tears and caresses. Marshal Simon had not
spoken a word; his daughters had not uttered a sound; and yet all three
had at length understood one another. A sympathetic shock had
electrified and mingled those three hearts. Vain fears, false doubts,
lying counsel, all had yielded to the irresistible emotion. which had
brought the daughters to their father's arms. A sudden revelation gave
them faith, at the fatal moment when incurable suspicion was about to
separate them forever.
In a second, the marshal felt all this, but words failed him. Pale,
bewildered, kissing the brows, the hair, the hands of his daughters,
weeping, sighing, smiling all in turn, he was wild, delirious, drunk with
happiness. At length, he exclaimed: "I have found them--or rather, I
have never lost them. They loved me, and did not dare to tell me so. I
overawed them. And I thought it was my fault. Heavens! what good that
does! what strength, what heart, what hope!--Ha! ha!" cried he, laughing
and weeping at the same time, whilst he covered his children with
caresses; "they may despise me now, they may harass me now--I defy them
all. My own blue eyes! my sweet blue eyes! look at me well, and inspire
me with new life."
"Oh, father! you love us then as much as we love you?" cried Rose, with
"And we may often, very often, perhaps every day, throw ourselves on your
neck, embrace you, and prove how glad we are to be with you?"
"Show you, dear father, all the store of love we were heaping up in our
hearts--so sad, alas! that we could not spend it upon you?"
"Tell you aloud all that we think in secret?"
"Yes--you may do so--you may do so," said Marshal Simon, faltering with
joy; "what prevented you, my children? But no; do not answer; enough of
the past!--I know all, I understand all. You misinterpreted my gloom,
and it made you sad; I, in my turn, misinterpreted your sadness. But
never mind; I scarcely know what I am saying to you. I only think of
looking at you--and it dazzles me--it confuses me--it is the dizziness of
"Oh, look at us, father! look into our eyes, into our hearts," cried
Rose, with rapture.
"And you will read there, happiness for us, and love for you, sir!" added
"Sir, sir!" said the marshal, in a tone of affectionate reproach; "what
does that mean? Will you call me father, if you please?"
"Dear father, your hand!" said Blanche, as she took it, and placed it on
"Dear father, your hand!" said Rose, as she took the other hand of the
marshal. "Do you believe now in our love and happiness?" she continued.
It is impossible to describe the charming expression of filial pride in
the divine faces of the girls, as their father, slightly pressing their
virgin bosoms, seemed to count with delight the joyous pulsations of
"Oh, yes! happiness and affection can alone make the heart beat thus!"
cried the marshal.
A hoarse sob, heard in the direction of the open door, made the three
turn round, and there they saw the tall figure of Dagobert, with the
black nose of Spoil-sport reaching to his master's knee. The soldier,
drying his eyes and moustache with his little blue cotton handkerchief,
remained motionless as the god Terminus. When he could speak, he
addressed himself to the marshal, and, shaking his head, muttered, in a
hoarse voice, for the good man was swallowing his tears: "Did I not tell
"Silence!" said the marshal, with a sign of intelligence. "You were a
better father than myself, my old friend. Come and kiss them! I shall
not be jealous."
The marshal stretched out his hand to the soldier, who pressed it
cordially, whilst the two sisters threw themselves on his neck, and
Spoil-sport, according to custom wishing to have his share in the general
joy, raised himself on his hind legs, and rested his fore-paws against
his master's back. There was a moment of profound silence. The
celestial felicity enjoyed during that moment, by the marshal, his
daughters, and the soldier, was interrupted by the barking of Spoil-sort,
who suddenly quitted the attitude of a biped. The happy group separated,
looked round, and saw Loony's stupid face. He looked even duller than
usual, as he stood quite still in the doorway, staring with wide-
stretched eyes, and holding a feather-broom under his arm, and in his
hand the ever-present basket of wood.
Nothing makes one so gay as happiness; and, though this grotesque figure
appeared at a very unseasonable moment, it was received with frank
laughter from the blooming lips of Rose and Blanche. Having made the
marshal's daughters laugh, after their long sadness, Loony at once
acquired a claim to the indulgence of the marshal, who said to him, good-
humoredly: "What do you want, my lad?"
"It's not me, my lord duke!" answered Loony, laying his hand on his
breast, as if it were taking a vow, so that his feather-brush fell down
from under his arm. The laughter of the girls redoubled.
"It is not you?" said the marshal.
"Here! Spoil-sport!" Dagobert called, for the honest dog seemed to have a
secret dislike for the pretended idiot, and approached him with an angry
"No, my lord duke, it is not me!" resumed Loony. "It is the footman who
told me to tell M. Dagobert, when I brought up the wood to tell my lord
duke, as I was coming up with the basket, that M. Robert wants to see
The girls laughed still more at this new stupidity. But, at the name of
Robert, Marshal Simon started.
M. Robert was the secret emissary of Rodin, with regard to the possible,
but adventurous, enterprise of attempting the liberation of Napoleon II.
After a moment's silence, the marshal, whose face was still radiant with
joy and happiness, said to Loony: "Beg M. Robert to wait for me a moment
in my study."
"Yes, my lord duke," answered Loony, bowing almost to the ground.
The simpleton withdrew, and the marshal said to his daughters, in a
joyous tone, "You see, that, in a moment like this, one does not leave
one's children, even for M. Robert."
"Oh! that's right, father!" cried Blanche, gayly; "for I was already very
angry with this M. Robert."
"Have you pen and paper at hand?" asked the marshal.
"Yes, father; there on the table," said Rose, hastily, as she pointed to
a little desk near one of the windows, towards which the marshal now
From motives of delicacy, the girls remained where they were, close to
the fireplace, and caressed each other tenderly, as if to congratulate
themselves in private on the unexpected happiness of this day.
The marshal seated himself at the desk, and made a sign to Dagobert to
While he wrote rapidly a few words in a firm hand, he said to the soldier
with a smile, in so low a tone that it was impossible for his daughters
to hear: "Do you know what I had almost resolved upon, before entering
"To blow my brains out. It is to my children that I owe my life." And
the marshal continued writing.
Dagobert started at this communication, and then replied, also in a
whisper: "It would not have been with your pistols. I took off the
The marshal turned round hastily, and looked at him with an air of
surprise. But the soldier only nodded his head affirmatively, and added:
"Thank heaven, we have now done with all those ideas!"
The marshal's only answer was to glance at his children, his eyes
swimming with tenderness, and sparkling with delight; then, sealing the
note he had written, he gave it to the soldier, and said to him, "Give
that to M. Robert. I will see him to-morrow."
Dagobert took the letter, and went out. Returning towards his daughters,
the marshal joyfully extended his arms to them, and said, "Now, young
ladies, two nice kisses for having sacrificed M. Robert to you. Have I
not earned them?" And Rose and Blanche threw themselves on their father's
About the time that these events were taking place at Paris, two
travellers, wide apart from each other, exchanged mysterious thoughts
through the breadth of space.
THE WANDERING JEW
By Eugene Sue
L. The Ruins of the Abbey of St. John the Baptist
LI. The Calvary
LII. The Council
LV. The Improvised Hospital
LVII. The Guardian Angel
LX. The Ordeal
LXII. To a Socius, a Socius and a Half
LXIII. Faringhea's Affection
LXIV. An Evening at St. Colombe's
LXV. The Nuptial Bed
LXVI. A Duel to the Death
LXVII. A Message
LXVIII. The First of June
I. Four Years After
II. The Redemption
THE RUINS OF THE ABBEY OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST.
The sun is fast sinking. In the depths of an immense piny wood, in the
midst of profound solitude, rise the ruins of an abbey, once sacred to
St. John the Baptist. Ivy, moss, and creeping plants, almost entirely
conceal the stones, now black with age. Some broken arches, some walls
pierced with ovals, still remain standing, visible on the dark background
of the thick wood. Looking down upon this mass of ruins from a broken
pedestal, half-covered with ivy, a mutilated, but colossal statue of
stone still keeps its place. This statue is strange and awful. It
represents a headless human figure. Clad in the antique toga, it holds
in its hand a dish and on that dish is a head. This head is its own. It
is the statue of St. John the Baptist and Martyr, put to death by wish of
The silence around is solemn. From time to time, however, is heard the
dull rustling of the enormous branches of the pine-trees, shaken by the
wind. Copper-colored clouds, reddened by the setting sun, pass slowly
over the forest, and are reflected in the current of a brook, which,
deriving its source from a neighboring mass of rocks, flows through the
ruins. The water flows, the clouds pass on, the ancient trees tremble,
the breeze murmurs.
Suddenly, through the shadow thrown by the overhanging wood, which
stretches far into endless depths, a human form appears. It is a woman.
She advances slowly towards the ruins. She has reached them. She treads
the once sacred ground. This woman is pale, her look sad, her long robe
floats on the wind, her feet covered with dust. She walks with
difficulty and pain. A block of stone is placed near the stream, almost
at the foot of the statue of John the Baptist. Upon this stone she sinks
breathless and exhausted, worn out with fatigue. And yet, for many days,
many years, many centuries, she has walked on unwearied.
For the first time, she feels an unconquerable sense of lassitude. For
the first time, her feet begin to fail her. For the first time, she, who
traversed, with firm and equal footsteps, the moving lava of torrid
deserts, while whole caravans were buried in drifts of fiery sand--who
passed, with steady and disdainful tread, over the eternal snows of
Arctic regions, over icy solitudes, in which no other human being could
live--who had been spared by the devouring flames of conflagrations, and
by the impetuous waters of torrents--she, in brief, who for centuries had
had nothing in common with humanity--for the first time suffers mortal
Her feet bleed, her limbs ache with fatigue, she is devoured by burning
thirst. She feels these infirmities, yet scarcely dares to believe them
real. Her joy would be too immense! But now, her throat becomes dry,
contracted, all on fire. She sees the stream, and throws herself on her
knees, to quench her thirst in that crystal current, transparent as a
mirror. What happens then? Hardly have her fevered lips touched the
fresh, pure water, than, still kneeling, supported on her hands, she
suddenly ceases to drink, and gazes eagerly on the limpid stream.
Forgetting the thirst which devours her, she utters a loud cry--a cry of
deep, earnest, religious joy, like a note of praise and infinite
gratitude to heaven. In that deep mirror, she perceives that she has
In a few days, a few hours, a few minutes, perhaps in a single second,
she has attained the maturity of age. She, who for more than eighteen
centuries has been as a woman of twenty, carrying through successive
generations the load of her imperishable youth--she has grown old, and
may, perhaps, at length, hope to die. Every minute of her life may now
bring her nearer to the last home! Transported by that ineffable hope,
she rises, and lifts her eyes to heaven, clasping her hands in an
attitude of fervent prayer. Then her eyes rest on the tall statue of
stone, representing St. John. The head, which the martyr carries in his
hand, seems, from beneath its half-closed granite eyelid, to cast upon
the Wandering Jewess a glance of commiseration and pity. And it was she,
Herodias who, in the cruel intoxication of a pagan festival, demanded the
murder of the saint! And it is at the foot of the martyr's image, that,
for the first time, the immortality, which weighed on her for so many
centuries, seems likely to find a term!
"Oh, impenetrable mystery! oh, divine hope!" she cries. "The wrath of
heaven is at length appeased. The hand of the Lord brings me to the feet
of the blessed martyr, and I begin once more to feel myself a human
creature. And yet it was to avenge his death, that the same heaven
condemned me to eternal wanderings!
"Oh, Lord! grant that I may not be the only one forgiven. May he--the
artisan, who like me, daughter of a king, wanders on for centuries--
likewise hope to reach the end of that immense journey!
"Where is he, Lord? where is he? Hast thou deprived me of the power once
bestowed, to see and hear him through the vastness of intervening space?
Oh, in this mighty moment, restore me that divine gift--for the more I
feel these human infirmities, which I hail and bless as the end of my
eternity of ills, the more my sight loses the power to traverse
immensity, and my ear to catch the sound of that wanderer's accent, from
the other extremity of the globe?"
Night had fallen, dark and stormy. The wind rose in the midst of the
great pine-trees. Behind their black summits, through masses of dark
cloud, slowly sailed the silver disk of the moon. The invocation of the
Wandering Jewess had perhaps been heard. Suddenly, her eyes closed--with
hands clasped together, she remained kneeling in the heart of the ruins--
motionless as a statue upon a tomb. And then she had a wondrous dream!
This was the vision of Herodias: On the summit of a high, steep, rocky
mountain, there stands a cross. The sun is sinking, even as when the
Jewess herself, worn out with fatigue, entered the ruins of St. John's
Abbey. The great figure on the cross--which looks down from this
Calvary, on the mountain, and on the vast, dreary plain beyond--stands
out white and pale against the dark, blue clouds, which stretch across
the heavens, and assume a violent tint towards the horizon. There, where
the setting sun has left a long track of lurid light, almost of the hue
of blood--as far as the eye can reach, no vegetation appears on the
surface of the gloomy desert, covered with sand and stones, like the
ancient bed of some dried-up ocean. A silence as of death broods over
this desolate tract. Sometimes, gigantic black vultures, with red
unfeathered necks, luminous yellow eyes, stooping from their lofty flight
in the midst of these solitudes, come to make their bloody feast on the
prey they have carried off from less uncultivated regions.
How, then, did this Calvary, this place of prayer, come to be erected so
far from the abodes of men? This Calvary was prepared at a great cost by
a repentant sinner. He had done much harm to his fellow-creatures, and,
in the hope of obtaining pardon for his crimes, he had climbed this
mountain on his knees, and become a hermit, and lived there till his
death, at the foot of this cross, only sheltered by a roof of thatch, now
long since swept away by the wind. The sun is still sinking. The sky
becomes darker. The luminous lines on the horizon grow fainter and
fainter, like heated bars of iron that gradually grow cool. Suddenly, on
the eastern side of the Calvary, is heard the noise of some falling
stones, which, loosened from the side of the mountain, roll down
rebounding to its base. These stones have been loosened by the foot of a
traveller, who, after traversing the plain below, has, during the last
hour, been climbing the steep ascent. He is not yet visible--but one
hears the echo of his tread--slow, steady, and firm. At length, he
reaches the top of the mountain, and his tall figure stands out against
the stormy sky.
The traveller is pale as the great figure on the cross. On his broad
forehead a black line extends from one temple to the other. It is the
cobbler of Jerusalem. The poor artisan, who hardened by misery,
injustice and oppression, without pity for the suffering of the Divine
Being who bore the cross, repulsed him from his dwelling, and bade him:
"Go ON! GO ON! GO ON!" And, from that day, the avenging Deity has in his
turn said to the artisan of Jerusalem: "GO ON! GO ON! GO ON!"
And he has gone on, without end or rest. Nor did the divine vengeance
stop there. From time to time death has followed the steps of the
wanderer, and innumerable graves have been even as mile-stones on his
fatal path. And if ever he found periods of repose in the midst of his
infinite grief, it was when the hand of the Lord led him into deep
solitudes, like that where he now dragged his steps along. In passing
over that dreary plain, or climbing to that rude Calvary, he at least
heard no more the funeral knell, which always, always sounded behind him
in every inhabited region.
All day long, even at this hour, plunged in the black abyss of his
thoughts, following the fatal track--going whither he was guided by the
invisible hand, with head bowed on his breast, and eyes fixed upon the
ground, the wanderer had passed over the plain, and ascended the
mountain, without once looking at the sky--without even perceiving the
Calvary--without seeing the image upon the cross. He thought of the last
descendants of his race. He felt, by the sinking of his heart, that
great perils continued to threaten him. And in the bitterness of a
despair, wild and deep as the ocean, the cobbler of Jerusalem seated
himself at the foot of the cross. At this moment a farewell ray of the
setting sun, piercing the dark mass of clouds, threw a refection upon the
Calvary, vivid as a conflagration's glare. The Jew rested his forehead
upon his hand. His long hair, shaken by the evening breeze, fell over
his pale face--when sweeping it back from his brow, he started with
surprise--he, who had long ceased to wonder at anything. With eager
glance he contemplated the long lock of hair that he held between his
fingers. That hair, until now black as night, had become gray. He also,
like unto Herodias, was growing older.
His progress towards old age, stopped for eighteen hundred years, had
resumed its course. Like the Wandering Jewess, he might henceforth hope
for the rest of the grave. Throwing himself on his knees, he stretched
his hands towards heaven, to ask for the explanation of the mystery which
filled him with hope. Then, for the first time, his eyes rested on the
Crucified One, looking down upon the Calvary, even as the Wandering
Jewess had fixed her gaze on the granite eyelids of the Blessed Martyr.
The Saviour, his head bowed under the weight of his crown of thorns,
seemed from the cross to view with pity, and pardon the artisan, who for
so many centuries had felt his curse--and who, kneeling, with his body
thrown backward in an attitude of fear and supplication, now lifted
towards the crucifix his imploring hands.
"Oh, Messiah!" cried the Jew, "the avenging arm of heaven brings me back
to the foot of this heavy cross, which thou didst bear, when, stopping at
the door of my poor dwelling, thou wert repulsed with merciless
harshness, and I said unto thee: 'Go on! go on!'--After my long life of
wanderings, I am again before this cross, and my hair begins to whiten.
Oh Lord! in thy divine mercy, hast thou at length pardoned me? Have I
reached the term of my endless march? Will thy celestial clemency grant
me at length the repose of the sepulchre, which, until now, alas! has
ever fled before me?--Oh! if thy mercy should descend upon me, let it
fall likewise upon that woman, whose woes are equal to mine own! Protect
also the last descendants of my race! What will be their fate? Already,
Lord, one of them--the only one that misfortune had perverted--has
perished from the face of the earth. Is it for this that my hair grows
gray? Will my crime only be expiated when there no longer remains in
this world one member of our accursed race? Or does this proof of thy
powerful goodness, Lord, which restores me to the condition of humanity,
serve also as a sign of the pardon and happiness of my family? Will they
at length triumph over the perils which beset them? Will they,
accomplishing the good which their ancestor designed for his fellow-
creatures, merit forgiveness both for themselves and me? Or will they,
inexorably condemned as the accursed scions of an accursed stock, expiate
the original stain of my detested crime?
"Oh, tell me--tell me, gracious Lord! shall I be forgiven with them, or
will they be punished with me?"
The twilight gave place to a dark and stormy night, yet the Jew continued
to pray, kneeling at the foot of the cross.
The following scene took place at Saint-Dizier House, two days after the
reconciliation of Marshal Simon with his daughters. The princess is
listening with the most profound attention to the words of Rodin. The
reverend father, according to his habit, stands leaning against the
mantelpiece, with his hands thrust into the pockets of his old brown
great-coat. His thick, dirty shoes have left their mark on the ermine
hearth-rug. A deep sense of satisfaction is impressed on the Jesuit's
cadaverous countenance. Princess de Saint-Dizier, dressed with that sort
of modest elegance which becomes a mother of the church, keeps her eyes
fixed on Rodin--for the latter has completely supplanted Father
d'Aigrigny in the good graces of this pious lady. The coolness, audacity
lofty intelligence, and rough and imperious character of the ex-socius
have overawed this proud woman, and inspired her with a sincere
admiration. Even his filthy habits and often brutal repartees have their
charm for her, and she now prefers them to the exquisite politeness and
perfumed elegance of the accomplished Father d'Aigrigny.
"Yes, madame," said Rodin, in a sanctified tone, for these people do not
take off their masks even with their accomplices, "yes, madame, we have
excellent news from our house at St. Herem. M. Hardy, the infidel, the
freethinker, has at length entered the pale of the holy Roman Catholic
and Apostolic Church." Rodin pronounced these last word with a nasal
twang, and the devout lady bowed her head respectfully.
"Grace has at length touched the heart of this impious man," continued
Rodin, "and so effectually that, in his ascetic enthusiasm, he has
already wished to take the vows which will bind him forever to our divine
"So soon, father?" said the princess, in astonishment.
"Our statutes are opposed to this precipitation, unless in the case of a
penitent in articulo mortis--on the very gasp of death--should such a
person consider it necessary for his salvation to die in the habit of our
Order, and leave us all his wealth for the greater glory of the Lord."
"And is M. Hardy in so dangerous a condition, father?"
"He has a violent fever. After so many successive calamities, which have
miraculously brought him into the path of salvation," said Rodin,
piously, "his frail and delicate constitution is almost broken up,
morally and physically. Austerities, macerations, and the divine joys of
ecstasy, will probably hasten his passage to eternal life, and in a few
clays," said the priest, shaking his head with a solemn air, "perhaps--"
"So soon as that, father?"
"It is almost certain. I have therefore made use of my dispensations, to
receive the dear penitent, as in articulo mortis, a member of our divine
Company, to which, in the usual course, he has made over all his
possessions, present and to come--so that now he can devote himself
entirely to the care of his soul, which will be one victim more rescued
from the claws of Satan."
"Oh, father!" cried the lady, in admiration; "it is a miraculous
conversion. Father d'Aigrigny told me how you had to contend against the
influence of Abbe Gabriel."
"The Abbe Gabriel," replied Rodin, "has been punished for meddling with
what did not concern him. I have procured his suspension, and he has
been deprived of his curacy. I hear that he now goes about the cholera-
hospitals to administer Christian consolation; we cannot oppose that--but
this universal comforter is of the true heretical stamp."
"He is a dangerous character, no doubt," answered the princess, "for he
has considerable influence over other men. It must have needed all your
admirable and irresistible eloquence to combat the detestable counsels of
this Abbe Gabriel, who had taken it into his head to persuade M. Hardy to
return to the life of the world. Really, father, you are a second St.
"Tut, tut, madame!" said Rodin, abruptly, for he was very little sensible
to flattery; "keep that for others."
"I tell you that you're a second St. Chrysostom father," repeated the
princess with enthusiasm; "like him, you deserve the name of Golden
"Stuff, madame!" said Rodin, brutally, shrugging his shoulders; "my lips
are too pale, my teeth too black, for a mouth of gold. You must be only
"No, madame, you will not catch old birds with chaff," replied Rodin,
harshly. "I hate compliments, and I never pay them."
"Your modesty must pardon me, father," said the princess, humbly; "I
could not resist the desire to express to you my admiration, for, as you
almost predicted, or at least foresaw, two members of the Rennepont
family, have, within the last few months, resigned all claim to the