Part 2 out of 3
"It will soon be two o'clock, my lord," said Faringhea.
Having heard this answer, Djalma seated himself, and hid his face in his
hands, as if completely absorbed in some ineffable meditation. Urged on
by his growing anxiety, and wishing at any cost to attract the attention
of Djalma, Faringhea approached still nearer to him, and, almost certain
of the effect of the words he was about to utter, said to him in a slow
and emphatic voice: "My lord, I am sure that you owe the happiness which
now transports you to Mdlle. de Cardoville."
Hardly had this name been pronounced, than Djalma started from his chair,
looked the half-breed full in the face, and exclaimed, as if only just
aware of his presence, "Faringhea! you here!--what is the matter?"
"Your faithful servant shares in your joy, my lord."
"That which the letter of Mdlle. de Cardoville has occasioned, my lord."
Djalma returned no answer, but his eye shone with so much serene
happiness, that the half-caste recovered from his apprehensions. No
cloud of doubt or suspicion obscured the radiant features of the prince.
After a few moments of silence, Djalma fixed upon the half-caste a look
half-veiled with a tear of joy, and said to him, with the expression of
one whose heart overflows with love and happiness: "Oh! such delight is
good--great--like heaven!--for it is heaven which--"
"You deserve this happiness, my lord, after so many sufferings."
"What sufferings?--Oh! yes. I formerly suffered at Java; but that was
"My lord, this great good fortune does not astonish me. What have I
always told you? Do not despair; feign a violent passion for some other
woman, and then this proud young lady--"
At these words Djalma looked at the half-caste with so piercing a glance,
that the latter stopped short; but the prince said to him with
affectionate goodness, "Go on! I listen."
Then, leaning his chin upon his hand, and his elbow on his knee, he gazed
so intently on Faringhea, and yet with such unutterable mildness, that
even that iron soul was touched for a moment with a slight feeling of
"I was saying, my lord," he resumed, "that by following the counsels of
your faithful slave, who persuaded you to feign a passionate love for
another woman, you have brought the proud Mdlle. de Cardoville to come to
you. Did I not tell you it would be so?"
"Yes, you did tell me so," answered Djalma, still maintaining the same
position, and examining the half-caste with the same fixed and mild
The surprise of Faringhea increased; generally, the prince, without
treating him with the least harshness, preserved the somewhat distant and
imperious manners of their common country, and he had never before spoken
to him with such extreme mildness. Knowing all the evil he had done the
prince, and suspicious as the wicked must ever be, the half-caste thought
for a moment, that his master's apparent kindness might conceal a snare.
He continued, therefore, with less assurance, "Believe me, my lord, this
day, if you do but know how to profit by your advantages, will console
you for all your troubles, which have indeed been great--for only
yesterday, though you were generous enough to forget it, only yesterday
you suffered cruelly--but you were not alone in your sufferings. This
proud young lady suffered also!"
"Do you think so?" said Djalma.
"Oh! it is quite sure, my lord. What must she not have felt, when she
saw you at the theatre with another woman!--If she loved you only a
little, she must have been deeply wounded in her self-esteem; if she
loved you with passion, she must have been struck to the heart. At
length, you see, wearied out with suffering, she has come to you."
"So that, any way, she must have suffered--and that does not move your
pity?" said Djalma, in a constrained, but still very mild voice.
"Before thinking of others, my lord, I think of your distresses; and they
touch me too nearly to leave me any pity for other woes," added Faringhea
hypocritically, so greatly had the influence of Rodin already modified
the character of the Phansegar.
"It is strange!" said Djalma, speaking to himself, as he viewed the half-
caste with a glance still kind but piercing.
"What is strange, my lord?"
"Nothing. But tell me, since your advice has hitherto prospered so well,
what think you of the future?"
"Of the future, my lord?"
"Yes; in an hour I shall be with Mdlle. de Cardoville."
"That is a serious matter, my lord. The whole future will depend upon
"That is what I was just thinking."
"Believe me, my lord, women never love any so well, as the bold man who
spares them the embarrassment of a refusal."
"Explain more fully."
"Well, my lord, they despise the timid and languishing lover, who asks
humbly for what he might take by force."
"But to-day I shall meet Mdlle. de Cardoville for the first time."
"You have met her a thousand times in your dreams, my lord; and depend
upon it, she has seen you also in her dreams, since she loves you. Every
one of your amorous thoughts has found an echo in her heart. All your
ardent adorations have been responded to by her. Love has not two
languages, and, without meeting, you have said all that you had to say to
each other. Now, it is for you to act as her master, and she will be
"It is strange--very strange!" said Djalma, a second time, without
removing his eyes from Faringhea's face.
Mistaking the sense which the prince attached to these words, the half-
caste resumed: "Believe me, my lord, however strange it may appear, this
is the wisest course. Remember the past. Was it by playing the part of
a timid lover that you have brought to your feet this proud young lady,
my lord? No, it was by pretending to despise her, in favor of another
woman. Therefore, let us have no weakness. The lion does not woo like
the poor turtle-dove. What cares the sultan of the desert for a few
plaintive howls from the lioness, who is more pleased than angry at his
rude and wild caresses? Soon submissive, fearful and happy, she follows
in the track of her master. Believe me, my lord--try everything--dare
everything--and to-day you will become the adored sultan of this young
lady, whose beauty all Paris admires."
After some minutes' silence, Djalma, shaking his head with an expression
of tender pity, said to the half-caste, in his mild, sonorous voice: "Why
betray me thus? Why advise me thus wickedly to use violence, terror, and
surprise, towards an angel of purity, whom I respect as my mother? Is it
not enough for you to have been so long devoted to my enemies, whose
hatred has followed me from Java?"
Had Djalma sprung upon the half-caste with bloodshot eye, menacing brow,
and lifted poniard, the latter would have been less surprised, and
perhaps less frightened, than when he heard the prince speak of his
treachery in this tone of mild reproach.
He drew back hastily, as if about to stand on his guard. But Djalma
resumed, with the same gentleness, "Fear nothing. Yesterday I should
have killed you! But to-day happy love renders me too just, too merciful
for that. I pity you, without any feeling of bitterness--for you must
have been very unhappy, or you could not have become so wicked."
"My lord!" said the half-caste, with growing amazement.
"Yes, you must have suffered much, and met with little mercy, poor
creature, to have become so merciless, in your hate, and proof against
the sight of a happiness like mine. When I listened to you just now, and
saw the sad perseverance of your hatred, I felt the deepest commiseration
"I do not know, my lord--but--" stammered the half-caste, and was unable
to find words to proceed.
"Come, now--what harm have I ever done you?"
"None, my lord," answered Faringhea.
"Then why do you hate me thus? why pursue me with so much animosity? Was
it not enough to give me the perfidious counsel to feign a shameful love
for the young girl that was brought hither, and who quitted the house
disgusted at the miserable part she was to play?"
"Your feigned love for that young girl, my lord," replied Faringhea,
gradually recovering his presence of mind, "conquered the coldness of--"
"Do not say that," resumed the prince, interrupting him with the same
mildness. "If I enjoy this happiness, which makes me compassionate
towards you, and raises me above myself, it is because Mdlle de
Cardoville now knows that I have never for a moment ceased to love her as
she ought to be loved, with adoration and reverence. It was your
intention to have parted us forever, and you had nearly succeeded."
"If you think this of me, my lord, you must look upon me as your most
"Fear nothing, I tell you. I have no right to blame you. In the madness
of my grief, I listened to you and followed your advice. I was not only
your dupe, but your accomplice. Only confess that, when you saw me at
your mercy, dejected, crushed, despairing, it was cruel in you to advise
the course that might have been most fatal to me."
"The ardor of my zeal may have deceived me, my lord."
"I am willing to believe it. And yet again to-day there were the same
evil counsels. You had no more pity for my happiness than for my sorrow.
The rapture of my heart inspires you with only one desire--that of
changing this rapture into despair."
"I, my lord!"
"Yes, you. It was your intention to ruin me--to dishonor me forever in
the eyes of Mdlle. de Cardoville. Now, tell me--why this furious hate?
what have I done to you?"
"You misjudge me, my lord--and--"
"Listen to me. I do not wish you to be any longer wicked and
treacherous. I wish to make you good. In our country, they charm
serpents, and tame the wildest tigers. You are a man, with a mind to
reason, a heart to love, and I will tame you too by gentleness. This day
has bestowed on me divine happiness; you shall have good cause to bless
this day. What can I do for you? what would you have--gold? You shall
have it. Do you desire more than gold? Do you desire a friend, to
console you for the sorrows that made you wicked, and to teach you to be
good? Though a king's son, I will be that friend--in spite of the evil--
ay, because of the evil you have done me. Yes; I will be your sincere
friend, and it shall be my delight to say to myself: 'The day on which I
learned that my angel loved me, my happiness was great indeed--for, in
the morning, I had an implacable enemy, and, ere night, his hatred was
changed to friendship.' Believe me, Faringhea, misery makes crime, but
happiness produces virtue. Be happy!"
At this moment the clock struck two. The prince started. It was time to
go on his visit to Adrienne. The handsome countenance of Djalma, doubly
embellished by the mild, ineffable expression with which it had been
animated whilst he was talking to the half-caste, now seemed illumined
with almost divine radiance.
Approaching Faringhea, he extended his hand with the utmost, grace and
courtesy, saying to him, "Your hand!"
The half-caste, whose brow was bathed with a cold sweat, whose
countenance was pale and agitated, seemed to hesitate for an instant;
then, overawed, conquered, fascinated, he offered his trembling hand to
the prince, who pressed it, and said to him, in their country's fashion,
"You have laid your hand honestly in a friend's; this hand shall never be
closed against you. Faringhea, farewell! I now feel myself more worthy
to kneel before my angel."
And Djalma went out, on his way to the appointment with Adrienne. In
spite of his ferocity, in spite of the pitiless hate he bore to the whole
human race, the dark sectary of Bowanee was staggered by the noble and
clement words of Djalma, and said to himself, with terror, "I have taken
his hand. He is now sacred for me."
Then, after a moment's silence, a thought occurred to him, and he
exclaimed, "Yes--but he will not be sacred for him who, according to the
answer of last night, waits for him at the door of the house."
So saying, the half-caste hastened into the next room, which looked upon
the street, and, raising a corner of the curtain, muttered anxiously to
himself, "The carriage moves off--the man approaches. Perdition! it is
gone and I see no more."
By a singular coincidence of ideas, Adrienne, like Djalma, had wished to
be dressed exactly in the same costume as at their interview in the house
in the Rue Blanche. For the site of this solemn meeting, so important to
her future happiness, Adrienne had chosen, with habitual tact, the grand
drawing-room of Cardoville House, in which hung many family portraits.
The most apparent were those of her father and mother. The room was
large and lofty, and furnished, like those which preceded it, with all
the imposing splendor of the age of Louis XIV. The ceiling, painted by
Lebrun, to represent the Triumph of Apollo, displayed his bold designing
and vigorous coloring, in the centre of a wide cornice, magnificently
carved and gilt, and supported at its angles by four large gilt figures,
representing the Seasons. Huge panels, covered with crimson damask, and
set in frames, served as the background to the family portraits which
adorned this apartment. It is easier to conceive than describe the
thousand conflicting emotions which agitated the bosom of Mdlle. de
Cardoville as the moment approached for her interview with Djalma. Their
meeting had been hitherto prevented by so many painful obstacles, and
Adrienne was so well aware of the vigilant and active perfidy of her
enemies, that even now she doubted of her happiness. Every instant, in
spite of herself, her eyes wandered to the clock. A few minutes more,
and the hour of the appointment would strike. It struck at last. Every
reverberation was echoed from the depth of Adrienne's heart. She
considered that Djalma's modest reserve had, doubtless, prevented his
coming before the moment fixed by herself. Far from blaming this
discretion, she fully appreciated it. But, from that moment, at the
least noise in the adjoining apartments, she held her breath and listened
with the anxiety of expectation.
For the first few minutes which followed the hour at which she expected
Djalma, Mdlle. de Cardoville felt no serious apprehension, and calmed her
impatience by the notion (which appears childish enough to those who have
never known the feverish agitation of waiting for a happy meeting), that
perhaps the clocks in the Rue Blanche might vary a little from those in
the Rue d'Anjou. But when this supposed variation, conceivable enough in
itself, could no longer explain a delay of a quarter of an hour, of
twenty minutes, of more, Adrienne felt her anxiety gradually increase.
Two or three times the young girl rose, with palpitating heart, and went
on tip-toe to listen at the door of the saloon. She heard nothing. The
clock struck half-past three.
Unable to suppress her growing terror, and clinging to a last hope,
Adrienne returned towards the fireplace and rang the bell. After which
she endeavored to compose her features, so as to betray no outward sign
of emotion. In a few seconds, a gray-haired footman, dressed in black,
opened the door, and waited in respectful silence for the orders of his
mistress. The latter said to him, in a calm voice, "Andrew, request Hebe
to give you the smelling bottle that I left on the chimney-piece in my
room, and bring it me here." Andrew bowed; but just as he was about to
withdraw to execute Adrienne's orders, which was only a pretext to enable
her to ask a question without appearing to attach much importance to it
in her servant's eyes, already informed of the expected visit of the
prince, Mdlle. de Cardoville added, with an air of indifference. "Pray,
is that clock right?"
Andrew drew out his watch, and replied as he cast his eyes upon it, "Yes,
mademoiselle. I set my watch by the Tuileries. It is more than half-
"Very well--thank you!" said Adrienne kindly.
Andrew again bowed; but, before going out, he said to Adrienne, "I forgot
to tell you, lady, that Marshal Simon called about an hour ago; but, as
you were only to be at home to Prince Djalma, we told him that you
received no company."
"Very well," said Adrienne. With another low bow, Andrew quitted the
room, and all returned to silence.
For the precise reason that, up to the last minute of the hour previous
to the time fixed for her interview with Djalma, the hopes of Adrienne
had not been disturbed by the slightest shadow of doubt, the
disappointment she now felt was the more dreadful. Casting a desponding
look at one of the portraits placed above her, she murmured, with a
plaintive and despairing accent, "Oh, mother!"
Hardly had Mdlle. de Cardoville uttered the words than the windows were
slightly shaken by a carriage rolling into the courtyard. The young lady
started, and was unable to repress a low cry of joy. Her heart bounded
at the thought of meeting Djalma, for this time she felt that he was
really come. She was quite as certain of it as if she had seen him. She
resumed her seat and brushed away a tear suspended from her long
eyelashes. Her hand trembled like a leaf. The sound of several doors
opening and shutting proved that the young lady was right in her
conjecture. The gilded panels of the drawing-room door soon turned upon
their hinges, and the prince appeared.
While a second footman ushered in Djalma, Andrew placed on a gilded
table, within reach of his mistress, a little silver salver, on which
stood the crystal smelling-bottle. Then he withdrew, and the door of the
room was closed. The prince and Mdlle. de Cardoville were left alone
ADRIENNE AND DJALMA.
The prince had slowly approached Mdlle. de Cardoville. Notwithstanding
the impetuosity of the Oriental's passions, his uncertain and timid step-
-timid, yet graceful--betrayed his profound emotion. He did not venture
to lift his eyes to Adrienne's face; he had suddenly become very pale,
and his finely formed hands, folded over his bosom in the attitude of
adoration, trembled violently. With head bent down, he remained standing
at a little distance from Adrienne. This embarrassment, ridiculous in
any other person, appeared touching in this prince of twenty years of
age, endowed with an almost fabulous intrepidity, and of so heroic and
generous a character, that no traveller could speak of the son of Kadja-
sing without a tribute of admiration and respect. Sweet emotion! chaste
reserve! doubly interesting if we consider that the burning passions of
this youth were all the more inflammable, because they had hitherto been
held in check.
No less embarrassed than her cousin, Adrienne de Cardoville remained
seated. Like Djalma, she cast down her eyes; but the burning blush on
her cheeks, the quick heaving of her virgin bosom, revealed an emotion
that she did not even attempt to hide. Notwithstanding the powers of her
mind, by turns gay, graceful, and witty--notwithstanding the decision of
her proud and independent character, and her complete acquaintance with
the manners of the world--Adrienne shared Djalma's simple and enchanting
awkwardness, and partook of that kind of temporary weakness, beneath
which these two pure, ardent, and loving beings appeared sinking--as if
unable to support the boiling agitation of the senses, combined with the
intoxicating excitement of the heart. And yet their eyes had not met.
Each seemed to fear the first electric shock of the other's glance--that
invincible attraction of two impassioned beings--that sacred fire, which
suddenly kindles the blood, and lifts two mortals from earth to heaven;
for it is to approach the Divinity to give one's self up with religious
fervor to the most noble and irresistible sentiment that He has implanted
within us--the only sentiment that, in His adorable wisdom, the Dispenser
of all good has vouchsafed to sanctify, by endowing it with a spark of
His own creative energy.
Djalma was the first to raise his eyes. They were moist and sparkling.
The excitement of passionate love, the burning ardor of his age, so long
repressed, the intense admiration in which he held ideal beauty, were all
expressed in his look, mingled with respectful timidity, and gave to the
countenance of this youth an undefinable, irresistible character. Yes,
irresistible!--for, when Adrienne encountered his glance, she trembled in
every limb, and felt herself attracted by a magnetic power. Already, her
eyes were heavy with a kind of intoxicating languor, when, by a great
effort of will and dignity, she succeeded in overcoming this delicious
confusion, rose from her chair, and said to Djalma in a trembling voice:
"Prince, I am happy to receive you here." Then, pointing to one of the
portraits suspended above her, she added, as if introducing him to a
living person: "Prince--my mother!"
With an instinct of rare delicacy, Adrienne had thus summoned her mother
to be present at her interview with Djalma. It seemed a security for
herself and the prince, against the seductions of a first interview--
which was likely to be all the more perilous, that they both knew
themselves madly loved that they both were free, and had only to answer
to Providence for the treasures of happiness and enjoyment with which He
had so magnificently endowed them. The prince understood Adrienne's
thoughts; so that, when the young lady pointed to the portrait, Djalma,
by a spontaneous movement full of grace and simplicity, knelt down before
the picture, and said to it in a gentle, but manly voice: "I will love
and revere you as my mother. And, in thought, my mother too shall be
present, and stand like you, beside your child!"
No better answer could have been given to the feeling which induced
Mdlle. de Cardoville to place herself, as it were, under the protection
of her mother. From that moment, confident in Djalma, confident in
herself, the young lady felt more at her ease, and the delicious sense of
happiness replaced those exciting emotions, which had at first so
violently agitated her.
Then, seating herself once more, she said to Djalma, as she pointed to
the opposite chair: "Pray take a seat, my dear cousin; and allow me to
call you so, for there is too much ceremony in the word prince; and do
you call me cousin also, for I find other names too grave. Having
settled this point, we can talk together like old friends."
"Yes cousin," answered Djalma, blushing.
"And, as frankness is proper between friends," resumed Adrienne, "I have
first to make you a reproach," she added, with a half-smile.
The prince had remained standing, with his arm resting on the chimney-
piece, in an attitude full of grace and respect.
"Yes, cousin," continued Adrienne, "a reproach, that you will perhaps
forgive me for making. I had expected you a little sooner."
"Perhaps, cousin, you may blame me for having come so soon."
"What do you mean?"
"At the moment when I left home, a man, whom I did not know, approached
my carriage, and said to me, with such an air of sincerity that I
believed him: 'You are able to save the life of a person who has been a
second father to you. Marshal Simon is in great danger, and, to rescue
him, you must follow me on the instant--'"
"It was a snare," cried Adrienne, hastily. "Marshal Simon was here,
scarcely an hour ago."
"Indeed!" exclaimed Djalma, joyfully, and as if he had been relieved from
a great weight. "Then there will be nothing to sadden this happy day!"
"But, cousin," resumed Adrienne, "how came you not to suspect this
"Some words, which afterwards escaped from him, inspired me with doubts,"
answered Djalma: "but at first I followed him, fearing the marshal might
be in danger--for I know that he also has enemies."
"Now that I reflect on it, you were quite right, cousin, for some new
plot against the marshal was probable enough; and the least doubt was
enough to induce you to go to him."
"I did so--even though you were waiting for me."
"It was a generous sacrifice; and my esteem for you is increased by it,
if it could be increased," said Adrienne, with emotion. "But what became
of this man?"
"At my desire, he got into the carriage with me. Anxious about the
marshal, and in despair at seeing the time wasted, that I was to have
passed with you, cousin, I pressed him with all sorts of questions.
Several times, he replied to me with embarrassment, and then the idea
struck me that the whole might be a snare. Remembering all that they had
already attempted, to ruin me in your opinion, I immediately changed my
course. The vexation of the man who accompanied me then because so
visible, that I ought to have had no doubt upon the subject. Still, when
I thought of Marshal Simon, I felt a kind of vague remorse, which you,
cousin, have now happily set at rest."
"Those people are implacable!" said Adrienne; "but our happiness will be
stronger than their hate."
After a moment's silence, she resumed, with her habitual frankness: "My
dear cousin, it is impossible for me to conceal what I have at heart.
Let us talk for a few seconds of the past, which was made so painful to
us, and then we will forget it forever, like an evil dream."
"I will answer you sincerely, at the risk of injuring myself," said the
"How could you make up your mind to exhibit yourself in public with--?"
"With that young girl?" interrupted Djalma.
"Yes, cousin," replied Mdlle. de Cardoville, and she waited for Djalma's
answer with anxious curiosity.
"A stranger to the customs of this country," said Djalma, without any
embarrassment, for he spoke the truth, "with a mind weakened with
despair, and misled by the fatal counsels of a man devoted to my enemies,
I believed, even as I was told, that, by displaying before you the
semblance of another love, I should excite your jealousy, and thus--"
"Enough, cousin; I understand it all," said Adrienne hastily,
interrupting Djalma in her turn, that she might spare him a painful
confession. "I too must have been blinded by despair, not to have seen
through this wicked plot, especially after your rash and intrepid action.
To risk death for the sake of my bouquet!" added Adrienne, shuddering at
the mere remembrance. "But one last question," she resumed, "though I am
already sure of your answer. Did you receive a letter that I wrote to
you, on the morning of the day in which I saw you at the theatre?"
Djalma made no reply. A dark cloud passed over his fine countenance,
and, for a second, his features assumed so menacing an expression, that
Adrienne was terrified at the effect produced by her words. But this
violent agitation soon passed away, and Djalma's brow became once more
calm and serene.
"I have been more merciful that I thought," said the prince to Adrienne,
who looked at him with astonishment. "I wished to come hither worthy of
you, my cousin. I pardoned the man who, to serve my enemies, had given
me all those fatal counsels. The same person, I am sure, must have
intercepted your letter. Just now, at the memory of the evils he thus
caused me, I, for a moment, regretted my clemency. But then, again, I
thought of your letter of yesterday--and my anger is all gone."
"Then the sad time of fear and suspicion is over--suspicion, that made me
doubt of your sentiments, and you of mine. Oh, yes! far removed from us
be that fatal past!" cried Adrienne de Cardoville, with deep joy..
Then, as if she had relieved her heart from the last thought of sadness,
she continued: "The future is all your own--the radiant future, without
cloud or obstacle, pure in the immensity of its horizon, and extending
beyond the reach of sight!"
It is impossible to describe the tone of enthusiastic hope which
accompanied these words. But suddenly Adrienne's features assumed an
expression of touching melancholy, and she added, in a voice of profound
emotion: "And yet--at this hour--so many unfortunate creatures suffer
This simple touch of pity for the misfortunes of others, at the moment
when the noble maiden herself attained to the highest point of happiness,
had such an effect on Djalma, that involuntarily he fell on his knees
before Adrienne, clasped his hands together, and turned towards her his
fine countenance, with an almost daring expression. Then, hiding his
face in his hands, he bowed his head without speaking a single word.
There was a moment of deep silence. Adrienne was the first to break it,
as she saw a tear steal through the slender fingers of the prince.
"My friend! what is the matter?" she exclaimed, as with a movement rapid
as thought, she stooped forward, and taking hold of Djalma's hands, drew
them from before his face. That face was bathed in tears.
"You weep!" cried Mdlle. de Cardoville, so much agitated that she kept
the hands of Djalma in her own; and, unable to dry his tears, the young
Hindoo allowed them to flow like so many drops of crystal over the pale
gold of his cheeks.
"There is not in this wide world a happiness like to mine!" said the
prince, in his soft, melodious voice, and with a kind of exhaustion:
"therefore do I feel great sadness, and so it should be. You give me
heaven--and were I to give you the whole earth, it would be but a poor
return. Alas! what can man do for a divinity, but humbly bless and
adore? He can never hope to return the gifts bestowed: and this makes
him suffer--not in his pride--but in his heart!"
Djalma did not exaggerate. He said what he really felt: and the rather
hyperbolical form, familiar to Oriental nations, could alone express his
thought. The tone of his regret was so sincere, his humility so gentle
and full of simplicity, that Adrienne, also moved to tears, answered him
with an effusion of serious tenderness, "My friend, we are both at the
supreme point of happiness. Our future felicity appears to have no
limits, and yet, though derived from different sources, sad reflections
have come to both of us. It is, you see, that there are some sorts of
happiness, which make you dizzy with their own immensity. For a moment,
the heart, the mind, the soul, are incapable of containing so much bliss;
it overflows and drowns us. Thus the flowers sometimes hang their heads,
oppressed by the too ardent rays of the sun, which is yet their love and
life. Oh, my friend! this sadness may be great, but it also sweet!"
As she uttered these words, the voice of Adrienne grew fainter and
fainter, and her head bowed lower, as if she were indeed sinking beneath
the weight of her happiness. Djalma had remained kneeling before her,
his hands in hers--so that as she thus bent forward, her ivory forehead
and golden hair touched the amber-colored brow and ebon curls of Djalma.
And the sweet, silent tears of the two young lovers flowed together, and
mingled as they fell on their clasped hands.
Whilst this scene was passing in Cardoville House, Agricola had gone to
the Rue de Vaugirard, to deliver a letter from Adrienne to M. Hardy.
As we have already said, M. Hardy occupied a pavilion in the "Retreat"
annexed to the house in the Rue de Vaugirard, inhabited by a goodly
number of the reverend fathers of the Company of Jesus. Nothing could be
calmer and more silent than this dwelling. Every one spoke in whispers,
and the servants themselves had something oily in their words, something
sanctified in their very walk.
Like all that is subject to the chilling and destructive influences of
these men, this mournfully quiet house was entirely wanting in life and
animation. The boarders passed an existence of wearisome and icy
monotony, only broken by the use of certain devotional exercises; and
thus, in accordance with the selfish calculation of the reverend fathers,
the mind, deprived of all nourishment and all external support, soon
began to droop and pine away in solitude. The heart seemed to beat more
slowly, the soul was benumbed, the character weakened; at last, all
freewill, all power of discrimination, was extinguished, and the
boarders, submitting to the same process of self-annihilation as the
novices of the Company, became, like them, mere "corpses" in the hands of
The object of these manoeuvres was clear and simple. They secured the
means of obtaining all kinds of donations, the constant aim of the
skillful policy and merciless cupidity of these priests. By the aid of
enormous sums, of which they thus become the possessors or the trustees,
they follow out and obtain the success of their projects, even though
murder, incendiarism, revolt, and all the horrors of civil war, excited
by and through them, should drench in blood the lands over which they
seek to extend their dark dominion.
Such, then, was the asylum of peace and innocence in which Francois Hardy
had taken refuge. He occupied the ground-floor of a summer-house, which
opened upon a portion of the garden. His apartments had been judiciously
chosen, for we know with what profound and diabolical craft the reverend
fathers avail themselves of material influences, to make a deep
impression upon the minds they are moulding to their purpose. Imagine a
prospect bounded by a high wall, of a blackish gray, half-covered with
ivy, the plant peculiar to ruins. A dark avenue of old yew-trees, so fit
to shade the grave with their sepulchral verdure, extended from this wall
to a little semicircle, in front of the apartment generally occupied by
M. Hardy. Two or three mounds of earth, bordered with box, symmetrically
cut, completed the charms of this garden, which in every respect
resembled a cemetery.
It was about two o'clock in the afternoon. Though the April sun shone
brightly, its rays, intercepted by the high wall of which we have spoken,
could not penetrate into that portion of the garden, obscure, damp, and
cold as a cavern, which communicated with M. Hardy's apartment. The room
was furnished with a perfect sense of the comfortable. A soft carpet
covered the floor; thick curtains of dark green baize, the same color as
the walls, sheltered an excellent bed, and hung in folds about the glass-
door, which opened on the garden. Some pieces of mahogany furniture,
plain, but very clean and bright, stood round the room. Above the
secretary, placed just in front of the bed, was a large ivory crucifix,
upon a black velvet ground. The chimney-piece was adorned with a clock,
in an ebony case, with ivory ornaments representing all sorts of gloomy
emblems, such as hour-glasses, scythes, death's-heads, etc. Now imagine
this scene in twilight, with its solitary and mournful silence, only
broken at the hour of prayer by the lugubrious sound of the bells of the
neighboring chapel, and you will recognize the infernal skill, with which
these dangerous priests know how to turn to account every external
object, when they wish to influence the mind of those they are anxious to
And this was not all. After appealing to the senses, it was necessary to
address themselves to the intellect--and this was the method adopted by
the reverend fathers. A single book--but one--was left, as if by chance,
within reach. This book was Thomas a Kempis' "Imitation." But as it
might happen that M. Hardy would not have the courage or the desire to
read this book, thoughts and reflections borrowed from its merciless
pages, and written in very large characters, were suspended in black
frames close to the bed, or at other parts within sight, so that,
involuntarily, in the sad leisure of his inactive dejection, the
dweller's eyes were almost necessarily attracted by them. To that fatal
circle of despairing thoughts they confined the already weakened mind of
this unfortunate man, so long a prey to the most acute sorrow. What he
read mechanically, every instant of the day and night, whenever the
blessed sleep fled from his eyes inflamed with tears, was not enough
merely to plunge the soul of the victim into incurable despair, but also
to reduce him to the corpse-like obedience required by the Society of
Jesus. In that awful book may be found a thousand terrors to operate on
weak minds, a thousand slavish maxims to chain and degrade the
And now imagine M. Hardy carried wounded into this house; while his
heart, torn by bitter grief and the sense of horrible treachery, bled
even faster than his external injuries. Attended with the utmost care,
and thanks to the acknowledged skill of Dr. Baleinier, M. Hardy soon
recovered from the hurts he had received when he threw himself into the
embers of his burning factory. Yet, in order to favor the projects of
the reverend fathers, a drug, harmless enough in its effects, but
destined to act for a time upon the mind of the patient, and often
employed for that purpose in similar important cases by the pious doctor,
was administered to Hardy, and had kept him pretty long in a state of
mental torpor. To a soul agonized by cruel deceptions, it appears an
inestimable benefit to be plunged into that kind of torpor, which at
least prevents one from dwelling upon the past.
Hardy resigned himself entirely to this profound apathy, and at length
came to regard it as the supreme good. Thus do unfortunate wretches,
tortured by cruel diseases, accept with gratitude the opiate which kills
them slowly, but which at least deadens the sense of pain.
In sketching the portrait of M. Hardy, we tried to give some idea of the
exquisite delicacy of his tender soul, of his painful susceptibility with
regard to anything base or wicked, and of his extreme goodness,
uprightness, and generosity. We now allude to these admirable qualities,
because we must observe, that with him, as with almost all who possess
them, they were not, and could not be, united with an energetic and
resolute character. Admirably persevering in good deeds, the influence
of this excellent man, was insinuating rather than commanding; it was not
by the bold energy and somewhat overbearing will, peculiar to other men
of great and noble heart, that Hardy had realized the prodigy of his
Common Dwelling-house; it was by affectionate persuasion, for with him
mildness took the place of force. At sight of any baseness or injustice,
he did not rouse himself, furious and threatening; but he suffered
intense pain. He did not boldly attack the criminal, but he turned away
from him in pity and sorrow. And then his loving heart, so full of
feminine delicacy, had an irresistible longing for the blessed contact of
dear affections; they alone could keep it alive. Even as a poor, frail
bird dies with the cold, when it can no longer lie close to its brethren,
and receive and communicate the sweet warmth of the maternal nest. And
now this sensitive organization, this extremely susceptible nature,
receives blow after blow from sorrows and deceptions, one of which would
suffice to shake, if it did not conquer, the firmest and most resolute
character. Hardy's best friend has infamously betrayed him. His adored
mistress has abandoned him.
The house which he had founded for the benefit of his workmen, whom he
loved as brethren, is reduced to a heap of ashes. What then happens?
All the springs of his soul are at once broken. Too feeble to resist
such frightful attacks, too fatally deceived to seek refuge in other
affections, too much discouraged to think of laying the first stone of
any new edifice--this poor heart, isolated from every salutary influence,
finds oblivion of the world and of itself in a kind of gloomy torpor.
And if some remaining instincts of life and affection, at long intervals,
endeavored to rouse themselves within him, and if, half-opening his
mind's eye, which he had kept closed against the present, the past, and
the future, Hardy looks around him--what does he see? Only these
sentences, so full of terrible despair:
"Thou art nothing but dust and ashes. Grief and tears art thy portion.
Believe not in any son of man. There are no such things as friendship or
ties of kindred. All human affections are false. Die in the morning,
and thou wilt be forgotten before night. Be humble--despise thyself--and
let others despise thee. Think not, reason not, live not--but commit thy
fate to the hands of a superior, who will think and reason for thee.
Weep, suffer, think upon death. Yes, death! always death--that should be
thy thought when thou thinkest--but it is better not to think at all.
Let a feeling of ceaseless woe prepare thy way to heaven. It is only by
sorrow that we are welcome to the terrible God whom we adore!"
Such were the consolations offered to this unfortunate man. Affrighted,
he again closed his eyes, and fell back into his lethargy. As for
leaving this gloomy retreat, he could not, or rather he did not desire to
do so. He had lost the power of will; and then, it must be confessed, he
had finished by getting accustomed to this house, and liked it well--they
paid him such discreet attentions, and yet left him so much alone with
his grief--there reigned all around such a death-like silence, which
harmonized closely with the silence of his heart; and that was now the
tomb of his last love, last friendship, last hope. All energy was dead
within him! Then began that slow, but inevitable transformation, so
judiciously foreseen by Rodin, who directed the whole of this
machination, even in its smallest details. At first alarmed by the
dreadful maxims which surrounded him, M. Hardy had at length accustomed
himself to read them over almost mechanically, just as the captive, in
his mournful hours of leisure, counts the nails in the door of his
prison, or the bars of the grated window. This was already a great point
gained by the reverend fathers.
And soon his weakened mind was struck with the apparent correctness of
these false and melancholy aphorisms.
Thus he read: "Do not count upon the affection of any human creature"--
and he had himself been shamefully betrayed.
"Man is born to sorrow and despair"--and he was himself despairing.
"There is no rest save in the cessation of thought"--and the slumber of
his mind had brought some relief to his pain.
Peepholes, skillfully concealed by the hangings and in the wainscoting of
these apartments, enabled the reverend fathers at all times to see and
hear the boarders, and above all to observe their countenance and manner,
when they believed themselves to be alone. Every exclamation of grief
which escaped Hardy in his gloomy solitude, was repeated to Father
d'Aigrigny by a mysterious listener. The reverend father, following
scrupulously Rodin's instructions, had at first visited his boarder very
rarely. We have said, that when Father d'Aigrigny wished it, he could
display an almost irresistible power of charming, and accordingly he
threw all his tact and skill into the interviews he had with Hardy, when
he came from time to time to inquire after his health. Informed of
everything by his spies, and aided by his natural sagacity, he soon saw
all the use that might be made of the physical and moral prostration of
the boarder. Certain beforehand that Hardy would not take the hint, he
spoke to him frequently of the gloom of the house, advising him
affectionately to leave it, if he felt oppressed by its monotony, or at
all events to seek beyond its walls for some pleasure and amusement. To
speak of pleasure and amusement to this unfortunate man, was in his
present state to insure a refusal, and so it of course happened. Father
d'Aigrigny did not at first try to gain the recluse's confidence, nor did
he speak to him of sorrow; but every time he came, he appeared to take
such a tender interest in him, and showed it by a few simple and well-
timed words. By degrees, these interviews, at first so rare, became more
frequent and longer. Endowed with a flow of honeyed, insinuating, and
persuasive eloquence, Father d'Aigrigny naturally took for his theme
those gloomy maxims, to which Hardy's attention was now so often
Supple, prudent, skillful, knowing that the hermit had hitherto professed
that generous natural religion which teaches the grateful adoration of
God, the love of humanity, the worship of what is just and good, and
which, disdaining dogmas, professes the same veneration for Marcus
Aurelius as for Confucius, for Plato as for Christ, for Moses as for
Lycurgus--Father d'Aigrigny did not at first attempt to convert him, but
began by incessantly reminding him of the abominable deceptions practised
upon him; and, instead of describing such treachery as an exception in
life--instead of trying to calm, encourage, and revive his drooping soul-
-instead of exhorting Hardy to seek oblivion and consolation in the
discharge of his duties toward humanity, towards his brethren, whom he
had previously loved and succored--Father d'Aigrigny strove to inflame
the bleeding wounds of the unfortunate man, painted the human race in the
most atrocious blackness, and, by declaring all men treacherous,
ungrateful, wicked, succeeded in rendering his despair incurable. Having
attained this object, the Jesuit took another step. Knowing Hardy's
admirable goodness of heart, and profiting by the weakened state of his
mind, he spoke to him of the consolation to be derived by a man
overwhelmed with sorrow, from the belief that every one of his tears,
instead of being unfruitful, was in fact agreeable to God, and might aid
in the salvation of souls--the belief, as the reverend father adroitly
added, that by faith alone can sorrow be made useful to humanity, and
acceptable to Divinity.
Whatever impiety, whatever atrocious Machiavelism there was in these
detestable maxims, which make of a loving-kind Deity a being delighted
with the tears of his creatures, was thus skillfully concealed from
Hardy's eyes, whose generous instincts were still alive. Soon did this
loving and tender soul, whom unworthy priests were driving to a sort of
moral suicide, find a mournful charm in the fiction, that his sorrows
would at least be profitable to other men. It was at first only a
fiction; but the enfeebled mind which takes pleasure in such a fable,
finishes by receiving it as a reality, and by degrees will submit to the
consequences. Such was Hardy's moral and physical state, when, by means
of a servant who had been bought over, he received from Agricola Baudoin
a letter requesting an interview. Alone, the workman could not have
broken the band of the Jesuit's pleadings, but he was accompanied by
Gabriel, whose eloquence and reasonings were of a most convincing nature
to a spirit like Hardy's.
It is unnecessary to point out to the reader, with what dignified reserve
Gabriel had confined himself to the most generous means of rescuing Hardy
from the deadly influence of the reverend fathers. It was repugnant to
the great soul of the young missionary, to stoop to a revelation of the
odious plots of these priests. He would only have taken this extreme
course, had his powerful and sympathetic words have failed to have any
effect on Hardy's blindness. About a quarter of an hour had elapsed
since Gabriel's departure, when the servant appointed to wait on this
boarder of the reverend fathers entered and delivered to him a letter.
"From whom is this?" asked Hardy.
"From a boarder in the house, sir," answered the servant bowing.
This man had a crafty hypocritical face; he wore his hair combed over his
forehead, spoke in a low voice, and always cast clown his eyes. Waiting
the answer, he joined his hands, and began to twiddle his thumbs. Hardy
opened the letter, and read as follows:
"SIR,--I have only just heard, by mere chance, that you also inhabit this
respectable house: a long illness, and the retirement in which I live,
will explain my ignorance of your being so near. Though we have only met
once, sir, the circumstance which led to that meeting was of so serious a
nature, that I cannot think you have forgotten it."
Hardy stopped, and tasked his memory for an explanation, and not finding
anything to put him on the right track, he continued to read:
"This circumstance excited in me a feeling of such deep and respectful
sympathy for you, sir, that I cannot resist my anxious desire to wait
upon you, particularly as I learn, that you intend leaving this house to-
day--a piece of information I have just derived from the excellent and
worthy Abbe Gabriel, one of the men I most love, esteem, and reverence.
May I venture to hope, sir, that just at the moment of quitting our
common retreat to return to the world, you will deign to receive
favorably the request, however intrusive, of a poor old man, whose life
will henceforth be passed in solitude, and who cannot therefore have any
prospect of meeting you, in that vortex of society which he has abandoned
forever. Waiting the honor of your answer, I beg you to accept, sir, the
assurance of the sentiments of high esteem with which I remain, sir, with
the deepest respect,
"Your very humble and most obedient servant,
After reading this letter and the signature of the writer, Hardy remained
for some time in deep thought, without being able to recollect the name
of Rodin, or to what serious circumstances he alluded.
After a silence of some duration, he said to the servant "M. Rodin gave
you this letter?"
"And who is M. Rodin?"
"A good old gentleman, who is just recovering from a long illness, that
almost carried him off. Lately, he has been getting better, but he is
still so weak and melancholy, that it makes one sad to see him. It is a
great pity, for there is not a better and more worthy gentleman in the
house--unless it be you, sir," added the servant, bowing with an air of
"M. Rodin;" said Hardy, thoughtfully. "It is singular, that I should not
remember the name nor any circumstance connected with it."
"If you will give me your answer, sir," resumed the servant, "I will take
it to M. Rodin. He is now with Father d'Aigrigny, to whom he is bidding
"Yes, sir, the post-horses have just come."
"Post-horses for whom?" asked Hardy.
"For Father d'Aigrigny, sir."
"He is going on a journey then!" said Hardy, with some surprise.
"Oh! he will not, I think be long absent," said the servant, with a
confidential air, "for the reverend father takes no one with him, and but
very light luggage. No doubt, the reverend father will come to say
farewell to you, sir, before he starts. But what answer shall I give M.
The letter, just received, was couched in such polite terms--it spoke of
Gabriel with so much respect--that Hardy, urged moreover by a natural
curiosity, and seeing no motive to refuse this interview before quitting
the house, said to the servant: "Please tell M. Rodin, that if he will
give himself the trouble to come to me, I shall be glad to see him."
"I will let him know immediately, sir," answered the servant, bowing as
he left the room.
When alone, Hardy, while wondering who this M. Rodin could be, began to
make some slight preparations for his departure. For nothing in the
world would he have passed another night in this house; and, in order to
keep up his courage, he recalled every instant the mild, evangelical
language of Gabriel, just as the superstitious recite certain litanies,
with a view of escaping from temptation.
The servant soon returned, and said: "M. Rodin is here, sir."
"Beg him to walk in."
Rodin entered, clad in his long black dressing-gown, and with his old
silk cap in his hand. The servant then withdrew. The day was just
closing. Hardy rose to meet Rodin, whose features he did not at first
distinguish. But as the reverend father approached the window, Hardy
looked narrowly at him for an instant, and then uttered an exclamation,
wrung from him by surprise and painful remembrance. But, recovering
himself from this first movement, Hardy said to the Jesuit, in an
agitated voice: "You here, sir? Oh, you are right! It was indeed a very
serious circumstance that first brought us together."
"Oh, my dear sir!" said Rodin, in a kindly and unctuous tone; "I was sure
you would not have forgotten me."
It will doubtless be remembered that Rodin had gone (although a stranger
to Hardy) to visit him at his factory, and inform him of De Blessac's
shameful treachery--a dreadful blow, which had only preceded by a few
moments a second no less horrible misfortune; for it was in the presence
of Rodin that Hardy had learned the unexpected departure of the woman he
adored. Painful to him must have been the sudden appearance of Rodin.
Yes, thanks to the salutary influence of Gabriel's counsels, he recovered
himself by degrees, and the contraction of his features being succeeded
by a melancholy calm, he said to Rodin: "I did not indeed expect to meet
you, sir, in this house."
"Alas, sir!" answered Rodin, with a sigh, "I did not expect to come
hither, probably to end my days beneath this roof, when I went, without
being acquainted with you, but only as one honest man should serve
another, to unveil to you a great infamy."
"Indeed, sir, you then rendered me a true service; perhaps, in that
painful moment, I did not fully express my gratitude; for, at the same
moment in which you revealed to me the treachery of M. de Blessac--"
"You were overwhelmed by another piece of painful intelligence," said
Rodin, interrupting M. Hardy; "I shall never forget the sudden arrival of
that poor woman, who, pale and affrighted, and without considering my
presence, came to inform you that a person who was exceedingly dear to
you had quitted Paris abruptly."
"Yes, sir; and, without stopping to thank you, I set out immediately,"
answered Hardy, with a mournful air.
"Do you know, sir," said Rodin, after a moment's silence, "that there are
sometimes very strange coincidences?"
"To what do you allude, sir?"
"While I went to inform you that you were betrayed in
so infamous a manner--I was myself--"
Rodin paused, as if unable to control his deep emotion, and his
countenance wore the expression of such overpowering grief that Hardy
said to him, with interest: "What ails you, sir?"
"Forgive me," replied Rodin, with a bitter smile. "Thanks to the ghostly
counsels of the angelic Abbe Gabriel, I have reached a sort of
resignation. Still, there are certain memories which affect me with the
most acute pain. I told you," resumed Rodin, in a firmer voice, "or was
going to tell you, that the very day after that on which I informed you
of the treachery practised against you, I was myself the victim of a
frightful deception. An adopted son--a poor unfortunate child, whom I
had brought up--" He paused again, drew his trembling hand over his
eyes, and added: "Pardon me, sir, for speaking of matters which must be
indifferent to you. Excuse the intrusive sorrow of a poor, broken-
hearted old man!"
"I have suffered too much myself, sir, to be indifferent to any kind of
sorrow," replied Hardy. "Besides, you are no stranger to me--for you did
me a real service--and we both agree in our veneration for the same young
"The Abbe Gabriel!" cried Rodin, interrupting Hardy; "ah, sir! he is my
deliverer, my benefactor. If you knew all his care and devotion, during
my long illness, caused by intense grief--if you knew the ineffable
sweetness of his counsels--"
"I know them, sir," cried Hardy; "oh, yes! I know how salutary is the
"In his mouth, sir, the precepts of religion are full of mildness,"
resumed Rodin, with excitement. "Do they not heal and console? do they
not make us love and hope, instead of fear and tremble?"
"Alas, sir! in this very house," said Hardy, "I have been able to make
"I was happy enough," said Rodin, "to have the angelic Abbe Gabriel for
my confessor, or, rather, my confidant."
"Yes," replied Hardy, "for he prefers confidence to confession."
"How well you know him!" said Rodin, in a tone of the utmost simplicity.
Then he resumed: "He is not a man but an angel. His words would convert
the most hardened sinner. Without being exactly impious, I had myself
lived in the profession of what is called Natural Religion; but the
angelic Abbe Gabriel has, by degrees, fixed my wavering belief, given it
body and soul, and, in fact, endowed me with faith."
"Yes! he is a truly Christian priest--a priest of love and pardon!" cried
"What you say is perfectly true," replied Rodin; "for I came here almost
mad with grief, thinking only of the unhappy boy who had repaid my
paternal goodness with the most monstrous ingratitude, and sometimes I
yielded to violent bursts of despair, and sometimes sank into a state of
mournful dejection, cold as the grave itself. But, suddenly, the Abbe
Gabriel appeared--and the darkness fled before the dawning of a new day."
"You were right, sir; there are strange coincidences," said Hardy,
yielding more and more to the feeling of confidence and sympathy,
produced by the resemblance of his real position to Rodin's pretended
one. "And to speak frankly," he added, "I am very glad I have seen you
before quitting this house. Were I capable of falling back into fits of
cowardly weakness, your example alone would prevent me. Since I listen
to you, I feel myself stronger in the noble path which the angelic Abbe
Gabriel has opened before me, as you so well express it."
"The poor old man will not then regret having listened to the first
impulse of his heart, which urged him to come to you," said Robin, with a
touching expression. "You will sometimes remember me in that world to
which you are returning?"
"Be sure of it, sir; but allow me to ask one question: You remain, you
say, in this house?"
"What would you have me do? There reigns here a calm repose, and one is
not disturbed in one's prayers," said Rodin, in a very gentle tone. "You
see, I have suffered so much--the conduct of that unhappy youth was so
horrible--he plunged into such shocking excesses--that the wrath of
heaven must be kindled against him. Now I am very old, and it is only by
passing the few days that are left me in fervent prayer that I can hope
to disarm the just anger of the Lord. Oh! prayer--prayer! It was the
Abbe Gabriel who revealed to me all its power and sweetness--and
therewith the formidable duties it imposes."
"Its duties are indeed great and sacred," answered Hardy, with a pensive
"Do you remember the life of Rancey?" said Rodin, abruptly, as he darted
a peculiar glance at Hardy.
"The founder of La Trappe?" said Hardy, surprised at Rodin's question. I
remember hearing a very vague account, some time ago, of the motives of
"There is, mark you, no more striking an example of the power of prayer,
and of the state of almost divine ecstasy, to which it may lead a
religious soul. In a few words, I will relate to you this instructive
and tragic history. Rancey--but I beg your pardon; I fear I am
trespassing on your time."
"No, no," answered Hardy, hastily; "You cannot think how interested I am
in what you tell me. My interview with the Abbe Gabriel was abruptly
broken off, and in listening to you I fancy that I hear the further
development of his views. Go on, I conjure you.
"With all my heart. I only wish that the instruction which, thanks to
our angelic priest, I derived from the story of Rancey might be as
profitable to you as it was to me."
"This, then, also came from the Abbe Gabriel?"
"He related to me this kind of parable in support of his exhortations,"
replied Rodin. "Oh, sir! do I not owe to the consoling words of that
young priest all that has strengthened and revived my poor old broken
"Then I shall listen to you with a double interest."
"Rancey was a man of the world," resumed Rodin, as he looked attentively
at Hardy; "a gentleman--young, ardent, handsome. He loved a young lady
of high rank. I cannot tell what impediments stood in the way of their
union. But this love, though successful, was kept secret, and every
evening Rancey visited his mistress by means of a private staircase. It
was, they say, one of those passionate loves which men feel but once in
their lives. The mystery, even the sacrifice made by the unfortunate
girl, who forgot every duty, seemed to give new charms to this guilty
passion. In the silence and darkness of secrecy, these two lovers passed
two years of voluptuous delirium, which amounted almost to ecstasy."
At these words Hardy started. For the first time of late his brow was
suffused with a deep blush; his heart throbbed violently; he remembered
that he too had once known the ardent intoxication of a guilty and hidden
love. Though the day was closing rapidly, Rodin cast a sidelong glance
at Hardy, and perceived the impression he had made. "Some times," he
continued, "thinking of the dangers to which his mistress was exposed, if
their connection should be discovered, Rancey wished to sever these
delicious ties; but the girl, beside herself with passion, threw herself
on the neck of her lover, and threatened him, in the language of intense
excitement, to reveal and to brave all, if he thought of leaving her.
Too weak and loving to resist the prayers of his mistress, Rancey again
and again yielded, and they both gave themselves up to a torrent of
delight, which carried them along, forgetful of earth and heaven!"
M. Hardy listened to Rodin with feverish and devouring avidity. The
Jesuit, in painting, with these almost sensual colors, an ardent and
secret love, revived in Hardy burning memories, which till now had been
drowned in tears. To the beneficent calm produced by the mild language
of Gabriel had succeeded a painful agitation, which, mingled with the
reaction of the shocks received that day, began to throw his mind into a
strange state of confusion.
Rodin, having so far succeeded in his object, continued as follows: "A
fatal day came at last. Rancey, obliged to go to the wars, quitted the
girl; but, after a short campaign, he returned, more in love than ever.
He had written privately, to say he would arrive almost immediately after
his letter. He came accordingly. It was night. He ascended, as usual,
the private staircase which led to the chamber of his mistress; he
entered the room, his heart beating with love and hope. His mistress had
died that morning!"
"Ah!" cried Hardy, covering his face with his hands, in terror.
"She was dead," resumed Rodin. "Two wax-candles were burning beside the
funeral couch. Rancey could not, would not believe that she was dead.
He threw himself on his knees by the corpse. In his delirium, he seized
that fair, beloved head, to cover it with kisses. The head parted from
the body, and remained in his hands! Yes," resumed Rodin as Hardy drew
back, pale and mute with terror, "yes, the girl had fallen a victim to so
swift and extraordinary a disease, that she had not been able to receive
the last sacraments. After her death, the doctors, in the hope of
discovering the cause of this unknown malady, had begun to dissect that
As Rodin reached this part of his narrative, night was almost come. A
sort of hazy twilight alone reigned in this silent chamber, in the centre
of which appeared the pale and ghastly form of Rodin, clad in his long
black gown, whilst his eyes seemed to sparkle with diabolic fire.
Overcome by the violent emotions occasioned by this story, in which
thoughts of death and voluptuousness, love and horror, were so strangely
mingled, Hardy remained fixed and motionless, waiting for the words of
Rodin, with a combination of curiosity, anguish and alarm.
"And Rancey?" said he, at last, in an agitated voice, whilst he wiped the
cold sweat from his brow.
"After two days of furious delirium," resumed Rodin, "he renounced the
world, and shut himself up in impenetrable solitude. The first period of
his retreat was frightful; in his despair, he uttered loud yells of grief
and rage, that were audible at some distance. Twice he attempted
suicide, to escape from the terrible visions."
"He had visions, then?" said Hardy, with an increased agony of curiosity.
"Yes," replied Rodin, in a solemn tone, "he had fearful visions. He saw
the girl, who, for his sake, had died in mortal sin, plunged in the heat
of the everlasting flames of hell! On that fair face, disfigured by
infernal tortures, was stamped the despairing laugh of the damned! Her
teeth gnashed with pain; her arms writhed in anguish! She wept tears of
blood, and, with an agonized and avenging voice, she cried to her
seducer: 'Thou art the cause of my perdition--my curse, my curse be upon
As he pronounced these last words, Rodin advanced three steps nearer to
Hardy, accompanying each step with a menacing gesture. If we remember
the state of weakness, trouble, and fear, in which M. Hardy was--if we
remember that the Jesuit had just roused in the soul of this unfortunate
man all the sensual and spiritual memories of a love, cooled, but not
extinguished, in tears--if we remember, too, that Hardy reproached
himself with the seduction of a beloved object, whom her departure from
her duties might (according to the Catholic faith) doom to everlasting
flames--we shall not wonder at the terrible effect of this
phantasmagoria, conjured up in silence and solitude, in the evening dusk,
by this fearful priest.
The effect on Hardy was indeed striking, and the more dangerous, that the
Jesuit, with diabolical craft, seemed only to be carrying out, from
another point of view, the ideas of Gabriel. Had not the young priest
convinced Hardy that nothing is sweeter, than to ask of heaven
forgiveness for those who have sinned, or whom we have led astray? But
forgiveness implies punishment; and it was to the punishment alone that
Rodin drew the attention of his victim, by painting it in these terrible
hues. With hands clasped together, and eye fixed and dilated, Hardy
trembled in all his limbs, and seemed still listening to Rodin, though
the latter had ceased to speak. Mechanically, he repeated: "My curse, my
curse be upon thee?"
Then suddenly he exclaimed, in a kind of frenzy: "The curse is on me
also! The woman, whom I taught to forget her sacred duties, and to
commit mortal sin--one day plunged in the everlasting flames--her arms
writhing in agony--weeping tears of blood--will cry to me from the
bottomless pit: 'My curse, my curse be upon thee!'--One day," he added,
with redoubled terror, "one day?--who knows? perhaps at this moment!--for
if the sea voyage had been fatal to her--if a shipwreck--oh, God! she too
would have died in mortal sin--lost, lost, forever!--Oh, have mercy on
her, my God! Crush me in Thy wrath--but have mercy on her--for I alone am
And the unfortunate man, almost delirious, sank with clasped hands upon
"Sir," cried Rodin, in an affectionate voice, as he hastened to lift him
up, "my dear sir--my dear friend--be calm! Comfort yourself. I cannot
bear to see you despond. Alas! my intention was quite the contrary to
"The curse! the curse! yes, she will curse me also--she, that I loved so
much--in the everlasting flames!" murmured Hardy, shuddering, and
apparently insensible to the other's words.
"But, my dear sir, listen to me, I entreat you," resumed the latter; "let
me finish my story, and then you will find it as consoling as it now
seems terrible. For heaven's sake, remember the adorable words of our
angelic Abbe Gabriel, with regard to the sweetness of prayer."
At the name of Gabriel, Hardy recovered himself a little, and exclaimed,
in a heart-rending tone: "Ay! his words were sweet and beneficent. Where
are they now? For mercy's sake, repeat to me those consoling words."
"Our angelic Abbe Gabriel," resumed Rodin, "spoke to you of the sweetness
"Oh, yes! prayer!"
"Well, my dear sir, listen to me, and you shall see how prayer saved
Rancey, and made a saint of him. Yes, these frightful torments, that I
have just described, these threatening visions, were all conquered by
prayer, and changed into celestial delights."
"I beg of you," said Hardy, in a faint voice, "speak to me of Gabriel,
speak to me of heaven--but no more flames--no more hell--where sinful
women weep tears of blood--"
"No, no," replied Rodin; and even as, in describing hell, his tone had
been harsh and threatening, it now became warm and tender, as he uttered
the following words: "No; we will have no more images of despair--for, as
I have told you, after suffering infernal tortures, Rancey, thanks to the
power of prayer, enjoyed the delights of paradise."
"The delights of paradise?" repeated Hardy, listening with anxious
"One day, at the height of his grief, a priest, a good priest--another
Abbe Gabriel--came to Rancey. Oh, happiness! oh, providential change!
In a few days, he taught the sufferer the sacred mysteries of prayer--
that pious intercession of the creature, addressed to the Creator, in
favor of a soul exposed to the wrath of heaven. Then Rancey seemed
transformed. His grief was at once appeased. He prayed; and the more he
prayed, the greater was his hope. He felt that God listened to his
prayer. Instead of trying to forget his beloved, he now thought of her
constantly, and prayed for her salvation. Happy in his obscure cell,
alone with that adored remembrance, he passed days and nights in praying
for her--plunged in an ineffable, burning, I had almost said amorous
It is impossible to give an idea of the tone of almost sensual energy
with which Rodin pronounced the word "amorous." Hardy started, changing
from hot to cold. For the first time, his weakened mind caught a glimpse
of the fatal pleasures of asceticism, and of that deplorable catalepsy,
described in the lives of St. Theresa, St. Aubierge and others.
Rodin perceived the other's thoughts, and continued "Oh, Rancey was not
now the man to content himself with a vague, passing prayer, uttered in
the whirl of the world's business, which swallows it up, and prevents it
from reaching the ear of heaven. No, no; in the depth of solitude, he
endeavored to make his prayers even more efficacious, so ardently did he
desire the eternal salvation of his mistress."
"What did he do then--oh! what did he do in his solitude?" cried Hardy,
who was now powerless in the hands of the Jesuit.
"First of all," said Rodin, with a slight emphasis, "he became a monk."
"A monk!" repeated Hardy, with a pensive air.
"Yes," resumed Rodin, "he became a monk, because his prayers were thus
more likely to be favorably accepted. And then, as in solitude our
thoughts are apt to wander, he fasted, and mortified his flesh, and
brought into subjection all that was carnal within him, so that, becoming
all spirit, his prayers might issue like a pure flame from his bosom, and
ascend like the perfume of incense to the throne of the Most High!"
"Oh! what a delicious dream!" cried Hardy, more and more under the
influence of the spell; "to pray for the woman we have adored, and to
"Yes; spirit, perfume, light!" said Rodin, with emphasis. "But it is no
dream. How many monks, how many hermits, like Rancey, have, by prayers,
and austerity, and macerations, attained a divine ecstasy! and if you
only knew the celestial pleasures of such ecstasies!--Thus, after he
became a monk, the terrible dreams were succeeded by enchanting visions.
Many times, after a day of fasting, and a night passed in prayers and
macerations, Rancey sank down exhausted on the floor of his cell! Then
the spirit freed itself from the vile clogs of matter. His senses were
absorbed in pleasure; the sound of heavenly harmony struck upon his
ravished car; a bright, mild light, which was not of this world, dawned
upon his half-closed eyes; and, at the height of the melodious vibrations
of the golden harps of the Seraphim, in the centre of a glory, compared
to which the sun is pale, the monk beheld the image of that beloved
"Whom by his prayers he had at length rescued from the eternal flames?"
said Hardy, in a trembling voice.
"Yes, herself," replied Rodin, with eloquent enthusiasm, for this monster
was skilled in every style of speech. "Thanks to the prayers of her
lover, which the Lord had granted, this woman no longer shed tears of
blood--no longer writhed her beautiful arms in the convulsions of
infernal anguish. No, no; still fair--oh! a thousand times fairer than
when she dwelt on earth--fair with the everlasting beauty of angels--she
smiled on her lover with ineffable ardor, and, her eyes beaming with a
mild radiance, she said to him in a tender and passionate voice: 'Glory
to the Lord! glory to thee, O my beloved! Thy prayers and austerities
have saved me. I am numbered amongst the chosen. Thanks, my beloved,
and glory!'--And therewith, radiant in her felicity, she stooped to kiss,
with lips fragrant with immortality, the lips of the enraptured monk--and
their souls mingled in that kiss, burning as love, chaste as divine grace
immense as eternity!"
"Oh!" cried Hardy, completely beside himself; "a whole life of prayer,
fasting, torture, for such a moment--with her, whom I mourn--with her,
whom I have perhaps led to perdition!"
"What do you say? such a moment!" cried Rodin, whose yellow forehead was
bathed in sweat like that of a magnetizer, and who now took Hardy by the
hand, and drew still closer, as if to breathe into him the burning
delirium; "it was not once in his religious life--it was almost every
day, that Rancey, plunged in divine ecstasy, enjoyed these delicious,
ineffable, superhuman pleasures, which are to the pleasures of earth what
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?"