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The Wandering Jew, v1 by Eugene Sue

Part 4 out of 4

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grounds, that they are now detained in the neighborhood of

Rodin's master interrupted him, saying:

"Now, read the letter just received from Leipsic; it may complete the

Rodin read it, and exclaimed:

"Excellent news! The maidens and their guide had succeeded in escaping
during the night from the White Falcon Tavern, but all three were
overtaken and seized about a league from Mockern. They have been
transferred to Leipsic, where they are imprisoned as vagabonds; their
guide, the soldier, is accused and condemned of resisting the
authorities, and using violence to a magistrate."

"It is almost certain, then, considering the tedious mode of proceeding
in Germany (otherwise we would see to it), that the girls will not be
able to be here on the 13th February," added Rodin's master. "Append
this to the note on the back."

The secretary obeyed, and endorsed "An abstract of Morok's letter."

"It is written," he then added.

"Go on," resumed his master.

Rodin continued reading.

"'NOTE, No. II.

"'Francois Hardy, manufacturer at Plessis, near Paris, forty years old; a
steady, rich, intelligent, active, honest, well-informed man, idolized by
his workmen--thanks to numberless innovations to promote their welfare.
Never attending to the duties of our holy religion. Noted down as a very
dangerous man: but the hatred and envy he excites among other
manufacturers, especially in M. le Baron Tripeaud, his competitor, may
easily be turned against him. If other means of action on his account,
and against him, are necessary, the evidence may be consulted; it is very
voluminous. This man has been marked and watched for a long time.

"'He has been so effectually misguided with respect to the medal, that he
is completely deceived as to the interests it represents. He is,
however, constantly watched, surrounded, and governed, without suspecting
it; one of his dearest friends deceives him, and through his means we
know his secret thoughts.

"'NOTE, No. III.

"'Prince Djalma; eighteen; energetic and generous, haughty, independent
and wild; favorite of General Simon, who commanded the troops of his
father, Kadja-sing, in the struggle maintained by the latter against the
English in India. Djalma is mentioned only by way of reminder, for his
mother died young, while her parents were living. They resided at
Batavia. On the death of the latter, neither Djalma nor the king, his
father, claimed their little property. It is, therefore, certain that
they are ignorant of the grave interests connected with the possession of
the medal in question, which formed part of the property of Djalma's

Rodin's master interrupted him.

"Now read the letter from Batavia, and complete the information
respecting Djalma."

Rodin read, and then observed:

"Good news again. Joshua Van Dael, merchant at Batavia (he was educated
in our Pondicherry establishment), learns from his correspondent at
Calcutta that the old Indian king was killed in the last battle with the
English. His son, Djalma, deprived of the paternal throne, is
provisionally detained as a prisoner of state in an Indian fortress."

"We are at the end of October," said Rodin's master. "If Prince Djalma
were to leave India now, he could scarcely reach Paris by the month of

"Van Dael," continued Rodin, "regrets that he has not been able to prove
his zeal in this case. Supposing Prince Djalma set at liberty, or having
effected his escape, it is certain he would come to Batavia to claim his
inheritance from his mother, since he has nothing else left him in the
world. In that case, you may rely on Van Dael's devotedness. In return,
he solicits very precise information, by the next post, respecting the
fortune of M. le Baron Tripeaud, banker and manufacturer, with whom he
has business transactions."

"Answer that point evasively. Van Dael as yet has only shown zeal;
complete the information respecting Djalma from these new tidings."

Rodin wrote.

But in a few minutes his master said to him with a singular expression:

"Does not Van Dael mention General Simon in connection with Djalma's
imprisonment and his father's death?"

"He does not allude to him," said the secretary, continuing his task.

Rodin's master was silent, and paced the room.

In a few moments Rodin said to him: "I have done it."

"Go on, then."

"'NOTE, No. IV.

"'Jacques Rennepont, surnamed "Sleepinbuff," i.e. Lie naked, workman in
Baron Tripeaud's factory. This artisan is drunken, idle, noisy, and
prodigal; he is not without sense, but idleness and debauch have ruined
him. A clever agent, on whom we rely, has become acquainted with his
mistress, Cephyse Soliveau, nicknamed the Bacchanal Queen. Through her
means, the agent has formed such ties with him that he may even now be
considered beyond the reach of the interests that ought to insure his
presence in Paris on the 13th of February.

"'NOTE, No. V.

"'Gabriel Rennepont, priest of foreign missions, distant relation of the
above, but he is alike ignorant of the existence of his relative and the
relationship. An orphan foundling, he was adopted by Frances Baudoin,
the wife of a soldier going by the name Dagobert.

"'Should this soldier, contrary to expectation, reach Paris, his wife
would be a powerful means of influencing him. She is an excellent
creature, ignorant and credulous, of exemplary piety, over whom we have
long had unlimited control. She prevailed on Gabriel to take orders,
notwithstanding his repugnance.

"'Gabriel is five-and-twenty; disposition as angelic as his countenance;
rare and solid virtues; unfortunately he was brought up with his adopted
brother, Agricola, Dagobert's son. This Agricola is a poet and workman--
but an excellent workman; he is employed by M. Hardy; has imbibed the
most detestable doctrines; fond of his mother; honest, laborious, but
without religious feeling. Marked as very dangerous. This causes his
intimacy with Gabriel to be feared.

"'The latter, notwithstanding his excellent qualities, sometimes causes
uneasiness. We have even delayed confiding in him fully. A false step
might make him, too, one of the most dangerous. Much precaution must be
used then, especially till the 13th of February; since, we repeat it, on
him, on his presence in Paris at that time, depend immense hopes and
equally important interests.

"'Among other precautions, we have consented to his taking part in the
American mission, for he unites with angelic sweetness of character a
calm intrepidity and adventurous spirit which could only be satisfied by
allowing him to engage in the perilous existence of the missionaries.
Luckily, his superiors at Charlestown have received the strictest orders
not to endanger, on any account, so precious a life. They are to send
him to Paris, at least a month or two before February 13th."'

Rodin's master again interrupted him, and said: "Read the letter from
Charlestown, and see what it tells you in order to complete the
information upon this point also."

When he had read the letter, Rodin went on: "Gabriel is expected every
day from the Rocky Mountains, whither he had absolutely insisted on going
alone upon a mission."

"What imprudence!"

"He has no doubt escaped all danger, as he himself announces his speedy
return to Charlestown. As soon as he arrives, which cannot (they write)
be later than the middle of this month, he will be shipped off for

"Add this to the note which concerns him," said Rodin's master.

"It is written," replied the secretary, a few moments later.

"Proceed, then," said his master. Rodin continued

"'NOTE, No. VI.


"'Distantly related (without knowing it) to Jacques Rennepont, alias
Sleepinbuff, and Gabriel Rennepont, missionary priest. She will soon be
twenty-one years of age, the most attractive person in the world--
extraordinary beauty, though red-haired--a mind remarkable for its
originality--immense fortune--all the animal instincts. The incredible
independence of her character makes one tremble for the future fate of
this young person. Happily, her appointed guardian, Baron Tripeaud (a
baron of 1829 creation, formerly agent to the late Count of Rennepont,
Duke of Cardoville), is quite in the interest, and almost in the
dependence, of the young lady's aunt. We count, with reason, upon this
worthy and respectable relative, and on the Baron Tripeaud, to oppose and
repress the singular, unheard-of designs which this young person, as
resolute as independent, does not fear to avow--and which, unfortunately,
cannot be turned to account in the interest of the affair in question--

Rodin was here interrupted by two discreet taps at the door. The
secretary rose, went to see who knocked, remained a moment without, and
then returned with two letters in his hand, saying: "The princess has
profited by the departure of a courier to--"

"Give me the letter!" cried his master, without leaving him time to
finish. "At length," he added, "I shall have news of my mother--"

He had scarcely read the first few lines of the letter, when he grew
deadly pale, and his features took an expression of painful astonishment
and poignant grief. "My mother!" he cried, "oh, heavens! my mother!"

"What misfortune has happened!" asked Rodin, with a look of alarm, as he
rose at the exclamation of his master.

"The symptoms of improvement were fallacious," replied the other,
dejectedly; "she has now relapsed into a nearly hopeless state. And yet
the doctor thinks my presence might save her, for she calls for me
without ceasing. She wishes to see me for the last time, that she may
die in peace. Oh, that wish is sacred! Not to grant it would be
matricide. If I can but arrive in time! Travelling day and night, it
will take nearly two days."

"Alas! what a misfortune!" said Rodin, wringing his hands, and raising
his eyes to heaven.

His master rang the bell violently, and said to the old servant that
opened tile door: "Just put what is indispensable into the portmanteau of
my travelling-carriage. Let the porter take a cab, and go for post-
horses instantly. Within an hour, I must be on the road. Mother!
mother!" cried he, as the servant departed in haste. "Not to see her
again--oh, it would be frightful!" And sinking upon a chair,
overwhelmed with sorrow, he covered his face with his hands.

This great grief was sincere--he loved tenderly his mother that divine
sentiment had accompanied him, unalterable and pure, through all the
phases of a too often guilty life.

After a few minutes, Rodin ventured to say to his master, as he showed
him the second letter: "This, also, has just been brought from M.
Duplessis. It is very important--very pressing--"

"See what it is, and answer it. I have no head for business."

"The letter is confidential," said Rodin, presenting it to his master.
"I dare not open it, as you may see by the mark on the cover."

At sight of this mark, the countenance of Rodin's master assumed an
indefinable expression of respect and fear. With a trembling hand he
broke the seal. The note contained only the following words: "Leave all
business, and without losing a minute, set out and come. M. Duplessis
will replace you. He has orders."

"Great God!" cried this man in despair. "Set out before I have seen my
mother! It is frightful, impossible--it would perhaps kill her--yes, it
would be matricide!"

Whilst he uttered these words, his eyes rested on the huge globe, marked
with red crosses. A sudden revolution seemed to take place within him;
he appeared to repent of the violence of his regrets; his face, though
still sad, became once more calm and grave. He handed the fatal letter
to his secretary, and said to him, whilst he stifled a sigh: "To be
classed under its proper number."

Rodin took the letter, wrote a number upon it, and placed it in a
particular box. After a moment's silence, his master resumed: "You will
take orders from M. Duplessis, and work with him. You will deliver to
him the note on the affair of the medals; he knows to whom to address it.
You will write to Batavia, Leipsic, and Charlestown, in the sense agreed.
Prevent, at any price, the daughters of General Simon from quitting
Leipsic; hasten the arrival of Gabriel in Paris; and should Prince Djalma
come to Batavia, tell M. Joshua Van Dael, that we count on his zeal and
obedience to keep him there."

And this man, who, while his dying mother called to him in vain, could
thus preserve his presence of mind, entered his own apartments; whilst
Rodin busied himself with the answers he had been ordered to write, and
transcribed them in cipher.

In about three quarters of an hour, the bells of the post-horses were
heard jingling without. The old servant again entered, after discreetly
knocking at the door, and said:

"The carriage is ready."

Rodin nodded, and the servant withdrew. The secretary, in his turn, went
to knock at the door of the inner room. His master appeared, still grave
and cold, but fearfully pale, and holding a letter in his hand.

"This for my mother," said he to Rodin; "you will send a courier on the

"On the instant," replied the secretary.

"Let the three letters for Leipsic, Batavia and Charlestown, leave to-day
by the ordinary channel. They are of the last importance. You know it."

Those were his last words. Executing merciless orders with a merciless
obedience, he departed without even attempting to see his mother. His
secretary accompanied him respectfully to his carriage.

"What road, sir?" asked the postilion, turning round on his saddle.

"The road to ITALY!" answered Rodin's master, with so deep a sigh that it
almost resembled a sob.

As the horses started at full gallop, Rodin made a low bow; then he
returned to the large, cold, bare apartment. The attitude, countenance,
and gait of this personage seemed to have undergone a sudden change. He
appeared to have increased in dimensions. He was no longer an automaton,
moved by the mechanism of humble obedience. His features, till now
impassible, his glance, hitherto subdued, became suddenly animated with
an expression of diabolical craft; a sardonic smile curled his thin, pale
lips, and a look of grim satisfaction relaxed his cadaverous face.

In turn, he stopped before the huge globe. In turn, he contemplated it
in silence, even as his master had done. Then, bending over it, and
embracing it, as it were, in his arms, he gloated with his reptile-eye on
it for some moments, drew his coarse finger along its polished surface,
and tapped his flat, dirty nail on three of the places dotted with red
crosses. And, whilst he thus pointed to three towns, in very different
parts of the world, he named them aloud, with a sneer. "Leipsic--

"In each of these three places," he added, "distant as they are from one
another, there exist persons who little think that here, in this obscure
street, from the recesses of this chamber, wakeful eyes are upon them--
that all their movements are followed, all their actions known--and that
hence will issue new instructions, which deeply concern them, and which
will be inexorably executed; for an interest is at stake, which may have
a powerful influence on Europe--on the world. Luckily, we have friends
at Leipsic, Charlestown, and Batavia."

This funny, old, sordid, ill-dressed man, with his livid and death-like
countenance, thus crawling over the sphere before him, appeared still
more awful than his master, when the latter, erect and haughty, had
imperiously laid his hand upon that globe, which he seemed desirous of
subjecting by the strength of his pride and courage. The one resembled
the eagle, that hovers above his prey--the other the reptile, that
envelops its victim in its inextricable folds.

After some minutes, Rodin approached his desk, rubbing his hands briskly
together, and wrote the following epistle in a cipher unknown even to his

"Paris, 3/4 past 9 A.M.

"He is gone--but he hesitated!

"When he received the order, his dying mother had just summoned him to
her. He might, they told him, save her by his presence; and he
exclaimed: 'Not to go to my mother would be matricide!'

"Still, he is gone--but he hesitated. I keep my eye upon him
continually. These lines will reach Rome at the same time as himself.

"P.S.--Tell the Cardinal-Prince that he may rely on me, but I hope for
his active aid in return."

When he had folded and sealed this letter, Rodin put it into his pocket.
The clock struck ten, M. Rodin's hour for breakfast. He arranged and
locked up his papers in a drawer, of which he carried away the key,
brushed his old greasy hat with his sleeve, took a patched umbrella in
his hand, and went out.[1]

Whilst these two men, in the depths of their obscure retreat, were thus
framing a plot, which was to involve the seven descendants of a race
formerly proscribed--a strange mysterious defender was planning how to
protect this family, which was also his own.

[1] Having cited the excellent, courageous letters of M. Libri, and the
curious work edited by M. Paulin, it is our duty likewise to mention many
bold and conscientious writings on the subject of the "Society of Jesus,"
recently published by the elder Dupin, Michelet, Quinet, Genin, and the
Count de Saint Priest--works of high and impartial intellects, in which
the fatal theories of the order are admirably exposed and condemned. We
esteem ourselves happy, if we can bring one stone towards the erection of
the strong, and, we hope, durable embankment which these generous hearts
and noble minds are raising against the encroachments of an impure and
always menacing flood.--E. S.

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