Part 1 out of 3
This etext was produced by David Widger
THE WANDERING JEW
By Eugene Sue
PART SECOND.--THE CHASTISEMENT.
PROLOGUE.--THE BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF TWO WORLDS.
I. The Masquerade
II. The Contrast
III. The Carouse
IV. The Farewell
VI. Mother Sainte-Perpetue
VII. The Temptation
VIII. Mother Bunch and Mdlle. De Cardoville
IX. The Encounters
X. The Meeting
XII. The Penal Code
PROLOGUE.--THE BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF TWO WORLDS.
As the eagle, perched upon the cliff, commands an all-comprehensive view
--not only of what happens on the plains and in the woodlands, but of
matters occurring upon the heights, which its aerie overlooks, so may the
reader have sights pointed out to him, which lie below the level of the
In the year 1831, the powerful Order of the Jesuits saw fit to begin to
act upon information which had for some time been digesting in their
As it related to a sum estimated at no less than thirty or forty millions
of francs, it is no wonder that they should redouble all exertions to
obtain it from the rightful owners.
These were, presumably, the descendants of Marius, Count of Rennepont, in
the reign of Louis XIV. of France.
They were distinguished from other men by a simple token, which all, in
the year above named, had in their hands.
It was a bronze medal, bearing these legends on reverse and obverse:
L. C. D. J.
Pray for me!
February the 13th, 1682.
Rue St Francois, No. 3,
In a century and a half
you will be.
February the 13th, 1832.
PRAY FOR ME!
Those who had this token were descendants of a family whom, a hundred and
fifty years ago, persecution scattered through the world, in emigration
and exile; in changes of religion, fortune and name. For this family--
what grandeur, what reverses, what obscurity, what lustre, what penury,
what glory! How many crimes sullied, how many virtues honored it! The
history of this single family is the history of humanity! Passing
through many generations, throbbing in the veins of the poor and the
rich, the sovereign and the bandit, the wise and the simple, the coward
and the brave, the saint and the atheist, the blood flowed on to the year
we have named.
Seven representatives summed up the virtue, courage, degradation,
splendor, and poverty of the race. Seven: two orphan twin daughters of
exiled parents, a dethroned prince, a humble missionary priest, a man of
the middle class, a young lady of high name and large fortune, and a
Fate scattered them in Russia, India, France, and America.
The orphans, Rose and Blanche Simon, had left their dead mother's grave
in Siberia, under charge of a trooper named Francis Baudoin, alias
Dagobert, who was as much attached to them as he had been devoted to
their father, his commanding general.
On the road to France, this little party had met the first check, in the
only tavern of Mockern village. Not only had a wild beast showman, known
as Morok the lion-tamer, sought to pick a quarrel with the inoffensive
veteran, but that failing, had let a panther of his menagerie loose upon
the soldier's horse. That horse had carried Dagobert, under General
Simon's and the Great Napoleon's eyes, through many battles; had borne
the General's wife (a Polish lady under the Czar's ban) to her home of
exile in Siberia, and their children now across Russia and Germany, but
only to perish thus cruelly. An unseen hand appeared in a manifestation
of spite otherwise unaccountable. Dagobert, denounced as a French spy,
and his fair young companions accused of being adventuresses to help his
designs, had so kindled at the insult, not less to him than to his old
commander's daughters, that he had taught the pompous burgomaster of
Mockern a lesson, which, however, resulted in the imprisonment of the
three in Leipsic jail.
General Simon, who had vainly sought to share his master's St. Helena
captivity, had gone to fight the English in India. But notwithstanding
his drilling of Radja-sings sepoys, they had been beaten by the troops
taught by Clive, and not only was the old king of Mundi slain, and the
realm added to the Company's land, but his son, Prince Djalma, taken
prisoner. However, at length released, he had gone to Batavia, with
General Simon. The prince's mother was a Frenchwoman, and among the
property she left him in the capital of Java, the general was delighted
to find just such another medal as he knew was in his wife's possession.
The unseen hand of enmity had reached to him, for letters miscarried, and
he did not know either his wife's decease or that he had twin daughters.
By a trick, on the eve of the steamship leaving Batavia for the Isthmus
of Suez, Djalma was separated from his friend, and sailing for Europe
alone, the latter had to follow in another vessel.
The missionary priest trod the war trails of the wilderness, with that
faith and fearlessness which true soldiers of the cross should evince.
In one of these heroic undertakings, Indians had captured him, and
dragging him to their village under the shadow of the Rocky Mountains,
they had nailed him in derision to a cross, and prepared to scalp him.
But if an unseen hand of a foe smote or stabbed at the sons of Rennepont,
a visible interpositor had often shielded them, in various parts of the
A man, seeming of thirty years of age, very tall, with a countenance as
lofty as mournful, marked by the black eyebrows meeting, had thrown
himself--during a battle's height--between a gun of a park which General
Simon was charging and that officer. The cannon vomited its hail of
death, but when the flame and smoke had passed, the tall man stood erect
as before, smiling pityingly on the gunner, who fell on his knees as
frightened as if he beheld Satan himself. Again, as General Simon lay
upon the lost field of Waterloo, raging with his wounds, eager to die
after such a defeat, this same man staunched his hurts, and bade him live
for his wife's sake.
Years after, wearing the same unalterable look, this man accosted
Dagobert in Siberia, and gave him for General Simon's wife, the diary and
letters of her husband, written in India, in little hope of them ever
reaching her hands. And at the year our story opens, this man unbarred
the cell-door of Leipsic jail, and let Dagobert and the orphans out, free
to continue their way into France.
On the other hand, when the scalping-knife had traced its mark around the
head of Gabriel the missionary, and when only the dexterous turn and tug
would have removed the trophy, a sudden apparition had terrified the
superstitious savages. It was a woman of thirty, whose brown tresses
formed a rich frame around a royal face, toned down by endless sorrowing.
The red-skins shrank from her steady advance, and when her hand was
stretched out between them and their young victim, they uttered a howl of
alarm, and fled as if a host of their foemen were on their track.
Gabriel was saved, but all his life he was doomed to bear that halo of
martyrdom, the circling sweep of the scalper's knife.
He was a Jesuit. By the orders of his society he embarked for Europe.
We should say here, that he, though owning a medal of the seven
described, was unaware that he should have worn it. His vessel was
driven by storms to refit at the Azores, where he had changed ship into
the same as was bearing Prince Djalma to France, via Portsmouth.
But the gales followed him, and sated their fury by wrecking the "Black
Eagle" on the Picardy coast. This was at the same point as were a
disabled Hamburg steamer, among whose passengers where Dagobert and his
two charges, was destroyed the same night. Happily the tempest did not
annihilate them all. There were saved, Prince Djalma and a countryman of
his, one Faringhea, a Thuggee chief, hunted out of British India;
Dagobert, and Rose and Blanche Simon, whom Gabriel had rescued. These
survivors had recovered, thanks to the care they had received in
Cardoville House, a country mansion which had sheltered them, and except
the prince and the Strangler chief, the others were speedily able to go
on to Paris.
The old grenadier and the orphans--until General Simon should be heard
from--dwelt in the former's house. His son had kept it, from his
mother's love for the life-long home. It was such a mean habitation as a
workman like Agricola Baudoin could afford to pay the rent of, and far
from the fit abode of the daughters of the Duke de Ligny and Marshal of
France, which Napoleon had created General Simon, though the rank had
only recently been approved by the restoration.
But in Paris the unknown hostile hand showed itself more malignant than
The young lady of high name and large fortune was Adrienne de Cardoville,
whose aunt, the Princess de Saint-Dizier, was a Jesuit. Through her and
her accomplices' machinations, the young lady's forward yet virtuous,
wildly aspiring but sensible, romantic but just, character was twisted
into a passable reason for her immurement in a mad-house.
This asylum adjoined St. Mary's Convent, into which Rose and Blanche
Simon were deceitfully conducted. To secure their removal, Dagobert had
been decoyed into the country, under pretence of showing some of General
Simon's document's to a lawyer; his son Agricola arrested for treason, on
account of some idle verses the blacksmith poet was guilty of, and his
wife rendered powerless, or, rather, a passive assistant, by the
influence of the confessional! When Dagobert hurried back from his wild-
goose chase, he found the orphans gone: Mother Bunch (a fellow-tenant of
the house, who had been brought up in the family) ignorant, and his wife
stubbornly refusing to break the promise she had given her confessor, and
acquaint a single soul where she had permitted the girls to be taken. In
his rage, the soldier rashly accused that confessor, but instead of
arresting the Abbe Dubois, it was Mrs. Baudoin whom the magistrate felt
compelled to arrest, as the person whom alone he ventured to commit for
examination in regard to the orphans' disappearance. Thus triumphs, for
the time being, the unseen foe.
The orphans in a nunnery; the dethroned prince a poor castaway in a
foreign land; the noble young lady in a madhouse; the missionary priest
under the thumb of his superiors.
As for the man of the middle class, and the working man, who concluded
the list of this family, we are to read of them, as well as of the
others, in the pages which now succeed these.
The following day to that on which Dagobert's wife (arrested for not
accounting for the disappearance of General Simon's daughters) was led
away before a magistrate, a noisy and animated scene was transpiring on
the Place du Chatelet, in front of a building whose first floor and
basement were used as the tap-rooms of the "Sucking Calf" public-house.
A carnival night was dying out.
Quite a number of maskers, grotesquely and shabbily bedecked, had rushed
out of the low dance-houses in the Guildhall Ward, and were roaring out
staves of songs as they crossed the square. But on catching sight of a
second troop of mummers running about the water-side, the first party
stopped to wait for the others to come up, rejoicing, with many a shout,
in hopes of one of those verbal battles of slang and smutty talk which
made Vade so illustrious.
This mob--nearly all its members half seas over, soon swollen by the many
people who have to be up early to follow their crafts--suddenly
concentrated in one of the corners of the square, so that a pale,
deformed girl, who was going that way, was caught in the human tide.
This was Mother Bunch. Up with the lark, she was hurrying to receive
some work from her employer. Remembering how a mob had treated her when
she had been arrested in the streets only the day before, by mistake, the
poor work-girl's fears may be imagined when she was now surrounded by the
revellers against her will. But, spite of all her efforts--very feeble,
alas!--she could not stir a step, for the band of merry-makers, newly
arriving, had rushed in among the others, shoving some of them aside,
pushing far into the mass, and sweeping Mother Bunch--who was in their
way--clear over to the crowd around the public-house.
The new-comers were much finer rigged out than the others, for they
belonged to the gay, turbulent class which goes frequently to the
Chaumiere, the Prado, the Colisee, and other more or less rowdyish haunts
of waltzers, made up generally of students, shop-girls, and counter-
skippers, clerks, unfortunates, etc., etc.
This set, while retorting to the chaff of the other party, seemed to be
very impatiently expecting some singularly desired person to put in her
The following snatches of conversation, passing between clowns and
columbines, pantaloons and fairies, Turks and sultans, debardeurs and
debardeuses, paired off more or less properly, will give an idea of the
importance of the wished-for personage.
"They ordered the spread to be for seven in the morning, so their
carriages ought to have come up afore now."
"Werry like, but the Bacchanal Queen has got to lead off the last dance
in the Prado."
"I wish to thunder I'd 'a known that, and I'd 'a stayed there to see her-
-my beloved Queen!"
"Gobinet; if you call her your beloved Queen again, I'll scratch you!
Here's a pinch for you, anyhow!"
"Ow, wow, Celeste! hands off! You are black-spotting the be-yutiful
white satin jacket my mamma gave me when I first came out as Don
"Why did you call the Bacchanal Queen your beloved, then? What am I, I'd
like to know?"
"You are my beloved, but not my Queen, for there is only one moon in the
nights of nature, and only one Bacchanal Queen in the nights at the
"That's a bit from a valentine! You can't come over me with such
"Gobinet's right! the Queen was an out-and-outer tonight!"
"In prime feather!"
"I never saw her more on the go!"
"And, my eyes! wasn't her dress stunning?"
"Took your breath away!"
"The last kick!"
"No one but she can get up such dresses."
"And, then, the dance!"
"Oh, yes! it was at once bounding waving, twisting! There is not such
another bayadere under the night-cap of the sky!"
"Gobinet, give me back my shawl directly. You have already spoilt it by
rolling it round your great body. I don't choose to have my things
ruined for hulking beasts who call other women bayaderes!"
"Celeste, simmer down. I am disguised as a Turk, and, when I talk of
bayaderes, I am only in character."
"Your Celeste is like them all, Gobinet; she's jealous of the Bacchanal
"Jealous!--do you think me jealous? Well now! that's too bad. If I
chose to be as showy as she is they would talk of me as much. After all,
it's only a nickname that makes her reputation! nickname!"
"In that you have nothing to envy her--since you are called Celeste!"
"You know well enough, Gobinet, that Celeste is my real name."
"Yes; but it's fancied a nickname--when one looks in your face."
"Gobinet, I will put that down to your account."
"And Oscar will help you to add it up, eh?"
"Yes; and you shall see the total. When I carry one, the remainder will
not be you."
"Celeste, you make me cry! I only meant to say that your celestial name
does not go well with your charming little face, which is still more
mischievous than that of the Bacchanal Queen."
"That's right; wheedle me now, wretch!"
"I swear by the accursed head of my landlord, that, if you liked, you
could spread yourself as much as the Bacchanal Queen--which is saying a
"The fact is, that the Bacchanal had cheek enough, in all conscience."
"Not to speak of her fascinating the bobbies!"
"And magnetizing the beaks."
"They may get as angry as they please; she always finishes by making them
"And they all call her: Queen!"
"Last night she charmed a slop (as modest as a country girl) whose purity
took up arms against the famous dance of the Storm-blown Tulip."
"What a quadrille! Sleepinbuff and the Bacchanal Queen, having opposite
to them Rose-Pompon and Ninny Moulin!"
"And all four making tulips as full-blown as could be!"
"By-the-bye, is it true what they say of Ninny Moulin?"
"Why that he is a writer, and scribbles pamphlets on religion."
"Yes, it is true. I have often seen him at my employer's, with whom he
deals; a bad paymaster, but a jolly fellow!"
"And pretends to be devout, eh?"
"I believe you, my boy--when it is necessary; then he is my Lord
Dumoulin, as large as life. He rolls his eyes, walks with his head on
one side, and his toes turned in; but, when the piece is played out, he
slips away to the balls of which he is so fond. The girls christened him
Ninny Moulin. Add, that he drinks like a fish, and you have the photo of
the cove. All this doesn't prevent his writing for the religious
newspapers; and the saints, whom he lets in even oftener than himself,
are ready to swear by him. You should see his articles and his tracts--
only see, not read!--every page is full of the devil and his horns, and
the desperate fryings which await your impious revolutionists--and then
the authority of the bishops, the power of the Pope--hang it! how could I
know it all? This toper, Ninny Moulin, gives good measure enough for
"The fact is, that he is both a heavy drinker and a heavy swell. How he
rattled on with little Rose-Pompon in the dance and the full-blown
"And what a rum chap he looked in his Roman helmet and top-boots."
"Rose-Pompon dances divinely, too; she has the poetic twist."
"And don't show her heels a bit!"
"Yes; but the Bacchanal Queen is six thousand feet above the level of any
common leg-shaker. I always come back to her step last night in the
"It was huge!"
"It was serene!"
"If I were father of a family, I would entrust her with the education of
"It was that step, however, which offended the bobby's modesty."
"The fact is, it was a little free."
"Free as air--so the policeman comes up to her, and says: 'Well, my
Queen, is your foot to keep on a-goin' up forever?' 'No, modest warrior!'
replies the Queen; 'I practice the step only once every evening, to be
able to dance it when I am old. I made a vow of it, that you might
become an inspector.'"
"What a comic card!"
"I don't believe she will remain always with Sleepinbuff."
"Because he has been a workman?"
"What nonsense! it would preciously become us, students and shop-boys, to
give ourselves airs! No; but I am astonished at the Queen's fidelity."
"Yes--they've been a team for three or four good months."
"She's wild upon him, and he on her."
"They must lead a gay life."
"Sometimes I ask myself where the devil Sleepinbuff gets all the money he
spends. It appears that he pays all last night's expenses, three
coaches-and-four, and a breakfast this morning for twenty, at ten francs
"They say he has come into some property. That's why Ninny Moulin, who
has a good nose for eating and drinking, made acquaintance with him last
night--leaving out of the question that he may have some designs on the
"He! In a lot! He's rather too ugly. The girls like to dance with him
because he makes people laugh--but that's all. Little Rose-Pompon, who
is such a pretty creature, has taken him as a harmless chap-her-own, in
the absence of her student."
"The coaches! the coaches!" exclaimed the crowd, all with one voice.
Forced to stop in the midst of the maskers, Mother Bunch had not lost a
word of this conversation, which was deeply painful to her, as it
concerned her sister, whom she had not seen for a long time. Not that
the Bacchanal Queen had a bad heart; but the sight of the wretched
poverty of Mother Bunch--a poverty which she had herself shared, but
which she had not had the strength of mind to bear any longer--caused
such bitter grief to the gay, thoughtless girl, that she would no more
expose herself to it, after she had in vain tried to induce her sister to
accept assistance, which the latter always refused, knowing that its
source could not be honorable.
"The coaches! the coaches!" once more exclaimed the crowd, as they
pressed forward with enthusiasm, so that Mother Bunch, carried on against
her will, was thrust into the foremost rank of the people assembled to
see the show.
It was, indeed, a curious sight. A man on horseback, disguised as a
postilion, his blue jacket embroidered with silver, and enormous tail
from which the powder escaped in puffs, and a hat adorned with long
ribbons, preceded the first carriage, cracking his whip, and crying with
all his might: "Make way for the Bacchanal Queen and her court!"
In an open carriage, drawn by four lean horses, on which rode two old
postilions dressed as devils, was raised a downright pyramid of men and
women, sitting, standing, leaning, in every possible variety of odd,
extravagant, and grotesque costume; altogether an indescribable mass of
bright colors, flowers, ribbons, tinsel and spangles. Amid this heap of
strange forms and dresses appeared wild or graceful countenances, ugly or
handsome features--but all animated by the feverish excitement of a
jovial frenzy--all turned with an expression of fanatical admiration
towards the second carriage, in which the Queen was enthroned, whilst
they united with the multitude in reiterated shouts of "Long live the
This second carriage, open like the first, contained only the four
dancers of the famous step of the Storm-blown Tulip--Ninny Moulin, Rose-
Pompon, Sleepinbuff, and the Bacchanal Queen.
Dumoulin, the religious writer, who wished to dispute possession of Mme.
de la Sainte-Colombe with his patron, M. Rodin--Dumoulin, surnamed Ninny
Moulin, standing on the front cushions, would have presented a
magnificent study for Callot or Gavarni, that eminent artist, who unites
with the biting strength and marvellous fancy of an illustrious
caricaturist, the grace, the poetry, and the depth of Hogarth.
Ninny Moulin, who was about thirty-five years of age, wore very much back
upon his head a Roman helmet of silver paper. A voluminous plume of
black feathers, rising from a red wood holder, was stuck on one side of
this headgear, breaking the too classic regularity of its outline.
Beneath this casque, shone forth the most rubicund and jovial face, that
ever was purpled by the fumes of generous wine. A prominent nose, with
its primitive shape modestly concealed beneath a luxuriant growth of
pimples, half red, half violet, gave a funny expression to a perfectly
beardless face; while a large mouth, with thick lips turning their
insides outwards, added to the air of mirth and jollity which beamed from
his large gray eyes, set flat in his head.
On seeing this joyous fellow, with a paunch like Silenus, one could not
help asking how it was, that he had not drowned in wine, a hundred times
over, the gall, bile, and venom which flowed from his pamphlets against
the enemies of Ultramontanism, and how his Catholic beliefs could float
upwards in the midst of these mad excesses of drink and dancing. The
question would have appeared insoluble, if one had not remembered how
many actors, who play the blackest and most hateful first robbers on the
stage, are, when off it, the best fellow in the world.
The weather being cold, Ninny Moulin wore a kind of box-coat, which,
being half-open, displayed his cuirass of scales, and his flesh-colored
pantaloons, finishing just below the calf in a pair of yellow tops to his
boots. Leaning forward in front of the carriage, he uttered wild shouts
of delight, mingled with the words: "Long live the Bacchanal Queen!"--
after which, he shook and whirled the enormous rattle he held in his
hand. Standing beside him, Sleepinbuff waved on high a banner of white
silk, on which were the words: "Love and joy to the Bacchanal Queen!"
Sleepinbuff was about twenty-five years of age. His countenance was gay
and intelligent, surrounded by a collar of chestnut-colored whiskers; but
worn with late hours and excesses, it expressed a singular mixture of
carelessness and hardihood, recklessness and mockery; still, no base or
wicked passion had yet stamped there its fatal impress. He was the
perfect type of the Parisian, as the term is generally applied, whether
in the army, in the provinces, on board a king's ship, or a merchantman.
It is not a compliment, and yet it is far from being an insult; it is an
epithet which partakes at once of blame, admiration, and fear; for if, in
this sense, the Parisian is often idle and rebellious, he is also quick
at his work, resolute in danger, and always terribly satirical and fond
of practical jokes.
He was dressed in a very flashy style. He wore a black velvet jacket
with silver buttons, a scarlet waistcoat, trousers with broad blue
stripes, a Cashmere shawl for a girdle with ends loosely floating, and a
chimney-pot hat covered with flowers and streamers. This disguise set
off his light, easy figure to great advantage.
At the back of the carriage, standing up on the cushions, were Rose-
Pompon and the Bacchanal Queen.
Rose-Pompon, formerly a fringe-maker, was about seventeen years old, and
had the prettiest and most winning little face imaginable. She was gayly
dressed in debardeur costume. Her powdered wig, over which was smartly
cocked on one side an orange and green cap laced with silver, increased
the effect of her bright black eyes, and of her round, carnation cheeks.
She wore about her neck an orange-colored cravat, of the same material as
her loose sash. Her tight jacket and narrow vest of light green velvet,
with silver ornaments, displayed to the best advantage a charming figure,
the pliancy of which must have well suited the evolutions of the Storm-
blown Tulip. Her large trousers, of the same stuff and color as the
jacket, were not calculated to hide any of her attractions.
The Bacchanal Queen, being at the least a head taller, leaned with one
hand on the shoulder of Rose-Pompon. Mother Bunch's sister ruled, like a
true monarch, over this mad revelry, which her very presence seemed to
inspire, such influence had her own mirth and animation over all that
She was a tall girl of about twenty years of age, light and graceful,
with regular features, and a merry, racketing air. Like her sister, she
had magnificent chestnut hair, and large blue eyes; but instead of being
soft and timid, like those of the young sempstress, the latter shone with
indefatigable ardor in the pursuit of pleasure. Such was the energy of
her vivacious constitution, that, notwithstanding many nights and days
passed in one continued revel, her complexion was as pure, her cheeks as
rosy, her neck as fresh and fair, as if she had that morning issued from
some peaceful home. Her costume, though singular and fantastic, suited
her admirably. It was composed of a tight, long-waisted bodice in cloth
of gold, trimmed with great bunches of scarlet ribbon, the ends of which
streamed over her naked arms, and a short petticoat of scarlet velvet,
ornamented with golden beads and spangles. This petticoat reached half-
way down a leg, at once trim and strong, in a white silk stocking, and
red buskin with brass heel.
Never had any Spanish dancer a more supple, elastic, and tempting form,
than this singular girl, who seemed possessed with the spirit of dancing
and perpetual motion, for, almost every moment, a slight undulation of
head, hips, and shoulders seemed to follow the music of an invisible
orchestra; while the tip of her right foot, placed on the carriage door
in the most alluring manner, continued to beat time--for the Bacchanal
Queen stood proudly erect upon the cushions.
A sort of gilt diadem, the emblem of her noisy sovereignty, hung with
little bells, adorned her forehead. Her long hair, in two thick braids,
was drawn back from her rosy cheeks, and twisted behind her head. Her
left hand rested on little Rose-Pompon's shoulder, and in her right she
held an enormous nosegay, which she waved to the crowd, accompanying each
salute with bursts of laughter.
It would be difficult to give a complete idea of this noisily animated
and fantastic scene, which included also a third carriage, filled, like
the first, with a pyramid of grotesque and extravagant masks. Amongst
the delighted crowd, one person alone contemplated the picture with deep
sorrow. It was Mother Bunch, who was still kept, in spite of herself, in
the first rank of spectators.
Separated from her sister for a long time, she now beheld her in all the
pomp of her singular triumph, in the midst of the cries of joy, and the
applause of her companions in pleasure. Yet the eyes of the young
sempstress grew dim with tears; for, though the Bacchanal Queen seemed to
share in the stunning gayety of all around her--though her face was
radiant with smiles, and she appeared fully to enjoy the splendors of her
temporary elevation--yet she had the sincere pity of the poor workwoman,
almost in rags, who was seeking, with the first dawn of morning, the
means of earning her daily bread.
Mother Bunch had forgotten the crowd, to look only at her sister, whom
she tenderly loved--only the more tenderly, that she thought her
situation to be pitied. With her eyes fixed on the joyous and beautiful
girl, her pale and gentle countenance expressed the most touching and
All at once, as the brilliant glance of the Bacchanal Queen travelled
along the crowd, it lighted on the sad features of Mother Bunch.
"My sister!" exclaimed Cephyse--such was the name of the Bacchanal Queen-
-"My sister!"--and with one bound, light as a ballet-dancer, she sprang
from her movable throne (which fortunately just happened to be stopping),
and, rushing up to the hunchback, embraced her affectionately.
All this had passed so rapidly, that the companions of the Bacchanal
Queen, still stupefied by the boldness of her perilous leap, knew not how
to account for it; whilst the masks who surrounded Mother Bunch drew back
in surprise, and the latter, absorbed in the delight of embracing her
sister, whose caresses she returned, did not even think of the singular
contrast between them, which was sure to soon excite the astonishment and
hilarity of the crowd.
Cephyse was the first to think of this, and wishing to save her sister at
least one humiliation, she turned towards the carriage, and said: "Rose-
Pompon, throw me down my cloak; and, Ninny Moulin, open the door
Having received the cloak, the Bacchanal Queen hastily wrapped it round
her sister, before the latter could speak or move. Then, taking her by
the hand, she said to her: "Come! come!"
"I!" cried Mother Bunch, in alarm. "Do not think of it!"
"I must speak with you. I will get a private room, where we shall be
alone. So make haste, dear little sister! Do not resist before all
these people--but come!"
The fear of becoming a public sight decided Mother Bunch, who, confused
moreover with the adventure, trembling and frightened, followed her
sister almost mechanically, and was dragged by her into the carriage, of
which Ninny Moulin had just opened the door. And so, with the cloak of
the Bacchanal Queen covering Mother Bunch's poor garments and deformed
figure, the crowd had nothing to laugh at, and only wondered what this
meeting could mean, while the coaches pursued their way to the eating-
house in the Place du Chatelet.
Some minutes after the meeting of Mother Bunch with the Bacchanal Queen,
the two sisters were alone together in a small room in the tavern.
"Let me kiss you again," said Cephyse to the young sempstress; "at least
now we are alone, you will not be afraid?"
In the effort of the Bacchanal Queen to clasp Mother Bunch in her arms,
the cloak fell from the form of the latter. At sight of those miserable
garments, which she had hardly had time to observe on the Place du
Chatelet, in the midst of the crowd, Cephyse clasped her hands, and could
not repress an exclamation of painful surprise. Then, approaching her
sister, that she might contemplate her more closely, she took her thin,
icy palms between her own plump hands, and examined for some minutes,
with increasing grief, the suffering, pale, unhappy creature, ground down
by watching and privations, and half-clothed in a poor, patched cotton
"Oh, sister! to see you thus!" Unable to articulate another word, the
Bacchanal Queen threw herself on the other's neck, and burst into tears.
Then, in the midst of her sobs, she added: "Pardon! pardon!"
"What is the matter, my dear Cephyse?" said the young sewing-girl, deeply
moved, and gently disengaging herself from the embrace of her sister.
"Why do you ask my pardon?"
"Why?" resumed Cephyse, raising her countenance, bathed in tears, and
purple with shame; "is it not shameful of me to be dressed in all this
frippery, and throwing away so much money in follies, while you are thus
miserably clad, and in need of everything--perhaps dying of want, for I
have never seen your poor face look so pale and worn."
"Be at ease, dear sister! I am not ill. I was up rather late last
night, and that makes me a little pale--but pray do not cry--it grieves
The Bacchanal Queen had but just arrived, radiant in the midst of the
intoxicated crowd, and yet it was Mother Bunch who was now employed in
An incident occurred, which made the contrast still more striking.
Joyous cries were heard suddenly in the next apartment, and these words
were repeated with enthusiasm: "Long live the Bacchanal Queen!"
Mother Bunch trembled, and her eyes filled with tears, as she saw her
sister with her face buried in her hands, as if overwhelmed with shame.
"Cephyse," she said, "I entreat you not to grieve so. You will make me
regret the delight of this meeting, which is indeed happiness to me! It
is so long since I saw you! But tell me--what ails you?"
"You despise me perhaps--you are right," said the Bacchanal Queen, drying
"Despise you? for what?"
"Because I lead the life I do, instead of having the courage to support
misery along with you."
The grief of Cephyse was so heart-breaking, that Mother Bunch, always
good and indulgent, wishing to console her, and raise her a little in her
own estimation, said to her tenderly: "In supporting it bravely for a
whole year, my good Cephyse, you have had more merit and courage than I
should have in bearing with it my whole life."
"Oh, sister! do not say that."
"In simple truth," returned Mother Bunch, "to what temptations is a
creature like me exposed? Do I not naturally seek solitude, even as you
seek a noisy life of pleasure? What wants have I? A very little
"But you have not always that little?"
"No--but, weak and sickly as I seem, I can endure some privations better
than you could. Thus hunger produces in me a sort of numbness, which
leaves me very feeble--but for you, robust and full of life, hunger is
fury, is madness. Alas! you must remember how many times I have seen you
suffering from those painful attacks, when work failed us in our wretched
garret, and we could not even earn our four francs a week--so that we had
nothing--absolutely nothing to eat--for our pride prevented us from
applying to the neighbors."
"You have preserved the right to that honest pride."
"And you as well! Did you not struggle as much as a human creature
could? But strength fails at last--I know you well, Cephyse--it was
hunger that conquered you; and the painful necessity of constant labor,
which was yet insufficient to supply our common wants."
"But you could endure those privations--you endure them still."
"Can you compare me with yourself? Look," said Mother Bunch, taking her
sister by the hand, and leading her to a mirror placed above a couch,
"look!--Dost think that God made you so beautiful, endowed you with such
quick and ardent blood, with so joyous, animated, grasping a nature and
with such taste and fondness for pleasure, that your youth might be spent
in a freezing garret, hid from the sun, nailed constantly to your chair,
clad almost in rags, and working without rest and without hope? No! for
He has given us other wants than those of eating and drinking. Even in
our humble condition, does not beauty require some little ornament? Does
not youth require some movement, pleasure, gayety? Do not all ages call
for relaxation and rest? Had you gained sufficient wages to satisfy
hunger, to have a day or so's amusement in the week, after working every
other day for twelve or fifteen hours, and to procure the neat and modest
dress which so charming a face might naturally claim--you would never
have asked for more, I am sure of it--you have told me as much a hundred
times. You have yielded, therefore, to an irresistible necessity,
because your wants are greater than mine."
"It is true," replied the Bacchanal Queen, with a pensive air; "if I
could but have gained eighteenpence a day, my life would have been quite
different; for, in the beginning, sister, I felt cruelly humiliated to
live at a man's expense."
"Yes, yes--it was inevitable, my dear Cephyse; I must pity, but cannot
blame you. You did not choose your destiny; but, like me, you have
submitted to it."
"Poor sister!" said Cephyse, embracing the speaker tenderly; "you can
encourage and console me in the midst of your own misfortunes, when I
ought to be pitying you."
"Be satisfied!" said Mother Bunch; "God is just and good. If He has
denied me many advantages, He has given me my joys, as you have yours."
"Yes, and great ones--without which life would be too burdensome, and I
should not have the courage to go through with it."
"I understand you," said Cephyse, with emotion; "you still know how to
devote yourself for others, and that lightens your own sorrows."
"I do what I can, but, alas! it is very little; yet when I succeed,"
added Mother Bunch, with a faint smile, "I am as proud and happy as a
poor little ant, who, after a great deal of trouble, has brought a big
straw to the common nest. But do not let us talk any more of me."
"Yes, but I must, even at the risk of making you angry," resumed the
Bacchanal Queen, timidly; "I have something to propose to you which you
once before refused. Jacques Rennepont has still, I think, some money
left--we are spending it in follies--now and then giving a little to poor
people we may happen to meet--I beg of you, let me come to your
assistance--I see in your poor face, you cannot conceal it from me, that
you are wearing yourself out with toil."
"Thanks, my dear Cephyse, I know your good heart; but I am not in want of
anything. The little I gain is sufficient for me."
"You refuse me," said the Bacchanal Queen, sadly, "because you know that
my claim to this money is not honorable--be it so--I respect your
scruples. But you will not refuse a service from Jacques; he has been a
workman, like ourselves, and comrades should help each other. Accept it
I beseech you, or I shall think you despise me."
"And I shall think you despise me, if you insist any more upon it, my
dear Cephyse," said Mother Bunch, in a tone at once so mild and firm that
the Bacchanal Queen saw that all persuasion would be in vain. She hung
her head sorrowfully, and a tear again trickled down her cheek.
"My refusal grieves you," said the other, taking her hand; "I am truly
sorry--but reflect--and you will understand me."
"You are right," said the Bacchanal Queen, bitterly, after a moment's
silence; "you cannot accept assistance from my lover--it was an insult to
propose it to you. There are positions in life so humiliating, that they
soil even the good one wishes to do."
"Cephyse, I did not mean to hurt you--you know it well."
"Oh! believe me," replied the Bacchanal Queen, "gay and giddy as I am, I
have sometimes moments of reflection, even in the midst of my maddest
joy. Happily, such moments are rare."
"And what do you think of, then?"
"Why, that the life I lead is hardly the thing; then resolve to ask
Jacques for a small sum of money, just enough to subsist on for a year,
and form the plan of joining you, and gradually getting to work again."
"The idea is a good one; why not act upon it?"
"Because, when about to execute this project, I examined myself
sincerely, and my courage failed. I feel that I could never resume the
habit of labor, and renounce this mode of life, sometimes rich, as to-
day, sometimes precarious,--but at least free and full of leisure, joyous
and without care, and at worst a thousand times preferable to living upon
four francs a week. Not that interest has guided me. Many times have I
refused to exchange a lover, who had little or nothing, for a rich man,
that I did not like. Nor have I ever asked anything for myself. Jacques
has spent perhaps ten thousand francs the last three or four months, yet
we only occupy two half-furnished rooms, because we always live out of
doors, like the birds: fortunately, when I first loved him, he had
nothing at all, and I had just sold some jewels that had been given me,
for a hundred francs, and put this sum in the lottery. As mad people and
fools are always lucky, I gained a prize of four thousand francs.
Jacques was as gay, and light-headed, and full of fun as myself, so we
said: 'We love each other very much, and, as long as this money lasts, we
will keep up the racket; when we have no more, one of two things will
happen--either we shall be tired of one another, and so part--or else we
shall love each other still, and then, to remain together, we shall try
and get work again; and, if we cannot do so, and yet will not part--a
bushel of charcoal will do our business!'"
"Good heaven!" cried Mother Bunch, turning pale.
"Be satisfied! we have not come to that. We had still something left,
when a kind of agent, who had paid court to me, but who was so ugly that
I could not bear him for all his riches, knowing that I was living with
Jacques asked me to--But why should I trouble you with all these details?
In one word, he lent Jacques money, on some sort of a doubtful claim he
had, as was thought, to inherit some property. It is with this money
that we are amusing ourselves--as long as its lasts."
"But, my dear Cephyse, instead of spending this money so foolishly, why
not put it out to interest, and marry Jacques, since you love him?"
"Oh! in the first place," replied the Bacchanal Queen, laughing, as her
gay and thoughtless character resumed its ascendancy, "to put money out
to interest gives one no pleasure. All the amusement one has is to look
at a little bit of paper, which one gets in exchange for the nice little
pieces of gold, with which one can purchase a thousand pleasures. As for
marrying, I certainly like Jacques better than I ever liked any one; but
it seems to me, that, if we were married, all our happiness would end--
for while he is only my lover, he cannot reproach me with what has passed
--but, as my husband, he would be stare to upbraid me, sooner or later,
and if my conduct deserves blame, I prefer giving it to myself, because I
shall do it more tenderly."
"Mad girl that you are! But this money will not last forever. What is
to he done next?"
"Afterwards!--Oh! that's all in the moon. To-morrow seems to me as if it
would not come for a hundred years. If we were always saying: 'We must
die one day or the other'--would life be worth having?"
The conversation between Cephyse and her sister was here again
interrupted by a terrible uproar, above which sounded the sharp, shrill
noise of Ninny Moulin's rattle. To this tumult succeeded a chorus of
barbarous cries, in the midst of which were distinguishable these words,
which shook the very windows: "The Queen! the Bacchanal Queen!"
Mother Bunch started at this sudden noise.
"It is only my court, who are getting impatient," said Cephyse--and this
time she could laugh.
"Heavens!" cried the sewing-girl, in alarm; "if they were to come here in
search of you?"
"No, no--never fear."
"But listen! do you not hear those steps? they are coming along the
passage--they are approaching. Pray, sister, let me go out alone,
without being seen by all these people."
That moment the door was opened, and Cephyse, ran towards it. She saw in
the passage a deputation headed by Ninny Moulin, who was armed with his
formidable rattle, and followed by Rose-Pompon and Sleepinbuff.
"The Bacchanal Queen! or I poison myself with a glass of water;" cried
"The Bacchanal Queen! or I publish my banns of marriage with Ninny
Moulin!" cried little Rose-Pompon, with a determined air.
"The Bacchanal Queen! or the court will rise in arms, and carry her off
by force!" said another voice.
"Yes, yes--let us carry her off!" repeated a formidable chorus.
"Jacques, enter alone!" said the Bacchanal Queen, notwithstanding these
pressing summonses; then, addressing her court in a majestic tone, she
added: "In ten minutes, I shall be at your service--and then for a--of a
"Long live the Bacchanal Queen," cried Dumoulin, shaking his rattle as he
retired, followed by the deputation, whilst Sleepinbuff entered the room
"Jacques," said Cephyse, "this is my good sister."
"Enchanted to see you," said Jacques, cordially; "the more so as you will
give me some news of my friend Agricola. Since I began to play the rich
man, we have not seen each other, but I like him as much as ever, and
think him a good and worthy fellow. You live in the same house. How is
"Alas, sir! he and his family have had many misfortunes. He is in
"In prison!" cried Cephyse.
"Agricola in prison! what for?" said Sleepinbuff.
"For a trifling political offence. We had hoped to get him out on bail."
"Certainly; for five hundred francs it could be done," said Sleepinbuff.
"Unfortunately, we have not been able; the person upon whom we relied--"
The Bacchanal Queen interrupted the speaker by saying to her lover: "Do
you hear, Jacques? Agricola in prison, for want of five hundred francs!"
"To be sure! I hear and understand all about it. No need of your
winking. Poor fellow! he was the support of his mother."
"Alas! yes, sir--and it is the more distressing, as his father has but
just returned from Russia, and his mother--"
"Here," said Sleepinbuff, interrupting, and giving Mother Bunch a purse;
"take this--all the expenses here have been paid beforehand--this is what
remains of my last bag. You will find here some twenty-five or thirty
Napoleons, and I cannot make a better use of them than to serve a comrade
in distress. Give them to Agricola's father; he will take the necessary
steps, and to-morrow Agricola will be at his forge, where I had much
rather he should be than myself."
"Jacques, give me a kiss!" said the Bacchanal Queen.
"Now, and afterwards, and again and again!" said Jacques, joyously
embracing the queen.
Mother Bunch hesitated for a moment; but reflecting that, after all, this
sum of money, which was about to be spent in follies, would restore life
and happiness to the family of Agricola, and that hereafter these very
five hundred francs, when returned to Jacques, might be of the greatest
use to him, she resolved to accept this offer. She took the purse, and
with tearful eyes, said to him: "I will not refuse your kindness M.
Jacques; you are so good and generous, Agricola's father will thus at
least have one consolation, in the midst of heavy sorrows. Thanks! many
"There is no need to thank me; money was made for others as well as
Here, without, the noise recommenced more furiously than ever, and Ninny
Moulin's rattle sent forth the most doleful sounds.
"Cephyse," said Sleepinbuff, "they will break everything to pieces, if
you do not return to them, and I have nothing left to pay for the damage.
Excuse us," added he, laughing, "but you see that royalty has its
Cephyse deeply moved, extended her arms to Mother Bunch, who threw
herself into them, shedding sweet tears.
"And now," said she, to her sister, "when shall I see you again?"
"Soon--though nothing grieves me more than to see you in want, out of
which I am not allowed to help you."
"You will come, then, to see me? It is a promise?"
"I promise you in her name," said Jacques; "we will pay a visit to you
and your neighbor Agricola."
"Return to the company, Cephyse, and amuse yourself with a light heart,
for M. Jacques has made a whole family happy."
So saying, and after Sleepinbuff had ascertained that she could go down
without being seen by his noisy and joyous companions, Mother Bunch
quietly withdrew, eager to carry one piece of good news at least to
Dagobert; but intending, first of all, to go to the Rue de Babylone, to
the garden-house formerly occupied by Adrienne de Cardoville. We shall
explain hereafter the cause of this determination.
As the girl quitted the eating-house, three men plainly and comfortably
dressed, were watching before it, and talking in a low voice. Soon
after, they were joined by a fourth person, who rapidly descended the
stairs of the tavern.
"Well?" said the three first, with anxiety.
"He is there."
"Are you sure of it?"
"Are there two Sleepers-in-buff on earth?" replied the other. "I have
just seen him; he is togged out like one of the swell mob. They will be
at table for three hours at least."
"Then wait for me, you others. Keep as quiet as possible. I will go and
fetch the captain, and the game is bagged." So saying, one of the three
men walked off quickly, and disappeared in a street leading from the
At this same instant the Bacchanal Queen entered the banqueting-room,
accompanied by Jacques, and was received with the most frenzied
acclamations from all sides.
"Now then," cried Cephyse, with a sort of feverish excitement, as if she
wished to stun herself; "now then, friends--noise and tumult, hurricane
and tempest, thunder and earthquake--as much as you please!" Then,
holding out her glass to Ninny Moulin, she added: "Pour out! pour out!"
"Long live the Queen!" cried they all, with one voice.
The Bacchanal Queen, having Sleepinbuff and Rose-Pompon opposite her, and
Ninny Moulin on her right hand, presided at the repast, called a
reveille-matin (wake-morning), generously offered by Jacques to his
companions in pleasure.
Both young men and girls seemed to have forgotten the fatigues of a ball,
begun at eleven o'clock in the evening, and finished at six in the
morning; and all these couples, joyous as they were amorous and
indefatigable, laughed, ate, and drank, with youthful and Pantagruelian
ardor, so that, during the first part of the feast, there was less
chatter than clatter of plates and glasses.
The Bacchanal Queen's countenance was less gay, but much more animated
than usual; her flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes announced a feverish
excitement; she wished to drown reflection, cost what it might. Her
conversation with her sister often recurred to her, and she tried to
escape from such sad remembrances.
Jacques regarded Cephyse from time to time with passionate adoration;
for, thanks to the singular conformity of character, mind, and taste
between him and the Bacchanal Queen, their attachment had deeper and
stronger roots than generally belong to ephemeral connections founded
upon pleasure. Cephyse and Jacques were themselves not aware of all the
power of a passion which till now had been surrounded only by joys and
festivities, and not yet been tried by any untoward event.
Little Rose-Pompon, left a widow a few days before by a student, who, in
order to end the carnival in style, had gone into the country to raise
supplies from his family, under one of those fabulous pretences which
tradition carefully preserves in colleges of law and medicine--Rose-
Pompon, we repeat, an example of rare fidelity, determined not to
compromise herself, had taken for a chaperon the inoffensive Ninny
This latter, having doffed his helmet, exhibited a bald head, encircled
by a border of black, curling hair, pretty long at the back of the head.
By a remarkable Bacchic phenomenon, in proportion as intoxication gained
upon him, a sort of zone, as purple as his jovial face, crept by degrees
over his brow, till it obscured even the shining whiteness of his crown.
Rose-Pompon, who knew the meaning of this symptom, pointed it out to the
company, and exclaimed with a loud burst of laughter: "Take care, Ninny
Moulin! the tide of the wine is coming in."
"When it rises above his head he will be drowned," added the Bacchanal
"Oh, Queen! don't disturb me; I am meditating, answered Dumoulin, who was
getting tipsy. He held in his hand, in the fashion of an antique goblet,
a punch-bowl filled with wine, for he despised the ordinary glasses,
because of their small size.
"Meditating," echoed Rose-Pompon, "Ninny Moulin is meditating. Be
"He is meditating; he must be ill then!"
"What is he meditating? an illegal dance?"
"A forbidden Anacreontic attitude?"
"Yes, I am meditating," returned Dumoulin, gravely; "I am meditating upon
wine, generally and in particular--wine, of which the immortal Bossuet"--
Dumoulin had the very bad habit of quoting Bossuet when he was drunk--"of
which the immortal Bossuet says (and he was a judge of good liquor): 'In
wine is courage, strength joy, and spiritual fervor'--when one has any
brains," added Ninny Moulin, by way of parenthesis.
"Oh, my! how I adore your Bossuet!" said Rose-Pompon.
"As for my particular meditation, it concerns the question, whether the
wine at the marriage of Cana was red or white. Sometimes I incline to
one side, sometimes to the other--and sometimes to both at once."
"That is going to the bottom of the question," said Sleepinbuff.
"And, above all, to the bottom of the bottles," added the Bacchanal
"As your majesty is pleased to observe; and already, by dint of
reflection and research, I have made a great discovery--namely, that, if
the wine at the marriage of Cana was red--"
"It couldn't 'a' been white," said Rose-Pompon, judiciously.
"And if I had arrived at the conviction that it was neither white nor
red?" asked Dumoulin, with a magisterial air.
"That could only be when you had drunk till all was blue," observed
"The partner of the Queen says well. One may be too athirst for science;
but never mind! From all my studies on this question, to which I have
devoted my life--I shall await the end of my respectable career with the
sense of having emptied tuns with a historical--theological--and
It is impossible to describe the jovial grimace and tone with which
Dumoulin pronounced and accentuated these last words, which provoked a
"Archieolopically?" said Rose-Pompon. "What sawnee is that? Has he a
tail? does he live in the water?"
"Never mind," observed the Bacchanal Queen; "these are words of wise men
and conjurers; they are like horsehair bustles--they serve for filling
out--that's all. I like better to drink; so fill the glasses, Ninny
Moulin; some champagne, Rose-Pompon; here's to the health of your
Philemon and his speedy return!"
"And to the success of his plant upon his stupid and stingy family!"
The toast was received with unanimous applause.
"With the permission of her majesty and her court," said Dumoulin, "I
propose a toast to the success of a project which greatly interests me,
and has some resemblance to Philemon's jockeying. I fancy that the toast
will bring me luck."
"Let's have it, by all means!"
"Well, then--success to my marriage!" said Dumoulin, rising.
These words provoked an explosion of shouts, applause, and laughter.
Ninny Moulin shouted, applauded, laughed even louder than the rest,
opening wide his enormous mouth, and adding to the stunning noise the
harsh springing of his rattle, which he had taken up from under his
When the storm had somewhat subsided, the Bacchanal Queen rose and said:
"I drink to the health of the future Madame Ninny Moulin."
"Oh, Queen! your courtesy touches me so sensibly that I must allow you to
read in the depths of my heart the name of my future spouse," exclaimed
Dumoulin. "She is called Madame Honoree-Modeste-Messaline-Angele de la
"She is sixty years old, and has more thousands of francs-a-year than she
has hair in her gray moustache or wrinkles on her face; she is so
superbly fat that one of her gowns would serve as a tent for this
honorable company. I hope to present my future spouse to you on Shrove-
Tuesday, in the costume of a shepherdess that has just devoured her
flock. Some of them wish to convert her--but I have undertaken to divert
her, which she will like better. You must help me to plunge her headlong
into all sorts of skylarking jollity."
"We will plunge her into anything you please."
"She shall dance like sixty!" said Rose-Pompon, humming a popular tune.
"She will overawe the police."
"We can say to them: 'Respect this lady; your mother will perhaps be as
old some day!'"
Suddenly, the Bacchanal Queen rose; her countenance wore a singular
expression of bitter and sardonic delight. In one hand she held a glass
full to the brim. "I hear the Cholera is approaching in his seven-league
boots," she cried. "I drink luck to the Cholera!" And she emptied the
Notwithstanding the general gayety, these words made a gloomy impression;
a sort of electric shudder ran through the assemblage, and nearly every
countenance became suddenly serious.
"Oh, Cephyse!" said Jacques, in a tone of reproach.
"Luck to the Cholera," repeated the Queen, fearlessly. "Let him spare
those who wish to live, and kill together those who dread to part!"
Jacques and Cephyse exchanged a rapid glance, unnoticed by their joyous
companions, and for some time the Bacchanal Queen remained silent and
"If you put it that way, it is different," cried Rose-Pompon, boldly.
"To the Cholera! may none but good fellows be left on earth!"
In spite of this variation, the impression was still painfully
impressive. Dumoulin, wishing to cut short this gloomy subject,
exclaimed: "Devil take the dead, and long live the living! And, talking
of chaps who both live and live well, I ask you to drink a health most
dear to our joyous queen, the health of our Amphitryon. Unfortunately, I
do not know his respectable name, having only had the advantage of making
his acquaintance this night; he will excuse me, then, if I confine myself
to proposing the health of Sleepinbuff--a name by no means offensive to
my modesty, as Adam never slept in any other manner. I drink to
"Thanks, old son!" said Jacques, gayly; "were I to forget your name, I
should call you 'Have-a-sip?' and I am sure that you would answer: 'I
"I will directly!" said Dumoulin, making the military salute with one
hand, and holding out the bowl with the other.
"As we have drunk together," resumed Sleepinbuff, cordially, "we ought to
know each other thoroughly. I am Jacques Rennepont?"
"Rennepont!" cried Dumoulin, who appeared struck by the name, in spite of
his half-drunkenness; "you are Rennepont?"
"Rennepont in the fullest sense of the word. Does that astonish you?"
"There is a very ancient family of that name--the Counts of Rennepont."
"The deuce there is!" said the other, laughing.
"The Counts of Rennepont are also Dukes of Cardoville," added Dumoulin.
"Now, come, old fellow! do I look as if I belonged to such a family?--I,
a workman out for a spree?"
"You a workman? why, we are getting into the Arabian Nights!" cried
Dumoulin, more and more surprised. "You give us a Belshazzar's banquet,
with accompaniment of carriages and four, and yet are a workman? Only
tell me your trade, and I will join you, leaving the Vine of the Divine
to take care of itself."
"Come, I say! don't think that I am a printer of flimsies, and a
smasher!" replied Jacques, laughing.
"Oh, comrade! no such suspicion--"
"It would be excusable, seeing the rigs I run. But I'll make you easy on
that point. I am spending an inheritance."
"Eating and drinking an uncle, no doubt?" said Dumoulin, benevolently.
"Faith, I don't know."
"What! you don't know whom you are eating and drinking?"
"Why, you see, in the first place, my father was a bone-grubber."
"The devil he was!" said Dumoulin, somewhat out of countenance, though in
general not over-scrupulous in the choice of his bottle-companions: but,
after the first surprise, he resumed, with the most charming amenity:
"There are some rag-pickers very high by scent--I mean descent!"
"To be sure! you may think to laugh at me," said Jacques, "but you are
right in this respect, for my father was a man of very great merit. He
spoke Greek and Latin like a scholar, and often told me that he had not
his equal in mathematics; besides, he had travelled a good deal."
"Well, then," resumed Dumoulin, whom surprise had partly sobered, "you
may belong to the family of the Counts of Rennepont, after all."
"In which case," said Rose-Pompon, laughing, "your father was not a
gutter-snipe by trade, but only for the honor of the thing."
"No, no--worse luck! it was to earn his living," replied Jacques; "but,
in his youth, he had been well off. By what appeared, or rather by what
did not appear, he had applied to some rich relation, and the rich
relation had said to him: 'Much obliged! try the work'us.' Then he
wished to make use of his Greek, and Latin, and mathematics. Impossible
to do anything--Paris, it seems, being choke-full of learned men--so my
father had to look for his bread at the end of a hooked stick, and there,
too, he must have found it, for I ate of it during two years, when I came
to live with him after the death of an aunt, with whom I had been staying
in the country."
"Your respectable father must have been a sort of philosopher," said
Dumoulin; "but, unless he found an inheritance in a dustbin, I don't see
how you came into your property."
"Wait for the end of the song. At twelve years of age I was an
apprentice at the factory of M. Tripeaud; two years afterwards, my father
died of an accident, leaving me the furniture of our garret--a mattress,
a chair, and a table--and, moreover, in an old Eau de Cologne box, some
papers (written, it seems, in English), and a bronze medal, worth about
ten sous, chain and all. He had never spoken to me of these papers, so,
not knowing if they were good for anything, I left them at the bottom of
an old trunk, instead of burning them--which was well for me, since it is
upon these papers that I have had money advanced."
"What a godsend!" said Dumoulin. "But somebody must have known that you
"Yes; one of those people that are always looking out for old debts came
to Cephyse, who told me all about it; and, after he had read the papers,
he said that the affair was doubtful, but that he would lend me ten
thousand francs on it, if I liked. Ten thousand francs was a large sum,
so I snapped him up!"
"But you must have supposed that these old papers were of great value."
"Faith, no! since my father, who ought to have known their value, had
never realized on them--and then, you see, ten thousand francs in good,
bright coin, falling as it were from the clouds, are not to be sneezed
at--so I took them--only the man made me do a bit of stiff as guarantee,
or something of that kind."
"Did you sign it?"
"Of course--what did I care about it? The man told me it was only a
matter of form. He spoke the truth, for the bill fell due a fortnight
ago, and I have heard nothing of it. I have still about a thousand
francs in his hands, for I have taken him for my banker. And that's the
way, old pal, that I'm able to flourish and be jolly all day long, as
pleased as Punch to have left my old grinder of a master, M. Tripeaud."
As he pronounced this name, the joyous countenance of Jacques became
suddenly overcast. Cephyse, no longer under the influence of the painful
impression she had felt for a moment, looked uneasily at Jacques, for she
knew the irritation which the name of M. Tripeaud produced within him.
"M. Tripeaud," resumed Sleepinbuff, "is one that would make the good bad,
and the bad worse. They say that a good rider makes a good horse; they
ought to say that a good master makes a good workman. Zounds! when I
think of that fellow!" cried Sleepinbuff, striking his hand violently on
"Come, Jacques--think of something else!" said the Bacchanal Queen.
"Make him laugh, Rose-Pompon."
"I am not in a humor to laugh," replied Jacques, abruptly, for he was
getting excited from the effects of the wine; "it is more than I can bear
to think of that man. It exasperates me! it drives me mad! You should
have heard him saying: 'Beggarly workmen! rascally workmen! they grumble
that they have no food in their bellies; well, then, we'll give them
bayonets to stop their hunger.' And there's the children in his
factory--you should see them, poor little creatures!--working as long as
the men--wasting away, and dying by the dozen--what odds? as soon as they
were dead plenty of others came to take their places--not like horses,
which can only be replaced with money."
"Well, it is clear, that you do not like your old master," said Dumoulin,
more and more surprised at his Amphitryon's gloomy and thoughtful air,
and, regretting that the conversation had taken this serious turn, he
whispered a few words in the ear of the Bacchanal Queen, who answered by
a sign of intelligence.
"I don't like M. Tripeaud!" exclaimed Jacques. "I hate him--and shall I
tell you why? Because it is as much his fault as mine, that I have
become a good-for-nothing loafer. I don't say it to screen myself; but
it is the truth. When I was 'prenticed to him as a lad, I was all heart
and ardor, and so bent upon work, that I used to take my shirt off to my
task, which, by the way, was the reason that I was first called
Sleepinbuff. Well! I might have toiled myself to death; not one word of
encouragement did I receive. I came first to my work, and was the last
to leave off; what matter? it was not even noticed. One day, I was
injured by the machinery. I was taken to the hospital. When I came out,
weak as I was, I went straight to my work; I was not to be frightened;
the others, who knew their master well, would often say to me: 'What a
muff you must be, little one! What good will you get by working so
hard?'--still I went on. But, one day, a worthy old man, called Father
Arsene, who had worked in the house many years, and was a model of good
conduct, was suddenly turned away, because he was getting too feeble. It
was a death-blow to him; his wife was infirm, and, at his age, he could
not get another place. When the foreman told him he was dismissed, he
could not believe it, and he began to cry for grief. At that moment, M.
Tripeaud passes; Father Arsene begs him with clasped hands to keep him at
half-wages. 'What!' says M. Tripeaud, shrugging his shoulders; 'do you
think that I will turn my factory into a house of invalids? You are no
longer able to work--so be off!' 'But I have worked forty years of my
life; what is to become of me?' cried poor Father Arsene. 'That is not
my business,' answered M. Tripeaud; and, addressing his clerk, he added:
'Pay what is due for the week, and let him cut his stick.' Father Arsene
did cut his stick; that evening, he and his old wife suffocated
themselves with charcoal. Now, you see, I was then a lad; but that story
of Father Arsene taught me, that, however hard you might work, it would
only profit your master, who would not even thank you for it, and leave
you to die on the flags in your old age. So all my fire was damped, and
I said to myself: 'What's the use of doing more than I just need? If I
gain heaps of gold for M. Tripeaud, shall I get an atom of it?'
Therefore, finding neither pride nor profit in my work, I took a disgust
for it--just did barely enough to earn my wages--became an idler and a
rake--and said to myself: 'When I get too tired of labor, I can always
follow the example of Father Arsene and his wife."'
Whilst Jacques resigned himself to the current of these bitter thoughts,
the other guests, incited by the expressive pantomime of Dumoulin and the
Bacchanal Queen, had tacitly agreed together; and, on a signal from the
Queen, who leaped upon the table, and threw down the bottles and glasses
with her foot, all rose and shouted, with the accompaniment of Ninny
Moulin's rattle "The storm blown Tulip! the quadrille of the Storm-blown
At these joyous cries, which burst suddenly, like shell, Jacques started;
then gazing with astonishment at his guests, he drew his hand across his
brow, as if to chase away the painful ideas that oppressed him, and
exclaimed: "You are right. Forward the first couple! Let us be merry!"
In a moment, the table, lifted by vigorous arms, was removed to the
extremity of the banqueting-room; the spectators, mounted upon chairs,
benches, and window-ledges, began to sing in chorus the well-known air of
les Etudiants, so as to serve instead of orchestra, and accompany the
quadrille formed by Sleepinbuff, the Queen, Ninny Moulin, and Rose-
Dumoulin, having entrusted his rattle to one of the guests, resumed his
extravagant Roman helmet and plume; he had taken off his great-coat at
the commencement of the feast, so that he now appeared in all the
splendor of his costume. His cuirass of bright scales ended in a tunic
of feathers, not unlike those worn by the savages, who form the oxen's
escort on Mardi Gras. Ninny Moulin had a huge paunch and thin legs, so
that the latter moved about at pleasure in the gaping mouths of his large
Little Rose-Pompon, with her pinched-up cocked-hat stuck on one side, her
hands in the pockets of her trousers, her bust a little inclined forward,
and undulating from right to left, advanced to meet Ninny-Moulin; the
latter danced, or rather leaped towards her, his left leg bent under him,
his right leg stretched forward, with the toe raised, and the heel
gliding on the floor; moreover, he struck his neck with his left hand,
and by a simultaneous movement, stretched forth his right, as if he would
have thrown dust in the eyes of his opposite partner.
This first figure met with great success, and the applause was
vociferous, though it was only the innocent prelude to the step of the
Storm-blown Tulip--when suddenly the door opened, and one of the waiters,
after looking about for an instant, in search of Sleepinbuff, ran to him,
and whispered some words in his ear.
"Me!" cried Jacques, laughing; "here's a go!"
The waiter added a few more words, when Sleepinbuff's face assumed an
expression of uneasiness, as he answered. "Very well! I come directly,"-
-and he made a step towards the door.
"What's the matter, Jacques?" asked the Bacchanal Queen, in some
"I'll be back immediately. Some one take my place. Go on with the
dance," said Sleepinbuff, as he hastily left the room.
"Something, that was not put down in the bill," said Dumoulin; "he will
soon be back."
"That's it," said Cephyse. "Now cavalier suel!" she added, as she took
Jacques's place, and the dance continued.
Ninny Moulin had just taken hold of Rose Pompon with his right hand, and
of the Queen with his left, in order to advance between the two, in which
figure he showed off his buffoonery to the utmost extent, when the door
again opened, and the same waiter, who had called out Jacques, approached
Cephyse with an air of consternation, and whispered in her ear, as he had
before done to Sleepinbuff.
The Bacchanal Queen grew pale, uttered a piercing scream, and rushed out
of the room without a word, leaving her guests in stupefaction.
 These atrocious words were actually spoken during the Lyons Riots.
The Bacchanal Queen, following the waiter, arrived at the bottom of the
staircase. A coach was standing before the door of the house. In it she
saw Sleepinbuff, with one of the men who, two hours before, had been
waiting on the Place du Chatelet.
On the arrival of Cephyse, the man got down, and said to Jacques, as he
drew out his watch: "I give you a quarter of an hour; it is all that I
can do for you, my good fellow; after that we must start. Do not try to
escape, for we'll be watching at the coach doors."
With one spring, Cephyse was in the coach. Too much overcome to speak
before, she now exclaimed, as she took her seat by Jacques, and remarked
the paleness of his countenance: "What is it? What do they want with
"I am arrested for debt," said Jacques, in a mournful voice.
"You!" exclaimed Cephyse, with a heart-rending sob.
"Yes, for that bill, or guarantee, they made me sign. And yet the man
said it was only a form--the rascal!"
"But you have money in his hands; let him take that on account."
"I have not a copper; he sends me word by the bailiff, that not having
paid the bill, I shall not have the last thousand francs."
"Then let us go to him, and entreat him to leave you at liberty. It was
he who came to propose to lend you this money. I know it well, as he
first addressed himself to me. He will have pity on you."
"Pity?--a money broker pity? No! no!"
"Is there then no hope? none?" cried Cephyse clasping her hands in
anguish. "But there must be something done," she resumed. "He promised
"You can see how he keeps his promises," answered Jacques, with
bitterness. "I signed, without even knowing what I signed. The bill is
over-due; everything is in order, it would be vain to resist. They have
just explained all that to me."
"But they cannot keep you long in prison. It is impossible."
"Five years, if I do not pay. As I'll never be able to do so, my fate is
"Oh! what a misfortune! and not to be able to do anything!" said Cephyse,
hiding her face in her hands.
"Listen to me, Cephyse," resumed Jacques, in a voice of mournful emotion;
"since I am here, I have thought only of one thing--what is to become of
"Never mind me!"
"Not mind you?--art mad? What will you do? The furniture of our two
rooms is not worth two hundred francs. We have squandered our money so
foolishly, that we have not even paid our rent. We owe three quarters,
and we must not therefore count upon the furniture. I leave you without
a coin. At least I shall be fed in prison--but how will you manage to
"What is the use of grieving beforehand?"
"I ask you how you will live to-morrow?" cried Jacques.
"I will sell my costume, and some other clothes. I will send you half
the money, and keep the rest. That will last some days."
"Afterwards?--why, then--I don't know--how can I tell you! Afterwards--
I'll look about me."
"Hear me, Cephyse," resumed Jacques, with bitter agony. "It is now that
I first know how mach I love you. My heart is pressed as in a vise at
the thought of leaving you and I shudder to thinly what is to become of
you." Then--drawing his hand across his forehead, Jacques added: "You
see we have been ruined by saying--"To-morrow will never come!"--for to-
morrow has come. When I am no longer with you, and you have spent the
last penny of the money gained by the sale of your clothes--unfit for
work as you have become--what will you do next? Must I tell you what you
will do!--you will forget me and--" Then, as if he recoiled from his own
thoughts, Jacques exclaimed, with a burst of rage and despair--"Great
Heaven! if that were to happen, I should dash my brains out against the
Cephyse guessed the half-told meaning of Jacques, and throwing her arms
around his neck, she said to him: "I take another lover?--never! I am
like you, for I now first know how much I love you."
"But, my poor Cephyse--how will you live?"
"Well, I shall take courage. I will go back and dwell, with my sister,
as in old times; we will work together, and so earn our bread. I'll
never go out, except to visit you. In a few days your creditor will
reflect, that, as you can't pay him ten thousand francs, he may as well
set you free. By that time I shall have once more acquired the habit of
working. You shall see, you shall see!--and you also will again acquire
this habit. We shall live poor, but content. After all, we have had
plenty of amusement for six month, while so many others have never known
pleasure all their lives. And believe me, my dear Jacques, when I say to
you--I shall profit by this lesson. If you love me, do not feel the
least uneasiness; I tell you, that I would rather die a hundred times,
than have another lover."
"Kiss me," said Jacques, with eyes full of tears. "I believe you--yes, I
believe you--and you give me back my courage, both for now and hereafter.
You are right; we must try and get to work again, or else nothing remains
but Father Arsene's bushel of charcoal; for, my girl," added Jacques, in
a low and trembling voice, "I have been like a drunken man these six
months, and now I am getting sober, and see whither we are going. Our
means once exhausted, I might perhaps have become a robber, and you--"
"Oh, Jacques! don't talk so--it is frightful," interrupted Cephyse; "I
swear to you that I will return to my sister--that I will work--that I
will have courage!"
Thus saying, the Bacchanal Queen was very sincere; she fully intended to
keep her word, for her heart was not yet completely corrupted. Misery
and want had been with her, as with so many others, the cause and the
excuse of her worst errors. Until now, she had at least followed the
instincts of her heart, without regard to any base or venal motive. The
cruel position in which she beheld Jacques had so far exalted her love,
that she believed herself capable of resuming, along with Mother Bunch,
that life of sterile and incessant toil, full of painful sacrifices and
privations, which once had been impossible for her to bear, and which the
habits of a life of leisure and dissipation would now render still more
Still, the assurances which she had just given Jacques calmed his grief
and anxiety a little; he had sense and feeling enough to perceive that
the fatal track which he had hitherto so blindly followed was leading
both him and Cephyse directly to infamy.
One of the bailiffs, having knocked at the coach-door, said to Jacques:
"My lad, you have only five minutes left--so make haste."
"So, courage, my girl--courage!" said Jacques.
"I will; you may rely upon me."
"Are you going upstairs again?"
"No--oh no!" said Cephyse. "I have now a horror of this festivity."
"Everything is paid for, and the waiter will tell them not to expect us
back. They will be much astonished," continued Jacques, "but it's all
the same now."
"If you could only go with me to our lodging," said Cephyse, "this man
would perhaps permit it, so as not to enter Sainte-Pelagie in that
"Oh! he will not forbid you to accompany me; but, as he will be with us
in the coach, we shall not be able to talk freely in his presence.
Therefore, let me speak reason to you for the first time in my life.
Remember what I say, my dear Cephyse--and the counsel will apply to me as
well as to yourself," continued Jacques, in a grave and feeling tone--
"resume from to-day the habit of labor. It may be painful, unprofitable-
-never mind--do not hesitate, for too soon will the influence of this
lesson be forgotten. By-and-bye it will be too late, and then you will
end like so many unfortunate creatures--"
"I understand," said Cephyse, blushing; "but I will rather die than lead
such a life."
"And there you will do well--for in that case," added Jacques, in a deep
and hollow voice, "I will myself show you how to die."
"I count upon you, Jacques," answered Cephyse, embracing her lover with
excited feeling; then she added, sorrowfully: "It was a kind of
presentiment, when just now I felt so sad, without knowing why, in the
midst of all our gayety--and drank to the Cholera, so that we might die
"Well! perhaps the Cholera will come," resumed Jacques, with a gloomy
air; "that would save us the charcoal, which we may not even be able to
"I can only tell you one thing, Jacques, that to live and die together,
you will always find me ready."
"Come, dry your eyes," said he, with profound emotion. "Do not let us
play the children before these men."
Some minutes after, the coach took the direction to Jacques's lodging,
where he was to change his clothes, before proceeding to the debtors'
Let us repeat, with regard to the hunchback's sister--for there are
things which cannot be too often repeated--that one of the most fatal
consequences of the Inorganization of Labor is the Insufficiency of
The insufficiency of wages forces inevitably the greater number of young
girls, thus badly paid, to seek their means of subsistence in connections
which deprave them.
Sometimes they receive a small allowance from their lovers, which, joined
to the produce of their labor, enables them to live. Sometimes like the
sempstress's sister, they throw aside their work altogether, and take up
their abode with the man of their choice, should he be able to support
the expense. It is during this season of pleasure and idleness that the
incurable leprosy of sloth takes lasting possession of these unfortunate
This is the first phase of degradation that the guilty carelessness of
Society imposes on an immense number of workwomen, born with instincts of
modesty, and honesty, and uprightness.
After a certain time they are deserted by their seducers--perhaps when
they are mothers. Or, it may be, that foolish extravagance consigns the
imprudent lover to prison, and the young girl finds herself alone,
abandoned, without the means of subsistence.
Those who have still preserved courage and energy go back to their work--
but the examples are very rare. The others, impelled by misery, and by
habits of indolence, fall into the lowest depths.
And yet we must pity, rather than blame them, for the first and virtual
cause of their fall has been the insufficient remuneration of labor and
sudden reduction of pay.
Another deplorable consequence of this inorganization is the disgust
which workmen feel for their employment, in addition to the insufficiency
of their wages. And this is quite conceivable, for nothing is done to
render their labor attractive, either by variety of occupations, or by
honorary rewards, or by proper care, or by remuneration proportionate to
the benefits which their toil provides, or by the hope of rest after long
years of industry. No--the country thinks not, cares not, either for
their wants or their rights.
And yet, to take only one example, machinists and workers in foundries,
exposed to boiler explosions, and the contact of formidable engines, run
every day greater dangers than soldiers in time of war, display rare
practical sagacity, and render to industry--and, consequently, to their
country--the most incontestable service, during a long and honorable
career, if they do not perish by the bursting of a boiler, or have not
their limbs crushed by the iron teeth of a machine.
In this last case, does the workman receive a recompense equal to that
which awaits the soldier's praiseworthy, but sterile courage--a place in
an asylum for invalids? No.
What does the country care about it? And if the master should happen to
be ungrateful, the mutilated workman, incapable of further service, may
die of want in some corner.
Finally, in our pompous festivals of commerce, do we ever assemble any of
the skillful workmen who alone have woven those admirable stuffs, forged
and damascened those shining weapons, chiselled those goblets of gold and
silver, carved the wood and ivory of that costly furniture, and set those
dazzling jewels with such exquisite art? No.
In the obscurity of their garrets, in the midst of a miserable and
starving family, hardly able to subsist on their scanty wages, these
workmen have contributed, at least, one half to bestow those wonders upon
their country, which make its wealth, its glory, and its pride.
A minister of commerce, who had the least intelligence of his high
functions and duties, would require of every factory that exhibits on
these occasions, the selection by vote of a certain number of candidates,
amongst whom the manufacturer would point out the one that appeared most
worthy to represent the working classes in these great industrial
Would it not be a noble and encouraging example to see the master propose
for public recompense and distinction the workman, deputed by his peers,
as amongst the most honest, laborious, and intelligent of his profession?
Then one most grievous injustice would disappear, and the virtues of the
workman would be stimulated by a generous and noble ambition--he would
have an interest in doing well.
Doubtless, the manufacturer himself, because of the intelligence he
displays, the capital he risks, the establishment he founds, and the good
he sometimes does, has a legitimate right to the prizes bestowed upon
him. But why is the workman to be rigorously excluded from these
rewards, which have so powerful an influence upon the people? Are
generals and officers the only ones that receive rewards in the army?
And when we have remunerated the captains of this great and powerful army
of industry, why should we neglect the privates?
Why for them is there no sign of public gratitude? no kind or consoling
word from august lips? Why do we not see in France, a single workman
wearing a medal as a reward for his courageous industry, his long and
laborious career? The token and the little pension attached to it, would
be to him a double recompense, justly deserved. But, no! for humble
labor that sustains the State, there is only forgetfulness, injustice,
indifference, and disdain!
By this neglect of the public, often aggravated by individual selfishness
and ingratitude, our workmen are placed in a deplorable situation.
Some of them, notwithstanding their incessant toil, lead a life of
privations, and die before their time cursing the social system that
rides over them. Others find a temporary oblivion of their ills in
destructive intoxication. Others again--in great number--having no
interest, no advantage, no moral or physical inducement to do more or
better, confine themselves strictly to just that amount of labor which
will suffice to earn their wages. Nothing attaches them to their work,
because nothing elevates, honors, glorifies it in their eyes. They have
no defence against the reductions of indolence; and if, by some chance,
they find means of living awhile in repose, they give way by degrees to
habits of laziness and debauchery, and sometimes the worst passions soil
forever natures originally willing, healthy and honest--and all for want
of that protecting and equitable superintendence which should have
sustained, encouraged, and recompensed their first worthy and laborious
We now follow Mother Bunch, who after seeking for work from the person
that usually employed her, went to the Rue de Babylone, to the lodge
lately occupied by Adrienne de Cardoville.
While the Bacchanal Queen and Sleepinbuff terminated so sadly the most
joyous portion of their existence, the sempstress arrived at the door of
the summer-house in the Rue de Babylone.
Before ringing she dried her tears; a new grief weighed upon her spirits.
On quitting the tavern, she had gone to the house of the person who
usually found her in work; but she was told that she could not have any
because it could be done a third more cheaply by women in prison. Mother
Bunch, rather than lose her last resource, offered to take it at the
third less; but the linen had been already sent out; and the girl could
not hope for employment for a fortnight to come, even if submitting to
this reduction of wages. One may conceive the anguish of the poor
creature; the prospect before her was to die of hunger, if she would not
beg or steal. As for her visit to the lodge in the Rue de Babylone, it
will be explained presently.
She rang the bell timidly; a few minutes after, Florine opened the door
to her. The waiting-maid was no longer adorned after the charming taste
of Adrienne; on the contrary, she was dressed with an affectation of
austere simplicity. She wore a high-necked dress of a dark color, made
full enough to conceal the light elegance of her figure. Her bands of
jet-black hair were hardly visible beneath the flat border of a starched
white cap, very much resembling the head-dress of a nun. Yet, in spite
of this unornamental costume, Florine's pale countenance was still
We have said that, placed by former misconduct at the mercy of Rodin and
M. d'Aigrigny, Florine had served them as a spy upon her mistress,
notwithstanding the marks of kindness and confidence she had received
from her. Yet Florine was not entirely corrupted; and she often suffered
painful, but vain, remorse at the thought of the infamous part she was
thus obliged to perform.
At the sight of Mother Bunch, whom she recognized--for she had told her,
the day before, of Agricola's arrest and Mdlle. de Cardoville's madness--
Florine recoiled a step, so much was she moved with pity at the
appearance of the young sempstress. In fact, the idea of being thrown
out of work, in the midst of so many other painful circumstances, had
made a terrible impression upon the young workwoman, the traces of recent
tears furrowed her cheeks--without her knowing it, her features expressed
the deepest despair--and she appeared so exhausted, so weak, so overcome,
that Florine offered her arm to support her, and said to her kindly:
"Pray walk in and rest yourself; you are very pale, and seem to be ill
So saying, Florine led her into a small room; with fireplace and carpet,
and made her sit down in a tapestried armchair by the side of a good
fire. Georgette and Hebe had been dismissed, and Florine was left alone
in care of the house.
When her guest was seated, Florine said to her with an air of interest:
"Will you not take anything? A little orange flower-water and sugar,
"I thank you, mademoiselle," said Mother Bunch, with emotion, so easily
was her gratitude excited by the least mark of kindness; she felt, too, a
pleasing surprise, that her poor garments had not been the cause of
repugnance or disdain on the part of Florine.
"I thank you, mademoiselle," said she, "but I only require a little rest,
for I come from a great distance. If you will permit me--"
"Pray rest yourself as long as you like, mademoiselle; I am alone in this
pavilion since the departure of my poor mistress,"--here Florine blushed
and sighed;--"so, pray make yourself quite at home. Draw near the fire--
you wilt be more comfortable--and, gracious! how wet your feet are!--
place them upon this stool."
The cordial reception given by Florine, her handsome face and agreeable
manners, which were not those of an ordinary waiting-maid, forcibly
struck Mother Bunch, who, notwithstanding her humble condition, was
peculiarly susceptible to the influence of everything graceful and
delicate. Yielding, therefore, to these attractions, the young
sempstress, generally so timid and sensitive, felt herself almost at her
ease with Florine.
"How obliging you are, mademoiselle!" said she in a grateful tone. "I am
quite confused with your kindness."
"I wish I could do you some greater service than offer you a place at the
fire, mademoiselle. Your appearance is so good and interesting."
"Oh, mademoiselle!" said the other, with simplicity, almost in spite of
herself; "it does one so much good to sit by a warm fire!" Then,
fearing, in her extreme delicacy, that she might be thought capable of
abusing the hospitality of her entertainer, by unreasonably prolonging
her visit, she added: "the motive that has brought me here is this.
Yesterday, you informed me that a young workman, named Agricola Baudoin,
had been arrested in this house."
"Alas! yes, mademoiselle. At the moment, too, when my poor mistress was
about to render him assistance."
"I am Agricola's adopted sister," resumed Mother Bunch, with a slight
blush; "he wrote to me yesterday evening from prison. He begged me to
tell his father to come here as soon as possible, in order to inform
Mdlle. de Cardoville that he, Agricola, had important matters to
communicate to her, or to any person that she might send; but that he
could not venture to mention them in a letter, as he did not know if the
correspondence of prisoners might not be read by the governor of the
"What!" said Florine, with surprise; "to my mistress, M. Agricola has
something of importance to communicate?"
"Yes, mademoiselle; for, up to this time, Agricola is ignorant of the
great calamity that has befallen Mdlle. de Cardoville."
"True; the attack was indeed so sudden," said Florine, casting down her
eyes, "that no one could have foreseen it."
"It must have been so," answered Mother Bunch; "for, when Agricola saw
Mdlle. de Cardoville for the first time, he returned home, struck with
her grace, and delicacy, and goodness."
"As were all who approached my mistress," said Florine, sorrowfully.
"This morning," resumed the sewing-girl, "when, according to Agricola's
instructions, I wished to speak to his father on the subject, I found him
already gone out, for he also is a prey to great anxieties; but my