Part 1 out of 3
This etext was produced by David Widger
THE WANDERING JEW
By Eugene Sue
XIV. The Eve of a Great Day
XV. The Thug
XVI. The Two Brothers of the Good Work
XVII. The House in the Rue Saint-Francois
XVIII. Debit and Credit
XIX. The Heir
XX. The Rupture
XXI. The Change
XXII. The Red Room
XXIII. The Testament
XXIV. The Last Stroke of Noon
XXV. The Deed of Gift
THE EVE OF A GREAT DAY.
About two hours before the event last related took place at St. Mary's
Convent, Rodin and Abbe d'Aigrigny met in the room where we have already
seen them, in the Rue du Milieu-des-Ursins. Since the Revolution of
July, Father d'Aigrigny had thought proper to remove for the moment to
this temporary habitation all the secret archives and correspondence of
his Order--a prudent measure, since he had every reason to fear that the
reverend fathers would be expelled by the state from that magnificent
establishment, with which the restoration had so liberally endowed their
Rodin, dressed in his usual sordid style, mean and dirty as ever, was
writing modestly at his desk, faithful to his humble part of secretary,
which concealed, as we have already seen a far more important office--
that of Socius--a function which, according to the constitutions of the
Order, consists in never quitting his superior, watching his least
actions, spying into his very thoughts, and reporting all to Rome.
In spite of his usual impassibility, Rodin appeared visibly uneasy and
absent in mind; he answered even more briefly than usual to the commands
and questions of Father d'Aigrigny, who had but just entered the room.
"Has anything new occurred during my absence?" asked he. "Are the
reports still favorable?"
"Read them to me."
"Before giving this account to your reverence," said Rodin, "I must
inform you that Morok has been two days in Paris."
"Morok?" said Abbe d'Aigrigny, with surprise. "I thought, on leaving
Germany and Switzerland, he had received from Friburg the order to
proceed southward. At Nismes, or Avignon, he would at this moment be
useful as an agent; for the Protestants begin to move, and we fear a
reaction against the Catholics."
"I do not know," said Rodin, "if Morok may not have had private reasons
for changing his route. His ostensible reasons are, that he comes here
to give performances."
"A dramatic agent, passing through Lyons, engaged him and his menagerie
for the Port Saint-Martin Theatre at a very high price. He says that he
did not like to refuse such an offer."
"Well," said Father d'Aigrigny, shrugging his shoulders, "but by
distributing his little books, and selling prints and chaplets, as well
as by the influence he would certainly exercise over the pious and
ignorant people of the South or of Brittany, he might render services,
such as he can never perform in Paris."
"He is now below, with a kind of giant, who travels about with him. In
his capacity of your reverence's old servant, Morok hoped to have the
honor of kissing your hand this evening."
"Impossible--impossible--you know how much I am occupied. Have you sent
to the Rue Saint-Francois?"
"Yes, I have. The old Jew guardian has had notice from the notary. To-
morrow, at six in the morning, the masons will unwall the door, and, for
the first time since one hundred and fifty years, the house will be
Father d'Aigrigny remained in thought for a moment, and then said to
Rodin: "On the eve of such a decisive day, we must neglect nothing, and
call every circumstance to memory. Read me the copy of the note,
inserted in the archives of the society, a century and a half ago, on the
subject of Rennepont."
The secretary took the note from the case, and read as follows:
"'This 19th day of February, 1682, the Reverend Father-Provincial
Alexander Bourdon sent the following advice, with these words in the
margin: Of extreme importance for the future.
"'We have just discovered, by the confession of a dying person to one of
our fathers, a very close secret.
"'Marius de Rennepont, one of the most active and redoubtable partisans
of the Reformed Religion, and one of the most determined enemies of our
Holy Society, had apparently re-entered the pale of our Mother Church,
but with the sole design of saving his worldly goods, threatened with
confiscation because of his irreligious and damnable errors. Evidence
having been furnished by different persons of our company to prove that
the conversion of Rennepont was not sincere, and in reality covered a
sacrilegious lure, the possessions of the said gentleman, now considered
a relapsed heretic, were confiscated by our gracious sovereign, his
Majesty King Louis XIV, and the said Rennepont was condemned to the
galleys for life. He escaped his doom by a voluntary death; in
consequence of which abominable crime, his body was dragged upon a
hurdle, and flung to the dogs on the highway.
"'From these preliminaries, we come to the great secret, which is of such
importance to the future interests of our Society.
"'His Majesty Louis XIV., in his paternal and Catholic goodness towards
the Church in general, and our Order in particular, had granted to us the
profit of this confiscation, in acknowledgment of our services in
discovering the infamous and sacrilegious relapse of the said Rennepont.
"'But we have just learned, for certain, that a house situated in Paris,
No. 3, Rue Saint-Francois, and a sum of fifty thousand gold crowns, have
escaped this confiscation, and have consequently been stolen from our
"'The house was conveyed, before the confiscation, by means of a feigned
purchase, to a friend of Rennepont's a good Catholic, unfortunately, as
against him we cannot take any severe measures. Thanks to the culpable,
but secure connivance of his friend, the house has been walled up, and is
only to be opened in a century and a half, according to the last will of
Rennepont. As for the fifty thousand gold crowns, they have been placed
in hands which, unfortunately, are hitherto unknown to us, in order to be
invested and put out to use for one hundred and fifty years, at the
expiration of which time they are to be divided between the then existing
descendants of the said Rennepont; and it is calculated that this sum,
increased by so many accumulations, will by then have become enormous,
and will amount to at least forty or fifty millions of livres tournois.
From motives which are not known, but which are duly stated in a
testamentary document, the said Rennepont has concealed from his family,
whom the edicts against the Protestants have driven out of France, the
investment of these fifty thousand crowns; and has only desired his
relations to preserve in their line from generation to generation, the
charge to the last survivors, to meet in Paris, Rue Saint-Francois, a
hundred and fifty years hence, on February the 13th, 1832. And that this
charge might not be forgotten, he employed a person, whose description is
known, but not his real occupation, to cause to be manufactured sundry
bronze medals, on which the request and date are engraved, and to deliver
one to each member of the family--a measure the more necessary, as, from
some other motive equally unknown, but probably explained in the
testament, the heirs are to present themselves on the day in question,
before noon, in person, and not by any attorney, or representative, or to
forfeit all claim to the inheritance. The stranger who undertook to
distribute the medals to the different members of the family of Rennepont
is a man of thirty to thirty-six years of age, of tall stature, and with
a proud and sad expression of countenance. He has black eyebrows, very
thick, and singularly joined together. He is known as JOSEPH, and is
much suspected of being an active and dangerous emissary of the wretched
republicans and heretics of the Seven United Provinces. It results from
these premises, that this sum, surreptitiously confided by a relapsed
heretic to unknown hands, has escaped the confiscation decreed in our
favor by our well-beloved king. A serious fraud and injury has therefore
been committed, and we are bound to take every means to recover this our
right, if not immediately, at least in some future time. Our Society
being (for the greater glory of God and our Holy Father) imperishable, it
will be easy, thanks to the connections we keep up with all parts of the
world, by means of missions and other establishments, to follow the line
of this family of Rennepont from generation to generation, without ever
losing sight of it--so that a hundred and fifty years hence, at the
moment of the division of this immense accumulation of property, our
Company may claim the inheritance of which it has been so treacherously
deprived, and recover it by any means in its power, fas aut nefas, even
by craft or violence--our Company not being bound to act tenderly with
the future detainers of our goods, of which we have been maliciously
deprived by an infamous and sacrilegious heretic--and because it is right
to defend, preserve, and recover one's own property by every means which
the Lord may place within one's reach. Until, therefore, the complete
restitution of this wealth, the family of Rennepont must be considered as
reprobate and damnable, as the cursed seed of a Cain, and always to be
watched with the utmost caution. And it is to be recommended, that,
every year from this present date, a sort of inquisition should he held
as to the situation of the successive members of this family.'"
Rodin paused, and said to Father d'Aigrigny: "Here follows the account,
year by year, of the history of this family, from the year 1682, to our
own day. It will be useless to read this to your reverence."
"Quite useless," said Abbe d'Aigrigny. "The note contains all the
important facts." Then, after a moment's silence, he exclaimed, with an
expression of triumphant pride: "How great is the power of the
Association, when founded upon tradition and perpetuity! Thanks to this
note, inserted in our archives a century and a half ago, this family has
been watched from generation to generation--our Order has always had its
eyes upon them, following them to all points of the globe, to which exile
had distributed them--and at last, to-morrow, we shall obtain possession
of this property, at first inconsiderable, but which a hundred and fifty
years have raised to a royal fortune. Yes, we shall succeed, for we have
foreseen every eventuality. One thing only troubles me."
"What is that?" asked Rodin.
"The information that we have in vain tried to obtain from the guardian
of the house in the Rue Saint-Francois. Has the attempt been once more
made, as I directed?"
"It has been made."
"This time, as always before, the old Jew has remained impenetrable.
Besides he is almost in his second childhood, and his wife not much
"When I think," resumed Father d'Aigrigny, "that for a century and a
half, this house in the Rue Saint-Francois has remained walled up, and
that the care of it has been transmitted from generation to generation in
this family of the Samuels--I cannot suppose that they have all been
ignorant as to who were and are the successive holders of these funds,
now become immense by accumulation."
"You have seen," said Rodin, "by the notes upon this affair, that the
Order has always carefully followed it up ever since 1682. At different
periods attempts have been made to obtain information upon subjects not
fully explained in the note of Father Bourdon. But this race of Jew
guardians has ever remained dumb, and we must therefore conclude that
they know nothing about it."
"That has always struck me as impossible; for the ancestor of these
Samuels was present at the closing of the house, a hundred and fifty
years ago. He was according to the file, a servant or confidential clerk
of De Rennepont. It is impossible that he should not have known many
things, the tradition of which must have been preserved in the family."
"If I were allowed to hazard a brief observation," began Rodin, humbly.
"A few years ago we obtained certain information through the
confessional, that the funds were in existence, and that they had risen
to an enormous amount."
"Doubtless; and it was that which called the attention of the Reverend
Father-General so strongly to this affair."
"We know, then, what probably the descendants of the family do not--the
immense value of this inheritance?"
"Yes," answered Father d'Aigrigny, "the person who certified this fact in
confession is worthy of all belief. Only lately, the same declaration
was renewed; but all the efforts of the confessor could not obtain the
name of the trustee, or anything beyond the assertion, that the money
could not be in more honest hands."
"It seems to me, then," resumed Rodin, "that we are certain of what is
"And who knows if the holder of this enormous sum will appear to-morrow,
in spite of the honesty ascribed to him? The nearer the moment the more
my anxiety increases. Ah!" continued Father d'Aigrigny, after a moment's
silence, "the interests concerned are so immense that the consequences of
success are quite incalculable. However, all that it was possible to do,
has been at least tried."
To these words, which Father d'Aigrigny addressed to Rodin, as if asking
for his assent, the socius returned no answer.
The abbe looked at him with surprise, and said: "Are you not of my
opinion--could more have been attempted? Have we not gone to the extreme
limit of the possible?"
Rodin bowed respectfully, but remained mute.
"If you think we have omitted some precaution," cried Father d'Aigrigny,
with a sort of uneasy impatience, "speak out! We have still time. Once
more, do you think it is possible to do more than I have done? All the
other descendants being removed, when Gabriel appears to-morrow in the
Rue Saint-Francois, will he not be the only representative of this
family, and consequently the rightful possessor of this immense fortune?
Now, according to his act of renunciation, and the provisions of our
statutes, it is not to him, but to the Order, that these possessions must
fall. Could I have acted better, or in any other manner? Speak
"I cannot permit myself to offer an opinion on this subject," replied
Rodin, humbly, and again bowing; "the success of the measures taken must
answer your reverence."
Father d'Aigrigny shrugged his shoulders, and reproached himself for
having asked advice of this writing-machine, that served him for a
secretary, and to whom he only ascribed three qualities--memory,
discretion, and exactness.
 This was an idle fear, for we read in the Constitutionnel, Feb. 1st
1832, as follows: "When in 1822, M. de Corbiere abruptly abolished that
splendid Normal School, which, during its few years' existence, had
called forth or developed such a variety of talent, it was decided, as
some compensation, that a house in the Rue des Postes should be
purchased, where the congregation of the Holy Ghost should be located and
endowed. The Minister of Marine supplied the funds for this purpose, and
its management was placed at the disposal of the Society, which then
reigned over France. From that period it has held quiet possession of
the place, which at once became a sort of house of entertainment, where
Jesuitism sheltered, and provided for, the numerous novitiates that
flocked from all parts of the country, to receive instructions from
Father Ronsin. Matters were in this state when the Revolution of July
broke out, which threatened to deprive the Society of this establishment.
But it will hardly be believed; this was not done. It is true that they
suppressed their practice, but they left them in possession of the house
in the Rue des Postes; and to this very day, the 31st of January, 1832,
the members of the Sacred Heart are housed at the expense of government,
during the whole of which time the Normal School has been without a
shelter--and on its reorganization, thrust into a dirty hole, in a narrow
corner of the College of Louis the Great."
The above appeared in the Constitutionnel, respecting the house in the
Rue des Posses. We are certainly ignorant as to the nature of the
transactions, since that period, that have taken place between the
reverend fathers and the government; but we read further, in a recently
published article that appeared in a journal, in reference to the Society
of Jesus, that the house in the Rue des Postes, still forms a part of
their landed property. We will here give some portions of the article in
"The following is a list of the property belonging to this branch of
House in the Rue de Postes, worth about . . . . 500,000
One in the Rue de Sevres, estimated at . . . . 300,000
Farm, two leagues from Paris . . . . . . . 150,000
House and church at Bourges . . . . . . . 100,000
Notre Dame de Liesse, donation in 1843 . . . . 60,000
Saint Acheul, House for Novitiates . . . . . 400,000
Nantes, a house . . . . . . . . . . . 100,000
Quimper, ditto . . . . . . . . . . . 40,000
Laval, house and church . . . . . . . . 150,000
Rennes, a house . . . . . . . . . . 20,000
Vannes, ditto . . . . . . . . . . . 20,000
Metz, ditto . . . . . . . . . . . . 40,000
Strasbourg . . . . . . . . . . . . 60,000
Rouen, ditto . . . . . . . . . . . 15,000
By this it appears that these various items amount to little less than
two millions. Teaching, moreover, is another important source of revenue
to the Jesuits. The college at Broyclette alone brings in 200,000
francs. The two provinces in France (for the general of the Jesuits at
Rome has divided France into two provinces, Lyons and Paris) possess,
besides a large sum in ready money, Austrian bonds of more than 260,000
francs. Their Propagation of Faith furnishes annually some 50,000
francs; and the harvest which the priests collect by their sermons
amounts to 150,000 francs. The alms given for charity may be estimated
at the same figure, producing together a revenue of 540,000 francs. Now,
to this revenue may be added the produce of the sale of the Society's
works, and the profit obtained by hawking pictures. Each plate costs,
design and engraving included, about 600 francs, off which are struck
about 10,000 copies, at 40 francs per thousand, and there is a further
expense of 250 francs to their publisher; and they obtain a net profit of
210 francs on every thousand. This, indeed, is working to advantage.
And it can easily be imagined with what rapidity all these are sold. The
fathers themselves are the travellers for the Society, and it would be
difficult to find more zealous or persevering ones. They are always well
received, and do not know what it is to meet with a refusal. They always
take care that the publisher should he one of their own body. The first
person whom they selected for this occupation was one of their members,
possessing some money; but they were obliged, notwithstanding, to make
certain advances to enable him to defray the expenses of its first
establishment. But, when they became fully convinced of the success of
their undertaking, they suddenly called in these advances, which the
publisher was not in a condition to pay. They were perfectly aware of
this, and superseded him by a wealthy successor, with whom they could
make a better bargain; and thus, without remorse, they ruined the man, by
thrusting him from an appointment of which they had morally guaranteed
 Louis XIV., the great King, punished with the Baileys those
Protestants who, once converted, often by force, afterwards returned to
their first belief. As for those Protestants who remained in France,
notwithstanding the rigor of the edicts against them, they were deprived
of burial, dragged upon a hurdle, and given to the dogs.--E. S.
After a moment's silence, Father d'Aigrigny resumed "Read me to-day's
report on the situation of each of the persons designated."
"Here is that of this evening; it has just come."
"Let us hear."
Rodin read as follows: "Jacques Rennepont, alias Sleepinbuff, was seen in
the interior of the debtors' prison at eight o'clock this evening."
"He will not disturb us to-morrow. One; go on."
"The lady superior of St. Mary's Convent, warned by the Princess de
Saint-Dizier, has thought fit to confine still more strictly the
Demoiselles Rose and Blanche Simon. This evening, at nine o'clock, they
have been carefully locked in their cells, and armed men will make their
round in the convent garden during the night."
"Thanks to these precautions, there is nothing to fear from that side,"
said Father d'Aigrigny. "Go on."
"Dr. Baleinier, also warned by the Princess de Saint-Dizier, continues to
have Mdlle. de Cardoville very closely watched. At a quarter to nine the
door of the building in which she is lodged was locked and bolted."
"That is still another cause the less for uneasiness."
"As for M. Hardy," resumed Rodin "I have received this morning, from
Toulouse, a letter from his intimate friend, M. de Bressac, who has been
of such service to us in keeping the manufacturer away for some days
longer. This letter contains a note, addressed by M. Hardy to a
confidential person, which M. de Bressac has thought fit to intercept,
and send to us as another proof of the success of the steps he has taken,
and for which he hopes we shall give him credit--as to serve us, he adds,
he betrays his friend in the most shameful manner, and acts a part in an
odious comedy. M. de Bressac trusts that, in return for these good
offices, we will deliver up to him those papers, which place him in our
absolute dependence, as they might ruin for ever a woman he loves with an
adulterous passion. He says that we ought to have pity on the horrible
alternative in which he is placed--either to dishonor and ruin the woman
he adores, or infamously to betray the confidence of his bosom friend."
"These adulterous lamentations are not deserving of pity," answered
Father d'Aigrigny, with contempt. "We will see about that; M. de Bressac
may still be useful to us. But let us hear this letter of M. Hardy, that
impious and republican manufacturer, worthy descendant of an accursed
race, whom it is of the first importance to keep away."
"Here is M. Hardy's letter," resumed Rodin. "To-morrow, we will send it
to the person to whom it is addressed." Rodin read as follows:
"TOULOUSE, February the 10th.
"At length I find a moment to write to you, and to explain the cause of
the sudden departure which, without alarming, must at least have
astonished you. I write also to ask you a service; the facts may be
stated in a few words. I have often spoken to you of Felix de Bressac,
one of my boyhood mates, though not nearly so old as myself. We have
always loved each other tenderly, and have shown too many proofs of
mutual affection not to count upon one another. He is a brother to me.
You know all I mean by that expression. Well--a few days ago, he wrote
to me from Toulouse, where he was to spend some time: 'If you love me,
come; I have the greatest need of you. At once! Your consolations may
perhaps give me the courage to live. If you arrive too late--why,
forgive me--and think sometimes of him who will be yours to the last.'
Judge of my grief and fear on receipt of the above. I seat instantly for
post-horses. My old foreman, whom I esteem and revere (the father of
General Simon), hearing that I was going to the south, begged me to take
him with me, and to leave him for some days in the department of the
Creuse, to examine some ironworks recently founded there. I consented
willingly to this proposition, as I should thus at least have some one to
whom I could pour out the grief and anxiety which had been caused by this
letter from Bressac. I arrive at Toulouse; they tell me that he left the
evening before, taking arms with him, a prey to the most violent despair.
It was impossible at first to tell whither he had gone; after two days,
some indications, collected with great trouble, put me upon his track.
At last, after a thousand adventures, I found him in a miserable village.
Never--no, never, have I seen despair like this. No violence, but a
dreadful dejection, a savage silence. At first, he almost repulsed me;
then, this horrible agony having reached its height, he softened by
degrees, and, in about a quarter of an hour, threw himself into my arms,
bathed in tears. Beside him were his loaded pistols: one day later, and
all would have been over. I cannot tell you the reason of his despair; I
am not at liberty to do so; but it did not greatly astonish me. Now
there is a complete cure to effect. We must calm, and soothe, and heal
this poor soul, which has been cruelly wounded. The hand of friendship
is alone equal to this delicate task, and I have good hope of success. I
have therefore persuaded him to travel for some time; movement and change
of scene will be favorable to him. I shall take him first to Nice; we
set out tomorrow. If he wishes to prolong this excursion. I shall do so
too, for my affairs do not imperiously demand my presence in Paris before
the end of March. As for the service I have to ask of you, it is
conditional. These are the facts. According to some family papers that
belonged to my mother, it seems I have a certain interest to present
myself at No. 3, Rue Saint-Francois, in Paris, on the 13th of February.
I had inquired about it, and could learn nothing, except that this house
of very antique appearance, has been shut up for the last hundred and
fifty years, through a whim of one of my maternal ancestors, and that it
is to be opened on the 13th of this month, in presence of the co-heirs
who, if I have any, are quite unknown to me. Not being able to attend
myself, I have written to my foreman, the father of General Simon, in
whom I have the greatest confidence, and whom I had left behind in the
department of the Creuse, to set out for Paris, and to be present at the
opening of this house, not as an agent (which would be useless), but as a
spectator, and inform me at Nice what has been the result of this
romantic notion of my ancestor's. As it is possible that my foreman may
arrive too late to accomplish this mission, I should be much obliged if
you would inquire at my house at Plessy, if he has yet come, and, in case
of his still being absent, if you would take his place at the opening of
the house in the Rue Saint-Francois. I believe that I have made a very
small sacrifice for my friend Bressac, in not being in Paris on that day.
But had the sacrifice been immense, I should have made it with pleasure,
for my care and friendship are at present most necessary to the man whom
I look upon as a brother. I count upon your compliance with my request,
and, begging you to be kind enough to write me, 'to be called for,' at
Nice, the result of your visit of inquiry, I remain, etc., etc.
"Though his presence cannot be of any great importance, it would be
preferable that Marshal Simon's father should not attend at the opening
of this house to-morrow," said Father d'Aigrigny. "But no matter. M.
Hardy himself is out of the way. There only remains the young Indian."
"As for him," continued the abbe, with a thoughtful air, "we acted wisely
in letting M. Norval set out with the presents of Mdlle. de Cardoville.
The doctor who accompanies M. Norval, and who was chosen by M. Baleinier,
will inspire no suspicion?"
"None," answered Rod in. "His letter of yesterday is completely
"There is nothing, then, to fear from the Indian prince," said
D'Aigrigny. "All goes well."
"As for Gabriel," resumed Rodin, "he has again written this morning, to
obtain from your reverence the interview that he has vainly solicited for
the last three days. He is affected by the rigor exercised towards him,
in forbidding him to leave the house for these five days past."
"To-morrow, when we take him to the Rue Saint-Francois, I will hear what
he has to say. It will be time enough. Thus, at this hour," said Father
d'Aigrigny, with an air of triumphant satisfaction, "all the descendants
of this family, whose presence might ruin our projects, are so placed
that it is absolutely impossible for them to be at the Rue Saint-Francois
to-morrow before noon, while Gabriel will he sure to be there. At last
our end is gained."
Two cautious knocks at the door interrupted Father d'Aigrigny. "Come
in," said he.
An old servant in black presented himself, and said: "There is a man
downstairs who wishes to speak instantly to M. Rodin on very urgent
"His name?" asked Father d'Aigrigny.
"He would not tell his name; but he says that he comes from M. Van Dael,
a merchant in Java."
Father d'Aigrigny and Rodin exchanged a glance of surprise, almost of
"See what this man is," said D'Aigrigny to Rodin, unable to conceal his
uneasiness, "and then come and give me an account of it." Then,
addressing the servant, he added: "Show him in"--and exchanging another
expressive sign with Rodin, Father d'Aigrigny disappeared by a side-door.
A minute after, Faringhea, the ex-chief of the Stranglers, appeared
before Rodin, who instantly remembered having seen him at Cardoville
The socius started, but he did not wish to appear to recollect his
visitor. Still bending over his desk, he seemed not to seen Faringhea,
but wrote hastily some words on a sheet of paper that lay before him.
"Sir," said the servant, astonished at the silence of Rodin, "here is the
Rodin folded the note that he had so precipitately written, and said to
the servant: "Let this be taken to its address. Wait for an answer."
The servant bowed, and went out. Then Rodin, without rising, fixed his
little reptile-eyes on Faringhea, and said to him courteously: "To whom,
sir, have I the honor of speaking?"
THE TWO BROTHERS OF THE GOOD WORK.
Faringhea, as we have before stated, though born in India, had travelled
a good deal, and frequented the European factories in different parts of
Asia. Speaking well both English and French, and full of intelligence
and sagacity, he was perfectly civilized.
Instead of answering Rodin's question, he turned upon him a fixed and
searching look. The socius, provoked by this silence, and forseeing
vaguely that Faringhea's arrival had some connection--direct or indirect-
-with Djalma, repeated, though still with the greatest coolness: "To
whom, sir, have I the honor of speaking?"
"Do you not recognize me," said Faringhea, advancing two steps nearer to
"I do not think I have ever had the honor of seeing you," answered the
"But I recognize you," said Faringhea; "I saw you at Cardoville Castle
the day that a ship and a steamer were wrecked together."
"At Cardoville Castle? It is very possible, sir. I was there when a
shipwreck took place."
"And that day I called you by your name, and you asked me what I wanted.
I replied: 'Nothing now, brother--hereafter, much.' The time has
arrived. I have come to ask for much."
"My dear sir," said Rodin, still impassible, "before we continue this
conversation, which appears hitherto tolerably obscure, I must repeat my
wish to be informed to whom I have the advantage of speaking. You have
introduced yourself here under pretext of a commission from Mynheer
Joshua Van Dael, a respectable merchant of Batavia, and--"
"You know the writing of M. Van Dael?" said Faringhea, interrupting
"I know it perfectly."
"Look!" The half-caste drew from his pocket (he was shabbily dressed in
European clothes) a long dispatch, which he had taken from one Mahal the
Smuggler, after strangling him on the beach near Batavia. These papers
he placed before Rodin's eyes, but without quitting his hold of them.
"It is, indeed, M. Van Dael's writing," said Rodin, and he stretched out
his hard towards the letter, which Faringhea quickly and prudently
returned to his pocket.
"Allow me to observe, my dear sir, that you have a singular manner of
executing a commission," said Rodin. "This letter, being to my address,
and having been entrusted to you by M. Van Dael, you ought--"
"This letter was not entrusted to me by M. Van Dael," said Faringhea,
"How, then, is it in your possession?"
"A Javanese smuggler betrayed me. Van Dael had secured a passage to
Alexandria for this man, and had given him this letter to carry with him
for the European mail. I strangled the smuggler, took the letter, made
the passage--and here I am."
The Thug had pronounced these words with an air of savage boasting; his
wild, intrepid glance did not quail before the piercing look of Rodin,
who, at this strange confession, had hastily raised his head to observe
Faringhea thought to astonish or intimidate Rodin by these ferocious
words; but, to his great surprise, the socius, impassible as a corpse,
said to him, quite simply: "Oh! they strangle people in Java?"
"Yes, there and elsewhere," answered Faringhea, with a bitter smile.
"I would prefer to disbelieve you; but I am surprised at your sincerity
M.--, what is your name?"
"Well, then, M. Faringhea, what do you wish to come to? You have
obtained by an abominable crime, a letter addressed to me, and now you
hesitate to deliver it."
"Because I have read it, and it may be useful to me."
"Oh! you have read it?" said Rodin, disconcerted for a moment. Then he
resumed: "It is true, that judging by your mode of possessing yourself of
other people's correspondence, we cannot expect any great amount of
honesty on your part. And pray what have you found so useful to you in
"I have found, brother, that you are, like myself, a son of the Good
"Of what good work do you speak" asked Rodin not a little surprised.
Faringhea replied with an expression of bitter irony. "Joshua says to
you in his letter--'Obedience and courage, secrecy and patience, craft
and audacity, union between us, who have the world for our country, the
brethren for our family, Rome for our queen.'"
"It is possible that M. Van Dael has written thus to me Pray, sir, what
do you conclude from it?"
"We, too, have the world for our country, brother, our accomplices for
our family, and for our queen Bowanee."
"I do not know that saint," said Rodin, humbly.
"It is our Rome," answered the Strangler. "Van Dael speaks to you of
those of your Order, who, scattered over all the earth, labor for the
glory of Rome, your queen. Those of our band labor also in divers
countries, for the glory of Bowanee."
"And who are these sons of Bowanee, M. Faringhea?"
"Men of resolution, audacious, patient, crafty, obstinate, who, to make
the Good Work succeed, would sacrifice country and parents, and sister
and brother, and who regard as enemies all not of their band!"
"There seems to be much that is good in the persevering and exclusively
religious spirit of such an order," said Rodin, with a modest and
sanctified air; "only, one must know your ends and objects."
"The same as your own, brother--we make corpses."
"Corpses!" cried Rodin.
"In this letter," resumed Faringhea, "Van Dael tells you that the
greatest glory of your Order is to make 'a corpse of man.' Our work also
is to make corpses of men. Man's death is sweet to Bowanee."
"But sir," cried Rodin, "M. Van Dael speaks of the soul, of the will, of
the mind, which are to be brought down by discipline."
"It is true--you kill the soul, and we the body. Give me your hand,
brother, for you also are hunters of men."
"But once more, sir,--understand, that we only meddle with the will, the
mind," said Rodin.
"And what are bodies deprived of soul, will, thought, but mere corpses?
Come--come, brother; the dead we make by the cord are not more icy and
inanimate than those you make by your discipline. Take my hand, brother;
Rome and Bowanee are sisters."
Notwithstanding his apparent calmness, Rodin could not behold, without
some secret alarm, a wretch like Faringhea in possession of a long letter
from Van Dael, wherein mention must necessarily have been made of Djalma.
Rodin believed, indeed, that he had rendered it impossible for the young
Indian to be at Paris on the morrow, but not knowing what connection
might have been formed, since the shipwreck, between the prince and the
half-caste, he looked upon Faringhea as a man who might probably be very
dangerous. But the more uneasy the socius felt in himself, the more he
affected to appear calm and disdainful. He replied, therefore: "This
comparison between Rome and Bowanee is no doubt very amusing; but what,
sir, do you deduce from it?"
"I wish to show you, brother, what I am, and of what I am capable, to
convince you that it is better to have me for a friend than an enemy."
"In other terms, sir," said Rodin, with contemptuous irony, "you belong
to a murderous sect in India, and, you wish, by a transparent allegory,
to lead me to reflect on the fate of the man from whom you have stolen
the letter addressed to me. In my turn, I will take the freedom just to
observe to you, in all humility, M. Faringhea, that here it is not
permitted to strangle anybody, and that if you were to think fit to make
any corpses for the love of Bowanee, your goddess, we should make you a
head shorter, for the love of another divinity commonly called justice."
"And what would they do to me, if I tried to poison any one?"
"I will again humbly observe to you, M. Faringhea, that I have no time to
give you a course of criminal jurisprudence; but, believe me, you had
better resist the temptation to strangle or poison any one. One word
more: will you deliver up to me the letters of M. Van Dael, or not?"
"The letters relative to Prince Djalma?" said the half-caste, looking
fixedly at Rodin, who, notwithstanding a sharp and sudden twinge,
remained impenetrable, and answered with the utmost simplicity: "Not
knowing what the letters which you, sir, are pleased to keep from me, may
contain, it is impossible for me to answer your question. I beg, and if
necessary, I demand, that you will hand me those letters--or that you
"In a few minutes, brother, you will entreat me to remain."
"I doubt it."
"A few words will operate--this miracle. If just now I spoke to you
about poisoning, brother, it was because you sent a doctor to Cardoville
Castle, to poison (at least for a time) Prince Djalma."
In spite of himself, Rodin started almost imperceptibly, as he replied:
"I do not understand you."
"It is true, that I am a poor foreigner, and doubtless speak with an
accent; I will try and explain myself better. I know, by Van Dael's
letters, the interest you have that Prince Djalma should not be here to-
morrow, and all that you have done with this view. Do you understand me
"I have no answer for you."
Two cautious taps at the door here interrupted the conversation. "Come
in," said Rodin.
"The letter has been taken to its address, sir," said the old servant,
bowing, "and here is the answer."
Rodin took the paper, and, before he opened it, said courteously to
Faringhea: "With your permission, sir?"
"Make no ceremonies," said the half-caste.
"You are very kind," replied Rodin, as, having read the letter he
received, he wrote hastily some words at the bottom, saying: "Send this
back to the same address."
The servant bowed respectfully, and withdrew.
"Now can I continue"' asked the half-caste, of Rodin.
"I will continue, then," resumed Faringhea:
"The day before yesterday, just as the prince, all wounded as he was, was
about, by my advice, to take his departure for Paris, a fine carriage
arrived, with superb presents for Djalma, from an unknown friend. In
this carriage were two men--one sent by the unknown friend--the other a
doctor, sent by you to attend upon Djalma, and accompany him to Paris.
It was a charitable act, brother--was it not so?"
"Go on with your story, sir."
"Djalma set out yesterday. By declaring that the prince's wound would
grow seriously worse, if he did not lie down in the carriage during all
the journey, the doctor got rid of the envoy of the unknown friend, who
went away by himself. The doctor wished to get rid of me too; but Djalma
so strongly insisted upon it, that I accompanied the prince and doctor.
Yesterday evening, we had come about half the distance. The doctor
proposed we should pass the night at an inn. 'We have plenty of time,'
said he, 'to reach Paris by to-morrow evening'--the prince having told
him, that he must absolutely be in Paris by the evening of the 12th. The
doctor had been very pressing to set out alone with the prince. I knew
by Van Dael's letter, that it was of great importance to you for Djalma
not to be here on the 13th; I had my suspicions, and I asked the doctor
if he knew you; he answered with an embarrassed air, and then my
suspicion became certainty. When we reached the inn, whilst the doctor
was occupied with Djalma, I went up to the room of the former, and
examined a box full of phials that he had brought with him. One of them
contained opium--and then I guessed--"
"What did you guess, sir?"
"You shall know. The doctor said to Djalma, before he left him: 'Your
wound is doing well, but the fatigue of the journey might bring on
inflammation; it will be good for you, in the course of to-morrow, to
take a soothing potion, that I will make ready this evening, to have with
us in the carriage.' The doctor's plan was a simple one," added
Faringhea; "to-day the prince was to take the potion at four or five
o'clock in the afternoon--and fall into a deep sleep--the doctor to grow
uneasy, and stop the carriage--to declare that it would be dangerous to
continue the journey--to pass the night at an inn, and keep close watch
over the prince, whose stupor was only, to cease when it suited your
purposes. That was your design--it was cleverly planned--I chose to make
use of it myself, and I have succeeded."
"All that you are talking about, my dear sir," said Rodin, biting his
nails, "is pure Hebrew to me."
"No doubt, because of my accent. But tell me, have you heard speak of
"Your loss! It is an admirable production of the Island of Java, so
fertile in poisons."
"What is that to me?" said Rodin, in a sharp voice, but hardly able to
dissemble his growing anxiety.
"It concerns you nearly. We sons of Bowanee have a horror of shedding
blood," resumed Faringhea; "to pass the cord round the neck of our
victims, we wait till they are asleep. When their sleep is not deep
enough, we know how to make it deeper. We are skillful at our work; the
serpent is not more cunning, or the lion more valiant, Djalma himself
bears our mark. The array-mow is an impalpable powder, and, by letting
the sleeper inhale a few grains of it, or by mixing it with the tobacco
to be smoked by a waking man, we can throw our victim into a stupor, from
which nothing will rouse him. If we fear to administer too strong a dose
at once, we let the sleeper inhale a little at different times, and we
can thus prolong the trance at pleasure, and without any danger, as long
as a man does not require meat and drink--say, thirty or forty hours.
You see, that opium is mere trash compared to this divine narcotic. I
had brought some of this with me from Java--as a mere curiosity, you
know--without forgetting the counter poison."
"Oh! there is a counter-poison, then?" said Rodin, mechanically.
"Just as there are people quite contrary to what we are, brother of the
good work. The Javanese call the juice of this root tooboe; it
dissipates the stupor caused by the array-mow, as the sun disperses the
clouds. Now, yesterday evening, being certain of the projects of your
emissary against Djalma, I waited till the doctor was in bed and asleep.
I crept into his room, and made him inhale such a dose of array-mow--that
he is probably sleeping still."
"Miscreant!" cried Rodin, more and more alarmed by this narrative, for
Faringhea had dealt a terrible blow at the machinations of the socius and
his friends. "You risk poisoning the doctor."
"Yes, brother; just as he ran the risk of poisoning Djalma. This morning
we set out, leaving your doctor at the inn, plunged in a deep sleep. I
was alone in the carriage with Djalma. He smoked like a true Indian;
some grains of array-mow, mixed with the tobacco in his long pipe, first
made him drowsy; a second dose, that he inhaled, sent him to sleep; and
so I left him at the inn where we stopped. Now, brother, it depends upon
me, to leave Djalma in his trance, which will last till to-morrow evening
or to rouse him from it on the instant. Exactly as you comply with my
demands or not, Djalma will or will not be in the Rue Saint-Francois to-
So saying, Faringhea drew from his pocket the medal belonging to Djalma,
and observed, as he showed it to Rodin: "You see that I tell you the
truth. During Djalma's sleep, took from him this medal, the only
indication he has of the place where he ought to be to-morrow. I finish,
then as I began: Brother, I have come to ask you for a great deal."
For some minutes, Rodin had been biting his nails to the quick, as was
his custom when seized with a fit of dumb and concentrated rage. Just
then, the bell of the porter's lodge rang three times in a particular
manner. Rodin did not appear to notice it, and yet a sudden light
sparkled in his small reptile eyes; while Faringhea, with his arms
folded, looked at him with an expression of triumph and disdainful
superiority. The socius bent down his head, remained silent for some
seconds, took mechanically a pen from his desk, and began to gnaw the
feather, as if in deep reflection upon what Faringhea had just said.
Then, throwing down the pen upon the desk, he turned suddenly towards the
half-caste, and addressed him with an air of profound contempt "Now,
really, M. Faringhea--do you think to make game of us with your cock-and-
Amazed, in spite of his audacity, the half-caste recoiled a step.
"What, sir!" resumed Rodin. "You come here into a respectable house, to
boast that you have stolen letters, strangled this man, drugged that
other?--Why, sir, it is downright madness. I wished to hear you to the
end, to see to what extent you would carry your audacity--for none but a
monstrous rascal would venture to plume himself on such infamous crimes.
But I prefer believing, that they exist only in your imagination."
As he barked out these words, with a degree of animation not usual in
him, Rodin rose from his seat, and approached the chimney, while
Faringhea, who had not yet recovered from his surprise, looked at him in
silence. In a few seconds, however, the half-caste returned, with a
gloomy and savage mien: "Take care, brother; do not force me to prove to
you that I have told the truth."
"Come, come, sir; you must be fresh from the Antipodes, to believe us
Frenchmen such easy dupes. You have, you say, the prudence of a serpent,
and the courage of a lion. I do not know if you are a courageous lion,
but you are certainly not a prudent serpent. What! you have about you a
letter from M. Van Dael, by which I might be compromised--supposing all
this not to be a fable--you have left Prince Djalma in a stupor, which
would serve my projects, and from which you alone can rouse him--you are
able, you say, to strike a terrible blow at my interests--and yet you do
not consider (bold lion! crafty serpent as you are!) that I only want to
gain twenty-four hours upon you. Now, you come from the end of India to
Paris, an unknown stranger--you believe me to be as great a scoundrel as
yourself,--since you call me brother--and do not once consider, that you
are here in my power--that this street and house are solitary, and that I
could have three or four persons to bind you in a second, savage
Strangler though you are!--and that just by pulling this bell-rope," said
Rodin, as he took it in his hand. "Do not be alarmed," added he, with a
diabolical smile, as he saw Faringhea make an abrupt movement of surprise
and fright; "would I give you notice, if I meant to act in this manner?--
But just answer me. Once bound and put in confinement for twenty-four
hours, how could you injure me? Would it not be easy for me to possess
myself of Van Dael's letter, and Djalma's medal? and the latter, plunged
in a stupor till to-morrow evening, need not trouble me at all. You see,
therefore, that your threats are vain because they rest upon falsehood--
because it is not true, that Prince Djalma is here and in your power.
Begone, sir--leave the house; and when next you wish to make dupes, show
more judgment in the selection."
Faringhea seemed struck with astonishment. All that he had just heard
seemed very probable. Rodin might seize upon him, the letter, and the
medal, and, by keeping him prisoner, prevent Djalma from being awakened.
And yet Rodin ordered him to leave the house, at the moment when
Faringhea had imagined himself so formidable. As he thought for the
motives of this inexplicable conduct, it struck him that Rodin,
notwithstanding the proofs he had brought him, did not yet believe that
Djalma was in his power. On that theory, the contempt of Van Dael's
correspondent admitted of a natural explanation. But Rodin was playing a
bold and skillful game; and, while he appeared to mutter to himself, as
in anger, he was observing, with intense anxiety, the Strangler's
The latter, almost certain that he had divined the secret motive of
Rodin, replied: "I am going--but one word more. You think I deceive
"I am certain of it. You have told me nothing but a tissue of fables,
and I have lost much time in listening to them. Spare me the rest; it is
late--and I should like to be alone."
"One minute more: you are a man, I see, from whom nothing should be hid,"
said Faringhea, "from Djalma, I could now only expect alms and disdain--
for, with a character like this, to say to him, 'Pay me, because I might
have betrayed you and did not,' would be to provoke his anger and
contempt. I could have killed him twenty times over, but his day is not
yet come," said the Thug, with a gloomy air; "and to wait for that and
other fatal days, I must have gold, much gold. You alone can pay me for
the betrayal of Djalma, for you alone profit by it. You refuse to hear
me, because you think I am deceiving you. But I took the direction of
the inn where we stopped--and here it is. Send some one to ascertain the
truth of what I tell you, and then you will believe me. But the price of
my services will be high; for I told you that I wanted much."
So saying, Faringhea offered a printed card to Rodin: the socius, who,
out of the corner of his eye, followed all the half-caste's movements,
appeared to be absorbed in thought, and taking no heed of anything.
"Here is the address,' repeated Faringhea, as he held out the card to
Rodin; "assure yourself that I do not lie."
"Eh? what is it?" said the other, casting a rapid but stolen glance at
the address, which he read greedily, without touching the card.
"Take this address," repeated the half-caste, "and you may then assure
"Really, sir," cried Rodin, pushing back the card with his hand, "your
impudence confounds me. I repeat that I wish to have nothing in common
with you. For the last time, I tell you to leave the house. I know
nothing about your Prince Djalma. You say you can injure me--do so--make
no ceremonies--but, in heaven's name, leave me to myself."
So saying, Rodin rang the bell violently. Faringhea made a movement as
if to stand upon the defensive; but only the old servant, with his quiet
and placid mien, appeared at the door.
"Lapierre, light the gentleman out," said Rodin, pointing to Faringhea.
Terrified at Rodin's calmness, the half-caste hesitated to leave the
"Why do you wait, sir?" said Rodin, remarking his hesitation. "I wish to
"So, sir," said Faringhea, as he withdrew, slowly, "you refuse my offers?
Take care! to-morrow it will be too late."
"I have the honor to be your most humble servant, sir," said Rodin,
bowing courteously. The Strangler went out, and the door closed upon
Immediately, Father d'Aigrigny entered from the next room. His
countenance was pale and agitated.
"What have you done?" exclaimed he addressing Rodin.
"I have heard all. I am unfortunately too sure that this wretch spoke
the truth. The Indian is in his power, and he goes to rejoin him."
"I think not," said Rodin, humbly, as bowing, he reassumed his dull and
"What will prevent this man from rejoining the prince?"
"Allow me. As soon as the rascal was shown in, I knew him; and so,
before speaking a word to him, I wrote a few lines to Morok, who was
waiting below with Goliath till your reverence should be at leisure.
Afterwards, in the course of the conversation, when they brought me
Morok's answer, I added some fresh instructions, seeing the turn that
affairs were taking."
"And what was the use of all this, since you have let the man leave the
"Your reverence will perhaps deign to observe that he did not leave it;
till he had given me the direction of the hotel where the Indian now is,
thanks to my innocent stratagem of appearing to despise him. But, if it
had failed, Faringhea would still have fallen into the hands of Goliath
and Morok, who are waiting for him in the street, a few steps from the
door. Only we should have been rather embarrassed, as we should not have
known where to find Prince Djalma."
"More violence!" said Father d'Aigrigny, with repugnance.
"It is to be regretted, very much regretted," replied Rodin; "but it was
necessary to follow out the system already adopted."
"Is that meant for a reproach?" said Father d'Aigrigny, who began to
think that Rodin was something more than a mere writing-machine.
"I could not permit myself to blame your reverence," said Rodin, cringing
almost to the ground. "But all that will be required is to confine this
man for twenty-four hours."
"And afterwards--his complaints?"
"Such a scoundrel as he is will not dare to complain. Besides, he left
this house in freedom. Morok and Goliath will bandage his eyes when they
seize him. The house has another entrance in the Rue Vieille-des-Ursins.
At this hour, and in such a storm, no one will be passing through this
deserted quarter of the town. The knave will be confused by the change
of place; they will put him into a cellar, of the new building, and to-
morrow night, about the same hour, they will restore him to liberty with
the like precautions. As for the East Indian, we now know where to find
him; we must send to him a confidential person, and, if he recovers from
his trance, there would be, in my humble opinion," said Rodin, modestly,
"a very simple and quiet manner of keeping him away from the Rue Saint-
Francois all day to-morrow."
The same servant with the mild countenance, who had introduced and shown
out Faringhea, here entered the room, after knocking discreetly at the
door. He held in his hand a sort of game-bag, which he gave to Rodin,
saying: "Here is what M. Morok has just brought; he came in by the Rue
The servant withdrew, and Rodin, opening the bag, said to Father
d'Aigrigny, as he showed him the contents: "The medal, and Van Dael's
letter. Morok has been quick at his work."
"One more danger avoided," said the marquis; "it is a pity to be forced
to such measures."
"We must only blame the rascal who has obliged us to have recourse to
them. I will send instantly to the hotel where the Indian lodges."
"And, at seven in the morning, you will conduct Gabriel to the Rue Saint-
Francois. It is there that I must have with him the interview which he
has so earnestly demanded these three days."
"I informed him of it this evening, and he awaits your orders."
"At last, then," said Father d'Aigrigny, "after so many struggles, and
fears, and crosses, only a few hours separate us from the moment which we
have so long desired."
We now conduct the reader to the house in the Rue Saint-Francois.
 The doctrine of passive and absolute obedience, the principal tool
in the hands of the Jesuits, as summed up in these terrible words of the
dying Loyola--that every member of the order should be in the hands of
his superiors as a dead body--'perinde ad cadaver'.
THE HOUSE IN THE RUE SAINT-FRANCOIS.
On entering the Rue Saint-Gervais, by the Rue Dore (in the Marais), you
would have found yourself, at the epoch of this narrative, directly
opposite to an enormously high wall, the stones of which were black and
worm-eaten with age. This wall, which extended nearly the whole length
of that solitary street, served to support a terrace shaded by trees of
some hundred years old, which thus grew about forty feet above the
causeway. Through their thick branches appeared the stone front, peaked
roof and tall brick chimneys of an antique house, the entrance of which
was situated in the Rue Saint-Francois, not far from the Rue Saint-
Gervais corner. Nothing could be more gloomy than the exterior of this
abode. On the entrance-side also was a very high wall, pierced with two
or three loop-holes, strongly grated. A carriage gateway in massive oak,
barred with iron, and studded with large nail-heads, whose primitive
color disappeared beneath a thick layer of mud, dust, and rust, fitted
close into the arch of a deep recess, forming the swell of a bay window
above. In one of these massive gates was a smaller door, which served
for ingress and egress to Samuel the Jew, the guardian of this dreary
abode. On passing the threshold, you came to a passage, formed in the
building which faced in the street. In this building was the lodging of
Samuel, with its windows opening upon the rather spacious inner court-
yard, through the railing of which you perceived the garden. In the
middle of this garden stood a two-storied stone house, so strangely
built, that you had to mount a flight of steps, or rather a double-flight
of at least twenty steps, to reach the door, which had been walled up a
hundred and fifty years before. The window-blinds of this habitation had
been replaced by large thick plates of lead, hermetically soldered and
kept in by frames of iron clamped in the stone. Moreover, completely to
intercept air and light, and thus to guard against decay within and
without, the roof had been covered with thick sheets of lead, as well as
the vents of the tall chimneys, which had previously been bricked up.
The same precautions had been taken with respect to a small square
belvedere, situated on the top of the house; this glass cage was covered
with a sort of dome, soldered to the roof. Only, in consequence of some
singular fancy, in every one of the leaden plates, which concealed the
four sides of the belvedere, corresponding to the cardinal points, seven
little round holes had been bored in the form of a cross, and were easily
distinguishable from the outside. Everywhere else the plates of lead
were completely unpierced. Thanks to these precautions, and to the
substantial structure of the building, nothing but a few outward repairs
had been necessary; and the apartments, entirely removed from the
influence of the external air, no doubt remained, during a century and a
half, exactly in the same state as at the time of their being shut up.
The aspect of walls in crevices, of broken, worm-eaten shutters, of a
roof half fallen in, and windows covered with wall-flowers, would perhaps
have been less sad than the appearance of this stone house, plated with
iron and lead, and preserved like a mausoleum. The garden, completely
deserted, and only regularly visited once a week by Samuel, presented to
the view, particularly in summer, an incredible confusion of parasites
and brambles. The trees, left to themselves, had shot forth and mingled
their branches in all directions; some straggling vines, reproduced from
offshoots, had crept along the ground to the foot of the trees, and,
climbing up their trunks, had twined themselves about them, and encircled
their highest branches with their inextricable net. You could only pass
through this virgin forest by following the path made by the guardian, to
go from the grating to the house, the approaches to which were a little
sloped to let the water run off, and carefully paved to the width of
about ten feet. Another narrow path which extended all around the
enclosure, was every night perambulated by two or three Pyrenees dogs--a
faithful race, which had been perpetuated in the house during a century
and a half. Such was the habitation destined for the meeting of the
descendants of the family of Rennepont. The night which separated the
12th from the 13th day of February was near its close. A calm had
succeeded the storm, and the rain had ceased; the sky was clear and full
of stars; the moon, on its decline, shone with a mild lustre, and threw a
melancholy light over that deserted, silent house, whose threshold for so
many years no human footstep had crossed.
A bright gleam of light, issuing from one of the windows of the
guardian's dwelling, announced that Samuel was awake. Figure to yourself
a tolerably large room, lined from top to bottom with old walnut
wainscoting browned to an almost black, with age. Two half-extinguished
brands are smoking amid the cinders on the hearth. On the stone
mantelpiece, painted to resemble gray granite, stands an old iron
candlestick, furnished with a meagre candle, capped by an extinguisher.
Near it one sees a pair of double-barrelled pistols, and a sharp cutlass,
with a hilt of carved bronze, belonging to the seventeenth century.
Moreover, a heavy rifle rests against one of the chimney jambs. Four
stools, an old oak press, and a square table with twisted legs, formed
the sole furniture of this apartment. Against the wall were
systematically suspended a number of keys of different sizes, the shape
of which bore evidence to their antiquity, whilst to their rings were
affixed divers labels. The back of the old press, which moved by a
secret spring, had been pushed aside, and discovered, built in the wall,
a large and deep iron chest, the lid of which, being open, displayed the
wondrous mechanism of one of those Florentine locks of the sixteenth
century, which, better than any modern invention, set all picklocks at
defiance; and, moreover, according to the notions of that age, are
supplied with a thick lining of asbestos cloth, suspended by gold wire at
a distance from the sides of the chest, for the purpose of rendering
incombustible the articles contained in it. A large cedar-wood box had
been taken from the chest, and placed upon a stool; it contained numerous
papers, carefully arranged and docketed. By the light of a brass lamp,
the old keeper Samuel, was writing in a small register, whilst Bathsheba,
his wife, was dictating to him from an account. Samuel was about eighty-
two years old, and, notwithstanding his advanced age, a mass of gray
curling hair covered his head. He was short, thin, nervous, and the
involuntary petulance of his movements proved that years had not weakened
his energy and activity; though, out of doors, where, however, he made
his appearance very seldom, he affected a sort of second childhood, as
had been remarked by Rodin to Father d'Aigrigny. An old dressing-gown,
of maroon-colored camlet, with large sleeves, completely enveloped the
old man, and reached to his feet.
Samuel's features were cast in the pure, Eastern mould of his race. His
complexion was of a dead yellow, his nose aquiline, his chin shaded by a
little tuft of white beard, while projecting cheek-bones threw a harsh
shadow upon the hollow and wrinkled cheeks. His countenance was full of
intelligence, fine sharpness, and sagacity. On his broad, high forehead
one might read frankness, honesty, and firmness; his eyes, black and
brilliant as an Arab's, were at once mild and piercing.
His wife, Bathsheba, some fifteen years younger than himself, was of tall
stature, and dressed entirely in black. A low cap, of starched lawn,
which reminded one of the grave head-dresses of Dutch matrons, encircled
a pale and austere countenance, formerly of a rare and haughty beauty,
and impressed with the Scriptural character. Some lines in the forehead,
caused by the almost continual knitting of her gray brows, showed that
this woman had often suffered from the pressure of intense grief.
At this very moment her countenance betrayed inexpressible sorrow. Her
look was fixed, her head resting on her bosom. She had let her right
hand, which held a small account-book, fall upon her lap, while the other
hand grasped convulsively a long tress of jet-black hair, which she bore
about her neck. It was fastened by a golden clasp, about an inch square,
in which, under a plate of crystal, that shut in one side of it like a
relic-case, could be seen a piece of linen, folded square, and almost
entirely covered with dark red spots that resembled blood a long time
After a short silence, during which Samuel was occupied with his
register, he read aloud what he had just been writing: "Per contra, 5,000
Austrian Metallics of 1,000 florins, under date of October 19th, 1826."
After which enumeration, Samuel raised his head, and said to his wife:
"Well, is it right, Bathsheba? Have you compared it with the account-
Bathsheba did not answer. Samuel looked at her, and, seeing that she was
absorbed in grief, said to her, with an expression of tender anxiety:
"What is the matter? Good heaven! what is the matter with you?"
"The 19th of October, 1826," said she, slowly, with her eyes still fixed,
and pressing yet more closely the lock of black hair which she wore about
her neck; "It was a fatal day--for, Samuel, it was the date of the last
letter which we received from--"
Bathsheba was unable to proceed. She uttered a long sigh, and concealed
her face in her hands.
"Oh! I understand you," observed the old man, in a tremulous voice; "a
father may be taken up by the thought of other cares; but the heart of a
mother is ever wakeful." Throwing his pen down upon the table, Samuel
leaned his forehead upon his hands in sorrow.
Bathsheba resumed, as if she found a melancholy pleasure in these cruel
remembrances: "Yes; that was the last day on which our son, Abel, wrote
to us from Germany, to announce to us that he had invested the funds
according to your desire and was going thence into Poland, to effect
"And in Poland he met the death of a martyr," added Samuel. "With no
motive and no proof, they accused him falsely of coming to organize
smuggling, and the Russian governor, treating him as they treat our
brothers in that land of cruel tyranny, condemned him to the dreadful
punishment of the knout, without even hearing him in his defence. Why
should they hear a Jew? What is a Jew? A creature below a serf, whom
they reproach for all the vices that a degrading slavery has engendered.
A Jew beaten to death? Who would trouble themselves about it?"
"And poor Abel, so good, so faithful, died beneath their stripes, partly
from shame, partly from the wounds, said Bathsheba, shuddering. "One of
our Polish brethren obtained with great difficulty permission to bury
him. He cut off this lode of beautiful black hair--which, with this
scrap of linen, bathed in the blood of our dear son, is all that now
remains to us of him." Bathsheba covered the hair and clasp with
"Alas!" said Samuel, drying his tears, which had burst forth at these sad
recollections, "the Lord did not at last remove our child, until the task
which our family has accomplished faithfully for a century and a half was
nearly at an end. Of what use will our race be henceforth upon earth?"
added Samuel, most bitterly. "Our duty is performed. This casket
contains a royal fortune--and yonder house, walled up for a hundred and
fifty years, will be opened to-morrow to the descendants of my ancestor's
benefactor." So saying, Samuel turned his face sorrowfully towards the
house, which he could see through the window. The dawn was just about to
appear. The moon had set; belvedere, roof, and chimneys formed a black
mass upon the dark blue of the starry firmament.
Suddenly, Samuel grew pale, and, rising abruptly, said to his wife in a
tremulous tone, whilst he still pointed to the house: "Bathsheba! the
seven points of light--just as it was thirty years ago. Look! look:"
Indeed, the seven round holes, bored in the form of a cross in the leaden
plates which covered the window of the belvedere, sparkled like so many
luminous points, as if some one in the house ascended with a light to the
DEBIT AND CREDIT.
For some seconds, Samuel and Bathsheba remained motionless, with their
eyes fixed in fear and uneasiness on the seven luminous points, which
shone through the darkness of the night from the summit of the belvedere;
while, on the horizon, behind the house, a pale, rosy hue announced the
dawn of day.
Samuel was the first to break silence, and he said to his wife, as he
drew his hand across his brow: "The grief caused by the remembrance of
our poor child has prevented us from reflecting that, after all, there
should be nothing to alarm us in what we see."
"How so, Samuel?"
"My father always told me that he, and my grandfather before him, had
seen such lights at long intervals."
"Yes, Samuel--but without being able, any more than ourselves, to explain
"Like my father and grandfather, we can only suppose that some secret
passage gives admittance to persons who, like us, have some mysterious
duty to fulfil in this dwelling. Besides, my father warned me not to be
uneasy at these appearances, foretold by him, and now visible for the
second time in thirty years."
"No matter for that, Samuel, it does strike one as if it was something
"The days of miracles are over." said the Jew, shaking his head
sorrowfully: "many of the old houses in this quarter have subterraneous
communications with distant places--some extending even to the Seine and
the Catacombs. Doubtless, this house is so situated, and the persons who
make these rare visits enter by some such means."
"But that the belvedere should be thus lighted up?"
"According to the plan of the building, you know that the belvedere forms
a kind of skylight to the apartment called the Great Hall of Mourning,
situated on the upper story. As it is completely dark, in consequence of
the closing of all the windows, they must use a light to visit this Hall
of Mourning--a room which is said to contain some very strange and gloomy
things," added the Jew, with a shudder.
Bathsheba, as well as her husband, gazed attentively on the seven
luminous points, which diminished in brightness as the daylight gradually
"As you say, Samuel, the mystery may be thus explained," resumed the
Hebrew's wife. "Besides, the day is so important a one for the family of
Rennepont, that this apparition: ought not to astonish us under the
"Only to think," remarked Samuel, "that these lights have appeared at
several different times throughout a century and a half! There must,
therefore, be another family that, like ours, has devoted itself, from
generation to generation, to accomplish a pious duty."
"But what is this duty? It will perhaps be explained today."
"Come, come, Bathsheba," suddenly exclaimed Samuel, as if roused from his
reverie, and reproaching himself with idleness; this is the day, and,
before eight o'clock, our cash account must be in order, and these titles
to immense property arranged, so that they may be delivered to the
rightful owners"--and he pointed to the cedar-wood box.
"You are right, Samuel; this day does not belong to us. It is a solemn
day--one that would have been sweet, oh! very sweet to you and me--if now
any days could be sweet to us," said Bathsheba bitterly, for she was
thinking of her son.
"Bathsheba," said Samuel, mournfully, as he laid his hand on his wife's;
"we shall at least have the stern satisfaction of having done our duty.
And has not the Lord been very favorable to us, though He has thus
severely tried us by the death of our son? Is it not thanks to His
providence that three generations of my family have been able to
commence, continue, and finish this great work?"
"Yes, Samuel," said the Jewess, affectionately, "and for you at least
this satisfaction will be combined with calm and quietness, for on the
stroke of noon you will be delivered from a very terrible
So saying, Bathsheba pointed to the box.
"It is true," replied the old man; "I had rather these immense riches
were in the hands of those to whom they belong, than in mine; but, to-
day, I shall cease to be their trustee. Once more then, I will check the
account for the last time, and compare the register with the cash-book
that you hold in your hand."
Bathsheba bowed her head affirmatively, and Samuel, taking up his pen,
occupied himself once more with his calculations. His wife, in spite of
herself, again yielded to the sad thoughts which that fatal date had
awakened, by reminding her of the death of her son.
Let us now trace rapidly the history, in appearance so romantic and
marvellous, in reality so simple, of the fifty thousand crowns, which,
thanks to the law of accumulation, and to a prudent, intelligent and
faithful investment, had naturally, and necessarily, been transformed, in
the space of a century and a half, into a sum far more important than the
forty millions estimated by Father d'Aigrigny--who, partially informed on
this subject, and reckoning the disastrous accidents, losses, and
bankruptcies which might have occurred during so long a period, believed
that forty millions might well b e considered enormous.
The history of this fortune being closely connected with that of the
Samuel family, by whom it had been managed for three generations, we
shall give it again in a few words.
About the period 1670, some years before his death, Marius de Rennepont,
then travelling in Portugal, had been enabled, by means of powerful
interest, to save the life of an unfortunate Jew, condemned to be burnt
alive by the Inquisition, because of his religion. This Jew was Isaac
Samuel, grandfather of the present guardian of the house in the Rue
Generous men often attach themselves to those they have served, as much,
at least, as the obliged parties are attached to their benefactors.
Having ascertained that Isaac, who at that time carried on a petty
broker's business at Lisbon, was industrious, honest, active, laborious,
and intelligent, M. de Rennepont, who then possessed large property in
France, proposed to the Jew to accompany him, and undertake the
management of his affairs. The same hatred and suspicion with which the
Israelites have always been followed, was then at its height. Isaac was
therefore doubly grateful for this mark of confidence on the part of M.
de Rennepont. He accepted the offer, and promised from that day to
devote his existence to the service of him who had first saved his life,
and then trusted implicitly to his good faith and uprightness, although
he was a Jew, and belonged to a race generally suspected and despised.
M. de Rennepont, a man of great soul, endowed with a good spirit, was not
deceived in his choice. Until he was deprived of his fortune, it
prospered wonderfully in the hands of Isaac Samuel, who, gifted with an
admirable aptitude for business, applied himself exclusively to advance
the interests of his benefactor.
Then came the persecution and ruin of M. de Rennepont, whose property was
confiscated and given up to the reverend fathers of the Company of Jesus
only a few days before his death. Concealed in the retreat he had
chosen, therein to put a violent end to his life, he sent secretly for
Isaac Samuel, and delivered to him fifty thousand crowns in gold, the
last remains of his fortune. This faithful servant was to invest the
money to the best advantage, and, if he should have a son, transmit to
him the same obligation; or, should he have no child, he was to seek out
some relation worthy of continuing this trust, to which would moreover be
annexed a fair reward. It was thus to be transmitted and perpetuated
from relative to relative, until the expiration of a century and a half.
M. de Rennepont also begged Isaac to take charge, during his life, of the
house in the Rue Saint-Francois, where he would be lodged gratis, and to
leave this function likewise to his descendants, if it were possible.
If even Isaac Samuel had not had children, the powerful bond of union
which exists between certain Jewish families, would have rendered
practicable the last will of De Rennepont. The relations of Isaac would
have become partner; in his gratitude to his benefactor, and they, and
their succeeding generations, would have religiously accomplished the
task imposed upon one of their race. But, several years after the death
of De Rennepont, Isaac had a son.
This son, Levy Samuel, born in 1689, not having had any children by his
first wife, married again at nearly sixty years of age, and, in 1750, he
also had a son--David Samuel, the guardian of the house in the Rue Saint-
Francois, who, in 1832 (the date of this narrative), was eighty-two years
old, and seemed likely to live as long as his father, who had died at the
age of ninety-three. Finally, Abel Samuel, the son whom Bathsheba so
bitterly regretted, born in 1790, had perished under the Russian knout,
at the age of thirty-six.
Having established this humble genealogy, we easily understand how this
successive longevity of three members of the Samuel family, all of whom
had been guardians of the walled house, by uniting, as it were, the
nineteenth with the seventeenth century, simplified and facilitated the
execution of M. de Rennepont's will; the latter having declared his
desire to the grandfather of the Samuels, that the capital should only be
augmented by interest at five per cent.--so that the fortune might come
to his descendants free from all taint of usurious speculation.
The fellow men of the Samuel family, the first inventors of the bill of
exchange, which served them in the Middle Ages to transport mysteriously
considerable amounts from one end of the world to the other, to conceal
their fortune, and to shield it from the rapacity of their enemies--the
Jews, we say, having almost the monopoly of the trade in money and
exchanges, until the end of the eighteenth century, aided the secret
transactions and financial operations of this family, which, up to about
1820, placed their different securities, which had become progressively
immense, in the hands of the principal Israelitish bankers and merchants
of Europe. This sure and secret manner of acting had enabled the present
guardian of the house in the Rue Saint-Francois, to effect enormous
investments, unknown to all; and it was more especially during the period
of his management, that the capital sum had acquired, by the mere fact of
compound interest, an almost incalculable development. Compared with
him, his father and grandfather had only small amounts to manage. Though
it had only been necessary to find successively sure and immediate
investments, so that the money might not remain as it were one day
without bearing interest, it had acquired financial capacity to attain
this result, when so many millions were in question. The last of the
Samuels, brought up in the school of his father, had exhibited this
capacity in a very high degree, as will be seen immediately by the
results. Nothing could be more touching, noble, and respectable, than
the conduct of the members of this Jewish family, who, partners in the
engagement of gratitude taken by their ancestor, devote themselves for
long years, with as much disinterestedness as intelligence and honesty,
to the slow acquisition of a kingly fortune, of which they expect no part
themselves, but which, thanks to them, would come pure, as immense, to
the hands of the descendants of their benefactor! Nor could anything be
more honorable to him who made, and him who received this deposit, than
the simple promise by word of mouth, unaccompanied by any security save
mutual confidence and reciprocal esteem, when the result was only to be
produced at the end of a century and a half!
After once more reading his inventory with attention, Samuel said to his
wife: "I am certain of the correctness of my additions. Now please to
compare with the account-book in your hand the summary of the investments
that I have just entered in the register. I will assure myself, at the
same time, that the bonds and vouchers are properly arranged in this
casket, that, on the opening of the will, they may be delivered in order
to the notary."
"Begin, my dear, and I will check you," said Bathsheba.
Samuel read as follows, examining as he went on, the contents of his
Statement of the account of the heirs of M. DE RENNEPONT, delivered by
2,000,000 francs per annum,
in the French 5 P. C.,
bought from 1825 to 1832,
at an average price of 99f.
50c. . . . . . . . . . . . 39,800,000
900,000 francs, ditto, in
the French 3 P. C.,
bought during the
same years, at an average
of 74f 25c . . . . . . . . 22,275,000
5;000 shares in the Bank
of France, bought at 1,900 9,500,000
3,000 shares in the Four
Canals, in a certificate
from the Company,
bought at 1,115f . . . . . 3,345,000
125,000 ducats of
Neapolitans, at an average
of 82. 2,050,000 ducats,
at 4f. 400 . . . . . . . 9,020,000
5,000 Austrian Metallics,
of 1,000 florins, at 93
--say 4,650,000 florins,
at 2f. 50c . . . . . . . . 11,625,000
75,000 pounds sterling
per annum, English
Consolidated 3 P. C.,
at 88 3/4--say 2,218,750,
at 25f . . . . . . . . . 55,468,750
1,200,000 florins, Dutch
2 1/2 P. C., at 60-28,
860,000 florins, at 2f.
100. . . . . . . . . . . 60,606,000
Cash in banknotes, gold
and silver . . . . . . . . 535,250
Paris, 12th February, 1832.
received from M.
in 1682, by Isaac
Samuel my grandfather;
and invested by him,
my father, and myself,
in different securities,
at Five per Cent.
Interest, with a
settlement of account
and Investment of
interest every six
as by annexed vouchers, 225,950,000
Less losses sustained
by failures, expenses of
salary of three
trustees, as per
statement annexed 13,775,000
"It is quite right," said Samuel, after examining the papers, contained
in the cedar-wood box. "There remains in hand, at the absolute disposal
of the heirs of the Rennepont family, the Sum Of TWO HUNDRED AND TWELVE
MILLIONS, ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND FRANCS." And the old man
looked at his wife with an expression of legitimate pride. "It is hardly
credible!" cried Bathsheba, struck with surprise. "I knew that you had
immense property in your hands; but I could never have believed, that one
hundred and fifty thousand francs, left a century and a half ago, should
be the only source of this immense fortune."
"It is even so, Bathsheba," answered the old man, proudly. 'Doubtless,
my grandfather, my father, and myself, have all been exact and faithful
in the management of these funds; doubtless, we have required some
sagacity in the choice of investments, in times of revolution and
commercial panics; but all this was easy to us, thanks to our relations
with our brethren in all countries--and never have I, or any of mine,
made an usurious investment, or even taken the full advantage of the
legal rate of interest. Such were the positive demands of M. de
Rennepont, given to my grandfather; nor is there in the world a fortune
that has been obtained by purer means. Had it not been for this
disinterestedness, we might have much augmented this two hundred and
twelve millions, only by taking advantage of a few favorable
"Dear me! is it possible?"
"Nothing is more simple, Bathsheba. Every one knows, that in fourteen
years a capital will be doubled, by the mere accumulation of interest and
compound interest at five per cent. Now reflect, that in a century and a
half there are ten times fourteen years, and that these one hundred and
fifty thousands francs have thus been doubled and redoubled, over and
over again. All that astonishes you will then appear plain enough. In
1682, M. de Rennepont entrusted my grandfather with a hundred and fifty
thousand francs; this sum, invested as I have told you, would have
produced in 1696, fourteen years after, three hundred thousand francs.
These last, doubled in 1710, would produce six hundred thousand. On the
death of my grandfather in 1719, the amount was already near a million;
in 1724, it would be twelve hundred thousand francs; in 1738, two
millions four hundred thousand; in 1752, about two years after my birth,
four millions eight hundred thousand; in 1766, nine millions six hundred
thousand; in 1780, nineteen millions two hundred thousand; in 1794,
twelve years after the death of my father, thirty-eight millions four
hundred thousand; in 1808, seventy-six millions eight hundred thousand;
in 1822, one hundred and fifty-three millions six hundred thousand; and,
at this time, taking the compound interest for ten years, it should be at
least two hundred and twenty-five millions. But losses and inevitable
charges, of which the account has been strictly kept, have reduced the
sum to two hundred and twelve millions one hundred and seventy-five
thousand francs, the securities for which are in this box."
"I now understand you, my dear," answered Bathsheba, thoughtfully; "but
how wonderful is this power of accumulation! and what admirable provision
may be made for the future, with the smallest present resources!"
"Such, no doubt, was the idea of M. de Rennepont; for my father has often
told me, and he derived it from his father, that M. de Rennepont was one
of the soundest intellects of his time," said Samuel, as he closed the
"God grant his descendants may be worthy of this kingly fortune, and make
a noble use of it!" said Bathsheba, rising.
It was now broad day, and the clock had just struck seven.
"The masons will soon be here," said Samuel, as he replaced the cedar-box
in the iron safe, concealed behind the antique press. "Like you,
Bathsheba, I am curious and anxious to know, what descendants of M. de
Rennepont will now present themselves."
Two or three loud knocks on the outer gate resounded through the house.
The barking of the watch-dogs responded to this summons.
Samuel said to his wife: "It is no doubt the masons, whom the notary has
sent with his clerk. Tie all the keys and their labels together; I will
come back and fetch them."
So saying, Samuel went down to the door with much nimbleness, considering
his age, prudently opened a small wicket, and saw three workmen, in the
garb of masons, accompanied by a young man dressed in black.
"What may you want, gentlemen?" said the Jew, before opening the door, as
he wished first to make sure of the identity of the personages.
"I am sent by M. Dumesnil, the notary," answered the clerk, "to be
present at the unwalling of a door. Here is a letter from my master,
addressed to M. Samuel, guardian of the house."
"I am he, sir," said the Jew; "please to put the letter through the
slide, and I will take it."
The clerk did as Samuel desired, but shrugged his shoulders at what he
considered the ridiculous precautions of a suspicious old man. The
housekeeper opened the box, took the letter, went to the end of the
vaulted passage in order to read it, and carefully compared the signature
with that of another letter which he drew from the pocket of his long
coat; then, after all these precautions, he chained up his dogs, and
returned to open the gate to the clerk and masons.
"What the devil, my good man!" said the clerk, as he entered; "there
would not be more formalities in opening the gates of a fortress!"
The Jew bowed, but without answering.
"Are you deaf, my good fellow?" cried the clerk, close to his ears.
"No, sir," said Samuel, with a quiet smile, as he advanced several steps
beyond the passage. Then pointing to the old house, he added: "That,
sir, is the door which you will have to open; you will also have to
remove the lead and iron from the second window to the right."
"Why not open all the windows?" asked the clerk.
"Because, sir, as guardian of this house, I have received particular
orders on the subject."
"Who gave you these orders?"
"My father, sir, who received them from his father, who transmitted them
from the master of this house. When I cease to have the care of it, the
new proprietor will do as he pleases."
"Oh! very well," said the clerk, not a little surprised. Then,
addressing himself to the masons, he added: "This is your business, my
fine fellows; you are to unwall the door, and remove the iron frame-work
of the second window to the right."
Whilst the masons set to work, under the inspection of the notary's
clerk, a coach stopped before the outer gate, and Rodin, accompanied by
Gabriel, entered the house in the Rue Saint-Francois.
Samuel opened the door to Gabriel and Rodin.
The latter said to the Jew, "You, sir, are the keeper of this house?"
"Yes, sir," replied Samuel.
"This is Abbe Gabriel de Rennepont," said Rodin, as he introduced his
companion, "one of the descendants of the family of the Renneponts."
"Happy to hear it, sir," said the Jew, almost involuntarily, struck with
the angelic countenance of Gabriel--for nobleness and serenity of soul
were visible in the glance of the young priest, and were written upon his
pure, white brow, already crowned with the halo of martyrdom. Samuel
looked at Gabriel with curiosity and benevolent interest; but feeling
that this silent contemplation must cause some embarrassment to his
guest, he said to him, "M. Abbe, the notary will not be here before ten
Gabriel looked at him in turn, with an air of surprise, and answered,
"What notary, sir?"
"Father d'Aigrigny will explain all this to you," said Rodin, hastily.
Then addressing Samuel, he added, "We are a little before the time. Will
you allow us to wait for the arrival of the notary?"
"Certainly," said Samuel, "if you please to walk into my house."
"I thank you, sir," answered Rodin, "and accept your offer."
"Follow me, then, gentlemen," said the old man.
A few moments after, the young priest and the socius, preceded by Samuel,
entered one of the rooms occupied by the latter, on the ground-floor of
the building, looking out upon the court-yard.
"The Abbe d'Aigrigny, who has been the guardian of M. Gabriel, will soon
be coming to ask for us," added Rodin; "will you have the kindness, sir
to show him into this room?"
"I will not fail to do so, sir," said Samuel, as he went out.
The socius and Gabriel were left alone. To the adorable gentleness which
usually gave to the fine features of the missionary so touching a charm,
there had succeeded in this moment a remarkable expression of sadness,
resolution, and severity. Rodin not having seen Gabriel for some days,
was greatly struck by the change he remarked in him. He had watched him
silently all the way from the Rue des Postes to the Rue Saint-Francois.
The young priest wore, as usual, a long black cassock, which made still
more visible the transparent paleness of his countenance. When the Jew
had left the room, Gabriel said to Rodin, in a firm voice, "Will you at
length inform me, sir, why, for some days past, I have been prevented
from speaking to his reverence Father d'Aigrigny? Why has he chosen this
house to grant me an interview?"
"It is impossible for me to answer these questions," replied Rodin,
coldly. "His reverence will soon arrive, and will listen to you. All I
can tell you is, that the reverend father lays as much stress upon this
meeting as you do. If he has chosen this house for the interview, it is
because you have an interest to be here. You know it well--though you
affected astonishment on hearing the guardian speak of a notary."
So saying, Rodin fixed a scrutinizing, anxious look upon Gabriel, whose
countenance expressed only surprise.
"I do not understand you," said he, in reply to Rodin. "What have I to
do with this house?"
"It is impossible that you should not know it," answered Rodin, still
looking at him with attention.
"I have told you, sir, that I do not know it," replied the other, almost
offended by the pertinacity of the socius.
"What, then, did your adopted mother come to tell you yesterday? Why did
you presume to receive her without permission from Father d'Aigrigny, as
I have heard this morning? Did she not speak with you of certain family
papers, found upon you when she took you in?"
"No, sir," said Gabriel; "those papers were delivered at the time to my
adopted mother's confessor, and they afterwards passed into Father
d'Aigrigny's hands. This is the first I hear for a long time of these
"So you affirm that Frances Baudoin did not come to speak to you on this
subject?" resumed Rodin, obstinately, laying great emphasis on his words.
"This is the second time, sir, that you seem to doubt my affirmation,"
said the young priest, mildly, while he repressed a movement of
impatience, "I assure you that I speak the truth."
"He knows nothing," thought Rodin; for he was too well convinced of
Gabriel's sincerity to retain the least doubt after so positive a
declaration. "I believe you," went on he. "The idea only occurred to me
in reflecting what could be the reason of sufficient weight to induce you
to transgress Father d'Aigrigny's orders with regard to the absolute
retirement he had commanded, which was to exclude all communication with
those without. Much more, contrary to all the rules of our house, you
ventured to shut the door of your room, whereas it ought to remain half-
open, that the mutual inspection enjoined us might be the more easily
practiced. I could only explain these sins against discipline, by the
necessity of some very important conversation with your adopted mother."
"It was to a priest, and not to her adopted son, that Madame Baudoin
wished to speak," replied Gabriel, in a tone of deep seriousness. "I
closed my door because I was to hear a confession."
"And what had Frances Baudoin of such importance to confess?"
"You will know that by-and-bye, when I speak to his reverence--if it be
his pleasure that you should hear me."
These words were so firmly spoken, that a long silence ensued. Let us
remind the reader that Gabriel had hitherto been kept by his superiors in
the most complete ignorance of the importance of the family interests
which required his presence in the Rue Saint-Francois. The day before,
Frances Baudoin, absorbed in her own grief, had forgotten to tell him
that the two orphans also should be present at this meeting, and had she
even thought of it, Dagobert would have prevented her mentioning this
circumstance to the young priest.
Gabriel was therefore quite ignorant of the family ties which united him
with the daughters of Marshal Simon, with Mdlle. de Cardoville, with M.
Hardy, Prince Djalma, and Sleepinbuff. In a word, if it had then been
revealed to him that he was the heir of Marius de Rennepont, he would
have believed himself the only descendant of the family. During the
moment's silence which succeeded his conversation with Rodin, Gabriel
observed through the windows the mason's at their work of unwalling the
door. Having finished this first operation, they set about removing the
bars of iron by which a plate of lead was fixed over the same entrance.
At this juncture, Father d'Aigrigny, conducted by Samuel, entered the
room. Before Gabriel could turn around, Rodin had time to whisper to the
reverend father, "He knows nothing--and we have no longer anything to
fear from the Indian."
Notwithstanding his affected calmness, Father d'Aigrigny's countenance
was pale and contracted, like that of a player who is about to stake all
on a last, decisive game. Hitherto, all had favored the designs of the
Society; but he could not think without alarm of the four hours which
still remained before they should reach the fatal moment. Gabriel having
turned towards him, Father d'Aigrigny offered him his hand with a smile,
and said to him in an affectionate and cordial tone, "My dear son, it has
pained me a good deal to have been obliged to refuse you till now the
interview that you so much desired. It has been no less distressing to
me to impose on you a confinement of some days. Though I cannot give any
explanation of what I may think fit to order, I will just observe to you
that I have acted only for your interest."
"I am bound to believe your reverence," answered Gabriel, bowing his
In spite of himself, the young priest felt a vague sense of fear, for
until his departure for his American mission, Father d'Aigrigny, at whose
feet he had pronounced the formidable vows which bound him irrevocably to
the Society of Jesus, had exercised over him that frightful species of
influence which, acting only by despotism, suppression, and intimidation,
breaks down all the living forces of the soul, and leaves it inert,
trembling, and terrified. Impressions of early youth are indelible, and
this was the first time, since his return from America, that Gabriel
found himself in presence of Father d'Aigrigny; and although he did not
shrink from the resolution he had taken, he regretted not to have been
able, as he had hoped, to gather new strength and courage from an
interview with Agricola and Dagobert. Father d'Aigrigny knew mankind too
well not to have remarked the emotion of the young priest, and to have
endeavored to explain its cause. This emotion appeared to him a
favorable omen; he redoubled, therefore, his seductive arts, his air of
tenderness and amenity, reserving to himself, if necessary, the choice of
assuming another mask. He sat down, while Gabriel and Rodin remained
standing in a respectful position, and said to the former: "You desire,
my dear son, to have an important interview with me?"
"Yes, father," said Gabriel, involuntarily casting down his eyes before
the large, glittering gray pupil of his superior.
"And I also have matters of great importance to communicate to you.
Listen to me first; you can speak afterwards."
"I listen, father."
"It is about twelve years ago, my dear son," said Father d'Aigrigny,
affectionately, "that the confessor of your adopted mother, addressing
himself to me through M. Rodin, called my attention to yourself, by
reporting the astonishing progress you had made at the school of the
Brothers. I soon found, indeed, that your excellent conduct, your
gentle, modest character, and your precocious intelligence, were worthy
of the most tender interest. From that moment I kept my eyes upon you,
and at the end of some time, seeing that you did not fall off, it
appeared to me that there was something more in you than the stuff that
makes a workman. We agreed with your adopted mother, and through my
intervention, you were admitted gratuitously to one of the schools of our
Company. Thus one burden the less weighed upon the excellent woman who
had taken charge of you, and you received from our paternal care all the
benefits of a religious education. Is not this true, my dear son?"
"It is true, father," answered Gabriel, casting down his eyes.
"As you grew up, excellent and rare virtues displayed themselves in your
character. Your obedience and mildness were above all exemplary. You
made rapid progress in your studies. I knew not then to what career you
wished to devote yourself, but I felt certain that, in every station of
life, you would remain a faithful son of the Church. I was not deceived
in my hopes, or rather, my dear son, you surpassed them all. Learning,
by a friendly communication, that your adopted mother ardently desired to