Part 3 out of 3
touched by the attention of the young lady, than she would perhaps have
been by a service rendered.
"Look there, sir," said Adrienne to Rodin, who drew near hastily. "Yes,"
added the young patrician, proudly, "I have indeed discovered a treasure.
Look at her, sir; and love her as I love her, honor as I honor. She has
one of those hearts for which we are seeking."
"And which, thank heaven, we are still able to find, my dear young lady!"
said Rodin, as he bowed to the needle-woman.
The latter raised her eyes slowly, and locked at the Jesuit. At sight of
that cadaverous countenance, which was smiling benignantly upon her, the
young girl started. It was strange! she had never seen this man, and yet
she felt instantly the same fear and repulsion that he had felt with
regard to her. Generally timid and confused, the work-girl could not
withdraw her eyes from Rodin's; her heart beat violently, as at the
coming of some great danger, and, as the excellent creature feared only
for those she loved, she approached Adrienne involuntarily, keeping her
eyes fixed on Rodin. The Jesuit was too good a physiognomist not to
perceive the formidable impression he had made, and he felt an increase
of his instinctive aversion for the sempstress. Instead of casting down
his eyes, he appeared to examine her with such sustained attention, that
Mdlle. de Cardoville was astonished at it.
"I beg your pardon, my dear girl," said Rodin, as if recalling his
recollections, and addressing himself to Mother Bunch, "I beg your
pardon--but I think--if I am not deceived--did you not go a few days
since to St. Mary's Convent, hard by?"
"No doubt, it was you. Where then was my head?" cried Rodin. "It was
you--I should have guessed it sooner."
"Of what do you speak, sir?" asked Adrienne.
"Oh! you are right, my dear young lady," said Rodin, pointing to the
hunchback. "She has indeed a noble heart, such as we seek. If you knew
with what dignity, with what courage this poor girl, who was out of work
and, for her, to want work is to want everything--if you knew, I say,
with what dignity she rejected the shameful wages that the superior of
the convent was unprincipled enough to offer, on condition of her acting
as a spy in a family where it was proposed to place her."
"Oh, that is infamous!" cried Mdlle. de Cardoville, with disgust. "Such
a proposal to this poor girl--to her!"
"Madame," said Mother Bunch, bitterly, "I had no work, I was poor, they
did not know me--and they thought they might propose anything to the
likes of me."
"And I tell you," said Rodin, "that it was a double baseness on the part
of the superior, to offer such temptation to misery, and it was doubly
noble in you to refuse."
"Sir," said the sewing-girl, with modest embarrassment.
"Oh! I am not to be intimidated," resumed Rod in. "Praise or blame, I
speak out roughly what I think. Ask this dear young lady," he added,
with a glance at Adrienne. "I tell you plainly, that I think as well of
you as she does herself."
"Believe me, dear," said Adrienne, "there are some sorts of praise which
honor, recompense, and encourage; and M. Rodin's is of the number. I
know it,--yes, I know it."
"Nay, my dear young lady, you must not ascribe to me all the honor of
"How so, sir?"
"Is not this dear girl the adopted sister of Agricola Baudoin, the
gallant workman, the energetic and popular poet? Is not the affection of
such a man the best of guarantees, and does it not enable us to judge, as
it were, by the label?" added Rodin, with a smile.
"You are right, sir," said Adrienne; "for, before knowing this dear girl,
I began to feel deeply interested in her, from the day that her adopted
brother spoke to me about her. He expressed himself with so much warmth,
so much enthusiasm, that I at once conceived an esteem for the person
capable of inspiring so noble an attachment."
These words of Adrienne, joined to another circumstance, had such an
effect upon their hearer, that her pale face became crimson. The
unfortunate hunchback loved Agricola, with love as passionate as it was
secret and painful: the most indirect allusion to this fatal sentiment
occasioned her the most cruel embarrassment. Now, the moment Mdlle. de
Cardoville spoke of Agricola's attachment for Mother Bunch, the latter
had encountered Rodin's observing and penetrating look fixed upon her.
Alone with Adrienne, the sempstress would have felt only a momentary
confusion on hearing the name of the smith; but unfortunately she fancied
that the Jesuit, who already filled her with involuntary fear, had seen
into her heart, and read the secrets of that fatal love, of which she was
the victim. Thence the deep blushes of the poor girl, and the
embarrassment so painfully visible, that Adrienne was struck with it.
A subtle and prompt mind, like Rodin's on perceiving the smallest effect,
immediately seeks the cause. Proceeding by comparison, the Jesuit saw on
one side a deformed, but intelligent young girl, capable of passionate
devotion; on the other, a young workman, handsome, bold, frank, and full
of talent. "Brought up together, sympathizing with each other on many
points, there must be some fraternal affection between them," said he to
himself; "but fraternal affection does not blush, and the hunchback
blushed and grew troubled beneath my look; does she, then, Love
Once on the scent of this discovery, Rodin wished to pursue the
investigation. Remarking the surprise and visible uneasiness that Mother
Bunch had caused in Adrienne, he said to the latter, with a smile,
looking significantly at the needlewoman: "You see, my dear young lady,
how she blushes. The good girl is troubled by what we said of the
attachment of this gallant workman."
The needlewoman hung down her head, overcome with confusion. After the
pause of a second, during which Rodin preserved silence, so as to give
time for his cruel remark to pierce the heart of the victim, the savage
resumed: "Look at the dear girl! how embarrassed she appears!"
Again, after another silence, perceiving that Mother Bunch from crimson
had become deadly pale, and was trembling in all her limbs, the Jesuit
feared he had gone too far, whilst Adrienne said to her friend, with
anxiety: "Why, dear child, are you so agitated?"
"Oh! it is clear enough," resumed Rodin, with an air of perfect
simplicity; for having discovered what he wished to know, he now chose to
appear unconscious. "It is quite clear and plain. This good girl has
the modesty of a kind and tender sister for a brother. When you praise
him, she fancies that she is herself praised."
"And she is as modest as she is excellent," added Adrienne, taking bath
of the girl's hands, "the least praise, either of her adopted brother or
of herself, troubles her in this way. But it is mere childishness, and I
must scold her for it."
Mdlle. de Cardoville spoke sincerely, for the explanation given by Rodin
appeared to her very plausible. Like all other persons who, dreading
every moment the discovery of some painful secret have their courage as
easily restored as shaken, Mother Bunch persuaded herself (and she needed
to do so, to escape dying of shame), that the last words of Rodin were
sincere, and that he had no idea of the love she felt for Agricola. So
her agony diminished, and she found words to reply to Mdlle. de
"Excuse me, madame," she said timidly, "I am so little accustomed to such
kindness as that with which you overwhelm me, that I make a sorry return
for all your goodness."
"Kindness, my poor girl?" said Adrienne. "I have done nothing for you
yet. But, thank heaven! from this day I shall be able to keep my
promise, and reward your devotion to me, your courageous resignation,
your sacred love of labor, and the dignity of which you have given so
many proofs, under the most cruel privations. In a word, from this day,
if you do not object to it, we will part no more."
"Madame, you are too kind," said Mother Bunch, in a trembling voice;
"Oh! be satisfied," said Adrienne, anticipating her meaning. "If you
accept my offer, I shall know how to reconcile with my desire (not a
little selfish) of having you near me, the independence of your
character, your habits of labor, your taste for retirement, and your
anxiety to devote yourself to those who deserve commiseration; it is, I
confess, by affording you the means of satisfying these generous
tendencies, that I hope to seduce and keep you by me."
"But what have I done?" asked the other, simply, "to merit any gratitude
from you? Did you not begin, on the contrary, by acting so generously to
my adopted brother?"
"Oh! I do not speak of gratitude," said Adrienne; "we are quits. I speak
of friendship and sincere affection, which I now offer you."
"Friendship to me, madame?"
"Come, come," said Adrienne, with a charming smile, "do not be proud
because your position gives you the advantage. I have set my heart on
having you for a friend, and you will see that it shall be so. But now
that I think of it (a little late, you will say), what good wind brings
"This morning M. Dagobert received a letter, in which he was requested to
come to this place, to learn some news that would be of the greatest
interest to him. Thinking it concerned Marshal Simon's daughters, he
said to me: `Mother Bunch, you have taken so much interest in those dear
children, that you must come with me: you shall witness my joy on finding
them, and that will be your reward.'"
Adrienne glanced at Rodin. The latter made an affirmative movement of
the head, and answered: "Yes, yes, my dear young lady: it was I who wrote
to the brave soldier, but without signing the letter, or giving any
explanation. You shall know why."
"Then, my dear girl, why did you come alone?" said Adrienne.
"Alas, madame! on arriving here, it was your kind reception that made me
forget my fears."
"What fears?" asked Rodin.
"Knowing that you lived here, madame, I supposed the letter was from you;
I told M. Dagobert so, and he thought the same. When we arrived, his
impatience was so great, that he asked at the door if the orphans were in
this house, and he gave their description. They told him no. Then, in
spite of my supplications, he insisted on going to the convent to inquire
"What imprudence!" cried Adrienne.
"After what took place the other night, when he broke in," added Rodin,
shrugging his shoulders.
"It was in vain to tell him," returned Mother Bunch, "that the letter did
not announce positively, that the orphans would be delivered up to him;
but that, no doubt, he would gain some information about them. He
refused to hear anything, but said to me: `If I cannot find them, I will
rejoin you. But they were at the convent the day before yesterday, and
now that all is discovered, they cannot refuse to give them up--"
"And with such a man there is no disputing!" said Rodin, with a smile.
"I hope they will not recognize him!" said Adrienne, remembering
"It is not likely," replied Rodin; "they will only refuse him admittance.
That will be, I hope, the worst misfortune that will happen. Besides,
the magistrate will soon be here with the girls. I am no longer wanted:
other cares require my attention. I must seek out Prince Djalma. Only
tell me, my dear young lady, where I shall find you, to keep you informed
of my discoveries, and to take measures with regard to the young prince,
if my inquiries, as I hope, shall be attended with success."
"You will find me in my new house, Rue d'Anjou, formerly Beaulieu House.
But now I think of it," said Adrienne, suddenly, after some moments of
reflection, "it would not be prudent or proper, on many accounts, to
lodge the Prince Djalma in the pavilion I occupied at Saint-Dizier House.
I saw, some time ago, a charming little house, all furnished and ready;
it only requires some embellishments, that could be completed in twenty-
four hours, to make it a delightful residence. Yes, that will be a
thousand times preferable," added Mdlle. de Cardoville, after a new
interval of silence; "and I shall thus be able to preserve the strictest
"What!" cried Rodin, whose projects would be much impeded by this new
resolution of the young lady; "you do not wish him to know who you are?"
"I wish Prince Djalma to know absolutely nothing of the anonymous friend
who comes to his aid; I desire that my name should not be pronounced
before him, and that he should not even know of my existence--at least,
for the present. Hereafter--in a month, perhaps--I will see;
circumstances will guide me."
"But this incognito," said Rodin, hiding his disappointment, "will be
difficult to preserve."
"If the prince had inhabited the lodge, I agree with you; the
neighborhood of my aunt would have enlightened him, and this fear is one
of the reasons that have induced me to renounce my first project. But
the prince will inhabit a distant quarter--the Rue Blanche. Who will
inform him of my secret? One of my old friends, M. Norval--you, sir--and
this dear girl," pointing to Mother Bunch, "on whose discretion I can
depend as on your own, will be my only confidants. My secret will then
be quite safe. Besides, we will talk further on this subject to-morrow.
You must begin by discovering the retreat of this unfortunate young
Rodin, though much vexed at Adrienne's subtle determination with regard
to Djalma, put the best face on the matter, and replied: "Your intentions
shall be scrupulously fulfilled, my dear young lady; and to-morrow, with
your leave, I hope to give you a good account of what you are pleased to
call my providential mission."
"To-morrow, then, I shall expect you with impatience," said Adrienne, to
Rodin, affectionately. "Permit me always to rely upon you, as from this
day you may count upon me. You must be indulgent with me, sir; for I see
that I shall yet have many counsels, many services to ask of you--though
I already owe you so much."
"You will never owe me enough, my dear young lady, never enough," said
Rodin, as he moved discreetly towards the door, after bowing to Adrienne.
At the very moment he was going out, he found himself face to face with
"Holloa! at last I have caught one!" shouted the soldier, as he seized
the Jesuit by the collar with a vigorous hand.
On seeing Dagobert grasp Rodin so roughly by the collar, Mdlle. de
Cardoville exclaimed in terror, as she advanced several steps towards the
soldier: "In the name of Heaven, sir! what are you doing?"
"What am I doing?" echoed the soldier, harshly, without relaxing his hold
on Rodin, and turning his head towards Adrienne, whom he did not know;
"I take this opportunity to squeeze the throat of one of the wretches in
the band of that renegade, until he tells me where my poor children are."
"You strangle me," said the Jesuit, in a stifled voice, as he tried to
escape from the soldier.
"Where are the orphans, since they are not here, and the convent door has
been closed against me?" cried Dagobert, in a voice of thunder.
"Help! help!" gasped Rodin.
"Oh! it is dreadful!" said Adrienne, as, pale and trembling, she held up
her clasped hands to Dagobert. "Have mercy, sir! listen to me! listen to
"M. Dagobert!" cried Mother Bunch, seizing with her weak hands the
soldier's arm, and showing him Adrienne, "this is Mdlle. de Cardoville.
What violence in her presence! and then, you are deceived doubtless!"
At the name of Mdlle. de Cardoville, the benefactress of his son, the
soldier turned round suddenly, and loosened his hold on Rodin. The
latter, crimson with rage and suffocation, set about adjusting his collar
and his cravat.
"I beg your pardon, madame," said Dagobert, going towards Adrienne, who
was still pale with fright; "I did not known who you were, and the first
impulse of anger quite carried me away."
"But what has this gentleman done to you?" said Adrienne. "If you had
listened to me, you would have learned--"
"Excuse me if I interrupt you, madame," said the soldier to Adrienne, in
a hollow voice. Then addressing himself to Rodin, who had recovered his
coolness, he added: "Thank the lady, and begone!--If you remain here, I
will not answer for myself."
"One word only, my dear sir," said Rodin.
"I tell you that if you remain, I will not answer for myself!" cried
Dagobert, stamping his foot.
"But, for heaven's sake, tell me the cause of this anger," resumed
Adrienne; "above all, do not trust to appearances. Calm yourself, and
"Calm myself, madame!" cried Dagobert, in despair; "I can think only of
one thing, ma dame--of the arrival of Marshal Simon--he will be in Paris
to-day or to-morrow."
"Is it possible?" said Adrienne. Rodin started with surprise and joy.
"Yesterday evening," proceeded Dagobert, "I received a letter from the
marshal: he has landed at Havre. For three days I have taken step after
step, hoping that the orphans would be restored to me, as the
machinations of those wretches have failed." He pointed to Rodin with a
new gesture of impatience. "Well! it is not so. They are conspiring
some new infamy. I am prepared for anything."
"But, sir," said Rodin advancing, "permit me--"
"Begone!" cried Dagobert, whose irritation and anxiety redoubled, as he
thought how at any moment Marshal Simon might arrive in Paris. "Begone!
Were it not for this lady, I would at least be revenged on some one."
Rodin made a nod of intelligence to Adrienne, whom he approached
prudently, and, pointing to Dagobert with a gesture of affectionate
commiseration, he said to the latter: "I will leave you, sir, and the
more willingly, as I was about to withdraw when you entered." Then,
coming still closer to Mdlle. de Cardoville, the Jesuit whispered to her,
"Poor soldier! he is beside himself with grief, and would be incapable of
hearing me. Explain it all to him, my dear young lady; he will be nicely
caught," added he, with a cunning air. "But in the meantime," resumed
Rodin, feeling in the side-pocket of his great-coat and taking out a
small parcel, "let me beg you to give him this, my dear young lady. It
is my revenge, and a very good one."
And while Adrienne, holding the little parcel in her hand looked at the
Jesuit with astonishment, the latter laying his forefinger upon his lip,
as if recommending silence, drew backward on tiptoe to the door, and went
out after again pointing to Dagobert with a gesture of pity; while the
soldier, in sullen dejection, with his head drooping, and his arms
crossed upon his bosom, remained deaf to the sewing-girl's earnest
consolations. When Rodin had left the room, Adrienne, approaching the
soldier, said to him, in her mild voice, with an expression of deep
interest, "Your sudden entry prevented my asking you a question that
greatly concerns me. How is your wound?"
"Thank you, madame," said Dagobert, starting from his painful lethargy,
"it is of no consequence, but I have not time to think of it. I am sorry
to have been so rough in your presence, and to have driven away that
wretch; but 'tis more than I could master. At sight of those people, my
blood is all up."
"And yet, believe me, you have been too hasty in your judgment. The
person who was just now here--"
"Too hasty, madame! I do not see him to-day for the first time. He was
with that renegade the Abbe d'Aigrigny--"
"No doubt!--and yet he is an honest and excellent man."
"He!" cried Dagobert.
"Yes; for at this moment he is busy about only one thing restoring to you
those dear children!"
"He!" repeated Dagobert, as if he could not believe what he heard. "He
restore me my children?"
"Yes; and sooner, perhaps, than you think for."
"Madame," said Dagobert, abruptly, "he deceives you. You are the dupe of
that old rascal."
"No," said Adrienne, shaking her head, with a smile. "I have proofs of
his good faith. First of all, it is he who delivers me from this house."
"Is it true?" said Dagobert, quite confounded.
"Very true; and here is, perhaps, something that will reconcile you to
him," said Adrienne, as she delivered the small parcel which Rodin had
given her as he went out. "Not wishing to exasperate you by his
presence, he said to me: `Give this to that brave soldier; it is my
Dagobert looked at Mdlle. de Cardoville with surprise, as he mechanically
opened the little parcel. When he had unfolded it, and discovered his
own silver cross, black with age, and the old red, faded ribbon,
treasures taken from him at the White Falcon Inn, at the same time as his
papers, he exclaimed in a broken voice: "My cross! my cross! It is my
cross!" In the excitement of his joy, he pressed the silver star to his
Adrienne and the other were deeply affected by the emotion of the old
soldier, who continued, as he ran towards the door by which Rodin had
gone out: "Next to a service rendered to Marshal Simon, my wife, or son,
nothing could be more precious to me. And you answer for this worthy
man, madame, and I have ill used him in your presence! Oh! he is
entitled to reparation, and he shall have it."
So saying, Dagobert left the room precipitately, hastened through two
other apartments, gained the staircase, and descending it rapidly,
overtook Rodin on the lowest step.
"Sir," said the soldier to him, in an agitated voice, as he seized him by
the arm, "you must come upstairs directly."
"You should make up your mind to one thing or the other, my dear sir,"
said Rodin, stopping good-naturedly; "one moment you tell me to begone,
and the next to return. How are we to decide?"
"Just now, sir, I was wrong; and when I am wrong, I acknowledge it. I
abused and ill-treated you before witnesses; I will make you my apologies
"But, my dear sir--I am much obliged to you--I am in a hurry."
"I cannot help your being in a hurry. I tell you, I must have you come
upstairs, directly--or else--or else," resumed Dagobert, taking the hand
of the Jesuit, and pressing it with as much cordiality as emotion, "or
else the happiness you have caused the in returning my cross will not be
"Well, then, my good friend, let us go up."
"And not only have you restored me my cross, for which I have wept many
tears, believe me, unknown to any one," cried Dagobert, much affected;
"but the young lady told me, that, thanks to you, those poor children but
tell me--no false joy-is it really true?--My God! is it really true?"
"Ah! ah! Mr. Inquisitive," said Rodin, with a cunning smile. Then he
added: "Be perfectly tranquil, my growler; you shall have your two angels
back again." And the Jesuit began to ascend the stairs.
"Will they be restored to me to-day?" cried Dagobert, stopping Rodin
abruptly, by catching hold of his sleeve.
"Now, really, my good friend," said the Jesuit, "let us come to the
point. Are we to go up or down? I do not find fault, but you turn me
about like a teetotum."
"You are right. We shall be better able to explain things upstairs.
Come with me--quick! quick!" said Dagobert, as, taking the Jesuit by the
arm, he hurried him along, and brought him triumphantly into the room,
where Adrienne and Mother Bunch had remained in much surprise at the
soldier's sudden disappearance.
"Here he is! here he is!" cried Dagobert, as he entered. "Luckily, I
caught him at the bottom of the stairs."
"And you have made me come up at a fine pace!" added Rodin, pretty well
out of breath.
"Now, sir," said Dagobert, in a grave voice, "I declare, in presence of
all, that I was wrong to abuse and ill-treat you. I make you my apology
for it, sir; and I acknowledge, with joy, that I owe you--much--oh! very
much and when I owe, I pay."
So saying, Dagobert held out his honest hand to Rodin, who pressed it in
a very affable manner, and replied: "Now, really--what is all this about?
What great service do you speak of?"
"This!" said Dagobert, holding up the cross before Rodin's eyes. "You do
not know, then, what this cross is to me?"
"On the contrary, supposing you would set great store by it, I intended
to have the pleasure of delivering it myself. I had brought it for that
purpose; but, between ourselves, you gave me so warm a reception, that I
had not the time--"
"Sir," said Dagobert, in confusion, "I assure you that I sincerely repent
of what I have done."
"I know it, my good friend; do not say another word about it. You were
then much attached to this cross?"
"Attached to it, sir!" cried Dagobert. "Why, this cross," and he kissed
it as he spoke, "is my relic. He from whom it came was my saint--my
hero--and he had touched it with his hand!"
"Oh!" said Rodin, feigning to regard the cross with as much curiosity as
respectful admiration; "did Napoleon--the Great Napoleon--indeed touch
with his own hand--that victorious hand!--this noble star of honor?"
"Yes, sir, with his own hand. He placed it there upon my bleeding
breast, as a cure for my fifth wound. So that, you see, were I dying of
hunger, I think I should not hesitate betwixt bread and my cross--that I
might, in any case, have it on my heart in death. But, enough--enough!-
let us talk of something else. It is foolish in an old soldier, is it
not?" added Dagobert, drawing his hand across his eyes, and then, as if
ashamed to deny what he really felt: "Well, then! yes," he resumed,
raising his head proudly, and no longer seeking to conceal the tears that
rolled down his cheek; "yes, I weep for joy, to have found my cross--my
cross, that the Emperor gave me with his victorious hand, as this worthy
man has called it."
"Then blessed be my poor old hand for having restored you the glorious
treasure!" said Rodin, with emotion. "In truth," he added, "the day will
be a good one for everybody--as I announced to you this morning in my
"That letter without a signature?" asked the soldier, more and more
astonished. "Was it from you?"
"It was I who wrote it. Only, fearing some new snare of the Abbe
d'Aigrigny, I did not choose, you understand, to explain myself more
"Then--I shall see--my orphans?"
Rodin nodded affirmatively, with an expression of great good-nature.
"Presently--perhaps immediately," said Adrienne, with smile. "Well! was
I right in telling you that you had not judged this gentleman fairly?"
"Why did he not tell me this when I came in?" cried Dagobert, almost
beside himself with joy.
"There was one difficulty in the way, my good friend," said Rodin; "it
was, that when you came in, you nearly throttled me."
"True; I was too hasty. Once more, I ask your pardon. But was I to
blame? I had only seen you with that Abbe d'Aigrigny, and in the first
"This dear young lady," said Rodin, bowing to Adrienne, "will tell you
that I have been, without knowing it, the accomplice IN many perfidious
actions; but as soon as I began to see my way through the darkness, I
quitted the evil course on which I had entered, and returned to that
which is honest, just and true."
Adrienne nodded affirmatively to Dagobert, who appeared to consult her
"If I did not sign the letter that I wrote to you, my good friend, it was
partly from fear that my name might inspire suspicion; and if I asked you
to come hither, instead of to the convent, it was that I had some dread--
like this dear young lady--lest you might be recognized by the porter or
by the gardener, your affair of the other night rendering such a
recognition somewhat dangerous."
"But M. Baleinier knows all; I forgot that," said Adrienne, with
uneasiness. "He threatened to denounce M. Dagobert and his son, if I
made any complaint."
"Do not be alarmed, my dear young lady; it will soon he for you to
dictate conditions," replied Rodin. "Leave that to me; and as for you,
my good friend, your torments are now finished."
"Yes," said Adrienne, "an upright and worthy magistrate has gone to the
convent, to fetch Marshal Simon's daughters. He will bring them hither;
but he thought with me, that it would be most proper for them to take up
their abode in my house. I cannot, however, come to this decision
without your consent, for it is to you that these orphans were entrusted
by their mother."
"You wish to take her place with regard to them, madame?" replied
Dagobert. "I can only thank you with all my heart, for myself and for
the children. But, as the lesson has been a sharp one, I must beg to
remain at the door of their chamber, night and day. If they go out with
you, I must be allowed to follow them at a little distance, so as to keep
them in view, just like Spoil-sport, who has proved himself a better
guardian than myself. When the marshal is once here--it will be in a day
or two--my post will be relieved. Heaven grant it may be soon!"
"Yes," replied Rodin, in a firm voice, "heaven grant he may arrive soon,
for he will have to demand a terrible reckoning of the Abbe d'Aigrigny,
for the persecution of his daughters; and yet the marshal does not know
"And don't you tremble for the renegade?" asked Dagobert, as he thought
how the marquis would soon find himself face to face with the marshal.
"I never care for cowards and traitors," answered Rodin; "and when
Marshal Simon returns--" Then, after a pause of some seconds, he
continued: "If he will do me the honor to hear me, he shall be edified as
to the conduct of the Abbe d'Aigrigny. The marshal knows that his
dearest friends, as well as himself, have been victims of the hatred of
that dangerous man."
"How so?" said Dagobert.
"Why, yourself, for instance," replied Rodin; "you are an example of what
"Do you think it was mere chance, that brought about the scene at the
White Falcon Inn, near Leipsic?"
"Who told you of that scene?" said Dagobert in astonishment.
"Where you accepted the challenge of Morok," continued the Jesuit,
without answering Dagobert's question, "and so fell into a trap, or else
refused it, and were then arrested for want of papers, and thrown into
prison as a vagabond, with these poor children. Now, do you know the
object of this violence? It was to prevent your being here on the 13th
"But the more I hear, sir," said Adrienne, "the more I am alarmed at the
audacity of the Abbe d'Aigrigny, and the extent of the means he has at
his command. Really," she resumed, with increasing surprise, "if your
words were not entitled to absolute belief--"
"You would doubt their truth, madame?" said Dagobert. "It is like me.
Bad as he is. I cannot think that this renegade had relations with a
wild-beast showman as far off as Saxony; and then, how could he know that
I and the children were to pass through Leipsic? It is impossible, my
"In fact, sir," resumed Adrienne, "I fear that you are deceived by your
dislike (a very legitimate one) of Abbe d'Aigrigny, and that you ascribe
to him an almost fabulous degree of power and extent of influence."
After a moment's silence, during which Rodin looked first at Adrienne and
then at Dagobert, with a kind of pity, he resumed. "How could the Abbe
d'Aigrigny have your cross in his possession, if he had no connection
"That is true, sir," said Dagobert; "joy prevented me from reflecting.
But how indeed, did my cross come into your hands?"
"By means of the Abbe d'Aigrigny's having precisely those relations with
Leipsic, of which you and the young lady seem to doubt."
"But how did my cross get to Paris?"
"Tell me; you were arrested at Leipsic for want of papers--is it not so?"
"Yes; but I could never understand how my passports and money disappeared
from my knapsack. I thought I must have had the misfortune to lose
Rodin shrugged his shoulders, and replied: "You were robbed of them at
the White Falcon Inn, by Goliath, one of Morok's servants, and the latter
sent the papers and the cross to the Abbe d'Aigrigny, to prove that he
had succeeded in executing his orders with respect to the orphans and
yourself. It was the day before yesterday, that I obtained the key of
that dark machination. Cross and papers were amongst the stores of Abbe
d'Aigrigny; the papers formed a considerable bundle, and he might have
missed them; but, hoping to see you this morning, and knowing how a
soldier of the Empire values his cross, his sacred relic, as you call it,
my good friend--I did not hesitate. I put the relic into my pocket.
`After all,' said I, `it is only restitution, and my delicacy perhaps
exaggerates this breach of trust.'"
"You could not have done a better action," said Adrienne; "and, for my
part, because of the interest I feel for M. Dagobert--I take it as a
personal favor. But, sir," after a moment's silence, she resumed with
anxiety: "What terrible power must be at the command of M. d'Aigrigny,
for him to have such extensive and formidable relations in a foreign
"Silence!" said Rodin, in a low voice, and looking round him with an air
of alarm. "Silence! In heaven's name do not ask me about it!"
Mdlle. de Cardoville, much astonished at the alarm displayed by Rodin,
when she had asked him for some explanation of the formidable and far-
reaching power of the Abby d'Aigrigny, said to him: "Why, sir, what is
there so strange in the question that I have just asked you?"
After a moment's silence, Rodin cast his looks all around, with well-
feigned uneasiness, and replied in a whisper: "Once more, madame, do not
question me on so fearful a subject. The walls of this house may have
Adrienne and Dagobert looked at each other with growing surprise. Mother
Bunch, by an instinct of incredible force, continued to regard Rodin with
invincible suspicion. Sometimes she stole a glance at him, as if trying
to penetrate the mask of this man, who filled her with fear. At one
moment, the Jesuit encountered her anxious gaze, obstinately fixed upon
him; immediately he nodded to her with the greatest amenity. The young
girl, alarmed at finding herself observed, turned away with a shudder.
"No, no, my dear young lady," resumed Rodin, with a sigh, as he saw
Mdlle. de Cardoville astonished at his silence; "do not question me on
the subject of the Abbe d'Aigrigny's power!"
"But, to persist, sir," said Adrienne; "why this hesitation to answer?
What do you fear?"
"Ah, my dear young lady," said Rodin, shuddering, "those people are so
powerful! their animosity is so terrible!"
"Be satisfied, sir; I owe you too much, for my support ever to fail you."
"Ah, my dear young lady," cried Rodin, as if hurt by the supposition;
"think better of me, I entreat you. Is it for myself that I fear?--No,
no; I am too obscure, too inoffensive; but it is for you, for Marshal
Simon, for the other members of your family, that all is to be feared.
Oh, my dear young lady! let me beg you to ask no questions. There are
secrets which are fatal to those who possess them."
"But, sir, is it not better to know the perils with which one is
"When you know the manoeuvres of your enemy, you may at least defend
yourself," said Dagobert. "I prefer an attack in broad daylight to an
"And I assure you," resumed Adrienne, "the few words you have spoken
cause me a vague uneasiness."
"Well, if I must, my dear young lady," replied the Jesuit, appearing to
make a great effort, "since you do not understand my hints, I will be
more explicit; but remember," added he, in a deeply serious tone, "that
you have persevered in forcing me to tell you what you had perhaps better
not have known."
"Speak, Sir, I pray you speak," said Adrienne.
Drawing about him Adrienne, Dagobert, and Mother Bunch, Rodin said to
them in a low voce, and with a mysterious air: "Have you never heard of a
powerful association, which extends its net over all the earth, and
counts its disciples, agents, and fanatics in every class of society
which has had, and often has still, the ear of kings and nobles--which,
in a word, can raise its creatures to the highest positions, and with a
word can reduce them again to the nothingness from which it alone could
"Good heaven, sir!" said Adrienne, "what formidable association? Until
now I never heard of it."
"I believe you; and yet your ignorance on this subject greatly astonishes
me, my dear young lady."
"And why should it astonish you?"
"Because you lived some time with your aunt, and must have often seen the
"I lived at the princess's, but not with her; for a thousand reasons she
had inspired me with warrantable aversion."
"In truth, my dear young lady, my remark was ill-judged. It was there,
above all, and particularly in your presence, that they would keep
silence with regard to this association--and yet to it alone did the
Princess de Saint-Dizier owe her formidable influence in the world,
during the last reign. Well, then; know this--it is the aid of that
association which renders the Abbe d'Aigrigny so dangerous a man.
"By it he was enabled to follow and to reach divers members of your
family, some in Siberia, some in India, others on the heights of the
American mountains; but, as I have told you, it was only the day before
yesterday, and by chance, that, examining the papers of Abbe d'Aigrigny,
I found the trace of his connection with this Company, of which he is the
most active and able chief."
"But the name, sir, the name of this Company?" said Adrienne.
"Well! it is--" but Rodin stopped short.
"It is," repeated Adrienne, who was now as much interested as Dagobert
and the sempstress; "it is--"
Rodin looked round him, beckoned all the actors in this scene to draw
nearer, and said in a whisper, laying great stress upon the words: "It
is--the Society of Jesus!" and he again shuddered.
"The Jesuits!" cried Mdlle. de Cardoville, unable to restrain a burst of
laughter, which was the more buoyant, as, from the mysterious precautions
of Rodin, she had expected some very different revelation. "The
Jesuits!" she resumed, still laughing. "They have no existence, except
in books; they are frightful historical personages, certainly; but why
should you put forward Madame de Saint-Dizier and M. d'Aigrigny in that
character? Such as they are, they have done quite enough to justify my
aversion and disdain."
After listening in silence to Mdlle. de Cardoville Rodin continued, with
a grave and agitated air: "Your blindness frightens me, my dear, young
lady; the past should have given you some anxiety for the future, since,
more than any one, you have already suffered from the fatal influence of
this Company, whose existence you regard as a dream!"
"I, sir?" said Adrienne, with a smile, although a little surprised.
"Under what circumstances?"
"You ask me this question! my dear young lady! you ask me this question!-
-and yet you have been confined here as a mad person! Is it not enough
to tell you that the master of this house is one of the most devoted lay
members of the Company, and therefore the blind instrument of the Abbe
"So," said Adrienne, this time without smiling, "Dr. Baleinier"
"Obeyed the Abbe d'Aigrigny, the most formidable chief of that formidable
society. He employs his genius for evil; but I must confess he is a man
of genius. Therefore, it is upon him that you and yours must fix all
your doubts and suspicions; it is against him that you must be upon your
guard. For, believe me, I know him, and he does not look upon the game
as lost. You must be prepared for new attacks, doubtless of another
kind, but only the more dangerous on that account--"
"Luckily, you give us notice," said Dagobert, "and you will be on our
"I can do very little, my good friends; but that little is at the service
of honest people," said Rodin.
"Now," said Adrienne, with a thoughtful air, completely persuaded by
Rodin's air of conviction, "I can explain the inconceivable influence
that my aunt exercised in the world. I ascribed it chiefly to her
relations with persons in power; I thought that she, like the Abbe
d'Aigrigny, was concerned in dark intrigues, for which religion served as
a veil--but I was far from believing what you tell me."
"How many things you have got to learn!" resumed Rodin. "If you knew, my
dear young lady, with what art these people surround you, without your
being aware of it, by agents devoted to themselves! Every one of your
steps is known to them, when they have any interest in such knowledge.
Thus, little by little, they act upon you--slowly, cautiously, darkly.
They circumvent you by every possible means, from flattery to terror--
seduce or frighten, in order at last to rule you, without your being
conscious of their authority. Such is their object, and I must confess
they pursue it with detestable ability."
Rodin had spoken with so much sincerity, that Adrienne trembled; then,
reproaching herself with these fears, she resumed: "And yet, no--I can
never believe in so infernal a power; the might of priestly ambition
belongs to another age. Heaven be praised, it has disappeared forever!"
"Yes, certainly, it is out of sight; for they now know how to disperse
and disappear, when circumstances require it. But then are they the most
dangerous; for suspicion is laid asleep, and they keep watch in the dark.
Oh! my dear young lady, if you knew their frightful ability! In my
hatred of all that is oppressive, cowardly, and hypocritical, I had
studied the history of that terrible society, before I knew that the Abbe
d'Aigrigny belonged to it. Oh! it is dreadful. If you knew what means
they employ! When I tell you that, thanks to their diabolical devices,
the most pure and devoted appearances often conceal the most horrible
snares." Rodin's eye rested, as if by chance, on the hunchback; but,
seeing that Adrienne did not take the hint, the Jesuit continued: "In a
word--are you not exposed to their pursuits?--have they any interest in
gaining you over?--oh! from that moment, suspect all that surround you,
suspect the most noble attachments, the most tender affections, for these
monsters sometimes succeed in corrupting your best friends, and making a
terrible use of them, in proportion to the blindness of your confidence."
"Oh! it is impossible," cried Adrienne, in horror. "You must exaggerate.
No! hell itself never dreamed of more frightful treachery!"
"Alas, my dear young lady! one of your relations, M. Hardy--the most
loyal and generous-hearted man that could be--has been the victim of some
such infamous treachery. Do you know what we learned from the reading of
your ancestor's will? Why, that he died the victim of the malevolence of
these people; and now, at the lapse of a hundred and fifty years, his
descendants are still exposed to the hate of that indestructible
"Oh, sir! it terrifies me," said Adrienne, feeling her heart sink within
her. "But are there no weapons against such attacks?"
"Prudence, my dear young lady--the most watchful caution--the most
incessant study and suspicion of all that approach you."
"But such a life would be frightful! It is a torture to be the victim of
continual suspicions, doubts, and fears."
"Without doubt! They know it well, the wretches! That constitutes their
strength. They often triumph by the very excess of the precautions taken
against them. Thus, my dear young lady, and you, brave and worthy
soldier, in the name of all that is dear to you, be on your guard, and do
not lightly impart your confidence. Be on your guard, for you have
nearly fallen the victims of those people. They will always be your
implacable enemies. And you, also, poor, interesting girl!" added the
Jesuit, speaking to Mother Bunch, "follow my advice--fear these people.
Sleep, as the proverb says, with one eye open."
"I, sir!" said the work-girl. "What have I done? what have I to fear?"
"What have you done? Dear me! Do not you tenderly love this young lady,
your protectress? have you not attempted to assist her? Are you not the
adopted sister of the son of this intrepid soldier, the brave Agricola!
Alas, poor, girl! are not these sufficient claims to their hatred, in
spite of your obscurity? Nay, my dear young lady! do not think that I
exaggerate. Reflect! only reflect! Think what I have just said to the
faithful companion-in-arms of Marshal Simon, with regard to his
imprisonment at Leipsic. Think what happened to yourself, when, against
all law and reason, you were brought hither. Then you will see, that
there is nothing exaggerated in the picture I have drawn of the secret
power of this Company. Be always on your guard, and, in doubtful cases,
do not fear to apply to me. In three days, I have learned enough by my
own experience, with regard to their manner of acting, to be able to
point out to you many a snare, device, and danger, and to protect you
"In any such case, sir," replied Mdlle. de Cardoville, "my interests, as
well as gratitude, would point to you as my best counsellor."
According to the skillful tactics of the sons of Loyola, who sometimes
deny their own existence, in order to escape from an adversary--and
sometimes proclaim with audacity the living power of their organization,
in order to intimidate the feeble-R-odin had laughed in the face of the
bailiff of Cardoville, when the latter had spoken of the existence of the
Jesuits; while now, at this moment, picturing their means of action, he
endeavored, and he succeeded in the endeavor, to impregnate the mind of
Mdlle. de Cardoville with some germs of doubt, which were gradually to
develop themselves by reflection, and serve hereafter the dark projects
that he meditated. Mother Bunch still felt considerable alarm with
regard to Rodin. Yet, since she had heard the fatal powers of the
formidable Order revealed to Adrienne, the young sempstress, far from
suspecting the Jesuit of having the audacity to speak thus of a society
of which he was himself a member, felt grateful to him, in spite of
herself, for the important advice that he had just given her patroness.
The side-glance which she now cast upon him (which Rodin also detected,
for he watched the young girl with sustained attention), was full of
gratitude, mingled with surprise. Guessing the nature of this
impression, and wishing entirely to remove her unfavorable opinion, and
also to anticipate a revelation which would be made sooner or later, the
Jesuit appeared to have forgotten something of great importance, and
exclaimed, striking his forehead: "What was I thinking of?" Then,
speaking to Mother Bunch, he added: "Do you know where your sister is, my
dear girl?" Disconcerted and saddened by this unexpected question, the
workwoman answered with a blush, for she remembered her last interview
with the brilliant Bacchanal Queen: "I have not seen my sister for some
"Well, my dear girl, she is not very comfortable," said Rodin; "I
promised one of her friends to send her some little assistance. I have
applied to a charitable person, and that is what I received for her." So
saying, he drew from his pocket a sealed roll of coin, which he delivered
to Mother Bunch, who was now both surprised and affected.
"You have a sister in trouble, and I know nothing of it?" said Adrienne,
hastily. "This is not right of you, my child!"
"Do not blame her," said Rodin. "First of a11, she did not know that her
sister was in distress, and, secondly, she could not ask you, my dear
young lady, to interest yourself about her."
As Mdlle. de Cardoville looked at Rodin with astonishment, he added,
again speaking to the hunchback: "Is not that true, my dear girl!"
"Yes, sir," said the sempstress, casting down her eyes and blushing.
Then she added, hastily and anxiously: "But when did you see my sister,
sir? where is she? how did she fall into distress?"
"All that would take too long to tell you, my dear girl; but go as soon
as possible to the greengrocer's in the Rue Clovis, and ask to speak to
your sister as from M. Charlemagne or M. Rodin, which you please, for I
am equally well known in that house by my Christian name as by my
surname, and then you will learn all about it. Only tell your sister,
that, if she behaves well, and keeps to her good resolutions, there are
some who will continue to look after her."
More and more surprised, Mother Bunch was about to answer Rodin, when the
door opened, and M. de Gernande entered. The countenance of the
magistrate was grave and sad.
"Marshal Simon's daughters!" cried Mdlle. de Cardoville.
"Unfortunately, they are not with me," answered the judge.
"Then, where are they, sir? What have they done with them? The day
before yesterday, they were in the convent!" cried Dagobert, overwhelmed
by this complete destruction of his hopes.
Hardly had the soldier pronounced these words, when, profiting by the
impulse which gathered all the actors in this scene about the magistrate,
Rodin withdrew discreetly towards the door, and disappeared without any
one perceiving his absence. Whilst the soldier, thus suddenly thrown
back to the depths of his despair, looked at M. de Gernande, waiting with
anxiety for the answer, Adrienne said to the magistrate: "But, sir, when
you applied at the convent, what explanation did the superior give on the
subject of these young girls?"
"The lady superior refused to give any explanation, madame. `You
pretend,' said she, `that the young persons of whom you speak are
detained here against their will. Since the law gives you the right of
entering this house, make your search.' `But, madame, please to answer me
positively,' said I to the superior; `do you declare, that you know
nothing of the young girls, whom I have come to claim?' `I have nothing
to say on this subject, sir. You assert, that you are authorized to make
a search: make it.' Not being able to get any other explanation,"
continued the magistrate, "I searched all parts of the convent, and had
every door opened--but, unfortunately, I could find no trace of these
"They must have sent them elsewhere," cried Dagobert; "who knows?--
perhaps, ill. They will kill them--O God! they will kill them!" cried
he, in a heart-rending tone.
"After such a refusal, what is to be done? Pray, sir, give us your
advice; you are our providence," said Adrienne, turning to speak to
Rodin, who she fancied was behind her. "What is your--"
Then, perceiving that the Jesuit had suddenly disappeared, she said to
Mother Bunch, with uneasiness: "Where is M. Rodin?"
"I do not know, madame," answered the girl, looking round her; "he is no
"It is strange," said Adrienne, "to disappear so abruptly!"
"I told you he was a traitor!" cried Dagobert, stamping with rage; "they
are all in a plot together."
"No, no," said Mdlle. de Cardoville; "do not think that. But the absence
is not the less to be regretted, for, under these difficult
circumstances, he might have given us very useful information, thanks to
the position he occupied at M. d'Aigrigny's."
"I confess, madame, that I rather reckoned upon it," said M. de Gernande;
"and I returned hither, not only to inform you of the fruitless result of
my search, but also to seek from the upright and honorable roan, who so
courageously unveiled these odious machinations, the aid of his counsels
in this contingency."
Strangely enough, for the last few moments Dagobert was so completely
absorbed in thought, that he paid no attention to the words of the
magistrate, however important to him. He did not even perceive the
departure of M. de Gernande, who retired after promising Adrienne that he
would neglect no means to arrive at the truth, in regard to the
disappearance of the orphans. Uneasy at this silence, wishing to quit
the house immediately, and induce Dagobert to accompany her, Adrienne,
after exchanging a rapid glance with Mother Bunch, was advancing towards
the soldier, when hasty steps were heard from without the chamber, and a
manly sonorous voice, exclaiming with impatience, "Where is he--where is
At the sound of this voice, Dagobert seemed to rouse himself with a
start, made a sudden bound, and with a loud cry, rushed towards the door.
It opened. Marshal Simon appeared on the threshold!
Marshal Pierre Simon, Duke de Ligny, was a man of tall stature, plainly
dressed in a blue frock-coat, buttoned up to the throat, with a red
ribbon tied to the top buttonhole. You could not have wished to see a
more frank, honest, and chivalrous cast of countenance than the
marshal's. He had a broad forehead, an aquiline nose, a well formed
chin, and a complexion bronzed by exposure to the Indian sun. His hair,
cut very short, was inclined to gray about the temples; but his eyebrows
were still as black as his large, hanging moustache. His walk was free
and bold, and his decided movements showed his military impetuosity. A
man of the people, a man of war and action, the frank cordiality of his
address invited friendliness and sympathy. As enlightened as he was
intrepid as generous as he was sincere, his manly, plebeian pride was the
most remarkable part of his character. As others are proud of their high
birth, so was he of his obscure origin, because it was ennobled by the
fine qualities of his father, the rigid republican, the intelligent and
laborious artisan, who, for the space of forty years, had been the
example and the glory of his fellow-workmen. In accepting with gratitude
the aristocratic title which the Emperor had bestowed upon him, Pierre
Simon acted with that delicacy which receives from a friendly hand a
perfectly useless gift, and estimates it according to the intention of
the giver. The religious veneration of Pierre Simon for the Emperor had
never been blind; in proportion as his devotion and love for his idol
were instructive and necessary, his admiration was serious, and founded
upon reason. Far from resembling those swashbucklers who love fighting
for its own sake, Marshal Simon not only admired his hero as the greatest
captain in the world, but he admired him, above all, because he knew that
the Emperor had only accepted war in the hope of one day being able to
dictate universal peace; for if peace obtained by glory and strength is
great, fruitful, and magnificent, peace yielded by weakness and cowardice
is sterile, disastrous, and dishonoring. The son of a workman, Pierre
Simon still further admired the Emperor, because that imperial parvenu
had always known how to make that popular heart beat nobly, and,
remembering the people, from the masses of whom he first arose, had
invited them fraternally to share in regal and aristocratic pomp.
When Marshal Simon entered the room, his countenance was much agitated.
At sight of Dagobert, a flash of joy illumined his features; he rushed
towards the soldier, extending his arms, and exclaimed, "My friend! my
Dagobert answered this affectionate salute with silent emotion. Then the
marshal, disengaging himself from his arms, and fixing his moist eyes
upon him, said to him in so agitated a voice that his lips trembled,
"Well, didst arrive in time for the 13th of February?"
"Yes, general; but everything is postponed for four months."
"And--my wife?--my child?" At this question Dagobert shuddered, hung down
his head, and was silent.
"They are not, then, here?" asked Simon, with more surprise than
uneasiness. "They told me they were not at your house, but that I should
find you here--and I came immediately. Are they not with you?"
"General," said Dagobert, becoming deadly pale; "general--" Drying the
drops of cold sweat that stood upon his forehead, he was unable to
articulate a word, for his voice was checked in his parched throat.
"You frighten me!" exclaimed Pierre Simon, becoming pale as the soldier,
and seizing him by the arm.
At this, Adrienne advanced, with a countenance full of grief and
sympathy; seeing the cruel embarrassment of Dagobert, she wished to come
to his assistance, and she said to Pierre Simon, in a mild but agitated
voice, "Marshal, I am Mdlle. de Cardoville--a relation of your dear
Pierre Simon turned around suddenly, as much struck with the dazzling
beauty of Adrienne as with the words she had just pronounced. He
stammered out in his surprise, "You, madame--a relation--of my children!"
He laid a stress on the last words, and looked at Dagobert in a kind of
"Yes, marshal your children," hastily replied Adrienne; "and the love of
those charming twin sisters--"
"Twin sisters!" cried Pierre Simon, interrupting Mdlle. de Cardoville,
with an outburst of joy impossible to describe. "Two daughters instead
of one! Oh! what happiness for their mother! Pardon me, madame, for
being so impolite," he continued; "and so little grateful for what you
tell me. But you will understand it; I have been seventeen years without
seeing my wife; I come, and I find three loved beings, instead of two.
Thanks, madame: would I could express all the gratitude I owe you! You
are our relation; this is no doubt your house; my wife and children are
with you. Is it so? You think that my sudden appearance might be
prejudicial to them? I will wait--but madame, you, that I am certain are
good as fair--pity my impatience--will make haste to prepare them to
More and more agitated, Dagobert avoided the marshal's gaze, and trembled
like a leaf. Adrienne cast down her eyes without answering. Her heart
sunk within her, at thought of dealing the terrible blow to Marshal
The latter, astonished at this silence, looking at Adrienne, then at the
soldier, became first uneasy, and at last alarmed. "Dagobert!" he
exclaimed, "something is concealed from me!"
"General!" stammered the soldier, "I assure you--I--I--."
"Madame!" cried Pierre Simon, "I conjure you, in pity, speak to me
frankly!--my anxiety is horrible. My first fears return upon me. What
is it? Are my wife and daughters ill? Are they in danger? Oh! speak!
"Your daughters, marshal," said Adrienne "have been rather unwell, since
their long journey--but they are in no danger."
"Oh, heaven! it is my wife!"
"Have courage, sir!" said Mdlle. de Cardoville, sadly. "Alas! you must
seek consolation in the affection of the two angels that remain to you."
"General!" said Dagobert, in a firm grave tone, "I returned from Siberia-
-alone with your two daughters."
"And their mother! their mother!" cried Simon, in a voice of despair.
"I set out with the two orphans the day after her death," said the
"Dead?" exclaimed Pierre Simon, overwhelmed by the stroke; "dead?" A
mournful silence was the only answer. The marshal staggered beneath this
unexpected shock, leaned on the back of a chair for support, and then,
sinking into the seat, concealed his face with his hands. For same
minutes nothing was heard but stifled sobs, for not only had Pierre Simon
idolized his wife, but by one of those singular compromises, that a man
long cruelly tried sometimes makes with destiny, Pierre Simon, with the
fatalism of loving souls, thought he had a right to reckon upon happiness
after so many years of suffering, and had not for a moment doubted that
he should find his wife and child--a double consolation reserved to him
after going through so much. Very different from certain people, whom
the habit of misfortune renders less exacting, Simon had reckoned upon
happiness as complete as had been his misery. His wife and child were
the sole, indispensable conditions of this felicity, and, had the mother
survived her daughters, she would have no more replaced them in his eyes
than they did her. Weakness or avarice of the heart, so it was; we
insist upon this singularity, because the consequences of these incessant
and painful regrets exercised a great influence on the future life of
Marshal Simon. Adrienne and Dagobert had respected the overwhelming
grief of this unfortunate man. When he had given a free course to his
tears, he raised his manly countenance, now of marble paleness, drew his
hand across his blood-shot eyes, rose, and said to Adrienne, "Pardon me,
madame; I could not conquer my first emotion. Permit me to retire. I
have cruel details to ask of the worthy friend who only quitted my wife
at the last moment. Have the kindness to let me see my children--my poor
orphans!--" And the marshal's voice again broke.
"Marshal," said Mdlle. de Cardoville, "just now we were expecting your
dear children: unfortunately, we have been deceived in our hopes."
Pierre Simon first looked at Adrienne without answering, as if he had not
heard or understood.--" But console yourself," resumed the young girl;
"we have yet no reason to despair."
"To despair?" repeated the marshaling by turns at Mdlle. de Cardoville
despair?--of what, in heaven's name?"
"Of seeing your children, marshal," said Adrienne; "the presence of their
father will facilitate the search."
"The search!" cried Pierre Simon. "Then, my daughters are not here?"
"No, sir," said Adrienne, at length; "they have been taken from the
affectionate care of the excellent man who brought them from Russia, to
be removed to a convent."
"Wretch!" cried Pierre Simon, advancing towards Dagobert, with a menacing
and terrible aspect; "you shall answer to me for all!"
"Oh, sir, do not blame him!" cried Mdlle. de Cardoville.
"General," said Dagobert, in a tone of mournful resignation, "I merit
your anger. It is my fault. Forced to absent myself from Paris, I
entrusted the children to my wife; her confessor turned her head, and
persuaded her that your daughters would be better in a convent than at
our house. She believed him, and let them be conveyed there. Now they
say at the convent, that they do not know where they are. This is the
truth: do what you will with me; I have only to silently endure."
"This is infamous!" cried Pierre Simon, pointing to Dagobert, with a
gesture of despairing indignation. "In whom can a man confide, if he has
deceived me? Oh, my God!"
"Stay, marshal! do not blame him," repeated Mdlle. de Cardoville; "do not
think so! He has risked life and honor to rescue your children from the
convent. He is not the only one who has failed in this attempt. Just
now, a magistrate--despite his character and authority--was not more
successful. His firmness towards the superior, his minute search of the
convent, were all in vain. Up to this time it has been impossible to
find these unfortunate children."
"But where's this convent!" cried Marshal Simon, raising his head, his
face all pale and agitated with grief and rage. "Where is it? Do these
vermin know what a father is, deprived of his children?" At the moment
when Marshal Simon, turning towards Dagobert, pronounced these words,
Rodin, holding Rose and Blanche by the hand, appeared at the open door of
the chamber. On hearing the marshal's exclamation, he started with
surprise, and a flash of diabolical joy lit up his grim countenance--for
he had not expected to meet Pierre Simon so opportunely.
Mdlle. de Cardoville was the first to perceive the presence of Rodin.
She exclaimed, as she hastened towards him: "Oh! I was not deceived. He
is still our providence."
"My poor children!" said Rodin, in a low voice, to the young girls, as he
pointed to Pierre Simon, "this is your father!"
"Sir!" cried Adrienne, following close upon Rose and Blanche. "Your
children are here!"
As Simon turned round abruptly, his two daughters threw themselves into
his arms. Here was a long silence, broken only by sobs, and kisses, and
exclamations of joy.
"Come forward, at least, and enjoy the good you have done!" said Mdlle.
de Cardoville, drying her eyes, and turning towards Rodin, who, leaning
against the door, seemed to contemplate this scene with deep emotion.
Dagobert, at sight of Rodin bringing back the children, was at first
struck with stupor, and unable to move a step; but hearing the words of
Adrienne, and yielding to a burst of almost insane gratitude, he threw
himself on his knees before the Jesuit, joined his hands together, and
exclaimed in a broken voice: "You have saved me, by bringing back these
"Oh, bless you, sir!" said Mother Bunch, yielding to the general current.
"My good friends, this is too much," said Rodin, as if his emotions were
beyond his strength; "this is really too much for me. Excuse me to the
marshal, and tell him that I am repaid by the sight of his happiness."
"Pray, sir," said Adrienne, "let the marshal at least have the
opportunity to see and know you."
"Oh, remain! you that have saved us all!" cried Dagobert, trying to stop
"Providence, you know, my dear young lady, does not trouble itself about
the good that is done, but the good that remains to do," said Rodin, with
an accent of playful kindness. "Must I not think of Prince Djalma? My
task is not finished, and moments are precious. Come," he added,
disengaging himself gently from Dagobert's hold, "come the day has been
as good a one as I had hoped.. The Abbe d'Aigrigny is unmasked; you are
free, my dear young lady; you have recovered your cross, my brave
soldier; Mother Bunch is sure of a protectress; the marshal has found his
children. I have my share in all these joys, it is a full share--my
heart is satisfied. Adieu, my friends, till we meet again." So saying,
Rodin waved his hand affectionately to Adrienne, Dagobert, and the
hunchback, and withdrew, waving his hand with a look of delight on
Marshal Simon, who, seated between his daughters, held them in his arms,
and covered them with tears and kisses, remaining quite indifferent to
all that was passing around him.
An hour after this scene, Mdlle. de Cardoville and the sempstress,
Marshal Simon, his two daughters and Dagobert quitted Dr. Beleinier's
In terminating this episode, a few words by way of moral, with regard to
lunatic asylums and convents may not be out of place. We have said, and
we repeat, that the laws which apply to the superintendence of lunatic
asylums appear to us insufficient. Facts that have recently transpired
before the courts, and other facts that have been privately communicated
to us, evidently prove this insufficiency. Doubtless, magistrates have
full power to visit lunatic asylums. They are even required to make such
visits. But we know, from the best authority, that the numerous and
pressing occupations of magistrates, whose number is often out of
proportion with the labor imposed upon them, render these inspections so
rare, that they are, so to speak, illusory. It appears, therefore, to us
advisable to institute a system of inspections, at least twice a month,
especially designed for lunatic asylums, and entrusted to a physician and
a magistrate, so that every complaint may be submitted to a double
examination. Doubtless, the law is sufficient when its ministers are
fully informed; but how many formalities, how many difficulties must be
gone through, before they can be so, particularly when the unfortunate
creature who needs their assistance, already suspected, isolated, and
imprisoned, has no friend to come forward in defence, and demand, in his
or her name, the protection of the authorities! Is it not imperative,
therefore, on the civil power, to meet these necessities by a periodical
and well-organized system of inspection?
What we here say of lunatic asylums will apply with still greater force
to convents for women, seminaries, and houses inhabited by religious
bodies. Recent and notorious facts, with which all France has rung,
have, unfortunately, proved that violence, forcible detention, barbarous
usage, abduction of minors, and illegal imprisonment, accompanied by
torture, are occurrences which, if not frequent, are at least possible in
religious houses. It required singular accidents, audacious and cynical
brutalities; to bring these detestable actions to public knowledge. How
many other victims have been, and, perhaps still are, entombed in those
large silent mansions, where no profane look may penetrate, and which,
through the privileges of the clergy, escape the superintendence of the
civil power. Is it not deplorable that these dwellings should not also
be subject to periodical inspection, by visitors consisting, if it be
desired, of a priest, a magistrate, and some delegate of the municipal
authorities? If nothing takes place, but what is legal, human, and
charitable, in these establishments, which have all the character,
and incur all the responsibility, of public institutions, why this
resistance, this furious indignation of the church party, when any
mention is made of touching what they call their privileges? There is
something higher than the constitutions devised at Rome. We mean the Law
of France--the common law--which grants to all protection, but which, in
return, exacts from all respect and obedience.