List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v1, by Eugene Sue
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battle of Montmirail, the Emperor, to the joy of the whole army, made
your father Duke of Ligny and Marshal of France."

"Marshal of France!" said Rose in astonishment, without understanding the
exact meaning of the words.

"Duke of Ligny!" added Blanche with equal surprise.

"Yes; Peter Simon, the son of a workman, became duke and marshal--there
is nothing higher except a king!" resumed Dagobert, proudly.  "That's how
the Emperor treated the sons of the people, and, therefore, the people
were devoted to him.  It was all very fine to tell them 'Your Emperor
makes you food for cannon.'  'Stuff!' replied the people, who are no
fools, 'another would make us food for misery.  We prefer the cannon,
with the chance of becoming captain or colonel, marshal, king--or
invalid; that's better than to perish with hunger, cold, and age, on
straw in a garret, after toiling forty years for others.'"

"Even in France--even in Paris, that beautiful city--do you mean to say
there are poor people who die of hunger and misery, Dagobert?"

"Even in Paris?  Yes, my children; therefore, I come back to the point,
the cannon is better.  With it, one has the chance of becoming, like your
father, duke and marshal: when I say duke and marshal, I am partly right
and partly wrong, for the title and the rank were not recognized in the
end; because, after Montmirail, came a day of gloom, a day of great
mourning, when, as the general has told me, old soldiers like myself
wept--yes, wept!--on the evening of a battle.  That day, my children, was

There was in these simple words of Dagobert an expression of such deep
sorrow, that it thrilled the hearts of the orphans.

"Alas!" resumed the soldier, with a sigh, "there are days which seem to
have a curse on them.  That same day, at Waterloo, the general fell,
covered with wounds, at the head of a division of the Guards.  When he
was nearly cured, which was not for a long time, he solicited permission
to go to St. Helena--another island at the far end of the world, to which
the English had carried the Emperor, to torture him at their leisure; for
if he was very fortunate in the first instance, he had to go through a
deal of hard rubs at last, my poor children."

"If you talk in that way, you will make us cry, Dagobert."

"There is cause enough for it--the Emperor suffered so much!  He bled
cruelly at the heart believe me.  Unfortunately, the general was not with
him at St. Helena; he would have been one more to console him; but they
would not allow him to go.  Then, exasperated, like so many others,
against the Bourbons, the general engaged in a conspiracy to recall the
son of the Emperor.  He relied especially on one regiment, nearly all
composed of his old soldiers, and he went down to a place in Picardy,
where they were then in garrison; but the conspiracy had already been
divulged.  Arrested the moment of his arrival, the general was taken
before the colonel of the regiment.  And this colonel," said the soldier,
after a brief pause, "who do you think it was again?  Bah! it would be
too long to tell you all, and would only make you more sad; but it was a
man whom your father had many reasons to hate.  When he found himself
face to face with him, he said: 'if you are not a coward, you will give
me one hour's liberty, and we will fight to the death; I hate you for
this, I despise you for that'--and so on.  The colonel accepted the
challenge, and gave your father his liberty till the morrow.  The duel
was a desperate one; the colonel was left for dead on the spot."

"Merciful heaven!"

"The general was yet wiping his sword, when a faithful friend came to
him, and told him he had only just time to save himself.  In fact, he
happily succeeded in leaving France--yes, happily--for a fortnight after,
he was condemned to death as a conspirator."

"What misfortunes, good heaven!"

"There was some luck, however, in the midst of his troubles.  Your mother
had kept her promise bravely, and was still waiting for him.  She had
written to him: 'The Emperor first, and me next!' both unable to do
anything more for the Emperor, nor even for his son, the general,
banished from France, set out for Warsaw.  Your mother had lost her
parents, and was now free; they were married--and I am one of the
witnesses to the marriage."

"You are right, Dagobert; that was great happiness in the midst of great

"Yes, they were very happy; but, as it happened with all good hearts, the
happier they were themselves, the more they felt for the sorrows of
others--and there was quite enough to grieve them at Warsaw.  The
Russians had again begun to treat the Poles as their slaves; your brave
mother, though of French origin, was a Pole in heart and soul; she spoke
out boldly what others did not dare speak in a whisper, and all the
unfortunate called her their protecting angel.  That was enough to excite
the suspicions of the Russian governor.  One day, a friend of the
general's, formerly a colonel in the lancers, a brave and worthy man, was
condemned to be exiled to Siberia for a military plot against the
Russians.  He took refuge in your father's house, and lay hid there; but
his retreat was discovered.  During the next night, a party of Cossacks,
commanded by an officer, and followed by a travelling-carriage, arrive at
our door; they rouse the general from his sleep and take him away with

"Oh, heaven! what did they mean to do with him?"

"Conduct him out of the Russian dominions, with a charge never to return,
on pain of perpetual imprisonment.  His last words were: 'Dagobert, I
entrust to thee my wife and child!'--for it wanted yet some months of the
time when you were to be born.  Well, notwithstanding that, they exiled
your mother to Siberia; it was an opportunity to get rid of her; she did
too much good at Warsaw, and they feared her accordingly.  Not content
with banishing her, they confiscated all her property; the only favor she
could obtain was, that I should accompany her, and, had it not been for
Jovial, whom the general had given to me, she would have had to make the
journey on foot.  It was thus, with her on horseback, and I leading her
as I lead you, my children, that we arrived at the poverty-stricken
village, where, three months after, you poor little things were born!"

"And our father?"

"It was impossible for him to return to Russia; impossible for your
mother to think of flight, with two children; impossible for the general
to write to her, as he knew not where she was."

"So, since that time, you have had no news of him?"

"Yes, my children--once we had news."

"And by whom?"

After a moment's silence, Dagobert resumed with a singular expression of
countenance: "By whom?--by one who is not like other men.  Yes--that you
may understand me better, I will relate to you an extraordinary
adventure, which happened to your father during his last French campaign.
He had been ordered by the Emperor to carry a battery, which was playing
heavily on our army; after several unsuccessful efforts, the general put
himself at the head of a regiment of cuirassiers, and charged the
battery, intending, as was his custom, to cut down the men at their guns.
He was on horseback, just before the mouth of a cannon, where all the
artillerymen had been either killed or wounded, when one of them still
found strength to raise himself upon one knee, and to apply the lighted
match to the touchhole--and that when your father was about ten paces in
front of the loaded piece."

"Oh! what a peril for our father!"

"Never, he told me, had he run such imminent danger for he saw the
artilleryman apply the match, and the gun go off--but, at the very nick,
a man of tall stature, dressed as a peasant, and whom he had not before
remarked, threw himself in front of the cannon."

"Unfortunate creature! what a horrible death!"

"Yes," said Dagobert, thoughtfully; "it should have been so.  He ought by
rights to have been blown into a thousand pieces.  But no--nothing of the

"What do you tell us?"

"What the general told me.  'At the moment when the gun went off,' as he
often repeated to me, 'I shut my eyes by an involuntary movement, that I
might not see the mutilated body of the poor wretch who had sacrificed
himself in my place.  When I again opened them, the first thing I saw in
the midst of the smoke, was the tall figure of this man, standing erect
and calm on the same spot, and casting a sad mild look on the
artilleryman, who, with one knee on the ground, and his body thrown
backward, gazed on him in as much terror as if he had been the devil.
Afterwards, I lost sight of this man in the tumult,' added your father."

"Bless me Dagobert! how can this be possible?"

"That is just what I said to the general.  He answered me that he had
never been able to explain to himself this event, which seemed as
incredible as it was true.  Moreover, your father must have been greatly
struck with the countenance of this man, who appeared, he said, about
thirty years of age--for he remarked, that his extremely black eyebrows
were joined together, and formed, as it were, one line from temple to
temple, so that he seemed to have a black streak across his forehead.
Remember this, my children; you will soon see why."

"Oh, Dagobert! we shall not forget it," said the orphans, growing more
and more astonished as he proceeded.

"Is it not strange--this man with a black seam on his forehead?"

"Well, you shall hear.  The general had, as I told you, been left for
dead at Waterloo.  During the night which he passed on the field of
battle, in a sort of delirium brought on by the fever of his wounds, he
saw, or fancied he saw, this same man bending over him, with a look of
great mildness and deep melancholy, stanching his wounds, and using every
effort to revive him.  But as your father, whose senses were still
wandering, repulsed his kindness saying, that after such a defeat, it
only remained to die--it appeared as if this man replied to him; 'You
must live for Eva!' meaning your mother, whom the general had left at
Warsaw, to join the Emperor, and make this campaign of France."

"How strange, Dagobert!--And since then, did our father never see this

"Yes, he saw him--for it was he who brought news of the general to your
poor mother."

"When was that?  We never heard of it."

"You remember that, on the day your mother died, you went to the pine-
forest with old Fedora?"

"Yes," answered Rose, mournfully; "to fetch some heath, of which our
mother was so fond."

"Poor mother!" added Blanche; "she appeared so well that morning, that we
could not dream of the calamity which awaited us before night."

"True, my children; I sang and worked that morning in the garden,
expecting, no more than you did, what was to happen.  Well, as I was
singing at my work, on a sudden I heard a voice ask me in French: 'Is
this the village of Milosk?'--I turned round, and saw before me a
stranger; I looked at him attentively, and, instead of replying, fell
back two steps, quite stupefied."

"Ah, why?"

"He was of tall stature, very pale, with a high and open forehead; but
his eyebrows met, and seemed to form one black streak across it."

"Then it was the same man who had twice been with our father in battle?"

"Yes--it was he."

"But, Dagobert," said Rose, thoughtfully, "is it not a long time since
these battles?"

"About sixteen years,"

"And of what age was this stranger?"

"Hardly more than thirty."

"Then how can it be the same man, who sixteen years before, had been with
our father in the wars?"

"You are right," said Dagobert, after a moment's silence, and shrugging
his shoulders: "I may have been deceived by a chance likeness--and yet--"

"Or, if it were the same, he could not have got older all that while."

"But did you ask him, if he had not formerly relieved our father?"

"At first I was so surprised that I did not think of it; and afterwards,
he remained so short a time, that I had no opportunity.  Well, he asked
me for the village of Milosk.  'You are there, sir,' said I, 'but how do
you know that I am a Frenchman?' 'I heard you singing as I passed,'
replied he; 'could you tell me the house of Madame Simon, the general's
wife?' 'She lives here, sir.' Then looking at me for some seconds in
silence, he took me by the hand and said:   'You are the friend of
General Simon--his best friend?' Judge of my astonishment, as I answered:
'But, sir, how do you know?' 'He has often spoken of you with gratitude.'
'You have seen the general then?' 'Yes, some time ago, in India.  I am
also his friend: I bring news of him to his wife, whom I knew to be
exiled in Siberia.  At Tobolsk, whence I come, I learned that she
inhabits this village.  Conduct me to her!'"

"The good traveller--I love him already," said Rose.

"Yes, being father's friend."

"I begged him to wait an instant, whilst I went to inform your mother, so
that the surprise might not do her harm; five minutes after, he was
beside her."

"And what kind of man was this traveller, Dagobert?"

"He was very tall; he wore a dark pelisse, and a fur cap, and had long
black hair."

"Was he handsome?"

"Yes, my children--very handsome; but with so mild and melancholy an air,
that it pained my heart to see him."

"Poor man! he had doubtless known some great sorrow."

"Your mother had been closeted with him for some minutes, when she called
me to her and said that she had just received good news of the general.
She was in tears, and had before her a large packet of papers; it was a
kind of journal, which your father had written every evening to console
himself; not being able to speak to her, he told the paper all that he
would have told her."

"Oh! where are these papers, Dagobert?"

"There, in the knapsack, with my cross and our purse.  One day I will
give them to you: but I have picked out a few leaves here and there for
you to read presently.  You will see why."

"Had our father been long in India?"

"I gathered from the few words which your mother said, that the general
had gone to that country, after fighting for the Greeks against the
Turks--for he always liked to side with the weak against the strong.  In
India he made fierce war against the English, they had murdered our
prisoners in pontoons, and tortured the Emperor at St. Helena, and the
war was a doubly good one, for in harming them he served a just cause."

"What cause did he serve then?"

"That of one of the poor native princes, whose territories the English,
lay waste, till the day when they can take possession of them against law
and right.  You see, my children, it was once more the weak against the
strong, and your father did not miss this opportunity.  In a few months
he had so well-trained and disciplined the twelve or fifteen thousand men
of the prince, that, in two encounters, they cut to pieces the English
sent against them, and who, no doubt, had in their reckoning left out
your brave father, my children.  But come, you shall read some pages of
his journal, which will tell you more and better than I can.  Moreover,

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