List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v10, by Eugene Sue
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Overcome by the violent emotions occasioned by this story, in which
thoughts of death and voluptuousness, love and horror, were so strangely
mingled, Hardy remained fixed and motionless, waiting for the words of
Rodin, with a combination of curiosity, anguish and alarm.

"And Rancey?" said he, at last, in an agitated voice, whilst he wiped the
cold sweat from his brow.

"After two days of furious delirium," resumed Rodin, "he renounced the
world, and shut himself up in impenetrable solitude.  The first period of
his retreat was frightful; in his despair, he uttered loud yells of grief
and rage, that were audible at some distance.  Twice he attempted
suicide, to escape from the terrible visions."

"He had visions, then?" said Hardy, with an increased agony of curiosity.

"Yes," replied Rodin, in a solemn tone, "he had fearful visions.  He saw
the girl, who, for his sake, had died in mortal sin, plunged in the heat
of the everlasting flames of hell!  On that fair face, disfigured by
infernal tortures, was stamped the despairing laugh of the damned!  Her
teeth gnashed with pain; her arms writhed in anguish!  She wept tears of
blood, and, with an agonized and avenging voice, she cried to her
seducer: 'Thou art the cause of my perdition--my curse, my curse be upon

As he pronounced these last words, Rodin advanced three steps nearer to
Hardy, accompanying each step with a menacing gesture.  If we remember
the state of weakness, trouble, and fear, in which M. Hardy was--if we
remember that the Jesuit had just roused in the soul of this unfortunate
man all the sensual and spiritual memories of a love, cooled, but not
extinguished, in tears--if we remember, too, that Hardy reproached
himself with the seduction of a beloved object, whom her departure from
her duties might (according to the Catholic faith) doom to everlasting
flames--we shall not wonder at the terrible effect of this
phantasmagoria, conjured up in silence and solitude, in the evening dusk,
by this fearful priest.

The effect on Hardy was indeed striking, and the more dangerous, that the
Jesuit, with diabolical craft, seemed only to be carrying out, from
another point of view, the ideas of Gabriel.  Had not the young priest
convinced Hardy that nothing is sweeter, than to ask of heaven
forgiveness for those who have sinned, or whom we have led astray?  But
forgiveness implies punishment; and it was to the punishment alone that
Rodin drew the attention of his victim, by painting it in these terrible
hues.  With hands clasped together, and eye fixed and dilated, Hardy
trembled in all his limbs, and seemed still listening to Rodin, though
the latter had ceased to speak.  Mechanically, he repeated: "My curse, my
curse be upon thee?"

Then suddenly he exclaimed, in a kind of frenzy: "The curse is on me
also!  The woman, whom I taught to forget her sacred duties, and to
commit mortal sin--one day plunged in the everlasting flames--her arms
writhing in agony--weeping tears of blood--will cry to me from the
bottomless pit: 'My curse, my curse be upon thee!'--One day," he added,
with redoubled terror, "one day?--who knows? perhaps at this moment!--for
if the sea voyage had been fatal to her--if a shipwreck--oh, God! she too
would have died in mortal sin--lost, lost, forever!--Oh, have mercy on
her, my God! Crush me in Thy wrath--but have mercy on her--for I alone am

And the unfortunate man, almost delirious, sank with clasped hands upon
the ground.

"Sir," cried Rodin, in an affectionate voice, as he hastened to lift him
up, "my dear sir--my dear friend--be calm! Comfort yourself.  I cannot
bear to see you despond.  Alas! my intention was quite the contrary to

"The curse! the curse! yes, she will curse me also--she, that I loved so
much--in the everlasting flames!" murmured Hardy, shuddering, and
apparently insensible to the other's words.

"But, my dear sir, listen to me, I entreat you," resumed the latter; "let
me finish my story, and then you will find it as consoling as it now
seems terrible.  For heaven's sake, remember the adorable words of our
angelic Abbe Gabriel, with regard to the sweetness of prayer."

At the name of Gabriel, Hardy recovered himself a little, and exclaimed,
in a heart-rending tone: "Ay! his words were sweet and beneficent.  Where
are they now?  For mercy's sake, repeat to me those consoling words."

"Our angelic Abbe Gabriel," resumed Rodin, "spoke to you of the sweetness
of prayer--"

"Oh, yes! prayer!"

"Well, my dear sir, listen to me, and you shall see how prayer saved
Rancey, and made a saint of him.  Yes, these frightful torments, that I
have just described, these threatening visions, were all conquered by
prayer, and changed into celestial delights."

"I beg of you," said Hardy, in a faint voice, "speak to me of Gabriel,
speak to me of heaven--but no more flames--no more hell--where sinful
women weep tears of blood--"

"No, no," replied Rodin; and even as, in describing hell, his tone had
been harsh and threatening, it now became warm and tender, as he uttered
the following words: "No; we will have no more images of despair--for, as
I have told you, after suffering infernal tortures, Rancey, thanks to the
power of prayer, enjoyed the delights of paradise."

"The delights of paradise?" repeated Hardy, listening with anxious

"One day, at the height of his grief, a priest, a good priest--another
Abbe Gabriel--came to Rancey.  Oh, happiness! oh, providential change!
In a few days, he taught the sufferer the sacred mysteries of prayer--
that pious intercession of the creature, addressed to the Creator, in
favor of a soul exposed to the wrath of heaven.  Then Rancey seemed
transformed.  His grief was at once appeased.  He prayed; and the more he
prayed, the greater was his hope.  He felt that God listened to his
prayer.  Instead of trying to forget his beloved, he now thought of her
constantly, and prayed for her salvation.  Happy in his obscure cell,
alone with that adored remembrance, he passed days and nights in praying
for her--plunged in an ineffable, burning, I had almost said amorous

It is impossible to give an idea of the tone of almost sensual energy
with which Rodin pronounced the word "amorous." Hardy started, changing
from hot to cold.  For the first time, his weakened mind caught a glimpse
of the fatal pleasures of asceticism, and of that deplorable catalepsy,
described in the lives of St. Theresa, St. Aubierge and others.

Rodin perceived the other's thoughts, and continued "Oh, Rancey was not
now the man to content himself with a vague, passing prayer, uttered in
the whirl of the world's business, which swallows it up, and prevents it
from reaching the ear of heaven.  No, no; in the depth of solitude, he
endeavored to make his prayers even more efficacious, so ardently did he
desire the eternal salvation of his mistress."

"What did he do then--oh! what did he do in his solitude?" cried Hardy,
who was now powerless in the hands of the Jesuit.

"First of all," said Rodin, with a slight emphasis, "he became a monk."

"A monk!" repeated Hardy, with a pensive air.

"Yes," resumed Rodin, "he became a monk, because his prayers were thus
more likely to be favorably accepted.  And then, as in solitude our
thoughts are apt to wander, he fasted, and mortified his flesh, and
brought into subjection all that was carnal within him, so that, becoming
all spirit, his prayers might issue like a pure flame from his bosom, and
ascend like the perfume of incense to the throne of the Most High!"

"Oh! what a delicious dream!" cried Hardy, more and more under the
influence of the spell; "to pray for the woman we have adored, and to
become spirit--perfume--light!"

"Yes; spirit, perfume, light!" said Rodin, with emphasis.  "But it is no
dream.  How many monks, how many hermits, like Rancey, have, by prayers,
and austerity, and macerations, attained a divine ecstasy! and if you
only knew the celestial pleasures of such ecstasies!--Thus, after he
became a monk, the terrible dreams were succeeded by enchanting visions.
Many times, after a day of fasting, and a night passed in prayers and
macerations, Rancey sank down exhausted on the floor of his cell!  Then
the spirit freed itself from the vile clogs of matter.  His senses were
absorbed in pleasure; the sound of heavenly harmony struck upon his
ravished car; a bright, mild light, which was not of this world, dawned
upon his half-closed eyes; and, at the height of the melodious vibrations
of the golden harps of the Seraphim, in the centre of a glory, compared
to which the sun is pale, the monk beheld the image of that beloved

"Whom by his prayers he had at length rescued from the eternal flames?"
said Hardy, in a trembling voice.

"Yes, herself," replied Rodin, with eloquent enthusiasm, for this monster
was skilled in every style of speech.  "Thanks to the prayers of her
lover, which the Lord had granted, this woman no longer shed tears of
blood--no longer writhed her beautiful arms in the convulsions of
infernal anguish.  No, no; still fair--oh! a thousand times fairer than
when she dwelt on earth--fair with the everlasting beauty of angels--she
smiled on her lover with ineffable ardor, and, her eyes beaming with a
mild radiance, she said to him in a tender and passionate voice: 'Glory
to the Lord! glory to thee, O my beloved!  Thy prayers and austerities
have saved me.  I am numbered amongst the chosen.  Thanks, my beloved,
and glory!'--And therewith, radiant in her felicity, she stooped to kiss,
with lips fragrant with immortality, the lips of the enraptured monk--and
their souls mingled in that kiss, burning as love, chaste as divine grace
immense as eternity!"

"Oh!" cried Hardy, completely beside himself; "a whole life of prayer,
fasting, torture, for such a moment--with her, whom I mourn--with her,
whom I have perhaps led to perdition!"

"What do you say? such a moment!" cried Rodin, whose yellow forehead was
bathed in sweat like that of a magnetizer, and who now took Hardy by the
hand, and drew still closer, as if to breathe into him the burning
delirium; "it was not once in his religious life--it was almost every
day, that Rancey, plunged in divine ecstasy, enjoyed these delicious,
ineffable, superhuman pleasures, which are to the pleasures of earth what
eternity is to man's existence!"

Seeing, no doubt, that Hardy was now at the point to which he wished to
bring him, and the night being almost entirely come, the reverend father
coughed two or three times in a significant manner, and looked towards
the door.  At this moment, Hardy, in the height of his frenzy, exclaimed,
with a supplicating voice: "A cell--a tomb--and the Ecstatic Vision!"

The door of the room opened, and Father d'Aigrigny entered, with a cloak
under his arm.  A servant followed him, bearing a light.

About ten minutes after this scene, a dozen robust men with frank, open
countenances, led by Agricola, entered the Rue de Vaugirard, and advanced
joyously towards the house of the reverend fathers.  It was a deputation
from the former workmen of M. Hardy.  They came to escort him, and to
congratulate him on his return amongst them.  Agricola walked at their
head.  Suddenly he saw a carriage with post-horses issuing from the
gateway of the house.  The postilion whipped up the horses, and they
started at full gallop.  Was it chance or instinct?  The nearer the
carriage approached the group of which he formed a part, the more did
Agricola's heart sink within him.

The impression became so vivid that it was soon changed into a terrible
apprehension; and at the moment when the vehicle, which had its blinds
down, was about to pass close by him, the smith, in obedience to a
resistless impulse, exclaimed, as he rushed to the horses' heads: "Help,
friends! stop them!"

"Postilion! ten louis if you ride over him!" cried from the carriage the
military voice of Father d'Aigrigny.

The cholera was still raging.  The postilion had heard of the murder of
the poisoners.  Already frightened at the sudden attack of Agricola, he
struck him a heavy blow on the head with the butt of his whip which
stretched him senseless on the ground.  Then, spurring with all his
might, he urged his three horses into a triple gallop, and the carriage
rapidly disappeared, whilst Agricola's companions, who had neither
understood his actions nor the sense of his words, crowded around the
smith, and did their best to revive him.



Other events took place a few days after the fatal evening in which M.
Hardy, fascinated and misled by the deplorable, mystic jargon of Rodin,
had implored Father d'Aigrigny on his knees to remove him far from Paris,
into some deep solitude where he might devote himself to a life of prayer
and ascetic austerities.  Marshal Simon, since his arrival in Paris, had
occupied, with his two daughters, a house in the Rue des Trois-Freres.
Before introducing the reader into this modest dwelling, we are obliged
to recall to his memory some preceding facts.  The day of the burning of
Hardy 's factory, Marshal Simon had come to consult with his father on a
question of the highest importance, and to communicate to him his painful
apprehensions on the subject of the growing sadness of his twin
daughters, which he was unable to explain.

Marshal Simon held in religious reverence the memory of the Great
Emperor.  His gratitude to the hero was boundless, his devotion blind,
his enthusiasm founded upon reason, his affection warm as the most
sincere and passionate friendship.  But this was not all.

One day the emperor, in a burst of joy and paternal tenderness, had led
the marshal to the cradle of the sleeping King of Rome, and said to him,
as he proudly pointed to the beautiful child: "My old friend, swear to me
that you will serve the son as you have served the father!"

Marshal Simon took and kept that vow.  During the Restoration, the chief
of a military conspiracy in favor of Napoleon II., he had attempted in
vain to secure a regiment of cavalry, at that time commanded by the
Marquis d'Aigrigny.  Betrayed and denounced, the marshal, after a
desperate duel with the future Jesuit, had succeeded in reaching Poland,
and thus escaping a sentence of death.  It is useless to repeat the
series of events which led the marshal from Poland to India, and then
brought him back to Paris after the Revolution of July--an epoch at which
a number of his old comrades in arms had solicited and obtained from the
government, without his knowledge, the confirmation of the rank and title
which the emperor had bestowed upon him just before Waterloo.

On his return to Paris, after his long exile, in spite of all the
happiness he felt in at length embracing his children, Marshal Simon was
deeply affected on learning the death of their mother, whom he adored.
Till the last moment, he had hoped to find her in Paris.  The
disappointment was dreadful, and he felt it cruelly, though he sought
consolation in his children's affection.

But soon new causes of trouble and anxiety were interwoven with his life

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