List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v10, by Eugene Sue
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night, old comrade! go downstairs to bed.'--I took care not to contradict
him; but, pretending to go down, I came up again, and seated myself on
the top stair, listening.  No doubt, to calm himself entirely, the
marshal went to embrace his children, for I heard him open and shut their
door.  Then he returned to his room, and walked about for a long time,
but with a more quiet step.  At last, I heard him throw himself on his
bed, and I came down about break of day.  After that, all remained

"But whatever can be the matter with him, father?"

"I do not know.  When I went up to him, I was astonished at the agitation
of his countenance, and the brilliancy of his eyes.  He would have looked
much the same, had he been delirious, or in a burning fever--so that,
when I heard him say, he could have thrown himself out of the window, had
it been open, I thought it more prudent to remove the caps from his

"I cannot understand it!" said Agricola.  "So firm, intrepid, and cool a
man as the marshal, a prey to such violence!"

"I tell you that something very extraordinary is passing within him.  For
two days, he has not been to see his children, which is always a bad sign
with him--to say nothing of the poor little angels themselves, who are
miserable at the notion that they have displeased their father.  They
displease him!  If you only knew the life they lead, dear creatures! a
walk or ride with me and their companion, for I never let them go out
alone, and, the rest of their time, at their studies, reading, or
needlework--always together--and then to bed.  Yet their duenna, who is,
I think, a worthy woman, tells me that sometimes at night, she has seen
them shed tears in their sleep.  Poor children! they have hitherto known
but little happiness," added the soldier, with a sigh.

At this moment, hearing some one walk hastily across the courtyard,
Dagobert raised his eyes, and saw Marshal Simon, with pale face and
bewildered air, holding in his two hands a letter, which he seemed to
read with devouring anxiety.



While Marshal Simon was crossing the little court with so agitated an
air, reading the anonymous letter, which he had received by Spoil-sport's
unexpected medium, Rose and Blanche were alone together, in the sitting-
room they usually occupied, which had been entered for a moment by Loony
during their absence.  The poor children seemed destined to a succession
of sorrows.  At the moment their mourning for their mother drew near its
close, the tragical death of their grandfather had again dressed them in
funereal weeds.  They were seated together upon a couch, in front of
their work-table.  Grief often produces the effect of years.  Hence, in a
few months, Rose and Blanche had become quite young women.  To the
infantine grace of their charming faces, formerly so plump and rosy, but
now pale and thin, had succeeded an expression of grave and touching
sadness.  Their large, mild eyes of limpid azure, which always had a
dreamy character, were now never bathed in those joyous tears, with which
a burst of frank and hearty laughter used of old to adorn their silky
lashes, when the comic coolness of Dagobert, or some funny trick of
Spoil-sport, cheered them in the course of their long and weary

In a word, those delightful faces, which the flowery pencil of Greuze
could alone have painted in all their velvet freshness, were now worthy
of inspiring the melancholy ideal of the immortal Ary Scheffer, who gave
us Mignon aspiring to Paradise, and Margaret dreaming of Faust.  Rose,
leaning back on the couch, held her head somewhat bowed upon her bosom,
over which was crossed a handkerchief of black crape.  The light
streaming from a window opposite, shone softly on her pure, white
forehead, crowned by two thick bands of chestnut hair.  Her look was
fixed, and the open arch of her eyebrows, now somewhat contracted,
announced a mind occupied with painful thoughts.  Her thin, white little
hands had fallen upon her knees, but still held the embroidery, on which
she had been engaged.  The profile of Blanche was visible, leaning a
little towards her sister, with an expression of tender and anxious
solicitude, whilst her needle remained in the canvas, as if she had just
ceased to work.

"Sister," said Blanche, in a low voice, after some moments of silence,
during which the tears seemed to mount to her eyes, "tell me what you are
thinking of.  You look so sad."

"I think of the Golden City of our dreams," replied Rose, almost in a
whisper, after another short silence.

Blanche understood the bitterness of these words.  Without speaking, she
threw herself on her sister's neck, and wept.  Poor girls! the Golden
City of their dreams was Paris, with their father in it--Paris, the
marvellous city of joys and festivals, through all of which the orphans
had beheld the radiant and smiling countenance of their sire!  But, alas!
the Beautiful City had been changed into a place of tears, and death, and
mourning.  The same terrible pestilence which had struck down their
mother in the heart of Siberia, seemed to have followed them like a dark
and fatal cloud, which, always hovering above them, hid the mild blue of
the sky, and the joyous light of the sun.

The Golden City of their dreams!  It was the place, where perhaps one day
their father would present to them two young lovers, good and fair as
themselves.  "They love you," he was to say; "they are worthy of you.
Let each of you have a brother, and me two sons." Then what chaste,
enchanting confusion for those two orphans, whose hearts, pure as
crystal, had never reflected any image but that of Gabriel, the celestial
messenger sent by their mother to protect them!

We can therefore understand the painful emotion of Blanche, when she
heard her sister repeat, with bitter melancholy, those words which
described their whole situation: "I think of the Golden City of our

"Who knows?" proceeded Blanche, drying her sister's tears; "perhaps,
happiness may yet be in store for us."

"Alas! if we are not happy with our father by us--shall we ever be so?"

"Yes, when we rejoin our mother," said Blanche, lifting her eyes to

"Then, sister, this dream may be a warning--it is so like that we had in

"The difference being that then the Angel Gabriel came down from heaven
to us, and that this time he takes us from earth, to our mother."

"And this dream will perhaps come true, like the other, my sister.  We
dreamt that the Angel Gabriel would protect us, and he came to save us
from the shipwreck."

"And, this time, we dream that he will lead us to heaven.  Why should not
that happen also?"

"But to bring that about, sister, our Gabriel, who saved us from the
shipwreck, must die also.  No, no; that must not happen.  Let us pray
that it may not happen."

"No, it will not happen--for it is only Gabriel's good angel, who is so
like him, that we saw in our dreams."

"Sister, dear, how singular is this dream!--Here, as in Germany, we have
both dreamt the same--three times, the very same!"

"It is true.  The Angel Gabriel bent over us, and looked at us with so
mild and sad an air, saying: 'Come, my children! come, my sisters!  Your
mother waits for you.  Poor children, arrived from so far!' added he in
his tender voice: 'You have passed over the earth, gentle and innocent as
two doves, to repose forever in the maternal nest.'"

"Yes, those were the words of the archangel," said the other orphan, with
a pensive air; "we have done no harm to any one, and we have loved those
who loved us--why should we fear to die?"

"Therefore, dear sister, we rather smiled than wept, when he took us by
the hand, and, spreading wide his beautiful white wings, carried us along
with him to the blue depths of the sky."

"To heaven, where our dear mother waited for us with open arms, her face
all bathed in tears."

"Oh, sweet sister! one has not dreams like ours for nothing.  And then,"
added she, looking at Rose, with a sad smile that went to the heart, "our
death might perhaps end the sorrow, of which we have been the cause."

"Alas! it is not our fault.  We love him so much.  But we are so timid
and sorrowful before him, that he may perhaps think we love him not."

So saying, Rose took her handkerchief from her workbasket, to dry her
fears; a paper, folded in the form of a letter, fell out.

At this sight, the two shuddered, and pressed close to one mother, and
Rose said to Blanche, in a trembling voice: "Another of these letters!--
Oh, I am afraid!  It will doubtless be like the last."

"We must pick it up quickly, that it may not be seen," said Blanche,
hastily stooping to seize the letter; "the people who take interest in us
might otherwise be exposed to great danger."

"But how could this letter come to us?"

"How did the others come to be placed right under our hand, and always in
the absence of our duenna?"

"It is true.  Why seek to explain the mystery?  We should never be able
to do so.  Let us read the letter.  It will perhaps be more favorable to
us than the last."  And the two sisters read as follows:--

"Continue to love your father, dear children, for he is very miserable,
and you are the involuntary cause of his distress.  You will never know
the terrible sacrifices that your presence imposes on him; but, alas! he
is the victim of his paternal duties.  His sufferings are more cruel than
ever; spare him at least those marks of tenderness, which occasion him so
much more pain than pleasure.  Each caress is a dagger-stroke, for he
sees in you the innocent cause of his misfortunes.  Dear children, you
must not therefore despair.  If you have enough command over yourselves,
not to torture him by the display of too warm a tenderness, if you can
mingle some reserve with your affection, you will greatly alleviate his
sorrow.  Keep these letters a secret from every one, even from good
Dagobert, who loves you so much; otherwise, both he and you, your father,
and the unknown friend who is writing to you, will be exposed to the
utmost peril, for your enemies are indeed formidable.  Courage and hope!
May your father's tenderness be once more free from sorrow and regret!--
That happy day is perhaps not so far distant.  Burn this letter like all
the others!"

The above note was written with so much cunning that, even supposing the
orphans had communicated it to their father or Dagobert, it would at the
worst have been considered a strange, intrusive proceeding, but almost
excusable from the spirit in which it was conceived.  Nothing could have
been contrived with more perfidious art, if we consider the cruel
perplexity in which Marshal Simon was struggling between the fear of
again leaving his children and the shame of neglecting what he considered
a sacred duty.  All the tenderness, all the susceptibility of heart which
distinguished the orphans, had been called into play by these diabolical
counsels, and the sisters soon perceived that their presence was in fact
both sweet and painful to their father; for sometimes he felt himself
incapable of leaving them, and sometimes the thought of a neglected duty
spread a cloud of sadness over his brow.  Hence the poor twins could not
fail to value the fatal meaning of the anonymous letters they received.
They were persuaded that, from some mysterious motive, which they were
unable to penetrate, their presence was often importunate and even
painful to their father.  Hence the growing sadness of Rose and Blanche--
hence the sort of fear and reserve which restrained the expression of
their filial tenderness.  A most painful situation for the marshal, who
deceived by inexplicable appearances, mistook, in his turn, their manner
of indifference to him--and so, with breaking heart, and bitter grief
upon his face, often abruptly quitted his children to conceal his tears!

And the desponding orphans said to each other: "We are the cause of our
father's grief.  It is our presence which makes him so unhappy."

The reader may new judge what ravages such a thought, when fixed and
incessant, must have made on these young, loving, timid, and simple
hearts.  Haw could the orphans be on their guard against such anonymous
communications, which spoke with reverence of all they loved, and seemed
every day justified by the conduct of their father?  Already victims of
numerous plots, and hearing that they were surrounded by enemies, we can
understand, how faithful to the advice of their unknown friend, they
forbore to confide to Dagobert these letters, in which he was so justly
appreciated.  The object of the proceeding was very plain.  By
continually harassing the marshal on all sides, and persuading him of the
coldness of his children, the conspirators might naturally hope to
conquer the hesitation which had hitherto prevented his again quitting
his daughters to embark in a dangerous enterprise.  To render the
marshal's life so burdensome that he would desire to seek relief from his
torments in airy project of daring and generous chivalry, was one of the
ends proposed by Rodin--and, as we have seen, it wanted neither logic nor

After having read the letter, the two remained for a moment silent and
dejected.  Then Rose, who held the paper in her hand, started up
suddenly, approached the chimneypiece, and threw the letter into the
fire, saying, with a timid air: "We must burn it quickly, or perhaps some
great danger will ensue."

"What greater misfortune can happen to us," said Blanche, despondingly,
"than to cause such sorrow to our father?  What can be the reason of it?"

"Perhaps," said Rose, whose tears were slowly trickling down her cheek,
"he does not find us what he could have desired.  He may love us well as
the children of our poor mother, but we are not the daughters he had
dreamed of.  Do you understand me, sister?"

"Yes, yes--that is perhaps what occasioned all his sorrow.  We are so
badly informed, so wild, so awkward, that he is no doubt ashamed of us;
and, as he loves us in spite of all, it makes him suffer."

"Alas! it is not our fault.  Our dear mother brought us up in the deserts
of Siberia as well as she could."

"Oh! father himself does not reproach us with it; only it gives him

"Particularly if he has friends whose daughters are very beautiful, and
possessed of all sorts of talents.  Then he must bitterly regret that we
are not the same."

"Dost remember when he took us to see our cousin, Mdlle. Adrienne, who
was so affectionate and kind to us, that he said to us, with admiration:
'Did you notice her, my children?  How beautiful she is, and what talent,
what a noble heart, and therewith such grace and elegance!'"

"Oh, it is very true!  Mdlle. de Cardoville is so beautiful, her voice is
so sweet and gentle, that, when we saw and heard her, we fancied that all
our troubles were at an end."

"And it is because of such beauty, no doubt, that our father, comparing
us with our cousin and so many other handsome young ladies, cannot be
very proud of us.  And he, who is so loved and honored, would have liked

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