List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v10, by Eugene Sue
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finding himself unable to open the door, said in a deep bass voice:
"What, dearest puss, have you shut yourself in?  Are you praying Saint-
Flambard for the return of Philly?" (short for Philemon.)

Adrienne, not coshing to increase, by prolonging it, the awkwardness of
this ridiculous situation, went straight to the door and opened it, to
the great surprise of Philemon, who recoiled two or three steps.
Notwithstanding the annoyance of this incident, Mdlle. de Cardoville
could not help smiling at sight of Rose-Pompon's lover, and of the
articles he carried in his hand or under his arm.

Philemon was a tall fellow, with dark hair and a very fresh color, and,
being just arrived from a journey, he wore a white cap; his thick, black
beard flowed down on his sky-blue waistcoat; and a short olive-colored
velvet shooting-coat, with extravagantly large plaid trousers, completed
his costume.  As for the accessories which had provoked a smile from
Adrienne, they consisted: first, of a portmanteau tucked under his arm,
with the head and neck of a goose protruding from it; secondly, of a cage
held in his hand, with an enormous white rabbit all alive within it.

"Oh! the darling white rabbit! what pretty red eyes!"  Such, it must be
confessed, was the first exclamation of Rose-Pompon, though Philemon, to
whom it was not addressed, had returned after a long absence; but the
student far from being shocked at seeing himself thus sacrificed to his
long-earned companion, smiled complacently, rejoicing at the success of
his attempt to please his mistress.

All this passed very rapidly.  While Rose-Pompon, kneeling before the
cage, was still occupied with her admiration of the rabbit, Philemon,
struck with the lofty air of Mdlle. de Cardoville, raised his hand to his
cap, and bowed respectfully as he made way for her to pass.  Adrienne
returned his salutation with politeness, full of grace and dignity, and,
lightly descending the stairs, soon disappeared.  Dazzled by her beauty,
as well as impressed with her noble and lofty bearing, and curious to
know how in the world Rose-Pompon had fallen in with such an
acquaintance, Philemon said to her, in his amorous jargon: "Dearest puss!
tell her Philly who is that fine lady?"

"One of my school-fellows, you great satyr!" said Rose-Pompon, still
playing with the rabbit.

Then, glancing at a box, which Philemon deposited close to the cage and
the portmanteau, she added: "I'll wager anything you have brought me some
more preserves!"

"Philly has brought something better to his dear puss," said the student,
imprinting two vigorous kisses on the rosy cheeks of Rose-Pompon, who had
at length, consented to stand up; "Philly has brought her his heart."

"Fudge!" said the grisette, delicately placing the thumb of her left hand
on the tip of her nose, and opening the fingers, which she slightly moved
to and fro.  Philemon answered this provocation by putting his arm around
her waist; and then the happy pair shut their door.



During the interview of Adrienne with Rose-Pompon a touching scene took
place between Agricola and Mother Bunch, who had been much surprised at
Mdlle. de Cardoville's condescension with regard to the grisette.
Immediately after the departure of Adrienne, Agricola had knelt down
beside Mother Bunch, and said to her, with profound emotion: "We are
alone, and I can at length tell you what weighs upon my heart.  This act
is too cruel--to die of misery and despair, and not to send to me for

"Listen to me, Agricola--"

"No, there is no excuse for this.  What! we called each other by the
names of brother and sister, and for fifteen years gave every proof of
sincere affection--and, when the day of misfortune comes, you quit life
without caring for those you must leave behind--without considering that
to kill yourself is to tell them they are indifferent to you!"

"Forgive me, Agricola! it is true.  I had never thought of that," said
the workgirl, casting down her eyes; "but poverty--want of work--"

"Misery! want of work! and was I not here?"

"And despair!"

"But why despair?  This generous young lady had received you in her
house; she knew your worth, and treated you as her friend--and just at
the moment when you had every chance of happiness, you leave the house
abruptly, and we remain in the most horrible anxiety on your account."

"I feared--to be--to be a burden to my benefactress," stammered she.

"You a burden to Mdlle. de Cardoville, that is so rich and good!"

"I feared to be indiscreet," said the sewing-girl, more and more

Instead of answering his adopted sister, Agricola remained silent, and
contemplated her for some moments with an undefinable expression; then he
exclaimed suddenly, as if replying to a question put by himself: "She
will forgive me for disobeying her.--I am sure of it."

He next turned towards Mother Bunch, who was looking at him in
astonishment, and said to her in a voice of emotion: "I am too frank to
keep up this deception.  I am reproaching you--blaming you--and my
thoughts are quite different."

"How so, Agricola?"

"My heart aches, when I think of the evil I have done you."

"I do not understand you, my friend; you have never done me any evil."

"What! never? even in little things? when, for instance, yielding to a
detestable habit, I, who loved and respected you as my sister, insulted
you a hundred times a day?"

"Insulted me!"

"Yes--when I gave you an odious and ridiculous nickname, instead of
calling you properly."

At these words, Mother Bunch looked at the smith in the utmost alarm,
trembling lest he had discovered her painful secret, notwithstanding the
assurance she had received from Mdlle. de Cardoville.  Yet she calmed
herself a little when she reflected, that Agricola might of himself have
thought of the humiliation inflicted on her by calling her Mother Bunch,
and she answered him with a forced smile.  "Can you be grieved at so
small a thing?  It was a habit, Agricola, from childhood.  When did your
good and affectionate mother, who nevertheless loved me as her daughter,
ever call me anything else?"

"And did my mother consult you about my marriage, speak to you of the
rare beauty of my bride, beg you to come and see her, and study her
character, in the hope that the instinct of your affection for me would
warn you--if I made a bad choice?  Did my mother have this cruelty?--No;
it was I, who thus pierced your heart!"

The fears of the hearer were again aroused; there could be but little
doubt that Agricola knew her secret.  She felt herself sinking with
confusion; yet, making a last effort not to believe the discovery, she
murmured in a feeble voice: "True, Agricola!  It was not your mother, but
yourself, who made me that request--and I was grateful to you for such a
mark of confidence."

"Grateful, my poor girl!" cried the smith, whilst his eyes filled with
tears; "no, it is not true.  I pained you fearfully--I was merciless--
heaven knows, without being aware of it!"

"But," said the other, in a voice now almost unintelligible, "what makes
you think so?"

"Your love for me!" cried the smith, trembling with emotion, as he
clasped Mother Bunch in a brotherly embrace.

"Oh heaven!" murmured the unfortunate creature, as she covered her face
with her hands, "he knows all."

"Yes, I know all," resumed Agricola, with an expression of ineffable
tenderness and respect: "yes, I know all, and I will not have you blush
for a sentiment, which honors me, and of which I feel so justly proud.
Yes, I know all; and I say to myself with joy and pride, that the best,
the most noble heart in the world is mine--will be mine always.  Come,
Magdalen; let us leave shame to evil passions.  Raise your eyes, and look
at me!  You know, if my countenance was ever false--if it ever reflected
a feigned emotion.  Then look and tell me, if you cannot read in my
features, how proud I am, Magdalen, how justly proud of your love!"

Overwhelmed with grief and confusion, Mother Bunch had not dared to look
on Agricola; but his words expressed so deep a conviction, the tones of
his voice revealed so tender an emotion, that the poor creature felt her
shame gradually diminish, particularly when Agricola added, with rising
animation: "Be satisfied, my sweet, my noble Magdalen; I will be worthy
of this love.  Believe me, it shall yet cause you as much happiness as it
has occasioned tears.  Why should this love be a motive for estrangement,
confusion, fear?  For what is love, in the sense in which it is held by
your generous heart?  Is it not a continual exchange of devotion,
tenderness, esteem, of mutual and blind confidence?--Why, Magdalen! we
may have all this for one another--devotion, tenderness, confidence--even
more than in times past; for, on a thousand occasions, your secret
inspired you with fear and suspicion--while, for the future, on the
contrary, you will see me take such delight in the place I fill in your
good and valiant heart, that you will be happy in the happiness you
bestow.  What I have just said may seem very selfish and conceited; so
much the worse!  I do not know how to lie."

The longer the smith spoke, the less troubled became Mother Bunch.  What
she had above all feared in the discovery of her secret was to see it
received with raillery, contempt, or humiliating compassion; far from
this, joy and happiness were distinctly visible on the manly and honest
face of Agricola.  The hunchback knew him incapable of deception;
therefore she exclaimed, this time without shame or confusion, but rather
with a sort of pride.

"Every sincere and pure passion is so far good and con soling as to end
by deserving interest and sympathy, when it has triumphed over its first
excess! It is alike honorable to the heart which feels and that which
inspires it!--Thanks to you, Agricola--thanks to the kind words, which
have raised me in my own esteem--I feel that, instead of blushing, I
ought to be proud of this love.  My benefactress is right--you are right:
why should I be ashamed of it?  Is it not a true and sacred love?  To be
near you, to love you, to tell you so, to prove it by constant devotion,
what did I ever desire more?  And yet shame and fear, joined with that
dizziness of the brain which extreme misery produces, drove me to
suicide!--But then some allowance must be made for the suspicions of a
poor creature, who has been the subject of ridicule from her cradle.  So
my secret was to die with me, unless some unforeseen accident should
reveal it to you; and, in that case, you are right--sure of myself, sure
of you, I ought to have feared nothing.  But I may claim some indulgence;
mistrust, cruel mistrust of one's self makes one doubt others also.  Let
us forget all that.  Agricola, my generous brother, I will say to you, as
you said to me just now, 'Look at me; you know my countenance cannot lie.
Look at me: see if I shun your gaze; see if, ever in my life, I looked so
happy'--and yet, even now, I was about to die!"

She spoke the truth.  Agricola himself could not have hoped so prompt an
effect from his words.  In spite of the deep traces which misery, grief,
and sickness had imprinted on the girl's features, they now shone with
radiant happiness and serenity, whilst her blue eyes, gentle and pure as
her soul, were fixed, without embarrassment, on those of Agricola.

"Oh! thanks, thanks!" cried the smith, in a rapture of delight: "when I
see you so calm, and so happy, Magdalen, I am indeed grateful."

"Yes, I am calm, I am happy," replied she; "and happy I shall be, for I
can now tell you my most secret thoughts.  Yes, happy; for this day,
which began so fatally, ends like a divine dream.  Far from being afraid,
I now look at you with hope and joy.  I have again found my generous
benefactress, and I am tranquil as to the fate of my poor sister.  Oh!
shall we not soon see her?  I should like her to take part in this

She seemed so happy, that the smith did not dare to inform her of the
death of Cephyse, and reserved himself to communicate the same at a more
fitting opportunity.  Therefore he answered: "Cephyse, being the
stronger, has been the more shaken; it will not be prudent, I am told, to
see her to-day."

"I will wait then.  I can repress my impatience, I have so much to say to

"Dear, gentle Magdalen!"

"Oh, my friend!" cried the girl, interrupting Agricola, with tears of
joy: "I cannot tell you what I feel, when I hear you call me Magdalen.
It is so sweet, so soothing, that my heart expands with delight."

"Poor girl! how dreadfully she must have suffered!" cried the smith, with
inexpressible emotion, "when she displays so much happiness, so much
gratitude, at being called by her own poor name!"

"But consider, my friend; that word in your mouth contains a new life for
me.  If you only knew what hopes, what pleasures I can now see gleaming
in the future!  If you knew all the cherished longings of my tenderness!
Your wife, the charming Angela, with her angel face and angel-soul--oh!
in my turn, I can say to, you, 'Look at me, and see how sweet that name
is to my lips and heart!'  Yes, your charming, your good Angela will call
me Magdalen--and your children, Agricola, your children!--dear little
creatures!--to them also I shall be Magdalen--their good Magdalen--and
the love I shall bear them will make them mine, as well as their
mother's--and I shall have my part in every maternal care--and they will
belong to us three; will they not, Agricola?--Oh! let me, let me weep!
These tears without bitterness do me so much good; they are tears that
need not be concealed.  Thank heaven! thank you, my friend! those other
tears are I trust dried forever."

For some seconds, this affecting scene had been overlooked by an
invisible witness.  The smith and Mother Bunch had not perceived Mdlle.
de Cardoville standing on the threshold of the door.  As Mother Bunch had
said, this day, which dawned with all under such fatal auspices, had
become for all a day of ineffable felicity.  Adrienne, too, was full of
joy, for Djalma had been faithful to her, Djalma loved her with passion.
The odious appearances, of which she had been the dupe and victim,
evidently formed part of a new plot of Rodin, and it only remained for
Mdlle. de Cardoville to discover the end of these machinations.

Another joy was reserved for her.  The happy are quick in detecting
happiness in others, and Adrienne guessed, by the hunchback's last words,
that there was no longer any secret between the smith and the sempstress.
She could not therefore help exclaiming, as she entered: "Oh! this
will be the brightest day of my life, for I shall not be happy alone!"

Agricola and Mother Bunch turned round hastily.  "Lady," said the smith,
"in spite of the promise I made you, I could not conceal from Magdalen
that I knew she loved me!"

"Now that I no longer blush for this love before Agricola, why should I
blush for it before you, lady, that told me to be proud of it, because it
is noble and pure?" said Mother Bunch, to whom her happiness gave

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