List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v10, by Eugene Sue
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

strength enough to rise, and to lean upon Agricola's arm.

"It is well, my friend," said Adrienne, as she threw her arms round her
to support her; "only one word, to excuse the indiscretion with which you
will perhaps reproach me.  If I told your secret to M. Agricola--"

"Do you know why it was, Magdalen?" cried the smith, interrupting
Adrienne.  "It was only another proof of the lady's delicate generosity.
'I long hesitate to confide to you this secret,' said she to me this
morning, 'but I have at length made up my mind to it.  We shall probably
find your adopted sister; you have been to her the best of brothers: but
many times, without knowing it, you have wounded her feelings cruelly--
and now that you know her secret, I trust in your kind heart to keep it
faithfully, and so spare the poor child a thousand pangs--pangs the more
bitter, because they come from you, and are suffered in silence.  Hence,
when you speak to her of your wife, your domestic happiness, take care
not to gall that noble and tender heart.'--Yes, Magdalen, these were the
reasons that led the lady to commit what she called an indiscretion."

"I want words to thank you now and ever," said Mother Bunch.

"See, my friend," replied Adrienne, "how often the designs of the wicked
turn against themselves.  They feared your devotion to me, and therefore
employed that unhappy Florine to steal your journal--"

"So as to drive me from your house with shame, lady, When I supposed my
most secret thoughts an object of ridicule to all.  There can be no doubt
such was their plan," said Mother Bunch.

"None, my child.  Well! this horrible wickedness, which nearly caused
your death, now turns to the confusion of the criminals.  Their plot is
discovered--and, luckily, many other of their designs," said Adrienne, as
she thought of Rose-Pompon.

Then she resumed, with heartfelt joy: "At last, we are again united,
happier than ever, and in our very happiness we shall find new resources
to combat our enemies.  I say our enemies--for all that love me are
odious to these wretches.  But courage, the hour is come, and the good
people will have their turn."

"Thank heaven, lady," said the smith; "or my part, I shall not be wanting
in zeal.  What delight to strip them of their mask!"

"Let me remind you, M. Baudoin, that you have an appointment for to-
morrow with M. Hardy."

"I have not forgotten it, lady, any more than the generous offers I am to
convey to him."

"That is nothing.  He belongs to my family.  Tell him (what indeed I
shall write to him this evening), that the funds necessary to reopen his
factory are at his disposal; I do not say so for his sake only, but for
that of a hundred families reduced to want.  Beg him to quit immediately
the fatal abode to which they have taken him: for a thousand reasons he
should be on his guard against all that surround him."

"Be satisfied, lady.  The letter he wrote to me in reply to the one I got
secretly delivered to him, was short, affectionate, sad--but he grants me
the interview I had asked for, and I am sure I shall be able to persuade
him to leave that melancholy dwelling, and perhaps to depart with me, he
has always had so much confidence in my attachment."

"Well, M. Baudoin, courage!" said Adrienne, as she threw her cloak over
the workgirl's shoulders, and wrapped her round with care.  "Let us be
gone, for it is late.  As soon as we get home, I will give you a letter
for M. Hardy, and to-morrow you will come and tell me the result of your
visit.  No, not to-morrow," she added, blushing slightly.  "Write to me
to-morrow, and the day after, about twelve, come to me."

Some minutes later, the young sempstress, supported by Agricola and
Adrienne, had descended the stairs of that gloomy house, and, being
placed in the carriage by the side of Mdlle. de Cardoville, she earnestly
entreated to be allowed to see Cephyse; it was in vain that Agricola
assured her it was impossible, and that she should see her the next day.
Thanks to the information derived from Rose-Pompon, Mdlle. de Cardoville
was reasonably suspicious of all those who surrounded Djalma, and she
therefore took measures, that, very evening, to have a letter delivered
to the prince by what she considered a sure hand.



It is the evening of the day on which Mdlle. de Cardoville prevented the
sewing-girl's suicide.  It strikes eleven; the night is dark; the wind
blows with violence, and drives along great black clouds, which
completely hide the pale lustre of the moon.  A hackney-coach, drawn by
two broken-winded horses, ascends slowly and with difficulty the slope of
the Rue Blanche, which is pretty steep near the barrier, in the part
where is situated the house occupied by Djalma.

The coach stops.  The coachman, cursing the length of an interminable
drive "within the circuit," leading at last to this difficult ascent,
turns round on his box, leans over towards the front window of the
vehicle, and says in a gruff tone to the person he is driving: "Come! are
we almost there?  From the Rue de Vaugirard to the Barriere Blanche, is a
pretty good stretch, I think, without reckoning that the night is so
dark, that one can hardly see two steps before one--and the street-lamps
not lighted because of the moon, which doesn't shine, after all!"

"Look out for a little door with a portico-drive on about twenty yards
beyond--and then stop close to the wall," answered a squeaking voice,
impatiently, and with an Italian accent.

"Here is a beggarly Dutchman, that will make me as savage as a bear?"
muttered the angry Jehu to himself.  Then he added: "Thousand thunders! I
tell you that I can't see.  How the devil can I find out your little

"Have you no sense?  Follow the wall to the right, brush against it, and
you will easily find the little door.  It is next to No. 50.  If you do
not find it, you must be drunk," answered the Italian, with increased

The coachman only replied by swearing like a trooper, and whipping up his
jaded horses.  Then, keeping close to the wall, he strained his eyes in
trying to read the numbers of the houses, by the aid of his carriage-

After some moments, the coach again stopped.  "I have passed No. 50, and
here is a little door with a portico," said the coachman.  "Is that the

"Yes," said the voice.  "Now go forward some twenty yards, and then

"Well! I never--"

"Then get down from your box, and give twice three knocks at the little
door we have just passed--you understand me?--twice three knocks."

"Is that all you give me to drink?" cried the exasperated coachman.

"When you have taken me back to the Faubourg Saint-Germain, where I live,
you shall have something handsome, if you do but manage matters well."

"Ha! now the Faubourg Saint-Germain! Only that little bit of distance!"
said the driver, with repressed rage.  "And I who have winded my horses,
wanted to be on the boulevard by the time the play was out.  Well, I'm
blowed!"  Then, putting a good face on his bad luck, and consoling
himself with the thought of the promised drink-money, he resumed: "I am
to give twice three knocks at the little door?"

"Yes; three knocks first--then pause--then three other knocks.  Do you

"What next?"

"Tell the person who comes, that he is waited for, and bring him here to
the coach."

"The devil burn you!" said the coachman to himself, as he turned round on
the box, and whipped up his horses, adding: "this crusty old Dutchman has
something to do with Free-masons, or, perhaps, smugglers, seeing we are
so near the gates.  He deserves my giving him in charge, for bringing me
all the way from the Rue de Vaugirard."

At twenty steps beyond the little door, the coach again stopped, and the
coachman descended from the box to execute the orders he had received.
Going to the little door, he knocked three times; then paused, as he had
been desired, and then knocked three times more.  The clouds, which had
hitherto been so thick as entirely to conceal the disk of the moon, just
then withdrew sufficiently to afford a glimmering light, so that when the
door opened at the signal, the coachman saw a middle-sized person issue
from it, wrapped in a cloak, and wearing a colored cap.

This man carefully locked the door, and then advanced two steps into the
street.  "They are waiting for you," said the coachman; "I am to take you
along with me to the coach."

Preceding the man with the cloak, who only answered him by a nod, he led
him to the coach-door, which he was about to open, and to let down the
step, when the voice exclaimed from the inside: "It is not necessary.
The gentleman may talk to me through the window.  I will call you when it
is time to start."

"Which means that I shall be kept here long enough to send you to all the
devils!" murmured the driver.  "However, I may as well walk about, just
to stretch my legs."

So saying, he began to walk up and down, by the side of the wall in which
was the little door.  Presently he heard the distant sound of wheels,
which soon came nearer and nearer, and a carriage, rapidly ascending the
slope, stopped on the other side of the little garden-door.

"Come, I say! a private carriage!" said the coachman.  "Good horses
those, to come up the Rue Blanche at a trot."

The coachman was just making this observation, when, by favor of a
momentary gleam of light, he saw a man step from the carriage, advance
rapidly to the little door, open it, and go in, closing it after him.

"It gets thicker and thicker!" said the coachman.  "One comes out, and
the other goes in."

So saying, he walked up to the carriage.  It was splendidly harnessed,
and drawn by two handsome and vigorous horses.  The driver sat
motionless, in his great box-coat, with the handle of his whip resting on
his right knee.

"Here's weather to drive about in, with such tidy dukes as yours,
comrade!" said the humble hackney-coachman to this automaton, who
remained mute and impassible, without even appearing to know that he was
spoken to.

"He doesn't understand French--he's an Englishman.  One could tell that
by his horses," said the coachman, putting this interpretation on the
silence of his brother whip.  Then, perceiving a tall footman at a little
distance, dressed in a long gray livery coat, with blue collar and silver
buttons, the coachman addressed himself to him, by way of compensation,
but without much varying his phrase: "Here's nice weather to stand about
in, comrade!"  On the part of the footman, he was met with the same
imperturbable silence.

"They're both Englishmen," resumed the coachman, philosophically; and,
though somewhat astonished at the incident of the little door, he
recommenced his walk in the direction of his own vehicle.

While these facts were passing, the man in the cloak, and the man with
the Italian accent continued their conversation, the one still in the
coach, and the other leaning with his hand on the door.  It had already
lasted for some time, and was carried on in Italian.  They were evidently
talking of some absent person, as will appear from the following.

"So," said the voice from the coach, "that is agreed to?"

"Yes, my lord," answered the man in the cloak; "but only in case the
eagle should become a serpent."

"And, in the contrary event, you will receive the other half of the ivory
crucifix I gave you."

"I shall know what it means, my lord."

"Continue to merit and preserve his confidence."

"I will merit and preserve it, my lord, because I admire and respect this
man, who is stronger than the strongest, by craft, and courage, and will.
I have knelt before him with humility, as I would kneel before one of the
three black idols that stand between Bowanee and her worshippers; for his
religion, like mine, teaches to change life into nothingness."

"Humph!" said the voice, in a tone of some embarrassment; "these
comparisons are useless and inaccurate.  Only think of obeying him,
without explaining your obedience."

"Let him speak, and I perform his will!  I am in his hands like a corpse,
as he himself expresses it.  He has seen, he sees every day, my devotion
to his interests with regard to Prince Djalma.  He has only to say: 'Kill
him!'and this son of a king--"

"For heaven's salve, do not have such ideas!" cried the voice,
interrupting the man in the cloak.  "Thank heaven, you will never be
asked for such proofs of your submission."

"What I am ordered I do.  Bowanee sees me."

"I do not doubt your zeal.  I know that you are a loving and intelligent
barrier, placed between the prince and many guilty interests; and it is
because I have heard of that zeal, of your skill in circumventing this
young Indian, and, above all, of the motives of your blind devotion, that
I have wished to inform you of everything.  You are the fanatical
worshipper of him you serve.  That is well; man should be the obedient
slave of the god he chooses for himself."

"Yes, my lord; so long as the god remains a god."

"We understand each other perfectly.  As for your recompense, you know
what I have promised."

"My lord, I have my reward already."

"How so?"

"I know what I know."

"Very well.  Then as for secrecy--"

"You have securities, my lord."

"Yes--and sufficient ones."

"The interest of the cause I serve, my lord, would alone be enough to
secure my zeal and discretion."

"True; you are a man of firm and ardent convictions."

"I strive to be so, my lord."

"And, after all, a very religious man in your way.  It is very
praiseworthy, in these irreligious times, to have any views at all on
such matters--particularly when those views will just enable me to count
upon your aid."

"You may count upon it, my lord, for the same reason that the intrepid
hunter prefers a jackal to ten foxes, a tiger to ten jackals, a lion to
ten tigers, and the welmiss to ten lions."

"What is the welmiss?"

"It is what spirit is to matter, the blade to the scabbard, the perfume
to the flower, the head to the body."

"I understand.  There never was a more just comparison.  You are a man of
sound judgment.  Always recollect what you have just told me, and make
yourself more and more worthy of the confidence of--your idol."

"Will he soon be in a state to hear me, my lord?"

"In two or three days, at most.  Yesterday a providential crisis saved
his life; and he is endowed with so energetic a will, that his cure will
be very rapid."

"Shall you see him again to-morrow, my lord?"

"Yes, before my departure, to bid him farewell."

"Then tell him a strange circumstance, of which I have not been able to
inform him, but which happened yesterday."

"What was it?"

"I had gone to the garden of the dead.  I saw funerals everywhere, and
lighted torches, in the midst of the black night, shining upon tombs.
Bowanee smiled in her ebon sky.  As I thought of that divinity of
destruction, I beheld with joy the dead-cart emptied of its coffins.  The
immense pit yawned like the mouth of hell; corpses were heaped upon
corpses, and still it yawned the same.  Suddenly, by the light of a

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: