List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v11, by Eugene Sue
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breathed their last sigh in a voluptuous agony.



Adrienne and Djalma died on the 30th of May.  The following scene took
place on the 31st, the eve of the day appointed for the last convocation
of the heirs of Marius de Rennepont.  The reader will no doubt remember
the room occupied by M. Hardy, in the "house of retreat," in the Rue de
Vaugirard--a gloomy and retired apartment, opening on a dreary little
garden, planted with yew-trees, and surrounded by high walls.  To reach
this chamber, it was necessary to cross two vast rooms, the doors of
which, once shut, intercepted all noise and communication from without.
Bearing this in mind, we may go on with our narrative.  For the last
three or four days, Father d'Aigrigny occupied this apartment.  He had
not chosen it, but had been induced to accept it, under most plausible
pretexts, given him at the instigation of Rodin.  It was about noon.
Seated in an arm-chair, by the window opening on the little garden,
Father d'Aigrigny held in his hand a newspaper, in which he read as
follows, under the head of "Paris:"

"Eleven p.m.--A most horrible and tragical event has just excited the
greatest consternation in the quarter of the Rue de Richelieu.  A double
murder has been committed, on the person of a young man and woman.  The
girl was killed on the spot, by the stroke of a dagger; hopes are
entertained of saving the life of the young man.  The crime is attributed
to jealousy.  The officers of justice are investigating the matter.  We
shall give full particulars tomorrow."

When he had read these lines, Father d'Aigrigny threw down the paper and
remained in deep thought.

"It is incredible," said he, with bitter envy, in allusion to Rodin.  "He
has attained his end.  Hardly one of his anticipations has been defeated.
This family is annihilated, by the mere play of the passions, good and
evil that he has known how to set in motion.  He said it would be so.
Oh! I must confess," added Father d'Aigrigny, with a jealous and hateful
smile, "that Rodin is a man of rare dissimulation, patience, energy,
obstinacy and intelligence.  Who would have told a few months ago, when
he wrote under my orders, a discreet and humble socius, that he had
already conceived the most audacious ambition, and dared to lift his eyes
to the Holy See itself? that, thanks to intrigues and corruption, pursued
with wondrous ability, these views were not so unreasonable?  Nay, that
this infernal ambition would soon be realized, were it not that the
secret proceedings of this dangerous man have long been as secretly
watched?--Ah!" sneered Father d'Aigrigny, with a smile of irony and
triumph, "you wish to be a second Sixtus V., do you?  And, not content
with this audacious pretension, you mean, if successful, to absorb our
Company in the Papacy, even as the Sultan has absorbed the Janissaries.
Ah! You would make us your stepping-stone to power!  And you have thought
to humiliate and crush me with your insolent disdain!  But patience,
patience: the day of retribution approaches.  I alone am the depository
of our General's will.  Father Caboccini himself does not know that.  The
fate of Rodin is in my hands.  Oh! it will not be what he expects.  In
this Rennepont affair (which, I must needs confess, he has managed
admirably), he thinks to outwit us all, and to work only for himself.
But to-morrow--"

Father d'Aigrigny was suddenly disturbed in these agreeable reflections.
He heard the door of the next room open, and, as he turned round to see
who was coming, the door of the apartment in which he was turned upon its
hinges.  Father d'Aigrigny started with surprise, and became almost
purple.  Marshal Simon stood before him.  And, behind the marshal, in the
shadow of the door, Father d'Aigrigny perceived the cadaverous face of
Rodin.  The latter cast on him one glance of diabolical delight, and
instantly disappeared.  The door was again closed, and Father d'Aigrigny
and Marshal Simon were left alone together.  The father of Rose and
Blanche was hardly recognizable.  His gray hair had become completely
white.  His pale, thin face had not been shaved for some days.  His
hollow eyes were bloodshot and restless, and had in them something wild
and haggard.  He was wrapped in a large cloak, and his black cravat was
tied loosely about his neck.  In withdrawing from the apartment, Rodin
had (as if by inadvertence) double-locked the door on the outside.  When
he was alone with the Jesuit, the marshal threw back his cloak from his
shoulders, and Father d'Aigrigny could see two naked swords, stuck
through a silk handkerchief which served him as a belt.

Father d'Aigrigny understood it all.  He remembered how, a few days
before, Rodin had obstinately pressed him to say what he would do if the
marshal were to strike him in the face.  There could be no doubt that he,
who thought to have held the fate of Rodin in his hands, had been brought
by the latter into a fearful peril; for he knew that, the two outer rooms
being closed, there was no possibility of making himself heard, and that
the high walls of the garden only bordered upon some vacant lots.  The
first thought which occurred to him, one by no means destitute of
probability, was that Rodin, either by his agents at Rome, or by his own
incredible penetration, had learned that his fate depended on Father
d'Aigrigny, and hoped therefore to get rid of him, by delivering him over
to the inexorable vengeance of the father of Rose and Blanche.  Without
speaking a word, the marshal unbound the handkerchief from his waist,
laid the two swords upon the table, and, folding his arms upon his
breast, advanced slowly towards Father d'Aigrigny.  Thus these two men,
who through life had pursued each other with implacable hatred, at length
met face to face--they, who had fought in hostile armies, and measured
swords in single combat, and one of whom now came to seek vengeance for
the death of his children.  As the marshal approached, Father d'Aigrigny
rose from his seat.  He wore that day a black cassock, which rendered
still more visible the pale hue, which had now succeeded to the sudden
flush on his cheek.  For a few seconds, the two men stood face to face
without speaking.  The marshal was terrific in his paternal despair.  His
calmness, inexorable as fate, was more impressive than the most furious
burst of anger.

"My children are dead," said he at last, in a slow and hollow tone.  "I
come to kill you."

"Sir," cried Father d'Aigrigny, "listen to me.  Do not believe--"

"I must kill you," resumed the marshal, interrupting the Jesuit; "your
hate followed my wife into exile, where she perished.  You and your
accomplices sent my children to certain death.  For twenty years you have
been my evil genius.  I must have your life, and I will have it."

"My life belongs, first, to God," answered Father d'Aigrigny, piously,
"and then to who likes to take it."

"We will fight to the death in this room," said the marshal; "and, as I
have to avenge my wife and children, I am tranquil as to the result."

"Sir," answered Father d'Aigrigny, coldly, "you forget that my profession
forbids me to fight.  Once I accepted your challenge--but my position is
changed since then."

"Ah!" said the marshal, with a bitter smile; "you refuse to fight because
you are a priest?"

"Yes, sir--because I am a priest."

"So that, because he is a priest, a wretch like you may commit any crime,
any baseness, under shelter of his black gown?"

"I do not understand a word of your accusations.  In any case, the law is
open," said Father d'Aigrigny, biting his pale lips, for he felt deeply
the insult offered by the marshal; "if you have anything to complain of,
appeal to that law, before which all are equal."

Marshal Simon shrugged his shoulders in angry disdain.  "Your crimes
escape the law--and, could it even reach you, that would not satisfy my
vengeance, after all the evil you have done me, after all you have taken
from me," said the marshal; and, at the memory of his children, his voice
slightly trembled; but he soon proceeded, with terrible calmness: "You
must feel that I now only live for vengeance.  And I must have such
revenge as is worth the seeking--I must have your coward's heart
palpitating on the point of my sword.  Our last duel was play; this will
be earnest--oh! you shall see."

The marshal walked up to the table, where he had laid the two swords.
Father d'Aigrigny needed all his resolution to restrain himself.  The
implacable hate which he had always felt for Marshal Simon, added to
these insults, filled him with savage ardor.  Yet he answered, in a tone
that was still calm: "For the last time, sir, I repeat to you, that my
profession forbids me to fight."

"Then you refuse?" said the marshal, turning abruptly towards him.

"I refuse."


"Positively.  Nothing on earth should force me to it."


"No, sir; nothing."

"We shall see," said the marshal, as his hand fell with its full force on
the cheek of Father d'Aigrigny.

The Jesuit uttered a cry of fury; all his blood rushed to his face, so
roughly handled; the courage of the man (for he was brave), his ancient
military ardor, carried him away; his eyes sparkled, and, with teeth
firmly set, and clenched fists, he advanced towards the marshal,
exclaiming: "The swords! the swords!"

But suddenly, remembering the appearance of Rodin, and the interest which
the latter had in bringing about this encounter, he determined to avoid
the diabolical snare laid by his former socius, and so gathered
sufficient resolution to restrain his terrible resentment.

To his passing fury succeeded a calm, full of contrition; and, wishing to
play his part out to the end, he knelt down, and bowing his head and
beating his bosom, repeated: "Forgive me, Lord, for yielding to a
movement of rage! and, above all, forgive him who has injured me!"

In spite of his apparent resignation, the Jesuit's voice was neatly
agitated.  He seemed to feel a hot iron upon his cheek, for never before
in his life, whether as a soldier or a priest, had he suffered such an
insult.  He had thrown himself upon his knees, partly from religious
mummery, and partly to avoid the gaze of the marshal, fearing that, were
he to meet his eye, he should not be able to answer for himself, but give
way to his impetuous feelings.  On seeing the Jesuit kneel down, and on
hearing his hypocritical invocation, the marshal, whose sword was in his
hand, shook with indignation.

"Stand up, scoundrel!" he said, "stand up, wretch!"  And he spurned the
Jesuit with his boot.

At this new insult, Father d'Aigrigny leaped up, as if he had been moved
by steel springs.  It was too much; he could bear no more.  Blinded with
rage, he rushed to the able, caught up the other sword, and exclaimed,
grinding his teeth together: "Ah! you will have blood.  Well then! it
shall be yours--if possible!"

And the Jesuit, still in all the vigor of manhood, his face purple, his
large gray eyes sparkling with hate, fell upon his guard with the ease
and skill of a finished swordsman.

"At last!" cried the marshal, as their blades were about to cross.

But once more reflection came to damp the fire of the Jesuit.  He
remembered how this hazardous duel would gratify the wishes of Rodin,
whose fate was in his hands, and whom he hated perhaps even more than the
marshal.  Therefore, in spite of the fury which possessed him, in spite
of his secret hope to conquer in this combat, so strong and healthy did
he feel himself, and so fatal had been the effects of grief on the
constitution of Marshal Simon, he succeeded in mastering his rage, and,
to the amazement of the marshal, dropped the point of his sword,
exclaiming: "I am a minister of the Lord, and must not shed blood.
Forgive ne, heaven! and, oh! forgive my brother also."

Then placing the blade beneath his heel, he drew the hilt suddenly
towards him, and broke the weapon into two pieces.  The duel was no
longer possible.  Father d'Aigrigny had put it out of his own power to
yield to a new burst of violence, of which he saw the imminent danger.
Marshal Simon remained for an instant mute and motionless with surprise
and indignation, for he also saw that the duel was now impossible.  But,
suddenly, imitating the Jesuit, the marshal placed his blade also under
his heel, broke it in half, and picking up the pointed end, about
eighteen inches in length tore off his black silk cravat, rolled it round
the broken part so as to form a handle, and said to Father d'Aigrigny:
"Then we will fight with daggers."

Struck with this mixture of coolness and ferocity, the Jesuit exclaimed:
"Is this then a demon of hell?"

"No; it is a father, whose children have been murdered," said the
marshal, in a hollow voice, whilst he fitted the blade to his hand, and a
tear stood in the eye, that instantly after became fierce and ardent.

The Jesuit saw that tear.  There was in this mixture of vindictive rage
and paternal grief something so awful, and yet so sacred, that for the
first time in his life Father d'Aigrigny felt fear--cowardly, ignoble
fear--fear for his own safety.  While a combat with swords was in
question, in which skill, agility, and experience are such powerful
auxiliaries to courage, his only difficulty had been to repress the ardor
of his hate--but when he thought of the combat proposed, body to body,
face to face, heart to heart, he trembled, grew pale, and exclaimed: "A
butchery with knives?--never!"

His countenance and the accent betrayed his alarm, so that the marshal
himself was struck with it, and fearing to lose his revenge, he cried:
"After all, he is a coward!  The wretch had only the courage or the
vanity of a fencer.  This pitiful renegade--this traitor to his country--
whom I have cuffed, kicked--yes, kicked, most noble marquis!--shame of
your ancient house--disgrace to the rank of gentleman, old or new--ah! it
is not hypocrisy, it is not calculation, as I at first thought--it is
fear!  You need the noise of war, and the eyes of spectators to give you

"Sir--have a care!" said Father d'Aigrigny, stammering through his
clenched teeth, for rage and hate now made him forget his fear--

"Must I then spit on you, to make the little blood you have left rise to
your face?" cried the exasperated marshal.

"Oh! this is too much! too much!" said the Jesuit, seizing the pointed
piece of the blade that lay at his feet.

"It is not enough!" said the marshal, panting for breath.  "There,
Judas!" and he spat in his face.

"If you will not fight now," added the marshal, "I will beat you like a
dog, base child-murderer!"

On receiving the uttermost insult which can be offered to an already
insulted man, Father d'Aigrigny lost all his presence of mind, forgot his
interests, his resolutions, his fears, forgot even Rodin--felt only the
frenzied ardor of revenge--and, recovering his courage, rejoiced in the
prospect of a close struggle, in which his superior strength promised
success over the enfeebled frame of the marshal for, in this kind of

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