List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v11, by Eugene Sue
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twang, and the devout lady bowed her head respectfully.

"Grace has at length touched the heart of this impious man," continued
Rodin, "and so effectually that, in his ascetic enthusiasm, he has
already wished to take the vows which will bind him forever to our divine

"So soon, father?" said the princess, in astonishment.

"Our statutes are opposed to this precipitation, unless in the case of a
penitent in articulo mortis--on the very gasp of death--should such a
person consider it necessary for his salvation to die in the habit of our
Order, and leave us all his wealth for the greater glory of the Lord."

"And is M. Hardy in so dangerous a condition, father?"

"He has a violent fever.  After so many successive calamities, which have
miraculously brought him into the path of salvation," said Rodin,
piously, "his frail and delicate constitution is almost broken up,
morally and physically.  Austerities, macerations, and the divine joys of
ecstasy, will probably hasten his passage to eternal life, and in a few
clays," said the priest, shaking his head with a solemn air, "perhaps--"

"So soon as that, father?"

"It is almost certain.  I have therefore made use of my dispensations, to
receive the dear penitent, as in articulo mortis, a member of our divine
Company, to which, in the usual course, he has made over all his
possessions, present and to come--so that now he can devote himself
entirely to the care of his soul, which will be one victim more rescued
from the claws of Satan."

"Oh, father!" cried the lady, in admiration; "it is a miraculous
conversion.  Father d'Aigrigny told me how you had to contend against the
influence of Abbe Gabriel."

"The Abbe Gabriel," replied Rodin, "has been punished for meddling with
what did not concern him.  I have procured his suspension, and he has
been deprived of his curacy.  I hear that he now goes about the cholera-
hospitals to administer Christian consolation; we cannot oppose that--but
this universal comforter is of the true heretical stamp."

"He is a dangerous character, no doubt," answered the princess, "for he
has considerable influence over other men.  It must have needed all your
admirable and irresistible eloquence to combat the detestable counsels of
this Abbe Gabriel, who had taken it into his head to persuade M. Hardy to
return to the life of the world.  Really, father, you are a second St.

"Tut, tut, madame!" said Rodin, abruptly, for he was very little sensible
to flattery; "keep that for others."

"I tell you that you're a second St. Chrysostom father," repeated the
princess with enthusiasm; "like him, you deserve the name of Golden

"Stuff, madame!" said Rodin, brutally, shrugging his shoulders; "my lips
are too pale, my teeth too black, for a mouth of gold.  You must be only

"But, father--"

"No, madame, you will not catch old birds with chaff," replied Rodin,
harshly.  "I hate compliments, and I never pay them."

"Your modesty must pardon me, father," said the princess, humbly; "I
could not resist the desire to express to you my admiration, for, as you
almost predicted, or at least foresaw, two members of the Rennepont
family, have, within the last few months, resigned all claim to the

Rodin looked at Madame de Saint-Dizier with a softened and approving air,
as he heard her thus describe the position of the two defunct claimants.
For, in Rodin's view of the case, M. Hardy, in consequence of his
donation and his suicidal asceticism, belonged no longer to this world.

The lady continued: "One of these men, a wretched artisan, has been led
to his ruin by the exaggeration of his vices.  You have brought the other
into the path of salvation, by carrying out his loving and tender
qualities.  Honor, then. to your foresight, father! for you said that you
would make use of the passions to attain your end."

"Do not boast too soon," said Rodin, impatiently.  "Have you forgotten
your niece, and the Hindoo, and the daughters of Marshal Simon?  Have
they also made a Christian end, or resigned their claim to share in this

"No, doubtless."

"Hence, you see, madame, we should not lose time in congratulating
ourselves on the past, but make ready for the future.  The great day
approaches.  The first of June is not far off.  Heaven grant we may not
see the four surviving members of the family continue to live impenitent
up to that period, and so take possession of this enormous property--the
source of perdition in their hands--but productive of the glory of the
Church in the hands of our Company!"

"True, father!"

"By the way, you were to see your lawyers on the subject of your niece?"

"I have seen them, father.  However uncertain may be the chance of which
I spoke, it is worth trying.  I shall know to-day, I hope, if it is
legally possible."

"Perhaps then,--in the new condition of life to which she would be
reduced, we might find means to effect her conversion," said Rodin, with
a strange and hideous smile; "until now, since she has been so fatally
brought in contact with the Oriental, the happiness of these two pagans
appears bright and changeless as the diamond.  Nothing bites into it, not
even Faringhea's tooth.  Let us hope that the Lord will wreak justice on
their vain and guilty felicity!"

This conversation was here interrupted by Father d'Aigrigny, who entered
the room with an air of triumph, and exclaimed, "Victory!"

"What do you say"' asked the princess.

"He is gone--last night," said Father d'Aigrigny.

"Who?" said Rodin.

"Marshal Simon," replied the abbe.

"At last!" said Rodin, unable to hide his joy.

"It was no doubt his interview with General d'Havrincourt which filled up
the measure," cried the princess, "for I know he had a long conversation
with the general, who like so many others, believed the reports in
circulation.  All means are good against the impious!" added the
princess, by way of moral.

"Have you any details?" asked Rodin.

"I have just left Robert," said Father d'Aigrigny.  "His age and
description agree with the marshal's, and the latter travels with his
papers.  Only one thing has greatly surprised your emissary."

"What is that?" said Rodin.

"Until now, he had always to contend with the hesitations of the marshal,
and had moreover noticed his gloomy and desponding air.  Yesterday, on
the contrary, he found him so bright with happiness, that he could not
help asking him the cause of the alteration."

"Well?" said Rodin and the princess together, both extremely surprised.

"The marshal answered: 'I am indeed the happiest man in the world; for I
am going joyfully to accomplish a sacred duty!"

The three actors in this scene looked at each other in silence.

"And what can have produced this sudden change in the mind of the
marshal?" said the princess, with a pensive air.  "We rather reckon on
sorrow and every kind of irritation to urge him to engage in this
adventurous enterprise."

"I cannot make it out," said Rodin, reflecting; "but no matter--he is
gone.  We must not lose a moment, to commence operations on his
daughters.  Has he taken that infernal soldier with him?"

"No," said Father d'Aigrigny; "unfortunately, he has not done so.  Warned
by the past, he will redouble his precautions; and a man, whom we might
have used against him at a pinch, has just been taken with the

"Who is that?" asked the princess.

"Morok.  I could count upon him anywhere and for anything.  He is lost to
us; for, should he recover from the cholera, I fear he will fall a victim
to a horrible and incurable disease."

"How so?"

"A few days ago, he was bitten by one of the mastiffs of his menagerie,
and, the next day, the dog showed symptoms of hydrophobia."

"Ah! it is dreadful," cried the princess; "and where is this unfortunate

"He has been taken to one of the temporary hospitals established in
Paris, for at present he has only been attacked with cholera.  It is
doubly unfortunate, I repeat, for he was a devoted, determined fellow,
ready for anything.  Now this soldier, who has the care of the orphans,
will be very difficult to get at, and yet only through him can we hope to
reach Marshal Simon's daughters."

"That is clear," said Rodin, thoughtfully.

"Particularly since the anonymous letters have again awakened his
suspicions," added Father d'Aigrigny "and--"

"Talking of the anonymous letters," said Rodin suddenly, interrupting
Father d'Aigrigny, "there is a fact that you ought to know; I will tell
you why."

"What is it?"

"Besides the letters that you know of, Marshal Simon has received a
number of others unknown to you, in which, by every possible means, it is
tried to exasperate his irritation against yourself--for they remind him
of all the reasons he has to hate you, and mock at him, because your
sacred character shelters you from his vengeance."

Father d'Aigrigny looked at Rodin with amazement, colored in spite of
himself, and said to him: "But for what purpose has your reverence acted
in this manner?"

"First of all, to clear myself of suspicion with regard to the letters;
then, to excite the rage of the marshal to madness, by incessantly
reminding him of the just grounds he has to hate you, and of the
impossibility of being avenged upon you.  This, joined to the other
emotions of sorrow and anger, which ferment in the savage bosom of this
man of bloodshed, tended to urge him on to the rash enterprise, which is
the consequence and the punishment of his idolatry for a miserable

"That may be," said Father d'Aigrigny, with an air of constraint: "but I
will observe to your reverence, that it was, perhaps, rather dangerous
thus to excite Marshal Simon against me."

"Why?" asked Rodin, as he fixed a piercing look upon Father d'Aigrigny.

"Because the marshal, excited beyond all bounds, and remembering only our
mutual hate, might seek me out--"

"Well! and what then?"

"Well! he might forget that I am a priest--"

"Oh, you are afraid are you?" said Rodin, disdainfully, interrupting
Father d'Aigrigny.

At the words: "You are afraid," the reverend father almost started from
his chair; but recovering his coolness, he answered: "Your reverence is
right; yes, I should be afraid under such circumstances; I should be
afraid of forgetting that I am a priest, and of remembering too well that
I have been a soldier."

"Really?" said Rodin, with sovereign contempt.  "You are still no further
than that stupid and savage point of honor?  Your cassock has not yet
extinguished the warlike fire?  So that if this brawling swordsman, whose
poor, weak head, empty and sonorous as a drum, is so easily turned with
the stupid jargon of 'Military honor, oaths, Napoleon II.'--if this
brawling bravo, I say, were to commit some violence against you, it would
require a great effort, I suppose, for you to remain calm?"

"It is useless, I think," said Father d'Aigrigny, quite unable to control
his agitation, "for your reverence to enter upon such questions."

"As your superior," answered Rodin, severely, "I have the right to ask.
If Marshal Simon had lifted his hand against you--"

"Sir," cried the reverend father.

"There are no sirs here--we are only priests," said Rodin, harshly.
Father d'Aigrigny held down his head, scarcely able to repress his rage.

"I ask you," continued Rodin, obstinately, "if Marshal Simon had struck
you?  Is that clear?"

"Enough! in mercy," said Father d'Aigrigny, "enough!"

"Or, if you like it better, had Marshal Simon left the marks of his
fingers on your cheek?" resumed Rodin, with the utmost pertinacity.

Father d'Aigrigny, pale as death, ground his teeth in a kind of fury at
the very idea of such an insult, while Rodin, who had no doubt his object
in asking the question, raised his flabby eyelids, and seemed to watch
attentively the significant symptoms revealed in the agitated countenance
of the ex-colonel.

At length, recovering partly his presence of mind, Father d'Aigrigny
replied, in a forcedly calm tone: "If I were to be exposed to such an
insult, I would pray heaven to give me resignation and humility."

"And no doubt heaven would hear your prayers," said Rodin, coldly,
satisfied with the trial to which he had just put him.  "Besides, you are
now warned, and it is not very probable," added he, with a grim smile,
"that Marshal Simon will ever return to test your humility.  But if he
were to return," said Rodin, fixing on the reverend father a long and
piercing look, "you would know how to show this brutal swordsman, in
spite of all his violence, what resignation and humility there is in a
Christian soul!"

Two humble knocks at the door here interrupted the conversation for a
moment.  A footman entered, bearing a large sealed packet on a salver,
which he presented to the princess.  After this, he withdrew.  Princess
de Saint-Dizier, having by a look asked Rodin's permission to open the
letter, began to read it--and a cruel satisfaction was soon visible on
her face.

"There is hope," cried she addressing herself to Rodin: "the demand is
rigorously legal, and the consequence may be such as we desire.  In a
word, my niece may, any day, be exposed to complete destitution.  She,
who is so extravagant! what a change in her life!"

"We shall then no doubt have some hold on that untamable character," said
Rodin with a meditative air; "for, till now, all has failed in that
direction, and one would suppose some kinds of happiness are
invulnerable," added the Jesuit, gnawing his flat and dirty nails.

"But, to obtain the result we desire, we must exasperate my niece's
pride.  It is, therefore, absolutely necessary, that I should see and
talk to her," said the Princess de Saint-Dizier, reflecting.

"Mdlle. de Cardoville will refuse this interview," said Father

"Perhaps," replied the princess.  "But she is so happy that her audacity
must be at its height.  Yes, yes--I know her--and I will write in such a
manner, that she will come."

"You think so?" asked Rodin, with a doubtful air.

"Do not fear it, father," answered the lady, "she will come.  And her
pride once brought into play, we may hope a good deal from it."

"We must then act, lady," resumed Rodin; "yes, act promptly.  The moment
approaches.  Hate and suspicion are awake.  There is not a moment to

"As for hate," replied the princess, "Mdlle. de Cardoville must have seen
to what her lawsuit would lead, about what she called her illegal
detention in a lunatic asylum, and that of the two young ladies in St.
Mary's Convent.  Thank heaven, we have friends everywhere!  I know from
good authority, that the case will break down from want of evidence, in
spite of the animosity of certain parliamentary magistrates, who shall be
well remembered."

"Under these circumstances," replied Rodin, "the departure of the marshal
gives us every latitude.  We must act immediately on his daughters."

"But how?" said the princess.

"We must see them," resumed Rodin, "talk with them, study them.  Then we
shall act in consequence."

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