List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v11, by Eugene Sue
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

missionary in his turn succeeded in tripping up his adversary, and,
throwing him with a vigorous effort, again seized his hands, and now held
him down beneath his knee.  Having thus completely mastered him, Gabriel
turned his head to call for assistance, when Morok, by a desperate
strain, succeeded in raising himself a little, and seized with his teeth
the left arm of the missionary.  At this sharp, deep, horrible bite,
which penetrated to the very bone, Gabriel could not restrain a scream of
anguish and horror.  He strove in vain to disengage himself, for his arm
was held fast, as in a vice, between the firm-set jaws of Morok.

This frightful scene had lasted less time than it has taken in the
description, when suddenly the door leading to the passage was violently
opened, and several courageous men, who had learned from the patients to
what danger the young priest was exposed, came rushing to his assistance,
in spite of his recommendation not to enter till he should call.  The
attendant was amongst the number, with the brazier and the hot irons.
Gabriel, as soon as he perceived him, said to him in an agitated voice:
"Quick, friend! your iron.  Thank God I had thought of that."

One of the men who had entered the room was luckily provided with a
blanket; and the moment the missionary succeeded in wresting his arm from
the clinched teeth of Morok, whom he still held down with his knee, this
blanket was thrown over the madman's head, so that he could now be held
and bound without danger, notwithstanding his desperate resistance.  Then
Gabriel rose, tore open the sleeve of his cassock, and laying bare his
left arm, on which a deep bite was visible, bleeding, of a bluish color,
he beckoned the attendant to draw near, seized one of the hot irons, and,
with a firm and sure hand, twice applied the burning metal to the wound,
with a calm heroism which struck all the spectators, with admiration.
But soon so many various emotions, intrepidly sustained, were followed by
a natural reaction.  Large drops of sweat stood upon Gabriel's brow; his
long light hair clung to his temples; he grew deadly pale, reeled, lost
his senses, and was carried into the next room to receive immediate

An accidental circumstance, likely enough to occur, had converted one of
the Princess de Saint-Dizier's falsehoods into a truth.  To induce the
orphans to go to the hospital, she had told them Gabriel was there, which
at the time she was far from believing.  On the contrary, she would have
wished to prevent a meeting, which, from the attachment of the missionary
to the girls, might interfere with her projects.  A little while after
the terrible scene we have just related, Rose and Blanche, accompanied by
Sister Martha, entered a vast room, of a strange and fatal aspect,
containing a number of women who had suddenly been seized with cholera.

These immense apartments, generously supplied for the purpose of a
temporary hospital, had been furnished with excessive luxury.  The room
now occupied by the sick women, of whom we speak, had been used for a
ball-room.  The white panels glittered with sumptuous gilding, and
magnificent pier-glasses occupied the spaces between the windows, through
which could be seen the fresh verdure of a pleasant garden, smiling
beneath the influence of budding May.  In the midst of all this gilded
luxury, on a rich, inlaid floor of costly woods, were seen arranged in
regular order four rows of beds, of every shape and kind, from the humble
truckle-bed to the handsome couch in carved mahogany.

This long room was divided into two compartments by a temporary
partition, four or five feet in height.  They had thus been able to
manage the four rows of beds.  This partition finished at some little
distance from either end of the room, so as to leave an open space
without beds, for the volunteer attendants, when the sick did not require
their aid.  At one of these extremities of the room was a lofty and
magnificent marble chimney piece, ornamented with gilt bronze.  On the
fire beneath, various drinks were brewing for the patients.  To complete
the singular picture, women of every class took their turns in attending
upon the sick, to whose sighs and groans they always responded with
consoling words of hope and pity.  Such was the place, strange and
mournful, that Rose and Blanche entered together, hand in hand, a short
time after Gabriel had displayed such heroic courage in the struggle
against Morok.  Sister Martha accompanied Marshal Simon's daughters.
After speaking a few words to them in a whisper, she pointed out to them
the two divisions in which the beds were arranged, and herself went to
the other end of the room to give some orders.

The orphans, still under the impression of the terrible danger from which
Gabriel had rescued them without their knowing it, were both excessively
pale; yet their eyes were expressive of firm resolution.  They had
determined not only to perform what they considered an imperative duty,
but to prove themselves worthy of their valiant father; they were acting
too for their mother's sake, since they had been told that, dying in
Siberia without receiving the sacrament, her eternal felicity might
depend on the proofs they gave of Christian devotion.  Need we add that
the Princess de Saint-Dizier, following the advice of Rodin, had, in a
second interview, skillfully brought about without the knowledge of
Dagobert, taken advantage of the excitable qualities of these poor,
confiding, simple, and generous souls, by a fatal exaggeration of the
most noble and courageous sentiments.  The orphans having asked Sister
Martha if Madame Augustine du Tremblay had been brought to this asylum
within the last three days, that person had answered, that she really did
not know, but, if they would go through the women's wards, it would be
easy for them to ascertain.  For the abominable hypocrite, who, in
conjunction with Rodin, had sent these two children to encounter a mortal
peril, had told an impudent falsehood when she affirmed that their
governess had been removed to this hospital.  During their exile, and
their toilsome journey with Dagobert, the sisters had been exposed to
many hard trials.  But never had they witnessed so sad a spectacle as
that which now offered itself to their view.

The long row of beds, on which so many poor creatures writhed in agony,
some uttering deep groans, some only a dull rattle in the throat, some
raving in the delirium of fever, or calling on those from whom they were
about to part forever--these frightful sights and sounds, which are too
much even for brave men, would inevitably, (such was the execrable design
of Rodin and his accomplices) make a fatal impression on these young
girls, urged by the most generous motives to undertake this perilous
visit.  And then--sad memory! which awoke, in all its deep and poignant
bitterness, by the side of the first beds they came to--it was of this
very malady, the Cholera, that their mother had died a painful death.
Fancy the twins entering this vast room, of so fearful an aspect, and,
already much shaken by the terror which Morok had inspired, pursuing
their search in the midst of these unfortunate creatures, whose dying
pangs reminded them every instant of the dying agony of their mother!
For a moment, at sight of the funeral hall, Rose and Blanche had felt
their resolution fail them.  A black presentiment made them regret their
heroic imprudence; and, moreover, since several minutes they had begun to
feel an icy shudder, and painful shootings across the temples; but,
attributing these symptoms to the fright occasioned by Morok, their good
and valiant natures soon stifled all these fears.  They exchanged glances
of affection, their courage revived, and both of them--Rose on one side
of the partition, and Blanche on the other--proceeded with their painful
task.  Gabriel, carried to the doctors' private room, had soon recovered
his senses.  Thanks to his courage and presence of mind, his wound,
cauterized in time, could have no dangerous consequences.  As soon as it
was dressed he insisted on returning to the women's ward, where he had be
offering pious consolations to a dying person at the moment they had come
to inform him of the frightful danger caused by the escape of Morok.

A few minutes before the missionary entered the room, Rose and Blanche
arrived almost together at the term of their mournful search, one from
the left, the other from the right-hand row of beds, separated by the
partition which divided the hall into compartments.  The sisters had not
yet seen each other.  Their steps tottered as they advanced, and they
were forced, from time to time, to lean against the beds as they passed
along.  Their strength was--rapidly failing them.  Giddy with fear and
pain, they appeared to act almost mechanically.  Alas! the orphans had
been seized almost at the same moment with the terrible symptoms of
cholera.  In consequence of that species of physiological phenomenon, of
which we have already spoken--a phenomenon by no means rare in twins,
which had already been displayed on one or two occasions of their
sickness--their organizations seemed liable to the same sensations, the
same simultaneous accidents, like two flowers on one stem, which bloom
and fade together.  The sight of so much suffering, and so many deaths,
had accelerated the development of this dreadful disease.  Already, on
their agitated and altered countenances, they bore the mortal tokens of
the contagion, as they came forth, each on her own side, from the two
subdivisions of the room in which they had vainly sought their governess.
Until now separated by the partition, Rose and Blanche had not yet seen
each other; but, when at length their eyes met, there ensued a heart-
rending scene.



To the charming freshness of the sisters' faces had succeeded a livid
pallor.  Their large blue eyes, now hollow and sunk in, appeared of
enormous dimensions.  Their lips, once so rosy, were now suffused with a
violet hue, and a similar color was gradually displacing the transparent
carmine of their cheeks and fingers.  It was as if all the roses in their
charming countenances were fading and turning blue before the icy blast
of death.

When the orphans met, tottering and hardly able to sustain themselves, a
cry of mutual horror burst from their lips.  Each of them exclaimed, at
sight of the fearful change in her sister's features.  "Are you also ill,
sister?"  And then, bursting into tears, they threw themselves into each
other's arms, and looked anxiously at one another.

"Good heaven, Rose! how pale you are!"

"Like you, sister."

"And do you feel a cold shudder?"

"Yes, and my sight fails me."

"My bosom is all on fire."

"Sister, we are perhaps going to die."

"Let it only be together!"

"And our poor father?"

"And Dagobert?"

"Sister, our dream has come true!" cried Rose, almost deliriously, as she
threw her arms round Blanche's neck.  "Look! look! the Angel Gabriel is
here to fetch us."

Indeed, at this moment, Gabriel entered the open space at the end of the
room.  "Heaven! what do I see?" cried the young priest.  "The daughters
of Marshal Simon!"

And, rushing forward, he received the sisters in his arms, for they were
no longer able to stand.  Already their drooping heads, their half-closed
eyes, their painful and difficult breathing, announced the approach of
death.  Sister Martha was close at hand.  She hastened to respond to the
call of Gabriel.  Aided by this pious woman, he was able to lift the
orphans upon a bed reserved for the doctor in attendance.  For fear that
the sight of this mournful agony should make too deep an impression on
the other patients, Sister Martha drew a large curtain, and the sisters
were thus in some sort walled off from the rest of the room.  Their hands
had been so tightly clasped together, during a nervous paroxysm, that it
was impossible to separate them.  It was in this position that the first
remedies were applied--remedies incapable of conquering the violence of
the disease, but which at least mitigated for a few moments the excessive
pains they suffered, and restored some faint glimmer of perception to
their obscured and troubled senses.  At this moment, Gabriel was leaning
over the bed with a look of inexpressible grief.  With breaking heart,
and face bathed in tears, he thought of the strange destiny, which thus
made him a witness of the death of these girls, his relations, whom but a
few months before he had rescued from the horrors of the tempest.  In
spite of his firmness of soul, the missionary could not help shuddering
as he reflected on the fate of the orphans, the death of Jacques
Rennepont, and the fearful devices by which M. Hardy, retired to the
cloistered solitude of St. Herein, had become a member of the Society of
Jesus almost in dying.  The missionary said to himself, that already four
members of the Rennepont family--his family--had been successively struck
down by some dreadful fate; and he asked himself with alarm, how it was
that the detestable interests of the Society of Loyola should be served
by a providential fatality?  The astonishment of the young missionary
would have given place to the deepest horror, could he have known the
part that Rodin and his accomplices had taken, both in the death of
Jacques Rennepont, by exciting, through Morok, the evil propensities of
the artisan, and in the approaching end of Rose and Blanche, by
converting, through the Princess de Saint-Dizier, the generous
inspirations of the orphans into suicidal heroism.

Roused for a moment from the painful stupor in which they had been
plunged, Rose and Blanche half-opened their large eyes, already dull and
faded.  Then, more and more bewildered they both gazed fixedly at the
angelic countenance of Gabriel.

"Sister," said Rose, in a faint voice, "do you see the archangel--as in
our dreams, in Germany?"

"Yes--three days ago--he appeared to us."

"He is come to fetch us."

"Alas! will our death save our poor mother from purgatory?"

"Angel! blessed angel! pray God for our mother--and for us!"  Until now,
stupefied with amazement and sorrow, almost suffocated with sobs, Gabriel
had not been able to utter a word.  But at these words of the orphans, he
exclaimed: "Dear children, why doubt of your mother's salvation?  Oh!
never did a purer soul ascend to its Creator.  Your mother?  I know from
my adopted father, that her virtues and courage were the admiration of
all who knew her.  Oh! believe me; God has blessed her."

"Do you hear, sister?" cried Rose, as a ray of celestial joy illumined
for an instant the livid faces of the orphans.  "God has blessed our

"Yes, yes," resumed Gabriel; "banish these gloomy ideas.  Take courage,
poor children!  You must not die.  Think of your father."

"Our father?" said Blanche, shuddering; and she continued, with a mixture
of reason and wild excitement, which would have touched the soul of the
most indifferent: "Alas! he will not find us on his return.  Forgive us,

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: