List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v2, by Eugene Sue
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"Pshaw, my dear M. Dupont!" said Rodin, with an air of sorrowful and
affectionate reproach, "how can you think me capable of giving you evil
counsel?--I was only making a supposition.  You wish to remain bailiff on
this estate.  I offer you the certainty of doing so--it is for you to
consider and decide."

"But, sir--"

"One word more--or rather one more condition--as important as the other.
Unfortunately, we have seen clergymen take advantage of the age and
weakness of their penitents, unfairly to benefit either themselves or
others: I believe our protege incapable of any such baseness--but, in
order to discharge my responsibility--and yours also, as you will have
contributed to his appointment--I must request that you will write to me
twice a week, giving the most exact detail of all that you have remarked
in the character, habits, connections, pursuits, of Madame de la Sainte-
Colombe--for the influence of a confessor, you see, reveals itself in the
whole conduct of life, and I should wish to be fully edified by the
proceedings of my friend, without his being aware of it--or, if anything
blameable were to strike you, I should be immediately informed of it by
this weekly correspondence."

"But, sir--that would be to act as a spy?" exclaimed the unfortunate

"Now, my dear M. Dupont! how can you thus brand the sweetest, most
wholesome of human desires--mutual confidence?--I ask of you nothing
else--I ask of you to write to me confidentially the details of all that
goes on here.  On these two conditions, inseparable one from the other,
you remain bailiff; otherwise, I shall be forced, with grief and regret,
to recommend some one else to Madame de la Sainte-Colombe."

"I beg you, sir," said Dupont, with emotion, "Be generous without any
conditions!--I and my wife have only this place to give us bread, and we
are too old to find another.  Do not expose our probity of forty years'
standing to be tempted by the fear of want, which is so bad a

"My dear M. Dupont, you are really a great child: you must reflect upon
this, and give me your answer in the course of a week."

"Oh, sir! I implore you--"  The conversation was here interrupted by a
loud report, which was almost instantaneously repeated by the echoes of
the cliffs.  "What is that?" said M. Rodin.  Hardly had he spoken, when
the same noise was again heard more distinctly than before.

"It is the sound of cannon," cried Dupont, rising; "no doubt a ship in
distress, or signaling for a pilot."

"My dear," said the bailiffs wife, entering abruptly, "from the terrace,
we can see a steamer and a large ship nearly dismasted--they are drifting
right upon the shore--the ship is firing minute gulls--it will be lost."

"Oh, it is terrible!" cried the bailiff, taking his hat and preparing to
go out, "to look on at a shipwreck, and be able to do nothing!"

"Can no help be given to these vessels?" asked M. Rodin.

"If they are driven upon the reefs, no human power can save them; since
the last equinox two ships have been lost on this coast."

"Lost with all on board?--Oh, very frightful," said M. Rodin.

"In such a storm, there is but little chance for the crew; no matter,"
said the bailiff, addressing his wife, "I will run down to the rocks with
the people of the farm, and try to save some of them, poor creatures!--
Light large fires in several rooms--get ready linen, clothes, cordials--I
scarcely dare hope to save any, but we must do our best.  Will you come
with me, M. Rodin?"

"I should think it a duty, if I could be at all useful, but I am too old
and feeble to be of any service," said M. Rodin, who was by no means
anxious to encounter the storm.  "Your good lady will be kind enough to
show me the Green Chamber, and when I have found the articles I require,
I will set out immediately for Paris, for I am in great haste."

"Very well, sir.  Catherine will show you.  Ring the big bell," said the
bailiff to his servant; "let all the people of the farm meet me at the
foot of the cliff, with ropes and levers."

"Yes, my dear," replied Catherine; "but do not expose yourself."

"Kiss me--it will bring me luck," said the bailiff; and he started at a
full run, crying: "Quick! quick; by this time not a plank may remain of
the vessels."

"My dear madam," said Rodin, always impassible, "will you be obliging
enough to show me the Green Chamber?"

"Please to follow me, sir," answered Catherine, drying her tears--for she
trembled on account of her husband, whose courage she well knew.



The sea is raging.  Mountainous waves of dark green, marbled with white
foam, stand out, in high, deep undulations, from the broad streak of red
light, which extends along the horizon.  Above are piled heavy masses of
black and sulphurous vapor, whilst a few lighter clouds of a reddish
gray, driven by the violence of the wind, rush across the murky sky.

The pale winter sun, before he quite disappears in the great clouds,
behind which he is slowly mounting, casts here and there some oblique
rays upon the troubled sea, and gilds the transparent crest of some of
the tallest waves.  A band of snow-white foam boils and rages as far as
the eye can reach, along the line of the reefs that bristle on this
dangerous coast.

Half-way up a rugged promontory, which juts pretty far into the sea,
rises Cardoville Castle; a ray of the sun glitters upon its windows; its
brick walls and pointed roofs of slate are visible in the midst of this
sky loaded with vapors.

A large, disabled ship, with mere shreds of sail still fluttering from
the stumps of broken masts, drives dead upon the coast.  Now she rolls
her monstrous hull upon the waves--now plunges into their trough.  A
flash is seen, followed by a dull sound, scarcely perceptible in the
midst of the roar of the tempest.  That gun is the last signal of
distress from this lost vessel, which is fast forging on the breakers.

At the same moment, a steamer, with its long plume of black smoke, is
working her way from east to west, making every effort to keep at a
distance from the shore, leaving the breakers on her left.  The dismasted
ship, drifting towards the rocks, at the mercy of the wind and tide, must
some time pass right ahead of the steamer.

Suddenly, the rush of a heavy sea laid the steamer upon her side; the
enormous wave broke furiously on her deck; in a second the chimney was
carried away, the paddle box stove in, one of the wheels rendered
useless.  A second white-cap, following the first, again struck the
vessel amidships, and so increased the damage that, no longer answering
to the helm, she also drifted towards the shore, in the same direction as
the ship.  But the latter, though further from the breakers, presented a
greater surface to the wind and sea, and so gained upon the steamer in
swiftness that a collision between the two vessels became imminent--a new
clanger added to all the horrors of the now certain wreck.

The ship was an English vessel, the "Black Eagle," homeward bound from
Alexandria, with passengers, who arriving from India and Java, via the
Red Sea, had disembarked at the Isthmus of Suez, from on board the
steamship "Ruyter."  The "Black Eagle," quitting the Straits of
Gibraltar, had gone to touch at the Azores.  She headed thence for
Portsmouth, when she was overtaken in the Channel by the northwester.
The steamer was the "William Tell," coming from Germany, by way of the
Elbe, and bound, in the last place, for Hamburg to Havre.

These two vessels, the sport of enormous rollers, driven along by tide
and tempest, were now rushing upon the breakers with frightful speed.
The deck of each offered a terrible spectacle; the loss of crew and
passengers appeared almost certain, for before them a tremendous sea
broke on jagged rocks, at the foot of a perpendicular cliff.

The captain of the "Black Eagle," standing on the poop, holding by the
remnant of a spar, issued his last orders in this fearful extremity with
courageous coolness.  The smaller boats had been carried away by the
waves; it was in vain to think of launching the long-boat; the only
chance of escape in case the ship should not be immediately dashed to
pieces on touching the rocks, was to establish a communication with the
land by means of a life-line--almost the last resort for passing between
the shore and a stranded vessel.

The deck was covered with passengers, whose cries and terror augmented
the general confusion.  Some, struck with a kind of stupor, and clinging
convulsively to the shrouds, awaited their doom in a state of stupid
insensibility.  Others wrung their hands in despair, or rolled upon the
deck uttering horrible imprecations.  Here, women knelt down to pray;
there, others hid their faces in their hands, that they might not see the
awful approach of death.  A young mother, pale as a specter, holding her
child clasped tightly to her bosom, went supplicating from sailor to
sailor, and offering a purse full of gold and jewels to any one that
would take charge of her son.

These cries, and tears, and terror contrasted with the stern and silent
resignation of the sailors.  Knowing the imminence of the inevitable
danger, some of them stripped themselves of part of their clothes,
waiting for the moment to make a last effort, to dispute their lives with
the fury of the waves; others renouncing all hope, prepared to meet death
with stoical indifference.

Here and there, touching or awful episodes rose in relief, if one may so
express it, from this dark and gloomy background of despair.

A young man of about eighteen or twenty, with shiny black hair, copper-
colored complexion, and perfectly regular and handsome features,
contemplated this scene of dismay and horror with that sad calmness
peculiar to those who have often braved great perils; wrapped in a cloak,
he leaned his back against the bulwarks, with his feet resting against
one of the bulkheads.  Suddenly, the unhappy mother, who, with her child
in her arms, and gold in her hand, had in vain addressed herself to
several of the mariners, to beg them to save her boy, perceiving the
young man with the copper-colored complexion, threw herself on her knees
before him, and lifted her child towards him with a burst of
inexpressible agony.  The young man took it, mournfully shook his head,
and pointed to the furious waves--but, with a meaning gesture, he
appeared to promise that he would at least try to save it.  Then the
young mother, in a mad transport of hope, seized the hand of the youth,
and bathed it with her tears.

Further on, another passenger of the "Black Eagle," seemed animated by
sentiments of the most active pity.  One would hardly have given him
five-and-twenty years of age.  His long, fair locks fell in curls on
either side of his angelic countenance.  He wore a black cassock and
white neck-band.  Applying himself to comfort the most desponding, he
went from one to the other, and spoke to them pious words of hope and
resignation; to hear him console some, and encourage others, in language
full of unction, tenderness, and ineffable charity, one would have
supposed him unaware or indifferent to the perils that he shared.

On his fine, mild features, was impressed a calm and sacred intrepidity,
a religious abstraction from every terrestrial thought; from time to
time, he raised to heaven his large blue eyes, beaming with gratitude,
love, and serenity, as if to thank God for having called him to one of
those formidable trials in which the man of humanity and courage may
devote himself for his brethren, and, if not able to rescue them at all,
at least die with them, pointing to the sky.  One might almost have taken
him for an angel, sent down to render less cruel the strokes of
inexorable fate.

Strange contrast! not far from this young man's angelic beauty, there was
another being, who resembled an evil spirit!

Boldly mounted on what was left of the bowsprit, to which he held on by
means of some remaining cordage, this man looked down upon the terrible
scene that was passing on the deck.  A grim, wild joy lighted up his
countenance of a dead yellow, that tint peculiar to those who spring from
the union of the white race with the East.  He wore only a shirt and
linen drawers; from his neck was suspended, by a cord, a cylindrical tin
box, similar to that in which soldiers carry their leave of absence.

The more the danger augmented, the nearer the ship came to the breakers,
or to a collision with the steamer, which she was now rapidly
approaching--a terrible collision, which would probably cause the two
vessels to founder before even they touched the rocks--the more did the
infernal joy of this passenger reveal itself in frightful transports.  He
seemed to long, with ferocious impatience, for the moment when the work
of destruction should be accomplished.  To see him thus feasting with
avidity on all the agony, the terror, and the despair of those around
him, one might have taken him for the apostle of one of those sanguinary
deities, who, in barbarous countries, preside over murder and carnage.

By this time the "Black Eagle," driven by the wind and waves, came so
near the "William Tell" that the passengers on the deck of the nearly
dismantled steamer were visible from the first-named vessel.

These passengers were no longer numerous.  The heavy sea, which stove in
the paddle-box and broke one of the paddles, had also carried away nearly
the whole of the bulwarks on that side; the waves, entering every instant
by this large opening, swept the decks with irresistible violence, and
every time bore away with them some fresh victims.

Amongst the passengers, who seemed only to have escaped this danger to be
hurled against the rocks, or crushed in the encounter of the two vessels,
one group was especially worthy of the most tender and painful interest.
Taking refuge abaft, a tall old man, with bald forehead and gray
moustache, had lashed himself to a stanchion, by winding a piece of rope
round his body, whilst he clasped in his arms, and held fast to his
breast, two girls of fifteen or sixteen, half enveloped in a pelisse of
reindeer-skin.  A large, fallow, Siberian dog, dripping with water, and
barking furiously at the waves, stood close to their feet.

These girls, clasped in the arms of the old man, also pressed close to
each other; but, far from being lost in terror, they raised their eyes to
heaven, full of confidence and ingenuous hope, as though they expected to
be saved by the intervention of some supernatural power.

A frightful shriek of horror and despair, raised by the passengers of
both vessels, was heard suddenly above the roar of the tempest.  At the
moment when, plunging deeply between two waves, the broadside of the
steamer was turned towards the bows of the ship, the latter, lifted to a
prodigious height on a mountain of water, remained, as it were, suspended
over the "William Tell," during the second which preceded the shock of
the two vessels.

There are sights of so sublime a horror, that it is impossible to
describe them.  Yet, in the midst of these catastrophes, swift as

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