List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v2, by Eugene Sue
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thought, one catches sometimes a momentary glimpse of a picture, rapid
and fleeting, as if illumined by a flash of lightning.

Thus, when the "Black Eagle," poised aloft by the flood, was about to
crash down upon the "William Tell," the young man with the angelic
countenance and fair, waving locks bent over the prow of the ship, ready
to cast himself into the sea to save some victim.  Suddenly, he perceived
on board the steamer, on which he looked down from the summit of the
immense wave, the two girls extending their arms towards him in
supplication.  They appeared to recognize him, and gazed on him with a
sort of ecstacy and religious homage!

For a second, in spite of the horrors of the tempest, in spite of the
approaching shipwreck, the looks of those three beings met.  The features
of the young man were expressive of sudden and profound pity; for the
maidens with their hands clasped in prayer, seemed to invoke him as their
expected Saviour.  The old man, struck down by the fall of a plank, lay
helpless on the deck.  Soon all disappeared together.

A fearful mass of water dashed the "Black Eagle" down upon the "William
Tell," in the midst of a cloud of boiling foam.  To the dreadful crash of
the two great bodies of wood and iron, which splintering against one
another, instantly foundered, one loud cry was added--a cry of agony and
death--the cry of a hundred human creatures swallowed up at once by the

And then--nothing more was visible!

A few moments after, the fragments of the two vessels appeared in the
trough of the sea, and on the caps of the waves--with here and there the
contracted arms, the livid and despairing faces of some unhappy wretches,
striving to make their way to the reefs along the shore, at the risk of
being crushed to death by the shock of the furious breakers.



While the bailiff was gone to the sea-shore, to render help to those of
the passengers who might escape from the inevitable shipwreck, M. Rodin,
conducted by Catherine to the Green Chamber, had there found the articles
that he was to take with him to Paris.

After passing two hours in this apartment, very indifferent to the fate
of the shipwrecked persons, which alone absorbed the attention of the
inhabitants of the Castle, Rodin returned to the chamber commonly
occupied by the bailiff, a room which opened upon a long gallery.  When
he entered it he found nobody there.  Under his arm he held a casket,
with silver fastenings, almost black from age, whilst one end of a large
red morocco portfolio projected from the breast-pocket of his half-
buttoned great coat.

Had the cold and livid countenance of the Abbe d'Aigrigny's secretary
been able to express joy otherwise than by a sarcastic smile, his
features would have been radiant with delight; for, just then, he was
under the influence of the most agreeable thoughts.  Having placed the
casket upon a table, it was with marked satisfaction that he thus
communed with himself:

"All goes well.  It was prudent to keep these papers here till this
moment, for one must always be on guard against the diabolical spirit of
that Adrienne de Cardoville, who appears to guess instinctively what it
is impossible she should know.  Fortunately, the time approaches when we
shall have no more need to fear her.  Her fate will be a cruel one; it
must be so.  Those proud, independent characters are at all times our
natural enemies--they are so by their very essence--how much more when
they show themselves peculiarly hurtful and dangerous!  As for La Sainte-
Colombe, the bailiff is sure to act for us; between what the fool calls
his conscience, and the dread of being at his age deprived of a
livelihood, he will not hesitate.  I wish to have him because he will
serve us better than a stranger; his having been here twenty years will
prevent all suspicion on the part of that dull and narrow-minded woman.
Once in the hands of our man at Roiville, I will answer for the result.
The course of all such gross and stupid women is traced beforehand: in
their youth, they serve the devil; in riper years, they make others serve
him; in their old age, they are horribly afraid of him; and this fear
must continue till she has left us the Chateau de Cardoville, which, from
its isolated position, will make us an excellent college.  All then goes
well.  As for the affair of the medals, the 13th of February approaches,
without news from Joshua--evidently, Prince Djalma is still kept prisoner
by the English in the heart of India, or I must have received letters
from Batavia.  The daughters of General Simon will be detained at Leipsic
for at least a month longer.  All our foreign relations are in the best
condition.  As for our internal affairs--"

 Here M. Rodin was interrupted in the current of his reflections by the
entrance of Madame Dupont, who was zealously engaged in preparations to
give assistance in case of need.

"Now," said she to the servant, "light a fire in the next room; put this
warm wine there; your master may be in every minute."

"Well, my dear madam," said Rodin to her, "do they hope to save any of
these poor creatures?"

"Alas! I do not know, sir.  My husband has been gone nearly two hours.  I
am terribly uneasy on his account.  He is so courageous, so imprudent, if
once he thinks he can be of any service."

"Courageous even to imprudence," said Rodin to himself, impatiently; "I
do not like that."

"Well," resumed Catherine, "I have here at hand my hot linen, my
cordials--heaven grant it may all be of use!"

"We may at least hope so, my dear madam.  I very much regretted that my
age and weakness did not permit me to assist your excellent husband.  I
also regret not being able to wait for the issue of his exertions, and to
wish him joy if successful--for I am unfortunately compelled to depart,
my moments are precious.  I shall be much obliged if you will have the
carriage got ready."

"Yes, Sir; I will see about it directly."

"One word, my dear, good Madame Dupont.  You are a woman of sense, and
excellent judgment.  Now I have put your husband in the way to keep, if
he will, his situation as bailiff of the estate--"

"Is it possible?  What gratitude do we not owe you!  Without this place
what would become of us at our time of life?"

"I have only saddled my promise with two conditions--mere trifles--he
will explain all that to you."

"Ah, sir! we shall regard you as our deliverer."

"You are too good.  Only, on two little conditions--"

"If there were a hundred, sir we should gladly accept them.  Think what
we should be without this place--penniless--absolutely penniless!"

"I reckon upon you then; for the interest of your husband, you will try
to persuade him."

"Missus! I say, missus! here's master come back," cried a servant,
rushing into the chamber.

"Has he many with him?"

"No, missus; he is alone."

"Alone! alone?"

"Quite alone, missus."

A few moments after, M. Dupont entered the room; his clothes were
streaming with water; to keep his hat on in the midst of the storm, he
had tied it down to his head by means of his cravat, which was knotted
under his chin; his gaiters were covered with chalky stains.

"There I have thee, my dear love!" cried his wife, tenderly embracing
him.  "I have been so uneasy!"

"Up to the present moment--THREE SAVED."

"God be praised, my dear M. Dupont!" said Rodin; "at least your efforts
will not have been all in vain."

"Three, only three?" said Catherine.  "Gracious heaven!"

"I only speak of those I saw myself, near the little creek of Goelands.
Let us hope there may be more saved on other parts of the coast."

"Yes, indeed; happily, the shore is not equally steep in all parts."

"And where are these interesting sufferers, my dear sir?" asked Rodin,
who could not avoid remaining a few instants longer.

"They are mounting the cliffs, supported by our people.  As they cannot
walk very fast, I ran on before to console my wife, and to take the
necessary measures for their reception.  First of all, my dear, you must
get ready some women's clothes."

"There is then a woman amongst the persons saved?"

"There are two girls--fifteen or sixteen years of age at the most--mere
children--and so pretty!"

"Poor little things!" said Rodin, with an affectation of interest.

"The person to whom they owe their lives is with them.  He is a real

"A hero?"

"Yes; only fancy--"

"You can tell me all this by and by.  Just slip on this dry warm
dressing-gown, and take some of this hot wine.  You are wet through."

"I'll not refuse, for I am almost frozen to death.  I was telling you
that the person who saved these young girls was a hero; and certainly his
courage was beyond anything one could have imagined.  When I left here
with the men of the farm, we descended the little winding path, and
arrived at the foot of the cliff--near the little creek of Goelands,
fortunately somewhat sheltered from the waves by five or six enormous
masses of rock stretching out into the sea.  Well, what should we find
there?  Why, the two young girls I spoke of, in a swoon, with their feet
still in the water, and their bodies resting against a rock, as though
they had been placed there by some one, after being withdrawn from the

"Dear children! it is quite touching!" said M. Rodin, raising, as usual,
the tip of his little finger to the corner of his right eye, as though to
dry a tear, which was very seldom visible.

"What struck me was their great resemblance to each other," resumed the
bailiff; "only one in the habit of seeing them could tell the

"Twin--sisters, no doubt," said Madame Dupont.

"One of the poor things," continued the bailiff, "held between her
clasped hands a little bronze medal, which was suspended from her neck by
a chain of the same material."

Rodin generally maintained a very stooping posture; but at these last
words of the bailiff, he drew himself up suddenly, whilst a faint color
spread itself over his livid cheeks.  In any other person, these symptoms
would have appeared of little consequence; but in Rodin, accustomed for
long years to control and dissimulate his emotions, they announced no
ordinary excitement.  Approaching the bailiff, he said to him in a
slightly agitated voice, but still with an air of indifference: "It was
doubtless a pious relic.  Did you see what was inscribed on this medal?"

"No, sir; I did not think of it."

"And the two young girls were like one another--very much like, you say?"

"So like, that one would hardly know which was which.  Probably they are
orphans, for they are dressed in mourning."

"Oh! dressed in mourning?" said M. Rodin, with another start.

"Alas! orphans so young!" said Madame Dupont, wiping her eyes.

"As they had fainted away, we carried them further on to a place where
the sand was quite dry.  While we were busy about this, we saw the head
of a man appear from behind one of the rocks, which he was trying to
climb, clinging to it by one hand; we ran to him, and luckily in the nick
of time, for he was clean worn out, and fell exhausted into the arms of
our men.  It was of him I spoke when I talked of a hero; for, not content
with having saved the two young girls by his admirable courage, he had
attempted to rescue a third person, and had actually gone back amongst
the rocks and breakers--but his strength failed him, and, without the aid
of our men, he would certainly have been washed away from the ridge to
which he clung."

"He must indeed be a fine fellow!" said Catherine.

Rodin, with his head bowed upon his breast, seemed quite indifferent to
this conversation.  The dismay and stupor, in which he had been plunged,
only increased upon reflection.  The two girls, who had just been saved,
were fifteen years of age; were dressed in mourning; were so like, that
one might be taken for the other; one of them wore round her neck a chain
with a bronze medal; he could scarcely doubt that they were the daughters
of General Simon.  But how could those sisters be amongst the number of
shipwrecked passengers?  How could they have escaped from the prison at
Leipsic?  How did it happen, that he had not been informed of it?  Could
they have fled, or had they been set at liberty?  How was it possible
that he should not be apprise of such an event?  But these secondary
thoughts, which offered themselves in crowds to the mind of M. Rodin,
were swallowed up in the one fact: "the daughters of General Simon are
here!"--His plan, so laboriously laid, was thus entirely destroyed.

"When I speak of the deliverer of these young girls," resumed the
bailiff, addressing his wife, and without remarking M. Rodin's absence of
mind, "you are expecting no doubt to see a Hercules?--well, he is
altogether the reverse.  He is almost a boy in look, with fair, sweet
face, and light, curling locks.  I left him a cloak to cover him, for he
had nothing on but his shirt, black knee-breeches, and a pair of black
worsted stockings--which struck me as singular."

"Why, it was certainly not a sailor's dress."

"Besides, though the ship was English, I believe my hero is a Frenchman,
for he speaks our language as well as we do.  What brought the tears to
my eyes, was to see the young girls, when they came to themselves.  As
soon as they saw him, they threw themselves at his feet, and seemed to
look up to him and thank him, as one would pray.  Then they cast their
eyes around them, as if in search of some other person, and, having
exchanged a few words, they fell sobbing into each other's arms."

"What a dreadful thing it is!  How many poor creatures must have

"When we quitted the rocks, the sea had already cast ashore seven dead
bodies, besides fragments of the wrecks, and packages.  I spoke to some
of the coast-guard, and they will remain all day on the look-out; and if,
as I hope, any more should escape with life, they are to be brought here.
But surely that is the sound of voices!--yes, it is our shipwrecked

The bailiff and his wife ran to the door of the room--that door, which
opened on the long gallery--whilst Rodin, biting convulsively his flat
nails, awaited with angry impatience the arrival of the strangers.  A
touching picture soon presented itself to his view.

From the end of the dark some gallery, only lighted on one side by
several windows, three persons, conducted by a peasant, advanced slowly.
This group consisted of the two maidens, and the intrepid young man to
whom they owed their lives.  Rose and Blanche were on either side of
their deliverer, who, walking with great difficulty, supported himself
lightly on their arms.

Though he was full twenty-five years of age, the juvenile countenance of
this man made him appear younger.  His long, fair hair, parted on the
forehead, streamed wet and smooth over the collar of a large brown cloak,
with which he had been covered.  It would be difficult to describe the
adorable expression of goodness in his pale, mild face, as pure as the
most ideal creations of Raphael's pencil--for that divine artist alone

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