List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v3, by Eugene Sue
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"This long preamble, madame," resumed the princess with dignity, "exposes
the past in order to justify the future."

"Really, aunt, such mysterious proceedings are a little in the style of
the answers of the Cumaean Sybil.  They must be intended to cover
something formidable."

"Perhaps, mademoiselle--for to certain characters nothing is so
formidable as duty and obedience.  Your character is one of those
inclined to revolt--"

"I freely acknowledge it, aunt--and it will always he so, until duty and
obedience come to me in a shape that I can respect and love."

"Whether you respect and love my orders or not, madame," said the
princess, in a curt, harsh voice, "you will, from to-day, from this
moment, learn to submit blindly and absolutely to my will.  In one word,
you will do nothing without my permission: it is necessary, I insist upon
it, and so I am determined it shall be."

Adrienne looked at her aunt for a second, and then burst into so free and
sonorous a laugh, that it rang for quite a time through the vast
apartment.  D'Aigrigny and Baron Tripeaud started in indignation.  The
princess looked angrily at her niece.  The doctor raised his eyes to
heaven, and clasped his hands over his waistcoat with a sanctimonious

"Madame," said Abbe d'Aigrigny, "such fits of laughter are highly
unbecoming.  Your aunt's words are serious, and deserve a different

"Oh, sir!" said Adrienne, recovering herself, "it is not my fault if I
laugh.  How can I maintain my gravity, when I hear my aunt talking of
blind submission to her orders?  Is the swallow, accustomed to fly
upwards and enjoy the sunshine, fledged to live with the mole in

At this answer, D'Aigrigny affected to stare at the other members of this
kind of family council with blank astonishment.

"A swallow? what does she mean?" asked the abbe of the baron making a
sign, which the latter understood.

"I do not know," answered Tripeaud, staring in his turn at the doctor.
"She spoke too of a mole.  It 'is quite unheard-of--incomprehensible."

"And so, madame," said the princess, appearing to share in the surprise
of the others, "this is the reply that you make to me?"

"Certainly," answered Adrienne, astonished herself that they should
pretend not to understand the simile of which she had made use,
accustomed as she was to speak in figurative language.

"Come, come, madame," said Dr. Baleinier, smiling good-humoredly, "we
must be indulgent.  My dear Mdlle. Adrienne has naturally so uncommon and
excitable a nature!  She is really the most charming mad woman I know; I
have told her so a hundred times, in my position of an old friend, which
allows such freedom."

"I can conceive that your attachment makes you indulgent--but it is not
the less true, doctor," said D'Aigrigny, as if reproaching him for taking
the part of Mdlle. de Cardoville, "that such answers to serious questions
are most extravagant."

"The evil is, that mademoiselle does not seem to comprehend the serious
nature of this conference," said the princess, harshly.  "She will
perhaps understand it better when I have given her my orders."

"Let us hear these orders, aunt," replied Adrienne as, seated on the
other side of the table, opposite to the princess, she leaned her small,
dimpled chin in the hollow of her pretty hand, with an air of graceful
mockery, charming to behold.

"From to-morrow forward," resumed the princess, "you will quit the
summer-house which you at present inhabit, you will discharge your women,
and come and occupy two rooms in this house, to which there will be no
access except through my apartment.  You will never go out alone.  You
will accompany me to the services of the church.  Your emancipation
terminates, in consequence of your prodigality duly proven.  I will take
charge of all your expenses, even to the ordering of your clothes, so
that you may be properly and modestly dressed.  Until your majority
(which will be indefinitely postponed, by means of the intervention of a
family-council), you will have no money at your own disposal.  Such is my

"And certainly your resolution can only be applauded, madame," said Baron
Tripeaud; "we can but encourage you to show the greatest firmness, for
such disorders must have an end."

"It is more than time to put a stop to such scandal," added the abbe.

"Eccentricity and exaltation of temperament--may excuse many things,"
ventured to observe the smooth-tongued doctor.

"No doubt," replied the princess dryly to Baleinier, who played his part
to perfection; "but then, doctor, the requisite measures must be taken
with such characters."

Madame de Saint-Dizier had expressed herself in a firm and precise
manner; she appeared convinced of the possibility of putting her threats
into execution.  M. Tripeaud and D'Aigrigny had just now given their full
consent to the words of the princess.  Adrienne began to perceive that
something very serious was in contemplation, and her gayety was at once
replaced by an air of bitter irony and offended independence.

She rose abruptly, and colored a little; her rosy nostrils dilated, her
eyes flashed fire, and, as she raised her head, she gently shook the
fine, wavy golden hair, with a movement of pride that was natural to her.
After a moment's silence, she said to her aunt in a cutting tone: "You
have spoken of the past, madame; I also will speak a few words concerning
it, since you force me to do so, though I may regret the necessity. I
quitted your dwelling, because it was impossible for me to live longer in
this atmosphere of dark hypocrisy and black treachery."

"Madame," said D'Aigrigny, "such words are as violent as they are

"Since you interrupt me, sir," said Adrienne, hastily, as she fixed her
eyes on the abbe, "tell me what examples did I meet with in my aunt's

"Excellent, examples, madame."

"Excellent, sir?  Was it because I saw there, every day, her conversion
keep pace with your own?"

"Madame, you forget yourself!" cried the princess, becoming pale with

"Madame, I do not forget--I remember, like other people; that is all.  I
had no relation of whom I could ask an asylum.  I wished to live alone.
I wished to enjoy my revenues--because I chose rather to spend them
myself, than to see them wasted by M. Tripeaud."

"Madame," cried the baron, "I cannot imagine how you can presume--"

"Sir!" said Adrienne, reducing him to silence by a gesture of
overwhelming lordliness, "I speak of you--not to you.  I wished to spend
my income," she continued, "according to my own tastes.  I embellished
the retreat that I had chosen.  Instead of ugly, ill-taught servants, I
selected girls, pretty and well brought up, though poor.  Their education
forbade their being subjected to any humiliating servitude, though I have
endeavored to make their situation easy and agreeable.  They do not serve
me, but render me service--I pay them, but I am obliged to them--nice
distinctions that your highness will not understand, I know.  Instead of
seeing them badly or ungracefully dressed, I have given them clothes that
suit their charming faces well, because I like whatever is young and
fair.  Whether I dress myself one way or the other, concerns only my
looking-glass.  I go out alone, because I like to follow my fancy.  I do
not go to mass--but, if I had still a mother, I would explain to her my
devotions, and she would kiss me none the less tenderly.  It is true,
that I have raised a pagan altar to youth and beauty, because I adore God
in all that He has made fair and good, noble and grand--because, morn and
evening, my heart repeats the fervent and sincere prayer: 'Thanks, my
Creator! thanks!'--Your highness says that M. Baleinier has often found
me in my solitude, a prey to a strange excitement: yes, it is true; for
it is then that, escaping in thought from all that renders the present
odious and painful to me, I find refuge in the future--it is then that
magical horizons spread far before me--it is then that such splendid
visions appear to me, as make me feel myself rapt in a sublime and
heavenly ecstasy, as if I no longer appertained to earth!"

As Adrienne pronounced these last words with enthusiasm, her countenance
appeared transfigured, so resplendent did it become.  In that moment, she
had lost sight of all that surrounded her.

"It is then," she resumed, with spirit soaring higher and higher, "that I
breathe a pure air, reviving and free--yes, free--above all, free--and so
salubrious, so grateful to the soul!--Yes, instead of seeing my sisters
painfully submit to a selfish, humiliating, brutal dominion, which
entails upon them the seductive vices of slavery, the graceful fraud, the
enchanting perfidy, the caressing falsehood, the contemptuous
resignation, the hateful obedience--I behold them, my noble sisters!
worthy and sincere because they are free, faithful and devoted because
they have liberty to choose--neither imperious not base, because they
have no master to govern or to flatter--cherished and respected, because
they can withdraw from a disloyal hand their hand, loyally bestowed.  Oh,
my sisters! my sisters!  I feel it.  These are not merely consoling
visions--they are sacred hopes."

Carried away, in spite of herself, by the excitement of her feelings,
Adrienne paused for a moment, in order to return to earth; she did not
perceive that the other actors in this scene were looking at each other
with an air of delight.

"What she says there is excellent," murmured the doctor in the princess's
ear, next to whom he was seated; "were she in league with us, she would
not speak differently."

"It is only by excessive harshness," added D'Aigrigny, "that we shall
bring her to the desired point."

But it seemed as if the vexed emotion of Adrienne had been dissipated by
the contact of the generous sentiments she had just uttered.  Addressing
Baleinier with a smile, she said: "I must own, doctor, that there is
nothing more ridiculous, than to yield to the current of certain
thoughts, in the presence of persons incapable of understanding them.
This would give you a fine opportunity to make game of that exaltation of
mind for which you sometimes reproach me.  To let myself be carried away
by transports at so serious a moment!--for, verily, the matter in hand
seems to be serious.  But you see, good M. Baleinier, when an idea comes
into my head, I can no more help following it out, than I could refrain
from running after butterflies when I was a little girl."

"And heaven only knows whither these brilliant butterflies of all
colors," said M. Baleinier, smiling with an air of paternal indulgence,
"that are passing through your brain, are likely to lead you.  Oh,
madcap, when will she be as reasonable as she is charming?"

"This very instant, my good doctor," replied Adrienne.  "I am about to
cast off my reveries for realities, and speak plain and positive
language, as you shall hear."

Upon which, addressing her aunt, she continued: "You have imparted to me
your resolution, madame; I will now tell you mine.  Within a week, I
shall quit the pavilion that I inhabit, for a house which I have arranged
to my taste, where I shall live after my own fashion.  I have neither
father nor mother, and I owe no account of my actions to any but myself."

"Upon my word, mademoiselle," said the princess, shrugging her shoulders,
"you talk nonsense.  You forget that society has inalienable moral
rights, which we are bound to enforce.  And we shall not neglect them,
depend upon it."

"So madame, it is you, and M. d'Aigrigny, and M. Tripeaud, that represent
the morality of society!  This appears to me very fine.  Is it because M.
Tripeaud has considered (I must acknowledge it) my fortune as his own?
Is it because--"

"Now, really, madame," began Tripeaud.

"In good time, madame," said Adrienne to her aunt, without noticing the
baron, "as the occasion offers, I shall have to ask you for explanations
with regard to certain interests, which have hitherto, I think, been
concealed from me."

These words of Adrienne made D'Aigrigny and the princess start, and then
rapidly exchange a glance of uneasiness and anxiety.  Adrienne did not
seem to perceive it, but thus continued: "To have done with your demands,
madame, here is my final resolve.  I shall live where and how I please.
I think that, if I were a man, no one would impose on me, at my age, the
harsh and humiliating guardianship you have in view, for living as I have
lived till now--honestly, freely, and generously, in the sight of all."

"This idea is absurd! is madness!"  cried the princess.  "To wish to live
thus alone, is to carry immorality and immodesty to their utmost limits."

"If so, madame," said Adrienne, "what opinion must you entertain of so
many poor girls, orphans like myself, who live alone and free, as I wish
to live?  They have not received, as I have, a refined education,
calculated to raise the soul, and purify the heart.  They have not
wealth, as I have, to protect them from the evil temptations of misery;
and yet they live honestly and proudly in their distress."

"Vice and virtue do not exist for such tag-rag vermin!" cried Baron
Tripeaud, with an expression of anger and hideous disdain.

"Madame, you would turn away a lackey, that would venture to speak thus
before you," said Adrienne to her aunt, unable to conceal her disgust,
"and yet you oblige me to listen to such speeches!"

The Marquis d'Aigrigny touched M. Tripeaud with his knee under the table,
to remind him that he must not express himself in the princess's parlors
in the same manner as he would in the lobbies of the Exchange.  To repair
the baron's coarseness, the abbe thus continued: "There is no comparison,
mademoiselle, between people of the class you name, and a young lady of
your rank."

"For a Catholic priest, M. l'Abbe, that distinction is not very
Christian," replied Adrienne.

"I know the purport of my words, madame," answered the abbe, dryly;
"besides the independent life that you wish to lead, in opposition to all
reason, may tend to very serious consequences for you.  Your family may
one day wish to see you married--"

"I will spare my family that trouble, sir, if I marry at all, I will
choose for myself, which also appears to me reasonable enough.  But, in
truth, I am very little tempted by that heavy chain, which selfishness
and brutality rivet for ever about our necks."

"It is indecent, madame," said the princess, to speak so lightly of such
an institution."

"Before you, especially, madame, I beg pardon for having shocked your
highness!  You fear that my independent planner of living will frighten
away all wooers; but that is another reason for persisting in my
independence, for I detest wooers.  I only hope that they may have the
very worst opinion of me, and there is no better means of effecting that
object, than to appear to live as they live themselves.  I rely upon my
whims, my follies, my sweet faults, to preserve me from the annoyance of
any matrimonial hunting."

"You will he quite satisfied on that head," resumed Madame de Saint-

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