List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v4, by Eugene Sue
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placed with persons that we suppose irreproachable.  Should she, however,
perceive, on the part of her employers, or on that of the persons who
frequent the house, any irregularity of morals, any tendency to what
would offend her modesty, or shock her religious principles, she should
immediately give us a detailed account of the circumstances that have
caused her alarm.  Nothing can be more proper--don't you think so?"

"Yes, mother," answered Mother Bunch, timidly, for she began to find this
provision somewhat singular.

"Then," resumed the superior, "if the case appears a serious one, we
exhort our befriended one to observe what passes more attentively, so as
to convince herself whether she had really reason to be alarmed.  She
makes a new report to us, and should it confirm our first fears, faithful
to our pious guardianship, we withdraw her instantly from the house.
Moreover, as the majority of our young people, notwithstanding their
innocence and virtue, have not always sufficient experience to
distinguish what may be injurious to their soul's health, we think it
greatly to their interest that they should confide to us once a week, as
a child would to her mother, either in person or by letter, whatever has
chanced to occur in the house in which we have placed them.  Then we can
judge for them, whether to withdraw them or not.  We have already about a
hundred persons, companions to ladies, young women in shops, servants,
and needlewomen by the day, whom we have placed in a great number of
families, and, for the interest of all, we have every reason to
congratulate ourselves on this mode of proceeding.  You understand me, do
you not, my dear daughter?"

"Yes-yes, mother," said the sempstress, more and more embarrassed.  She
had too much uprightness and sagacity not to perceive that this plan of
mutually insuring the morality of masters and servants resembled a vast
spy system, brought home to the domestic hearth, and carried on by the
members of the institution almost without their knowledge, for it would
have been difficult to disguise more skillfully the employment for which
they were trained.

"If I have entered into these long details my dear daughter," resumed
Mother Sainte-Perpetue, taking the hearer's silence for consent, "it is
that you may not suppose yourself obliged to remain in the house in
question, if, against our expectation, you should not find there holy and
pious examples.  I believe Mme. de Bremont's house to be a pure and godly
place; only I have heard (though I will not believe it) that Mme. de
Bremont's daughter, Mme. de Noisy, who has lately come to reside with
her, is not so exemplary in her conduct as could be desired, that she
does not fulfil regularly her religious duties, and that, during the
absence of her husband, who is now in America, she receives visits,
unfortunately too frequent, from one M. Hardy, a rich manufacturer."

At the name of Agricola's master, Mother Bunch could not suppress a
movement of surprise, and also blushed slightly.  The superior naturally
mistook this surprise and confusion for a proof of the modest
susceptibility of the young sempstress, and added: "I have told you all
this, my dear daughter, that you might be on your guard.  I have even
mentioned reports that I believe to be completely erroneous, for the
daughter of Mme. de Bremont has always had such good examples before her
that she cannot have so forgotten them.  But, being in the house from
morning to night, you will be able, better than any one, to discover if
these reports have any foundation in truth.  Should it unfortunately so
turn out, my dear daughter, you would come and confide to me all the
circumstances that have led you to such a conclusion; and, should I then
agree in your opinion, I would withdraw you instantly from the house--for
the piety of the mother would not compensate sufficiently for the
deplorable example of the daughter's conduct.  For, as soon as you form
part of the institution, I am responsible for your salvation, and, in
case your delicacy should oblige you to leave Mme. de Bremont's, as you
might be some time without employment, the institution will allow you, if
satisfied with your zeal and conduct, one franc a day till we could find
you another place.  You see, my dear daughter, that you have everything
to gain with us.  It is therefore agreed that the day after to-morrow you
go to Mme. de Bremont's."  Mother Bunch found herself in a very hard
position.  Sometimes she thought that her first suspicions were
confirmed, and, notwithstanding her timidity, her pride felt hurt at the
supposition, that, because they knew her poor, they should believe her
capable of selling herself as a spy for the sake of high wages.
Sometimes, on the contrary, her natural delicacy revolted at the idea
that a woman of the age and condition of the superior could descend to
make a proposition so disgraceful both to the accepter and the proposer,
and she reproached herself with her first doubts and asked herself if the
superior had not wished to try her, before employing her, to see if her
probity would enable her to resist a comparatively brilliant offer.
Mother Bunch was naturally so inclined to think well of every one, that
she made up her mind to this last conclusion, saying to herself, that if,
after all, she were deceived, it would be the least offensive mode of
refusing these unworthy offers.  With a movement, exempt from all
haughtiness, but expressive of natural dignity, the young workman raised
her head, which she had hitherto held humbly cast down, looked the
superior full in the face, that the latter might read in her countenance
the sincerity of her words, and said to her in a slightly agitated voice,
forgetting this time to call her "mother": "Ah, madame!  I cannot blame
you for exposing me to such a trial.  You see that I am very poor, and I
have yet done nothing to command your confidence.  But, believe me, poor
as I am, I would never stoop to so despicable an action as that which you
have thought fit to propose to me, no doubt to assure yourself, by my
refusal, that I am worthy of your kindness.  No, no, madame--I could
never bring myself to be a spy at any price."

She pronounced these last words with so much animation that her cheeks
became slightly flushed.  The superior had too much tact and experience
not to perceive the sincerity of the words.  Thinking herself lucky that
the young girl should put this construction upon the affair, she smiled
upon her affectionately, and stretched out her arms to her, saying: "It
is well, my dear daughter.  Come and embrace me!"

"Mother--I am really confused--with so much kindness--"

"No--you deserve it--your words are so full of truth and honesty.  Only
be persuaded that I have not put you to any trial, because there is no
resemblance between the act of a spy and the marks of filial confidence
that we require of our members for the sake of watching over their
morals.  But certain persons--I see you are of the number, my dear
daughter--have such fixed principles, and so mature a judgment, that they
can do without our advice and guardianship, and can appreciate themselves
whatever might be dangerous to their salvation.  I will therefore leave
the entire responsibility to yourself, and only ask you for such
communications as you may think proper to make."

"Oh, madame! how good you are!" said poor Mother Bunch, for she was not
aware of the thousand devices of the monastic spirit, and thought herself
already sure of gaining just wages honorably.

"It is not goodness--but justice!" answered Mother Sainte-Perpetue, whose
tone was becoming more and more affectionate.  "Too much tenderness
cannot be shown to pious young women like you, whom poverty has only
purified because they have always faithfully observed the divine laws."


"One last question, my child! how many times a month do you approach the
Lord's table?"

"Madame," replied the hunchback, "I have not taken the sacrament since my
first communion, eight years ago.  I am hardly able, by working every
day, and all day long, to earn my bread.  I have no time--"

"Gracious heaven!" cried the superior, interrupting, and clasping her
hands with all the signs of painful astonishment.  "Is it possible? you
do not practise?"

"Alas, madame! I tell you that I have no time," answered Mother Bunch,
looking disconcertedly at Mother Saint-Perpetue.

"I am grieved, my dear daughter," said the latter sorrowfully, after a
moment's silence, "but I told you that, as we place our friends in none
but pious houses, so we are asked to recommend none but pious persons,
who practise their religious duties.  It is one of the indispensable
conditions of our institution.  It will, therefore, to my great regret,
be impossible for me to employ you as I had hoped.  If, hereafter, you
should renounce your present indifference to those duties, we will then

"Madame," said Mother Bunch, her heart swollen with tears, for she was
thus forced to abandon a cheering hope, "I beg pardon for having detained
you so long--for nothing."

"It is I, my dear daughter, who regret not to be able to attach you to
the institution; but I am not altogether hopeless, that a person, already
so worthy of interest, will one day deserve by her piety the lasting
support of religious people.  Adieu, my dear daughter! go in peace, and
may God be merciful to you, until the day that you return with your whole
heart to Him!"

So saying, the superior rose, and conducted her visitor to the door, with
all the forms of the most maternal kindness.  At the moment she crossed
the threshold, she said to her: "Follow the passage, go down a few steps,
and knock at the second door on the right hand.  It is the press-room,
and there you will find Florine.  She will show you the way out.  Adieu,
my dear daughter!"

As soon as Mother Bunch had left the presence of the superior, her tears,
until now restrained, gushed forth abundantly.  Not wishing to appear
before Florine and the nuns in this state, she stopped a moment at one of
the windows to dry her eyes.  As she looked mechanically towards the
windows of the next house, where she fancied she had seen Adrienne de
Cardoville, she beheld the latter come from a door in the building, and
advance rapidly towards the open paling that separated the two gardens.
At the same instant, and to her great astonishment, Mother Bunch saw one
of the two sisters whose disappearance had caused the despair of
Dagobert, with pale and dejected countenance, approach the fence that
separated her from Mdlle. de Cardoville, trembling with fear and anxiety,
as though she dreaded to be discovered.



Agitated, attentive, uneasy, leaning from one of the convent-windows, the
work-girl followed with her eyes the movements of Mdlle. de Cardoville
and Rose Simon, whom she so little expected to find together in such a
place.  The orphan, approaching close to the fence, which separated the
nunnery-garden from that of Dr. Baleinier's asylum, spoke a few words to
Adrienne, whose features at once expressed astonishment, indignation, and
pity.  At this juncture, a nun came running, and looking right and left,
as though anxiously seeking for some one; then, perceiving Rose, who
timidly pressed close to the paling, she seized her by the arm, and
seemed to scold her severely, and notwithstanding some energetic words
addressed to her by Mdlle. de Cardoville, she hastily carried off the
orphan, who with weeping eyes, turned several times to look back at
Adrienne; whilst the latter, after showing the interest she took in her
by expressive gestures, turned away suddenly, as if to conceal her tears.

The passage in which the witness stood, during this touching scene, was
situated on the first story.  The thought immediately occurred to the
sempstress, to go down to the ground-floor, and try to get into the
garden, so that she might have an opportunity of speaking to the fair
girl with the golden hair, and ascertaining if it were really Mdlle. de
Cardoville, to whom; if she found her in a lucid interval, she might say
that Agricola had things of the greatest importance to communicate, but
that he did not know how to inform her of them.  The day was advancing,
the sun was on its decline, and fearing that Florine would be tired of
waiting for her, Mother Bunch made haste to act; with a light step,
listening anxiously as she went, she reached the end of the passage,
where three or four stairs led down to the landing-place of the press-
room, and then formed a spiral descent to the ground-floor.  Hearing
voices in the pressroom, the sempstress hastened down the stairs, and
found herself in a long passage, in the centre of which was a glass door,
opening on that part of the garden reserved for the superior.  A path,
bordered by a high box-hedge, sheltered her from the gaze of curious
eyes, and she crept along it, till she reached the open paling; which, at
this spot, separated the convent-garden from that of Dr. Baleinier's
asylum.  She saw Mdlle. de Cardoville a few steps from her, seated, and
with her arm resting upon a rustic bench.  The firmness of Adrienne's
character had for a moment been shaken by fatigue, astonishment, fright,
despair, on the terrible night when she had been taken to the asylum by
Dr. Baleinier; and the latter, taking a diabolical advantage of her
weakness and despondency, had succeeded for a moment in making her doubt
of her own sanity.  But the calm, which necessarily follows the most
painful and violent emotions, combined with the reflection and reasoning
of a clear and subtle intellect, soon convinced Adrienne of the
groundlessness of the fears inspired by the crafty doctor.  She no longer
believed that it could even be a mistake on the part of the man of
science.  She saw clearly in the conduct of this man, in which detestable
hypocrisy was united with rare audacity, and both served by a skill no
less remarkable, that M. Baleinier was, in fact, the blind instrument of
the Princess de Saint-Dizier.  From that moment, she remained silent and
calm, but full of dignity; not a complaint, not a reproach was allowed to
pass her lips.  She waited.  Yet, though they left her at liberty to walk
about (carefully depriving her of all means of communicating with any one
beyond the walls), Adrienne's situation was harsh and painful,
particularly for her, who so loved to be surrounded by pleasant and
harmonious objects.  She felt, however, that this situation could not
last long.  She did not thoroughly understand the penetration and action
of the laws; but her good sense taught her, that a confinement of a few
days under the plea of some appearances of insanity, more or less
plausible in themselves, might be attempted, and even executed with
impunity; but that it could not be prolonged beyond certain limits,
because, after all, a young lady of her rank in society could not
disappear suddenly from the world, without inquiries being made on the
subject--and the pretence of a sudden attack of madness would lead to a

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