List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v5, by Eugene Sue
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broad, undulating bands, surmounted by a thick plait, like a crown, at
the back of the head.  The eyebrows, finely pencilled, were arched over
large eyes of bright, sapphire blue.  Their gaze at once proud and
mournful, had something fatal about it.  The nose, finely formed,
terminated in slight dilated nostrils: a half smile, almost of pain,
contracted the mouth; the face was a long oval, and the complexion,
extremely pale, was hardly shaded on the cheek by a light rose-color.
The position of the head and neck announced a rare mixture of grace and
dignity.  A sort of tunic or robe, of glossy black material, came as high
as the commencement of her shoulders, and just marking her lithe and tall
figure, reached down to her feet, which were almost entirely concealed by
the folds of this garment.

The attitude was full of nobleness and simplicity.  The head looked white
and luminous, standing out from a dark gray sky, marbled at the horizon
by purple clouds, upon which were visible the bluish summits of distant
hills, in deep shadow.  The arrangement of the picture, as well as the
warm tints of the foreground, contrasting strongly with these distant
objects, showed that the woman was placed upon an eminence, from which
she could view the whole horizon.  The countenance was deeply pensive and
desponding.  There was an expression of supplicating and resigned grief,
particularly in her look, half raised to heaven, which one would have
thought impossible to picture.  On the left side of the fireplace was the
other portrait, painted with like vigor.  It represented a man, between
thirty and thirty-five years of age, of tall stature.  A large brown
cloak, which hung round him in graceful folds, did not quite conceal a
black doublet, buttoned up to the neck, over which fell a square white
collar.  The handsome and expressive head was marked with stern powerful
lines, which did not exclude an admirable air of suffering, resignation,
and ineffable goodness.  The hair, as well as the beard and eyebrows, was
black; and the latter, by some singular caprice of nature, instead of
being separated and forming two distinct arches, extended from one temple
to the other, in a single bow, and seemed to mark the forehead of this
man with a black line.

The background of this picture also represented a stormy sky; but, beyond
some rocks in the distance, the sea was visible, and appeared to mingle
with the dark clouds.  The sun, just now shining upon these two
remarkable figures (which it appeared impossible to forget, after once
seeing them), augmented their brilliancy.

Starting from his reverie, and casting his eyes by chance upon these
portraits, Samuel was greatly struck with them.  They appeared almost
alive.  "What noble and handsome faces!" he exclaimed, as he approached
to examine them more closely.  "Whose are these portraits?  They are not
those of any of the Rennepont family, for my father told me that they are
all in the Hall of Mourning.  Alas!" added the old man, "one might think,
from the great sorrow expressed in their countenances, that they ought to
have a place in that mourning-chamber."

After a moment's silence, Samuel resumed: "Let me prepare everything for
this solemn assembly, for it has struck ten."  So saying, he placed the
gilded arm-chairs round the table, and then continued, with a pensive
air: "The hour approaches, and of the descendants of my grandfather's
benefactor, we have seen only this young priest, with the angelic
countenance.  Can he be the sole representative of the Rennepont family?
He is a priest, and this family will finish with him!  Well! the moment
is come when I must open this door, that the will may be read.  Bathsheba
is bringing hither the notary.  They knock at the door; it is time!"  And
Samuel, after casting a last glance towards the place where the clock had
struck ten, hastened to the outer door, behind which voices were now

He turned the key twice in the lock, and threw the portals open.  To his
great regret, he saw only Gabriel on the steps, between Rodin and Father
d'Aigrigny.  The notary, and Bathsheba, who had served them as a guide,
waited a little behind the principal group.

Samuel could not repress a sigh, as he stood bowing on the threshold, and
said to them: "All is ready, gentlemen.  You may walk in."



When Gabriel, Rodin, and Father d'Aigrigny entered the Red Room, they
were differently affected.  Gabriel, pale and sad, felt a kind of painful
impatience.  He was anxious to quit this house, though he had already
relieved himself of a great weight, by executing before the notary,
secured by every legal formality, a deed making over all his rights of
inheritance to Father d'Aigrigny.  Until now it had not occurred to the
young priest, that in bestowing the care upon him, which he was about to
reward so generously, and in forcing his vocation by a sacrilegious
falsehood, the only object of Father d'Aigrigny might have been to secure
the success of a dark intrigue.  In acting as he did, Gabriel was not
yielding, in his view of the question, to a sentiment of exaggerated
delicacy.  He had made this donation freely, many years before.  He would
have looked upon it as infamy now to withdraw it.  It was hard enough to
be suspected of cowardice: for nothing in the world would he have
incurred the least reproach of cupidity.

The missionary must have been endowed with a very rare and excellent
nature, or this flower of scrupulous probity would have withered beneath
the deleterious and demoralizing influence of his education; but happily,
as cold sometimes preserves from corruption, the icy atmosphere in which
he had passed a portion of his childhood and youth had benumbed, but not
vitiated, his generous qualities, which had indeed soon revived in the
warm air of liberty.  Father d'Aigrigny, much paler and more agitated
than Gabriel, strove to excuse and explain his anxiety by attributing it
to the sorrow he experienced at the rupture of his dear son with the
Order.  Rodin, calm, and perfectly master of himself, saw with secret
rage the strong emotion of Father d'Aigrigny, which might have inspired a
man less confiding than Gabriel with strange suspicions.  Yet,
notwithstanding his apparent indifference, the socius was perhaps still
more ardently impatient than his superior for the success of this
important affair.  Samuel appeared quite desponding, no other heir but
Gabriel having presented himself.  No doubt the old man felt a lively
sympathy for the young priest; but then he was a priest, and with him
would finish the line of Rennepont; and this immense fortune, accumulated
with so much labor, would either be again distributed, or employed
otherwise than the testator had desired.  The different actors in this
scene were standing around the table.  As they were about to seat
themselves, at the invitation of the notary, Samuel pointed to the
register bound in black shagreen, and said: "I was ordered, sir, to
deposit here this register.  It is locked.  I will deliver up the key,
immediately after the reading of the will."

"This course is, in fact, directed by the note which accompanies the
will," said M. Dumesnil, "as it was deposited, in the year 1682, in the
hands of Master Thomas Le Semelier, king's counsel, and notary of the
Chatelet of Paris, then living at No. 13, Place Royale."

So saying, M. Dumesnil drew from a portfolio of red morocco a large
parchment envelope, grown yellow with time; to this envelope was annexed,
by a silken thread, a note also upon vellum.

"Gentlemen," said the notary, "if you please to sit down, I will read the
subjoined note, to regulate the formalities at the opening of the will."

The notary, Rodin, Father d'Aigrigny, and Gabriel, took seats.  The young
priest, having his back turned to the fireplace, could not see the two
portraits.  In spite of the notary's invitation, Samuel remained standing
behind the chair of that functionary, who read as follows:

"'On the 13th February, 1832, my will shall be carried to No. 3, in the
Rue Saint-Francois.

"'At ten o'clock precisely, the door of the Red Room shall be opened to
my heirs, who will no doubt have arrived long before at Paris, in
anticipation of this day, and will have had time to establish their line
of descent.

"'As soon as they are assembled, the will shall be read, and, at the last
stroke of noon, the inheritance shall be finally settled in favor of
those of my kindred, who according to my recommendation (preserved, I
hope, by tradition in my family, during a century and a half); shall
present themselves in person, and not by agents, before twelve o'clock,
on the 13th of February, in the Rue Saint-Francois.'"

Having read these words in a sonorous voice, the notary stopped an
instant, and resumed, in a solemn tone: "M. Gabriel Francois Marie de
Rennepont, priest, having established, by legal documents, his descent on
the father's side, and his relationship to the testator, and being at
this hour the only one of the descendants of the Rennepont family here
present, I open the testament in his presence, as it has been ordered."

So saying, the notary drew from its envelope the will, which had been
previously opened by the President of the Tribunal, with the formalities
required by law.  Father d'Aigrigny leaned forward, and resting his elbow
on the table, seemed to pant for breath.  Gabriel prepared himself to
listen with more curiosity than interest.  Rodin was seated at some
distance from the table, with his old hat between his knees, in the
bottom of which, half hidden by the folds of a shabby blue cotton
handkerchief, he had placed his watch.  The attention of the socius was
divided between the least noise from without, and the slow evolution of
the hands of the watch, which he followed with his little, wrathful eye,
as if hastening their progress, so great was his impatience for the hour
of noon.

The notary, unfolding the sheet of parchment, read what follows, in the
midst of profound attention:

Hameau de Villetaneuse,

"'February 13th, 1682.

"'I am about to escape, by death, from the disgrace of the galleys, to
which the implacable enemies of my family have caused me to be condemned
as a relapsed heretic.

"'Moreover, life is too bitter for me since the death of my son, the
victim of a mysterious crime.

"'At nineteen years of age--poor henry!--and his murderers unknown--no,
not unknown--if I may trust my presentiments.

"'To preserve my fortune for my son, I had feigned to abjure the
Protestant faith.  As long as that beloved boy lived, I scrupulously kept
up Catholic appearances.  The imposture revolted me, but the interest of
my son was concerned.

"'When they killed him, this deceit became insupportable to me.  I was
watched, accused, and condemned as relapsed.  My property has been
confiscated, and I am sentenced to the galleys.

"'Tis a terrible time we live in!  Misery and servitude! sanguinary
despotism and religious intolerance!  Oh, it is sweet to abandon life!
sweet to rest and see no more such evils and such sorrows!

"'In a few hours, I shall enjoy that rest.  I shall die.  Let me think of
those who will survive--or rather, of those who will live perhaps in
better times.

"'Out of all my fortune, there remains to me a sum of fifty thousand
crowns, deposited in a friend's hands.

"'I have no longer a son; but I have numerous relations, exiled in
various parts of Europe.  This sum of fifty thousand crowns, divided
between them, would profit each of them very little.  I have disposed of
it differently.

"'In this I have followed the wise counsels of a man, whom I venerate as
the image of God on earth, for his intelligence, wisdom, and goodness are
almost divine.

"'Twice in the course of my life have I seen this man, under very fatal
circumstances--twice have I owed him safety, once of the soul, once of
the body.

"'Alas! he might perhaps have saved my poor child, but he came too late--
too late.

"'Before he left me, he wished to divert me from the intention of dying--
for he knew all.  But his voice was powerless.  My grief, my regret, my
discouragement, were too much for him.

"'It is strange! when he was convinced of my resolution to finish my days
by violence, some words of terrible bitterness escaped him, making me
believe that he envied me--my fate--my death!

"'Is he perhaps condemned to live?

"'Yes; he has, no doubt, condemned himself to be useful to humanity, and
yet life is heavy on him, for I heard him repeat one day, with an
expression of despair and weariness that I have never forgotten: "Life!
life! who will deliver me from it?"

"'Is life then so very burdensome to him?

"'He is gone.  His last words have made me look for my departure with
serenity.  Thanks to him, my death shall not be without fruit.

"'Thanks to him, these lines, written at this moment by a man who, in a
few hours, will have ceased to live, may perhaps be the parents of great
things a century and a half hence--yes! great and noble things, if my
last will is piously followed by my descendants, for it is to them that I
here address myself.

"'That they may understand and appreciate this last will--which I commend
to the care of the unborn, who dwell in the future whither I am
hastening--they must know the persecutors of my family and avenge their
ancestor, but by a noble vengeance.

"'My grandfather was a Catholic.  Induced by perfidious counsels rather
than religious zeal, he attached himself, though a layman, to a Society
whose power has always been terrible and mysterious--the Society of

At these words of the testament, Father d'Aigrigny, Rodin, and Gabriel
looked involuntarily at each other: The notary, who had not perceived
this action, continued to read:

"'After some years, during which he had never ceased to profess the most
absolute devotion to this Society, he was suddenly enlightened by fearful
revelations as to the secret ends it pursued, and the means it employed.

"'This was in 1510, a month before the assassination of Henry IV.

"'My grandfather, terrified at the secret of which he had become the
unwilling depositary, and which was to be fully explained by the death of
the best of kings, not only broke with the Society, but, as if
Catholicism itself had been answerable for the crimes of its members, he
abandoned the Romish religion, in which he had hitherto lived, and became
a Protestant.

"'Undeniable proofs, attesting the connivance of two members of the
Company with Ravaillac, a connivance also proved in the case of Jean
Chatel, the regicide, were in my grandfather's possession.

"'This was the first cause of the violent hatred of the Society for our
family.  Thank Heaven, these papers have been placed in safety, and if my
last will is executed, will be found marked A. M.C. D. G., in the ebony
casket in the Hall of Mourning, in the house in the Rue Saint-Francois.

"'My father was also exposed to these secret persecutions.  His ruin, and
perhaps his death, would have been the consequence, had it not been for

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