List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v6, by Eugene Sue
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singularly repulsive and ill-favored, if they can once bring you to
forget their ugliness, their very deformity becomes a source of interest
and commiseration, and you say to yourself, "What a pity that such a
mind, such a soul, should inhabit so poor a body!"--and you are touched
and softened by the contrast.

It was thus that Mdlle. de Cardoville began to look upon Rodin.  He had
shown himself as simple and affectionate towards her as he had been
brutal and insolent to Dr. Baleinier.  One thing only excited the lively
curiosity of Mdlle. de Cardoville--she wished to know how Rodin had
conceived the devotion and admiration which she seemed to inspire.

"Forgive my indiscreet and obstinate curiosity, sir, but I wish to know--"

"How you were morally revealed to me--is it not so?  Oh, my dear young
lady! nothing is more simple.  I will explain it to you in two words.
The Abbe d'Aigrigny saw in me nothing but a writing-machine, an obtuse,
mute, blind instrument--"

"I thought M. d'Aigrigny had more penetration."

"And you are right, my dear young lady; he is a man of unparalleled
sagacity; but I deceived him by affecting more than simplicity.  Do not,
therefore, think me false.  No; I am proud in my manner--and my pride
consists in never appearing above my position, however subaltern it may
be!  Do you know why?  It is that, however haughty may be my superiors, I
can say to myself, `They do not know my value.  It is the inferiority of
my condition, not me, that they humiliate.' By this I gain doubly--my
self-love is spared, and I hate no one."

"Yes, I understand that sort of pride," said Adrienne, more and more
struck with Rodin's original turn of mind.

"But let us return to what concerns you, my dear young lady.  On the eve
of the 13th of February, the Abbe d'Aigrigny delivered to me a paper in
shorthand, and said to me, `Transcribe this examination; you may add that
it is to support the decision of a family council, which has declared, in
accordance with the report of Dr. Baleinier, the state of mind of Mdlle.
de Cardoville to be sufficiently alarming to render it necessary to
confine her in a lunatic asylum.'"

"Yes," said Adrienne, with bitterness; "it related to a long interview,
which I had with the Princess de Saint-Dizier, my aunt, and which was
taken down without my knowledge."

Behold me, then, poring over my shorthand report, and beginning to
transcribe it.  At the end of the first ten lines, I was struck with
stupor.  I knew not if I were awake or dreaming.  `What! mad?'  They must
be themselves insane who dare assert so monstrous a proposition!--More
and more interested, I continued my reading--I finished it--Oh! then,
what shall I say?  What I felt, my dear young lady, it is impossible to
express.  It was sympathy, delight, enthusiasm!"

"Sir," said Adrienne.

"Yes, my dear young lady, enthusiasm!  Let not the words shock your
modesty.  Know that these ideas, so new, so independent, so courageous
which you expressed to your aunt with so much brilliancy, are, without
your being aware of it, common to you and another person, for whom you
will one day feel the most tender and religious respect."

"Of whom do you speak, sir?" cried Mdlle. de Cardoville, more and more

After a moment's apparent hesitation, Rodin resumed, "No, no--it is
useless now to inform you of it.  All I can tell you, my dear young lady,
is that, when I had finished my reading, I ran to Abbe d'Aigrigny's, to
convince him of the error into which he had fallen with regard to you.
It was impossible then to find him; but yesterday morning I told him
plainly what I thought.  He only appeared surprised to find that I could
think at all.  He received my communications with contemptuous silence.
I thought him deceived; I continued my remonstrances, but quite in vain.
He ordered me to follow him to the house, where the testament of your
ancestor was to be opened.  I was so blind with regard to the Abbe
d'Aigrigny, that it required the successive arrivals of the soldier, of
his son, and of Marshal Simon's father, to open my eyes thoroughly.
Their indignation unveiled to me the extent of a conspiracy, plotted long
ago, and carried on with terrible ability.  Then, I understood why you
were confined here as a lunatic; why the daughters of Marshal Simon were
imprisoned in a convent.  Then a thousand recollections returned to my
mind; fragments of letters and statements, which had been given me to
copy or decipher, and of which I had never been able to find the
explanation, put me on the track of this odious machination.  To express
then and there the sudden horror I felt at these crimes, would have been
to ruin all.  I did not make this mistake.  I opposed cunning to cunning;
I appeared even more eager than Abbe d'Aigrigny.  Had this immense
inheritance been destined for me alone, I could not have shown myself
more grasping and merciless.  Thanks to this stratagem, Abbe d'Aigrigny
had no suspicion.  A providential accident having rescued the inheritance
from his hands, he left the house in a state of profound consternation.
For my part, I felt indescribable joy; for I had now the means of saving
and avenging you, my dear young lady.  As usual, I went yesterday evening
to my place of business.  During the absence of the abbe, it was easy for
me to peruse the correspondence relative to the inheritance.  In this way
I was able to unite all the threads of this immense plot.  Oh! then, my
dear young lady, I remained, struck with horror, in presence of the
discoveries that I made, and that I never should have made under any
other circumstances."

"What discoveries, sir?"

"There are some secrets which are terrible to those who possess them.  Do
not ask me to explain, my dear young lady; but, in this examination, the
league formed against you and your relations, from motives of insatiable
cupidity, appeared to me in all its dark audacity.  Thereupon, the lively
and deep interest which I already felt for you, my dear young lady, was
augmented greatly, and extended itself to the other innocent victims of
this infernal conspiracy.  In spite of my weakness, I determined to risk
all, to unmask the Abbe d'Aigrigny.  I collected the necessary proofs, to
give my declaration before the magistrate the needful authority; and,
this morning, I left the abbe's house without revealing to him my
projects.  He might have employed some violent method to detain me; yet
it would have been cowardly to attack him without warning.  Once out of
his house, I wrote to him, that I had in my hands proof enough of his
crimes, to attack him openly in the face of day.  I would accuse, and he
must defend himself.  I went directly to a magistrate, and you know the

At this juncture, the door opened, and one of the nurses appeared, and
said to Rodin: "Sir, the messenger that you and the magistrate sent to
the Rue Brise-Miche has just come back."

"Has he left the letter?"

"Yes, sir; and it was taken upstairs directly."

"Very well.  Leave us!"  The nurse went out.



If it had been possible for Mdlle. de Cardoville to harbor any suspicion
of the sincerity of Rodin's devotion, it must have given way before this
reasoning, unfortunately so simple and undeniable.  How could she suppose
the faintest complicity between the Abbe d'Aigrigny and his secretary,
when it was the latter who completely unveiled the machinations of his
master, and exposed them to the tribunals? when in this, Rodin went even
further than Mdlle. de Cardoville would herself have gone?  Of what
secret design could she suspect the Jesuit?  At worst, of a desire to
earn by his services the profitable patronage of the young lady.

And then, had he not just now protested against this supposition, by
declaring his devotion, not to Mdlle. de Cardoville--not to the fair,
rich, noble lady--but to the high-souled and generous girl?  Finally, as
Rodin had said himself, could any but a miserable wretch fail to be
interested in Adrienne's fate?  A strange mixture of curiosity, surprise,
and interest, was joined with Mdlle. de Cardoville's feelings of
gratitude towards Rodin.  Yet, as she recognized the superior mind under
that humble exterior, she was suddenly struck with a grave suspicion.
"Sir," said she to Rodin, "I always confess to the persons I esteem the
doubts they may have inspired, so that they may justify themselves, and
excuse me, if I am wrong."

Rodin looked at Mdlle. de Cardoville with surprise, as if mentally
calculating the suspicions than she might entertain, and replied, after a
moment's silence: "You are perhaps thinking of my journey to Cardoville,
of my base proposals to your good and worthy bailiff?  Oh! if you--"

"No, no, sir," said Adrienne, interrupting him; "you made that confession
spontaneously, and I quite understand, that, blinded with regard to M.
d'Aigrigny, you passively executed instructions repugnant to your
delicacy.  But how comes it, that, with your incontestable merits, you
have so long; occupied so mean a position in his service?"

"It is true," said Rodin, with a smile; "that must impress you
unfavorably, my dear young lady; for a man of any capacity, who remains
long in an inferior condition, has evidently some radical vice, some bad
or base passion--"

"It is generally true, sir."

"And personally true--with regard to myself."

"What, sir! do you make this avowal?"

"Alas!  I confess that I have a bad passion, to which, for forty years, I
have sacrificed all chances of attaining to a better position."

"And this passion, sir?"

"Since I must make the unpleasant avowal, this passion is indolence--yes,
indolence--the horror of all activity of mind, of all moral
responsibility, of taking the lead in anything.  With the twelve hundred
francs that Abbe d'Aigrigny gave me, I was the happiest man in the world;
I trusted to the nobleness of his views; his thoughts became mine, his
wishes mine.  My work once finished, I returned to my poor little
chamber, I lighted my fire, I dined on vegetables--then, taking up some
book of philosophy, little known, and dreaming over it, I gave free
course to my imagination, which, restrained all the day long, carried me
through numberless theories to a delicious Utopia.  Then, from the
eminences of my intelligence, lifted up Lord knows whither, by the
audacity of my thoughts, I seemed to look down upon my master, and upon
the great men of the earth.  This fever lasted for three or four hours,
after which I had a good sleep; and, the next morning, I went lightly to
my work, secure of my daily bread, without cares for the future, living
content with little, waiting with impatience for the delights of my
solitary evening, and saying to myself as I went on writing like a stupid
machine: `And yet--and yet--if I chose!'--"

"Doubtless, you could, like others, surer than others, have reached a
higher position," said Adrienne, greatly struck with Rodin's practical

"Yes, I think I could have done so; but for what purpose?--You see, my
dear young lady, what often renders people of some merit puzzles to the
vulgar, is that they are frequently content to say: 'If I chose!'"

"But, sir, without attaching much importance to the luxuries of life,
there is a certain degree of comfort, which age renders almost
indispensable, and which you seem to have utterly renounced."

"Undeceive yourself, if you please, my dear young lady," said Rodin, with
a playful smile.  "I am a true Sybarite; I require absolutely warm
clothes, a good stove, a soft mattress, a good piece of bread, a fresh
radish, flavored with good cheap salt, and some good, clear water; and,
notwithstanding this complication of wants, my twelve hundred francs have
always more than sufficed, for I have been able to make some little

"But now that you are without employment, how will you manage to live,
sir?" said Adrienne, more and more interested by the singularities of
this man, and wishing to put his disinterestedness to the proof.

"I have laid by a little, which will serve me till I have unravelled the
last thread of Father d'Aigrigny's dark designs.  I owe myself this
reparation, for having been his dupe; three or four days, I hope, will
complete the work.  After that, I have the certainty of meeting with a
situation, in my native province, under a collector of taxes: some time
ago, the offer was made me by a friend; but then I would not leave Father
d'Aigrigny, notwithstanding the advantages proposed.  Fancy, my dear
young lady--eight hundred francs, with board and lodging!  As I am a
little of the roughest, I should have preferred lodging apart; but, as
they give me so much, I must submit to this little inconvenience."

Nothing could exceed Rodin's ingenuity, in making these little household
confidences (so abominably false) to Mdlle. de Cardoville, who felt her
last suspicions give way.

"What, sir?" said she to the Jesuit, with interest; "in three or four
days, you mean to quit Paris?"

"I hope to do so, my dear young lady; and that," added he, in a
mysterious tone, "and that for many reasons.  But what would be very
precious to me," he resumed, in a serious voice, as he looked at Adrienne
with emotion, "would be to carry with me the conviction, that you did me
the justice to believe, that, on merely reading your interview with the
Princess de Saint-Dizier, I recognized at once qualities quite unexampled
in our day, in a young person of your age and condition."

"Ah, sir!" said Adrienne, with a smile, "do not think yourself obliged to
return so soon the sincere praises that I bestowed on your superiority of
mind.  I should be better pleased with ingratitude."

"Oh, no!  I do not flatter you, my dear young lady.  Why should I?  We
may probably never meet again.  I do not flatter you; I understand you--
that's all--and what will seem strange to you, is, that your appearance
complete, the idea which I had already formed of you, my dear young lady,
in reading your interview with your aunt: and some parts of your
character, hitherto obscure to me, are now fully displayed."

"Really, sir, you astonish me more and more."

"I can't help it!  I merely describe my impressions.  I can now explain
perfectly, for example, your passionate love of the beautiful, your eager
worship of the refinements of the senses, your ardent aspirations for a
better state of things, your courageous contempt of many degrading and
servile customs, to which woman is condemned; yes, now I understand the
noble pride with which you contemplate the mob of vain, self-sufficient,
ridiculous men, who look upon woman as a creature destined for their
service, according to the laws made after their own not very handsome
image.  In the eyes of these hedge-tyrants, woman, a kind of inferior
being to whom a council of cardinals deigned to grant a soul by a
majority of two voices, ought to think herself supremely happy in being
the servant of these petty pachas, old at thirty, worn-out, used up,
weary with excesses, wishing only for repose, and seeking, as they say,
to make an end of it, which they set about by marrying some poor girl,

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