List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v6, by Eugene Sue
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who is on her side desirous to make a beginning."

Mdlle. de Cardoville would certainly have smiled at these satirical
remarks, if she had not been greatly struck by hearing Rodin express in
such appropriate terms her own ideas, though it was the first time in her
life that she saw this dangerous man.  Adrienne forgot, or rather, she
was not aware, that she had to deal with a Jesuit of rare intelligence,
uniting the information and the mysterious resources of the police-spy
with the profound sagacity of the confessor; one of those diabolic
priests, who, by the help of a few hints, avowals, letters, reconstruct a
character, as Cuvier could reconstruct a body from zoological fragments.
Far from interrupting Rodin, Adrienne listened to him with growing
curiosity.  Sure of the effect he produced, he continued, in a tone of
indignation: "And your aunt and the Abbe d'Aigrigny treated you as mad,
because you revolted against the yoke of such tyrants! because, hating
the shameful vices of slavery, you chose to be independent with the
suitable qualities of independence, free with the proud virtues of

"But, sir," said Adrienne, more and more surprised, "how can my thoughts
be so familiar to you?"

"First, I know you perfectly, thanks to your interview with the Princess
de Saint-Dizier: and next, if it should happen that we both pursue the
same end, though by different means," resumed Rodin, artfully, as he
looked at Mdlle. de Cardoville with an air of intelligence, "why should
not our convictions be the same?"

"I do not understand you, sir.  Of what end do you speak?"

"The end pursued incessantly by all lofty, generous, independent spirits-
-some acting, like you, my dear young lady, from passion, from instinct,
without perhaps explaining to themselves the high mission they are called
on to ful, fil.  Thus, for example, when you take pleasure in the most
refined delights, when you surround yourself with all that charms the
senses, do you think that you only yield to the attractions of the
beautiful, to the desire of exquisite enjoyments?  No! ah, no! for then
you would be incomplete, odiously selfish, a dry egotist, with a fine
taste--nothing more--and at your age, it would be hideous, my dear young
lady, it would be hideous!"

"And do you really think thus severely of me?" said Adrienne, with
uneasiness, so much influence had this man irresistibly attained over

"Certainly, I should think thus of you, if you loved luxury for luxury's
sake; but, no--quite another sentiment animates you," resumed the Jesuit.
"Let us reason a little.  Feeling a passionate desire for all these
enjoyments, you know their value and their need more than any one--is it
not so?"

"It is so," replied Adrienne, deeply interested.

"Your gratitude and favor are then necessarily acquired by those who,
poor, laborious, and unknown, have procured for you these marvels of
luxury, which you could not do without?"

"This feeling of gratitude is so strong in me, sir," replied Adrienne,
more and more pleased to find herself so well understood, "that I once
had inscribed on a masterpiece of goldsmith's work, instead of the name
of the seller, that of the poor unknown artist who designed it, and who
has since risen to his true place."

"There you see, I was not deceived," went on Rodin; "the taste for
enjoyment renders you grateful to those who procure it for you; and that
is not all; here am I, an example, neither better nor worse than my
neighbors, but accustomed to privations, which cause me no suffering--so
that the privations of others necessarily touch me less nearly than they
do you, my dear young lady; for your habits of comfort must needs render
you more compassionate towards misfortune.  You would yourself suffer too
much from poverty, not to pity and succor those who are its victims."

"Really, sir," said Adrienne, who began to feel herself under the fatal
charm of Rodin, "the more I listen to you, the more I am convinced that
you would defend a thousand times better than I could those ideas for
which I was so harshly reproached by Madame de Saint-Dizier and Abbe
d'Aigrigny.  Oh! speak, speak, sir!  I cannot tell you with what
happiness, with what pride I listen."

Attentive and moved, her eyes fixed on the Jesuit with as much interest
as sympathy and curiosity, Adrienne, by a graceful toss of the head that
was habitual to her, threw hack her long, golden curls, the better to
contemplate Rodin, who thus resumed: "You are astonished, my dear young
lady, that you were not understood by your aunt or by Abbe d'Aigrigny!
What point of contact had you with these hypocritical, jealous, crafty
minds, such as I can judge them to be now?  Do you wish a new proof of
their hateful blindness?  Among what they called your monstrous follies,
which was the worst, the most damnable?  Why, your resolution to live
alone and in your own way, to dispose freely of the present and the
future.  They declared this to be odious, detestable, immoral.  And yet--
was this resolution dictated by a mad love of liberty? no!--by a
disordered aversion to all restraint?  no!--by the desire of singularity?
--no!--for then I, too, should have blamed you severely."

"Other reasons have indeed guided me, sir, I assure you," said Adrienne
eagerly, for she had become very eager for the esteem with which her
character might inspire Rodin.

"Oh! I know it well; your motives could only be excellent ones," replied
the Jesuit.  "Why then did you take this resolution, so much called in
question?  Was it to brave established etiquette? no! for you respected
them until the hate of Mme. de Saint-Dizier forced you to withdraw
yourself from her unbearable guardianship.  Was it to live alone, to
escape the eyes of the world? no! you would be a hundred times more open
to observation in this than any other condition.  Was it to make a bad
use of your liberty? no, ah, no! those who design evil seek for darkness
and solitude; while you place yourself right before the jealous anal
envious eyes of the vulgar crowd.  Why then do you take this
determination, so courageous and rare, unexampled in a young person of
your age?  Shall I tell you, my dear young lady?  It is, that you wish to
prove, by your example, that a woman of pure heart and honest mind, with
a firm character and independence of soul, may nobly and proudly throw
off the humiliating guardianship that custom has imposed upon her.  Yes,
instead of accepting the fate of a revolted slave, a life only destined
to hypocrisy or vice, you wish to live freely in presence of all the
world, independent, honorable, and respected.  You wish to have, like
man, the exercise of your own free will, the entire responsibility of all
your actions, so as to establish the fact, that a woman left completely
to herself, may equal man in reason, wisdom, uprightness, and surpass him
indelicacy and dignity.  That is your design, my dear young lady.  It is
noble and great.  Will your example be imitated?  I hope it may; but
whether it be so or not, your generous attempt, believe me, will place
you in a high and worthy position."

Mdlle. de Cardoville's eyes shone with a proud and gentle brightness, her
cheeks were slightly colored, her bosom heaved, she raised her charming
head with a movement of involuntary pride; at length completely under the
charm of that diabolical man she exclaimed: "But, sir, who are you that
can thus know and analyze my most secret thoughts, and read my soul more
clearly than myself, so as to give new life and action to those ideas of
independence which have long stirred within me?  Who are you, that can
thus elevate me in my own eyes, for now I am conscious of accomplishing a
mission, honorable to myself, and perhaps useful to my sisters immersed
in slavery?  Once again, sir, who are you?"

"Who am I, madame?" answered Rodin, with a smile of the greatest good-
nature; "I have already told you that I am a poor old man, who for the
last forty years, having served in the day time as a writing machine to
record the ideas of others, went home every evening to work out ideas of
his own--a good kind of man who, from his garret, watches and even takes
some little share in the movement of generous spirits, advancing towards
an end that is nearer than is commonly thought.  And thus, my dear young
lady, as I told you just now, you and I are both tending towards the same
objects, though you may do the same without reflection, and merely in
obedience to your rare and divine instincts.  So continue so to live,
fair, free, and happy!--it is your mission--more providential than you
may think it.  Yes; continue to surround yourself with all the marvels of
luxury and art; refine your senses, purify your tastes, by the exquisite
choice of your enjoyments; by genius, grace, and purity raise yourself
above the stupid and ill-favored mob of men, that will instantly surround
you, when they behold you alone and free; they will consider you an easy
prey, destined to please their cupidity, their egotism, their folly.

"Laugh at them, and mock these idiotic and sordid pretensions.  Be the
queen of your own world, and make yourself respected as a queen.  Love--
shine--enjoy--it is your part upon earth.  All the flowers, with which
you are whelmed in profusion, will one day bear fruit.  You think that
you have lived only for pleasure; in reality, you will have lived for the
noblest aims that could tempt a great and lofty soul.  And so--some years
hence--we may meet again, perhaps; you, fairer and more followed than
ever; I, older and more obscure.  But, no matter--a secret voice, I am
sure, says to you at this moment, that between us two, however different,
there exists an invisible bond, a mysterious communion, which nothing
hereafter will ever be able to destroy!"

He uttered these final words in a tone of such profound emotion, that
Adrienne started.  Rodin had approached without her perceiving it, and
without, as it were, walking at all, for he dragged his steps along the
floor, with a sort of serpent motion; and he had spoken with so much
warmth and enthusiasm, that his pale face had become slightly tinged, and
his repulsive ugliness had almost disappeared before the brilliancy of
his small sharp eyes, now wide open, and fixed full upon Adrienne.  The
latter leaned forward, with half-open lips and deep-drawn breath, nor
could she take her eyes from the Jesuit's; he had ceased to speak, and
yet she was still listening.  The feelings of the fair young lady, in
presence of this little old man, dirty, ugly, and poor, were
inexplicable.  That comparison so common, and yet so true, of the
frightful fascination of the bird by the serpent, might give some idea of
the singular impression made upon her.  Rodin's tactics were skillful and
sure.  Until now, Mdlle. de Cardoville had never analyzed her tastes or
instincts.  She had followed them, because they were inoffensive and
charming.  How happy and proud she then was sure to be to hear a man of
superior mind not only praise these tendencies, for which she had been
heretofore so severely blamed, but congratulate her upon them, as upon
something great, noble, and divine!  If Rodin had only addressed himself
to Adrienne's self-conceit, he would have failed in his perfidious
designs, for she had not the least spark of vanity.  But he addressed
himself to all that was enthusiastic and generous in her heart; that
which he appeared to encourage and admire in her was really worthy of
encouragement and admiration.  How could she fail to be the dupe of such
language, concealing though it did such dark and fatal projects?

Struck with the Jesuit's rare intelligence, feeling her curiosity greatly
excited by some mysterious words that he had purposely uttered, hardly
explaining to herself the strange influence which this pernicious
counsellor already exercised over her, and animated by respectful
compassion for a man of his age and talents placed in so precarious a
position, Adrienne said to him, with all her natural cordiality, "A man
of your merit and character, sir, ought not to be at the mercy of the
caprice of circumstances.  Some of your words have opened a new horizon
before me; I feel that, on many points, your counsels may be of the
greatest use to me.  Moreover, in coming to fetch me from this house, and
in devoting yourself to the service of other persons of my family, you
have shown me marks of interest which I cannot forget without
ingratitude.  You have lost a humble but secure situation.  Permit me--"

"Not a word more, my dear young lady," said Rodin, interrupting Mdlle. de
Cardoville, with an air of chagrin. "I feel for you the deepest sympathy;
I am honored by having ideas in common with you; I believe firmly that
some day you will have to ask advice of the poor old philosopher; and,
precisely because of all that, I must and ought to maintain towards you
the most complete independence."

"But, sir, it is I that would be the obliged party, if you deigned to
accept what I offer."

"Oh, my dear young lady," said Rodin, with a smile: "I know that your
generosity would always know how to make gratitude light and easy; but,
once more, I cannot accept anything from you.  One day, perhaps, you will
know why."

"One day?"

"It is impossible for me to tell you more.  And then, supposing I were
under an obligation to you, how could I tell you all that was good and
beautiful in your actions?  Hereafter, if you are somewhat indebted to me
for my advice, so much the better; I shall be the more ready to blame
you, if I find anything to blame."

"In this way, sir, you would forbid me to be grateful to you."

"No, no," said Rodin, with apparent emotion.  "Oh, believe me! there will
come a solemn moment, in which you may repay all, in a manner worthy of
yourself and me."

This conversation was here interrupted by the nurse, who said to Adrienne
as she entered: "Madame, there is a little humpback workwoman downstairs,
who wishes to speak to you.  As, according to the doctor's new orders,
you are to do as you like, I have come to ask, if I am to bring her up to
you.  She is so badly dressed, that I did not venture."

"Bring her up, by all means," said Adrienne, hastily, for she had
recognized Mother Bunch by the nurse's description.  "Bring her up

"The doctor has also left word, that his carriage is to be at your
orders, madame; are the horses to be put to?"

Yes, in a quarter of an hour," answered Adrienne to the nurse, who went
out; then, addressing Rodin, she continued: "I do not think the
magistrate can now be long, before he returns with Marshal Simon's

"I think not, my dear young lady; but who is this deformed workwoman?"
asked Rodin, with an air of indifference.

"The adopted sister of a gallant fellow, who risked all in endeavoring to
rescue me from this house.  And, sir," said Adrienne, with emotion, "this
young workwoman is a rare and excellent creature.  Never was a nobler
mind, a more generous heart, concealed beneath an exterior less--"

But reflecting, that Rodin seemed to unite in his own person the same

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