List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v6, by Eugene Sue
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moral and physical contrasts as the sewing-girl, Adrienne stopped short,
and then added, with inimitable grace, as she looked at the Jesuit, who
was somewhat astonished at the sudden pause: "No; this noble girl is not
the only person who proves how loftiness of soul, and superiority of
mind, can make us indifferent to the vain advantages which belong only to
the accidents of birth or fortune."  At the moment of Adrienne speaking
these last words, Mother Bunch entered the room.



Mdlle. de Cardoville sprang hastily to meet the visitor, and said to her,
in a voice of emotion, as she extended her arms towards her: "Come--come
--there is no grating to separate us now!"

On this allusion, which reminded her how her poor, laborious hand had
been respectfully kissed by the fair and rich patrician, the young
workwoman felt a sentiment of gratitude, which was at once ineffable and
proud.  But, as she hesitated to respond to the cordial reception,
Adrienne embraced her with touching affection.  When Mother Bunch found
herself clasped in the fair arms of Mdlle. de Cardoville, when she felt
the fresh and rosy lips of the young lady fraternally pressed to her own
pale and sickly cheek, she burst into tears without being able to utter a
word.  Rodin, retired in a corner of the chamber, locked on this scene
with secret uneasiness.  Informed of the refusal, so full of dignity,
which Mother Bunch had opposed to the perfidious temptations of the
superior of St. Mary's Convent, and knowing the deep devotion of this
generous creature for Agricola--a devotion which for some days she had so
bravely extended to Mdlle. de Cardoville--the Jesuit did not like to see
the latter thus laboring to increase that affection.  He thought, wisely,
that one should never despise friend or enemy, however small they may
appear.  Now, devotion to Mdlle. de Cardoville constituted an enemy in
his eyes; and we know, moreover, that Rodin combined in his character
rare firmness, with a certain degree of superstitious weakness, and he
now felt uneasy at the singular impression of fear which Mother Bunch
inspired in him.  He determined to recollect this presentiment.

Delicate natures sometimes display in the smallest things the most
charming instincts of grace and goodness.  Thus, when the sewing-girl was
shedding abundant and sweet tears of gratitude, Adrienne took a richly
embroidered handkerchief, and dried the pale and melancholy face.  This
action, so simple and spontaneous, spared the work-girl one humiliation;
for, alas! humiliation and suffering are the two gulfs, along the edge of
which misfortune continually passes.  Therefore, the least kindness is in
general a double benefit to the unfortunate.  Perhaps the reader may
smile in disdain at the puerile circumstance we mention.  But poor Mother
Bunch, not venturing to take from her pocket her old ragged handkerchief,
would long have remained blinded by her tears, if Mdlle. de Cardoville
had not come to her aid.

"Oh! you are so good--so nobly charitable, lady!" was all that the
sempstress could say, in a tone of deep emotion; for she was still more
touched by the attention of the young lady, than she would perhaps have
been by a service rendered.

"Look there, sir," said Adrienne to Rodin, who drew near hastily.  "Yes,"
added the young patrician, proudly, "I have indeed discovered a treasure.
Look at her, sir; and love her as I love her, honor as I honor.  She has
one of those hearts for which we are seeking."

"And which, thank heaven, we are still able to find, my dear young lady!"
said Rodin, as he bowed to the needle-woman.

The latter raised her eyes slowly, and locked at the Jesuit.  At sight of
that cadaverous countenance, which was smiling benignantly upon her, the
young girl started.  It was strange! she had never seen this man, and yet
she felt instantly the same fear and repulsion that he had felt with
regard to her.  Generally timid and confused, the work-girl could not
withdraw her eyes from Rodin's; her heart beat violently, as at the
coming of some great danger, and, as the excellent creature feared only
for those she loved, she approached Adrienne involuntarily, keeping her
eyes fixed on Rodin.  The Jesuit was too good a physiognomist not to
perceive the formidable impression he had made, and he felt an increase
of his instinctive aversion for the sempstress.  Instead of casting down
his eyes, he appeared to examine her with such sustained attention, that
Mdlle. de Cardoville was astonished at it.

"I beg your pardon, my dear girl," said Rodin, as if recalling his
recollections, and addressing himself to Mother Bunch, "I beg your
pardon--but I think--if I am not deceived--did you not go a few days
since to St. Mary's Convent, hard by?"

"Yes, sir."

"No doubt, it was you.  Where then was my head?" cried Rodin.  "It was
you--I should have guessed it sooner."

"Of what do you speak, sir?" asked Adrienne.

"Oh! you are right, my dear young lady," said Rodin, pointing to the
hunchback.  "She has indeed a noble heart, such as we seek.  If you knew
with what dignity, with what courage this poor girl, who was out of work
and, for her, to want work is to want everything--if you knew, I say,
with what dignity she rejected the shameful wages that the superior of
the convent was unprincipled enough to offer, on condition of her acting
as a spy in a family where it was proposed to place her."

"Oh, that is infamous!" cried Mdlle. de Cardoville, with disgust.  "Such
a proposal to this poor girl--to her!"

"Madame," said Mother Bunch, bitterly, "I had no work, I was poor, they
did not know me--and they thought they might propose anything to the
likes of me."

"And I tell you," said Rodin, "that it was a double baseness on the part
of the superior, to offer such temptation to misery, and it was doubly
noble in you to refuse."

"Sir," said the sewing-girl, with modest embarrassment.

"Oh! I am not to be intimidated," resumed Rod in.  "Praise or blame, I
speak out roughly what I think.  Ask this dear young lady," he added,
with a glance at Adrienne.  "I tell you plainly, that I think as well of
you as she does herself."

"Believe me, dear," said Adrienne, "there are some sorts of praise which
honor, recompense, and encourage; and M. Rodin's is of the number.  I
know it,--yes, I know it."

"Nay, my dear young lady, you must not ascribe to me all the honor of
this judgment."

"How so, sir?"

"Is not this dear girl the adopted sister of Agricola Baudoin, the
gallant workman, the energetic and popular poet?  Is not the affection of
such a man the best of guarantees, and does it not enable us to judge, as
it were, by the label?" added Rodin, with a smile.

"You are right, sir," said Adrienne; "for, before knowing this dear girl,
I began to feel deeply interested in her, from the day that her adopted
brother spoke to me about her.  He expressed himself with so much warmth,
so much enthusiasm, that I at once conceived an esteem for the person
capable of inspiring so noble an attachment."

These words of Adrienne, joined to another circumstance, had such an
effect upon their hearer, that her pale face became crimson.  The
unfortunate hunchback loved Agricola, with love as passionate as it was
secret and painful: the most indirect allusion to this fatal sentiment
occasioned her the most cruel embarrassment.  Now, the moment Mdlle. de
Cardoville spoke of Agricola's attachment for Mother Bunch, the latter
had encountered Rodin's observing and penetrating look fixed upon her.
Alone with Adrienne, the sempstress would have felt only a momentary
confusion on hearing the name of the smith; but unfortunately she fancied
that the Jesuit, who already filled her with involuntary fear, had seen
into her heart, and read the secrets of that fatal love, of which she was
the victim.  Thence the deep blushes of the poor girl, and the
embarrassment so painfully visible, that Adrienne was struck with it.

A subtle and prompt mind, like Rodin's on perceiving the smallest effect,
immediately seeks the cause.  Proceeding by comparison, the Jesuit saw on
one side a deformed, but intelligent young girl, capable of passionate
devotion; on the other, a young workman, handsome, bold, frank, and full
of talent.  "Brought up together, sympathizing with each other on many
points, there must be some fraternal affection between them," said he to
himself; "but fraternal affection does not blush, and the hunchback
blushed and grew troubled beneath my look; does she, then, Love

Once on the scent of this discovery, Rodin wished to pursue the
investigation.  Remarking the surprise and visible uneasiness that Mother
Bunch had caused in Adrienne, he said to the latter, with a smile,
looking significantly at the needlewoman: "You see, my dear young lady,
how she blushes.  The good girl is troubled by what we said of the
attachment of this gallant workman."

The needlewoman hung down her head, overcome with confusion.  After the
pause of a second, during which Rodin preserved silence, so as to give
time for his cruel remark to pierce the heart of the victim, the savage
resumed: "Look at the dear girl! how embarrassed she appears!"

Again, after another silence, perceiving that Mother Bunch from crimson
had become deadly pale, and was trembling in all her limbs, the Jesuit
feared he had gone too far, whilst Adrienne said to her friend, with
anxiety: "Why, dear child, are you so agitated?"

"Oh! it is clear enough," resumed Rodin, with an air of perfect
simplicity; for having discovered what he wished to know, he now chose to
appear unconscious.  "It is quite clear and plain.  This good girl has
the modesty of a kind and tender sister for a brother.  When you praise
him, she fancies that she is herself praised."

"And she is as modest as she is excellent," added Adrienne, taking bath
of the girl's hands, "the least praise, either of her adopted brother or
of herself, troubles her in this way.  But it is mere childishness, and I
must scold her for it."

Mdlle. de Cardoville spoke sincerely, for the explanation given by Rodin
appeared to her very plausible.  Like all other persons who, dreading
every moment the discovery of some painful secret have their courage as
easily restored as shaken, Mother Bunch persuaded herself (and she needed
to do so, to escape dying of shame), that the last words of Rodin were
sincere, and that he had no idea of the love she felt for Agricola.  So
her agony diminished, and she found words to reply to Mdlle. de

"Excuse me, madame," she said timidly, "I am so little accustomed to such
kindness as that with which you overwhelm me, that I make a sorry return
for all your goodness."

"Kindness, my poor girl?" said Adrienne.  "I have done nothing for you
yet.  But, thank heaven! from this day I shall be able to keep my
promise, and reward your devotion to me, your courageous resignation,
your sacred love of labor, and the dignity of which you have given so
many proofs, under the most cruel privations.  In a word, from this day,
if you do not object to it, we will part no more."

"Madame, you are too kind," said Mother Bunch, in a trembling voice;
"but I--"

"Oh! be satisfied," said Adrienne, anticipating her meaning.  "If you
accept my offer, I shall know how to reconcile with my desire (not a
little selfish) of having you near me, the independence of your
character, your habits of labor, your taste for retirement, and your
anxiety to devote yourself to those who deserve commiseration; it is, I
confess, by affording you the means of satisfying these generous
tendencies, that I hope to seduce and keep you by me."

"But what have I done?" asked the other, simply, "to merit any gratitude
from you?  Did you not begin, on the contrary, by acting so generously to
my adopted brother?"

"Oh! I do not speak of gratitude," said Adrienne; "we are quits.  I speak
of friendship and sincere affection, which I now offer you."

"Friendship to me, madame?"

"Come, come," said Adrienne, with a charming smile, "do not be proud
because your position gives you the advantage.  I have set my heart on
having you for a friend, and you will see that it shall be so.  But now
that I think of it (a little late, you will say), what good wind brings
you hither?"

"This morning M. Dagobert received a letter, in which he was requested to
come to this place, to learn some news that would be of the greatest
interest to him.  Thinking it concerned Marshal Simon's daughters, he
said to me: `Mother Bunch, you have taken so much interest in those dear
children, that you must come with me: you shall witness my joy on finding
them, and that will be your reward.'"

Adrienne glanced at Rodin.  The latter made an affirmative movement of
the head, and answered: "Yes, yes, my dear young lady: it was I who wrote
to the brave soldier, but without signing the letter, or giving any
explanation.  You shall know why."

"Then, my dear girl, why did you come alone?" said Adrienne.

"Alas, madame! on arriving here, it was your kind reception that made me
forget my fears."

"What fears?" asked Rodin.

"Knowing that you lived here, madame, I supposed the letter was from you;
I told M. Dagobert so, and he thought the same.  When we arrived, his
impatience was so great, that he asked at the door if the orphans were in
this house, and he gave their description.  They told him no.  Then, in
spite of my supplications, he insisted on going to the convent to inquire
about them."

"What imprudence!" cried Adrienne.

"After what took place the other night, when he broke in," added Rodin,
shrugging his shoulders.

"It was in vain to tell him," returned Mother Bunch, "that the letter did
not announce positively, that the orphans would be delivered up to him;
but that, no doubt, he would gain some information about them.  He
refused to hear anything, but said to me: `If I cannot find them, I will
rejoin you.  But they were at the convent the day before yesterday, and
now that all is discovered, they cannot refuse to give them up--"

"And with such a man there is no disputing!" said Rodin, with a smile.

"I hope they will not recognize him!" said Adrienne, remembering
Baleinier's threats.

"It is not likely," replied Rodin; "they will only refuse him admittance.
That will be, I hope, the worst misfortune that will happen.  Besides,
the magistrate will soon be here with the girls.  I am no longer wanted:
other cares require my attention.  I must seek out Prince Djalma.  Only
tell me, my dear young lady, where I shall find you, to keep you informed
of my discoveries, and to take measures with regard to the young prince,
if my inquiries, as I hope, shall be attended with success."

"You will find me in my new house, Rue d'Anjou, formerly Beaulieu House.
But now I think of it," said Adrienne, suddenly, after some moments of
reflection, "it would not be prudent or proper, on many accounts, to
lodge the Prince Djalma in the pavilion I occupied at Saint-Dizier House.
I saw, some time ago, a charming little house, all furnished and ready;

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