withdraw into the next room, M. Hardy added with a smile: "No, no; do not stir. Your presence will shorten the interview." "But if it be a matter of business, my friend?" "I do everything openly, as you know." Then, addressing the servant, M. Hardy bade him: "Ask the gentleman to walk in." "The postilion wishes to know if he is to wait?" "Certainly: he will take M. de Blessac back to Paris." The servant withdrew, and presently returned, introducing Rodin, with whom M. de Blessac was not acquainted, his treacherous bargain having been negotiated through another agent. "M. Hardy?" said Rodin, bowing respectfully to the two friends, and looking from one to the other with an air of inquiry. "That is my name, sir; what can I do to serve you?" answered the manufacturer, kindly; for, at first sight of the humble and ill-dressed old man, he expected an application for assistance. "M. Francois Hardy," repeated Rodin, as if he wished to make sure of the identity of the person. "I have had the honor to tell you that I am he." "I have a private communication to make to you, sir," said Rodin. "You may speak, sir. This gentleman is my friend," said M. Hardy, pointing to M. de Blessac. "But I wish to speak to you alone, sir," resumed Rodin. M. de Blessac was again about to withdraw, when M. Hardy retained him with a glance, and said to Rodin kindly, for he thought his feelings might be hurt by asking a favor in presence of a third party: "Permit me to inquire if it is on your account or on mine, that you wish this interview to be secret?" "On your account entirely, sir," answered Rodin. "Then, sir," said M. Hardy, with some surprise, "you may speak out. I have no secrets from this gentleman." After a moment's silence, Rodin resumed, addressing himself to M. Hardy: "Sir, you deserve, I know, all the good that is said of you; and you therefore command the sympathy of every honest man." "I hope so, sir." "Now, as an honest man, I come to render you a service." "And this service, sir--" "To reveal to you an infamous piece of treachery, of which you have been the victim." "I think, sir, you must be deceived." "I have the proofs of what I assert." "Proofs?" "The written proofs of the treachery that I come to reveal: I have them here," answered Rodin "In a word, a man whom you believed your friend, has shamefully deceived you, sir." "And the name of this man?" "M. Marcel de Blessac," replied Rodin. On these words, M. de Blessac started, and became pale as death. He could hardly murmur: "Sir--" But, without looking at his friend, or perceiving his agitation, M. Hardy seized his hand, and exclaimed hastily: "Silence, my friend!" Then, whilst his eye flashed with indignation, he turned towards Rodin, who had not ceased to look him full in the face, and said to him, with an air of lofty disdain: "What! do you accuse M. de Blessac?" "Yes, I accuse him," replied Rodin, briefly. "Do you know him?" "I have never seen him." "Of what do you accuse him? And how dare you say that he has betrayed me?" "Two words, if you please," said Rodin, with an emotion which he appeared hardly able to restrain. "If one man of honor sees another about to be slain by an assassin, ought he not give the alarm of murder?" "Yes, sir; but what has that to do--" "In my eyes, sir, certain treasons are as criminal as murders: I have come to place myself between the assassin and his victim." "The assassin? the victim?" said M. Hardy more and more astonished. "You doubtless know M. de Blessac's writing?" said Rodin. "Yes, sir." "Then read this," said Rodin, drawing from his pocket a letter, which he handed to M. Hardy. Casting now for the first time a glance at M. de Blessac, the manufacturer drew back a step, terrified at the death-like paleness of this man, who, struck dumb with shame, could not find a word to justify himself; for he was far from possessing the audacious effrontery necessary to carry him through his treachery. "Marcel!" cried M. Hardy, in alarm, and deeply agitated by this unexpected blow. "Marcel! how pale you are! you do not answer!" "Marcel! this, then, is M. de Blessac?" cried Rodin, feigning the most painful surprise. "Oh, sir, if I had known--" "But don't you hear this man, Marcel?" cried M. Hardy. "He says that you have betrayed me infamously." He seized the hand of M. de Blessac. That hand was cold as ice. "Oh, God! Oh God!" said M. Hardy, drawing back in horror: "he makes no answer!" "Since I am in presence of M. de Blessac," resumed Rodin, "I am forced to ask him, if he can deny having addressed many letters to the Rue du Milieu des Ursins, at Paris under cover of M. Rodin." M. de Blessac remained dumb. M. Hardy, still unwilling to believe what he saw and heard, convulsively tore open the letter, which Rodin had just delivered to him, and read the first few lines--interrupting the perusal with exclamations of grief and amazement. He did not require to finish the letter, to convince himself of the black treachery of M. de Blessac. He staggered; for a moment his senses seemed to abandon him. The horrible discovery made him giddy, and his head swam on his first look down into that abyss of infamy. The loathsome letter dropped from his trembling hands. But soon indignation, rage, and scorn succeeded this moment of despair, and rushing, pale and terrible, upon M. de Blessac: "Wretch!" he exclaimed, with a threatening gesture. But, pausing as in the act to strike: "No!" he added, with fearful calmness. "It would be to soil my hands." He turned towards Rodin, who had approached hastily, as if to interpose. "It is not worth while chastising a wretch," said M. Hardy; "But I will press your honest hand, sir--for you have had the courage to unmask a traitor and a coward." "Sir!" cried M. de Blessac, overcome with shame; "I am at your orders-- and--" He could not finish. The sound of voices was heard behind the door, which opened violently, and an aged woman entered, in spite of the efforts of the servant, exclaiming in an agitated voice: "I tell you, I must speak instantly to your master." On hearing this voice, and at sight of the pale, weeping woman, M. Hardy, forgetting M. de Blessac, Rodin, the infamous treachery, and all, fell back a step, and exclaimed: "Madame Duparc! you here! What is the matter?" "Oh, sir! a great misfortune--" "Margaret!" cried M. Hardy, in a tone of despair. "She is gone, sir!" "Gone!" repeated M. Hardy, as horror-struck as if a thunderbolt had fallen at his feet. "Margaret gone!" "All is discovered. Her mother took her away--three days ago!" said the unhappy woman, in a failing voice. "Gone! Margaret! It is not true. You deceive me," cried M. Hardy. Refusing to hear more, wild, despairing, he rushed out of the house, threw himself into his carriage, to which the post-horses were still harnessed, waiting for M. de Blessac, and said to the postilion: "To Paris! as fast as you can go!" As the carriage, rapid as lightning, started upon the road to Paris, the wind brought nearer the distant sound of the war-song of the Wolves, who were rushing towards the factory. In this impending destruction, see Rodin's subtle hand, administering his fatal blows to clear his way up to the chair of St. Peter to which he aspired. His tireless, wily course can hardly be darker shadowed by aught save that dread coming horror the Cholera, whose aid he evoked, and whose health the Bacchanal Queen wildly drank. That once gay girl, and her poor famished sister; the fair patrician and her Oriental lover; Agricola, the workman, and his veteran father; the smiling Rose-Pompon, and the prematurely withered Jacques Rennepont; Father d'Aigrigny, the mock priest; and Gabriel, the true disciple; with the rest that have been named and others yet to be pictured, in the blaze of the bolts of their life's paths, will be seen in the third and concluding part of this romance entitled, "THE WANDERING JEW: REDEMPTION."
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