List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v7, by Eugene Sue
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delivered to Rodin--and the half-caste again withdrew.



When Faringhea had quitted the room, Rodin took the letter from Abbe
d'Aigrigny with one hand, and with the other appeared to be looking for
something, first in the side pocket of his great-coat, then in the pocket
behind, then in that of his trousers; and, not finding what he sought, he
laid the letter on his knee, and felt himself all over with both hands,
with an air of regret and uneasiness.  The divers movements of this
pantomime, performed in the most natural manner, were crowned by the

"Oh! dear me! how vexatious!"

"What is the matter?" asked Djalma, starting from the gloomy silence in
which he had been plunged for some minutes.

"Alas! my dear prince!" replied Rodin, "the most vulgar and puerile
accident may sometimes cause the greatest inconvenience.  I have
forgotten or lost my spectacles.  Now, in this twilight, with the very
poor eyesight that years of labor have left me, it will be absolutely
impossible for me to read this most important letter--and an immediate
answer is expected--most simple and categorical--a yes or a no.  Times
presses; it is really most annoying.  If," added Rodin, laying great
stress on his words, without looking at Djalma, but so as the prince
might remark it; "if only some one would render me the service to read it
for me; but there is no one--no--one!"

"Father," said Djalma, obligingly, "shall I read it for you.  When I have
finished it, I shall forget what I have read."

"You?" cried Rodin, as if the proposition of the Indian had appeared to
him extravagant and dangerous; "it is impossible, prince, for you to read
this letter."

"Then excuse my having offered," said Djalma mildly.

"And yet," resumed Rodin, after a moment's reflection, and as if speaking
to himself, "why not?"

And he added, addressing Djalma: "Would you really be so obliging, my
dear prince?  I should not have ventured to ask you this service."

So saying, Rodin delivered the letter to Djalma, who read aloud as
follows: "'Your visit this morning to Saint-Dizier House can only be
considered, from what I hear, as a new act of aggression on your part.

"'Here is the last proposition I have to make.  It may be as fruitless as
the step I took yesterday, when I called upon you in the Rue Clovis.

"'After that long and painful explanation, I told you that I would write
to you.  I keep my promise, and here is my ultimatum.

"'First of all, a piece of advice.  Beware!  If you are determined to
maintain so unequal a struggle, you will be exposed even to the hatred of
those whom you so foolishly seek to protect.  There are a thousand ways
to ruin you with them, by enlightening them as to your protects.  It will
be proved to them, that you have shared in the plat, which you now
pretend to reveal, not from generosity, but from cupidity.'"  Though
Djalma had the delicacy to feel that the least question on the subject of
this letter would be a serious indiscretion, he could not forbear turning
his head suddenly towards the Jesuit, as he read the last passage.

"Oh, yes!  it relates to me.  Such as you see me, my dear prince," added
he, glancing at his shabby clothes, "I am accused of cupidity."

"And who are these people that you protect?"

"Those I protect?" said Rodin feigning some hesitation, as if he had been
embarrassed to find an answer; "who are those I protect?  Hem--hem--I
will tell you.  They are poor devils without resources; good people
without a penny, having only a just cause on their side, in a lawsuit in
which they are engaged.  They are threatened with destruction by powerful
parties--very powerful parties; but, happily, these latter are known to
me, and I am able to unmask them.  What else could have been?  Being
myself poor and weak, I range myself naturally on the side of the poor
and weak.  But continue, I beg of you."

Djalma resumed: "'You have therefore every-thing to fear if you persist
in your hostility, and nothing to gain by taking the side of those whom
you call your friends.  They might more justly be termed your dupes, for
your disinterestedness would be inexplicable, were it sincere.  It must
therefore conceal some after-thought of cupidity.

"'Well! in that view of the case, we can offer you ample compensation--
with this difference, that your hopes are now entirely founded on the
probable gratitude of your friends, a very doubtful chance at the best,
whereas our offers will be realized on the instant.  To speak clearly,
this is what we ask, what we exact of you.  This very night, before
twelve, you must have left Paris, and engage not to return for six
months.'" Djalma could not repress a movement of surprise, and looked at

"Quite natural," said the latter; "the cause of my poor friends would be
judged by that time, and I should be unable to watch over them.  You see
how it is, my dear prince," added Rodin, with bitter indignation.  "But
please continue, and excuse me for having interrupted you; though,
indeed, such impudence disgusts me."

Djalma continued: "'That we may be certain of your removal from Paris for
six months, you will go to the house of one of our friends in Germany.
You will there be received with generous hospitality, but forcibly
detained until the expiration of the term.'"

"Yes, yes! a voluntary prison," said Rodin.

"'On these conditions, you will receive a pension of one thousand francs
a month, to begin from your departure from Paris, ten thousand francs
down, and twenty thousand at the end of the six months--the whole to be
completely secured to you.  Finally, at the end of the six months, we
will place you in a position both honorable and independent.'"

Djalma having stopped short, with involuntary indignation, Rodin said to
him: "Let me beg you to continue, my dear prince.  Read to the end, and
it will give you some idea of what passes in the midst of our

Djalma resumed: "'You know well enough the course of affairs, and what we
are, to feel that in providing for your absence, we only wish to get rid
of an enemy, not very dangerous, but rather troublesome.  Do not be
blinded by your first success.  The results of your denunciation will be
stifled, because they are calumnious.  The judge who received your
evidence will soon repent his odious partiality.  You may make what use
you please of this letter.  We know what we write, to whom we write, and
how we write.  You will receive this letter at three o'clock; if by four
o'clock we have not your full and complete acceptance, written with your
own hand at the bottom of this letter, war must commence between us--and
not from to-morrow, but on the instant.'"

Having finished reading the letter, Djalma looked at Rodin, who said to
him: "Permit me to summon Faringhea."

He rang the bell, and the half-caste appeared.  Rodin took the letter
from the hands of Djalma, tore it into halves, rubbed it between his
palms, so as to make a sort of a ball, and said to the half-caste, as he
returned it to him:  "Give this palter to the person who waits for it,
and tell him that is my only answer to his shameless and insolent letter;
you understand me--this shameless and insolent letter."

"I understand." said the half-caste; and he went out.

"This will perhaps be a dangerous war for you, father, said the Indian,
with interest.

"Yes, dear prince, it may be dangerous, but I am not like you; I have no
wish to kill my enemies, because they are cowardly and wicked.  I fight
them under the shield of the law.  Imitate me in this."  Then, seeing
that the countenance of Djalma darkened, he added: "I am wrong.  I will
advise you no more on this subject.  Only, let us defer the decision to
the judgment of your noble and motherly protectress.  I shall see her to-
morrow; if she consents, I will tell you the names of your enemies.  If

"And this woman, this second mother," said Djalma, "is her character
such, that I can rely on her judgment?"

"She!" cried Rodin, clasping his hands, and speaking with increased
excitement.  "Why, she is the most noble, the most generous, the most
valiant being upon earth!--why, if you were really her son, and she loved
you with all the strength of maternal affection, and a case arose in
which you had to choose between an act of baseness and death, she would
say to you: 'Die!' though she might herself die with you."

"Oh, noble woman! so was my mother!" cried Djalma, with enthusiasm.

"Yes," resumed Rodin, with growing energy, as he approached the window
concealed by the shade, towards which he threw an oblique and anxious
glance, "if you would imagine your protectress, think only of courage,
uprightness, and loyalty personified.  Oh! she has the chivalrous
frankness of the brave man, joined with the high-souled dignity of the
woman, who not only never in her life told a falsehood, never concealed a
single thought, but who would rather die than give way to the least of
those sentiments of craft and dissimulation, which are almost forced upon
ordinary women by the situation in which they are placed."

It is difficult to express the admiration which shone upon the
countenance of Djalma, as he listened to this description.  His eyes
sparkled, his cheeks glowed, his heart palpitated with enthusiasm.

"That is well, noble heart!" said Rodin to him, drawing still nearer to
the blind; "I love to see your soul sparkle through your eyes, on hearing
me speak thus of your unknown protectress.  Oh! but she is worthy of the
pious adoration which noble hearts and great characters inspire!"

"Oh! I believe you," cried Djalma, with enthusiasm; "my heart is full of
admiration and also of astonishment, for my mother is no more, and yet
such a woman exists!"

"Yes, she exists.  For the consolation of the afflicted, for the glory of
her sex, she exists.  For the honor of truth, and the shame of falsehood,
she exists.  No lie, no disguise, has ever tainted her loyalty, brilliant
and heroic as the sword of a knight.  It is but a few days ago that this
noble woman spoke to me these admirable words, which, in all my life, I
shall not forget: 'Sir,' she said, 'if ever I suspect any one that I love
or esteem--'"

Rodin did not finish.  The shade, so violently shaken that the spring
broke, was drawn up abruptly, and, to the great astonishment of Djalma,
Mdlle. de Cardoville appeared before him.  Adrienne's cloak had fallen
from her shoulders, and in the violence of the movement with which she
had approached the blind, her bonnet, the strings of which were untied,
had also fallen.  Having left home suddenly, with only just time to throw
a mantle over the picturesque and charming costume which she often chose
to wear when alone, she appeared so radiant with beauty to Djalma's
dazzled eyes, in the centre of those leaves and flowers, that the Indian
believed himself under the influence of a dream.

With clasped hands, eyes wide open, the body slightly bent forward, as if
in the act of prayer, he stood petrified with admiration, Mdlle. de
Cardoville, much agitated, and her countenance glowing with emotion,
remained on the threshold of the greenhouse, without entering the room.
All this had passed in less time than it takes to describe it.  Hardly
had the blind been raised, than Rodin, feigning surprise, exclaimed: "You
here, madame?"

"Oh, sir!" said Adrienne, in an agitated voice, "I come to terminate the
phrase which you have commenced.  I told you, that when a suspicion
crossed my mind, I uttered it aloud to the person by whom it was
inspired.  Well!  I confess it: I have failed in this honesty.  I came
here as a spy upon you, when your answer to the Abbe d'Aigrigny was
giving me a new pledge of your devotion and sincerity.  I doubted your
uprightness at the moment when you were bearing testimony to my
frankness.  For the first time in my life, I stooped to deceit; this
weakness merits punishment, and I submit to it--demands reparation, and I
make it--calls for apologies, and I tender them to you."  Then turning
towards Djalma, she added: "Now, prince, I am no longer mistress of my
secret.  I am your relation, Mdlle. de Cardoville; and I hope you will
accept from a sister the hospitality that you did not refuse from a

Djalma made no reply.  Plunged in ecstatic contemplation of this sudden
apparition, which surpassed his wildest and most dazzling visions, he
felt a sort of intoxication, which, paralyzing the power of thought,
concentrated all his faculties in the one sense of sight; and just as we
sometimes seek in vain to satisfy unquenchable thirst, the burning look
of the Indian sought, as it were, with devouring avidity, to take in all
the rare perfections of the young lady.  Verily, never had two more
divine types of beauty met face to face.  Adrienne and Djalma were the
very ideal of a handsome youth and maiden.  There seemed to be something
providential in the meeting of these two natures, so young and so
vivacious, so generous and so full of passion, so heroic and so proud,
who, before coming into contact, had, singularly enough, each learned the
moral worth of the other; for if, at the words of Rodin, Djalma had felt
arise in his heart an admiration, as lively as it was sudden, for the
valiant and generous qualities of that unknown benefactress, whom he now
discovered in Mdlle. de Cardoville, the latter had, in her turn, been
moved, affected, almost terrified, by the interview she had just
overheard, in which Djalma had displayed the nobleness of his soul, the
delicate goodness of his heart, and the terrible transports of his
temper.  Then she had not been able to repress a movement of
astonishment, almost admiration, at sight of the surprising beauty of the
prince; and soon after, a strange, painful sentiment, a sort of electric
shock, seemed to penetrate all her being, as her eyes encountered

Cruelly agitated, and suffering deeply from this agitation, she tried to
dissemble the impression she had received, by addressing Rodin, to
apologize for having suspected him.  But the obstinate silence of the
Indian redoubled the lady's painful embarrassment.  Again raising her
eyes towards the prince, to invite him to respond to her fraternal offer,
she met his ardent gaze wildly fixed upon her, and she looked once more
with a mixture of fear, sadness, and wounded pride; then she
congratulated herself on having foreseen the inexorable necessity of
keeping Djalma at a distance from her, such apprehension did this ardent
and impetuous nature already inspire.  Wishing to put an end to her
present painful situation, she said to Rodin, in a low and trembling
voice, "Pray, sir, speak to the prince; repeat to him my offers.  I
cannot remain longer."  So saying, Adrienne turned, as if to rejoin
Florine.  But, at the first step, Djalma sprang towards her with the
bound of a tiger, about to be deprived of his prey.  Terrified by the
expression of wild excitement which inflamed the Indian's countenance,
the young lady drew back with a loud scream.

At this, Djalma remembered himself, and all that had passed.  Pale with

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