List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v9, by Eugene Sue
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expression of his countenance, Rodin, notwithstanding his state of
weakness, instantly felt the imprudence of his start.  He pressed his
hand to his forehead, as though he had been seized with a giddiness;
then, looking wildly round him, he pressed to his trembling lips his old
cotton handkerchief, and gnawed it mechanically for some seconds.

"Your emotion and alarm confirm the sad discoveries I have made," resumed
the cardinal, still more rejoicing at the success of his trick; "and now,
my dear father," added he, "you will understand that it is for your best
interest to enter into the most minute detail as to your projects and
accomplices at Rome.  You may then hope, my dear father, for the
indulgence of the Holy See--that is, if your avowals are sufficiently
explicit to fill up the chasms necessarily left in a confession made
during delirium."

Rodin, recovered from his first surprise, perceived, but too late, that
he had fallen into a snare, not by any words he had spoken, but by his
too significant movements.  In fact, the Jesuit had feared for a moment
that he might have betrayed himself during his delirium, when he heard
himself accused of dark intrigues with Rome; but, after some minutes of
reflection, his common sense suggested: "If this crafty Roman knew my
secret, he would take care not to tell me so.  He has only suspicions,
confirmed by my involuntary start just now."

Rodin wiped the cold sweat from his burning forehead.  The emotion of
this scene augmented his sufferings, and aggravated the danger of his
condition.  Worn out with fatigue, he could not remain long in a sitting
posture, and soon fell back upon the bed.

"Per Bacco!" said the cardinal to himself, alarmed at the expression of
the Jesuit's face; "if he were to die before he had spoken, and so escape
the snare!"

Then, leaning over the bed, the prelate asked: "What is the matter, my
very dear father?"

"I am weak, my lord--I am in pain--I cannot express what I suffer."

"Let us hope, my very dear father, that this crisis will have no fatal
results; but the contrary may happen, and it behooves the salvation of
your soul to make instantly the fullest confession.  Were it even to
exhaust your strength, what is this perishable body compared to eternal

"Of what confession do you speak, my lord?" said Rodin, in a feeble and
yet sarcastic tone.

"What confession!" cried the amazed cardinal; "why, with regard to your
dangerous intrigues at Rome."

"What intrigues?" asked Rodin.

"The intrigues you revealed during your delirium," replied the prelate,
with still more angry impatience.  "Were not your avowals sufficiently
explicit?  Why, then, this culpable hesitation to complete them?"

"My avowals--were explicit--you assure me?" said Rodin, pausing after
each word for want of breath, but without losing his energy and presence
of mind.

"Yes, I repeat it," resumed the cardinal; "with the exception of a few
chasms, they were most explicit."

"Then why repeat them?" said Rodin, with the same sardonic smile on his
violet lips.

"Why repeat them?" cried the angry prelate.  "In order to gain pardon;
for if there is indulgence and mercy for the repentant sinner, there must
be condemnation and curses for the hardened criminal!"

"Oh, what torture! I am dying by slow fire!" murmured Rodin.  "Since I
have told all," he resumed, "I have nothing more to tell.  You know it

"I know all--doubtless, I know all," replied the prelate, in a voice of
thunder; "but how have I learned it?  By confessions made in a state of
unconsciousness.  Do you think they will avail you anything?  No; the
moment is solemn--death is at hand, tremble to die with a sacrilegious
falsehood on your lips," cried the prelate, shaking Rodin violently by
the arm; "dread the eternal flames, if you dare deny what you know to be
the truth.  Do you deny it?"

"I deny nothing," murmured Rodin, with difficulty.  "Only leave me

"Then heaven inspires you," said the cardinal, with a sigh of
satisfaction; and, thinking he had nearly attained his object, he
resumed, "Listen to the divine word, that will guide you, father.  You
deny nothing?"

"I was--delirious--and cannot--(oh! how I suffer!)" added Rodin, by way
of parenthesis; "and cannot therefore--deny--the nonsense--I may have

"But when this nonsense agrees with the truth," cried the prelate,
furious at being again deceived in his expectation; "but when raving is
an involuntary, providential revelation--"

"Cardinal Malipieri--your craft is no match--for my agony," answered
Rodin, in a failing voice.  "The proof--that I have not told my secret--
if I have a secret--is--that you want to make me tell it!"  In spite of
his pain and weakness, the Jesuit had courage to raise himself in the
bed, and look the cardinal full in the face, with a smile of bitter
irony.  After which he fell back on the pillow, and pressed his hands to
his chest, with a long sigh of anguish.

"Damnation! the infernal Jesuit has found me out!" said the cardinal to
himself, as he stamped his foot with rage.  "He sees that he was
compromised by his first movement; he is now upon his guard; I shall get
nothing more from him--unless indeed, profiting by the state of weakness
in which he is, I can, by entreaties, by threats, by terror--"

The prelate was unable to finish.  The door opened abruptly, and Father
d'Aigrigny entered the room, exclaiming with an explosion of joy:
"Excellent news!"



By the alteration in the countenance of Father d'Aigrigny, his pale
cheek, and the feebleness of his walk, one might see that the terrible
scene in the square of Notre-Dame, had violently reacted upon his health.
Yet his face was radiant and triumphant, as he entered Rodin's chamber,
exclaiming: "Excellent news!"

On these words, Rodin started.  In spite of his weakness, he raised his
head, and his eves shone with a curious, uneasy, piercing expression.
With his lean hand, he beckoned Father d'Aigrigny to approach the bed,
and said to him, in a broken voice, so weak that it was scarcely audible:
"I am very ill--the cardinal has nearly finished me--but if this
excellent news--relates to the Rennepont affair--of which I hear nothing
--it might save me yet!"

"Be saved then!" cried Father d'Aigrigny, forgetting the recommendations
of Dr. Baleinier; "read, rejoice!  What you foretold is beginning to be

So saying, he drew a paper from his pocket, and delivered it to Rodin,
who seized it with an eager and trembling hand.  Some minutes before,
Rodin would have been really incapable of continuing his conversation
with the cardinal, even if prudence had allowed him to do so; nor could
he have read a single line, so dim had his sight become.  But, at the
words of Father d'Aigrigny, he felt such a renewal of hope and vigor,
that, by a mighty effort of energy and will, he rose to a sitting
posture, and, with clear head, and look of intelligent animation, he read
rapidly the paper that Father d'Aigrigny had just delivered to him.

The cardinal, amazed at this sudden transfiguration, asked himself if he
beheld the same man, who, a few minutes before, had fallen back on his
bed, almost insensible.  Hardly had Rodin finished reading, than he
uttered a cry of stifled joy, saying, with an accent impossible to
describe: "ONE gone! it works--'tis well!" And, closing his eyes in a
kind of ecstatic transport, a smile of proud triumph overspread his face,
and rendered him still more hideous, by discovering his yellow and
gumless teeth.  His emotion was so violent, that the paper fell from his
trembling hand.

"He has fainted," cried Father d'Aigrigny, with uneasiness, as he leaned
over Rodin.  "It is my fault, I forgot that the doctor cautioned me not
to talk to him of serious matters."

"No; do not reproach yourself," said Rodin, in a low voice, half-raising
himself in the bed.  "This unexpected joy may perhaps cure me.  Yes--I
scarce know what I feel--but look at my cheeks--it seems to me, that, for
the first time since I have been stretched on this bed of pain, they are
a little warm."

Rodin spoke the truth.  A slight color appeared suddenly on his livid and
icy cheeks; his voice though still very weak, became less tremulous, and
he exclaimed, in a tone of conviction that startled Father d'Aigrigny and
the prelate, "This first success answers for the others.  I read the
future.  Yes, yes; our cause will triumph.  Every member of the execrable
Rennepont family will be crushed--and that soon you will see--"

Then, pausing, Rodin threw himself back on the pillow, exclaiming: "Oh! I
am choked with joy.  My voice fails me."

"But what is it?" asked the cardinal of Father d'Aigrigny.

The latter replied, in a tone of hypocritical sanctity: "One of the heirs
of the Rennepont family, a poor fellow, worn out with excesses and
debauchery, died three days ago, at the close of some abominable orgies,
in which he had braved the cholera with sacrilegious impiety.  In
consequence of the indisposition that kept me at home, and of another
circumstance, I only received to-day the certificate of the death of this
victim of intemperance and irreligion.  I must proclaim it to the praise
of his reverence"--pointing to Rodin--"that he told me, the worst enemies
of the descendants of that infamous renegade would be their own bad
passions, and that the might look to them as our allies against the whole
impious race.  And so it has happened with Jacques Rennepont."

"You see," said Rodin, in so faint a voice that it was almost
unintelligible, "the punishment begins already.  One of the Renneponts is
dead--and believe me--this certificate," and he pointed to the paper that
Father d'Aigrigny held in his hand, "will one day be worth forty millions
to the Society of Jesus--and that--because--"

The lips alone finished the sentence.  During some seconds, Rodin's voice
had become so faint, that it was at last quite imperceptible.  His
larynx, contracted by violent emotion, no longer emitted any sound.  The
Jesuit, far from being disconcerted by this incident, finished his
phrase, as it were, by expressive pantomime.  Raising his head proudly he
tapped his forehead with his forefinger, as if to express that it was to
his ability this first success was owing.  But he soon fell back again on
the bed, exhausted, breathless, sinking, with his cotton handkerchief
pressed once more to his parched lips.  The good news, as Father
d'Aigrigny called it, had not cured Rodin.  For a moment only, he had had
the courage to forget his pain.  But the slight color on his cheek soon
disappeared; his face became once more livid.  His sufferings, suspended
for a moment, were so much increased in violence, that he writhed beneath
the coverlet, and buried his face in the pillow, extending his arms above
his head, and holding them stiff as bars of iron.  After this crisis,
intense as it was rapid: during which Father d'Aigrigny and the prelate
bent anxiously over him, Rodin, whose face was bathed in cold sweat, made
a sign that he suffered less, and that he wished to drink of a potion to
which he pointed.  Father d'Aigrigny fetched it for him, and while the
cardinal held him up with marked disgust, the abbe administered a few
spoonfuls of the potion, which almost immediately produced a soothing

"Shall I call M. Rousselet?" said Father d'Aigrigny, when Rodin was once
more laid down in bed.

Rodin shook his head; then, with a fresh effort, he raised his right
hand, opened it, and pointed with his forefinger to a desk in a corner of
the room, to signify that, being no longer able to speak, he wished to

"I understand your reverence," said Father d'Aigrigny; "but first calm
yourself.  Presently, if you require it.  I will give you writing-

Two knocks at the outer door of the next room interrupted this scene.
From motives of prudence, Father d'Aigrigny had begged Rousselet to
remain in the first of the three rooms.  He now went to open the door,
and Rousselet handed him a voluminous packet, saying: "I beg pardon for
disturbing you, father, but I was told to let you have these papers

"Thank you, M. Rousselet," said Father d'Aigrigny; "do you know at what
hour Dr. Baleinier will return?"

"He will not be long, father, for he wishes to perform before night the
painful operation, that will have a decisive effect on the condition of
Father Rodin.  I am preparing what is necessary for it," added Rousselet,
as he pointed to a singular and formidable apparatus, which Father
d'Aigrigny examined with a kind of terror.

"I do not know if the symptom is a serious one," said the Jesuit; "but
the reverend father has suddenly lost his voice."

"It is the third time this has happened within the last week," said
Rousselet; "the operation of Dr. Baleiner will act both on the larynx and
on the lungs."

"Is the operation a very painful one?" asked Father d'Aigrigny.

"There is, perhaps, none more cruel in surgery," answered the young
doctor; "and Dr. Baleinier has partly concealed its nature from Father

"Please to wait here for Dr. Baleinier, and send him to us as soon as he
arrives," resumed Father d'Aigrigny: and, returning to the sick chamber,
he sat down by the bedside, and said to Rodin, as he showed him the
letter: "Here are different reports with regard to different members of
the Rennepont family, whom I have had looked after by others, my
indisposition having kept me at home for the last few days.  I do not
know, father, if the state of your health will permit you to hear--"

Rodin made a gesture, at once so supplicating and peremptory, that Father
d'Aigrigny felt there would be at least as much danger in refusing as in
granting his request; so, turning towards the cardinal, still
inconsolable at not having discovered the Jesuit's secret, he said to him
with respectful deference, pointing at the same time to the letter: "Have
I the permission of your Eminence?"

The prelate bowed, and replied: "Your affairs are ours, my dear father.
The Church must always rejoice in what rejoices your glorious Company."

Father d'Aigrigny unsealed the packet, and found in it different notes in
different handwritings.  When he had read the first, his countenance
darkened, and he said, in a grave tone: "A misfortune--a great

Rodin turned his head abruptly, and looked at him with an air of uneasy

"Florine is dead of the cholera," answered Father d'Aigrigny; "and what
is the worst," added he, crumpling the note between his hands, "before
dying, the miserable creature confessed to Mdlle. de Cardoville that she
long acted as a spy under the orders of your reverence."

No doubt the death of Florine, and the confession she had made, crossed
some of the plans of Rodin, for he uttered an inarticulate murmur, and
his countenance expressed great vexation.

Passing to another note, Father d'Aigrigny continued: "This relates to
Marshal Simon, and is not absolutely bad, but still far from
satisfactory, as it announces some amelioration in his position.  We

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