List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v9, by Eugene Sue
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"No," said the reverend father; "in the army I could never assist at an
amputation.  The sight of blood is too much for me."

"There will be no blood," said the doctor, "but it will be worse.  Please
send me three of our reverend fathers to assist me, and ask M. Rousselet
to bring in the apparatus."

Father d'Aigrigny went out.  The prelate approached the doctor, and
whispered, pointing to Rodin: "Is he out of danger?"

"If he stands the operation--yes, my lord."

"Are you sure that he can stand it?"

"To him I should say `yes,' to you `I hope so.'"

`And were he to die, would there be time to administer the sacraments in
public, with a certain pomp, which always causes some little delay?"

"His dying may continue, my lord--a quarter of an hour."

"It is short, but we must be satisfied with that," said the prelate.

And, going to one of the windows, he began to tap with his fingers on the
glass, while he thought of the illumination effects, in the event of
Rodin's lying in state.  At this moment, Rousselet entered, with a large
square box under his arm.  He placed it on the drawers, and began to
arrange his apparatus.

"How many have you prepared?" said the doctor.

"Six, sir."

"Four will do, but it is well to be fully provided.  The cotton is not
too thick?"

"Look, sir."

"Very good."

"And how is the reverend father?" asked the pupil.

"Humph!" answered the doctor, in a whisper.  "The chest is terribly
clogged, the respiration hissing, the voice gone--still there is a

"All my fear is, sir, that the reverend father will not be able to stand
the dreadful pain."

"It is another chance; but, under the circumstances, we must risk all.
Come, my dear boy, light the--taper; I hear our assistants."

Just then Father d'Aigrigny entered the room, accompanied by the three
Jesuits, who, in the morning, had walked in the garden.  The two old men,
with their rosy cheeks, and the young one, with the ascetic countenance,
all three dressed in black, with their square caps and white bands,
appeared perfectly ready to assist Dr. Baleinier in his formidable



"Reverend fathers," said Dr. Baleinier, graciously, to the three, "I
thank you for your kind aid.  What you have to do is very simple, and, by
the blessing of heaven, this operation will save the life of our dear
Father Rodin."

The three black-gowns cast up their eyes piously, and then bowed
altogether, like one man.  Rodin, indifferent to what was passing around
him, never ceased an instant to write or reflect.  Nevertheless, in spite
of his apparent calmness, he felt such difficulty in breathing, that more
than once Dr. Baleinier had turned round uneasily, as he heard the
stifled rattling in the throat of the sick man.  Making a sign to his
pupil, the doctor approached Rodin and said to him: "Come, reverend
father; this is the important moment.  Courage!"

No sign of alarm was expressed in the Jesuit's countenance.  His features
remained impassible as those of a corpse.  Only, his little reptile eyes
sparkled still more brightly in their dark cavities.  For a moment, he
looked round at the spectators of this scene; then, taking his pen
between his teeth, he folded and wafered another letter, placed it on the
table beside the bed, and nodded to Dr. Baleinier, as if to say: "I am

"You must take off your flannel waistcoat, and your shirt, father." Rodin
hesitated an instant, and the doctor resumed: "It is absolutely
necessary, father."

Aided by Baleinier, Rodin obeyed, whilst the doctor added, no doubt to
spare his modesty: "We shall only require the chest, right and left, my
dear father."

And now, Rodin, stretched upon his back, with his dirty night-cap still
on his head, exposed the upper part of a livid trunk, or rather, the bony
cage of a skeleton, for the shadows of the ribs and cartilages encircled
the skin with deep, black lines.  As for the arms, they resembled bones
twisted with cord and covered with tanned parchment.

"Come, M. Rousselet, the apparatus!" said Baleinier.

Then addressing the three Jesuits, he added: "Please draw near,
gentlemen; what you have to do is very simple, as you will see."

It was indeed very simple.  The doctor gave to each of his four
assistants a sort of little steel tripod about two inches in diameter and
three in height; the circular centre of this tripod was filled with
cotton; the instrument was held in the left hand by means of a wooden
handle.  In the right hand each assistant held a small tin tube about
eighteen inches long; at one end was a mouthpiece to receive the lips of
the operator, and the other spread out so as to form a cover to the
little tripod.  These preparations had nothing alarming in them.  Father
d'Aigrigny and the prelate, who looked on from a little distance, could
not understand how this operation should be so painful.  They soon
understood it.

Dr. Baleinier, having thus provided his four assistants, made them
approach Rodin, whose bed had been rolled into the middle of the room.
Two of them were placed on one side, two on the other.

"Now, gentlemen," said Dr. Baleinier, "set light to the cotton; place the
lighted part on the skin of his reverence, by means of the tripod which
contains the wick; cover the tripod with the broad part of the tube, and
then blow through the other end to keep up the fire.  It is very simple,
as you see."

It was, in fact, full of the most patriarchal and primitive ingenuity.
Four lighted cotton rocks, so disposed as to burn very slowly, were
applied to the two sides of Rodin's chest.  This is vulgarly called the
moxa.  The trick is done, when the whole thickness of the skin has been
burnt slowly through.  It lasts seven or eight minutes.  They say that an
amputation is nothing to it.  Rodin had watched the preparations with
intrepid curiosity.  But, at the first touch of the four fires, he
writhed like a serpent, without being able to utter a cry.  Even the
expression of pain was denied him.  The four assistants being disturbed
by, the sudden start of Rodin, it was necessary to begin again.

"Courage, my dear father! offer these sufferings to the Lord!" said Dr.
Baleinier, in a sanctified tone.  "I told you the operation would he very
painful; but then it is salutary in proportion.  Come; you that have
shown such decisive resolution, do not fail at the last movement!"

Rodin had closed his eyes, conquered by the first agony of pain.  He now
opened them, and looked at the doctor as if ashamed of such weakness.
And yet on the sides of his chest were four large, bleeding wounds--so
violent had been the first singe.  As he again extended himself on the
bed of torture, Rodin made a sign that he wished to write.  The doctor
gave him the pen, and he wrote as follows, by way of memorandum; "It is
better not to lose any time.  Inform Baron Tripeaud of the warrant issued
against Leonard, so that he may be on his guard."

Having written this note, the Jesuit gave it to Dr. Baleinier, to hand it
to Father d'Aigrigny, who was as much amazed as the doctor and the
cardinal, at such extraordinary presence of mind in the midst of such
horrible pain.  Rodin, with his eyes fixed on the reverend father, seemed
to wait with impatience for him to leave the room to execute his orders.
Guessing the thought of Rodin, the doctor whispered Father d'Aigrigny,
who went out.

"Come, reverend father," said the doctor, "we must begin again.  This
time do not move."

Rodin did not answer, but clasped his hands over his head, closed his
eyes, and presented his chest.  It was a strange, lugubrious, almost
fantastic spectacle.  The three priests, in their long black gowns,
leaned over this body, which almost resembled a corpse, and blowing
through their tubes into the chest of the patient, seemed as if pumping
up his blood by some magic charm.  A sickening odor of burnt flesh began
to spread through the silent chamber, and each assistant heard a slight
crackling beneath the smoking trivet; it was the skin of Rodin giving way
to the action of fire, and splitting open in four different parts of his
chest.  The sweat poured from his livid face, which it made to shine; a
few locks of his gray hair stood up stiff and moist from his temples.
Sometimes the spasms were so violent, that the veins swelled on his
stiffened arms, and were stretched like cords ready to break.

Enduring this frightful torture with as much intrepid resignation as the
savage whose glory consists in despising pain, Rodin gathered his
strength and courage from the hope--we had almost said the certainty--of
life.  Such was the make of this dauntless character, such the energy of
this powerful mind, that, in the midst of indescribable torments, his one
fixed idea never left him.  During the rare intervals of suffering--for
pain is equal even at this degree of intensity--Rodin still thought of
the Rennepont inheritance, and calculated his chances, and combined his
measures, feeling that he had not a minute to lose.  Dr. Baleinier
watched him with extreme attention, waiting for the effects of the
reaction of pain upon the patient, who seemed already to breathe with
less difficulty.

Suddenly Rodin placed his hand on his forehead, as if struck with some
new idea, and turning his head towards Dr. Baleinier, made a sign to him
to suspend the operation.

"I must tell you, reverend father," answered the doctor.  "that it is not
half finished, and, if we leave off, the renewal will be more painful--"

Rodin made a sign that he did not care, and that he wanted to write.

"Gentlemen, stop a moment," said Dr. Baleinier; "keep down your moxas,
but do not blow the fire."

So the fire was to burn slowly, instead of fiercely, but still upon the
skin of the patient.  In spite of this pain, less intense, but still
sharp and keen, Rodin, stretched upon his back, began to write, holding
the paper above his head.  On the first sheet he traced some alphabetic
signs, part of a cipher known to himself alone.  In the midst of the
torture, a luminous idea had crossed his mind; fearful of forgetting it
amidst his sufferings, he now took note of it.  On another paper he wrote
the following, which was instantly delivered to Father d'Aigrigny: "Send
B. immediately to Faringhea, for the report of the last few days with
regard to Djalma, and let B. bring it hither on the instant." Father
d'Aigrigny went out to execute this new order.  The cardinal approached a
little nearer to the scene of the operation, for, in spite of the bad
odor of the room, he took delight in seeing the Jesuit half roasted,
having long cherished against him the rancor of an Italian and a priest.

"Come, reverend father," said the doctor to Rodin, "continue to be
admirably courageous, and your chest will free itself.  You have still a
bitter moment to go through--and then I have good hope."

The patient resumed his former position.  The moment Father d'Aigrigny
returned, Rodin questioned him with a look, to which the reverend father
replied by a nod.  At a sign from the doctor, the four assistants began
to blow through the tubes with all their might.  This increase of torture
was so horrible, that, in spite of his self-control, Rodin gnashed his
teeth, started convulsively, and so expanded his palpitating chest, that,
after a violent spasm, there rose from his throat and lungs a scream of
terrific pain--but it was free, loud, sonorous.

"The chest is free!" cried the doctor, in triumph.  "The lungs have play-
-the voice returns--he is saved!--Blow, gentlemen, blow; and, reverend
father, cry out as much as you please: I shall be delighted to hear you,
for it will give you relief.  Courage!  I answer for the result.  It is a
wonderful cure.  I will publish it by sound of trumpet."

"Allow me, doctor," whispered Father d'Aigrigny, as he approached Dr.
Baleinier; "the cardinal can witness, that I claimed beforehand the
publication of this affair--as a miraculous fact."

"Let it be miraculous then," answered Dr. Baleinier, disappointed--for he
set some value on his own work.

On hearing he was saved, Rodin though his sufferings were perhaps worse
than ever, for the fire had now pierced the scarf-skin, assumed almost an
infernal beauty.  Through the painful contraction of his features shone
the pride of savage triumph; the monster felt that he was becoming once
more strong and powerful, and he seemed conscious the evils that his
fatal resurrection was to cause.  And so, of still writhing beneath the
flames, he pronounced these words, the first that struggled from his
chest: "I told you I should live!"

"You told us true," cried the doctor, feeling his pulse; "the circulation
is now full and regular, the lungs are free.  The reaction is complete.
You are saved."

At this moment, the last shreds of cotton had burnt out.  The trivets
were withdrawn, and on the skeleton trunk of Rodin were seen four large
round blisters.  The skin still smoked, and the raw flesh was visible
beneath.  In one of his sudden movements, a lamp had been misplaced, and
one of these burns was larger than the other, presenting as it were to
the eye a double circle.  Rodin looked down upon his wounds.  After some
seconds of silent contemplation, a strange smile curled his lips.
Without changing his position, he glanced at Father d'Aigrigny with an
expression impossible to describe, and said to him, as he slowly counted
the wounds touching them with his flat and dirty nail: "Father
d'Aigrigny, what an omen!--Look here! one Rennepont--two Renneponts--
three Renneponts--four Renneponts--where is then the fifth!--Ah! here--
this wound will count for two.  They are twins."[41]  And he emitted a
little dry, bitter laugh.  Father d'Aigrigny, the cardinal, and Dr.
Baleinier, alone understood the sense of these mysterious and fatal
words, which Rodin soon completed by a terrible allusion, as he
exclaimed, with prophetic voice, and almost inspired air: "Yes, I say it.
The impious race will be reduced to ashes, like the fragments of this
poor flesh.  I say it, and it will be so.  I said I would live--and I do

[41] Jacques Rennepont being dead, and Gabriel out of the field, in
consequence of his donation, there remained only five persons of the
family--Rose and Blanche, Djalma, Adrienne, and Hardy.



Two days have elapsed since Rodin was miraculously restored to life.  The
reader will not have forgotten the house in the Rue Clovis, where the
reverend father had an apartment, and where also was the lodging of
Philemon, inhabited by Rose-Pompon.  It is about three o'clock in the
afternoon.  A bright ray of light, penetrating through a round hole in
the door Mother Arsene's subterraneous shop, forms a striking contrast
with the darkness of this cavern.  The ray streams full upon a melancholy
object.  In the midst of fagots and faded vegetables, and close to a
great heap of charcoal, stands a wretched bed; beneath the sheet, which
covers it, can be traced the stiff and angular proportions of a corpse.
It is the body of Mother Arsene herself, who died two days before, of the

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