List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V10, by Eugene Sue
Next Page > >

The Wandering Jew

By Eugene Sue


XXXIII.    Confessions
XXXIV.     More Confessions
XXXV.      The Rivals
XXXVI.     The Interview
XXXVII.    Soothing Words
XXXVIII.   The Two Carriages
XXXIX.     The Appointment
XL.        Anxiety
XLI.       Adrienne and Djalma
XLII.      "The Imitation"
XLIII.     Prayer
XLIV.      Remembrances
XLV.       The Blockhead
XLVI.      The Anonymous Letters
XLVII.     The Golden City
XLVIII.    The Stung Lion
XLIX.      The Test



During the painful scene that we have just described, a lively emotion
glowed in the countenance of Mdlle. de Cardoville, grown pale and thin
with sorrow.  Her cheeks, once so full, were now slightly hollowed,
whilst a faint line of transparent azure encircled those large black
eyes, no longer so bright as formerly.  But the charming lips, though
contracted by painful anxiety, had retained their rich and velvet
moisture.  To attend more easily to Mother Bunch, Adrienne had thrown
aside her bonnet, and the silky waves of her beautiful golden hair almost
concealed her face as she bent over the mattress, rubbing the thin, ivory
hands of the poor sempstress, completely called to life by the salubrious
freshness of the air, and by the strong action of the salts which
Adrienne carried in her smelling-bottle.  Luckily, Mother Bunch had
fainted, rather from emotion and weakness than from the effects of
suffocation, the senses of the unfortunate girl having failed her before
the deleterious gas had attained its highest degree of intensity.

Before continuing the recital of the scene between the sempstress and the
patrician, a few retrospective words will be necessary.  Since the
strange adventure at the theatre of the Porte-Saint-Martin, where Djalma,
at peril of his life, rushed upon the black panther in sight of Mdlle.
de Cardoville, the young lady had been deeply affected in various ways.
Forgetting her jealousy, and the humiliation she had suffered in presence
of Djalma--of Djalma exhibiting himself before every one with a woman so
little worthy of him--Adrienne was for a moment dazzled by the chivalrous
and heroic action of the prince, and said to herself: "In spite of odious
appearances, Djalma loves me enough to brave death in order to pick up my

But with a soul so delicate as that of this young lady, a character so
generous, and a mind so true, reflection was certain soon to demonstrate
the vanity of such consolations, powerless to cure the cruel wounds of
offended dignity an love.

"How many times," said Adrienne to herself, and with reason, "has the
prince encountered, in hunting, from pure caprice and with no gain, such
danger as he braved in picking up my bouquet! and then, who tells me he
did not mean to offer it to the woman who accompanied him?"

Singular (it may be) in the eyes of the world, but just and great in
those of heaven, the ideas which Adrienne cherished with regard to love,
joined to her natural pride, presented an invincible obstacle to the
thought of her succeeding this woman (whoever she might be), thus
publicly displayed by the prince as his mistress.  And yet Adrienne
hardly dared avow to herself, that she experienced a feeling of jealousy,
only the more painful and humiliating, the less her rival appeared worthy
to be compared to her.

At other times, on the contrary, in spite of a conscious sense of her own
value, Mdlle. de Cardoville, remembering the charming countenance of
Rose-Pompon, asked herself if the bad taste and improper manners of this
pretty creature resulted from precocious and depraved effrontery, or from
a complete ignorance of the usages of society.  In the latter case, such
ignorance, arising from a simple and ingenuous nature, might in itself
have a great charm; and if to this attraction, combined with that of
incontestable beauty, were added sincere love and a pure soul, the
obscure birth, or neglected education of the girl might be of little
consequence, and she might be capable of inspiring Djalma with a profound
passion.  If Adrienne hesitated to see a lost creature in Rose-Pompon,
notwithstanding unfavorable appearances, it was because, remembering what
so many travellers had related of Djalma's greatness of soul, and
recalling the conversation she had overheard between him and Rodin, she
could not bring herself to believe that a man of such remarkable
intelligence, with so tender a heart, so poetical, imaginative and
enthusiastic a mind could be capable of loving a depraved and vulgar
creature, and of openly exhibiting himself in public along with her.
There was a mystery in the transaction, which Adrienne sought in vain to
penetrate.  These trying doubts, this cruel curiosity, only served to
nourish Adrienne's fatal love; and we may imagine her incurable despair,
when she found that the indifference, or even disdain of Djalma, was
unable to stifle a passion that now burned more fiercely than ever.
Sometimes, having recourse to notions of fatality, she fancied that she
was destined to feel this love; that Djalma must therefore deserve it,
and that one day whatever was incomprehensible in the conduct of the
prince would be explained to his advantage.  At other times, on the
contrary, she felt ashamed of excusing Djalma, and the consciousness of
this weakness was for Adrienne a constant occasion for remorse and
torture.  The victim of all these agonies, she lived in perfect solitude.

The cholera soon broke out, startling as a clap of thunder.  Too unhappy
to fear the pestilence on her own account, Adrienne was only moved by the
sorrows of others.  She was amongst the first to contribute to those
charitable donations, which were now flowing in from all sides in the
admirable spirit of benevolence.  Florine was suddenly attacked by the
epidemic.  In spite of the danger, her mistress insisted on seeing her,
and endeavored to revive her failing courage.  Conquered by this new mark
of kindness, Florine could no longer conceal the treachery in which she
had borne a part.  Death was about to deliver her from the odious tyranny
of the people whose yoke weighed upon her, and she was at length in a
position to reveal everything to Adrienne.  The latter thus learned how
she had been continually betrayed by Florine, and also the cause of the
sewing-girl's abrupt departure.  At these revelations, Adrienne felt her
affection and tender pity for the poor sempstress greatly increase.  By
her command, the most active steps were taken to discover traces of the
hunchback; but Florine's confession had a still more important result.
Justly alarmed at this new evidence of Rodin's machinations, Adrienne
remembered the projects formed, when, believing herself beloved, the
instinct of affection had revealed to her the perils to which Djalma and
other members of the Rennepont family were exposed.  To assemble the race
around her, and bid them rally against the common enemy, such was
Adrienne's first thought, when she heard the confession of Florine.  She
regarded it as a duty to accomplish this project.  In a struggle with
such dangerous and powerful adversaries as Rodin, Father d'Aigrigny, and
the Princess de Saint-Dizier, and their allies, Adrienne saw not only the
praiseworthy and perilous task of unmasking hypocrisy and cupidity, but
also, if not a consolation, at least a generous diversion in the midst of
terrible sorrows.

From this moment, a restless, feverish activity took the place of the
mournful apathy in which the young lady had languished.  She called round
her all the members of her family capable of answering the appeal, and,
as had been mentioned in the secret note delivered to Father d'Aigrigny,
Cardoville House soon became the centre of the most active and unceasing
operations, and also a place of meeting, in which the modes of attack and
defence were fully discussed.  Perfectly correct in all points, the
secret note of which we have spoken stated, as a mere conjecture, that
Mdlle. de Cardoville had granted an interview to Djalma.  This fact was
untrue, but the cause which led to the supposition will be explained
hereafter.  Far from such being the case, Mdlle. de Cardoville scarcely
found, in attending to the great family interests now at stake, a
momentary diversion from the fatal love, which was slowly undermining her
health, and with which she so bitterly reproached herself.

The morning of the day on which Adrienne, at length discovering Mother
Bunch's residence, came so miraculously to rescue her from death,
Agricola Baudoin had been to Cardoville House to confer on the subject of
Francis Hardy, and had begged Adrienne to permit him to accompany her to
the Rue Clovis, whither they repaired in haste.

Thus, once again, there was a noble spectacle, a touching symbol!  Mdlle.
de Cardoville and Mother Bunch, the two extremities of the social chain,
were united on equal terms--for the sempstress and the fair patrician
were equal in intelligence and heart--and equal also, because the one was
the ideal of riches, grace, and beauty, and the other the ideal of
resignation and unmerited misfortune--and does not a halo rest on
misfortune borne with courage and dignity?  Stretched on her mattress,
the hunchback appeared so weak, that even if Agricola had not been
detained on the ground floor with Cephyse, now dying a dreadful death,
Mdlle. de Cardoville would have waited some time, before inducing Mother
Bunch to rise and accompany her to her carriage.  Thanks to the presence
of mind and pious fraud of Adrienne, the sewing-girl was persuaded that
Cephyse had been carried to a neighboring hospital, to receive the
necessary succors, which promised to be crowned with success.  The
hunchback's faculties recovering slowly from their stupor, she at first
received this fable without the least suspicion--for she did not even
know that Agricola had accompanied Mdlle. de Cardoville.

"And it is to you, lady, that Cephyse and I owe our lives," said she,
turning her mild and melancholy face towards Adrienne, "you, kneeling in
this garret, near this couch of misery, where I and my sister meant to
die--for you assure me, lady, that Cephyse was succored in time."

"Be satisfied!  I was told just now that she was recovering her senses."

"And they told her I was living, did they not, lady?  Otherwise, she
would perhaps regret having survived me."

"Be quite easy, my dear girl!" said Adrienne, pressing the poor hands in
her own, and gazing on her with eyes full of tears; "they have told her
all that was proper.  Do not trouble yourself about anything; only think
of recovering--and I hope you will yet enjoy that happiness of which you
have known so little, my poor child."

"How kind you are, lady!  After flying from your house--and when you must
think me so ungrateful!"

"Presently, when you are not so weak, I have a great deal to tell you.
Just now, it would fatigue you too much.  But how do you feel?"

"Better, lady.  This fresh air--and then the thought, that, since you are
come--my poor sister will no more be reduced to despair; for I will tell
you all, and I am sure you will have pity on Cephyse--will you not, lady?"

"Rely upon me, my child, answered Adrienne, forced to dissemble her
painful embarrassment; "you know I am interested in all that interests
you.  But tell me," added Mdlle. de Cardoville, in a voice of emotion,
"before taking this desperate resolution, did you not write to me?"

"Yes, lady."

"Alas!" resumed Adrienne, sorrowfully; "and when you received no answer--
how cruel, how ungrateful you must have thought me!"

"Oh! never, lady, did I accuse you of such feelings; my poor sister will
tell you so.  You had my gratitude to the last."

"I believe you--for I knew your heart.  But how then did you explain my

"I had justly offended you by my sudden departure, lady."

"Offended!--Alas!  I never received your letter."

"And yet you know that I wrote to you, lady."

"Yes, my poor girl; I know, also, that you wrote to me at my porter's
lodge.  Unfortunately, he delivered your letter to one of my women, named
Florine, telling her it came from you."

"Florine! the young woman that was so kind to me!"

"Florine deceived me shamefully; she was sold to my enemies, and acted as
a spy on my actions."

"She!--Good Heavens!" cried Mother Bunch.  "Is it possible?"

"She herself," answered Adrienne, bitterly; "but, after all, we must pity
as well as blame her.  She was forced to obey by a terrible necessity,
and her confession and repentance secured my pardon before her death."

"Then she is dead--so young! so fair!"

"In spite of her faults, I was greatly moved by her end.  She confessed
what she had done, with such heart-rending regrets.  Amongst her avowals,
she told me she had intercepted a letter, in which you asked for an
interview that might save your sister's life."

"It is true, lady; such were the terms of my letter.  What interest had
they to keep it from you?"

"They feared to see you return to me, my good guardian angel.  You loved
me so tenderly, and my enemies dreaded your faithful affection, so
wonderfully aided by the admirable instinct of your heart.  Ah! I shall
never forget how well-deserved was the horror with which you were
inspired by a wretch whom I defended against your suspicions."

"M. Rodin?" said Mother Bunch, with a shudder.

"Yes," replied Adrienne; "but we will not talk of these people now.
Their odious remembrance would spoil the joy I feel in seeing you
restored to life--for your voice is less feeble, your cheeks are
beginning to regain a little color.  Thank God!  I am so happy to have
found you once more;--if you knew all that I hope, all that I expect from
our reunion--for we will not part again--promise me that, in the name of
our friendship."

"I--your friend!" said Mother Bunch, timidly casting down her eyes.

"A few days before your departure from my house, did I not call you my
friend, my sister?  What is there changed?  Nothing, nothing," added
Mdlle. de Cardoville, with deep emotion.  "One might say, on the
contrary, that a fatal resemblance in our positions renders your
friendship even dearer to me.  And I shall have it, shall I not.  Oh, do
not refuse it me--I am so much in want of a friend!"

"You, lady? you in want of the friendship of a poor creature like me?"

"Yes," answered Adrienne, as she gazed on the other with an expression of
intense grief; "nay, more, you are perhaps the only person, to whom I
could venture to confide my bitter sorrows."  So saying, Mdlle. de
Cardoville colored deeply.

"And how do I deserve such marks of confidence?" asked Mother Bunch, more
and more surprised.

"You deserve it by the delicacy of your heart, by the steadiness of your
character," answered Adrienne, with some hesitation; "then--you are a
woman--and I am certain you will understand what I suffer, and pity me."

"Pity you, lady?" said the other, whose astonishment continued to
increase.  "You, a great lady, and so much envied--I, so humble and
despised, pity you?"

"Tell me, my poor friend," resumed Adrienne, after some moments of

Next Page > >

Other sites: