List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V11, by Eugene Sue
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

"I have seen the tears in her eyes when she looked at us," resumed Rose.
"Oh! she loves us tenderly, and we return her affection.  With regard to
that, Dagobert, we have a plan as soon as our father comes back."

"Be quiet, sister!" said Blanche, laughing.  "Dagobert will not keep our


"Will you keep it for us, Dagobert?"

"I tell you what," said the soldier, more and more embarrassed; "you had
better not tell it to me."

"What! can you keep nothing from Madame Augustine?"

"Ah, Dagobert! Dagobert!" said Blanche, gayly holding up her finger at
the soldier; "I suspect you very much of paying court to our governess."

"I pay court?" said the soldier--and the expression of his face was so
rueful, as he pronounced these words, that the two sisters burst out

Their hilarity was at its height when the door opened and Loony advanced
into room announcing, with a loud voice, "M. Rodin!"  In fact, the Jesuit
glided almost imperceptibly into the apartment, as if to take possession
of the ground.  Once there, he thought the game his own, and his reptile
eyes sparkled with joy.  It would be difficult to paint the surprise of
the two sisters, and the anger of the soldier, at this unexpected visit.

Rushing upon Loony, Dagobert seized him by the collar, and exclaimed:
"Who gave you leave to introduce any one here without my permission?"

"Pardon, M. Dagobert!" said Loony, throwing himself on his knees, and
clasping his hands with an air of idiotic entreaty.

"Leave the room!--and you too!" added the soldier, with a menacing
gesture, as he turned towards Rodin, who had already approached the
girls, with a paternal smile on his countenance.

"I am at your orders, my dear sir," said the priest, humbly; and he made
a low bow, but without stirring from the spot.

"Will you go?" cried the soldier to Loony, who was still kneeling, and
who, thanks to the advantages of this position, was able to utter a
certain number of words before Dagobert could remove him.

"M. Dagobert," said Loony in a doleful voice, "I beg pardon for bringing
up the gentleman without leave; but, alas, my head is turned, because of
the misfortune that happened to Madame Augustine."

"What misfortune?" cried Rose and Blanche together, as they advanced
anxiously towards Loony.

"Will you go?" thundered Dagobert, shaking the servant by the collar, to
force him to rise.

"Speak--speak!" said Blanche, interposing between the soldier and his
prey.  "What has happened to Madame Augustine?"

"Oh," shouted Loony, in spite of the cuffs of the soldier.  "Madame
Augustine was attacked in the night with cholera, and taken--"

He was unable to finish.  Dagobert struck him a tremendous blow with his
fist, right on the jaw, and, putting forth his still formidable strength,
the old horse-grenadier lifted him to his legs, and with one violent kick
bestowed on the lower part of his back, sent him rolling into the ante-

Then turning to Rodin, with flushed cheek and sparkling eye, Dagobert
pointed to the door with an expressive gesture, and said in an angry
voice: "Now, be off with you and that quickly!"

"I must pay my respects another time, my dear sir," said Rodin, as he
retired towards the door, bowing to the young girls.



Rodin, retreating slowly before the fire of Dagobert's angry looks,
walked backwards to the door, casting oblique but piercing glances at the
orphans, who were visibly affected by the servant's intentional
indiscretion. (Dagobert had ordered him not to speak before the girls of
the illness of their governess, and that was quite enough to induce the
simpleton to take the first opportunity of doing so.)

Rose hastily approached the soldier, and said to him: "Is it true--is it
really true that poor Madame Augustine has been attacked with the

"No--I do not know--I cannot tell," replied the soldier, hesitating;
"besides, what is it to you?"

"Dagobert, you would conceal from us a calamity," said Blanche.  "I
remember now your embarrassment, when we spoke to you of our governess."

"If she is ill, we ought not to abandon her.  She had pity on our
sorrows; we ought to pity her sufferings."

"Come, sister; come to her room," said Blanche, advancing towards the
door, where Rodin had stopped short, and stood listening with growing
attention to this unexpected scene, which seemed to give him ample food
for thought.

"You will not leave this room," said the soldier, sternly, addressing the
two sisters.

"Dagobert," replied Rose, firmly, "it is a sacred duty, and it would be
cowardice not to fulfil it."

"I tell you that you shall not leave the room," said the soldier,
stamping his foot with impatience.

"Dagobert," replied Blanche, with as resolute an air as her sister's, and
with a kind of enthusiasm which brought the blood to her fair cheek, "our
father, when he left us, give us an admirable example of devotion and
duty.  He would not forgive us were we to forget the lesson."

"What," cried Dagobert, in a rage, and advancing towards the sisters to
prevent their quitting the apartment; "you think that if your governess
had the cholera, I would let you go to her under the pretext of duty?--
Your duty is to live, to live happy, for your father's sake--and for mine
into the bargain--so not a word more of such folly!"

"We can run no danger by going to our governess in her room," said Rose.

"And if there were danger," added Blanche, "we ought not to hesitate.
So, Dagobert, be good! and let us pass."

Rodin, who had listened to what precedes, with sustained attention,
suddenly started, as if a thought had struck him; his eye shone brightly,
and an expression of fatal joy illumined his countenance.

"Dagobert, do not refuse!" said Blanche.  "You would do for us what you
reproach us with wishing to do for another."

Dagobert had as it were, till now stood in the path of the Jesuit and the
twins by keeping close to the door; but, after a moments reflection, he
shrugged his shoulders, stepped to one side, and said calmly: "I was an
old fool.  Come, young ladies; if you find Madame Augustine in the house,
I will allow you to remain with her."

Surprised at these words, the girls stood motionless and irresolute.

"If our governess is not here, where is she, then?" said Rose.

"You think, perhaps, that I am going to tell you in the excitement in
which you are!"

"She is dead!" cried Rose growing pale.

"No, no--be calm," said the soldier, hastily; "I swear to you, by your
father's honor, that she is not dead.  At the first appearance of the
disorder, she begged to be removed from the house, fearing the contagion
for those in it."

"Good and courageous woman!" said Rose tenderly, "And you will not allow

"I will not allow you to go out, even if I have to lock you up in your
room," cried the soldier, again stamping with rage; then, remembering
that the blunderhead's indiscretion was the sole cause of this
unfortunate incident, he added, with concentrated fury: "Oh! I will break
my stick upon that rascal's back."

So saying, he turned towards the door, where Rodin still stood, silent
and attentive, dissembling with habitual impassibility the fatal hopes he
had just conceived in his brain.  The girls, no longer doubting the
removal of their governess, and convinced that Dagobert would not tell
them whither they had conveyed her, remained pensive and sad.

At sight of the priest, whom he had forgotten for the moment, the
soldier's rage increased, and he said to him abruptly: "Are you still

"I would merely observe to you, my dear sir," said Rodin, with that air
of perfect good nature which he knew so well how to assume, "that you
were standing before the door, which naturally prevented me from going

Well, now nothing prevents you--so file off!"

"Certainly, I will file off, if you wish it, my dear sir though I think I
have some reason to be surprised at such a reception."

"It is no reception at all--so begone!"

"I had come, my dear sir to speak to you--"

"I have no time for talking."

"Upon business of great importance."

"I have no other business of importance than to remain with these

"Very good, my dear sir," said Rodin, pausing on the threshold.  "I will
not disturb you any longer; excuse my indiscretion.  The bearer of
excellent news from Marshal Simon, I came--"

"News from our father!" cried Rose, drawing nearer to Rodin.

"Oh, speak, speak, sir!" added Blanche.

"You have news of the marshal!" said Dagobert, glancing suspiciously at
Rodin.  "Pray, what is this news?"

But Rodin, without immediately answering the question, returned from the
threshold into the room, and, contemplating Rose and Blanche by turns
with admiration, he resumed: "What happiness for me, to be able to bring
some pleasure to these dear young ladies.  They are even as I left them
graceful, and fair, and charming--only less sad than on the day when I
fetched them from the gloomy convent in which they were kept prisoners,
to restore them to the arms of their glorious father!"

"That was their place, and this is not yours," said Dagobert, harshly,
still holding the door open behind Rodin.

Confess, at least that I was not so much out of place at Dr.
Baleinier's," said the Jesuit, with a cunning air.  "You know, for it was
there that I restored to you the noble imperial cross you so much
regretted--the day when that good Mdlle. de Cardoville only prevented you
from strangling me by telling you that I was her liberator.  Aye! it was
just as I have the honor of stating, young ladies," added Rodin, with a
smile; "this brave soldier was very near strangling me, for, be it said
without offense, he has, in spite of his age, a grasp of iron.  Ha, ha!
the Prussians and Cossacks must know that better than I!"

These few words reminded Dagobert and the twins of the services which
Rodin had really rendered them; and though the marshal had heard Mdlle.
de Cardoville speak of Rodin as of a very dangerous man, he had
forgotten, in the midst of so many anxieties, to communicate this
circumstance to Dagobert.  But this latter, warned by experience, felt,
in spite of favorable appearances, a secret aversion for the Jesuit; so
he replied abruptly: "The strength of my grasp has nothing to do with the

"If I allude to that little innocent playfulness on your part, my dear
sir," said Rodin, in his softest tone, approaching the two sisters with a
wriggle which was peculiar to him; "if I allude to it, you see, it was
suggested by the involuntary recollection of the little services I was
happy enough to render you." Dagobert looked fixedly at Rodin, who
instantly veiled his glance beneath his flabby eyelids.

"First of all," said the soldier, after a moment's silence, "a true man
never speaks of the services he has rendered, and you come back three
times to the subject."

"But Dagobert," whispered Rose, "if he brings news of our father?"

The soldier made a sign, as if to beg the girl to let him speak, and
resumed, looking full at Rodin: "You are cunning, but I'm no raw

"I cunning?" said Rodin, with a sanctified air.

"Yes, very.  You think to puzzle me with your fine phrases; but I'm not
to be caught in that way.  Just listen to me.  Some of your band of
black-gowns stole my cross; you returned it to me.  Some of the same band
carried off these children; you brought them back.  It is also true that
you denounced the renegade D'Aigrigny.  But all this only proves two
things: first, that you were vile enough to be the accomplice of these
scoundrels; and secondly, that, having been their accomplice, you were
base enough to betray them.  Now, those two facts are equally bad, and I
suspect you most furiously.  So march off at once; your presence is not
good for these children."

"But, my dear sir--"

"I will have no buts," answered Dagobert, in an angry voice.  "When a man
of your look does good, it is only to hide some evil; and one must be on

"I understand your suspicions," said Rodin coolly, hiding his growing
disappointment, for he had hoped it would have been easy to coax the
soldier; but, if you reflect, what interest have I in deceiving you?  And
in what should the deception consist?"

"You have some interest or other in persisting to remain here, when I
tell you to go away."

"I have already had the honor of informing you of the object of my visit,
my dear sir."

"To bring news of Marshal Simon?"

"That is exactly the case.  I am happy enough to have news of the
marshal.  Yes, my dear young ladies," added Rodin, as he again approached
the two sisters, to recover, as it were, the ground he had lost, "I have
news of your glorious father!"

"Then come to my room directly, and you can tell it to me," replied

"What! you would be cruel enough to deprive these dear ladies of the

"By heaven, sir!" cried Dagobert, in a voice of thunder, "you will make
me forget myself.  I should be sorry to fling a man of your age down the
stairs.  Will you be gone?"

"Well, well," said Rodin mildly, "do not be angry with a poor old man.  I
am really not worth the trouble.  I will go with you to your room, and
tell you what I have to communicate.  You will repent not having let me
speak before these dear young ladies; but that will be your punishment,
naughty man!"

So saying, Rodin again bowed very low, and, concealing his rage and
vexation, left the room before Dagobert, who made a sign to the two
sisters, and then followed, closing the door after him.

"What news of our father, Dagobert?" said Rose anxiously, when the
soldier returned, after a quarter of an hours absence.

"Well, that old conjurer knows that the marshal set out in good spirits,
and he seems acquainted with M. Robert.  How could he be informed of all
this?  I cannot tell," added the soldier, with a thoughtful air; "but it
is only another reason to be on one's guard against him."

"But what news of our father?" asked Rose.

"One of that old rascal's friends (I think him a rascal still) knows your
father, he tells me, and met him five-and-twenty leagues from here.
Knowing that this man was coming to Paris, the marshal charged him to let
you know that he was in perfect health, and hoped soon to see you again."

"Oh, what happiness!" cried Rose.

"You see, you were wrong to suspect the poor old man, Dagobert," added
Blanche.  "You treated him so harshly!"

"Possibly so; but I am not sorry for it."

"And why?"

"I have my reasons; and one of the best is that, when I saw him came in,
and go sidling and creeping round about us, I felt chilled to the marrow
of my bones, without knowing why.  Had I seen a serpent crawling towards
you, I should not have been more frightened.  I knew, of course, that he
could not hurt you in my presence; but I tell you, my children, in spite
of the services he has no doubt rendered us, it was all I could do to
refrain from throwing him out of the window.  Now, this manner of proving
my gratitude is not natural, and one must be on one's guard against

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: