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

father! we did not think to do any harm.  We wished, like you, to do
something generous--to help our governess."

"And we did not think to die so quickly, and so soon.  Yesterday, we were
gay and happy."

"Oh, good angel! you will appear to our father, even as you have appeared
to us.  You will tell him that, in dying--the last thought of his
children--was of him."

"We came here without Dagobert's knowing it--do not let our father scold

"Blessed angel!" resumed the other sister in a still more feeble voice;
"appear to Dagobert, also.  Tell him, that we ask his forgiveness, for
the grief our death will occasion him."

"And let our old friend caress our poor Spoil-sport for us--our faithful
guardian," added Blanche, trying to smile.

"And then," resumed Rose, in a voice that was growing still fainter,
"promise to appear to two other persons, that have been so kind to us--
good Mother Bunch--and the beautiful Lady Adrienne."

"We forget none whom we have loved," said Blanche, with a last effort.
"Now, God grant we may go to our mother, never to leave her more!"

"You promised it good angel--you know you did--in the dream.  You said to
us: `Poor children--come from so far--you will have traversed the earth--
to rest on the maternal bosom!'"

"Oh! it is dreadful--dreadful! So young--and no hope!" murmured Gabriel,
as he buried his face in his hands.  "Almighty Father!  Thy views are
impenetrable.  Alas! yet why should these children die this cruel death?"

Rose heaved a deep sigh and said in an expiring tone: "Let us be buried
together!--united in life, in death not divided--"

And the two turned their dying looks upon Gabriel, and stretched out
towards him their supplicating hands.

"Oh, blessed martyrs to a generous devotion!" cried the missionary,
raising to heaven his eyes streaming with tears.  "Angelic souls!
treasures of innocence and truth! ascend, ascend to heaven--since God
calls you to him, and the earth is not worthy to possess you!"

"Sister! father!" were the last words that the orphans pronounced with
their dying voices.

And then the twins, by a last instinctive impulse, endeavored to clasp
each other, and their eyes half-opened to exchange yet another glance.
They shuddered twice or thrice, their limbs stiffened, a deep sigh
struggled from their violet-colored lips.  Rose and Blanche were both
dead!  Gabriel and Sister Martha, after closing the eyes of the orphans,
knelt down to pray by the side of that funeral couch.  Suddenly a great
tumult was heard in the room.  Rapid footsteps, mingled with
imprecations, sounded close at hand, the curtain was drawn aside from
this mournful scene, and Dagobert entered precipitately, pale, haggard,
his dress in disorder.  At sight of Gabriel and the Sister of Charity
kneeling beside the corpses of his children, the soldier uttered a
terrible roar, and tried to advance--but in vain--for, before Gabriel
could reach him, Dagobert fell flat on the ground, and his gray head
struck violently on the floor.

It is night--a dark and stormy night.  One o'clock in the morning has
just sounded from the church of Montmartre.  It is to the cemetery of
Montmartre that is carried the coffin which, according to the last wishes
of Rose and Blanche contains them both.  Through the thick shadow, which
rests upon that field of death, may be seen moving a pale light.  It is
the gravedigger.  He advances with caution; a dark lantern is in his
hand.  A man wrapped in a cloak accompanies him.  He holds down his head
and weeps.  It is Samuel.  The old Jew--the keeper of the house in the
Rue Saint-Francois.  On the night of the funeral of Jacques Rennepont,
the first who died of the seven heirs, and who was buried in another
cemetery, Samuel had a similar mysterious interview with the gravedigger,
to obtain a favor at the price of gold.  A strange and awful favor!
After passing down several paths, bordered with cypress trees, by the
side of many tombs, the Jew and the gravedigger arrived, at a little
glade, situated near the western wall of the cemetery.  The night was so
dark, that scarcely anything could be seen.  After moving his lantern up
and down, and all about, the gravedigger showed Samuel, at the foot of a
tall yew-tree, with long black branches, a little mound of newly-raised
earth, and said: "It is here."

"You are sure of it?"

"Yes, yes--two bodies in one coffin! it is not such a common thing."

"Alas! two in the same coffin!" said the Jew, with a deep sigh.

"Now that you know the place, what do you want more?" asked the

Samuel did not answer.  He fell on his knees, and piously kissed the
little mound.  Then rising, with his cheeks bathed in tears, he
approached the gravedigger, and spoke to him for some moments in a
whisper--though they were alone, and in the centre of that deserted
place.  Then began between those two men a mysterious dialogue, which the
night enveloped in shade and silence.  The gravedigger, alarmed at what
Samuel asked him, at first refused his request.

But the Jew, employing persuasions, entreaties, tears, and at last the
seduction of the jingling gold, succeeded in conquering the scruples of
the gravedigger.  Though the latter trembled at the thought of what he
promised, he said to Samuel in an agitated tone: "To-morrow night, then,
at two o'clock."

"I shall be behind the wall," answered Samuel, pointing out the place
with the aid of a lantern.  "I will throw three stones into the cemetery,
for a signal."

"Yes, three stones--as a signal," replied the gravedigger shuddering, and
wiping the cold sweat from his forehead.

With considerable remains of vigor, notwithstanding his great age, Samuel
availed himself of the broken surface of the low wall, and climbing over
it, soon disappeared.  The gravedigger returned home with hasty strides.
From time to time, he looked fearfully behind him, as though he had been
pursued by some fatal vision.

On the evening after the funeral of Rose and Blanche, Rodin wrote two
letters.  The first, addressed to his mysterious correspondent at Rome,
alluded to the deaths of Jacques Rennepont, and Rose and Blanche Simon,
as well as to the cession of M. Hardy's property, and the donation
of Gabriel--events which reduced the claimants of the inheritance to two-
-Mdlle. de Cardoville and Djalma.  This first note written by Rodin for
Rome, contained only the following words: "Five from seven leaves two.
Announce this result to the Cardinal-Prince.  Let him go on.  I advance-
advance-advance!"  The second note, in a feigned hand, was addressed to
Marshal Simon, to be delivered by a sure messenger, contained these few
lines: "If there is yet time, make haste to return.  Your daughters are
both dead. You shall learn who killed them."



It is the day after the death of Marshal Simon's daughters.  Mdlle. de
Cardoville is yet ignorant of the sad end of her young relatives.  Her
countenance is radiant with happiness, and never has she looked more
beautiful; her eye has never been more brilliant, her complexion more
dazzling white, her lip of a richer coral.  According to her somewhat
eccentric custom of dressing herself in her own house in a picturesque
style, Adrienne wears to-day, though it is about three o'clock in the
afternoon, a pale green watered-silk dress, with a very full skirt, the
sleeves and bodice slashed with rose-colored ribbon, and adorned with
white bugle-beads, of exquisite workmanship; while a slender network,
also of white bugle-beads, concealing the thick plait of Adrienne's back-
hair, forms an oriental head-dress of charming originality, and contrasts
agreeably with the long curls which fall in front almost to the swell of
the bosom.  To the expression of indescribable happiness which marks the
features of Mdlle. de Cardoville, is added a certain resolute, cutting,
satirical air, which is not habitual to her.  Her charming head, and
graceful, swan-like neck, are raised in an attitude of defiance; her
small, rose-colored nostrils seem to dilate with ill-repressed ardor, and
she waits with haughty impatience for the moment of an aggressive and
ironical interview.  Not far from Adrienne is Mother Bunch.  She has
resumed in the house the place which she at first occupied.  The young
sempstress is in mourning for her sister, but her countenance is
expressive of a mild, calm sorrow.  She looks at Mdlle. de Cardoville
with surprise; for never, till now, has she seen the features of the fair
patrician impressed with such a character of ironical audacity.  Mdlle.
de Cardoville was exempt from the slightest coquetry, in the narrow and
ordinary sense of the word.  Yet she now cast an inquiring look at the
glass before which she was standing, and, having restored the elastic
smoothness to one of her long, golden curls, by rolling it for a moment
round her ivory finger, she carefully effaced with her hands some almost
imperceptible folds, which had formed themselves in the thick material of
her elegant corsage.  This movement, and that of turning her back to the
glass, to see if her dress sat perfectly on all points, revealed, in
serpentine undulations, all the charms and graces of her light and
elegant figure; for, in spite of the rich fulness of her shoulders, white
and firm as sculptured alabaster, Adrienne belonged to that class of
privileged persons, who are able at need to make a girdle out of a

Having performed, with indescribable grace, these charming evolutions of
feminine coquetry, Adrienne turned towards Mother Bunch, whose surprise
was still on the increase, and said to her, smiling: "My dear Magdalen,
do not laugh at my question--but what would you say to a picture, that
should represent me as I am now?"

"Why, lady--"

"There you are again, with your lady-ing," said Adrienne, in a tone of
gentle reproach.

"Well, then, Adrienne," resumed Mother Bunch, "I think it would be a
charming picture, for you are dressed, as usual with perfect taste."

"But am I not better dressed than on other days, my dear poetess?  I
began by telling you that I do not ask the question for my own sake,"
said Adrienne, gayly.

"Well, I suppose so," replied Mother Bunch, with a faint smile.  "It is
certainly impossible to imagine anything that would suit you better.  The
light green and the pale rose-color, with the soft lustre of the white
ornaments, harmonize so well with your golden hair, that I cannot
conceive, I tell you, a more graceful picture."

The speaker felt what she said, and she was happy to be able to express
it, for we know the intense admiration of that poetic soul for all that
was beautiful.

"Well!" went on Adrienne, gayly, "I am glad, my dear, that you find me
better dressed than usual."

"Only," said the hunchback, hesitating.

"Only?" repeated Adrienne, looking at her with an air of interrogation.

"Why, only," continued the other, "if I have never seen you look more
pretty, I have also never observed in your features the resolute and
ironical expression which they had just now.  It was like an air of
impatient defiance."

"And so it was, my dear little Magdalen," said Adrienne, throwing her
arms round the girl's neck with joyous tenderness.  "I must kiss you, for
having guessed it.  You see, I expect a visit from my dear aunt."

"The Princess de Saint-Dizier?" cried Mother Bunch, in alarm.  "That
wicked lady, who did you so much evil?"

"The very same.  She has asked for an interview, and I shall be delighted
to receive her."


"Yes--a somewhat ironical and malicious delight, it is true," answered
Adrienne, still more gayly.  "You shall judge for yourself.  She regrets
her gallantries, her beauty, her youth--even her size afflicts the holy
woman!--and she will see me young, fair, beloved--and above all thin--
yes, thin," added Mdlle. de Cardoville, laughing merrily.  "And you may
imagine, my dear, how much envy and despair, the sight of a young, thin
woman excites in a stout one of a certain age!"

"My friend," said Mother Bunch, gravely, "you speak in jest.  And yet, I
know not why, the coming of this princess alarms me."

"Dear, gentle soul, be satisfied!" answered Adrienne, affectionately.  "I
do not fear this woman--I no longer have any fear of her--and to prove it
to her confusion, I will treat her--a monster of hypocrisy and
wickedness, who comes here, no doubt, on some abominable design--I will
treat her as an inoffensive, ridiculous fat woman!"  And Adrienne again

A servant here entered the room, and interrupted the mirth of Adrienne,
by saying: "The Princess de Saint-Dizier wishes to know if you can
receive her?"

"Certainly," said Mdlle. de Cardoville; and the servant retired.  Mother
Bunch was about to rise and quit the room; but Adrienne held her back,
and said to her, taking her hand with an air of serious tenderness:
"Stay, my dear friend, I entreat you."

"Do you wish it?"

"Yes; I wish--still in revenge, you know," said Adrienne, with a smile,
"to prove to her highness of Saint-Dizier, that I have an affectionate
friend--that I have, in fact, every happiness."

"But, Adrienne," replied the other, timidly, "consider--"

"Silence! here is the princess.  Remain! I ask it as a favor.  The
instinct of your heart will discover any snare she may have laid.  Did
not your affection warn me of the plots of Rodin?"

Mother Bunch could not refuse such a request.  She remained, but was
about to draw back from the fireplace.  Adrienne, however, took her by
the hand, and made her resume her seat in the arm-chair, saying: "My dear
Magdalen, keep your place.  You owe nothing to the lady.  With me it is
different; she comes to my house."

Hardly had Adrienne uttered these words, than the princess entered with
head erect, and haughty air (we have said, she could carry herself most
loftily), and advanced with a firm step.  The strongest minds have their
side of puerile weakness; a savage envy, excited by the elegance, wit,
and beauty of Adrienne, bore a large part in the hatred of the princess
for her niece; and though it was idle to think of eclipsing Adrienne, and
the Princess de Saint-Dizier did not seriously mean to attempt it, she
could not forbear, in preparing for the interview she had demanded,
taking more pains even than usual in the arrangement of her dress.
Beneath her robe of shot silk, she was laced in and tightened to excess--
a pressure which considerably increased the color in her cheeks.  The
throng of jealous and hateful sentiments, which inspired her with regard
to Adrienne, had so troubled the clearness of her ordinarily calm
judgment, that, instead of the plain and quiet style, in which, as a
woman of tact and taste, she was generally attired, she now committed the
folly of wearing a dress of changing hues, and a crimson hat, adorned
with a magnificent bird of paradise.  Hate, envy, the pride of triumph--
for she thought of the skillful perfidy with which she had sent to almost
certain death the daughters of Marshal Simon--and the execrable hope of
succeeding in new plots, were all expressed in the countenance of the

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: