List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V2, by Eugene Sue
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his forehead vexedly.

To this Mother Bunch alluded sometimes, but very rarely, for she observed
punctilious discretion.  The girl had gone out with Agricola and his
mother.  Such occasions were, indeed, holidays for her.  Many days and
nights had she toiled hard to procure a decent bonnet and shawl, that she
might not do discredit to her friends.  The five or six days of holidays,
thus spent arm in arm with him whom she adored in secret, formed the sum
of her happy days.

Taking their last walk, a coarse, vulgar man elbowed her so rudely that
the poor girl could not refrain from a cry of terror, and the man
retorted it by saying,--

"What are you rolling your hump in my way for, stoopid?"

Agricola, like his father, had the patience which force and courage give
to the truly brave; but he was extremely quick when it became necessary
to avenge an insult.  Irritated at the vulgarity of this man, Agricola
left his mother's arm to inflict on the brute, who was of his own age,
size, and force, two vigorous blows, such as the powerful arm and huge
fist of a blacksmith never before inflicted on human face.  The villain
attempted to return it, and Agricola repeated the correction, to the
amusement of the crowd, and the fellow slunk away amidst a deluge of
hisses.  This adventure made Mother Bunch say she would not go out with
Agricola again, in order to save him any occasion of quarrel.  We may
conceive the blacksmith's regret at having thus unwittingly revived the
memory of this circumstance,--more painful, alas! for Mother Bunch than
Agricola could imagine, for she loved him passionately, and her infirmity
had been the cause of that quarrel.  Notwithstanding his strength and
resolution, Agricola was childishly sensitive; and, thinking how painful
that thought must be to the poor girl, a large tear filled his eyes, and,
holding out his hands, he said, in a brotherly tone, "Forgive my
heedlessness!  Come, kiss me."  And he gave her thin, pale cheeks two
hearty kisses.

The poor girl's lips turned pale at this cordial caress; and her heart
beat so violently that she was obliged to lean against the corner of the

"Come, you forgive me, do you not?" said Agricola.

"Yes! yes!" she said, trying to subdue her emotion; "but the recollection
of that quarrel pains me--I was so alarmed on your account; if the crowd
had sided with that man!"

"Alas!" said Frances, coming to the sewing-girl's relief, without knowing
it, "I was never so afraid in all my life!"

"Oh, mother," rejoined Agricola, trying to change a conversation which
had now become disagreeable for the sempstress, "for the wife of a horse
grenadier of the Imperial Guard, you have not much courage.  Oh, my brave
father; I can't believe he is really coming!  The very thought turns me

"Heaven grant he may come," said Frances, with a sigh.

"God grant it, mother.  He will grant it, I should think.  Lord knows,
you have had masses enough said for his return."

"Agricola, my child," said Frances, interrupting her son, and shaking her
head sadly, "do not speak in that way.  Besides, you are talking of your

"Well, I'm in for it this evening.  'Tis your turn now; positively, I am
growing stupid, or going crazy.  Forgive me, mother! forgive!  That's the
only word I can get out to-night.  You know that, when I do let out on
certain subjects, it is because I can't help it; for I know well the pain
it gives you."

"You do not offend me, my poor, dear, misguided boy."

"It comes to the same thing; and there is nothing so bad as to offend
one's mother; and, with respect to what I said about father's return, I
do not see that we have any cause to doubt it."

"But we have not heard from him for four months."

"You know, mother, in his letter--that is, in the letter which he
dictated (for you remember that, with the candor of an old soldier, he
told us that, if he could read tolerably well, he could not write); well,
in that letter he said we were not to be anxious about him; that he
expected to be in Paris about the end of January, and would send us word,
three or four days before, by what road he expected to arrive, that I
might go and meet him."

"True, my child; and February is come, and no news yet."

"The greater reason why we should wait patiently.  But I'll tell you
more: I should not be surprised if our good Gabriel were to come back
about the same time.  His last letter from America makes me hope so.
What pleasure, mother, should all the family be together!"

"Oh, yes, my child!  It would be a happy day for me."

"And that day will soon come, trust me."

"Do you remember your father, Agricola?" inquired Mother Bunch.

"To tell the truth, I remember most his great grenadier's shako and
moustache, which used to frighten me so, that nothing but the red ribbon
of his cross of honor, on the white facings of his uniform, and the
shining handle of his sabre, could pacify me; could it, mother?  But what
is the matter?  You are weeping!"

"Alas! poor Baudoin!  What he must suffer at being separated from us at
his age--sixty and past!  Alas! my child, my heart breaks, when I think
that he comes home only to change one kind of poverty for another."

"What do you mean?"

"Alas! I earn nothing now."

"Why, what's become of me?  Isn't there a room here for you and for him;
and a table for you too?  Only, my good mother, since we are talking of
domestic affairs," added the blacksmith, imparting increased tenderness
to his tone, that he might not shock his mother, "when he and Gabriel
come home, you won't want to have any more masses said, and tapers burned
for them, will you?  Well, that saving will enable father to have tobacco
to smoke, and his bottle of wine every day.  Then, on Sundays, we will
take a nice dinner at the eating-house."

A knocking at the door disturbed Agricola.

"Come in," said he.  Instead of doing so, some one half-opened the door,
and, thrusting in an arm of a pea-green color, made signs to the

"'Tis old Loriot, the pattern of dyers," said Agricola; "come in, Daddy,
no ceremony."

"Impossible, my lad; I am dripping with dye from head to foot; I should
cover missus's floor with green."

"So much the better.  It will remind me of the fields I like so much."

"Without joking, Agricola, I must speak to you immediately."

"About the spy, eh?  Oh, be easy; what's he to us?"

"No; I think he's gone; at any rate, the fog is so thick I can't see him.
But that's not it--come, come quickly!  It is very important," said the
dyer, with a mysterious look; "and only concerns you."

"Me, only?" said Agricola, with surprise.  "What can it be.

"Go and see, my child," said Frances.

"Yes, mother; but the deuce take me if I can make it out."

And the blacksmith left the room, leaving his mother with Mother Bunch.



In five minutes Agricola returned; his face was pale and agitated--his
eyes glistened with tears, and his hands trembled; but his countenance
expressed extraordinary happiness and emotion.  He stood at the door for
a moment, as if too much affected to accost his mother.

Frances's sight was so bad that she did not immediately perceive the
change her son's countenance had undergone.

"Well, my child--what is it?" she inquired.

Before the blacksmith could reply, Mother Bunch, who had more
discernment, exclaimed: "Goodness, Agricola--how pale you are!  Whatever
is the matter?"

"Mother," said the artisan, hastening to Frances, without replying to the
sempstress,--"mother, expect news that will astonish you; but promise me
you will be calm."

"What do you mean?  How you tremble!  Look at me!  Mother Bunch was
right--you are quite pale."

"My kind mother!" and Agricola, kneeling before Frances, took both her
hands in his--"you must--you do not know,--but--"

The blacksmith could not go on.  Tears of joy interrupted his speech.

"You weep, my dear child!  Your tears alarm me.  `What is the matter?--
you terrify me!"

"Oh, no, I would not terrify you; on the contrary," said Agricola, drying
his eyes--"you will be so happy.  But, again, you must try and command
your feelings, for too much joy is as hurtful as too much grief."


"Did I not say true, when I said he would come?"

"Father!" cried Frances.  She rose from her seat; but her surprise and
emotion were so great that she put one hand to her heart to still its
beating, and then she felt her strength fail.  Her son sustained her, and
assisted her to sit down.

Mother Bunch, till now, had stood discreetly apart, witnessing from a
distance the scene which completely engrossed Agricola and his mother.
But she now drew near timidly, thinking she might be useful; for Frances
changed color more and more.

"Come, courage, mother," said the blacksmith; "now the shock is over, you
have only to enjoy the pleasure of seeing my father."

"My poor man! after eighteen years' absence.  Oh, I cannot believe it,"
said Frances, bursting into tears.  "Is it true?  Is it, indeed, true?"

"So true, that if you will promise me to keep as calm as you can, I will
tell you when you may see him."

"Soon--may I not?"

"Yes; soon."

"But when will he arrive?"

"He may arrive any minute--to-morrow--perhaps to-day."


"Yes, mother!  Well, I must tell you all--he has arrived."

"He--he is--" Frances could not articulate the word.

"He was downstairs just now.  Before coming up, he sent the dyer to
apprise me that I might prepare you; for my brave father feared the
surprise might hurt you."

"Oh, heaven!"

"And now," cried the blacksmith, in an accent of indescribable joy--"he
is there, waiting!  Oh, mother! for the last ten minutes I have scarcely
been able to contain myself--my heart is bursting with joy."  And running
to the door, he threw it open.

Dagobert, holding Rose and Blanche by the hand, stood on the threshold.
Instead of rushing to her husband's arms, Frances fell on her knees in
prayer.  She thanked heaven with profound gratitude for hearing her
prayers, and thus accepting her offerings.  During a second, the actors
of this scene stood silent and motionless.  Agricola, by a sentiment of
respect and delicacy, which struggled violently with his affection, did
not dare to fall on his father's neck.  He waited with constrained
impatience till his mother had finished her prayer.

The soldier experienced the same feeling as the blacksmith; they
understood each other.  The first glance exchanged by father and son
expressed their affection--their veneration for that excellent woman, who
in the fulness of her religious fervor, forgot, perhaps, too much the
creature for the Creator.

Rose and Blanche, confused and affected, looked with interest on the
kneeling woman; while Mother Bunch, shedding in silence tears of joy at
the thought of Agricola's happiness, withdrew into the most obscure
corner of the room, feeling that she was a stranger, and necessarily out
of place in that family meeting.  Frances rose, and took a step towards
her husband, who received her in his arms.  There was a moment of solemn
silence.  Dagobert and Frances said not a word.  Nothing could be heard
but a few sighs, mingled with sighs of joy.  And, when the aged couple
looked up, their expression was calm, radiant, serene; for the full and
complete enjoyment of simple and pure sentiments never leaves behind a
feverish and violent agitation.

"My children," said the soldier, in tones of emotion, presenting the
orphans to Frances, who, after her first agitation, had surveyed them
with astonishment, "this is my good and worthy wife; she will be to the
daughters of General Simon what I have been to them."

"Then, madame, you will treat us as your children," said Rose,
approaching Frances with her sister.

"The daughters of General Simon!" cried Dagobert's wife, more and more

"Yes, my dear Frances; I have brought them from afar not without some
difficulty; but I will tell you that by and by."

"Poor little things!  One would take them for two angels, exactly alike!"
said Frances, contemplating the orphans with as much interest as

"Now--for us," cried Dagobert, turning to his son.

"At last," rejoined the latter.

We must renounce all attempts to describe the wild joy of Dagobert and
his son, and the crushing grip of their hands, which Dagobert interrupted
only to look in Agricola's face; while he rested his hands on the young
blacksmith's broad shoulders that he might see to more advantage his
frank masculine countenance, and robust frame.  Then he shook his hand
again, exclaiming, "He's a fine fellow--well built--what a good-hearted
look he has!"

From a corner of the room Mother Bunch enjoyed Agricola's happiness; but
she feared that her presence, till then unheeded, would be an intrusion.
She wished to withdraw unnoticed, but could not do so.  Dagobert and his
son were between her and the door; and she stood unable to take her eyes
from the charming faces of Rose and Blanche.  She had never seen anything
so winsome; and the extraordinary resemblance of the sisters increased
her surprise.  Then, their humble mourning revealing that they were poor,
Mother Bunch involuntarily felt more sympathy towards them.

"Dear children!  They are cold; their little hands are frozen, and,
unfortunately, the fire is out," said Frances, She tried to warm the
orphans' hands in hers, while Dagobert and his son gave themselves up to
the feelings of affection, so long restrained.

As soon as Frances said that the fire was out, Mother Bunch hastened to
make herself useful, as an excuse for her presence; and, going to the
cupboard, where the charcoal and wood were kept, she took some small
pieces, and, kneeling before the stove, succeeded, by the aid of a few
embers that remained, in relighting the fire, which soon began to draw
and blaze.  Filling a coffee-pot with water, she placed it on the stove,
presuming that the orphans required some warm drink.  The sempstress did
all this with so much dexterity and so little noise--she was naturally so
forgotten amidst the emotions of the scene--that Frances, entirely
occupied with Rose and Blanche, only perceived the fire when she felt its
warmth diffusing round, and heard the boiling water singing in the
coffee-pot.  This phenomenon--fire rekindling of itself--did not astonish
Dagobert's wife then, so wholly was she taken up in devising how she
could lodge the maidens; for Dagobert as we have seen, had not given her
notice of their arrival.

Suddenly a loud bark was heard three or four times at the door.

"Hallo! there's Spoil-sport," said Dagobert, letting in his dog; "he
wants to come in to brush acquaintance with the family too."

The dog came in with a bound, and in a second was quite at home.  After
having rubbed Dagobert's hand with his muzzle, he went in turns to greet
Rose and Blanche, and also Frances and Agricola; but seeing that they
took but little notice of him, he perceived Mother Bunch, who stood
apart, in an obscure corner of the room, and carrying out the popular

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