List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V2, by Eugene Sue
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"Agricola, for the love of heaven!" said the girl, in a supplicating
tone; "treat not the warning thus lightly.  Believe in my forebodings,
and listen to my advice."

"I tell you again, my good girl," replied Agricola, "that it is two
months since my song was published.  It is not in any way political;
indeed, if it were, they would not have waited till now before coming
down on me."

"But," said the other, "you forget that new events have arisen.  It is
scarcely two days since the conspiracy was discovered, in this very
neighborhood, in the Rue des Prouvaires.  And," continued she, "if the
verses, though perhaps hitherto unnoticed, have now been found in the
possession of the persons apprehended for this conspiracy, nothing more
is necessary to compromise you in the plot."

"Compromise me!" said Agricola; "my verses! in which I only praise the
love of labor and of goodness!  To arrest me for that!  If so, justice
would be but a blind noodle.  That she might grope her way, it would be
necessary to furnish her with a dog and a pilgrim's staff to guide her

"Agricola," resumed Mother Bunch; overwhelmed with anxiety and terror on
hearing the blacksmith jest at such a moment, "I conjure you to listen to
me!  No doubt you uphold in the verses the sacred love of labor; but you
do also grievously deplore and deprecate the unjust lot of the poor
laborers, devoted as they are, without hope, to all the miseries of life;
you recommend, indeed, only fraternity among men; but your good and noble
heart vents its indignation, at the same time, against the selfish and
the wicked.  In fine, you fervently hasten on, with the ardor of your
wishes, the emancipation of all the artisans who, less fortunate than
you, have not generous M. Hardy for employer.  Say, Agricola, in these
times of trouble, is there anything more necessary to compromise you than
that numerous copies of your song have been found in possession of the
persons who have been apprehended?"

Agricola was moved by these affectionate and judicious expressions of an
excellent creature, who reasoned from her heart; and he began to view
with more seriousness the advice which she had given him.

Perceiving that she had shaken him, the sewing-girl went on to say: "And
then, bear your fellow-workman, Remi, in recollection."

"Remi!" said Agricola, anxiously.

"Yes," resumed the sempstress; "a letter of his, a letter in itself quite
insignificant, was found in the house of a person arrested last year for
conspiracy; and Remi, in consequence, remained a month in prison."

"That is true, but the injustice of his implication was easily shown, and
he was set at liberty."

"Yes, Agricola: but not till he had lain a month in prison; and that has
furnished the motive of the person who advised you to conceal yourself!
A month in prison!  Good heavens!  Agricola, think of that! and your

These words made a powerful impression upon Agricola.  He took up the
letter and again read it attentively.

"And the man who has been lurking all this evening about the house?"
proceeded she.  "I constantly recall that circumstance, which cannot be
naturally accounted for.  Alas! what a blow it would be for your father,
and poor mother, who is incapable of earning anything.  Are you not now
their only resource?  Oh! consider, then, what would become of them
without you--without your labor!"

"It would indeed be terrible," said Agricola, impatiently casting the
letter upon the table.  "What you have said concerning Remi is too true.
He was as innocent as I am: yet an error of justice, an involuntary error
though it be, is not the less cruel.  But they don't commit a man without
hearing him."

"But they arrest him first, and hear him afterwards," said Mother Bunch,
bitterly; "and then, after a month or two, they restore him his liberty.
And if he have a wife and children, whose only means of living is his
daily labor, what becomes of them while their only supporter is in
prison?  They suffer hunger, they endure cold, and they weep!"

At these simple and pathetic words, Agricola trembled.

"A month without work," he said, with a sad and thoughtful air.  "And my
mother, and father, and the two young ladies who make part of our family
until the arrival in Paris of their father, Marshal Simon.  Oh! you are
right.  That thought, in spite of myself, affrights me!"

"Agricola!" exclaimed the girl impetuously; "suppose you apply to M.
Hardy; he is so good, and his character is so much esteemed and honored,
that, if he offered bail for you, perhaps they would give up their

"Unfortunately," replied Agricola, "M. Hardy is absent; he is on a
journey with Marshal Simon."

After a silence of some time, Agricola, striving to surmount his fear,
added: "But no! I cannot give credence to this letter.  After all, I had
rather await what may come.  I'll at least have the chance of proving my
innocence on my first examination: for indeed, my good sister, whether it
be that I am in prison or that I fly to conceal myself, my working for my
family will be equally prevented."

"Alas! that is true," said the poor girl; "what is to be done!  Oh, what
is to be done?"

"My brave father," said Agricola to himself, "if this misfortune happen
to-morrow, what an awakening it will be for him, who came here to sleep
so joyously!"  The blacksmith buried his face in his hands.

Unhappily Mother Bunch's fears were too well-founded, for it will be
recollected that at that epoch of the year 1832, before and after the Rue
des Prouvaires conspiracy, a very great number of arrests had been made
among the working classes, in consequence of a violent reaction against
democratical ideas.

Suddenly, the girl broke the silence which had been maintained for some
seconds.  A blush colored her features, which bore the impressions of an
indefinable expression of constraint, grief, and hope.

"Agricola, you are saved!"

"What say you?" he asked.

"The young lady, so beautiful, so good, who gave you this flower" (she
showed it to the blacksmith) "who has known how to make reparation with
so much delicacy for having made a painful offer, cannot but have a
generous heart.  You must apply to her--"

With these words which seemed to be wrung from her by a violent effort
over herself, great tears rolled down her cheeks.  For the first time in
her life she experienced a feeling of grievous jealousy.  Another woman
was so happy as to have the power of coming to the relief of him whom she
idolized; while she herself, poor creature, was powerless and wretched.

"Do you think so?" exclaimed Agricola surprised.  "But what could be done
with this young lady?"

"Did she not say to you," answered Mother Bunch, "`Remember my name; and
in all circumstances address yourself to me?'"

"She did indeed!"  replied Agricola.

"This young lady, in her exalted position, ought to have powerful
connections who will be able to protect and defend you.  Go to her to-
morrow morning; tell her frankly what has happened, and request her

"But tell me, my good sister, what it is you wish me to do?"

"Listen.  I remember that, in former times, my father told us that he had
saved one of his friends from being put in prison, by becoming surety for
him.  It will be easy for you so to convince this young lady of your
innocence, that she will be induced to become surety; and after that, you
will have nothing more to fear."

"My poor child!" said Agricola, "to ask so great a service from a person
to whom one is almost unknown is hard."

"Believe me, Agricola," said the other sadly, "I would never counsel what
could possibly lower you in the eyes of any one, and above all--do you
understand?--above all, in the eyes of this young lady.  I do not propose
that you should ask money from her; but only that she should give surety
for you, in order that you may have the liberty of continuing at your
employment, so that the family may not be without resources.  Believe me,
Agricola, that such a request is in no respect inconsistent with what is
noble and becoming upon your part.  The heart of the young lady is
generous.  She will comprehend your position.  The required surety will
be as nothing to her; while to you it will be everything, and will even
be the very life to those who depend upon you."

"You are right, my good sister," said Agricola, with sadness and
dejection.  "It is perhaps worth while to risk taking this step.  If the
young lady consent to render me this service, and if giving surety will
indeed preserve me from prison, I shall be prepared for every event.  But
no, no!" added he, rising, "I'd never dare to make the request to her!
What right have I to do so?  What is the insignificant service that I
rendered her, when compared with that which I should solicit from her?"

"Do you imagine then, Agricola, that a generous spirit measures the
services which ought to be rendered, by those previously received?  Trust
to me respecting a matter which is an affair of the heart.  I am, it is
true, but a lowly creature, and ought not to compare myself with any
other person.  I am nothing, and I can do nothing.  Nevertheless, I am
sure--yes, Agricola, I am sure--that this young lady, who is so very far
above me, will experience the same feelings that I do in this affair;
yes, like me, she will at once comprehend that your position is a cruel
one; and she will do with joy, with happiness, with thankfulness, that
which I would do, if, alas! I could do anything more than uselessly
consume myself with regrets."

In spite of herself, she pronounced the last words with an expression so
heart-breaking--there was something so moving in the comparison which
this unfortunate creature, obscure and disdained, infirm and miserable,
made of herself with Adrienne de Cardoville, the very type of resplendent
youth, beauty, and opulence--that Agricola was moved even to tears; and,
holding out one of his hands to the speaker, he said to her, tenderly,
"How very good you are; how full of nobleness, good feeling, and

"Unhappily," said the weeping girl, "I can do nothing more than advise."

"And your counsels shall be followed out, my sister dear.  They are those
of a soul the most elevated I have ever known.  Yes, you have won me over
into making this experiment, by persuading me that the heart of Miss de
Cardoville is perhaps equal in value to your own!"

At this charming and sincere assimilation of herself to Miss Adrienne,
the sempstress forgot almost everything she had suffered, so exquisitely
sweet and consoling were her emotions.  If some poor creatures, fatally
devoted to sufferings, experience griefs of which the world knows naught,
they sometimes, too, are cheered by humble and timid joys, of which the
world is equally ignorant.  The least word of true tenderness and
affection, which elevates them in their own estimation, is ineffably
blissful for these unfortunate beings, habitually consigned, not only to
hardships and to disdain, but even to desolating doubts, and distrust of

"Then it is agreed that you will go, to-morrow morning to this young
lady's house?" exclaimed Mother Bunch, trembling with a new-born hope.
"And," she quickly added, "at break of day I'll go down to watch at the
street-door, to see if there be anything suspicious, and to apprise you
of what I perceive."

"Good, excellent girl!"  exclaimed Agricola, with increasing emotion.

"It will be necessary to endeavor to set off before the wakening of your
father," said the hunchback.  "The quarter in which the young lady
dwells, is so deserted, that the mere going there will almost serve for
your present concealment."

"I think I hear the voice of my father," said Agricola suddenly.

In truth, the little apartment was so near Agricola's garret, that he and
the sempstress, listening, heard Dagobert say in the dark:

"Agricola, is it thus that you sleep, my boy?  Why, my first sleep is
over; and my tongue itches deucedly."

"Go quick, Agricola!" said Mother Bunch; "your absence would disquiet
him.  On no account go out to-morrow morning, before I inform you whether
or not I shall have seen anything suspicious."

"Why, Agricola, you are not here?" resumed Dagobert, in a louder voice.

"Here I am, father," said the smith, while going out of the sempstress's
apartment, and entering the garret, to his father.

"I have been to fasten the shutter of a loft that the wind agitated, lest
its noise should disturb you."

"Thanks, my boy; but it is not noise that wakes me," said Dagobert,
gayly; "it is an appetite, quite furious, for a chat with you.  Oh, my
dear boy, it is the hungering of a proud old man of a father, who has not
seen his son for eighteen years."

"Shall I light a candle, father?"

"No, no; that would be luxurious; let us chat in the dark.  It will be a
new pleasure for me to see you to-morrow morning at daybreak.  It will be
like seeing you for the first time twice."  The door of Agricola's garret
being now closed, Mother Bunch heard nothing more.

The poor girl, without undressing, threw herself upon the bed, and closed
not an eye during the night, painfully awaiting the appearance of day, in
order that she might watch over the safety of Agricola.  However, in
spite of her vivid anxieties for the morrow, she sometimes allowed
herself to sink into the reveries of a bitter melancholy.  She compared
the conversation she had just had in the silence of night, with the man
whom she secretly adored, with what that conversation might have been,
had she possessed some share of charms and beauty--had she been loved as
she loved, with a chaste and devoted flame!  But soon sinking into belief
that she should never know the ravishing sweets of a mutual passion, she
found consolation in the hope of being useful to Agricola.  At the dawn
of day, she rose softly, and descended the staircase with little noise,
in order to see if anything menaced Agricola from without.



The weather, damp and foggy during a portion of the night, became clear
and cold towards morning.  Through the glazed skylight of Agricola's
garret, where he lay with his father, a corner of the blue sky could be

The apartment of the young blacksmith had an aspect as poor as the
sewing-girl's.  For its sole ornament, over the deal table upon which
Agricola wrote his poetical inspirations, there hung suspended from a
nail in the wall a portrait of Beranger--that immortal poet whom the
people revere and cherish, because his rare and transcendent genius has
delighted to enlighten the people, and to sing their glories and their

Although the day had only begun to dawn, Dagobert and Agricola had
already risen.  The latter had sufficient self command to conceal his
inquietude, for renewed reflection had again increased his fears.

The recent outbreak in the Rue des Prouvaires had caused a great number
of precautionary arrests; and the discovery of numerous copies of
Agricola's song, in the possession of one of the chiefs of the

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