List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V3, by Eugene Sue
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As she uttered these words, Adrienne looked round with anxiety; then she
added, in a firm voice: "No weakness! it is useless to try to blind
myself to my real situation.  On the contrary, I must look it well in the
face.  It is evident that I am not here at a minister's house; no end of
reasons prove it beyond a doubt; M. Baleinier has therefore deceived me.
But for what end?  Why has he brought me hither?  Where am I?"

The last two questions appeared to Adrienne both equally insoluble.  It
only remained clear, that she was the victim of M. Baleinier's perfidy.
But this certainly seemed so horrible to the young girl's truthful and
generous soul, that she still tried to combat the idea by the
recollection of the confiding friendship which she had always shown this
man.  She said to herself with bitterness: "See how weakness and fear may
lead one to unjust and odious suspicions!  Yes; for until the last
extremity, it is not justifiable to believe in so infernal a deception--
and then only upon the clearest evidence.  I will call some one: it is
the only way of completely satisfying these doubts."  Then, remembering
that there was no bell, she added: "No matter; I will knock, and some one
will doubtless answer."  With her little, delicate hand, Adrienne struck
the door several times.

The dull, heavy sound which came from the door showed that it was very
thick.  No answer was returned to the young girl.  She ran to the other
door.  There was the same appeal on her part, the same profound silence
without--only interrupted from time to time by the howling of the wind.

"I am not more timid than other people," said Adrienne, shuddering; "I do
not know if it is the excessive cold, but I tremble in spite of myself.
I endeavor to guard against all weakness; yet I think that any one in my
position would find all this very strange and frightful."

At this instant, loud cries, or rather savage and dreadful howls, burst
furiously from the room just above, and soon after a sort of stamping of
feet, like the noise of a violent struggle, shook the ceiling of the
apartment.  Struck with consternation, Adrienne uttered a loud cry of
terror became deadly pale, stood for a moment motionless with affright,
and then rushed to one of the windows, and abruptly threw it open.

A violent gust of wind, mixed with melted snow, beat against Adrienne's
face, swept roughly into the room, and soon extinguished the flickering
and smoky light of the lamp.  Thus, plunged in profound darkness, with
her hands clinging to the bars that were placed across the window, Mdlle.
de Cardoville yielded at length to the full influence of her fears, so
long restrained, and was about to call aloud for help, when an unexpected
apparition rendered her for some minutes absolutely mute with terror.

Another wing of the building, opposite to that in which she was, stood at
no great distance.  Through the midst of the black darkness, which filled
the space between, one large, lighted window was distinctly visible.
Through the curtainless panes, Adrienne perceived a white figure, gaunt
and ghastly, dragging after it a sort of shroud, and passing and
repassing continually before the window, with an abrupt and restless
motion.  Her eyes fixed upon this window, shining through the darkness,
Adrienne remained as if fascinated by that fatal vision: and, as the
spectacle filled up the measure of her fears, she called for help with
all her might, without quitting the bars of the window to which she
clung.  After a few seconds, whilst she was thus crying out, two tall
women entered the room in silence, unperceived by Mdlle. de Cardoville,
who was still clinging to the window.

These women, of about forty to fifty years of age, robust and masculine,
were negligently and shabbily dressed, like chambermaids of the lower
sort; over their clothes they wore large aprons of blue cotton, cut
sloping from their necks, and reaching down to their feet.  One of them,
who held a lamp in her hand, had a broad, red, shining face, a large
pimpled nose, small green eyes, and tow hair, which straggled rough and
shaggy from beneath her dirty white cap.  The other, sallow, withered,
and bony, wore a mourning-cap over a parchment visage, pitted with the
small-pox, and rendered still more repulsive by the thick black eyebrows,
and some long gray hairs that overshadowed the upper lip.  This woman
carried, half unfolded in her hand, a garment of strange form, made of
thick gray stuff.

They both entered silently by the little door, at the moment when
Adrienne, in the excess of her terror, was grasping the bars of the
window, and crying out: "Help! help!"

Pointing out the young lady to each other, one of them went to place the
lamp on the chimney-piece, whilst the other (she who wore the mourning-
cap) approached the window, and laid her great bony hand upon Mdlle. de
Cardoville's shoulder.

Turning round, Adrienne uttered a new cry of terror at the sight of this
grim figure.  Then, the first moment of stupor over, she began to feel
less afraid; hideous as was this woman, it was at least some one to speak
to; she exclaimed, therefore, in an agitated voice: "Where is M.

The two women looked at each other, exchanged a leer of mutual
intelligence, but did not answer.

"I ask you, madame,"resumed Adrienne, "where is M. Baleinier, who brought
me hither?  I wish to see him instantly."

"He is gone," said the big woman.

"Gone!" cried Adrienne; "gone without me!--Gracious heaven! what can be
the meaning of all this?"  Then, after a moment's reflection, she
resumed, "Please to fetch me a coach."

The two women looked at each other, and shrugged their shoulders.  "I
entreat you, madame," continued Adrienne, with forced calmness in her
voice, "to fetch me a coach since M. Baleinier is gone without me.  I
wish to leave this place."

"Come, come, madame," said the tall woman, who was called "Tomboy,"
without appearing to listen to what Adrienne asked, "it is time for you
to go to bed."

"To go to bed!" cried Mdlle. Cardoville, in alarm.  "This is really
enough to drive one mad."  Then, addressing the two women, she added:
"What is this house? where am I? answer!"

"You are in a house," said Tomboy, in a rough voice, "where you must not
make a row from the window, as you did just now."

"And where you must not put out the lamp as you have done," added the
other woman, who was called Gervaise, "or else we shall have a crow to
pick with you."

Adrienne, unable to utter a word, and trembling with fear, looked in a
kind of stupor from one to the other of these horrible women; her reason
strove in vain to comprehend what was passing around her.  Suddenly she
thought she had guessed it, and exclaimed: "I see there is a mistake
here.  I do not understand how, but there is a mistake.  You take me for
some one else.  Do you know who I am?  My name is Adrienne de Cardoville
You see, therefore, that I am at liberty to leave this house; no one in
the world has the right to detain me.  I command you, then, to fetch me a
coach immediately.  If there are none in this quarter, let me have some
one to accompany me home to the Rue de Babylone, Saint-Dizier House.  I
will reward such a person liberally, and you also."

"Well, have you finished?" said Tomboy.  "What is the use of telling us
all this rubbish?"

"Take care," resumed Adrienne, who wished to try every means; "if you
detain me here by force, it will be very serious.  You do not know to
what you expose yourselves."

"Will you come to bed; yes or no?" said Gervaise, in a tone of harsh

"Listen to me, madame," resumed Adrienne, precipitately, "let me out this
place, and I will give each of you two thousand francs.  It is not
enough?  I will give you ten--twenty--whatever you ask.  I am rich--only
let me out for heaven's sake, let me out!--I cannot remain here--I am
afraid."  As she said this, the tone of the poor girl's voice was

"Twenty thousand francs!--that's the usual figure, ain't it, Tomboy?"

"Let be, Gervaise! they all sing the same song."

"Well, then? since reasons, prayers, and menaces are all in vain," said
Adrienne gathering energy from her desperate position, "I declare to you
that I will go out and that instantly.  We will see if you are bold
enough to employ force against me."

So saying, Adrienne advanced resolutely towards the door.  But, at this
moment, the wild hoarse cries, which had preceded the noise of the
struggle that had so frightened her, again resounded; only, this time
they were not accompanied by the movement of feet.

"Oh! what screams!" said Adrienne, stopping short, and in her terror
drawing nigh to the two women.  "Do you not hear those cries?  What,
then, is this house, in which one hears such things?  And over there,
too," added she almost beside herself, as she pointed to the other wing
where the lighted windows shone through the darkness, and the white
figure continued to pass and repass before it;  "over there!  do you see?
What is it?"

"Oh! that 'un," said Tomboy; "one of the folks who, like you, have not
behaved well."

"What do you say?" cried Mdlle. de Cardoville, clasping her hands in
terror.  "Heavens! what is this house?  What do they do to them?"

"What will be done to you, if you are naughty, and refuse to come to
bed," answered Gervaise.

"They put this on them," said Tomboy, showing the garment that she had
held under her arm, "they clap 'em into the strait-waistcoast."

"Oh!" cried Adrienne, hiding her face in her hands with horror.  A
terrible discovery had flashed suddenly upon her.  She understood it all.

Capping the violent emotions of the day, the effect of this last blow was
dreadful.  The young girl felt her strength give way.  Her hands fell
powerless, her face became fearfully pale, all her limbs trembled, and
sinking upon her knees, and casting a terrified glance at the strait-
waistcoat she was just able to falter in a feeble voice, "Oh, no:--not
that--for pity's sake, madame.  I will do--whatever you wish."  And, her
strength quite failing, she would have fallen upon the ground if the two
women had not run towards her, and received her fainting into their arms.

"A fainting fit," said Tomboy; "that's not dangerous.  Let us carry her
to bed.  We can undress her, and this will be all nothing."

"Carry her, then," said Gervaise.  "I will take the lamp."

The tall and robust Tomboy took up Mdlle. de Cardoville as if she had
been a sleeping child, carried her in her arms, and followed her
companion into the chamber through which M. Baleinier had made his exit.

This chamber, though perfectly clean, was cold and bare.  A greenish
paper covered the walls, and a low, little iron bedstead, the head of
which formed a kind of shelf, stood in one corner; a stove, fixed in the
chimney-place, was surrounded by an iron grating, which forbade a near
approach; a table fastened to the wall, a chair placed before this table,
and also clamped to the floor, a mahogany chest of drawers, and a rush-
bottomed armchair completed the scanty furniture.  The curtainless window
was furnished on the inside with an iron grating, which served to protect
the panes from being broken.

It was into this gloomy retreat, which formed so painful a contrast with
the charming little summer-house in the Rue de Babylone, that Adrienne
was carried by Tomboy, who, with the assistance of Gervaise, placed the
inanimate form on the bed.  The lamp was deposited on the shelf at the
head of the couch.  Whilst one of the nurses held her up, the other
unfastened and took off the cloth dress of the young girl, whose head
drooped languidly on her bosom.  Though in a swoon, large tears trickled
slowly from her closed eyes, whose long black lashes threw their shadows
on the transparent whiteness of her cheeks.  Over her neck and breast of
ivory flowed the golden waves of her magnificent hair, which had come
down at the time of her fall.  When, as they unlaced her satin corset,
less soft, less fresh, less white than the virgin form beneath, which lay
like a statue of alabaster in its covering of lace and lawn, one of the
horrible hags felt the arms and shoulders of the young girl with her
large, red, horny, and chapped hands.  Though she did not completely
recover the use of her senses, she started involuntarily from the rude
and brutal touch.

"Hasn't she little feet?" said the nurse, who, kneeling down, was
employed in drawing off Adrienne's stockings.  "I could hold them both in
the hollow of my hand."  In fact, a small, rosy foot, smooth as a
child's, here and there veined with azure, was soon exposed to view, as
was also a leg with pink knee and ankle, of as pure and exquisite a form
as that of Diana Huntress.

"And what hair!" said Tomboy; "so long and soft!--She might almost walk
upon it.  'Twould be a pity to cut it off, to put ice upon her skull!"
As she spoke, she gathered up Adrienne's magnificent hair, and twisted it
as well as she could behind her head.  Alas! it was no longer the fair,
light hand of Georgette, Florine, or Hebe that arranged the beauteous
locks of their mistress with so much love and pride!

And as she again felt the rude touch of the nurse's hand, the young girl
was once more seized with the same nervous trembling, only more
frequently and strongly than before.  And soon, whether by a sort of
instinctive repulsion, magnetically excited during her swoon, or from the
effect of the cold night air, Adrienne again started and slowly came to

It is impossible to describe her alarm, horror, and chaste indignation,
as, thrusting aside with both her hands the numerous curls that covered
her face, bathed in tears, she saw herself half-naked between these
filthy hags.  At first, she uttered a cry of shame and terror; then to
escape from the looks of the women, by a movement, rapid as thought, she
drew down the lamp placed on the shelf at the head of her bed, so that it
was extinguished and broken to pieces on the floor.  After which, in the
midst of the darkness, the unfortunate girl, covering herself with the
bed-clothes, burst into passionate sobs.

The nurses attributed Adrienne's cry and violent actions to a fit of
furious madness.  "Oh! you begin again to break the lamps--that's your
partickler fancy, is it?"  cried Tomboy, angrily, as she felt her way in
the dark.  "Well! I gave you fair warning.  You shall have the strait-
waistcoat on this very night, like the mad gal upstairs."

"That's it," said the other; "hold her fast, Tommy, while I go and fetch
a light.  Between us, we'll soon master her."

"Make haste, for, in spite of her soft look, she must be a regular fury.
We shall have to sit up all night with her, I suppose."

Sad and painful contrast!  That morning, Adrienne had risen free,
smiling, happy, in the midst of all the wonders of luxury and art, and
surrounded by the delicate attentions of the three charming girls whom
she had chosen to serve her.  In her generous and fantastic mood, she had
prepared a magnificent and fairy-like surprise for the young Indian

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