List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V3, by Eugene Sue
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felt themselves cruelly stabbed, generally immediately--some in their
dearest connections, others in their credit, some in their honor; others
in their official functions; and all by secret action, noiseless,
continuous, and latent, in time becoming a terrible and mysterious
dissolvent, which invisibly undermined reputations, fortunes, positions
the most solidly established, until the moment when all sunk forever into
the abyss, amid the surprise and terror of the beholders.

It will now be conceived how under the Restoration the Princess de Saint-
Dizier had become singularly influential and formidable.  At the time of
the Revolution of July (1830) she had "rallied," and, strangely enough,
by preserving some relation of family and of society with persons
faithful to the worship of decayed monarchy, people still attributed to
the princess much influence and power.  Let us mention, at last, that the
Prince of Saint-Dizier, having died many years since, his very large
personal fortune had descended to his younger brother, the father of
Adrienne de Cardoville; and he, having died eighteen months ago, that
young lady found herself to be the last and only representative of that
branch of the family of the Renneponts.

The Princess of Saint-Dizier awaited her niece in a very large room,
rendered dismal by its gloomy green damask.  The chairs, etc., covered
with similar stuff, were of carved ebony.  Paintings of scriptural and
other religious subjects, and an ivory crucifix thrown up from a
background of black velvet, contributed to give the apartment a
lugubrious and austere aspect.

Madame de Saint-Dizier, seated before a large desk, has just finished
putting the seals on numerous letters; for she had a very extensive and
very diversified correspondence.  Though then aged about forty-five she
was still fair.  Advancing years had somewhat thickened her shape, which
formerly of distinguished elegance, was still sufficiently handsome to be
seen to advantage under the straight folds of her black dress.  Her
headdress, very simple, decorated with gray ribbons, allowed her fair
sleek hair to be seen arranged in broad bands.  At first look, people
were struck with her dignified though unassuming appearance; and would
have vainly tried to discover in her physiognomy, now marked with
repentant calmness, any trace of the agitations of her past life.  So
naturally grave and reserved was she, that people could not believe her
the heroine of so many intrigues and adventures and gallantry.  Moreover,
if by chance she ever heard any lightness of conversation, her
countenance, since she had come to believe herself a kind of "mother in
the Church," immediately expressed candid but grieved astonishment, which
soon changed into an air of offended chastity and disdainful pity.

"For the rest, her smile, when requisite, was still full of grace, and
even of the seducing and resistless sweetness of seeming good-nature.
Her large blue eyes, on fit occasions, became affectionate and caressing.
But if any one dared to wound or ruffle her pride, gainsay her orders or
harm her interests, her countenance, usually placid and serene, betrayed
a cold but implacable malignity.  Mrs. Grivois entered the cabinet,
holding in her hand Florine's report of the manner in which Adrienne de
Cardoville had spent the morning.

Mrs. Grivois had been about twenty years in the service of Madame de
Saint-Dizier.  She knew everything that a lady's-maid could or ought to
have known of her mistress in the days of her sowing of wild (being a
lady) flowers.  Was it from choice that the princess had still retained
about her person this so-well-informed witness of the numerous follies of
her youth?  The world was kept in ignorance of the motive; but one thing
was evident, viz., that Mrs. Grivois enjoyed great privileges under the
princess, and was treated by her rather as a companion than as a tiring-

"Here are Florine's notes, madame," said Mrs. Grivois, giving the paper
to the princess.

"I will examine them presently," said the princess; "but tell me, is my
niece coming?  Pending the conference at which she is to be present, you
will conduct into her house a person who will soon be here, to inquire
for you by my desire."

"Well, madame?"

"This man will make an exact inventory of everything contained in
Adrienne's residence.  You will take care that nothing is omitted; for
that is of very great importance."

"Yes, madame.  But should Georgette or Hebe make any opposition?"

"There is no fear; the man charged with taking the inventory is of such a
stamp, that when they know him, they will not dare to oppose either his
making the inventory, or his other steps.  It will be necessary not to
fail, as you go along with him, to be careful to obtain certain
peculiarities destined to confirm the reports which you have spread for
some time past."

"Do not have the slightest doubt, madame.  The reports have all the
consistency of truth."

"Very soon, then, this Adrienne, so insolent and so haughty, will be
crushed and compelled to pray for pardon; and from me!"

An old footman opened both of the folding doors, and announced the
Marquis-Abbe d'Aigrigny.

"If Miss de Cardoville present herself," said the princess to Mrs.
Grivois, "you will request her to wait an instant."

"Yes, madame," said the duenna, going out with the servant.

Madame de Saint-Dizier and D'Aigrigny remained alone.



The Abbe-Marquis d'Aigrigny, as the reader has easily divined, was the
person already seen in the Rue du Milieu-des-Ursins; whence he had
departed from Rome, in which city he had remained about three months.
The marquis was dressed in deep mourning, but with his usual elegance.
His was not a priestly robe; his black coat, and his waistcoat, tightly
gathered in at the waist, set off to great advantage the elegance of his
figure: his black cassimere pantaloons disguised his feet, exactly fitted
with lace boots, brilliantly polished.  And all traces of his tonsure
disappeared in the midst of the slight baldness which whitened slightly
the back part of his head.  There was nothing in his entire costume, or
aspect, that revealed the priest, except, perhaps, the entire absence of
beard, the more remarkable upon so manly a countenance.  His chin, newly
shaved, rested on a large and elevated black cravat, tied with a military
ostentation which reminded the beholder, that this abbe-marquis this
celebrated preacher--now one of the most active and influential chiefs of
his order, had commanded a regiment of hussars upon the Restoration, and
had fought in aid of the Russians against France.

Returned to Paris only this morning, the marquis had not seen the
princess since his mother, the Dowager Marchioness d'Aigrigny, had died
near Dunkirk, upon an estate belonging to Madame de Saint-Dizier, while
vainly calling for her son to alleviate her last moments; but the order
to which M. d'Aigrigny had thought fit to sacrifice the most sacred
feeling and duties of nature, having been suddenly transmitted to him
from Rome, he had immediately set out for that city; though not without
hesitation, which was remarked and denounced by Rodin; for the love of M.
d'Aigrigny for his mother had been the only pure feeling that had
invariably distinguished his life.

When the servant had discreetly withdrawn with Mrs. Grivois, the marquis
quickly approached the princess, held out his hand to her, and said with
a voice of emotion:

"Herminia, have you not concealed something in your letters.  In her last
moments did not my mother curse me?"

"No, no, Frederick, compose yourself.  She had anxiously desired your
presence.  Her ideas soon became confused.  But in her delirium it was
still for you that she called."

"Yes," said the marquis, bitterly; "her maternal instinct doubtless
assured her that my presence could have saved her life."

"I entreat you to banish these sad recollections," said the princess,
"this misfortune is irreparable."

"Tell me for the last time, truly, did not my absence cruelly affect my
mother?  Had she no suspicion that a more imperious duty called me

"No, no, I assure you.  Even when her reason was shaken, she believed
that you had not yet had time to come to her.  All the sad details which
I wrote to you upon this painful subject are strictly true.  Again, I beg
of you to compose yourself."

"Yes, my conscience ought to be easy; for I have fulfilled my duty in
sacrificing my mother.  Yet I have never been able to arrive at that
complete detachment from natural affection, which is commanded to us by
those awful words:  `He who hates not his father and his mother, even
with the soul, cannot be my disciple.'"[9]

"Doubtless, Frederick," said the princess, "these renunciations are
painful.  But, in return, what influence, what power!"

"It is true," said the marquis, after a moment's silence.  "What ought
not to be sacrificed in order to reign in secret over the all-powerful of
the earth, who lord it in full day?  This journey to Rome, from which I
have just returned, has given me a new idea of our formidable power.
For, Herminia, it is Rome which is the culminating point, overlooking the
fairest and broadest quarters of the globe, made so by custom, by
tradition, or by faith.  Thence can our workings be embraced in their
full extent.  It is an uncommon view to see from its height the myriad
tools, whose personality is continually absorbed into the immovable
personality of our Order.  What a might we possess!  Verily, I am always
swayed with admiration, aye, almost frightened, that man once thinks,
wishes, believes, and acts as he alone lists, until, soon ours, he
becomes but a human shell; its kernel of intelligence, mind, reason,
conscience, and free will, shrivelled within him, dry and withered by the
habit of mutely, fearingly bowing under mysterious tasks, which shatter
and slay everything spontaneous in the human soul!  Then do we infuse in
such spiritless clay, speechless, cold, and motionless as corpses, the
breath of our Order, and, lo! the dry bones stand up and walk, acting and
executing, though only within the limits which are circled round them
evermore.  Thus do they become mere limbs of the gigantic trunk, whose
impulses they mechanically carry out, while ignorant of the design, like
the stonecutter who shapes out a stone, unaware if it be for cathedral or

In so speaking, the marquis's features wore an incredible air of proud
and domineering haughtiness.

"Oh, yes! this power is great, most great," observed the princess; "and
the more formidable because it moves in a mysterious way over minds and

"Aye, Herminia," said the marquis: "I have had under my command a
magnificent regiment.  Very often have I experienced the energetic and
exquisite enjoyment of command!  At my word my squadrons put themselves
in action; bugles blared, my officers, glittering in golden embroidery,
galloped everywhere to repeat my orders: all my brave soldiers, burning
with courage, and cicatrized by battles, obeyed my signal; and I felt
proud and strong, holding as I did (so to speak) in my hands, the force
and valor of each and all combined into one being of resistless strength
and invincible intrepidity,--of all of which I was as much the master, as
I mastered the rage and fire of my war-horse!  Aye! that was greatness.
But now, in spite of the misfortunes which have befallen our Order, I
feel myself a thousand times more ready for action, more authoritative,
more strong and more daring, at the head of our mute and black-robed
militia, who only think and wish, or move and obey, mechanically,
according to my will.  On a sign they scatter over the surface of the
globe, gliding stealthily into households under the guise of confessing
the wife or teaching the children, into family affairs by hearing the
dying avowals,--up to the throne through the quaking conscience of a
credulous crowned coward;--aye, even to the chair of the Pope himself,
living manifesto of the Godhead though he is, by the services rendered
him or imposed by him.  Is not this secret rule, made to kindle or glut
the wildest ambition, as it reaches from the cradle to the grave, from
the laborer's hovel to the royal palace, from palace to the papal chair?
What career in all the world presents such splendid openings? what
unutterable scorn ought I not feel for the bright butterfly life of early
days, when we made so many envy us?  Don't you remember, Herminia?" he
added, with a bitter smile.

"You are right, perfectly right, Frederick!" replied the princess
quickly.  "How little soever we may reflect, with what contempt do we not
think upon the past!  I, like you, often compare it with the present; and
then what satisfaction I feel at having followed your counsels!  For,
indeed, without you, I should have played the miserable and ridiculous
part which a woman always plays in her decline from having been beautiful
and surrounded by admirers.  What could I have done at this hour?  I
should have vainly striven to retain around me a selfish and ungrateful
world of gross and shameful men, who court women only that they may turn
them to the service of their passions, or to the gratification of their
vanity.  It is true that there would have remained to me the resource of
what is called keeping an agreeable house for all others,--yes, in order
to entertain them, be visited by a crowd of the indifferent, to afford
opportunities of meeting to amorous young couples, who, following each
other from parlor to parlor, come not to your house but for the purpose
of being together; a very pretty pleasure, truly, that of harboring those
blooming, laughing, amorous youths, who look upon the luxury and
brilliancy with which one surrounds them, as if they were their due upon
bonds to minister to their pleasure, and to their impudent amours!"

Her words were so stinging, and such hateful envy sat upon her face, that
she betrayed the intense bitterness of her regrets in spite of herself.

"NO, no; thanks to you, Frederick," she continued, "After a last and
brilliant triumph, I broke forever with the world, which would soon have
abandoned me, though I was so long its idol and its queen.  And I have
only changed my queendom.  Instead of the dissipated men whom I ruled
with a frivolity superior to their own, I now find myself surrounded by
men of high consideration, of redoubtable character, and all-powerful,
many of whom have governed the state; to them I have devoted myself, as
they have devoted themselves to me!  It is now only that I really enjoy
that happiness, of which I ever dreamt.  I have taken an active part and
have exercised a powerful influence over the greatest interests of the
world; I have been initiated into the most important secrets; I have been
able to strike, surely, whosoever scoffed at or hated me; and I have been
able to elevate beyond their hopes those who have served or respected and
obeyed me."

"There are some madmen, and some so blind, that they imagine that we are

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