List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V3, by Eugene Sue
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had determined, with the sagacity peculiar to his race, to wait for the
orphans on the spot where he then was.

Thus were the two sisters confined in St. Mary's Convent, which, as we
have already said, was next door to the lunatic asylum in which Adrienne
de Cardoville was immured.

We now conduct the reader to the dwelling of Dagobert's wife, who was
waiting with dreadful anxiety for the return of her husband, knowing that
he would call her to account for the disappearance of Marshal Simon's



Hardly had the orphans quitted Dagobert's wife, when the poor woman,
kneeling down, began to pray with fervor.  Her tears, long restrained,
now flowed abundantly; notwithstanding her sincere conviction that she
had performed a religious duty in delivering up the girl's she waited
with extreme fear her husband's return.  Though blinded by her pious
zeal, she could not hide from herself, that Dagobert would have good
reason to be angry; and then this poor mother had also, under these
untoward circumstances, to tell him of Agricola's arrest.

Every noise upon the stairs made Frances start with trembling anxiety;
after which, she would resume her fervent prayers, supplicating strength
to support this new and arduous trial.  At length, she heard a step upon
the landing-place below, and, feeling sure this time that it was
Dagobert, she hastily seated herself, dried her tears, and taking a sack
of coarse cloth upon her lap, appeared to be occupied with sewing--though
her aged hands trembled so much, that she could hardly hold the needle.

After some minutes the door opened, and Dagobert appeared.  The soldier's
rough countenance was stern and sad; as he entered, he flung his hat
violently upon the table, so full of painful thought, that he did not at
first perceive the absence of the orphans.

"Poor girl!" cried he.  "It is really terrible!"

"Didst see Mother Bunch? didst claim her?" said Frances hastily,
forgetting for a moment her own fears.

"Yes, I have seen her--but in what a state--twas enough to break one's
heart.  I claimed her, and pretty loud too, I can tell you; but they said
to me, that the commissary must first come to our place in order--" here
Dagobert paused, threw a glance of surprise round the room, and exclaimed
abruptly: "Where are the children?"

Frances felt herself seized with an icy shudder.  "My dear," she began in
a feeble voice--but she was unable to continue.

"Where are Rose and Blanche!  Answer me then!  And Spoil-sport, who is
not here either!"

"Do not be angry."

"Come," said Dagobert, abruptly, "I see you have let them go out with a
neighbor--why not have accompanied them yourself, or let them wait for
me, if they wished to take a walk; which is natural enough, this room
being so dull.  But I am astonished that they should have gone out before
they had news of good Mother Bunch--they have such kind hearts.  But how
pale you are?" added the soldier looking nearer at Frances; "what is the
matter, my poor wife?  Are you ill?"

Dagobert took Frances's hand affectionately in his own but the latter,
painfully agitated by these words, pronounced with touching goodness,
bowed her head and wept as she kissed her husband's hand.  The soldier,
growing more and more uneasy as he felt the scalding tears of his wife,
exclaimed: "You weep, you do not answer--tell me, then, the cause of your
grief, poor wife!  Is it because I spoke a little loud, in asking you how
you could let the dear children go out with a neighbor?  Remember their
dying mother entrusted them to my care--'tis sacred, you see--and with
them, I am like an old hen after her chickens," added he, laughing to
enliven Frances.

"Yes, you are right in loving them!"

"Come, then--becalm--you know me of old.  With my great, hoarse voice, I
am not so bad a fellow at bottom.  As you can trust to this neighbor,
there is no great harm done; but, in future, my good Frances, do not take
any step with regard to the children without consulting me.  They asked,
I suppose, to go out for a little stroll with Spoil-sport?"

"No, my dear!"

"No!  Who is this neighbor, to whom you have entrusted them?  Where has
she taken them?  What time will she bring them back?"

"I do not know," murmured Frances, in a failing voice.

"You do not know!" cried Dagobert, with indignation; but restraining
himself, he added, in a tone of friendly reproach: "You do not know?  You
cannot even fix an hour, or, better still, not entrust them to any one?
The children must have been very anxious to go out.  They knew that I
should return at any moment, so why not wait for me--eh, Frances?  I ask
you, why did they not wait for me?  Answer me, will you!--Zounds! you
would make a saint swear!" cried Dagobert, stamping his foot; "answer me,
I say!"

The courage of Frances was fast failing.  These pressing and reiterated
questions, which might end by the discovery of the truth, made her endure
a thousand slow and poignant tortures.  She preferred coming at once to
the point, and determined to bear the full weight of her husband's anger,
like a humble and resigned victim, obstinately faithful to the promise
she had sworn to her confessor.

Not having the strength to rise, she bowed her head, allowed her arms to
fall on either side of the chair, and said to her husband in a tone of
the deepest despondency: "Do with me what you will--but do not ask what
is become of the children--I cannot answer you."

If a thunderbolt had fallen at the feet of the soldier, he would not have
been more violently, more deeply moved; he became deadly pale; his bald
forehead was covered with cold sweat; with fixed and staring look, he
remained for some moments motionless, mute, and petrified.  Then, as if
roused with a start from this momentary torpor, and filled with a
terrific energy, he seized his wife by the shoulders, lifted her like a
feather, placed her on her feet before him, and, leaning over her,
exclaimed in a tone of mingled fury and despair: "The children!"

"Mercy! mercy!" gasped Frances, in a faint voice.

"Where are the children?" repeated Dagobert, as he shook with his
powerful hands that poor frail body, and added in a voice of thunder:
"Will you answer? the children!"

"Kill me, or forgive me, I cannot answer you," replied the unhappy woman,
with that inflexible, yet mild obstinacy, peculiar to timid characters,
when they act from convictions of doing right.

"Wretch!" cried the soldier; wild with rage, grief, despair, he lifted up
his wife as if he would have dashed her upon the floor--but he was too
brave a man to commit such cowardly cruelty, and, after that first burst
of involuntary fury, he let her go.

Overpowered, Frances sank upon her knees, clasped her hands, and, by the
faint motion of her lips, it was clear that she was praying.  Dagobert
had then a moment of stunning giddiness; his thoughts wandered; what had
just happened was so sudden, so incomprehensible that it required some
minutes to convince himself that his wife (that angel of goodness, whose
life had been one course of heroic self-devotion, and who knew what the
daughters of Marshal Simon were to him) should say to him: "Do not ask me
about them--I cannot answer you."

The firmest, the strongest mind would have been shaken by this
inexplicable fact.  But, when the soldier had a little recovered himself,
he began to look coolly at the circumstances, and reasoned thus sensibly
with himself: "My wife alone can explain to me this inconceivable
mystery--I do not mean either to beat or kill her--let us try every
possibly method, therefore, to induce her to speak, and above all, let me
try to control myself."

He took a chair, handed another to his wife, who was still on her knees,
and said to her: "Sit down."  With an air of the utmost dejection,
Frances obeyed.

"Listen to me, wife," resumed Dagobert in a broken voice, interrupted by
involuntary starts, which betrayed the boiling impatience he could hardly
restrain.  "Understand me--this cannot pass over in this manner--you
know.  I will never use violence towards you--just now, I gave way to a
first moment of hastiness--I am sorry for it.  Be sure, I shall not do so
again: but, after all, I must know what has become of these children.
Their mother entrusted them to my care, and I did not bring them all the
way from Siberia, for you to say to me: `Do not ask me--I cannot tell you
what I have done with them.' There is no reason in that.  Suppose Marshal
Simon were to arrive, and say to me, `Dagobert, my children?' what answer
am I to give him?  See, I am calm--judge for yourself--I am calm--but
just put yourself in my place, and tell me--what answer am I to give to
the marshal?  Well--what say you!  Will you speak!"

"Alas!  my dear--"

"It is of no use crying alas!" said the soldier wiping his forehead, on
which the veins were swollen as if they would burst; "what am I to answer
to the marshal?"

"Accuse me to him--I will bear it all--I will say--"

"What will you say?"

"That, on going out, you entrusted the two girls to me, and that not
finding them on return you asked be about them--and that my answer was,
that I could not tell you what had become of them."

"And you think the marshal will be satisfied with such reasons?" cried
Dagobert, clinching his fists convulsively upon his knees.

"Unfortunately, I can give no other--either to him or you--no--not if I
were to die for it."

Dagobert bounded from his chair at this answer, which was given with
hopeless resignation.  His patience was exhausted; but determined not to
yield to new bursts of anger, or to spend his breath in useless menaces,
he abruptly opened one of the windows, and exposed his burning forehead
to the cool air.  A little calmer, he walked up and down for a few
moments, and then returned to seat himself beside his wife.  She, with
her eyes bathed in tears, fixed her gaze upon the crucifix, thinking that
she also had to bear a heavy cross.

Dagobert resumed: "By the manner in which you speak, I see that no
accident has happened, which might endanger the health of the children."

"No, oh no!  thank God, they are quite well--that is all I can say to

"Did they go out alone?"

"I cannot answer you."

"Has any one taken them away?"

"Alas, my dear! why ask me these questions?  I cannot answer you."

"Will they come back here?"

"I do not know."

Dagobert started up; his patience was once more exhausted.  But, after
taking a few turns in the room, he again seated himself as before.

"After all," said he to his wife, "you have no interest to conceal from
me what is become of the children.  Why refuse to let me know?"

"I cannot do otherwise."

"I think you will change your opinion, when you know something that I am
now forced to tell you.  Listen to me well!" added Dagobert, in an
agitated voice; "if these children are not restored to me before the 13th
of February--a day close at hand--I am in the position of a man that
would rob the daughters of Marshal Simon--rob them, d'ye understand?"
said the soldier, becoming more and more agitated.  Then, with an accent
of despair which pierced Frances's heart, he continued: "And yet I have
done all that an honest man could do for those poor children--you cannot
tell what I have had to suffer on the road--my cares, my anxieties--I, a
soldier, with the charge of two girls.  It was only by strength of heart,
by devotion, that I could go through with it--and when, for my reward, I
hoped to be able to say to their father: `Here are your children!--' The
soldier paused.  To the violence of his first emotions had succeeded a
mournful tenderness; he wept.

At sight of the tears rolling slowly down Dagobert's gray moustache,
Frances felt for a moment her resolution give way; but, recalling the
oath which she had made to her confessor, and reflecting that the eternal
salvation of the orphans was at stake, she reproached herself inwardly
with this evil temptation, which would no doubt be severely blamed by
Abbe Dubois.  She answered, therefore, in a trembling voice:  "How can
they accuse you of robbing these children?"

"Know," resumed Dagobert, drawing his hand across his eyes, "that if
these young girls have braved so many dangers, to come hither, all the
way from Siberia, it is that great interests are concerned--perhaps an
immense fortune--and that, if they are not present on the 13th February--
here, in Paris, Rue Saint Francois--all will be lost--and through my
fault--for I am responsible for your actions."

"The 13th February?  Rue Saint Francois?" cried Frances, looking at her
husband with surprise.  "Like Gabriel!"

"What do you say about Gabriel?"

"When I took him in (poor deserted child!), he wore a bronze medal about
his neck."

"A bronze medal!" cried the soldier, struck with amazement; "a bronze
medal with these words, `At Paris you will be, the 13th of February,
1832, Rue Saint Francois?"

"Yes--how do you know?"

"Gabriel, too!" said the soldier speaking to himself.  Then he added
hastily: "Does Gabriel know that this medal was found upon him?"

"I spoke to him of it at some time.  He had also about him a portfolio,
filled with papers in a foreign tongue.  I gave them to Abbe Dubois, my
confessor, to look over.  He told me afterwards, that they were of little
consequence; and, at a later period, when a charitable person named M.
Rodin, undertook the education of Gabriel, and to get him into the
seminary, Abbe Dubois handed both papers and medal to him.  Since then, I
have heard nothing of them."

When Frances spoke of her confessor a sudden light flashed across the
mind of the soldier, though he was far from suspecting the machinations
which had so long been at work with regard to Gabriel and the orphans.
But he had a vague feeling that his wife was acting in obedience to some
secret influence of the confessional--an influence of which he could not
understand the aim or object, but which explained, in part at least,
Frances's inconceivable obstinacy with regard to the disappearance of the

After a moment's reflection, he rose, and said sternly to his wife,
looking fixedly at her: "There is a priest at the bottom of all this."

"What do you mean, my dear?"

"You have no interest to conceal these children.  You are one of the best
of women.  You see that I suffer; if you only were concerned, you would
have pity upon me."

"My dear--"

"I tell you, all this smacks of the confessional," resumed Dagobert.
"You would sacrifice me and these children to your confessor; but take
care--I shall find out where he lives--and a thousand thunders!  I will
go and ask him who is master in my house, he or I--and if he does not
answer," added the soldier, with a threatening expression of countenance,
"I shall know how to make him speak."

"Gracious heaven!" cried Frances, clasping her hands in horror at these
sacrilegious words; "remember he is a priest!"

"A priest, who causes discord, treachery, and misfortune in my house, is
as much of a wretch as any other; whom I have a right to call to account

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