List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V4, by Eugene Sue
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serious investigation.  Whether true or false, this conviction had
restored Adrienne to her accustomed elasticity and energy of character.
And yet she sometimes in vain asked herself the cause of this attempt on
her liberty.  She knew too well the Princess de Saint-Dizier, to believe
her capable of acting in this way, without a certain end in view, and
merely for the purpose of inflicting a momentary pang.  In this, Mdlle.
de Cardoville was not deceived: Father d'Aigrigny and the princess were
both persuaded, that Adrienne, better informed than she wished to
acknowledge, knew how important it was for her to find herself in the
house in the Rue Saint-Francois on the 13th of February, and was
determined to maintain her rights.  In shutting up Adrienne as mad, it
was intended to strike a fatal blow at her future prospects; but this
last precaution was useless, for Adrienne, though upon the true scent of
the family-secret they lead wished to conceal from her, had not yet
entirely penetrated its meaning, for want of certain documents, which had
been lost or hidden.

Whatever had been the motives for the odious conduct of Mdlle. de
Cardoville's enemies, she was not the less disgusted at it.  No one could
be more free from hatred or revenge, than was this generous young girl,
but when she thought of all the sufferings which the Princess de Saint-
Dizier, Abbe d'Aigrigny, and Dr. Baleinier had occasioned her, she
promised herself, not reprisals, but a striking reparation.  If it were
refused her, she was resolved to combat--without truce or rest--this
combination of craft, hypocrisy, and cruelty, not from resentment for
what she had endured, but to preserve from the same torments other
innocent victims, who might not, like her, be able to struggle and defend
themselves.  Adrienne, still under the painful impression which had been
caused by her interview with Rose Simon, was leaning against one of the
sides of the rustic bench on which she was seated, and held her left hand
over her eyes.  She had laid down her bonnet beside her, and the inclined
position of her head brought the long golden curls over her fair, shining
cheeks.  In this recumbent attitude, so full of careless grace, the
charming proportions of her figure were seen to advantage beneath a
watered green dress, while a broad collar, fastened with a rose-colored
satin bow, and fine lace cuffs, prevented too strong a contrast between
the hue of her dress and the dazzling whiteness of the swan-like neck and
Raphaelesque hands, imperceptibly veined with tiny azure lines.  Over the
high and well-formed instep, were crossed the delicate strings of a
little, black satin shoe--for Dr. Baleinier had allowed her to dress
herself with her usual taste, and elegance of costume was not with
Adrienne a mark of coquetry, but of duty towards herself, because she had
been made so beautiful.  At sight of this young lady, whose dress and
appearance she admired in all simplicity, without any envious or bitter
comparison with her own poor clothes and deformity of person, Mother
Bunch said immediately to herself, with the good sense and sagacity
peculiar to her, that it was strange a mad woman should dress so sanely
and gracefully.  It was therefore with a mixture of surprise and emotion
that she approached the fence which separated her from Adrienne--
reflecting, however, that the unfortunate girl might still be insane, and
that this might turn out to be merely a lucid interval.  And now, with a
timid voice, but loud enough to be heard, Mother Bunch, in order to
assure herself of Adrienne's identity, said, whilst her heart beat fast:
"Mdlle. de Cardoville!"

"Who calls me?" said Adrienne.  On hastily raising her head, and
perceiving the hunchback, she could not suppress a slight cry of
surprise, almost fright.  For indeed this poor creature, pale, deformed,
miserably clad, thus appearing suddenly before her, must have inspired
Mdlle, de Cardoville, so passionately fond of grace and beauty, with a
feeling of repugnance, if not of terror--and these two sentiments were
both visible in her expressive countenance.

The other did not perceive the impression she had made.  Motionless, with
her eyes fixed, and her hands clasped in a sort of adoring admiration,
she gazed on the dazzling beauty of Adrienne, whom she had only half seen
through the grated window.  All that Agricola had told her of the charms
of his protectress, appeared to her a thousand times below the reality;
and never, even in her secret poetic visions, had she dreamed of such
rare perfection.  Thus, by a singular contrast, a feeling of mutual
surprise came over these two girls--extreme types of deformity and
beauty, wealth and wretchedness.  After rendering, as it were, this
involuntary homage to Adrienne, Mother Bunch advanced another step
towards the fence.

"What do you want?" cried Mdlle. de Cardoville, rising with a sentiment
of repugnance, which could not escape the work-girl's notice;
accordingly, she held down her head timidly, and said in a soft voice: "I
beg your pardon, madame, to appear so suddenly before you.  But moments
are precious, I come from Agricola."

As she pronounced these words, the sempstress raised her eyes anxiously,
fearing that Mdlle. de Cardoville might have forgotten the name of the
workman.  But, to her great surprise and joy, the fears of Adrienne
seemed to diminish at the name of Agricola, and approaching the fence,
she looked at the speaker with benevolent curiosity.

"You come from M. Agricola Baudoin?" said she.  "Who are you?"

"His adopted sister, madame--a poor needlewoman, who lives in the same

Adrienne appeared to collect her thoughts, and said, smiling kindly,
after a moment's silence: "It was you then, who persuaded M. Agricola to
apply to me to procure him bail?"

"Oh, madame, do you remember--"

"I never forget anything that is generous and noble.  M. Agricola was
much affected when he spoke of your devotion.  I remember it well; it
would be strange if I did not.  But how came you here, in this convent?"

"They told me that I should perhaps be able to get some occupation here,
as I am out of work.  Unfortunately, I have been refused by the lady

"And how did you recognize me?"

"By your great beauty, madame, of which Agricola had told me."

"Or rather by this," said Adrienne, smiling as she lifted, with the tips
of her rosy fingers, one end of a long, silky ringlet of golden hair.

"You must pardon Agricola, madame," said the sewing girl, with one of
those half smiles, which rarely settled on her lips: "he is a poet, and
omitted no single perfection in the respectful and admiring description
which he gave of his protectress."

"And what induced you to come and speak to me?"

"The hope of being useful to you, madame.  You received Agricola with so
much goodness, that I have ventured to go shares in his gratitude."

"You may well venture to do so, my dear girl," said Adrienne, with
ineffable grace; "until now, unfortunately, I have only been able to
serve your adopted brother by intention."

As they exchanged these words, Adrienne and Mother Bunch looked at each
other with increasing surprise.  The latter was, first of all, astonished
that a person who passed for mad should express herself as Adrienne did;
next, she was amazed at the ease and freedom with which she herself
answered the questions of Mdlle. de Cardoville--not knowing that the
latter was endowed with the precious privilege of lofty and benevolent
natures, to draw out from those who approached her whatever sympathized
with herself.  On her side, Mdlle. de Cardoville was deeply moved and
astonished to hear this young, low-born girl, dressed almost like a
beggar, express herself in terms selected with so much propriety.  The
more she looked at her, the more the feeling of repugnance she at first
experienced wore off, and was at length converted into quite the opposite
sentiment.  With that rapid and minute power of observation natural to
women, she remarked beneath the black crape of Mother Bunch's cap, the
smoothness and brilliancy of the fair, chestnut hair.  She remarked, too,
the whiteness of the long, thin hand, though it displayed itself at the
end of a patched and tattered sleeve--an infallible proof that care, and
cleanliness, and self-respect were at least struggling against symptoms
of fearful distress.  Adrienne discovered, also, in the pale and
melancholy features, in the expression of the blue eyes, at once
intelligent, mild and timid, a soft and modest dignity, which made one
forget the deformed figure.  Adrienne loved physical beauty, and admired
it passionately, but she had too superior a mind, too noble a soul, too
sensitive a heart, not to know how to appreciate moral beauty, even when
it beamed from a humble and suffering countenance.  Only, this kind of
appreciation was new to Mdlle. de Cardoville; until now, her large
fortune and elegant habits had kept her at a distance from persons of
Mother Bunch's class.  After a short silence, during which the fair
patrician and the poor work-girl had closely examined each other,
Adrienne said to the other: "It is easy, I think, to explain the cause of
our mutual astonishment.  You have, no doubt, discovered that I speak
pretty reasonably for a mad woman--if they have told you I am one.  And
I," added Mdlle. de Cardoville, in a tone of respectful commiseration,
"find that the delicacy of your language and manners so singularly
contrast with the position in which you appear to be, that my surprise
must be even greater than yours."

"Ah, madame!" cried Mother Bunch, with a welling forth of such deep and
sincere joy that the tears started to her eyes; "is it true?--they have
deceived me--you are not mad!  Just now, when I beheld you so kind and
beautiful, when I heard the sweet tone of your voice, I could not believe
that such a misfortune had happened to you.  But, alas! how is it then,
madame, that you are in this place?"

"Poor child!" said Adrienne, touched by the affectionate interest of this
excellent creature; "and how is it that you, with such a heart and head,
should be in such distress?  But be satisfied!  I shall not always be
here--and that will suffice to tell you, that we shall both resume the
place which becomes us.  Believe me, I shall never forget how, in spite
of the painful ideas which must needs occupy your mind, on seeing
yourself deprived of work--your only resource--you have still thought of
coming to me, and of trying to serve me.  You may, indeed, be eminently
useful to me, and I am delighted at it, for then I shall owe you much--
and you shall see how I will take advantage of my gratitude!" said
Adrienne, with a sweet smile.  "But," resumed she, "before talking of
myself, let us think of others.  Is your adopted brother still in

"By this time, madame, I hope he has obtained his freedom; thanks to the
generosity of one of his comrades.  His father went yesterday to offer
bail for him, and they promised that he should be released to-day.  But,
from his prison, he wrote to me, that he had something of importance to
reveal to you."

"To me?"

"Yes, madame.  Should Agricola be released immediately by what means can
he communicate with you?"

"He has secrets to tell me!" resumed Mdlle. de Cardoville, with an air of
thoughtful surprise.  "I seek in vain to imagine what they can be; but so
long as I am confined in this house, and secluded from every one, M.
Agricola must not think of addressing himself directly or indirectly to
me.  He must wait till I am at liberty; but that is not all, he must
deliver from that convent two poor children, who are much more to be
pitied than I am.  The daughters of Marshal Simon are detained there
against their will."

"You know their name, madame?"

"When M. Agricola informed me of their arrival in Paris, he told me they
were fifteen years old, and that they resembled each other exactly--so
that, the day before yesterday, when I took my accustomed walk, and
observed two poor little weeping faces come close to the windows of their
separate cells, one on the ground floor, the other on the first story, a
secret presentiment told me that I saw in them the orphans of whom M.
Agricola had spoken, and in whom I already took a lively interest, as
being my relations."

"They are your relations, madame, then?"

"Yes, certainly.  So, not being able to do more, I tried to express by
signs how much I felt for them.  Their tears, and the sadness of their
charming faces, sufficiently told me that they were prisoners in the
convent, as I am myself in this house."

"Oh!  I understand, madame--the victim of the animosity of your family?"

"Whatever may be my fate, I am much less to be pitied than these two
children, whose despair is really alarming.  Their separation is what
chiefly oppresses them.  By some words that one of them just now said to
me, I see that they are, like me, the victims of an odious machination.
But thanks to you, it will be possible to save them: Since I have been in
this house I have had no communication with any one; they have not
allowed me pen or paper, so it is impossible to write.  Now listen to me
attentively, and we shall be able to defeat an odious persecution."

"Oh, speak! speak, madame!"

"The soldier, who brought these orphans to France, the father of M.
Agricola, is still in town?"

"Yes, madame.  Oh! if you only knew his fury, his despair, when, on his
return home, he no longer found the children that a dying mother had
confided to him!"

"He must take care not to act with the least violence.  It would ruin
all.  Take this ring," said Adrienne, drawing it from her finger, "and
give it to him.  He must go instantly--are you sure that you can remember
a name and address?"

"Oh! yes, madame.  Be satisfied on that point.  Agricola only mentioned
your name once, and I have not forgotten it.  There is a memory of the

"I perceive it, my dear girl.  Remember, then, the name of the Count de

"The Count de Montbron--I shall not forget."

"He is one of my good old friends, and lives on the Place Vendome, No.

"Place Vendome, No. 7--I shall remember."

"M. Agricola's father must go to him this evening, and, if he is not at
home, wait for his coming in.  He must ask to speak to him, as if from
me, and send him this ring as a proof of what he says.  Once with him, he
must tell him all--the abduction of the girls, the name of the convent
where they are confined, and my own detention as a lunatic in the asylum
of Dr. Baleinier.  Truth has an accent of its own, which M. de Montbron
will recognize.  He is a man of much experience and judgment, and
possessed of great influence.  He will immediately take the necessary
steps, and to-morrow, or the day after, these poor orphans and myself
will be restored to liberty--all thanks to you!  But moments are
precious; we might be discovered; make haste, dear child!"

At the moment of drawing back, Adrienne said to Mother Bunch, with so
sweet a smile and affectionate a tone, that it was impossible not to

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