List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V4, by Eugene Sue
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believe her sincere: "M. Agricola told me that I had a heart like yours.
I now understand how honorable, how flattering those words were for me.
Pray, give me your hand!" added Mdlle. de Cardoville, whose eyes were
filling with tears; and, passing her beautiful hand through an opening in
the fence, she offered it to the other.  The words and the gesture of the
fair patrician were full of so much real cordiality, that the sempstress,
with no false shame, placed tremblingly her own poor thin hand in
Adrienne's, while the latter, with a feeling of pious respect, lifted it
spontaneously to her lips, and said: "Since I cannot embrace you as my
sister, let me at least kiss this hand, ennobled by labor!"

Suddenly, footsteps were heard in the garden of Dr. Baleinier; Adrienne
withdrew abruptly, and disappeared behind some trees, saying: "Courage,
memory, and hope!"

All this had passed so rapidly that the young workwoman had no time to
speak or move; tears, sweet tears, flowed abundantly down her pale
cheeks.  For a young lady, like Adrienne de Cardoville, to treat her as a
sister, to kiss her hand, to tell her that she was proud to resemble her
in heart--her, a poor creature, vegetating in the lowest abyss of misery-
-was to show a spirit of fraternal equality, divine, as the gospel words.

There are words and impressions which make a noble soul forget years of
suffering, and which, as by a sudden flash, reveal to it something of its
own worth and grandeur.  Thus it was with the hunchback.  Thanks to this
generous speech, she was for a moment conscious of her own value.  And
though this feeling was rapid as it was ineffable, she clasped her hands
and raised her eyes to heaven with an expression of fervent gratitude;
for, if the poor sempstress did not practise, to use the jargon of
ultramontane cant, no one was more richly endowed with that deep
religious sentiment, which is to mere dogmas what the immensity of the
starry heaven is to the vaulted roof of a church.

Five minutes after quitting Mdlle. de Cardoville, Mother Bunch, having
left the garden without being perceived, reascended to the first story,
and knocked gently at the door of the press-room.  A sister came to open
the door to her.

"Is not Mdlle. Florine, with whom I came, still here, sister?" asked the

"She could not wait for you any longer.  No doubt, you have come from our
mother the superior?"

"Yes, yes, sister," answered the sempstress, casting down her eyes;
"would you have the goodness to show me the way out?"

"Come with me."

The sewing-girl followed the nun, trembling at every step lest she should
meet the superior, who would naturally have inquired the cause of her
long stay in the convent.

At length the inner gate closed upon Mother Bunch.  Passing rapidly
across the vast court-yard and approaching the porter's lodge, to ask him
to let her out, she heard these words pronounced in a gruff voice: "It
seems, old Jerome, that we are to be doubly on our guard to-night.  Well,
I shall put two extra balls in my gun.  The superior says we are to make
two rounds instead of one."

"I want no gun, Nicholas," said the other voice; "I have my sharp scythe,
a true gardener's weapon--and none the worse for that."

Feeling an involuntary uneasiness at these words, which she had heard by
mere chance, Mother Bunch approached the porter's lodge, and asked him to
open the outer gate.

"Where do you come from?" challenged the porter, leaning half way out of
his lodge, with a double barrelled gun, which he was occupied in loading,
in his hand, and at the same time examining the sempstress with a
suspicious air.

"I come from speaking to the superior," answered Mother Bunch timidly.

"Is that true?" said Nicholas roughly.  "You look like a sanctified
scarecrow.  Never mind.  Make haste and cut!"

The gate opened, and Mother Bunch went out.  Hardly had she gone a few
steps in the sweet, when, to her great surprise, she saw the dog Spoil-
sport run up to her, and his master, Dagobert, a little way behind him,
arriving also with precipitation.  She was hastening to meet the soldier,
when a full, sonorous voice exclaimed from a little distance: "Oh my good
sister!" which caused the girl to turn round.  From the opposite side to
that whence Dagobert was coming, she saw Agricola hurrying towards the



At the sight of Dagobert and Agricola, Mother Bunch remained motionless
with surprise, a few steps from the convent-gate.  The soldier had not
yet perceived the sempstress.  He advanced rapidly, following the dog,
who though lean, half-starved, rough-coated, and dirty, seemed to frisk
with pleasure, as he turned his intelligent face towards his master, to
whom he had gone back, after caressing Mother Bunch.

"Yes, yes; I understand you, old fellow!" said the soldier, with emotion.
"You are more faithful than I was; you did not leave the dear children
for a minute.  Yes, you followed them, and watched day and night, without
food, at the door of the house to which they were taken--and, at length,
weary of waiting to see them come forth, ran home to fetch me.  Yes;
whilst I was giving way to despair, like a furious madman, you were doing
what I ought to have done--discovering their retreat.  What does it all
prove?  Why, that beasts are better than men--which is well known.  Well,
at length I shall see them again.  When I think that tomorrow is the
13th, and that without you, my did Spoil-sport, all would be lost--it
makes me shudder.  But I say, shall we soon be there?  What a deserted
quarter! and night coming on!"

Dagobert had held this discourse to Spoil-sport, as he walked along
following the good dog, who kept on at a rapid pace.  Suddenly, seeing
the faithful animal start aside with a bound, he raised his eyes, and
perceived the dog frisking about the hunchback and Agricola, who had just
met at a little distance from the convent-gate.

"Mother Bunch?" exclaimed both father and son, as they approached the
young workwoman, and looked at her with extreme surprise.

"There is good hope, M. Dagobert," said she with inexpressible joy.
"Rose and Blanche are found!"  Then, turning towards the smith, she
added, "There is good hope, Agricola:  Mdlle. de Cardoville is not mad.
I have just seen her."

"She is not mad? what happiness!" exclaimed the smith.

"The children!" cried Dagobert, trembling with emotion, as he took the
work-girl's hands in his own.  "You have seen them?"

"Yes; just now--very sad--very unhappy--but I was not able to speak to

"Oh!" said Dagobert, stopping as if suffocated by the news, and pressing
his hands on his bosom; "I never thought that my old heart could beat
so!--And yet, thanks to my dog, I almost expected what has taken place.
Anyhow, I am quite dizzy with joy."

"Well, father, it's a good day," said Agricola, looking gratefully at the

"Kiss me, my dear child!" added the soldier, as he pressed Mother Bunch
affectionately in his arms; then, full of impatience, he added: "Come,
let us go and fetch the children."

"Ah, my good sister!" said Agricola, deeply moved; "you will restore
peace, perhaps life, to my father--and Mdlle. de Cardoville--but how do
you know?"

"A mere chance.  And how did you come here?"

"Spoil-sport stops and barks," cried Dagobert, who had already made
several steps in advance.

Indeed the dog, who was as impatient as his master to see the orphans,
and far better informed as to the place of their retreat, had posted
himself at the convent gate, and was beginning to bark, to attract the
attention of Dagobert.  Understanding his dog, the latter said to the
hunchback, as he pointed in that direction with his finger: "The children
are there?"

"Yes, M. Dagobert."

I was sure of it.  Good dog!--Oh, yes! beasts are better than men--except
you, my dear girl, who are better than either man or beast.  But my poor
children! I shall see them, I shall have them once more!"

So saying, Dagobert, in spite of his age, began to run very fast towards
Spoil-sport.  "Agricola," cried Mother Bunch, "prevent thy father from
knocking at that door.  He would ruin all."

In two strides, the smith had reached his father, just as the latter was
raising his hand to the knocker.  "Stop, father!" cried the smith, as he
seized Dagobert by the arm.

"What the devil is it now?"

"Mother Bunch says that to knock would ruin all."

"How so?"

"She will explain it to you."  Although not so nimble as Agricola, Mother
Bunch soon came up, and said to the soldier: "M. Dagobert, do not let us
remain before this gate.  They might open it, and see us; and that would
excite suspicion.  Let us rather go away--"

"Suspicion!" cried the veteran, much surprised, but without moving from
the gate; "what suspicion?"

"I conjure you, do not remain there!" said Mother Bunch, with so much
earnestness, that Agricola joined her, and said to his father: "Since
sister rashes it, father, she has some reason for it.  The Boulevard de
l'Hopital is a few steps from here; nobody passes that way; we can talk
there without being interrupted."

"Devil take me if I understand a word of all this!" cried Dagobert,
without moving from his post.  "The children are here, and I will fetch
them away with me.  It is an affair of ten minutes."

"Do not think that, M. Dagobert," said Mother Bunch.  "It is much more
difficult than you imagine.  But come! come!--I can hear them talk in the

In fact, the sound of voices was now distinctly audible.  "Come father!"
said Agricola, forcing away the soldier, almost in spite of himself.
Spoil-sport, who appeared much astonished at these hesitations, barked
two or three times without quitting his post, as if to protest against
this humiliating retreat; but, being called by Dagobert, he hastened to
rejoin the main body.

It was now about five o'clock in the evening.  A high wind swept thick
masses of grayish, rainy cloud rapidly across the sky.  The Boulevard de
l'Hopital, which bordered on this portion of the convent-garden, was, as
we before said, almost deserted.  Dagobert, Agricola, and the serving-
girl could hold a private conference in this solitary place.

The soldier did not disguise the extreme impatience that these delays
occasioned in him.  Hardly had they turned the corner of the street, when
he said to Mother Bunch: "Come, my child, explain yourself.  I am upon
hot coals."

"The house in which the daughters of Marshal Simon are confined is a
convent, M. Dagobert."

"A convent!" cried the soldier: "I might have suspected it."  Then he
added: "Well, what then?  I will fetch them from a convent as soon as
from any other place.  Once is not always."

"But, M. Dagobert, they are confined against their will and against
yours.  They will not give them up."

"They will not give them up?  Zounds! we will see about that."  And he
made a step towards the street.

"Father," said Agricola, holding him back, "one moment's patience; let us
hear all."

"I will hear nothing.  What! the children are there--two steps from me--I
know it--and I shall not have them, either by fair means or foul?  Oh!
that would indeed be curious.  Let me go."

"Listen to me, I beseech you, M. Dagobert," said Mother Bunch, taking his
hand: "there is another way to deliver these poor children.  And that
without violence--for violence, as Mdlle. de Cardoville told me, would
ruin all."

"If there is any other way--quick--let me know it!"

"Here is a ring of Mdlle. de Cardoville's."

"And who is this Mdlle. de Cardoville?"

"Father," said Agricola, "it is the generous young lady, who offered to
be my bail, and to whom I have very important matters to communicate."

"Good, good," replied Dagobert; "we will talk of that presently.  Well,
my dear girl--this ring?"

"You must take it directly, M. Dagobert, to the Count de Montbron, No.
7, Place Vendome.  He appears to be a person of influence, and is a
friend of Mdlle. de Cardoville's.  This ring will prove that you come on
her behalf, and you will tell him, that she is confined as a lunatic in
the asylum next door to this convent, in which the daughters of Marshal
Simon are detained against their will."

"Well, well--what next?"

"Then the Count de Montbron will take the proper steps with persons in
authority, to restore both Mdlle. de Cardoville and the daughters of
Marshal Simon to liberty--and perhaps, to-morrow, or the day after--"

"To-morrow or the day after!" cried Dagobert; "perhaps?--It is to-day, on
the instant, that I must have them.  The day after to-morrow would be of
much use!  Thanks, my good girl, but keep your ring: I will manage my own
business.  Wait for me here, my boy."

"What are you going to do, father?" cried Agricola, still holding back
the soldier.  "It is a convent, remember."

"You are only a raw recruit; I have my theory of convents at my fingers'
end.  In Spain, I have put it in practice a hundred times.  Here is what
will happen.  I knock; a portress opens the door to me; she asks me what
I want, but I make no answer; she tries to stop me, but I pass on; once
in the convent, I walk over it from top to bottom, calling my children
with all my might."

"But, M. Dagobert, the nuns?" said Mother Bunch, still trying to detain
the soldier.

"The nuns run after me, screaming like so many magpies.  I know them.  At
Seville I fetched out an Andalusian girl, whom they were trying to keep
by force.  Well, I walk about the convent calling for Rose and Blanche.
They hear me, and answer.  If they are shut in, I take the first piece of
furniture that comes to hand, and break open the door."

"But, M. Dagobert--the nuns--the nuns?"

"The nuns, with all their squalling, will not prevent my breaking open
the door, seizing my children in my arms, and carrying them off.  Should
the outer door be shut, there will be a second smash--that's all.  So,"
added Dagobert, disengaging himself from the grasp, "wait for me here.
In ten minutes I shall be back again.  Go and get a hackney-coach ready,
my boy."

More calm than Dagobert, and, above all, better informed as to the
provisions of the Penal Code, Agricola was alarmed at the consequences
that might attend the veteran's strange mode of proceeding.  So, throwing
himself before him, he exclaimed: "One word more, I entreat you."

"Zounds! make haste!"

"If you attempt to enter the convent by force, you will ruin all."

"How so?"

"First of all, M. Dagobert," said Mother Bunch, "there are men in the
convent.  As I came out just now, I saw the porter loading his gun, and
heard the gardener talking of his sharp scythe, and the rounds he was to
make at night."

"Much I care for a porter's gun and a gardener's scythe!"

"Well, father; but listen to me a moment, I conjure you.  Suppose you
knock, and the door is opened--the porter will ask you what you want.'

"I tell him that I wish to speak to the superior, and so walk into the

"But, M. Dagobert," said Mother Bunch, "when once you have crossed the
court-yard, you reach a second door, with a wicket.  A nun comes to it,

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