List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V4, by Eugene Sue
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Seized with terror, the sempstress could not forbear exclaiming: "Good
gracious, M. Dagobert! what are you going to do?"

The soldier looked at her as if he only now perceived her for the first
time, and said to her in a cordial, but abrupt voice: "Good-evening, my
good girl!  What is the time?"

"Eight o'clock has just struck at Saint-Mery's, M. Dagobert."

"Eight o'clock," said the soldier, speaking to himself; "only eight!"

Placing the pistols by the side of the iron bar, he appeared again to
reflect, while he cast his eyes around him.

"M. Dagobert," ventured the girl, "you have not, then, good news?"

"No."

That single word was uttered by the soldier in so sharp a tone, that, not
daring to question him further, Mother Bunch sat down in silence.  Spoil-
sport came to lean his head on the knees of the girl, and followed the
movements of Dagobert with as much curiosity as herself.

After remaining for some moments pensive and silent, the soldier
approached the bed, took a sheet from it, appeared to measure its length,
and then said, turning towards Mother Bunch: "The scissors!"

"But, M. Dagobert--"

"Come, my good girl! the scissors!" replied Dagobert, in a kind tone, but
one that commanded obedience.  The sempstress took the scissors from
Frances' work-basket, and presented them to the soldier.

"Now, hold the other end of the sheet, my girl, and draw it out tight."

In a few minutes, Dagobert had cut the sheet into four strips, which he
twisted in the fashion of cords, fastening them here and there with bits
of tape, so as to preserve the twist, and tying them strongly together,
so as to make a rope of about twenty feet long.  This, however, did not
suffice him, for he said to himself: "Now I must have a hook."

Again he looked around him, and Mother Bunch, more and more frightened,
for she now no longer doubted Dagobert's designs, said to him timidly:
"M. Dagobert, Agricola has not yet come in.  It may be some good news
that makes him so late."

"Yes," said the soldier, bitterly, as he continued to cast round his eyes
in search of something he wanted; "good news like mine!  But I must have
a strong iron hook."

Still looking about, he found one of the coarse, gray sacks, that Frances
was accustomed to make.  He took it, opened it, and said to the work-
girl: "Put me the iron bar and the cord into this bag, my girl.  It will
be easier to carry."

"Heavens!" cried she, obeying his directions; "you will not go without
seeing Agricola, M. Dagobert?  He may perhaps have some good news to tell
you."

"Be satisfied!  I shall wait for my boy.  I need not start before ten
o'clock--so I have time."

"Alas, M. Dagobert! have you last all hope?"

"On the contrary.  I have good hope--but in myself."

So saying, Dagobert twisted the upper end of the sack, for the purpose of
closing it, and placed it on the drawers, by the side of his pistols.

"At all events, you will wait for Agricola, M. Dagobert?"

"Yes, if he arrives before ten o'clock."

"Alas; you have then quite made up your mind?"

"Quite.  And yet, if I were weak enough to believe in bad omens--"

"Sometimes, M. Dagobert, omens do not deceive one," said the girl, hoping
to induce the soldier to abandon his dangerous resolution.

"Yes," resumed Dagobert; "old women say so--and, although I am not an old
woman, what I saw just now weighed heavily on my heart.  After all, I may
have taken a feeling of anger for a presentiment."

"What have you seen?"

"I will tell it you, my good girl; it may help to pass the time, which
appears long enough."  Then, interrupting himself, he exclaimed: "Was it
the half hour that just struck?"

"Yes, M. Dagobert; it is half-past eight."

"Still an hour and a half," said Dagobert, in a hollow voice.  "This," he
added, "is what I saw.  As I came along the street, my notice was
attracted by a large red placard, at the head of which was a black
panther devouring a white horse.  That sight gave me a turn, for you must
know, my good girl, that a black panther destroyed a poor old white horse
that I had, Spoil-sport's companion, whose name was Jovial."

At the sound of this name, once so familiar, Spoil-sport, who was
crouching at the workwoman's feet, raised his head hastily, and looked at
Dagobert.

"You see that beasts have memory--he recollects," said the soldier,
sighing himself at the remembrance.  Then, addressing his dog he added:
"Dost remember Jovial?"

On hearing this name a second time pronounced by his master, in a voice
of emotion, Spoil-sport gave a low whine, as if to indicate that he had
not forgotten his old travelling companion.

"It was, indeed, a melancholy incident, M. Dagobert," said Mother Bunch,
"to find upon this placard a panther devouring a horse."

"That is nothing to what's to come; you shall hear the rest.  I drew near
the bill, and read in it, that one Morok, just arrived from Germany, is
about to exhibit in a theatre different wild beasts that he tamed, among
others a splendid lion, a tiger, and a black Java panther named Death."

"What an awful name!" said the hearer.

"You will think it more awful, my child, when I tell you, that this is
the very panther which strangled my horse at Leipsic, four months ago."

"Good Heaven! you are right, M. Dagobert," said the girl, "it is awful."

"Wait a little," said Dagobert, whose countenance was growing more and
more gloomy, "that is not all.  It was by means of this very Morok, the
owner of the panther, that I and my poor children were imprisoned in
Leipsic."

"And this wicked man is in Paris, and wishes you evil?" said Mother
Bunch.  "Oh! you are right, M. Dagobert; you must take care of yourself;
it is a bad omen."

"For him, if I catch him," said Dagobert, in a hollow tone.  "We have old
accounts to settle."

"M. Dagobert," cried Mother Bunch, listening; "some one is running up the
stairs.  It is Agricola's footsteps.  I am sure he has good news."

"That will just do," said the soldier, hastily, without answering.
"Agricola is a smith.  He will be able to find me the iron hook."

A few moments after, Agricola entered the room; but, alas! the sempstress
perceived at the first glance, in the dejected countenance of the
workman, the ruin of her cherished hopes.

"Well!" said Dagobert to his son, in a tone which clearly announced the
little faith he attached to the steps taken by Agricola; "well, what
news?"

"Father, it is enough to drive one mad--to make one dash one's brains out
against the wall!" cried the smith in a rage.

Dagobert turned towards Mother Bunch, and said: "You see, my poor child--
I was sure of it."

"Well, father," cried Agricola; "have you seen the Court de Montbron?"

"The Count de Montbron set out for Lorraine three days ago.  That is my
good news," continued the soldier, with bitter irony; "let us have yours-
-I long to know all.  I need to know, if, on appealing to the laws,
which, as you told me, protect and defend honest people, it ever happens
that the rogues get the best of it.  I want to know this, and then I want
an iron hook--so I count upon you for both."

"What do you mean, father?"

"First, tell me what you have done.  We have time.  It is not much more
than half-past eight.  On leaving me, where did you go first?"

"To the commissary, who had already received your depositions."

"What did he say to you?"

"After having very kindly listened to all I had to state, he answered,
that these young girls were placed in a respectable house, a convent--so
that there did not appear any urgent necessity for their immediate
removal--and besides, he could not take upon himself to violate the
sanctity of a religious dwelling upon your simple testimony; to-morrow,
he will make his report to the proper authorities, and steps will be
taken accordingly."

"Yes, yes--plenty of put offs," said the soldier.

"`But, sir,' answered I to him," resumed Agricola, "`it is now, this very
night, that you ought to act, for if these young girls should not be
present to-morrow morning in the Rue Saint Francois, their interests may
suffer incalculable damage.  `I am very sorry for it,' replied he, `but I
cannot, upon your simple declaration, or that of your father, who--like
yourself--is no relation or connection of these young persons, act in
direct opposition to forms, which could not be set aside, even on the
demand of a family.  The law has its delays and its formalities, to which
we are obliged to submit.'"

"Certainly!" said Dagobert.  "We must submit to them, at the risk of
becoming cowardly, ungrateful traitors!"

"Didst speak also of Mdlle. de Cardoville to him?" asked the work-girl.

"Yes--but he: answered me on this subject in much the same manner: `It
was very serious; there was no proof in support of my deposition.  A
third party had told me that Mdlle. de Cardoville affirms she was not
mad; but all mad people pretend to be sane.  He could not, therefore,
upon my sole testimony, take upon himself to enter the house of a
respectable physician.  But he would report upon it, and the law would
have its course--'"

"When I wished to act just now for myself," said Dagobert, "did I not
forsee all this?  And yet I was weak enough to listen to you."

"But, father, what you wished to attempt was impossible,, and you agreed
that it would expose you to far too dangerous consequences."

"So," resumed the soldier, without answering his son, "they told you in
plain terms, that we must not think of obtaining legally the release of
Rose and Blanche this evening or even to-morrow morning?"

"Yes, father.  In the eyes of the law, there is no special urgency.  The
question may not be decided for two or three days."

"That is all I wished to know," said Dagobert, rising and walking up and
down the room.

"And yet," resumed his son, "I did not consider myself beaten.  In
despair, but believing that justice could not remain deaf to such
equitable claims, I ran to the Palais de Justice, hoping to find there a
judge, a magistrate who would receive my complaint, and act upon it."

"Well?" said the soldier, stopping him.

"I was told that the courts shut every day at five o'clock, and do not
open again til ten in the morning.  Thinking of your despair, and of the
position of poor Mdlle. de Cardoville, I determined to make one more
attempt.  I entered a guard-house of troops of the line, commanded by a
lieutenant.  I told him all.  He saw that I was so much moved, and I
spoke with such warmth and conviction, that he became interested.--
`Lieutenant,' said I to him, `grant me one favor; let a petty officer and
two soldiers go to the convent to obtain a legal entrance.  Let them ask
to see the daughters of Marshal Simon, and learn whether it is their
choice to remain, or return to my father, who brought them from Russia.
You will then see if they are not detained against their will--'"

"And what answer did he give you, Agricola?" asked Mother Bunch, while
Dagobert shrugged his shoulders, and continued to walk up and down.

"`My good fellow,' said he, `what you ask me is impossible.  I understand
your motives, but I cannot take upon myself so serious a measure.  I
should be broke were I to enter a convent by force.--`Then, sir, what am
I to do?  It is enough to turn one's head.'--'Faith, I don't know,' said
the lieutenant; `it will be safest, I think, to wait.'--Then, believing I
had done all that was possible, father, I resolved to come back, in the
hope that you might have been more fortunate than I--but, alas!  I was
deceived!"

So saying, the smith sank upon a chair, for he was worn out with anxiety
and fatigue.  There was a moment of profound silence after these words of
Agricola, which destroyed the last hopes of the three, mute and crushed
beneath the strokes of inexorable fatality.

A new incident came to deepen the sad and painful character of this
scene.




CHAPTER XI.

DISCOVERIES.

The door which Agricola had not thought of fastening opened, as it were,
timidly, and Frances Baudoin, Dagobert's wife, pale, sinking, hardly able
to support herself, appeared on the threshold.

The soldier, Agricola, and Mother Bunch, were plunged in such deep
dejection, that neither of them at first perceived the entrance.  Frances
advanced two steps into the room, fell upon her knees, clasped her hands
together, and said in a weak and humble voice; "My poor husband--pardon!"

At these words, Agricola and the work-girl--whose backs were towards the
door--turned round suddenly, and Dagobert hastily raised his head.

"My mother!" cried Agricola, running to Frances.

"My wife!" cried Dagobert, as he also rose, and advanced to meet the
unfortunate woman.

"On your knees, dear mother!" said Agricola, stooping down to embrace her
affectionately.  "Get up, I entreat you!"

"No, my child," said Frances, in her mild, firm accents, "I will not
rise, till your father has forgiven me.  I have wronged him much--now I
know it."

"Forgive you, my poor wife?" said the soldier, as he drew near with
emotion.  "Have I ever accused you, except in my first transport of
despair?  No, no; it was the bad priests that I accused, and there I was
right.  Well! I have you again," added he, assisting his son to raise
Frances; "one grief the less.  They have then restored you to liberty?
Yesterday, I could not even learn in what prison they had put you.  I
have so many cares that I could not think of you only.  But come, dear
wife: sit down!"

"How feeble you are, dear mother!--how cold--how pale!" said Agricola
with anguish, his eyes filling with tears.

"Why did you not let us know?" added he.  "We would have gone to fetch
you.  But how you tremble!  Your hands are frozen!" continued the smith,
as he knelt down before Frances.  Then, turning towards Mother Bunch:
"Pray, make a little fire directly."

"I thought of it, as soon as your father came in, Agricola, but there is
no wood nor charcoal left."

"Then pray borrow some of Father Loriot, my dear sister.  He is too good
a fellow to refuse.  My poor mother trembles so--she might fall ill."

Hardly had he said the words, than Mother Bunch went out.  The smith rose
from the ground, took the blanket from the bed, and carefully wrapped it
about the knees and feet of his mother.  Then, again kneeling down, he
said to her: "Your hands, dear mother!" and, taking those feeble palms in
his own, he tried to warm them with his breath.

Nothing could be more touching than this picture: the robust young man,
with his energetic and resolute countenance, expressing by his looks the
greatest tenderness, and paying the most delicate attentions to his poor,
pale, trembling old mother.

Dagobert, kind-hearted as his son, went to fetch a pillow, and brought it
to his wife, saying: "Lean forward a little, and I will put this pillow
behind you; you will be more comfortable and warmer."

"How you both spoil me!" said Frances, trying to smile.  "And you to be
so kind, after all the ill I have done!" added she to Dagobert, as,
disengaging one of her hands from those of her son, she took the
soldier's hand and pressed it to her tearful eyes.  "In prison," said she

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