List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V4, by Eugene Sue
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in a low voice, "I had time to repent."

Agricola's heart was near breaking at the thought that his pious and good
mother, with her angelic purity, should for a moment have been confined
in prison with so many miserable creatures.  He would have made some
attempt to console her on the subject of the painful past, but he feared
to give a new shock to Dagobert, and was silent.

"Where is Gabriel, dear mother?" inquired he.  "How is he?  As you have
seen him, tell us all about him."

"I have seen Gabriel," said Frances, drying her tears; "he is confined at
home.  His superiors have rigorously forbidden his going out.  Luckily,
they did not prevent his receiving me, for his words and counsels have
opened my eyes to many things.  It is from him that I learned how guilty
I had been to you, my poor husband."

"How so?" asked Dagobert.

"Why, you know that if I caused you so much grief, it was not from
wickedness.  When I saw you in such despair, I suffered almost as much
myself; but I durst not tell you so, for fear of breaking my oath.  I had
resolved to keep it, believing that I did well, believing that it was my
duty.  And yet something told me that it could not be my duty to cause
you so much pain.  `Alas, my God!  enlighten me!' I exclaimed in my
prison, as I knelt down and prayed, in spite of the mockeries of the
other women.  `Why should a just and pious work, commanded by my
confessor, the most respectable of men, overwhelm me and mine with so
much misery?  `Have mercy on me, my God, and teach me if I have done
wrong without knowing it!' As I prayed with fervor, God heard me, and
inspired me with the idea of applying to Gabriel.  `I thank Thee, Father!
I will obey!' said I within myself.  'Gabriel is like my own child; but
he is also a priest, a martyr--almost a saint.  If any one in the world
imitates the charity of our blessed Saviour, it is surely he.  When I
leave this prison, I will go and consult him and he will clear up my

"You are right, dear mother," cried Agricola; "it was a thought from
heaven.  Gabriel is an angel of purity, courage, nobleness--the type of
the true and good priest!"

"Ah, poor wife!" said Dagobert, with bitterness; "if you had never had
any confessor but Gabriel!"

"I thought of it before he went on his journey," said Frances, with
simplicity.  "I should have liked to confess to the dear boy--but I
fancied Abbe Dubois would be offended, and that Gabriel would be too
indulgent with regard to my sins.

"Your sins, poor dear mother?" said Agricola.  "As if you ever committed

"And what did Gabriel tell you?" asked the soldier.

"Alas, my dear! had I but had such an interview with him sooner!  What I
told him of Abbe Dubois roused his suspicions, and he questioned me, dear
child, as to many things of which he had never spoken to me before.  Then
I opened to him my whole heart, and he did the same to me, and we both
made sad discoveries with regard to persons whom we had always thought
very respectable, and who yet had deceived each of us, unknown to the

"How so?"

"Why, they used to tell him, under the seal of secrecy, things that were
supposed to come from me; and they used to tell me, under the same seal
of secrecy, things that were supposed to come from him.  Thus, he
confessed to me, that he did not feel at first any vocation for the
priesthood; but they told him that I should not believe myself safe in
this world or in the next, if he did not take orders, because I felt
persuaded that I could best serve the Lord by giving Him so good a
servant; and that yet I had never dared to ask Gabriel himself to give me
this proof of his attachment, though I had taken him from the street, a
deserted orphan, and brought him up as my own son, at the cost of labor
and privations.  Then, how could it be otherwise?  The poor dear child,
thinking he could please me, sacrificed himself.  He entered the

"Horrible," said Agricola; "'tis an infamous snare, and, for the priests
who were guilty of it, a sacrilegious lie!"

"During all that time," resumed Frances, "they were holding very
different language to me.  I was told that Gabriel felt his vocation, but
that he durst not avow it to me, for fear of my being jealous on account
of Agricola, who, being brought up as a workman, would not enjoy the same
advantages as those which the priesthood would secure to Gabriel.  So
when he asked my permission to enter the seminary dear child! he entered
it with regret, but he thought he was making me so happy!--instead of
discouraging this idea, I did all in my power to persuade him to follow
it, assuring him that he could not do better, and that it would occasion
me great joy.  You understand, I exaggerated, for fear he should think me
jealous on account of Agricola."

"What an odious machination!" said Agricola, in amazement.  "They were
speculating in this unworthy manner upon your mutual devotion.  Thus
Gabriel saw the expression of your dearest wish in the almost forced
encouragement given to his resolution."

"Little by little, however, as Gabriel has the best heart in the world,
the vocation really came to him.  That was natural enough--he was born to
console those who suffer, and devote himself for the unfortunate.  He
would never have spoken to me of the past, had it not been for this
morning's interview.  But then I beheld him, who is usually so mild and
gentle, become indignant, exasperated, against M. Rodin and another
person whom he accuses.  He had serious complaints against them already,
but these discoveries, he says, will make up the measure."

At these words of Frances, Dagobert pressed his hand to his forehead, as
if to recall something to his memory.  For some minutes he had listened
with surprise, and almost terror, to the account of these secret plots,
conducted with such deep and crafty dissimulation.

Frances continued: "When at last I acknowledged to Gabriel, that by the
advice of Abbe Dubois, my confessor, I had delivered to a stranger the
children confined to my husband--General Simon's daughters--the dear boy
blamed me, though with great regret, not for having wished to instruct
the poor orphans in the truths of our holy religion, but for having acted
without the consent of my husband, who alone was answerable before God
and man for the charge entrusted to him.  Gabriel severely censured Abbe
Dubois' conduct, who had given me, he said, bad and perfidious counsels;
and then, with the sweetness of an angel, the dear boy consoled me, and
exhorted me to come and tell you all.  My poor husband! he would fain
have accompanied me, for I had scarcely courage to come hither, so
strongly did I feel the wrong I had done you; but, unfortunately, Gabriel
is confined at the seminary by the strict order of his superiors; he
could not come with me, and--"

Here Dagobert, who seemed much agitated, abruptly interrupted his wife.
"One word, Frances," said he; "for, in truth, in the midst of so many
cares, and black, diabolical plots, one loses one's memory, and the head
begins to wander.  Didst not tell me, the day the children disappeared,
that Gabriel, when taken in by you, had round his neck a bronze medal,
and in his pocket a book filled with papers in a foreign language?"

"Yes, my dear."

"And this medal and these papers were afterwards delivered to your

"Yes, my dear."

"And Gabriel never spoke of them since?"


Agricola, hearing this from his mother, looked at her with surprise, and
exclaimed: "Then Gabriel has the same interest as the daughters of
General Simon, or Mdlle. de Cardoville, to be in the Rue Saint-Francois

"Certainly," said Dagobert.  "And now do you remember what he said to us,
just after my arrival--that, in a few days, he would need our support in
a serious matter?"

"Yes, father."

"And he is kept a prisoner at his seminary!  And he tells your mother
that he has to complain of his superiors! and he asked us for our support
with so sad and grave an air, that I said to him--"

"He would speak so, if about to engage in a deadly duel," interrupted
Agricola.  "True, father! and yet you, who are a good judge of valor,
acknowledged that Gabriel's courage was equal to yours.  For him so to
fear his superiors, the danger must be great indeed."

"Now that I have heard your mother, I understand it all," said Dagobert.
"Gabriel is like Rose and Blanche, like Mdlle. de Cardoville, like your
mother, like all of us, perhaps--the victim of a secret conspiracy of
wicked priests.  Now that I know their dark machinations, their infernal
perseverance, I see," added the soldier, in a whisper, "that it requires
strength to struggle against them.  I had not the least idea of their

"You are right, father; for those who are hypocritical and wicked do as
much harm as those who are good and charitable, like Gabriel, do good.
There is no more implacable enemy than a bad priest."

"I know it, and that's what frightens me; for my poor children are in
their hands.  But is all lost?  Shall I bring myself to give them up
without an effort?  Oh, no, no!  I will not show any weakness--and yet,
since your mother told us of these diabolical plots, I do not know how it
is but I seem less strong, less resolute.  What is passing around me
appears so terrible.  The spiriting away of these children is no longer
an isolated fact--it is one of the ramifications of a vast conspiracy,
which surrounds and threatens us all.  It seems to me as if I and those I
love walked together in darkness, in the midst of serpents, in the midst
of snares that we can neither see nor struggle against.  Well!  I'll
speak out!  I have never feared death--I am not a coward and yet I
confess--yes, I confess it--these black robes frighten me--"

Dagobert pronounced these words in so sincere a tone, that his son
started, for he shared the same impression.  And it was quite natural.
Frank, energetic, resolute characters, accustomed to act and fight in the
light of day, never feel but one fear--and that is, to be ensnared and
struck in the dark by enemies that escape their grasp.  Thus, Dagobert
had encountered death twenty times; and yet, on hearing his wife's simple
revelation of this dark tissue of lies, and treachery, and crime, the
soldier felt a vague sense of fear; and, though nothing was changed in
the conditions of his nocturnal enterprise against the convent, it now
appeared to him in a darker and more dangerous light.

The silence, which had reigned for some moments, was interrupted by
Mother Bunch's return.  The latter, knowing that the interview between
Dagobert, his wife, and Agricola, ought not have any importunate witness,
knocked lightly at the door, and remained in the passage with Father

"Can we come in, Mme. Frances?" asked the sempstress.  "Here is Father
Loriot, bringing some wood."

"Yes, yes; come in, my good girl," said Agricola, whilst his father wiped
the cold sweat from his forehead.

The door opened, and the worthy dyer appeared, with his hands and arms of
an amaranthine color; on one side, he carried a basket of wood, and on
the other some live coal in a shovel.

"Good-evening to the company!" said Daddy Loriot.  "Thank you for having
thought of me, Mme. Frances.  You know that my shop and everything in it
are at your service.  Neighbors should help one another; that's my motto!
You were kind enough, I should think, to my late wife!"

Then, placing the wood in a corner, and giving the shovel to Agricola,
the worthy dyer, guessing from the sorrowful appearance of the different
actors in this scene, that it would be impolite to prolong his visit,
added: "You don't want anything else, Mme. Frances?"

"No, thank you, Father Loriot."

"Then, good-evening to the company!" said the dyer; and, addressing
Mother Bunch, he added: "Don't forget the letter for M. Dagobert.  I
durstn't touch it for fear of leaving the marks of my four fingers and
thumb in amaranthine!  But, good evening to the company!" and Father
Loriot went out.

"M. Dagobert, here is a letter," said Mother Bunch.  She set herself to
light the fire in the stove, while Agricola drew his mother's arm-chair
to the hearth.

"See what it is, my boy," said Dagobert to his son; "my head is so heavy
that I cannot see clear."  Agricola took the letter, which contained only
a few lines, and read it before he looked at the signature.

	"At Sea, December 25th, 1831.

	"I avail myself of a few minutes' communication with a ship bound direct
	for Europe, to write to you, my old comrade, a few hasty lines, which
	will reach you probably by way of Havre, before the arrival of my last
	letters from India.  You must by this time be at Paris, with my wife and
	child--tell them--

	"I am unable to say more--the boat is departing.  Only one word; I shall
	soon be in France.  Do not forget the 13th February; the future of my
	wife and child depends upon it.

	"Adieu, my friend!  Believe in my eternal gratitude.


"Agricola--quick! look to your father!" cried the hunchback.

From the first words of this letter, which present circumstances made so
cruelly applicable, Dagobert had become deadly pale.  Emotion, fatigue,
exhaustion, joined to this last blow, made him stagger.

His son hastened to him, and supported him in his arms.  But soon the
momentary weakness passed away, and Dagobert, drawing his hand across his
brow, raised his tall figure to its full height.  Then, whilst his eye
sparkled, his rough countenance took an expression of determined
resolution, and he exclaimed, in wild excitement: "No, no!  I will not be
a traitor; I will not be a coward.  The black robes shall not frighten
me; and, this night, Rose and Blanche Simon shall be free!"



Startled for a moment by the dark and secret machinations of the black
robes, as he called them, against the persons he most loved, Dagobert
might have hesitated an instant to attempt the deliverance of Rose and
Blanche; but his indecision ceased directly on the reading of Marshal
Simon's letter, which came so timely to remind him of his sacred duties.

To the soldier's passing dejection had succeeded a resolution full of
calm and collected energy.

"Agricola, what o'clock is it?" asked he of his son.

"Just struck nine, father."

"You must make me, directly, an iron hook--strong enough to support my
weight, and wide enough to hold on the coping of a wall.  This stove will
be forge and anvil; you will find a hammer in the house; and, for iron,"
said the soldier, hesitating, and looking around him, "as for iron--here
is some!"

So saying, the soldier took from the hearth a strong pair of tongs, and
presented them to his son, adding: "Come, my boy! blow up the fire, blow
it to a white heat, and forge me this iron!"

On these words, Frances and Agricola looked at each other with surprise;
the smith remained mute and confounded, not knowing the resolution of his
father, and the preparations he had already commenced with the
needlewoman's aid.

"Don't you hear me, Agricola," repeated Dagobert, still holding the pair

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