List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V4, by Eugene Sue
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my ears, and when I affirm that this union is suitable in all respects,
give her adhesion to it without delay or reflection."

"No doubt.  It would be impossible to speak more sensibly."

"She answers that she wishes to see M. de Brisville, and know his
character before being engaged."

"It is absurd--since you undertake to answer for his morality, and esteem
this a proper marriage."

"Therefore, I remarked to Mdlle. Baudricourt, this morning, that till now
I had only employed gentle persuasion, but that, if she forced me to it,
I should be obliged, in her own interest, to act with rigor, to conquer
so much obstinacy that I should have to separate her from her companions,
and to confine her closely in a cell, until she made up her mind, after
all, to consult her own happiness, and--marry an honorable man."

"And these menaces, my dear mother?"

"Will, I hope, have a good effect.  She kept up a correspondence with an
old school-friend in the country.  I have put a stop to this, for it
appeared to me dangerous.  She is now under my sole influence, and I hope
we shall attain our ends; but you see, my dear daughter, it is never
without crosses and difficulties that we succeed in doing good!"

"And I feel certain that M. de Brisville will even go beyond his first
promise, and I will pledge myself for him, that, should he marry Mdlle.

"You know, my dear daughter," said the superior, interrupting the
princess, "that if I were myself concerned, I would refuse everything;
but to give to this institution is to give to Heaven, and I cannot
prevent M. de Brisville from augmenting the amount of his good works.
Then, you see, we are exposed to a sad disappointment."

"What is that, my dear mother?"

"The Sacred Heart Convent disputes an estate with us that would have
suited us exactly.  Really, some people are quite insatiable!  I gave the
lady superior my opinion upon it pretty freely."

"She told me as much," answered Madame de Saint-Dizier, "and laid the
blame on the steward."

"Oh! so you see her, my dear daughter?" exclaimed the superior, with an
air of great surprise.

"I met her at the bishop's," answered Madame de Saint-Dizier, with a
slight degree of hesitation, that Mother Sainte-Perpetue did not appear
to notice.

"I really do not know," resumed the latter, "why our establishment should
excite so violently the jealousy of the Sacred Heart.  There is not an
evil report that they have not spread with regard to St. Mary's Convent.
Certain persons are always offended by the success of their neighbors!"

"Come, my dear mother," said the princess, in a conciliating tone, "we
must hope that the donation of M. de Brisville will enable you to outbid
the Sacred Heart.  This marriage will have a double advantage, you see,
my dear mother; it will place a large fortune at the disposal of a man
who is devoted to us, and who will employ it as we wish; and it will also
greatly increase the importance of his position as our defender, by the
addition to his income of 100,000 francs a year.  We shall have at length
an organ worthy of our cause, and shall no longer be obliged to look for
defenders amongst such people as that Dumoulin."

"There is great power and much learning in the writings of the man you
name.  It is the style of a Saint Bernard, in wrath at the impiety of the

"Alas, my dear mother! if you only knew what a strange Saint Bernard this
Dumoulin is!  But I will not offend your ears; all I can tell you is,
that such defenders would compromise the most sacred cause.  Adieu, my
dear mother! pray redouble your precautions to-night--the return of this
soldier is alarming."

"Be quite satisfied, my dear daughter!  Oh! I forgot.  Mdlle. Florine
begged me to ask you a favor.  It is to let her enter your service.  You
know the fidelity she displayed in watching your unfortunate niece; I
think that, by rewarding her in this way, you will attach her to you
completely, and I shall feel grateful on her account."

"If you interest yourself the least in the world in Florine, my dear
mother, the thing is done.  I will take her into my service.  And now it
strikes me, she may be more useful to me than I thought."

"A thousand thanks, my dear daughter, for such obliging attention to my
request.  I hope we shall soon meet again.  The day after to-morrow, at
two o'clock, we have a long conference with his Eminence and the Bishop;
do not forget!"

"No, my dear mother; I shall take care to be exact.  Only, pray, redouble
your precautions to-night for fear of a great scandal!"

After respectfully kissing the hand of the superior, the princess went
out by the great door, which led to an apartment opening on the principal
staircase.  Some minutes after, Florine entered the room by another way.
The superior was seated and Florine approached her with timid humility.

"Did you meet the Princess de Saint-Dizier?" asked Mother Sainte

"No, mother; I was waiting in the passage, where the windows look out on
the garden."

"The princess takes you into her service from to-day," said the superior.

Florine made a movement of sorrowful surprise, and exclaimed: "Me,
mother! but--"

"I asked her in your name, and you have only to accept," answered the
other imperiously.

"But, mother, I had entreated you--"

"I tell you, that you accept the offer," said the superior, in so firm
and positive a tone that Florine cast down her eyes, and replied in a low
voice: "I accept."

"It is in M. Rodin's name that I give you this order."

"I thought so, mother," replied Florine, sadly; "on what conditions am I
to serve the princess?"

"On the same conditions as those on which you served her niece."

Florine shuddered and said: "I am, then, to make frequent secret reports
with regard to the princess?"

"You will observe, you will remember, and you will give an account."

"Yes, my mother."

"You will above all direct your attention to the visits that the princess
may receive from the lady superior of the Sacred Heart.  You must try and
listen--for we have to preserve the princess from evil influences."

"I will obey, my mother."

"You will also try and discover why two young orphans have been brought
hither, and recommended to be severely treated, by Madame Grivois, the
confidential waiting-woman of the princess."

"Yes, mother."

"Which must not prevent you from remembering anything else that may be
worthy of remark.  To-morrow I will give you particular instructions upon
another subject."

"It is well, mother."

"If you conduct yourself in a satisfactory manner, and execute faithfully
the instructions of which I speak, you will soon leave the princess to
enter the service of a young bride; it will be an excellent and lasting
situation always on the same conditions.  It is, therefore, perfectly
understood that you have asked me to recommend you to Madame de Saint-

"Yes, mother; I shall remember."

"Who is this deformed young girl that accompanies you?"

"A poor creature without any resources, very intelligent, and with an
education above her class; she works at her needle, but is at present
without employment, and reduced to the last extremity.  I have made
inquiries about her this morning; she has an excellent character."

"She is ugly and deformed, you say?"

"She has an interesting countenance, but she is deformed."

The superior appeared pleased at this information, and added, after a
moment's reflection: "She appears intelligent?"

"Very intelligent."

"And is absolutely without resources?"

"Yes, without any."

"Is she pious?"

"She does not practice."

"No matter," said the superior to herself; "if she be intelligent, that
will suffice."  Then she resumed aloud.  "Do you know if she is a good

"I believe so, mother."

The superior rose, took a register from a shelf, appeared to be looking
into it attentively for some time, and then said, as she replaced it:
"Fetch in this young girl, and go and wait for me in the press-room."

"Deformed--intelligent--clever at her needle," said the superior,
reflecting; "she will excite no suspicion.  We must see."

In about a minute, Florine returned with Mother Bunch, whom she
introduced to the superior, and then discreetly withdrew.  The young
sempstress was agitated, trembling, and much troubled, for she could, as
it were, hardly believe a discovery which she had chanced to make during
Florine's absence.  It was not without a vague sense of terror that the
hunchback remained alone with the lady superior.



This was the cause of Mother Bunch's emotion.  Florine, when she went to
see the superior, had left the young sempstress in a passage supplied
with benches, and forming a sort of ante-chamber on the first story.
Being alone, the girl had mechanically approached a window which looked
upon the convent garden, shut in by a half demolished wall, and
terminating at one end in an open paling.  This wall was connected with a
chapel that was still building, and bordered on the garden of a
neighboring house.  The sewing-girl, at one of the windows on the ground
floor of this house--a grated window, still more remarkable by the sort
of tent-like awning above it--beheld a young female, with her eyes fixed
upon the convent, making signs with her hand, at once encouraging and
affectionate.  From the window where she stood, Mother Bunch could not
see to whom these signs were addressed; but she admired the rare beauty
of the telegrapher, the brilliancy of her complexion, the shining
blackness of her large eyes, the sweet and benevolent smile which
lingered on her lips.  There was, no doubt, some answer to her graceful
and expressive pantomime, for, by a movement full of elegance, the girl
laid her left hand on her bosom, and waved her right, which seemed to
indicate that her heart flew towards the place on which she kept her
eyes.  One faint sunbeam, piercing the clouds, came at this moment to
play with the tresses of the pale countenance, which, now held close to
the bars of the window, was suddenly, as it were, illuminated by the
dazzling reflection of her splendid golden hair.  At sight of that
charming face, set in its admirable frame of red curls, Mother Bunch
started involuntarily; the thought of Mdlle. de Cardoville crossed her
mind, and she felt persuaded (nor was she, indeed, mistaken), that the
protectress of Agricola was before her.  On thus beholding, in that
gloomy asylum, this young lady, so marvellously beautiful, and
remembering the delicate kindness with which a few days before she had
received Agricola in her luxurious little palace of dazzling splendor,
the work-girl felt her heart sink within her.  She believed Adrienne
insane; and yet, as she looked attentively at her, it seemed as if
intelligence and grace animated that adorable countenance.  Suddenly,
Mdlle. de Cardoville laid her fingers upon her lips, blew a couple of
kisses in the direction towards which she had been looking, and all at
once disappeared.  Reflecting upon the important revelations which
Agricola had to make to Mdlle. de Cardoville, Mother Bunch regretted
bitterly that she had no means of approaching her; for she felt sure
that, if the young lady were mad, the present was a lucid interval.  She
was yet absorbed in these uneasy reflections, when she saw Florine
return, accompanied by one of the nuns.  Mother Bunch was obliged,
therefore, to keep silence with regard to the discovery she had made, and
soon after she found herself in the superior's presence.  This latter,
after a rapid and searching examination of the countenance of the young
workwoman, judged her appearance so timid, gentle and honest, that she
thought she might repose full confidence in the information given by

"My dear daughter," said Mother Sainte-Perpetue, in an affectionate
voice, "Florine has told me in what a cruel situation you are placed.  Is
it true that you are entirely without work?"

"Alas! yes, madame."

"Call me mother, my dear daughter; that name is dearer to me, and it is
the rule of our house.  I need not ask you what are your principles?"

"I have always lived honestly by my labor, mother," answered the girl,
with a simplicity at once dignified and modest.

"I believe you, my dear daughter, and I have good reasons for so doing.
We must thank the Lord, who has delivered you from temptation; but tell
me--are you clever at your trade?"

"I do my best, mother, and have always satisfied my employers.  If you
please to try me, you will be able to judge."

"Your affirmation is sufficient, my dear daughter.  You prefer, I think,
to go out by the day?"

"Mdlle. Florine told me, mother, that I could not have work at home."

"Why, no--not for the present, my child.  If hereafter an opportunity
should offer, I will think of it.  Just now I have this to propose to
you.  A very respectable old lady has asked me to recommend to her a
needle-woman by the day; introduced by me, you will certainly suit her.
The institution will undertake to clothe you becomingly, and this advance
we shall retain by degrees out of your wages, for you will look to us for
payment.  We propose io give you two francs a day; does that appear to
you sufficient?"

"Oh, mother! it is much more than I could have expected."

"You will, moreover, only be occupied from nine o'clock in the morning
till six in the evening; you will thus have still some off hours, of
which you might make use.  You see, the situation is not a hard one."

"Oh! quite the contrary, mother."

"I must tell you, first of all, with whom the institution intends to
place you.  It is a widow lady, named Mme. de Bremant, a person of the
most steadfast piety.  In her house, I hope, you will meet with none but
excellent examples.  If it should be otherwise, you can come and inform

"How so, mother?" said the sewing-girl, with surprise.

"Listen to me, my dear daughter," said Mother Sainte-Perpetue, in a tone
ever more and more affectionate; "the institution of St. Mary has a
double end in view.  You will perfectly understand that, if it is our
duty to give to masters and mistresses every possible security as to the
morality of the persons that we place in their families, we are likewise
bound to give to the persons that we so place out every possible security
as to the morality of their employers."

"Nothing can be more just and of a wiser foresight, mother."

"Naturally, my dear daughter; for even as a servant of bad morals may
cause the utmost trouble in a respectable family, so the bad conduct of a
master or mistress may have the most baneful influence on the persons who
serve them, or who come to work in their houses.  Now, it is to offer a
mutual guarantee to good masters and honest servants, that we have
founded this institution."

"Oh, madame!" cried Mother Bunch, with simplicity; "such designs merit
the thanks and blessings of every one."

"And blessings do not fail us, my dear daughter, because we perform our
promises.  Thus, an interesting workwoman--such as you, for example--is

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