List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V5, by Eugene Sue
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took up a pen, and wrote as follows:

"Before God, who sees and hears me, and in the presence of you, Father
d'Aigrigny and M. Rodin, I renew and confirm, freely and voluntarily, the
absolute donation made by me to the Society of Jesus, in the person of
the said Father d'Aigrigny, of all the property which may hereafter
belong to me, whatever may be its value.  I swear, on pain of infamy, to
perform tis irrevocable promise, whose accomplishment I regard, in my
soul and conscience, as the discharge of a debt, and the fulfilment of a
pious duty.

"This donation having for its object the acknowledgment of past services,
and the relief of the poor, no future occurrences can at all modify it.
For the very reason that I know I could one day legally cancel the
present free and deliberate act, I declare, that if ever I were to
attempt such a thing, under any possible circumstances, I should deserve
the contempt and horror of all honest people.

"In witness whereof I have written this paper, on the 13th of February,
1832, in Paris, immediately before the opening of the testament of one of
my paternal ancestors.


As he rose, the young priest delivered this document to Rodin, without
uttering a word.  The socius read it attentively, and, still impassible,
answered, as he looked at Gabriel: "Well, it is a written oath--that is

Gabriel dwelt stupefied at the audacity of Rodin, who ventured to tell
him, that this document, in which he renewed his donation in so noble,
generous, and spontaneous a manner, was not all sufficient.  The socius
was the first again to break the silence, and he said to Father
d'Aigrigny, with his usual cool impudence.  "One of two things must be.
Either your dear son means to render his donation absolutely valuable
and irrevocable,--or--"

"Sir," exclaimed Gabriel, interrupting him, and hardly able to restrain
himself, "spare yourself and me such a shameful supposition."

"Well, then," resumed Rodin, impassible as ever, "as you are perfectly
decided to make this donation a serious reality, what objection can you
have to secure it legally?"

"None, sir," said Gabriel, bitterly, "since my written and sworn promise
will not suffice you."

"My dear son," said Father d'Aigrigny, affectionately, "if this were a
donation for my own advantage, believe me I should require no better
security than your word.  But here I am, as it were, the agent of the
Society, or rather the trustee of the poor, who will profit by your
generosity.  For the sake of humanity, therefore, we cannot secure this
gift by too many legal precautions, so that the unfortunate objects of
our care may have certainty instead of vague hopes to depend upon.  God
may call you to him at any moment, and who shall say that your heirs will
be so ready to keep the oath you have taken?"

"You are right, father," said Gabriel, sadly; "I had not thought of the
case of death, which is yet so probable."

Hereupon, Samuel opened the door of the room, and said:  "Gentlemen, the
notary has just arrived.  Shall I show him in?  At ten o'clock precisely,
the door of the house will be opened."

"We are the more glad to see the notary," said Rodin, "as we just happen
to have some business with him.  Pray ask him to walk in."

"I will bring him to you instantly," replied Samuel, as he went out."

"Here is a notary," said Rodin to Gabriel.  "If you have still the same
intentions, you can legalize your donation in presence of this public
officer, and thus save yourself from a great burden for the future."

"Sir," said Gabriel, "happen what may, I am as irrevocably engaged by
this written promise, which I beg you to keep, father"--and he handed the
paper to Father d'Aigrigny "as by the legal document, which I am about to
sign," he added, turning to Rodin.

"Silence, my dear son," said Father d'Aigrigny; "here is the notary,"
just as the latter entered the room.

During the interview of the administrative officer with Rodin, Gabriel,
and Father d'Aigrigny, we shall conduct the reader to the interior of the
walled-up house.



As Samuel had said, the door of the walled-up house had just been
disencumbered of the bricks, lead, and iron, which had kept it from view,
and its panels of carved oak appeared as fresh and sound, as on the day
when they had first been withdrawn from the influence of the air and
time.  The laborers, having completed their work, stood waiting upon the
steps, as impatient and curious as the notary's clerk, who had
superintended the operation, when they saw Samuel slowly advancing across
the garden, with a great bunch of keys in his hand.

"Now, my friends," said the old man, when he had reached the steps, "your
work is finished.  The master of this gentleman will pay you, and I have
only to show you out by the street door."

"Come, come, my good fellow," cried the clerk, "you don't think.  We are
just at the most interesting and curious moment; I and these honest
masons are burning to see the interior of this mysterious house, and you
would be cruel enough to send us away?  Impossible!"

"I regret the necessity, sir, but so it must he.  I must be the first to
enter this dwelling, absolutely alone, before introducing the heirs, in
order to read the testament."

"And who gave you such ridiculous and barbarous orders?" cried the clerk,
singularly disappointed.

"My father, sir."

"A most respectable authority, no doubt; but come, my worthy guardian, my
excellent guardian," resumed the clerk, "be a good fellow, and let us
just take a peep in at the door."

"Yes, yes, sir, only a peep!" cried the heroes of the trowel, with a
supplicating air.

"It is disagreeable to have to refuse you, gentlemen," answered Samuel;
"but I cannot open this door, until I am alone."

The masons, seeing the inflexibility of the old man, unwillingly
descended the steps; but the clerk had resolved to dispute the ground
inch by inch, and exclaimed: "I shall wait for my master.  I do not leave
the house without him.  He may want me--and whether I remain on these
steps or elsewhere, can be of little consequence to you my worthy

The clerk was interrupted in his appeal by his master himself, who called
out from the further side of the courtyard, with an air of business: "M.
Piston! quick, M. Piston--come directly!"

"What the devil does he want with me?" cried the clerk, in a passion.
"He calls me just at the moment when I might have seen something."

"M. Piston," resumed the voice, approaching, "do you not hear?"

While Samuel let out the masons, the clerk saw, through a clump of trees,
his master running towards him bareheaded, and with an air of singular
haste and importance.  The clerk was therefore obliged to leave the
steps, to answer the notary's summons, towards whom he went with a very
bad grace.

"Sir, sir," said M. Dumesnil, "I have been calling you this hour with all
my might."

"I did not hear you sir," said M. Piston.

"You must be deaf, then.  Have you any change about you?"

"Yes sir," answered the clerk, with some surprise.

"Well, then, you must go instantly to the nearest stamp-office, and fetch
me three or four large sheets of stamped paper, to draw up a deed.  Run!
it is wanted directly."

"Yes, sir," said the clerk, casting a rueful and regretful glance at the
door of the walled-up house.

"But make haste, will you, M. Piston," said the notary.

"I do not know, sir, where to get any stamped paper."

"Here is the guardian," replied M. Dumesnil.  "He will no doubt be able
to tell you."

At this instant, Samuel was returning, after showing the masons out by
the street-door.

"Sir," said the notary to him, "will you please to tell me where we can
get stamped paper?"

"Close by, sir," answered Samuel; "in the tobacconist's, No. 17, Rue

"You hear, M. Piston?" said the notary to his clerk.  "You can get the
stamps at the tobacconist's, No. 17, Rue Vieille-du-Temple.  Be quick!
for this deed must be executed immediately before the opening of the
will.  Time presses."

"Very well, sir; I will make haste," answered the clerk, discontentedly,
as he followed his master, who hurried back into the room where he had
left Rodin, Gabriel, and Father d'Aigrigny.

During this time, Samuel, ascending the steps, had reached the door, now
disencumbered of the stone, iron, and lead with which it had been blocked
up.  It was with deep emotion that the old man having selected from his
bunch of keys the one he wanted, inserted it in the keyhole, and made the
door turn upon its hinges.  Immediately he felt on his face a current of
damp, cold air, like that which exhales from a cellar suddenly opened.
Having carefully re-closed and double-locked the door, the Jew advanced
along the hall, lighted by a glass trefoil over the arch of the door.
The panes had lost their transparency by the effect of time, and now had
the appearance of ground-glass.  This hall, paved with alternate squares
of black and white marble, was vast, sonorous, and contained a broad
staircase leading to the first story.  The walls of smooth stone offered
not the least appearance of decay or dampness; the stair-rail of wrought
iron presented no traces of rust; it was inserted, just above the bottom
step, into a column of gray granite, which sustained a statue of black
marble, representing a negro bearing a flambeau.  This statue had a
strange countenance, the pupils of the eyes being made of white marble.

The Jew's heavy tread echoed beneath the lofty dome of the hall.  The
grandson of Isaac Samuel experienced a melancholy feeling, as he
reflected that the footsteps of his ancestor had probably been the last
which had resounded through this dwelling, of which he had closed the
doors a hundred and fifty years before; for the faithful friend, in favor
of whom M. de Rennepont had made a feigned transfer of the property, had
afterwards parted with the same, to place it in the name of Samuel's
grandfather, who had transmitted it to his descendants, as if it had been
his own inheritance.

To these thoughts, in which Samuel was wholly absorbed, was joined the
remembrance of the light seen that morning through the seven openings in
the leaden cover of the belvedere; and, in spite of the firmness of his
character, the old man could not repress a shudder, as, taking a second
key from his bunch, and reading upon the label, The Key of the Red Room,
he opened a pair of large folding doors, leading to the inner apartments.
The window which, of all those in the house, had alone been opened,
lighted this large room, hung with damask, the deep purple of which had
undergone no alteration.  A thick Turkey carpet covered the floor, and
large arm-chairs of gilded wood, in the severe Louis XIV. style, were
symmetrically arranged along the wall.  A second door, leading to the
next room, was just opposite the entrance.  The wainscoting and the
cornice were white, relieved with fillets and mouldings of burnished
gold.  On each side of this door was a large piece of buhl-furniture,
inlaid with brass and porcelain, supporting ornamental sets of sea-
crackle vases.  The window vas hung with heavy deep-fringed damask
curtains, surmounted by scalloped drapery, with silk tassels, directly
opposite the chimney-piece of dark-gray marble, adorned with carved
brass-work.  Rich chandeliers, and a clock in the same style as the
furniture, were reflected in a large Venice glass, with basiled edges.
A round table, covered with a cloth of crimson velvet, was placed in the
centre of this saloon.

As he approached this table, Samuel perceived a piece of white vellum, on
which were inscribed these words: "My testament is to be opened in this
saloon.  The other apartments are to remain closed, until after the
reading of my last will--M. De R."

"Yes," said the Jew, as he perused with emotion these lines traced so
long ago; "this is the same recommendation as that which I received from
my father; for it would seem that the other apartments of this house are
filled with objects, on which M. de Rennepont set a high value, not for
their intrinsic worth, but because of their origin.  The Hall of Mourning
must be a strange and mysterious chamber.  Well," added Samuel, as he
drew from his pocket a register bound in black shagreen, with a brass
lock, from which he drew the key, after placing it upon the table, "here
is the statement of the property in hand, which I have been ordered to
bring hither, before the arrival of the heirs."

The deepest silence reigned in the room, at the moment when Samuel placed
the register on the table.  Suddenly a simple and yet most startling
occurrence roused him from his reverie.  In the next apartment was heard
the clear, silvery tone of a clock, striking slowly ten.  And the hour
was ten!  Samuel had too much sense to believe in perpetual motion, or in
the possibility of constructing a clock to go far one hundred and fifty
years.  He asked himself, therefore, with surprise and alarm, how this
clock could still be going, and how it could mark so exactly the hour of
the day.  Urged with restless curiosity, the old man was about to enter
the room; but recollecting the recommendation of his father, which had
now been confirmed by the few lines he had just read from De Rennepont's
pen, he stopped at the door, and listened with extreme attention.

He heard nothing--absolutely nothing, but the last dying vibration of the
clock.  After having long reflected upon this strange fact, Samuel,
comparing it with the no less extraordinary circumstance of the light
perceived that morning through the apertures in the belvedere, concluded
that there must be some connection between these two incidents.  If the
old man could not penetrate the true cause of these extraordinary
appearances, he at least explained them to himself, by remembering the
subterraneous communications, which, according to tradition, were said to
exist between the cellars of this house and distant places; and he
conjectured that unknown and mysterious personages thus gained access to
it two or three times in a century.  Absorbed in these thoughts Samuel
approached the fireplace, which, as we have said, was directly opposite
the window.  Just then, a bright ray of sunlight, piercing the clouds,
shone full upon two large portraits, hung upon either side of the
fireplace, and not before remarked by the Jew.  They were painted life-
size, and represented one a woman, the other a man.  By the sober yet
powerful coloring of these paintings, by the large and vigorous style, it
was easy to recognize a master's hand.  It would have been difficult to
find models more fitted to inspire a great painter.  The woman appeared
to be from five-and-twenty to thirty years of age.  Magnificent brown
hair, with golden tints, crooned a forehead, white, noble, and lofty.
Her head-dress, far from recalling the fashion, which Madame de Sevigne
brought in during the age of Louis XIV., reminded one rather of some of
the portraits of Paul Veronese, in which the hair encircles the face in

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