List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V5, by Eugene Sue
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idea would never be realized, and a fortune, far more considerable than
had even been expected, would fall to the share of an ill-omened society,
in whose hands it would become a terrible means of action.  At the same
time, it must be said that the soul of Gabriel was too pure and noble to
feel the slightest personal regret, on hearing the great probable value
of the property he had renounced.  He rejoiced rather in withdrawing his
mind, by a touching contrast, from the thought of the wealth he had
abandoned, to the humble parsonage, where he hoped to pass the remainder
of his life, in the practice of most evangelical virtue.

These ideas passed confusedly through his brain.  The sight of that
woman's portrait, the dark revelations contained in the testament, the
grandeur of the views exhibited in this last will of M. de Rennepont, all
these extraordinary incidents had thrown Gabriel into a sort of stupor,
in which he was still plunged, when Samuel offered the key of the
register to the notary, saying: "You will find, sir, in this register,
the exact statement of the sums in my possession, derived from the
investment and accumulation of the one hundred and fifty thousand francs,
entrusted to my grandfather by M. Marius de Rennepont."

"Your grandfather!" cried Father d'Aigrigny, with the utmost surprise;
"it is then your family that has always had the management of this

"Yes, sir; and, in a few minutes, my wife will bring hither the casket
which contains the vouchers."

"And to what sum does this property amount?" asked Rodin, with an air of
the most complete indifference.

"As M. Notary may convince himself by this statement," replied Samuel,
with perfect frankness, and as if he were only talking of the original
one hundred and fifty thousand francs, "I have in my possession various
current securities to the amount of two hundred and twelve millions, one
hundred and seventy--"

"You say, sir'" cried Father d'Aigrigny, without giving Samuel time to
finish, for the odd money did not at all interest his reverence.

"Yes, the sum!" added Rodin, in an agitated voice, and, for the first
time, perhaps, in his life losing his presence of mind; "the sum--the
sum--the sum!"

"I say, sir," resumed the old man, "that I hold securities for two
hundred and twelve millions, one hundred and seventy-five thousand
francs, payable to self or bearer--as you may soon convince yourself, M.
Notary, for here is my wife with the casket."

Indeed, at this moment, Bathsheba entered, holding in her arms the cedar-
wood chest, which contained the securities in question; she placed it
upon the table, and withdrew, after exchanging an affectionate glance
with Samuel.  When the latter declared the enormous amount of the sum in
hand, his words were received with silent stupor.  All the actors in this
scene, except himself, believed that they were the sport of some
delusion.  Father d'Aigrigny and Rodin had counted upon forty millions.
This sum, in itself enormous, was more than quintupled.  Gabriel, when he
heard the notary read those passages in the testament, which spoke of a
princely fortune, being quite ignorant of the prodigious effects of
eligible investments, had valued the property at some three or four
millions.  He was, therefore, struck dumb with amazement at the
exorbitant amount named.  Notwithstanding his admirable disinterestedness
and scrupulous honor, he felt dazzled and giddy at the thought, that all
these immense riches might have belonged to him--alone.  The notary,
almost as much amazed as Gabriel, examined the statement, and could
hardly believe his eyes.  The Jew also remained mute, and seemed
painfully absorbed in thought, that no other heir made his appearance.

In the depth of this profound silence, the clock in the next room began
slowly to strike twelve.  Samuel started, and heaved a deep sigh.  A few
seconds more, and the fatal term would be at an end.  Rodin, Father
d'Aigrigny, Gabriel, and the notary, were all under the influence of such
complete surprise, that not one of them even remarked how strange it was
to hear the sound of this clock.

"Noon!" cried Rodin, as, by an involuntary movement, he hastily placed
his two hands upon the casket, as if to take possession of it.

"At last!" cried Father d'Aigrigny, with an expression of joy, triumph
transport, which it is impossible to describe.  Then he added, as he
threw himself into Gabriel's arms, whom he embraced warmly: "Oh, my dear
son! how the poor will bless you!  You will be a second Vincent de Paul.
You will be canonized, I promise you."

"Let us first thank Providence," said Rodin, in a grave and solemn tone,
as he fell upon his knees, "let us thank Providence, that He has
permitted so much wealth to be employed for His glory!"'

Father d'Aigrigny, having again embraced Gabriel, took him by the hand,
and said: "Rodin is right.  Let us kneel, my dear son, and render thanks
to Providence!"

So saying, Father d'Aigrigny knelt down, dragging Gabriel with him, and
the latter, confused and giddy with so many precipitate events, yielded
mechanically to the impulse.  It was the last stroke of twelve when they
all rose together.

Then said the notary, in a slightly agitated voice, for there was
something extraordinary and solemn in this scene

"No other heir of M. Marius de Rennepont having presented himself, before
noon on this day, I execute the will of the testator, by declaring, in
the name of law and justice, that M. Francois Marie Gabriel de Rennepont,
here present, is the sole heir and possessor of all the estate, real and
personal, bequeathed under the said will; all which estate the said
Gabriel de Rennepont, priest, has freely and voluntarily made over by
deed of gift to Frederic Emanuel de Bordeville, Marquis d'Aigrigny,
priest, who has accepted the same, and is, therefore, the only legal
holder of such property, in the room of the said Gabriel de Rennepont, by
virtue of the said deed, drawn up and engrossed by me this morning, and
signed in my presence by the said Gabriel de Rennepont and Frederic

At this moment, the sound of loud voices was heard from the garden.
Bathsheba entered hastily, and said to her husband with an agitated air:
"Samuel--a soldier--who insists--"

She had not time to finish.  Dagobert appeared at the door of the Red
Room.  The soldier was fearfully pale.  He seemed almost fainting; his
left arm was in a sling, and he leaned upon Agricola.  At sight of
Dagobert, the pale and flabby eyelids of Rodin were suddenly distended,
as if all the blood in his body had flowed towards the head.  Then the
socius threw himself upon the casket, with the haste of ferocious rage
and avidity, as if he were resolved to cover it with his body, and defend
it at the peril of his life.

[20] This term is sanctioned by legal usage.



Father d'Aigrigny did not recognize Dagobert, and had never seen
Agricola.  He could not therefore, at first explain the kind of angry
alarm exhibited by Rodin.  But the reverend father understood it all,
when he heard Gabriel utter a cry of joy, and saw him rush into the arms
of the smith, exclaiming: "My brother! my second father--oh! it is heaven
that sends you to me."

Having pressed Gabriel's hand, Dagobert advanced towards Father
d'Aigrigny, with a rapid but unsteady step.  As he remarked the soldier's
threatening countenance, the reverend father, strong in his acquired
rights, and feeling that, since noon, he was at home here; drew back a
little, and said imperiously to the veteran: "Who are you, sir!--What do
you want here?"

Instead of answering, the soldier continued to advance, then, stopping
just facing Father d'Aigrigny, he looked at him for a second with such an
astounding mixture of curiosity, disdain, aversion, and audacity, that
the ex-colonel of hussars quailed before the pale face and glowing eye of
the veteran.  The notary and Samuel, struck with surprise, remained mute
spectators of this scene, while Agricola and Gabriel followed with
anxiety Dagobert's least movements.  As for Rodin, he pretended to be
leaning on the casket, in order still to cover it with his body.

Surmounting at length the embarrassment caused by the steadfast look of
the soldier, Father d'Aigrigny raised his head, and repeated.  "I ask
you, sir, who you are, and what you want?"

"Do you not recognize me?" said Dagobert, hardly able to restrain

"No, sir--"

"In truth," returned the soldier, with profound contempt, "You cast down
your eyes for shame when, at Leipsic, you fought for the Russians against
the French, and when General Simon, covered with wounds, answered you,
renegade that you were, when you asked him for his sword, `I do not
surrender to a traitor!'--and dragged himself along to one of the Russian
grenadiers, to whom he yielded up his weapon.  Well! there was then a
wounded soldier by the side of General Simon--I am he."

"In brief, sir, what do you want?" said Father d'Aigrigny, hardly, able
to control himself.

"I have come to unmask you--you, that are as false and hateful a priest,
as Gabriel is admirable and beloved by all."

"Sir!" cried the marquis, becoming livid with rage and emotion.

"I tell you, that you are infamous," resumed the soldier, with still
greater force.  "To rob Marshal Simon's daughters, and Gabriel, and
Mdlle. de Cardoville of their inheritance, you have had recourse to the
most shameful means."

"What do you say?" cried Gabriel.  "The daughters of Marshal Simon?"

"Are your relations, my dear boy, as is also that worthy Mdlle. de
Cardoville, the benefactress of Agricola.  Now, this priest," he added,
pointing to Father d'Aigrigny, "has had them shut up--the one as mad, in
a lunatic asylum--the others in a convent.  As for you, my dear boy, I
did not hope to find you here, believing that they would have prevented
you, like the others, from coming hither this morning.  But, thank God,
you are here, and I arrive in time.  I should have been sooner, but for
my wound.  I have lost so much blood, that I have done nothing but faint
all the morning."

"Truly!" cried Gabriel, with uneasiness.  "I had not remarked your arm in
a sling.  What is the wound?"

At a sign from Agricola, Dagobert answered: "Nothing; the consequence of
a fall.  But here I am, to unveil many infamies."

It is impossible to paint the curiosity, anguish, surprise, or fear, of
the different actors in this scene, as they listened to Dagobert's
threatening words.  But the most overcome was Gabriel.  His angelic
countenance was distorted, his knees trembled under him.  Struck by the
communication of Dagobert which revealed the existence of other heirs, he
was unable to speak for some time; at length, he cried out, in a tone of
despair: "And it is I--oh, God!  I--who am the cause of the spoliation of
this family!"

"You, brother?" exclaimed Agricola.

"Did they not wish to rob you also?" added Dagobert.

"The will," cried Gabriel, with increasing agony, "gave the property to
those of the heirs that should appear before noon."

"Well?" said Dagobert, alarmed at the emotion of the young priest.

"Twelve o'clock has struck," resumed the latter.  "Of all the family, I
alone was present.  Do you understand it now?  The term is expired.  The
heirs have been thrust aside by me!"

"By you!" said Dagobert, stammering with joy.  "By you, my brave boy!
then all is well."


"All is well," resumed Dagobert, radiant with delight.  "You will share
with the others--I know you."

"But all this property I have irrevocably, made over to another," cried
Gabriel, in despair.

"Made over the property!" cried Dagobert, quite petrified.  "To whom,
then?--to whom?"

"To this gentleman," said Gabriel, pointing to Father d'Aigrigny.

"To him!" exclaimed Dagobert, overwhelmed by the news; "to him--the
renegade--who has always been the evil genius of this family!"

"But, brother," cried Agricola, "did you then know your claim to this

"No," answered the young priest, with deep dejection; "no--I only learned
it this morning, from Father d'Aigrigny.  He told me, that he had only
recently been informed of my rights, by family papers long ago found upon
me, and sent by our mother to her confessor."

A sudden light seemed to dawn upon the mind of the smith, as he
exclaimed: "I understand it all now.  They discovered in these papers,
that you would one day have a chance of becoming rich.  Therefore, they
interested themselves about you--therefore, they took you into their
college, where we could never see you--therefore, they deceived you in
your vocation by shameful falsehoods, to force you to become a priest,
and to lead you to make this deed of gift.  Oh, sir!" resumed Agricola,
turning towards Father d'Aigrigny, with indignation, "my father is right-
-such machinations are indeed infamous!"

During this scene, the reverend father and his socius, at first alarmed
and shaken in their audacity, had by degrees recovered all their
coolness.  Rodin, still leaning upon the casket, had said a few words in
a low voice to Father d'Aigrigny.  So that when Agricola, carried away by
his indignation, reproached the latter with his infamous machinations, he
bowed his head humbly, and answered: " We are bound to forgive injuries,
and offer them to the Lord as a mark of our humility."

Dagobert, confounded at all he had just heard, felt his reason begin to
wander.  After so much anxiety, his strength failed beneath this new and
terrible blow.  Agricola's just and sensible words, in connection with
certain passages of the testament, at once enlightened Gabriel as to the
views of Father d'Aigrigny, in taking charge of his education, and
leading him to join the Society of Jesus.  For the first time in his
life, Gabriel was able to take in at a glance all the secret springs of
the dark intrigue, of which he had been the victim.  Then, indignation
and despair surmounting his natural timidity, the missionary, with
flashing eye, and cheeks inflamed with noble wrath, exclaimed, as he
addressed Father d'Aigrigny: "So, father, when you placed me in one of
your colleges, it was not from any feeling of kindness or commiseration,
but only in the hope of bringing me one day to renounce in favor of your
Order my share in this inheritance; and it did not even suffice you to
sacrifice me to your cupidity, but I must also be rendered the
involuntary instrument of a shameful spoliation!  If only I were
concerned--if you only coveted my claim to all this wealth, I should not
complain.  I am the minister of a religion which honors and sanctifies
poverty; I have consented to the donation in your favor, and I have not,
I could never have any claim upon it.  But property is concerned which
belong to poor orphans, brought from a distant exile by my adopted
father, and I will not see them wronged.  But the benefactress of my
adopted brother is concerned, and I will not see her wronged.  But the
last will of a dying man is concerned, who, in his ardent love of
humanity, bequeathed to his descendants an evangelic mission--an

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