List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V5, by Eugene Sue
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"Such are, indeed, my dear son," said Father d'Aigrigny, "the rules of
our house, and the language we hold to all our pupils on their entrance."

"I know it, father," answered Gabriel, bitterly; "three days after, a
poor, submissive, and credulous child, I was already a spy upon my
comrades, hearing and remembering their conversation, and reporting it to
the superior, who congratulated me on my zeal.  What they thus made me do
was shameful, and yet, God knows!  I thought I was accomplishing a
charitable duty.  I was happy in obeying the commands of a superior whom
I respected, and to whose words I listened, in my childish faith, as I
should have listened to those of Heaven.  One day, that I had broken some
rule of the house, the superior said to me: `My child, you have deserved
a severe punishment; but you will be pardoned, if you succeed in
surprising one of your comrades in the same fault that you have
committed.' And for that, notwithstanding my faith and blind obedience,
this encouragement to turn informer, from the motive of personal
interest, might appear odious to me, the superior added.  `I speak to
you, my child, for the sake of your comrade's salvation.  Were he to
escape punishment, his evil habits would become habitual.  But by
detecting him in a fault, and exposing him to salutary correction, you
will have the double advantage of aiding in his salvation, and escaping
yourself a merited punishment, which will have been remitted because of
your zeal for your neighbor--"

"Doubtless," answered Father d'Aigrigny, more and more terrified by
Gabriel's language; "and in truth, my dear son, all this is conformable
to the rule followed in our colleges, and to the habits of the members of
our Company, `who may denounce each other without prejudice to mutual
love and charity, and only for their greater spiritual advancement,
particularly when questioned by their superior, or commanded for the
greater glory of God,' as our Constitution has it."

"I know it," cried Gabriel; "I know it.  'Tis in the name of all that is
most sacred amongst men, that we are encouraged to do evil."

"My dear son," said Father d'Aigrigny, trying to conceal his secret and
growing terror beneath an appearance of wounded dignity, "from you to me
these words are at least strange."

At this, Rodin quitted the mantelpiece, on which he had been leaning,
begin to walk up and down the room, with a meditative air, and without
ceasing to bite his nails.

"It is cruel to be obliged to remind you, my dear son, that your are
indebted to us for the education you have received," added Father

"Such were its fruits, father," replied Gabriel.  "Until then I had been
a spy on the other children, from a sort of disinterestedness; but the
orders of the superior made me advance another step on that shameful
road.  I had become an informer, to escape a merited punishment.  And
yet, such was my faith, my humility, my confidence, that I performed with
innocence and candor this doubly odious part.  Once, indeed, tormented by
vague scruples, the last remains of generous aspirations that they were
stifling within me, I asked myself if the charitable and religious end
could justify the means, and I communicated my doubts to the superior.
He replied, that I had not to judge, but to obey, and that to him alone
belonged the responsibility of my acts."

"Go on, my dear son," said Father d'Aigrigny, gelding, in spite of
himself, to the deepest dejection.  "Alas! I was right in opposing your
travel to America."

"And yet it was the will of Providence, in that new, productive, and free
country, that, enlightened by a singular chance, on past and present, my
eyes were at length opened.  Yes!" cried Gabriel, "it was in America
that, released from the gloomy abode where I had spent so many years of
my youth, and finding myself for the first time face to face with the
divine majesty of Nature, in the heart of immense solitudes through which
I journeyed--it was there that, overcome by so much magnificence and
grandeur, I made a vow--" Here Gabriel interrupted himself, to continue:
"Presently, father, I will explain to you that vow; but believe me,"
added the missionary, with an accent of deep sorrow, "it was a fatal day
to me when I first learned to fear and condemn all that I had hitherto
most revered and blessed.  Oh! I assure you father," added Gabriel, with
moist eyes, "it was not for myself alone, that I then wept."

"I know the goodness of your heart, my dear son," replied Father
d'Aigrigny, catching a glimpse of hope, on seeing Gabriel's emotion; "I
fear that you have been led astray.  But trust yourself to us, as to your
spiritual fathers, and I doubt not we shall confirm your faith, so
unfortunately shaken, and disperse the darkness which at present obscures
your sight.  Alas, my dear son, in your vain illusions, you have mistaken
some false glimmer for the pure light of day.  But go on."

Whilst Father d'Aigrigny was thus speaking, Rodin stopped, took a pocket-
book from his coat, and wrote down several notes.  Gabriel was becoming
more and more pale and agitated.  It required no small courage in him, to
speak as he was speaking, for, since his journey to America, he had
learned to estimate the formidable power of the Company.  But this
revelation of the past, looked at from the vantage-ground of a more
enlightened present, was for the young priest the excuse, or rather the
cause of the determination he had just signified to his superior, and he
wished to explain all faithfully, notwithstanding the danger he knowingly
encountered.  He continued therefore, in an agitated voice:

"You know, father, that the last days of my childhood, that happy age of
frankness and innocent joy, were spent in an atmosphere of terror,
suspicion, and restraint.  Alas! how could I resign myself to the least
impulse of confiding trust, when I was recommended to shun the looks of
him who spoke with me, in order to hide the impression that his words
might cause--to conceal whatever I felt, and to observe and listen to
everything?  Thus I reached the age of fifteen; by degrees, the rare
visits that I was allowed to pay, but always in presence of one of our
fathers, to my adopted mother and brother, were quite suppressed, so as
to shut my heart against all soft and tender emotions.  Sad and fearful
in that large, old noiseless, gloomy house, I felt that I became more and
more isolated from the affections and the freedom of the world.  My time
was divided between mutilated studies, without connection and without
object, and long hours of minute devotional exercises.  I ask you,
father, did they ever seek to warm our young souls by words of tenderness
or evangelic love?  Alas, no!  For the words of the divine Saviour--Love
ye one another, they had substituted the command: Suspect ye one another.
Did they ever, father, speak to us of our country or of liberty?--No! ah,
no! for those words make the heart beat high; and with them, the heart
must not beat at all.  To our long hours of study and devotion, there
only succeeded a few walks, three by three--never two and two--because by
threes, the spy-system is more practicable, and because intimacies are
more easily formed by two alone; and thus might have arisen some of those
generous friendships, which also make the heart beat more than it
should.[15] And so, by the habitual repression of every feeling, there
came a time when I could not feel at all.  For six months, I had not seen
my adopted mother and brother; they came to visit me at the college; a
few years before, I should have received them with transports and tears;
this time my eyes were dry, my heart was cold.  My mother and brother
quitted me weeping.  The sight of this grief struck me and I became
conscious of the icy insensibility which had been creeping upon me since
I inhabited this tomb.  Frightened at myself, I wished to leave it, while
I had still strength to do so.  Then, father, I spoke to you of the
choice of a profession; for sometimes, in waking moments, I seemed to
catch from afar the sound of an active and useful life, laborious and
free, surrounded by family affections.  Oh! then I felt the want of
movement and liberty, of noble and warm emotions--of that life of the
soul, which fled before me.  I told it you, father on my knees, bathing
your hands with my tears.  The life of a workman or a soldier--anything
would have suited me.  It was then you informed me, that my adopted
mother, to whom I owed my life--for she had taken me in, dying of want,
and, poor herself, had shared with me the scanty bread of her child--
admirable sacrifice for a mother!--that she," continued Gabriel,
hesitating and casting down his eyes, for noble natures blush for the
guilt of others, and are ashamed of the infamies of which they are
themselves victims, "that she, that my adopted mother, had but one wish,
one desire--"

"That of seeing you takes orders, my dear son," replied Father
d'Aigrigny; "for this pious and perfect creature hoped, that, in securing
your salvation, she would provide for her own: but she did not venture to
inform you of this thought, for fear you might ascribe it to an
interested motive."

"Enough, father!" said Gabriel, interrupting the Abbe d'Aigrigny, with a
movement of involuntary indignation; "it is painful for me to hear you
assert an error.  Frances Baudoin never had such a thought."

"My dear son, you are too hasty in your judgments," replied Father
d'Aigrigny, mildly.  "I tell you, that such was the one, sole thought of
your adopted mother."

"Yesterday, father, she told me all.  She and I were equally deceived."

"Then, my dear son," said Father d'Aigrigny, sternly, "you take the word
of your adopted mother before mine?"

"Spare me an answer painful for both of us, father," said Gabriel,
casting down his eyes.

"Will you now tell me," resumed Father d'Aigrigny, with anxiety, "what
you mean to--"

The reverend father was unable to finish.  Samuel entered the room, and
said: "A rather old man wishes to speak to M. Rodin."

"That is my name, sir," answered the socius, in surprise; "I am much
obliged to you."  But, before following the Jew, he gave to Father
d'Aigrigny a few words written with a pencil upon one of the leaves of
his packet-book.

Rodin went out in very uneasy mood, to learn who could have come to seek
him in the Rue Saint-Francois.  Father d'Aigrigny and Gabriel were left
alone together.

[14] It is only in respect to Missions that the Jesuits acknowledge the
papal supremacy.

[15] This rule is so strict in Jesuit Colleges, that if one of three
pupils leaves the other two, they separate out of earshot till the first
comes back.



Plunged into a state of mortal anxiety, Father d'Aigrigny had taken
mechanically the note written by Rodin, and held it in his hand without
thinking of opening it.  The reverend father asked himself in alarm, what
conclusion Gabriel would draw from these recriminations upon the past;
and he durst not make any answer to his reproaches, for fear of
irritating the young priest, upon whose head such immense interests now
reposed.  Gabriel could possess nothing for himself, according to the
constitutions of the Society of Jesus.  Moreover, the reverend father had
obtained from him, in favor of the Order, an express renunciation of all
property that might ever come to him.  But the commencement of his
conversation seemed to announce so serious a change in Gabriel's views
with regard to the Company, that he might choose to break through the
ties which attached him to it; and in that case, he would not be legally
bound to fulfil any of his engagements.[16] The donation would thus be
cancelled de facto, just at the moment of being so marvellously realized
by the possession of the immense fortune of the Rennepont family, and
d'Aigrigny's hopes would thus be completely and for ever frustrated.  Of
all these perplexities which the reverend father had experienced for some
time past, with regard to this inheritance, none had been more unexpected
and terrible than this.  Fearing to interrupt or question Gabriel, Father
d'Aigrigny waited, in mute terror, the end of this interview, which
already bore so threatening an aspect.

The missionary resumed: "It is my duty, father, to continue this sketch
of my past life, until the moment of my departure for America.  You will
understand, presently, why I have imposed on myself this obligation."

Father d'Aigrigny nodded for him to proceed.

"Once informed of the pretended wishes of my adopted mother, I resigned
myself to them, though at some cost of feeling.  I left the gloomy abode,
in which I had passed my childhood and part of my youth, to enter one of
the seminaries of the Company.  My resolution was not caused by an
irresistible religious vocation, but by a wish to discharge the sacred
debt I owed my adopted mother.  Yet the true spirit of the religion of
Christ is so vivifying, that I felt myself animated and warmed by the
idea of carrying out the adorable precepts of our Blessed Saviour.  To my
imagination, a seminary, instead of resembling the college where I had
lived in painful restraint, appeared like a holy place, where all that
was pure and warm in the fraternity of the Gospel would be applied to
common life--where, for example, the lessons most frequently taught would
be the ardent love of humanity, and the ineffable sweets of commiseration
and tolerance--where the everlasting words of Christ would be interpreted
in their broadest sense--and where, in fine, by the habitual exercise and
expansion of the most generous sentiments, men were prepared for the
magnificent apostolic mission of making the rich and happy sympathize
with the sufferings of their brethren, by unveiling the frightful
miseries of humanity--a sublime and sacred morality, which none are able
to withstand, when it is preached with eyes full of tears, and hearts
overflowing with tenderness and charity!"

As he delivered these last words with profound emotion, Gabriel's eyes
became moist, and his countenance shone with angelic beauty.

"Such is, indeed, my dear son, the spirit of Christianity; but one must
also study and explain the letter," answered Father d'Aigrigny, coldly.
"It is to this study that the seminaries of our Company are specially
destined.  Now the interpretation of the letter is a work of analysis,
discipline, and submission--and not one of heart and sentiment."

"I perceive that only too well, father.  On entering this new house, I
found, alas! all my hopes defeated.  Dilating for a moment, my heart soon
sunk within me.  Instead of this centre of life, affection, youth, of
which I had dreamed.  I found, in the silent and ice-cold seminary, the
same suppression of every generous emotion, the same inexorable
discipline, the same system of mutual prying, the same suspicion, the
same invincible obstacles to all ties of friendship.  The ardor which had
warmed my soul for an instant soon died out; little by little, I fell
back into the habits of a stagnant, passive, mechanical life, governed by

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