List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V6, by Eugene Sue
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The peculiar sign which Rodin had made, and the tenor of this note,
proved to Dr. Baleinier, who was passing from surprise to amazement, that
the secretary, far from betraying the reverend father, was still acting
for the Greater Glory of the Lord.  However, whilst he obeyed the orders,
M. Baleinier sought in vain to penetrate the motives of Rodin's
inexplicable conduct, who had himself informed the authorities of an
affair that was to have been hushed up, and that might have the most
disastrous consequences for Father d'Aigrigny, Madame de Saint-Dizier,
and Baleinier himself.  But let us return to Rodin, left alone with
Mdlle, de Cardoville.



Hardly had the magistrate and Dr. Baleinier disappeared, than Mdlle. de
Cardoville, whose countenance was beaming with joy, exclaimed, as she
looked at Rodin with a mixture of respect and gratitude, "At length,
thanks to you, sir, I am free--free!  Oh, I had never before felt how
much happiness, expansion, delight, there is in that adorable word--

Her bosom rose and fell, her rosy nostrils dilated, her vermilion lips
were half open, as if she again inhaled with rapture pure and vivifying

"I have been only a few days in this horrible place," she resumed, "but I
have suffered enough from my captivity to make me resolve never to let a
year pass without restoring to liberty some poor prisoners for debt.
This vow no doubt appears to belong a little to the Middle Ages," added
she, with a smile; "but I would fain borrow from that noble epoch
something more than its old windows and furniture.  So, doubly thanks,
sir!--for I take you as a partner in that project of deliverance, which
has just (you see) unfolded itself in the midst of the happiness I owe to
you, and by which you seem so much affected.  Oh! let my joy speak my
gratitude, and pay you for your generous aid!" exclaimed the young girl
with enthusiasm.

Mdlle. de Cardoville had truly remarked a complete transfiguration in the
countenance of Rodin.  This man, lately so harsh, severe, inflexible,
with regard to Dr. Baleinier, appeared now under the influence of the
mildest and most tender sentiments.  His little, half-veiled eyes were
fixed upon Adrienne with an expression of ineffable interest.  Then, as
if he wished to tear himself from these impressions, he said, speaking to
himself, "Come, come, no weakness.  Time is too precious; my mission is
not fulfilled.  My dear young lady," added he, addressing himself to
Adrienne, "believe what I say--we will talk hereafter of gratitude--but
we have now to talk of the present so important for you and your family.
Do you know what is taking place?"

Adrienne looked at the Jesuit with surprise, and said, "What is taking
place, sir?"

"Do you know the real motive of your imprisonment in this house?  Do you
know what influenced the Princess de Saint-Dizier and Abbe d'Aigrigny?"

At the sound of those detested names, Mdlle. de Cardoville's face, now so
full of happiness, became suddenly sad, and she answered with bitterness,
"It is hatred, sir, that no doubt animated Madame de Saint-Dizier against

"Yes, hatred; and, moreover, the desire to rob you with impunity of an
immense fortune."

"Me, sir! how?"

"You must be ignorant, my dear young lady, of the interest you had to be
in the Rue Saint-Francois on the 13th February, for an inheritance?"

"I was ignorant, sir, of the date and details: but I knew by some family
papers, and thanks to an extraordinary circumstance, that one of our

"Had left an enormous sum to be divided between his descendants; is it
not so?"

"Yes, sir."

"But what unfortunately you did not know, my dear young lady, was that
the heirs were all bound to be present at a certain hour on the 13th
February.  This day and hour once past, the absent would forfeit their
claim.  Do you now understand why you have been imprisoned here, my dear
young lady?"

"Yes, yes; I understand it," cried Mdlle. de Cardoville; "cupidity was
added to the hatred which my aunt felt for me.  All is explained.
Marshal Simon's daughters, having the same right as I had have, like me,
been imprisoned."

"And yet," cried Rodin, "you and they were not the only victims."

"Who, then, are the others, sir?"

"A young East Indian."

"Prince Djalma?" said Adrienne, hastily.

"For the same reason he has been nearly poisoned with a narcotic."

"Great God!" cried the young girl, clasping her hands in horror.  "It is
fearful.  That young prince, who was said to have so noble and generous a
character!  But I had sent to Cardoville Castle--"

"A confidential person, to fetch the prince to Paris--I know it, my dear
young lady; but, by means of a trick, your friend was got out of the way,
and the young Oriental delivered to his enemies."

"And where is he now?"

"I have only vague information on the subject.  I know that he is in
Paris, and do not despair of finding him.  I shall pursue my researches
with an almost paternal ardor, for we cannot too much love the rare
qualities of that poor king's son.  What a heart, my dear young lady!
what a heart!  Oh, it is a heart of gold, pure and bright as the gold of
his country!"

"We must find the prince, sir," said Adrienne with emotion; "let me
entreat you to neglect nothing for that end.  He is my relation--alone
here--without support--without assistance."

"Certainly," replied Rodin, with commiseration.  "Poor boy!--for he is
almost a boy--eighteen or nineteen years of age--thrown into the heart of
Paris, of this hell--with his fresh, ardent, half-savage passions--with
his simplicity and confidence--to what perils may he not be exposed?"

"Well, we must first find him, sir," said Adrienne, hastily; "and then we
will save him from these dangers.  Before I was confined here, I learned
his arrival in France, and sent a confidential person to offer him the
services of an unknown friend.  I now see that this mad idea, with which
I have been so much reproached, was a very sensible one.  I am more
convinced of it than ever.  The prince belongs to my family, and I owe
him a generous hospitality.  I had destined for him the lodge I occupied
at my aunt's."

"And you, my dear young lady?"

"To-day, I shall remove to a house, which I had prepared some time ago,
with the determination of quitting Madame de Saint-Dizier, and living
alone as I pleased.  Then, sir, as you seem bent upon being the good
genius of our family, be as generous with regard to Prince Djalma, as you
have been to me and Marshal Simon's daughters.  I entreat you to discover
the hiding-place of this poor king's son, as you call him; keep my secret
for me, and conduct him to the house offered by the unknown friend.  Let
him not disquiet himself about anything; all his wants shall be provided
for; he shall live--like a prince."

"Yes; he will indeed live like a prince, thanks to your royal
munificence.  But never was such kind interest better deserved.  It is
enough to see (as I have seen) his fine, melancholy countenance--"

"You have seen him, then, sir?" said Adrienne, interrupting Rodin.

"Yes, my dear young lady; I was with him for about two hours.  It was
quite enough to judge of him.  His charming features are the mirror of
his soul."

"And where did you see him, sir?"

"At your old Chateau de Cardoville, my dear young lady, near which he had
been shipwrecked in a storm, and whither I had gone to--" Rodin hesitated
for a moment, and then, as if yielding to the frankness of his
disposition, added: "Whither I had gone to commit a bad action--a
shameful, miserable action, I must confess!"

"You, sir?--at Cardoville House--to commit a bad action?" cried Adrienne,
much surprised.

"Alas! yes, my dear young lady," answered Rodin with simplicity.  "In one
word, I had orders from Abbe d'Aigrigny, to place your former bailiff in
the alternative either of losing his situation or lending himself to a
mean action--something, in fact, that resembled spying and calumny; but
the honest, worthy man refused."

"Why, who are you, sir?" said Mdlle. de Cardoville, more and more

"I am Rodin, lately secretary of the Abbe d'Aigrigny--a person of very
little importance, as you see."

It is impossible to describe the accent, at once humble and ingenuous, of
the Jesuit, as he pronounced these words, which he accompanied with a
respectful bow.  On this revelation, Mdlle. de Cardoville drew back
abruptly.  We have said that Adrienne had sometimes heard talk of Rodin,
the humble secretary of the Abbe d'Aigrigny, as a sort of obedient and
passive machine.  That was not all; the bailiff of Cardoville Manor,
writing to Adrienne on the subject of Prince Djalma, had complained of
the perfidious and dishonest propositions of Rodin.  She felt, therefore,
a vague suspicion, when she heard that her liberator was the man who had
played so odious a part.  Yet this unfavorable feeling was balanced by
the sense of what she owed to Rodin, and by his frank denunciation of
Abbe d'Aigrigny before the magistrate.  And then the Jesuit, by his own
confession, had anticipated, as it were, the reproaches that might have
been addressed to him.  Still, it was with a kind of cold reserve that
Mdlle. de Cardoville resumed this dialogue, which she had commenced with
as much frankness as warmth and sympathy.

Rodin perceived the impression he had made.  He expected it.  He was not
the least disconcerted when Mdlle. de Cardoville said to him, as she
fixed upon him a piercing glance, "Ah! you are M. Rodin--secretary to the
Abbe d'Aigrigny?"

"Say ex-secretary, if you please, my dear young lady," answered the
Jesuit; "for you see clearly that I can never again enter the house of
the Abbe d'Aigrigny.  I have made of him an implacable enemy, and I am
now without employment--but no matter--nay, so much the better--since, at
this price, the wicked are unmasked, and honest people rescued."

These words, spoken with much simplicity, and dignity, revived a feeling
of pity in Adrienne's heart.  She thought within herself that, after all,
the poor old man spoke the truth.  Abbe d'Aigrigny's hate, after this
exposure, would be inexorable, and Rodin had braved it for the sake of a
generous action.

Still Mdlle. de Cardoville answered coldly, "Since you knew, sir, that
the propositions you were charged to make to the bailiff of Cardoville
were shameful and perfidious, how could you undertake the mission?"

"How?" replied Rodin, with a sort of painful impatience; "why, because I
was completely under Abbe d'Aigrigny's charm, one of the most
prodigiously clever men I have ever known, and, as I only discovered the
day before yesterday, one of the most prodigiously dangerous men there is
in the world.  He had conquered my scruples, by persuading me that the
End justifies the Means.  I must confess that the end he seemed to
propose to himself was great and beautiful; but the day before yesterday
I was cruelly undeceived.  I was awakened, as it were, by a thunder-peal.
Oh, my dear young lady!" added Rodin, with a sort of embarrassment and
confusion, "let us talk no more of my fatal journey to Cardoville.
Though I was only an ignorant and blind instrument, I feel as ashamed and
grieved at it as if I had acted for myself.  It weighs upon me, it
oppresses me.  I entreat you, let us speak rather of yourself, and of
what interests you--for the soul expands with generous thoughts, even as
the breast is dilated in pure and healthful air."

Rodin had confessed his fault so spontaneously, he explained it so
naturally, he appeared to regret it so sincerely, that Adrienne, whose
suspicions had no other grounds, felt her distrust a good deal

"So," she resumed, still looking attentively at Rodin, "it was at
Cardoville that you saw Prince Djalma?"

"Yes, madame; and my affection for him dates from that interview.
Therefore I will accomplish my task.  Be satisfied, my dear young lady;
like you, like Marshal Simon's daughters, the prince shall avoid being
the victim of this detestable plot, which unhappily does not stop there."

"And who besides, then, is threatened?"

"M. Hardy, a man full of honor and probity, who is also your relation,
and interested in this inheritance, but kept away from Paris by infamous
treachery.  And another heir, an unfortunate artisan, who falling into a
trap cleverly baited, has been thrown into a prison for debt."

"But, sir," said Adrienne, suddenly, "for whose advantage was this
abominable plot, which really alarms me, first devised?"

"For the advantage of Abbe d'Aigrigny," answered Rodin.

"How, and by what right!  Was he also an heir?"

"It would take too long to explain it to you, my dear young lady.  You
will know all one day.  Only be convinced that your family has no more
bitter enemy that Abbe d'Aigrigny."

"Sir," said Adrienne, giving way to one last suspicion, "I will speak
frankly to you.  How can I have deserved the interest that you seem to
take in me, and that you even extend to all the members of my family?"

"My dear young lady," answered Rodin, with a smile, "were I to tell you
the cause, you would only laugh at, or misapprehend me."

"Speak, I beg of you, sir.  Do not mistrust me or yourself."

"Well, then, I became interested in you--devoted to you--because your
heart is generous, your mind lofty, your character independent and proud.
Once attached to you, those of your race, who are indeed themselves
worthy of interest, were no longer indifferent to me.  To serve them was
to serve you also."

"But, sir--admitting that you suppose me worthy of the too flattering
praises you bestow upon me--how could you judge of my heart, my mind, my

"I will tell you, my dear young lady; but first I must make another
confession, that fills me with shame.  If you were not even so
wonderfully endowed, what you have suffered in this house should suffice
to command the interest of every honest man--don't you think so?"

"I do think it should, sir."

"I might thus explain the interest I feel in you.  But no--I confess it--
that would not have sufficed with me.  Had you been only Mdlle. de
Cardoville--a rich, noble, beautiful young lady--I should doubtless have
pitied your misfortune; but I should have said to myself, 'This poor
young lady is certainly much to be pitied; but what can I, poor man, do
in it?  My only resource is my post of secretary to the Abbe d'Aigrigny,
and he would be the first that must be attacked.  He is all-powerful, and
I am nothing.  To engage in a struggle with him would be to ruin myself,
without the hope of saving this unfortunate person.' But when I learnt
what you were, my dear young lady, I revolted, in spite of my
inferiority.  `No,' I said, `a thousand times, no!  So fine an intellect,
so great a heart, shall not be the victims of an abominable plot.  I may
perish in the struggle, but I will at least make the attempt.'"

No words can paint the mixture of delicacy, energy, and sensibility with
which Rodin uttered these sentiments.  As it often happens with people

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