List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V7, by Eugene Sue
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"As for horsehair, the very best is not pure.  You can judge what the
inferior quality is, from the workgirls calling it vitriol hair, because
it is the refuse or clippings from goats and swine, washed in vitriol,
boiled in dyes, etc., to burn and disguise such foreign bodies as straw.
thorns, splinters, and even bits of skin, not worth picking out.  The
dust rising when a mass of this is beaten, makes as many ravages as the



A little while before Florine made up her mind to atone for her shameful
breach of confidence, Mother Bunch had returned from the factory, after
accomplishing to the end her painful task.  After a long interview with
Angela, struck, like Agricola, with the ingenuous grace, sense, and
goodness, with which the young girl was endowed, Mother Bunch had the
courageous frankness to advise the smith to enter into this marriage.
The following scene took place whilst Florine, still occupied in reading
the journal, had not yet taken the praiseworthy resolution of replacing
it.  It was ten o'clock at night.  The workgirl, returned to Cardoville
House, had just entered her chamber.  Worn out by so many emotions, she
had thrown herself into a chair.  The deepest silence reigned in the
house.  It was now and then interrupted by the soughing of a high wind,
which raged without and shook the trees in the garden.  A single candle
lighted the room, which was papered with dark green.  That peculiar tint,
and the hunchback's black dress, increased her apparent paleness.  Seated
in an arm-chair by the side of the fire, with her head resting upon her
bosom, her hands crossed upon her knees, the work-girl's countenance was
melancholy and resigned; on it was visible the austere satisfaction which
is felt by the consciousness of a duty well performed.

Like all those who, brought up in the merciless school of misfortune, no
longer exaggerate the sentiment of sorrow, too familiar and assiduous a
guest to be treated as a stranger, Mother Bunch was incapable of long
yielding to idle regrets and vain despair, with regard to what was
already past.  Beyond doubt, the blow had been sudden, dreadful;
doubtless it must leave a long and painful remembrance in the sufferer's
soul; but it was soon to pass, as it were, into that chronic state of
pain-durance, which had become almost an integral part of her life.  And
then this noble creature, so indulgent to fate, found still some
consolations in the intensity of her bitter pain.  She had been deeply
touched by the marks of affection shown her by Angela, Agricola's
intended: and she had felt a species of pride of the heart, in perceiving
with what blind confidence, with what ineffable joy, the smith accepted
the favorable presentiments which seemed to consecrate his happiness.
Mother Bunch also said to herself: "At least, henceforth I shall not be
agitated by hopes, or rather by suppositions as ridiculous as they were
senseless.  Agricola's marriage puts a term to all the miserable reveries
of my poor head."

Finally, she found a real and deep consolation in the certainty that she
had been able to go through this terrible trial, and conceal from
Agricola the love she felt for him.  We know how formidable to this
unfortunate being were those ideas of ridicule and shame, which she
believed would attach to the discovery of her mad passion.  After having
remained for some time absorbed in thought, Mother Bunch rose, and
advanced slowly towards the desk.

"My only recompense," said she, as she prepared the materials for
writing, "will be to entrust the mute witness of my pains with this new
grief.  I shall at least have kept the promise that I made to myself.
Believing, from the bottom of my soul, that this girl is able to make
Agricola happy, I told him so with the utmost sincerity.  One day, a long
time hence, when I shall read over these pages, I shall perhaps find in
that a compensation for all that I now suffer."

So saying, she drew the box from the pigeon-hole.  Not finding her
manuscript, she uttered a cry of surprise; but, what was her alarm, when
she perceived a letter to her address in the place of the journal!  She
became deadly pale; her knees trembled; she almost fainted away.  But her
increasing terror gave her a fictitious energy, and she had the strength
to break the seal.  A bank-note for five hundred francs fell from the
letter on the table, and Mother Bunch read as follows:

"Mademoiselle,--There is something so original and amusing in reading in
your memoirs the story of your love for Agricola, that it is impossible
to resist the pleasure of acquainting him with the extent of it, of which
he is doubtless ignorant, but to which he cannot fail to show himself
sensible.  Advantage will be taken to forward it to a multitude of other
persons, who might, perhaps, otherwise be unfortunately deprived of the
amusing contents of your diary.  Should copies and extracts not be
sufficient, we will have it printed, as one cannot too much diffuse such
things.  Some will weep--others will laugh--what appears superb to one
set of people, will seem ridiculous to another, such is life--but your
journal will surely make a great sensation.  As you are capable of
wishing to avoid your triumph, and as you were only covered with rags
when you were received, out of charity into this house, where you wish to
figure as the great lady, which does not suit your shape for more reasons
than one, we enclose in the present five hundred francs to pay for your
day-book, and prevent your being without resources, in case you should be
modest enough to shrink from the congratulations which await you, certain
to overwhelm you by to-morrow, for, at this hour, your journal is already
in circulation.

"One of your brethren,


The vulgar, mocking, and insolent tone of this letter, which was
purposely written in the character of a jealous lackey, dissatisfied with
the admission of the unfortunate creature into the house, had been
calculated with infernal skill and was sure to produce the effect

"Oh, good heaven!" were the only words the unfortunate girl could
pronounce, in her stupor and alarm.

Now, if we remember in what passionate terms she had expressed her love
for her adopted brother, if we recall many passages of this manuscript,
in which she revealed the painful wounds often inflicted on her by
Agricola without knowing it, and if we consider how great was her terror
of ridicule, we shall understand her mad despair on reading this infamous
letter.  Mother Bunch did not think for a moment of all the noble words
and touching narratives contained in her journal.  The one horrible idea
which weighed down the troubled spirit of the unfortunate creature, was,
that on the morrow Agricola, Mdlle. de Cardoville, and an insolent and
mocking crowd, would be informed of this ridiculous love, which would,
she imagined, crush her with shame and confusion.  This new blow was so
stunning, that the recipient staggered a moment beneath the unexpected
shock.  For some minutes, she remained completely inert and helpless;
then, upon reflection, she suddenly felt conscious of a terrible

This hospitable mansion, where she had found a sure refuge after so many
misfortunes, must be left for ever.  The trembling timidity and sensitive
delicacy of the poor creature did not permit her to remain a minute more
in this dwelling, where the most secret recesses of her soul had been
laid open, profaned, and exposed no doubt to sarcasm and contempt.  She
did not think of demanding justice and revenge from Mdlle. de Cardoville.
To cause a ferment of trouble and irritation in this house, at the moment
of quitting it, would have appeared to her ingratitude towards her
benefactress.  She did not seek to discover the author or the motive of
this odious robbery and insulting letter.  Why should she, resolved, as
she was, to fly from the humiliations with which she was threatened?  She
had a vague notion (as indeed was intended), that this infamy might be
the work of some of the servants, jealous of the affectionate deference
shown her by Mdlle. de Cardoville--and this thought filled her with
despair.  Those pages--so painfully confidential, which she would not
have ventured to impart to the most tender and indulgent mother, because,
written as it were with her heart's blood, they painted with too cruel a
fidelity the thousand secret wounds of her soul--those pages were to
serve, perhaps served even now, for the jest and laughing-stock of the
lackeys of the mansion.

The money which accompanied this letter, and the insulting way in which
it was offered, rather tended to confirm her suspicions.  It was intended
that the fear of misery should not be the obstacle of her leaving the
house.  The workgirl's resolution was soon taken, with that calm and firm
resignation which was familiar to her.  She rose, with somewhat bright
and haggard eyes, but without a tear in them.  Since the day before, she
had wept too much.  With a trembling, icy hand, she wrote these words on
a paper, which she left by the side of the bank-note: May Mdlle. de
Cardoville be blessed for all that she has done for me, and forgive me
for having left her house, where I can remain no longer."

Having written this, Mother Bunch threw into the fire the infamous
letter, which seemed to burn her hands.  Then, taking a last look at her
chamber, furnished so comfortably, she shuddered involuntarily as she
thought of the misery that awaited her--a misery more frightful than that
of which she had already been the victim, for Agricola's mother had
departed with Gabriel, and the unfortunate girl could no longer, as
formerly, be consoled in her distress by the almost maternal affection of
Dagobert's wife.  To live alone--quite alone--with the thought that her
fatal passion for Agricola was laughed at by everybody, perhaps even by
himself--such were the future prospects of the hunchback.  This future
terrified her--a dark desire crossed her mind--she shuddered, and an
expression of bitter joy contracted her features.  Resolved to go, she
made some steps towards the door, when, in passing before the fireplace,
she saw her own image in the glass, pale as death, and clothed in black;
then it struck her that she wore a dress which did not belong to her, and
she remembered a passage in the letter, which alluded to the rags she had
on before she entered that house.  "True!" said she, with a heart-
breaking smile, as she looked at her black garments; "they would call me
a thief."

And, taking her candle, she entered the little dressing room, and put on
again the poor, old clothes, which she had preserved as a sort of pious
remembrance of her misfortunes.  Only at this instant did her tears flow
abundantly.  She wept--not in sorrow at resuming the garb of misery, but
in gratitude; for all the comforts around her, to which she was about to
bid an eternal adieu, recalled to her mind at every step the delicacy and
goodness of Mdlle. de Cardoville: therefore, yielding to an almost
involuntary impulse, after she had put on her poor, old clothes, she fell
on her knees in the middle of the room, and, addressing herself in
thought to Mdlle. de Cardoville, she exclaimed, in a voice broken by
convulsive sobs: " Adieu! oh, for ever, adieu!--You, that deigned to call
me friend--and sister!"

Suddenly, she rose in alarm; she heard steps in the corridor, which led
from the garden to one of the doors of her apartment, the other door
opening into the parlor.  It was Florine, who (alas! too late) was
bringing back the manuscript.  Alarmed at this noise of footsteps, and
believing herself already the laughing-stock of the house.  Mother Bunch
rushed from the room, hastened across the parlor, gained the court-yard,
and knocked at the window of the porter's lodge.  The house-door opened,
and immediately closed upon her.  And so the workgirl left Cardoville

Adrienne was thus deprived of a devoted, faithful, and vigilant guardian.
Rodin was delivered from an active and sagacious antagonist, whom he had
always, with good reason, feared.  Having, as we have seen, guessed
Mother Bunch's love for Agricola, and knowing her to be a poet, the
Jesuit supposed, logically enough that she must have written secretly
some verses inspired by this fatal and concealed passion.  Hence the
order given to Florine, to try and discover some written evidence of this
love; hence this letter, so horribly effective in its coarse ribaldry, of
which, it must be observed, Florine did not know the contents, having
received it after communicating a summary of the contents of the
manuscript, which, the first time, she had only glanced through without
taking it away.  We have said, that Florine, yielding too late to a
generous repentance, had reached Mother Bunch's apartment, just as the
latter quitted the house in consternation.

Perceiving a light in the dressing-room, the waiting-maid hastened
thither.  She saw upon a chair the black dress that Mother Bunch had just
taken off, and, a few steps further, the shabby little trunk, open and
empty, in which she had hitherto preserved her poor garments.  Florine's
heart sank within her; she ran to the secretary; the disorder of the
card-board boxes, the note for five hundred francs left by the side of
the two lines written to Mdlle. de Cardoville, all proved that her
obedience to Rodin's orders had borne fatal fruit, and that Mother Bunch
had quitted the house for ever.  Finding the uselessness of her tardy
resolution, Florine resigned herself with a sigh to the necessity of
delivering the manuscript to Rodin.  Then, forced by the fatality of her
miserable position to console herself for evil by evil, she considered
that the hunchback's departure would at least make her treachery less

Two days after these events, Adrienne received the following note from
Rodin, in answer to a letter she had written him, to inform him of the
work-girl's inexplicable departure:

"MY DEAR YOUNG LADY;--Obliged to set out this morning for the
factory of the excellent M. Hardy, whither I am called by an affair of
importance, it is impossible for me to pay you my humble respects.
You ask me what I think of the disappearance of this poor girl?  I
really do not know.  The future will, I doubt not, explain all to her
advantage.  Only, remember what I told you at Dr. Baleinier's, with
regard to a certain society and its secret emissaries, with whom it has
the art of surrounding those it wishes to keep a watch on.  I accuse no
one; but let us only recall facts.  This poor girl accused me; and I am,
as you know, the most faithful of your servants.  She possessed nothing;
and yet five hundred francs were found in her secretary.  You
loaded her with favors; and she leaves your house without even explaining
the cause of this extraordinary flight.  I draw no conclusion, my dear
young lady; I am always unwilling to condemn without evidence; but
reflect upon all this, and be on your guard, for you have perhaps escaped
a great danger.  Be more circumspect and suspicious than ever; such at

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