List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V7, by Eugene Sue
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >


After a moment's reflection, she said to me: `It is, I think, useless to
disturb my mistress at present; it can be of no importance whether she is
informed of this treachery two or three hours sooner or later; during
that time I may be able to discover something more.  I have an idea,
which I think a good one.  Make my excuses to my mistress; I shall soon
be back.' Then Florine sent for a hackney-coach, and went out."

"Florine is an excellent girl," said Mdlle. de Cardoville, with a smile,
for further reflection had quite reassured her: "but, on this occasion, I
think that her zeal and good heart have deceived her, as they have you,
my poor friend.  Do you know, that we are two madcaps, you and I, not to
have thought of one thing, which would have put us quite at our ease?"

"How so, madame?"

"The Abbe d'Aigrigny fears M. Rodin; he may have sought him out, to
entreat his forbearance.  Do you not find this explanation both
satisfactory and reasonable?"

"Perhaps so, madame," said Mother Bunch, after a moment's reflection;
"yes, it is probable."  But after another silence, and as if yielding to
a conviction superior to every possible argument, she exclaimed: "And
yet, no; believe me, madame, you are deceived.  I feel it.  All
appearances may be against what I affirm; yet, believe me, these
presentiments are too strong not to be true.  And have you not guessed
the most secret instincts of my heart?  Why should I not be able to guess
the dangers with which you are menaced?"

"What do you say? what have I guessed?" replied Mdlle. de Cardoville,
involuntarily impressed by the other's tone of conviction and alarm.

"What have you guessed?" resumed the latter.  "All the troublesome
susceptibility of an unfortunate creature, to whom destiny has decreed a
life apart.  If I have hitherto been silent, it is not from ignorance of
what I owe you.  Who told you, madame, that the only way to make me
accept your favors without blushing, was to give me some employment, that
would enable me to soothe the misfortunes I had so long shared?  Who told
you, when you wished me to have a seat at your table, and to treat as
your friend the poor needlewoman, in whose person you sought to honor,
resignation and honest industry--who told you, when I answered with tears
of gratitude and regret, that it was not false modesty, but a
consciousness of my own ridiculous deformity, that made me refuse your
offer?  Who told you that, but for this, I should have accepted it
proudly, in the name of all my low-born sisters?  But you replied to me
with the touching words: `I understand your refusal, my friend; it is not
occasioned by false modesty, but by a sentiment of dignity that I love
and respect.' "Who told you," continued the workgirl, with increasing
animation, "that I should be so happy to find a little solitary retreat
in this magnificent house, which dazzles me with its splendor?  Who
guided you in the choice of the apartment (still far too good) that you
have provided for me?  Who taught you, that, without envying the beauty
of the charming creatures that surround you, and whom I love because they
love you, I should always feel, by an involuntary comparison, embarrassed
and ashamed before them?  Who told you therefore to send them away,
whenever you wished to speak with me?  Yes! who has revealed to you all
the painful and secret susceptibilities of a position like mine!  Who has
revealed them to you?  God, no doubt! who in His infinite majesty creates
worlds, and yet cares for the poor little insect hidden beneath the
grass.  And you think, that the gratitude of a heart you have understood
so well, cannot rise in its turn to the knowledge of what may be hurtful
to you?  No, no, lady; some people have the instinct of self-
preservation; others have the still more precious instinct that enables
them to preserve those they love.  God has given me this instinct.  I
tell you that you are betrayed!"  And with animated look, and cheeks
slightly colored with emotion, the speaker laid such stress upon the last
words, and accompanied them with such energetic gesture, that Mdlle. de
Cardoville already shaken by the girl's warmth, began almost to share in
her apprehensions.  Then, although she had before learned to appreciate
the superior intelligence of this poor child of the people, Mdlle. de
Cardoville had never till now heard her friend express herself with so
much eloquence--an eloquence, too, that was inspired by the noblest
sentiments.  This circumstance added to the impression made upon
Adrienne.  But at the moment she was about to answer, a knock was heard
at the door of the room, and Florine entered.

On seeing the alarmed countenance of her waiting-maid, Mdlle. de
Cardoville said hastily: "Well, Florine! what news?  Whence come you, my

"From Saint-Dizier House, madame."

"And why did you go there?" asked Mdlle. de Cardoville, with surprise.

"This morning," said Florine, glancing at the workgirl, "madame, there,
confided to me her suspicions and uneasiness.  I shared in them.  The
visit of the Abbe d'Aigrigny to M. Rodin appeared to me very serious.  I
thought, if it should turn out that M. Rodin had been during the last few
days to Saint-Dizier House, there would be no longer any doubt of his

"True," said Adrienne, more and more uneasy.  "Well?"

"As I had been charged to superintend the removal from the lodge, I knew
that several things had remained there.  To obtain admittance, I had to
apply to Mrs. Grivois.  I had thus a pretext for returning to the hotel."

"What next, Florine, what next?"

"I endeavored to get Mrs. Grivois to talk of M. Rodin; but it was in

"She suspected you," said the workgirl.  "It was to be anticipated."

"I asked her," continued Florine, "if they had seen M. Rodin at the hotel
lately.  She answered evasively.  Then despairing of getting anything out
of her," continued Florine, "I left Mrs. Grivois, and that my visit might
excite no suspicion, I went to the pavilion--when, as I turn down the
avenue--whom do I see? why, M. Rodin himself, hastening towards the
little garden-door, wishing no doubt to depart unnoticed by that way."

"Madame, you hear," cried Mother Bunch, clasping her hands with a
supplicating air; "such evidence should convince you."

"M. Rodin at the Princess de Saint-Dizier's!" cried Mdlle. de Cardoville,
whose glance, generally so mild, now suddenly flashed with vehement
indignation.  Then she added, in a tone of considerable emotion,
"Continue, Florine."

"At sight of M. Rodin, I stopped," proceeded Florine, "and keeping a
little on one side, I gained the pavilion without being seen.  I looked
out into the street, through the closed blinds, and perceived a hackney
coach.  It was waiting for M. Rodin, for, a minute after, he got into it,
saying to the coachman, `No. 39, Rue Blanche'

"The prince's!" exclaimed Mdlle. de Cardoville.

"Yes, madame."

"Yes, M. Rodin was to see him to-day," said Adrienne, reflecting.

"No doubt he betrays you, madame, and the prince also; the latter will be
made his victim more easily than you."

"Shame! shame!" cried Mdlle. de Cardoville, on a sudden, as she rose, all
her features contracted with painful anger.  "After such a piece of
treachery, it is enough to make us doubt of everything--even of

"Oh, madame! is it not dreadful?" said Mother Bunch, shuddering.

"But, then, why did he rescue me and mine, and accuse the Abbe
d'Aigrigny?" wondered Mdlle. de Cardoville.  "Of a truth, it is enough to
make one lose one's reason.  It is an abyss--but, oh! how frightful is

"As I returned," said Florine, casting a look of affectionate devotion on
her mistress, "I thought of a way to make all clear; but there is not a
minute to lose."

"What do you mean?" said Adrienne, looking at Florine with surprise.

"M. Rodin will soon be alone with the prince," said Florine.

"No doubt," replied Adrienne.

"The prince always sits in a little room that opens upon a greenhouse.
It is there that he will receive M. Rodin."

"What then?" resumed Adrienne.

"This greenhouse, which I had arranged according to your orders, has only
one issue--by a door leading into a little lane.  The gardener gets in
that way every morning, so as not to have to pass through the apartments.
Having finished his work, he does not return thither during the day."

"What do you mean? what is your project?" said Adrienne, looking at
Florine with growing surprise.

"The plants are so disposed, that, I think, if even the shade were not
there, which screens the glass that separates the saloon from the
greenhouse, one might get near enough to hear what was passing in the
room, without being seen.  When I was superintending the arrangements, I
always entered by this greenhouse door.  The gardener had one key, and I
another.  Luckily, I have not yet parted with mine.  Within an hour, you
may know how far to trust M. Rodin.  If he betrays the prince, he betrays
you also."

"What say you?" cried Mdlle. de Cardoville.

"Set out instantly with me; we reach the side door; I enter alone, for
precaution sake--if all is right, I return--"

"You would have me turn spy?" said Mdlle. de Cardoville, haughtily,
interrupting Florine.  "You cannot think it.

"I beg your pardon, madame," said the girl, casting down her eyes, with
confused and sorrowful air; "you had suspicions, and me seems 'tis the
only way to confirm or destroy them."

"Stoop to listen to a conversation--never!" replied Adrienne.

"Madame," said Mother Bunch, suddenly, after same moments' thought,
"permit me to tell you that Mdlle. Florine is right.  The plan proposed
is a painful one, but it is the only way in which you can clear up,
perhaps, for ever, your doubts as to M. Rodin.  Notwithstanding the
evidence of facts, in spite of the almost certainty of my presentiments,
appearances may deceive us.  I was the first who accused M. Rodin to you.
I should not forgive myself all the rest of my life, did I accuse him
wrongfully.  Beyond doubt, it is painful, as you say, madame, to listen
to a conversation--" Then, with a violent effort to console herself, she
added, as she strove to repress her tears, "Yet, as your safety is at
stake, madame--for, if this be treachery, the future prospect is
dreadful--I will go in your place--to--"

"Not a word more, I entreat you," cried Mdlle. de Cardoville,
interrupting.  "Let you, my poor friend, do for me what I thought
degrading to do myself?  Never!"

Then, turning to Florine, she added, "Tell M. de Bonneville to have the
carriage got ready on the instant."

"You consent, then!" cried Florine, clasping her hands, and not seeking
to conceal her joy; and her eyes also became full of tears.

"Yes, I consent," answered Adrienne, with emotion.  "If it is to be war--
war to the knife, that they would wage with me--I must be prepared for
it; and, come to think of it, it would only be weakness and folly not to
put myself on my guard.  No doubt this step costs me much, and is very
repugnant to me, but it is the only way to put an end to suspicions that
would be a continual torment to me, and perhaps to prevent still greater
evils.  Yes! for many important reasons, this interview of M. Rodin with
Prince Djalma may be doubly decisive to me--as to the confidence, or the
inexorable hate, that I must henceforth feel for M. Rodin.  So, Florine,
quick!--my cloak and bonnet, and the carriage.  You will go with me.  As
for you, my dear, pray wait for me here," she added, turning to the work-

Half an hour after this conversation, Adrienne's carriage stopped, as we
have before seen, at the little garden-gate of the house in the Rue
Blanche.  Florine entered the greenhouse and soon returned to her
mistress.  "The shade is down, madame.  M. Rodin has just entered the
prince's room."  Mdlle. de Cardoville was, therefore, present, though
invisible, at the following scene, which took place between Rodin and



Some minutes before the entrance of Mdlle. de Cardoville into the
greenhouse, Rodin had been introduced by Faringhea into the presence of
the prince, who, still under the influence of the burning excitement into
which he had been plunged by the words of the half-caste, did not appear
to perceive the Jesuit.  The latter, surprised at the animated expression
of Djalma's countenance, and his almost frantic air, made a sign of
interrogation to Faringhea, who answered him privately in the following
symbolical manner:--After laying his forefinger on his head and heart, he
pointed to the fire burning in the chimney, signifying by his pantomimic
action that the head and heart of Djalma were both in flames.  No doubt
Rodin understood him, for an imperceptible smile of satisfaction played
upon his wan lips; then he said aloud to Faringhea, "I wish to be alone
with the prince.  Let down the shade and see that we are not
interrupted."  The half-caste bowed, and touched a spring near the sheet
of plate-glass, which slid into the wall as the blind descended; then,
again bowing, Faringhea left the room.  It was shortly after that Mdlle.
de Cardoville and Florine entered the greenhouse, which was now only
separated from the room in which was Djalma, by the transparent thickness
of a shade of white silk, embroidered with large colored birds.  The
noise of the door, which Faringhea closed as he went out, seemed to
recall the young Indian to himself; his features, though still animated,
recovered their habitual expression of mildness and gentleness; he
started, drew his hand across his brow, looked around him, as if waking
up from a deep reverie, and then, advancing towards Rodin, with an air as
respectful as confused, he said to him, using the expression commonly
applied to old men in his country, "Pardon me, father."  Still following
the customs of his nation, so full of deference towards age, he took
Rodin's hand to raise it to his lips, but the Jesuit drew back a step,
and refused his homage.

"For what do you ask pardon, my dear prince?" said he to Djalma.

"When you entered, I was in a dream; I did not come to meet you.  Once
more, pardon me, father!"

"Once more, I forgive you with all my heart, my dear prince.  But let us
have some talk.  Pray resume your place on the couch, and your pipe, too,
if you like it."

But Djalma, instead of adopting the suggestion, and throwing himself on
the divan, according to his custom, insisted on seating himself in a
chair, notwithstanding all the persuasions of "the Old Man with the Good
Heart," as he always called the Jesuit.

"Really, your politeness troubles me, my dear prince," said Rodin; "you
are here at home in India; at least, we wish you to think so."

"Many things remind me of my country," said Djalma, in a mild grave tone.
"Your goodness reminds me of my father, and of him who was a father to
me," added the Indian, as he thought of Marshal Simon, whose arrival in
Paris had been purposely concealed from him.

After a moment's silence, he resumed in a tone full of affectionate

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: