List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V8, by Eugene Sue
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

morrow--yes--not before to-morrow.  I have a superstition of the heart."

"What is it?"

"You shall know.  HE LOVES ME--that word says all, contains all,
comprehends all, is all--and yet I have a thousand questions to ask with
regard to him--but I will ask none before to-morrow, because, by a
mysterious fatality, to-morrow is with me a sacred anniversary.  It will
be an age till then; but happily, I can wait.  Look here!"

Beckoning M. de Montbron, she led him to the Indian Bacchus.  "How much
it is like him!" said she to the count.

"Indeed," exclaimed the latter, "it is strange!"

"Strange?" returned Adrienne, with a smile of gentle pride; "strange,
that a hero, a demi-god, an ideal of beauty, should resemble Djalma?"

"How you love him!" said M. de Montbron, deeply touched, and almost
dazzled by the felicity which beamed from the countenance of Adrienne.

"I must have suffered a good deal, do you not think so?" said she, after
a moment's silence.

"If I had not made up my mind to come here to-day, almost in despair,
what would have happened?"

"I cannot tell; I should perhaps have died, for I am wounded mortally
here"--she pressed her hand to her heart.  "But what might have been
death to me, will now be life."

"It was horrible," said the count, shuddering.  "Such a passion, buried
in your own breast, proud as you are--"

"Yes, proud--but not self-conceited.  When I learned his love for
another, and that the impression which I fancied I had made on him at our
first interview had been immediately effaced, I renounced all hope,
without being able to renounce my love.  Instead of shunning his image, I
surrounded myself with all that could remind me of him.  In default of
happiness, there is a bitter pleasure in suffering through what we love."

"I can now understand your Indian library."

Instead of answering the count, Adrienne took from the stand one of the
freshly-cut volumes, and, bringing it to M. de Montbron, said to him,
with a smile and a celestial expression of joy and happiness: "I was
wrong--I am vain.  Just read this--aloud, if you please.  I tell you that
I can wait for to-morrow."  Presenting the book to the count, she pointed
out one passage with the tip of her charming finger.  Then she sank down
upon the couch, and, in an attitude of deep attention, with her body bent
forward, her hands crossed upon the cushion, her chin resting upon her
hands, her large eyes fixed with a sort of adoration on the Indian
Bacchus, that was just opposite to her, she appeared by this impassioned
contemplation to prepare herself to listen to M. de Montbron.

The latter, much astonished, began to read, after again looking at
Adrienne, who said to him, in her most coaxing voice, "Very slowly, I beg
of you.

M. de Montbron then read the following passage from the journal of a
traveller in India: "`When I was at Bombay, in 1829, I constantly heard
amongst the English there, of a young hero, the son of--'"

The count having paused a second, by reason of the barbarous spelling of
the name of Djalma's father, Adrienne immediately said to him, in her
soft voice: "The son of Kadja-sing."

"What a memory!" said the count, with a smile.  And he resumed: "`A young
hero, the son of Kadja-sing, king of Mundi.  On his return from a distant
and sanguinary expedition amongst the mountains against this Indian king,
Colonel Drake was filled with enthusiasm for this son of Kadja-sing,
known as Djalma.  Hardly beyond the age of childhood, this young prince
has in the course of this implacable war given proofs of such chivalrous
intrepidity, and of so noble a character, that his father has been
surnamed the Father of the Generous.'"

"That is a touching custom," said the count.  "To recompense the father,
as it were, by giving him a surname in honor of his son, is a great idea.
But how strange you should have met with this book!" added the count, in
surprise.  "I can understand; there is matter here to inflame the coolest

"Oh! you will see, you will see," said Adrienne.

The count continued to read: "`Colonel Drake, one of the bravest and best
officers of the English army, said yesterday, in my presence, that having
been dangerously wounded, and taken prisoner by Prince Djalma, after an
energetic resistance, he had been conveyed to the camp established in the
village of--"

Here there was the same hesitation on the part of the count, on seeing a
still more barbarous name than the first; so, not wishing to try the
adventure, he paused, and said to Adrienne, "Now really, I give this up."

"And yet it is so easy!" replied Adrienne; and she pronounced with
inexpressible softness, a name in itself soft, "The village of

"You appear to have an infallible process for remembering geographical
names," said the count, continuing: "`Once arrived at the camp, Colonel
Drake received the kindest hospitality, and Prince Djalma treated him
with the respect of a son.  It was there that the colonel became
acquainted with some facts, which carried to the highest pitch his
enthusiasm for prince Djalma.  I heard him relate the two following.

"`In one of the battles, the prince was accompanied by a young Indian of
about twelve years of age, whom he loved tenderly, and who served him as
a page, following him on horseback to carry his spare weapons.  This
child was idolized by its mother; just as they set out on the expedition,
she had entrusted her son to Prince Djalma's care, saying, with a
stoicism worthy of antiquity, "Let him be your brother."  "He shall be my
brother," had replied the prince.  In the height of a disastrous defeat,
the child is severely wounded, and his horse killed; the prince, at peril
of his life, notwithstanding the perception of a forced retreat,
disengages him, and places him on the croup of his own horse; they are
pursued; a musket-ball strikes their steed, who is just able to reach a
jungle, in the midst of which, after some vain efforts, he falls
exhausted.  The child is unable to walk, but the prince carries him in
his arms, and hides with him in the thickest part of the jungle.  The
English arrive, and begin their search; but the two victims escape.
After a night and a day of marches, counter-marches, stratagems,
fatigues, unheard-of perils, the prince, still, carrying the child, one
of whose legs is broken, arrives at his father's camp, and says, with the
utmost simplicity, "I had promised his mother that I would act a
brother's part by him--and I have done so."'

"That is admirable!" cried the count.

"Go on--pray go on!" said Adrienne, drying a tear, without removing her
eyes from the bas-relief, which she continued to contemplate with growing

The count continued: "`Another time, Prince Djalma, followed by two black
slaves, went, before sunrise, to a very wild spot, to seize a couple of
tiger cubs only a few days old.  The den had been previously discovered.
The two old tigers were still abroad.  One of the blacks entered the den
by a narrow aperture; the other, aided by Djalma, cut down a tolerably
large tree, to prepare a trap for one of the old tigers.  On the side of
the aperture, the cavern was exceedingly steep.  The prince mounted to
the top of it with agility, to set his trap, with the aid of the other
black.  Suddenly, a dreadful roar was heard; and, in a few bounds, the
tigress, returning from the chase, reached the opening of the den.  The
black who was laying the trap with the prince had his skull fractured by
her bite; the tree, falling across the entrance, prevented the female
from penetrating the cavern, and at the same time stopped the exit of the
black who had seized the cubs.

"`About twenty feet higher, upon a ledge of rock, the prince lay flat on
the ground, looking down upon this frightful spectacle.  The tigress,
rendered furious by the cries of her little ones, gnawed the hands of the
black, who, from the interior of the den, strove to support the trunk of
the tree, his only rampart, whilst he uttered the most lamentable

"It is horrible!" said the count.

"Oh! go on! pray go on!" exclaimed Adrienne, with excitement; "you will
see what can be achieved by the heroism of goodness."

The count pursued: "`Suddenly the prince seized his dagger between his
teeth, fastened his sash to a block of stone, took his axe in one hand,
and with the other slid down this substitute for a rope; falling a few
steps from the wild beast, he sprang upon her, and, swift as lightning,
dealt her two mortal strokes, just as the black, losing his strength, was
about to drop the trunk of the tree, sure to have been torn to pieces.'"

"And you are astonished at his resemblance with the demi-god, to whom
fable itself ascribes no more generous devotion!" cried the young lady,
with still increasing excitement.

"I am astonished no longer,I only admire," said the count, in a voice of
emotion; "and, at these two noble instances of heroism, my heart beats
with enthusiasm, as if I were still twenty."

"And the, noble heart of this traveller beat like yours at the recital,"
said Adrienne; "you will see."

"`What renders so admirable the intrepidity of the prince, is, that,
according to the principle of Indian castes, the life of a slave is of no
importance; thus a king's son, risking his life for the safety of a poor
creature, so generally despised, obeyed an heroic and truly Christian
instinct of charity, until then unheard of in this country."

"`Two such actions," said Colonel Drake, with good reason, "are
sufficient to paint the man;" it is with a feeling of profound respect
and admiration, therefore, that I, an obscure traveller, have written the
name of Prince Djalma in my book; and at the same time, I have
experienced a kind of sorrow, when I have asked myself what would be the
future fate of this prince, buried in the depths of a savage country,
always devastated by war.  However humble may be the homage that I pay to
this character, worthy of the heroic age, his name will at least be
repeated with generous enthusiasm by all those who have hearts that beat
in sympathy with what is great and noble.'"

"And just now, when I read those simple and touching lines," resumed
Adrienne, I could not forbear pressing my lips to the name of the

"Yes; he is such as I thought him," cried the count, with still more
emotion, as he returned the book to Adrienne, who rose, with a grave and
touching air, and said to him:  "It was thus I wished you to know him,
that you might understand my adoration; for this courage, this heroic
goodness, I had guessed beforehand, when I was an involuntary listener to
his conversation.  From that moment, I knew him to be generous as
intrepid, tender and sensitive as energetic and resolute; and when I saw
him so marvellously beautiful--so different, in the noble character of
his countenance, and even in the style of his garments, from all I had
hitherto met with--when I saw the impression that I made upon him, and
which I perhaps felt still more violently--I knew that my whole life was
bound up with his love."

"And now, what are your plans?"

"Divine, radiant as my heart.  When he learns his happiness, I wish that
Djalma should feel dazzled as I do, so as to prevent my gazing on my sun;
for I repeat, that until tomorrow will be a century to me.  Yes, it is
strange!  I should have thought that after such a discovery, I should
feel the want of being left alone, plunged in an ocean of delicious
dreams.  But no! from this time till to-morrow--I dread solitude--I feel
a kind of feverish impatience--uneasy--ardent--Oh! where is the
beneficent fairy, that, touching me with her wand, will lull me into
slumber till to-morrow!"

"I will be that beneficent fairy," said the count, smiling.


"Yes, I."

"And how so?"

"The power of my wand is this: I will relieve you from a portion of your
thoughts by making them materially visible."

"Pray explain yourself."

"And my plan will have another advantage for you.  Listen to me; you are
so happy now that you can hear anything.  Your odious aunt, and her
equally odious friends, are spreading the report that your residence with
Dr. Baleinier--"

"Was rendered necessary by the derangement of my mind," said Adrienne,
with a smile; "I expected that."

"It is stupid enough; but, as your resolution to live alone makes many
envious of you, and many hostile, you must feel that there will be no
want of persons ready to believe the most absurd calumny possible."

"I hope as much.  To pass for mad in the eyes of fools is very

"Yes; but to prove to fools that they are fools, and that in the face of
all Paris, is much more amusing.  Now, people begin to talk of your
absence; you have given up your daily rides; for some time my niece has
appeared alone in our box at the Opera; you wish to kill the time till
to-morrow--well! here is an excellent opportunity.  It is two o'clock; at
halfpast three, my niece will come in the carriage; the weather is
splendid; there is sure to be a crowd in the Bois de Boulogne.  You can
take a delightful ride, and be seen by everybody.  Then, as the air and
movement will have calmed your fever of happiness, I will commence my
magic this evening, and take you to India."

"To India?"

"Into the midst of one of those wild forests, in which roar the lion, the
panther, and the tiger.  We will have this heroic combat, which so moved
you just now, under our own eyes, in all its terrible reality."

"Really, my dear count, you must be joking."

"Not at all; I promise to show you real wild beasts, formidable tenants
of the country of our demigod--growling tigers--roaring lions--do you not
think that will be better than books?"

"But how?"

"Come! I must give you the secret of my supernatural power.  On returning
from your ride, you shall dine with my niece, and we will go together to
a very curious spectacle now exhibiting at the Porte-Saint-Martin
Theatre.  A most extraordinary lion-tamer there shows you a number of
wild beasts, in a state of nature, in the midst of a forest (here only
commences the illusion), and has fierce combats with them all--tigers,
lions, and panthers.  All Paris is crowding to these representations, and
all Paris will see you there, more charming than ever."

"I accept your offer," said Adrienne, with childish delight.  "Yes, you
are right.  I feel a strange pleasure in beholding these ferocious
monsters, who will remind me of those that my demi-god so heroically
overcame.  I accept also, because, for the first time in my life, I am
anxious to be admired --even by everybody.  I accept finally because--"
Here Mdlle. de Cardoville was interrupted by a low knock at the door, and
by the entrance of Florine, who announced M. Rodin.



Rodin entered.  A rapid glance at Mdlle. de Cardoville and M. de Montbron
told him at once that he was in a dilemma.  In fact, nothing could be
less encouraging than the faces of Adrienne and the count.  The latter,
when he disliked people, exhibited his antipathy, as we have already

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: