List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V9, by Eugene Sue
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

when the quarryman, seeing Goliath blinded with blood, groping before him
with his hands, exclaimed in ferocious allusion to a well-known game:
"Now for blind-man's-bluff."

Then, with a violent kick, he again threw down the victim, whose head
struck twice heavily on the pavement.

Just as the giant fell a voice from amongst the crowd exclaimed: "It is
Goliath! stop! he is innocent."

It was Father d'Aigrigny, who, yielding to a generous impulse, was making
violent efforts to reach the foremost rank of the actors in this scene,
and who cried out, as he came nearer, pale, indignant, menacing: "You are
cowards and murderers! This man is innocent.  I know him.  You shall
answer for his life."

These vehement words were received with loud murmurs.

"You know that poisoner," cried the quarryman, seizing the Jesuit by the
collar; "then perhaps you are a poisoner too.

"Wretch," exclaimed Father d'Aigrigny, endeavoring to shake himself loose
from the grasp, "do you dare to lay hand upon me?"

"Yes, I dare do anything," answered the quarryman.

"He knows him: he's a poisoner like the other," cried the crowd, pressing
round the two adversaries; whilst Goliath, who had fractured his skull in
the fall, uttered a long death-rattle.

At a sudden movement of Father d'Aigrigny, who disengaged himself from
the quarryman, a large glass phial of peculiar form, very thick, and
filled with a greenish liquor, fell from his pocket, and rolled close to
the dying Goliath.  At sight of this phial, many voices exclaimed
together: "It is poison! Only see! He had poison upon him."

The clamor redoubled at this accusation, and they pressed so close to
Abbe d'Aigrigny, that he exclaimed: "Do not touch me! do not approach

"If he is a poisoner," said a voice, "no more mercy for him than for the

"I a poisoner?" said the abbe, struck with horror.

Ciboule had darted upon the phial; the quarryman seized it from her,
uncorked it and presenting it to Father d'Aigrigny, said to him: "Now
tell us what is that?"

"It is not poison," cried Father d'Aigrigny.

"Then drink it!" returned the quarryman.

"Yes, yes! let him drink it!" cried the mob.

"Never," answered Father d'Aigrigny, in extreme alarm.  And he drew back
as he spoke, pushing away the phial with his hand.

"Do you see?  It is poison.  He dares not drink it," they exclaimed.
Hemmed in on every side, Father d'Aigrigny stumbled against the body of

"My friends," cried the Jesuit, who, without being a poisoner, found
himself exposed to a terrible alternative, for his phial contained
aromatic salts of extraordinary strength, designed for a preservative
against the cholera, and as dangerous to swallow as any poison, "my good
friends, you are in error.  I conjure you, in the name of heaven--"

"If that is not poison, drink it!" interrupted the quarryman, as he again
offered the bottle to the Jesuit.

"If he does not drink it, death to the poisoner of the poor!"

"Yes!--death to him! death to him!"

"Unhappy men!" cried Father d'Aigrigny, whilst his hair stood on end with
terror; "do you mean to murder me?"

"What about all those, that you and your mate have killed, you wretch?"

"But it is not true--and--"

"Drink, then!" repeated the inflexible quarryman; "I ask you for the last

"To drink that would be death," cried Father d'Aigrigny.

"Oh! only hear the wretch!" cried the mob, pressing closer to him; "he
has confessed--he has confessed!"

"He has betrayed himself!"[40]

"He said, `to drink that would be death!'"

"But listen to me," cried the abbe, clasping his hands together; "this
phial is--"

Furious cries interrupted Father d'Aigrigny.  "Ciboule, make an end of
that one!" cried the quarryman, spurning Goliath with his foot.  "I will
begin this one!" And he seized Father d'Aigrigny by the throat.

At these words, two different groups formed themselves.  One, led by
Ciboule, "made an end" of Goliath, with kicks and blows, stones and
wooden shoes; his body was soon reduced to a horrible thing, mutilated,
nameless, formless--a mere inert mass of filth and mangled flesh.
Ciboule gave her cloak, which they tied to one of the dislocated ankles
of the body, and thus dragged it to the parapet of the quay.  There, with
shouts of ferocious joy, they precipitated the bloody remains into the
river.  Now who does not shudder at the thought that, in a time of
popular commotion, a word, a single word, spoken imprudently, even by an
honest man, and without hatred, will suffice to provoke so horrible a

"Perhaps it is a poisoner!" said one of the drinkers in the tavern of the
Rue de la Calandre--nothing more--and Goliath had been pitilessly

What imperious reasons for penetrating the lowest depths of the masses
with instruction and with light--to enable unfortunate creatures to
defend themselves from so many stupid prejudices, so many fatal
superstitions, so much implacable fanaticism!--How can we ask for
calmness, reflection, self-control, or the sentiment of justice from
abandoned beings, whom ignorance has brutalized, and misery depraved, and
suffering made ferocious, and of whom society takes no thought, except
when it chains them to the galleys, or binds them ready for the
executioner! The terrible cry which had so startled Morok was uttered by
Father d'Aigrigny as the quarryman laid his formidable hand upon him,
saying to Ciboule: "Make an end of that one--I will begin this one!"

[40] This fact is historical.  A man was murdered because a phial full of
ammonia was found upon him.  On his refusal to drink it, the populace,
persuaded that the bottle contained poison, tore him to pieces.



Night was almost come, as the mutilated body of Goliath was thrown into
the river.  The oscillations of the mob had carried into the street,
which runs along the left side of the cathedral, the group into whose
power Father d'Aigrigny had fallen.  Having succeeded in freeing himself
from the grasp of the quarryman, but still closely pressed by the
multitude that surrounded him, crying, "Death to the poisoner!" he
retreated step by step, trying to parry the blows that were dealt him.
By presence of mind, address, and courage, recovering at that critical
moment his old military energy, he had hitherto been able to resist and
to remain firm on his feet--knowing, by the example of Goliath, that to
fall was to die.  Though he had little hope of being heard to any
purpose, the abbe continued to call for help with all his might.
Disputing the ground inch by inch, he manoeuvred so as to draw near one
of the lateral walls of the church, and at length succeeded in ensconcing
himself in a corner formed by the projection of a buttress, and close by
a little door.

This position was rather favorable.  Leaning with his back against the
wall, Father d'Aigrigny was sheltered from the attacks of a portion of
his assailants.  But the quarryman, wishing to deprive him of this last
chance of safety, rushed upon him, with the intention of dragging him out
into the circle where he would have been trampled under foot.  The fear
of death gave Father d'Aigrigny extraordinary strength, and he was able
once more to repulse the quarryman, and remain entrenched in the corner
where he had taken refuge.  The resistance of the victim redoubled the
rage of the assailants.  Cries of murderous import resounded with new
violence.  The quarryman again rushed upon Father d'Aigrigny, saying,
"Follow me, friends! this lasts too long.  Let us make an end of it."

Father d'Aigrigny saw that he was lost.  His strength was exhausted, and
he felt himself sinking; his legs trembled under him, and a cloud
obscured his sight; the howling of the furious mob began to sound dull
upon his ear.  The effects of violent contusions, received during the
struggle, both on the head and chest, were now very perceptible.  Two or
three times, a mixture of blood and foam rose to the lips of the abbe;
his position was a desperate one.

"To be slaughtered by these brutes, after escaping death so often in
war!" Such was the thought of Father d'Aigrigny, as the quarryman rushed
upon him.

Suddenly, at the very moment when the abbe, yielding to the instinct of
self-preservation, uttered one last call for help, in a heart-piercing
voice, the door against which he leaned opened behind him, and a firm
hand caught hold of him, and pulled him into the church.  Thanks to this
movement, performed with the rapidity of lightning, the quarryman, thrown
forward in his attempt to seize Father d'Aigrigny, could not check his
progress, and found himself just opposite to the person who had come, as
it were, to take the place of the victim.

The quarryman stopped short, and then fell back a couple of paces, so
much was he amazed at this sudden apparition, and impressed, like the
rest of the crowd, with a vague feeling of admiration and respect at
sight of him who had come so miraculously to the aid of Father
d'Aigrigny.  It was Gabriel.  The young missionary remained standing on
the threshold of the door.  His long black cassock was half lost in the
shadows of the cathedral; whilst his angelic countenance, with its border
of long light hair, now pale and agitated by pity and grief, was
illumined by the last faint rays of twilight.  This countenance shone
with so divine a beauty, and expressed such touching and tender
compassion, that the crowd felt awed as, with his large blue eyes full of
tears, and his hands clasped together, he exclaimed, in a sonorous voice:
"Have mercy, my brethren! Be humane--be just!"

Recovering from his first feeling of surprise and involuntary emotion,
the quarryman advanced a step towards Gabriel, and said to him: "No mercy
for the poisoner! we must have him! Give him up to us, or we go and take

"You cannot think of it, my brethren," answered Gabriel; "the church is a
sacred place--a place of refuge for the persecuted."

"We would drag our prisoner from the altar!" answered the quarryman,
roughly; "so give him up to us."

"Listen to me, my brethren," said Gabriel, extending his arms towards

"Down with the shaveling!" cried the quarryman; "let us go in and hunt
him up in the church!"

"Yes, yes!" cried the mob, again led away by the violence of this wretch,
"down with the black gown!"

"They are all of a piece!"

"Down with them!"

"Let us do as we did at the archbishop's!"

"Or at Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois!"

"What do our likes care for a church?"

"If the priests defend the poisoners, we'll pitch them into the water

"Yes, yes!"

"I'll show you the lead!" cried the quarryman; and followed by Ciboule,
and a good number of determined men, he rushed towards Gabriel.

The missionary, who for some moments had watched the increasing fury of
the crowd, had foreseen this movement; hastily retreating into the
church, he succeeded, in spite of the efforts of the assailants, in
nearly closing the door, and in barricading it by the help of a wooden
bar, which he held in such a manner as would enable the door to resist
for a few minutes.

Whilst he thus defended the entrance, Gabriel shouted to Father
d'Aigrigny: "Fly, father! fly through the vestry! the other doors are

The Jesuit, overpowered by fatigue, covered with contusions, bathed in
cold sweat, feeling his strength altogether fail, and too soon fancying
himself in safety, had sunk, half fainting, into a chair.  At the voice
of Gabriel, he rose with difficulty, and, with a trembling step,
endeavored to reach the choir, separated from the rest of the church by
an iron railing.

"Quick, father!" added Gabriel, in alarm, using every effort to maintain
the door, which was now vigorously assailed.  "Make haste! In a few
minutes it will be too late.  All alone!" continued the missionary, in
despair, "alone, to arrest the progress of these madmen!"

He was indeed alone.  At the first outbreak of the attack, three or four
sacristans and other members of the establishment were in the church;
but, struck with terror, and remembering the sack of the archbishop's
palace, and of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois, they had immediately taken
flight.  Some of them had concealed themselves in the organ-loft and
others fled into the vestry, the doors of which they locked after them,
thus cutting off the retreat of Gabriel and Father d'Aigrigny.  The
latter, bent double by pain, yet roused by the missionary's portentive
warning, helping himself on by means of the chairs he met with on his
passage, made vain efforts to reach the choir railing.  After advancing a
few steps, vanquished by his suffering, he staggered and fell upon the
pavement, deprived of sense and motion.  At the same moment, Gabriel, in
spite of the incredible energy with which the desire to save Father
d'Aigrigny had inspired him, felt the door giving way beneath the
formidable pressure from without.

Turning his head, to see if the Jesuit had at least quitted the church,
Gabriel, to his great alarm, perceived that he was lying motionless at a
few steps from the choir.  To abandon the half-broken door, to run to
Father d'Aigrigny, to lift him in his arms, and drag him within the
railing of the choir, was for the young priest an action rapid as
thought; for he closed the gate of the choir just at the instant that the
quarryman and his band, having finished breaking down the door, rushed in
a body into the church.

Standing in front of the choir, with his arms crossed upon his breast,
Gabriel waited calmly and intrepidly for this mob, still more exasperated
by such unexpected resistance.

The door once forced, the assailants rushed in with great violence.  But
hardly had they entered the church, than a strange scene took place.  It
was nearly dark; only a few silver lamps shed their pale light round the
sanctuary, whose far outlines disappeared in the shadow.  On suddenly
entering the immense cathedral, dark, silent, and deserted, the most
audacious were struck with awe, almost with fear in presence of the
imposing grandeur of that stony solitude.  Outcries and threats died away
on the lips of the most furious.  They seemed to dread awaking the echoes
of those enormous arches, those black vaults, from which oozed a
sepulchral dampness, which chilled their brows, inflamed with anger, and
fell upon their shoulders like a mantle of ice.

Religious tradition, routine, habit, the memories of childhood, have so
much influence upon men, that hardly had they entered the church, than
several of the quarryman's followers respectfully took off their hats,
bowed their bare heads, and walked along cautiously, as if to check the
noise of their footsteps on the sounding stones.  Then they exchanged a
few words in a low and fearful whisper.  Others timidly raised their eyes
to the far heights of the topmost arches of that gigantic building, now
lost in obscurity, and felt almost frightened to see themselves so little
in the midst of that immensity of darkness.  But at the first joke of the
quarryman, who broke this respectful silence, the emotion soon passed

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: