List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V9, by Eugene Sue
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attacks of delirium?"

"Yes, my lord; here is the note, as your Eminence commanded." So saying
Rousselet delivered a paper to the prelate.  We will inform the reader
that this part of the conversation between Rousselet and the cardinal was
carried on at a distance from the partition, so that Rodin could hear
nothing of it, whilst that which related to the embalming had been
perfectly audible to him.

The cardinal, having received the note from Rousselet, perused it with an
expression of lively curiosity.  When he had finished, he crumpled it in
his hand, and said, without attempting to dissemble his vexation, "Always
nothing but incoherent expression.  Not two words together, from which
you can draw any reasonable conclusion.  One would really think this man
had the power to control himself even in his delirium, and to rave about
insignificant matters only."

Then, addressing Rousselet, "You are sure that you have reported
everything that escaped from him during his delirium?"

"With the exception of the same phrases, that he repeated over and over
again, your Eminence may be assured that I have not omitted a single
word, however unmeaning."

"Show me into Father Rodin's room," said the prelate, after a moment's

"But, my lord," answered the young doctor, with some hesitation, "the fit
has only left him about an hour, and the reverend father is still very

"The more the reason," replied the prelate, somewhat indiscreetly.
Then, recollecting himself, he added, "He will the better appreciate the
consolations I have to offer.  Should he be asleep, awake him, and
announce my visit."

"I have only orders to receive from your Eminence," said Rousselet,
bowing, and entering the next room.

Left alone, the cardinal said to himself, with a pensive air, "I always
come back to that.  When he was suddenly attacked by the cholera, Father
Rodin believed himself poisoned by order of the Holy See.  He must then
have been plotting something very formidable against Rome, to entertain
so abominable a fear.  Can our suspicions be well founded?  Is he acting
secretly and powerfully on the Sacred College?  But then for what end?
This it has been impossible to penetrate, so faithfully has the secret
been kept by his accomplices.  I had hoped that, during his delirium, he
would let slip some word that would put us on the trace of what we are so
much interested to discover.  With so restless and active a mind,
delirium is often the exaggeration of some dominant idea; yet here I have
the report of five different fits--and nothing--no, nothing but vague,
unconnected phrases."

The return of Rousselet put an end to these reflections.  "I am sorry to
inform my lord that the reverend father obstinately refuses to see any
one.  He says that he requires absolute repose.  Though very weak, he has
a savage and angry look, and I should not be surprised if he overheard
your Eminence talk about embalming him."

The cardinal, interrupting Rousselet, said to him, "Did Father Rodin have
his last fit of delirium in the night?"

"Between three and half-past five this morning, my lord."

"Between three and half-past five," repeated the prelate, as if he wished
to impress this circumstance on his memory, "the attack presented no
particular symptoms?"

"No, my lord; it consisted of rambling, incoherent talk, as your Eminence
may see by this note."

Then, as he perceived the prelate approaching Father Rodin's door,
Rousselet added, "The reverend father will positively see no one, my
lord; he requires rest, to prepare for the operation; it might be

Without attending to these observations, the cardinal entered Rodin's
chamber.  It was a tolerably large room, lighted by two windows, and
simply but commodiously furnished.  Two logs were burning slowly in the
fireplace, in which stood a coffee-pot, a vessel containing mustard-
poultice, etc.  On the chimney-piece were several pieces of rag, and some
linen bandages.  The room was full of that faint chemical odor peculiar
to the chambers of the sick, mingled with so putrid a stench, that the
cardinal stopped at the door a moment, before he ventured to advance
further.  As the three reverend fathers had mentioned in their walk,
Rodin lived because he had said to himself, "I want to live, and I will

For, as men of timid imaginations and cowardly minds often die from the
mere dread of dying, so a thousand facts prove that vigor of character
and moral energy may often struggle successfully against disease, and
triumph over the most desperate symptoms.

It was thus with the Jesuit.  The unshaken firmness of his character, the
formidable tenacity of his will (for the will has sometimes a mysterious
and almost terrific power), aiding the skillful treatment of Dr.
Baleinier, had saved him from the pestilence with which he had been so
suddenly attacked.  But the shock had been succeeded by a violent fever,
which placed Rodin's life in the utmost peril.  This increased danger had
caused the greatest alarm to Father d'Aigrigny, who felt, in spite of his
rivalry and jealousy, that Rodin was the master-spirit of the plot in
which they were engaged, and could alone conduct it to a successful

The curtains of the room was half closed, and admitted only a doubtful
light to the bed on which Rodin was lying.  The Jesuit's features had
lost the greenish hue peculiar to cholera patients, but remained
perfectly livid and cadaverous, and so thin, that the dry, rugged skin
appeared to cling to the smallest prominence of bone.  The muscles and
veins of the long, lean, vulture-like neck resembled a bundle of cords.
The head, covered with an old, black, filthy nightcap, from beneath which
strayed a few thin, gray hairs, rested upon a dirty pillow; for Rodin
would not allow them to change his linen.  His iron-gray beard had not
been shaved for some time, and stood out like the hairs of a brush.
Under his shirt he wore an old flannel waistcoat full of holes.  He had
one of his arms out of bed, and his bony hairy hand, with its bluish
nails, held fast a cotton handkerchief of indescribable color.

You might have taken him for a corpse, had it not been for the two
brilliant sparks which still burned in the depths of his eyes.  In that
look, in which seemed concentrated all the remaining life and energy of
the man, you might read the most restless anxiety.  Sometimes his
features revealed the sharpest pangs; sometimes the twisting of his
hands, and his sudden starts, proclaimed his despair at being thus
fettered to a bed of pain, whilst the serious interests which he had in
charge required all the activity of his mind.  Thus, with thoughts
continually on the stretch, his mind often wandered, and he had fits of
delirium, from which he woke as from a painful dream.  By the prudent
advice of Dr. Baleinier, who considered him not in a state to attend to
matters of--importance, Father d'Aigrigny had hitherto evaded Rodin's
questions with regard to the Rennepont affair, which he dreaded to see
lost and ruined in consequence of his forced inaction.  The silence of
Father d'Aigrigny on this head, and the ignorance in which they kept him,
only augmented the sick man's exasperation.  Such was the moral and
physical state of Rodin, when Cardinal Malipieri entered his chamber
against his will.



To understand fully the tortures of Rodin, reduced to inactivity by
sickness, and to explain the importance of Cardinal Malipieri's visit, we
must remember the audacious views of the ambitious Jesuit, who believed
himself following in the steps of Sixtus V., and expected to become his
equal.  By the success of the Rennepont affair, to attain to the
generalship of his Order, by the corruption of the Sacred College to
ascend the pontifical throne, and then, by means of a change in the
statutes of the Company, to incorporate the Society of Jesus with the
Holy See, instead of leaving it independent, to equal and almost always
rule the Papacy--such were the secret projects of Rodin.

Their possibility was sanctioned by numerous precedents, for many mere
monks and priests had been suddenly raised to the pontifical dignity.
And as for their morality, the accession of the Borgias, of Julius II.,
and other dubious Vicars of Christ, might excuse and authorize the
pretensions of the Jesuits.

Though the object of his secret intrigues at Rome had hitherto been
enveloped in the greatest mystery, suspicions had been excited in regard
to his private communications with many members of the Sacred College.  A
portion of that college, Cardinal Malipieri at the head of them, had
become very uneasy on the subject, and, profiting by his journey to
France, the cardinal had resolved to penetrate the Jesuit's dark designs.
If, in the scene we have just painted, the cardinal showed himself so
obstinately bent on having a conference with Rodin, in spite of the
refusal of the latter, it was because the prelate hoped, as we shall soon
see, to get by cunning at the secret, which had hitherto been so well
concealed.  It was, therefore, in the midst of all these extraordinary
circumstances, that Rodin saw himself the victim of a malady, which
paralyzed his strength, at the moment when he had need of all his
activity, and of all the resources of his mind.  After remaining for some
seconds motionless near the door, the cardinal, still holding his bottle
under his nose, slowly approached the bed where Rodin lay.

The latter, enraged at this perseverance, and wishing to avoid an
interview which for many reasons was singularly odious to him, turned his
face towards the wall, and pretended to be asleep.  Caring little for
this feint, and determined to profit by Rodin's state of weakness, the
prelate took a chair, and, conquering his repugnance, sat down close to
the Jesuit's bed.

"My reverend and very dear father, how do you find yourself?" said he to
him, in a honeyed tone, which his Italian accent seemed to render still
more hypocritical.  Rodin pretended not to hear, breathed hard, and made
no answer.  But the cardinal, not without disgust, shook with his gloved
hand the arm of the Jesuit, and repeated in a louder voice: "My reverend
and very dear father, answer me, I conjure you!"

Rodin could not restrain a movement of angry impatience, but he continued
silent.  The cardinal was not a man to be discouraged by so little; he
again shook the arm of the Jesuit, somewhat more roughly, repeating, with
a passionless tenacity that would have incensed the most patient person
in the world: "My reverend and very dear father, since you are not
asleep, listen to me, I entreat of you."

Irritable with pain, exasperated by the obstinacy of the prelate, Rodin
abruptly turned his head, fixed on the Roman his hollow eyes, shining
with lurid fire, and, with lips contracted by a sardonic smile, said to
him, bitterly: "You must be very anxious, my lord, to see me embalmed,
and lie in state with tapers, as you were saying just now, for you thus
to come to torment me in my last moments, and hasten my end!"

"Oh, my good father! how can you talk so?" cried the cardinal, raising
his hands as if to call heaven to witness to the sincerity of the tender
interest he felt for the Jesuit.

"I tell you that I heard all just now, my lord; for the partition is
thin," added Rodin, with redoubled bitterness.

"If you mean that, from the bottom of my soul, I desired that you should
make an exemplary and Christian end, you are perfectly right, my dear
father.  I did say so; for, after a life so well employed, it would be
sweet to see you an object of adoration for the faithful!"

"I tell you, my lord," cried Rodin, in a weak and broken voice, "that it
is ferocious to express such wishes in the presence of a dying man.
Yes," he added, with growing animation, that contrasted strongly with his
weakness, "take care what you do; for if I am too much plagued and
pestered--if I am not allowed to breathe my last breath quietly--I give
you notice that you will force me to die in anything but a Christian
manner, and if you mean to profit by an edifying spectacle, you will be

This burst of anger having greatly fatigued Rodin, his head fell back
upon the pillow, and he wiped his cracked and bleeding lips with his old
cotton handkerchief.

"Come, come, be calm, my very dear father," resumed the cardinal, with a
patronizing air; "do not give way to such gloomy ideas.  Doubtless,
Providence reserves you for great designs, since you have been already
delivered from so much peril.  Let us hope that you will be likewise
saved from your present danger."

Rodin answered by a hoarse growl, and turned his face towards the wall.

The imperturbable prelate continued: "The views of Providence are not
confined to your salvation, my very dear father.  Its power has been
manifested in another way.  What I am about to tell you is of the highest
importance.  Listen attentively."

Without turning his head, Rodin muttered in a tone of angry bitterness,
which betrayed his intense sufferings: "They desire my death.  My chest
is on fire, my head racked with pain, and they have no pity.  Oh, I
suffer the tortures of the damned!"

"What! already" thought the Roman, with a smile of sarcastic malice; then
he said aloud: "Let me persuade you, my very dear father--make an effort
to listen to me; you will not regret it."

Still stretched upon the bed, Rodin lifted his hands clasped upon his
cotton handkerchief with a gesture of despair, and then let them fall
again by his side.

The cardinal slightly shrugged his shoulders, and laid great stress on
what follows, so that Rodin might not lose a word of it: "My dear father,
it has pleased Providence that, during your fit of raving, you have made,
without knowing it, the most important revelations."

The prelate waited with anxious curiosity for the effect of the pious
trap he had laid for the Jesuit's weakened faculties.  But the latter,
still turned towards the wall, did not appear to have heard him and
remained silent.

"You are, no doubt, reflecting on my words, my dear father," resumed the
cardinal; "you are right, for it concerns a very serious affair.  I
repeat to you that Providence has allowed you, during your delirium, to
betray your most secret thoughts--happily, to me alone.  They are such as
would compromise you in the highest degree.  In short, during your
delirium of last night, which lasted nearly two hours, you unveiled the
secret objects of your intrigues at Rome with many of the members of the
Sacred College."

The cardinal, rising softly, stooped over the bed to watch the expression
of Rodin's countenance.  But the latter did not give him time.  As a
galvanized corpse starts into strange and sudden motion, Rodin sprang
into a sitting posture at the last words of the prelate.

"He has betrayed himself," said the cardinal, in a low voice, in Italian.
Then, resuming his seat, he fixed on the Jesuit his eyes, that sparkled
with triumphant joy.

Though he did not hear the exclamation of Malipieri, nor remark the

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