List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V9, by Eugene Sue
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behold great interests discussed in her house, and in her presence, to
hear men of acknowledged ability ask her advice upon certain practical
matters relating to the influence of female congregations, filled the
princess with pride, as her claims to consideration were thus sanctioned
by Lordships and Eminences, and she took the position, as it were, of a
mother of the Church.  Therefore, to win these prelates, whether native
or foreign, she had recourse to no end of saintly flatteries and
sanctified coaxing.  Nor could anything be more logical than these
successive transfigurations of this heartless woman, who only loved
sincerely and passionately the pursuit of intrigue and domination.  With
the progress of age, she passed naturally from the intrigues of love to
those of politics, and from the latter to those of religion.

At the moment she finished inspecting her preparations, the sound of
coaches was heard in the courtyard, apprising her of the arrival of the
persons she had been expecting.  Doubtless, these persons were of the
highest rank, for contrary to all custom, she went to receive them at the
door of her outer saloon.  It was, indeed, Cardinal Malipieri, who was
always cold, with the Belgian Bishop of Halfagen, who was always hot.
They were accompanied by Father d'Aigrigny.  The Roman cardinal was a
tall man, rather bony than thin, with a yellowish puffy countenance,
haughty and full of craft; he squinted a good deal, and his black eyes
were surrounded by a deep brown circle.  The Belgian Bishop was short,
thick, and fat, with a prominent abdomen, an apoplectic complexion, a
slow, deliberate look, and a soft, dimpled, delicate hand.

The company soon assembled in the great saloon.  The cardinal instantly
crept close to the fire, whilst the bishop, beginning to sweat and blow,
cast longing glances at the iced chocolate and coffee, which were to aid
him in sustaining the oppressive heat of the artificial dog-day.  Father
d'Aigrigny, approaching the princess, said to her in a low voice: "Will
you give orders for the admittance of Abbe Gabriel de Rennepont, when he

"Is that young priest then here?" asked the princess, with extreme

"Since the day before yesterday.  We had him sent for to Paris, by his
superiors.  You shall know all.  As for Father Rodin, let Mrs. Grivois
admit him, as the other day, by the little door of the back stairs."

"He will come to-day?"

"He has very important matters to communicate.  He  desires that both the
cardinal and the bishop should be present for they have been informed of
everything at Rome by the Superior General, in their quality of

The princess rang the bell, gave the necessary orders, and, returning
towards the cardinal, said to him, in a tone of the most earnest
solicitude: "Does your Eminence begin to feel a little warmer?  Would
your Eminence like a bottle of hot water to your feet?  Shall we make a
larger fire for your Eminence?"

At this proposition, the Belgian bishop, who was wiping the perspiration
from his forehead, heaved a despairing sigh.

"A thousand thanks, princess," answered the cardinal to her, in very good
French, but with an intolerable Italian accent; "I am really overcome
with so much kindness."

"Will not your Lordship take some refreshment?" said the princess to the
bishop, as she turned towards the sideboard.

"With your permission, madame, I will take a little iced coffee," said
the prelate, making a prudent circuit to approach the dishes without
passing before the fire.

"And will not your Eminence try one of these little oyster-patties?  They
are quite hot," said the princess.

"I know them already, princess," said the cardinal, with the air and look
of an epicure; "they are delicious, and I cannot resist the temptation."

"What wine shall I have the honor to offer your Eminence?" resumed the
princess, graciously.

"A little claret, if you please, madame;" and as Father d'Aigrigny
prepared to fill the cardinal's glass, the princess disputed with him
that pleasure.

"Your Eminence will doubtless approve what I have done," said Father
d'Aigrigny to the cardinal, whilst the latter was gravely despatching the
oyster-patties, "in not summoning for to-day the Bishop of Mogador, the
Archbishop of Nanterre, and our holy Mother Perpetue, the lady-superior
of St. Mary Convent, the interview we are about to have with his
Reverence Father Rodin and Abbe Gabriel being altogether private and

"Our good father was perfectly right," said the cardinal; "for, though
the possible consequences of this Rennepont affair may interest the whole
Church, there are some things that are as well kept secret."

"Then I must seize this opportunity to thank your Eminence for having
deigned to make an exception in favor of a very obscure and humble
servant of the Church," said the princess to the cardinal, with a very
deep and respectful curtsey.

"It is only just and right, madame," replied the cardinal, bowing as he
replaced his empty glass upon the table; "we know how much the Church is
indebted to you for the salutary direction you give to the religious
institutions of which you are the patroness."

"With regard to that, your Eminence may be assured that I always refuse
assistance to any poor person who cannot produce a certificate from the

"And it is only thus, madame," resumed the cardinal, this time allowing
himself to be tempted by the attractions of the crawfish's tails, "it is
only thus that charity has any meaning.  I care little that the
irreligious should feel hunger, but with the pious it is different;" and
the prelate gayly swallowed a mouthful.  "Moreover," resumed he, "it is
well known with what ardent zeal you pursue the impious, and those who
are rebels against the authority of our Holy Father."

"Your Eminence may feel convinced that I am Roman in heart and soul; I
see no difference between a Gallican and a Turk," said the princess,

"The princess is right," said the Belgian bishop: "I will go further, and
assert that a Gallican should be more odious to the church than a pagan.
In this respect I am of the opinion of Louis XIV.  They asked him a favor
for a man about the court.  `Never,' said the great king; `this person is
a Jansenist.'--`No, sire; he is an atheist.'--'Oh! that is different; I
will grant what he asks,' said the King."

This little episcopal jest made them all laugh.  After which Father
d'Aigrigny resumed seriously, addressing the cardinal: "Unfortunately, as
I was about to observe to your Eminence with regard to the Abbe Gabriel,
unless they are very narrowly watched, the lower clergy have a tendency
to become infected with dissenting views, and with ideas of rebellion
against what they call the despotism of the bishops."

"This young man must be a Catholic Luther!" said the bishop.  And,
walking on tip-toe, he went to pour himself out a glorious glass of
Madeira, in which he soaked some sweet cake, made in the form of a

Led by his example, the Cardinal, under pretence of warming his feet by
drawing still closer to the fire, helped himself to an excellent glass of
old Malaga, which he swallowed by mouthfuls, with an air of profound
meditation; after which he resumed: "So this Abbe Gabriel starts as a
reformer.  He must be an ambitious man.  Is he dangerous?"

"By our advice his superiors have judged him to be so.  They have ordered
him to come hither.  He will soon be here, and I will tell your Eminence
why I have sent for him.  But first, I have a note on the dangerous
tendencies of the Abbe Gabriel.  Certain questions were addressed to him,
with regard to some of his acts, and it was in consequence of his answers
that his superiors recalled him."

So saying, Father d'Aigrigny, took from his pocket-book a paper, which he
read as follows:

"`Question.--Is it true that you performed religious rites for an
inhabitant of your parish who died in final impenitence of the most
detestable kind, since he had committed suicide?

"`Answer of Abbe Gabriel.--I paid him the last duties, because, more than
any one else, because of his guilty end, he required the prayers of the
church.  During the night which followed his interment I continually
implored for him the divine mercy.

"`Q.--Is it true that you refused a set of silver-gilt sacramental
vessels, and other ornaments, with which one of the faithful, in pious
zeal, wished to endow your parish?

"`A.--I refused the vessels and embellishments, because the house of the
Lord should be plain and without ornament, so as to remind the faithful
that the divine Saviour was born in a stable.  I advised the person who
wished to make these useless presents to my parish to employ the money in
judicious almsgiving, assuring him it would be more agreeable to the

"What a bitter and violent declamation against the adorning of our
temples!" cried the cardinal.  "This young priest is most dangerous.
Continue, my good father."

And, in his indignation, his Eminence swallowed several mouthfuls of
strawberry-cream.  Father d'Aigrigny continued.

"`Q.--Is it true that you received in your parsonage, and kept there for
some days, an inhabitant of the village, by birth a Swiss, belonging to
the Protestant communion?  Is it true that not only you did not attempt
to convert him to the one Catholic and Apostolic faith, but that you
carried so far the neglect of your sacred duties as to inter this heretic
in the ground consecrated for the repose of true believers?

"`A.--One of my brethren was houseless.  His life had been honest and
laborious.  In his old age his strength had failed him, and sickness had
come at the back of it; almost in a dying state, he had been driven from
his humble dwelling by a pitiless landlord, to whom he owed a year's
rent.  I received the old man in my house, and soothed his last days.
The poor creature had toiled and suffered all his life; dying, he uttered
no word of bitterness at his hard fate; he recommended his soul to God
and piously kissed the crucifix.  His pure and simple spirit returned to
the bosom of its Creator.  I closed his eyes with respect, I buried him,
I prayed for him; and, though he died in the Protestant faith, I thought
him worthy of a place in consecrated ground.'"

"Worse and worse!" said the cardinal.  "This tolerance is monstrous.  It
is a horrible attack on that maxim of Catholicism: `Out of the pale of
the Church there is no salvation.'"

"And all this is the more serious, my lord," resumed Father d'Aigrigny,
"because the mildness, charity, and Christian devotion of Abbe Gabriel
have excited, not only in his parish, but in all the surrounding
districts, the greatest enthusiasm.  The priests of the neighboring
parishes have yielded to the general impulse, and it must be confessed
that but for his moderation a wide-spread schism would have commenced."

"But what do you hope will result from bringing him here?" said the

"The position of Abbe Gabriel is complicated; first of all, he is the
heir of the Rennepont family."

"But has he not ceded his rights?" asked the cardinal.

"Yes, my lord; and this cession, which was at first informal, has lately,
with his free consent, been made perfectly regular in law; for he had
sworn, happen what might, to renounce his part of the inheritance in
favor of the Society of Jesus.  Nevertheless, his Reverence Father Rodin
thinks, that if your Eminence, after explaining to Abbe Gabriel that he
was about to be recalled by his superiors, were to propose to him some
eminent position at Rome, he might be induced to leave France, and we
might succeed in arousing within him those sentiments of ambition which
are doubtless only sleeping for the present; your Eminence, having
observed, very judiciously, that every reformer must be ambitious."

"I approve of this idea," said the cardinal, after a moment's reflection;
"with his merit and power of acting on other men, Abbe Gabriel may rise
very high, if he is docile; and if he should not be so, it is better for
the safety of the Church that he should be at Rome than here--for you
know, my good father, we have securities that are unfortunately wanting
in France."[36]

After some moments of silence, the cardinal said suddenly to Father
d'Aigrigny: "As we were talking of Father Rodin, tell me frankly what you
think of him."

"Your Eminence knows his capacity," said Father d'Aigrigny, with a
constrained and suspicious air; "our reverend Father-General--"

"Commissioned him to take your place," said the cardinal; "I know that.
He told me so at Rome.  But what do you think of the character of Father
Rodin?  Can one have full confidence in him?"

"He has so complete, so original, so secret, and so impenetrable a mind,"
said Father d'Aigrigny, with hesitation, "that it is difficult to form
any certain judgment with respect to him."

"Do you think him ambitious?" said the cardinal, after another moment's
pause.  "Do you not suppose him capable of having other views than those
of the greater glory of his Order?--Come, I have reasons for speaking
thus," added the prelate, with emphasis.

"Why," resumed Father d'Aigrigny, not without suspicion, for the game is
played cautiously between people of the same craft, "what should your
Eminence think of him, either from your own observation, or from the
report of the Father-General?"

"I think--that if his apparent devotion to his Order really concealed
some after-thought--it would be well to discover it--for, with the
influence that he has obtained at Rome (as I have found out), he might
one day, and that shortly, become very formidable."

"Well!" cried Father d'Aigrigny, impelled by his jealousy of Rodin; "I
am, in this respect, of the same opinion as your Eminence; for I have
sometimes perceived in him flashes of ambition, that were as alarming as
they were extraordinary--and since I must tell all to your Eminence--"

Father d'Aigrigny was unable to continue; at this moment Mrs. Grivois,
who had been knocking at the door, half-opened it, and made a sign to her
mistress.  The princess answered by bowing her head, and Mrs. Grivois
again withdrew.  A second afterwards Rodin entered the room.

[36] It is known that, in 1845, the Inquisition, solitary confinement,
etc., still existed at Rome.



At sight of Rodin, the two prelates and Father d'Aigrigny rose
spontaneously, so much were they overawed by the real superiority of this
man; their faces, just before contracted with suspicion and jealousy,
suddenly brightened up, and seemed to smile on the reverend father with
affectionate deference.  The princess advanced some steps to meet him.

Rodin, badly dressed as ever, leaving on the soft carpet the muddy track
of his clumsy shoes, put his umbrella into one corner, and advanced
towards the table--not with his accustomed humility, but with slow step,
uplifted head, and steady glance; not only did he feel himself in the
midst of his partisans, but he knew that he could rule them all by the

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