List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V9, by Eugene Sue
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power of his intellect.

"We were speaking of your reverence, my dear, good father," said the
cardinal, with charming affability.

"Ah!" said Rodin, looking fixedly at the prelate; "and what were you

"Why," replied the Belgian bishop, wiping his forehead, "all the good
that can be said of your reverence."

"Will you not take something, my good father?" said the princess to
Rodin, as she pointed to the splendid sideboard.

"Thank you, madame, I have eaten my radish already this morning."

"My secretary, Abbe Berlini, who was present at your repast, was, indeed,
much astonished at your reverence's frugality," said the prelate: "it is
worthy of an anchorite."

"Suppose we talk of business," said Rodin, abruptly, like a man
accustomed to lead and control the discussion.

"We shall always be most happy to hear you," said the prelate.  "Your
reverence yourself fixed to-day to talk over this great Rennepont affair.
It is of such importance, that it was partly the cause of my journey to
France; for to support the interests of the glorious Company of Jesus,
with which I have the honor of being associated, is to support the
interests of Rome itself, and I promised the reverend Father-General that
I would place myself entirely at your orders."

"I can only repeat what his Eminence has just said," added the bishop.
"We set out from Rome together, and our ideas are just the same."

"Certainly," said Rodin, addressing the cardinal, "your Eminence may
serve our cause, and that materially.  I will tell you how presently."

Then, addressing the princess, he continued: "I have desired Dr.
Baleinier to come here, madame, for it will be well to inform him of
certain things."

"He will be admitted as usual," said the princess.

Since Rodin's arrival Father d'Aigrigny had remained silent; he seemed
occupied with bitter thoughts, and with some violent internal struggle.
At last, half rising, he said to the prelate, in a forced tone of voice:
"I will not ask your Eminence to judge between the reverend Father Rodin
and myself.  Our General has pronounced, and I have obeyed.  But, as your
Eminence will soon see our superior, I should wish that you would grant
me the favor to report faithfully the answers of Father Rodin to one or
two questions I am about to put to him."

The prelate bowed.  Rodin looked at Father d'Aigrigny with an air of
surprise, and said to him, dryly: "The thing is decided.  What is the use
of questions?"

"Not to justify myself," answered Father d'Aigrigny, "but to place
matters in their true light before his Eminence."

"Speak, then; but let us have no useless speeches," said Rodin, drawing
out his large silver watch, and looking at it.  "By two o'clock I must be
at Saint-Sulpice."

"I will be as brief as possible," said Father d'Aigrigny, with repressed
resentment.  Then, addressing Rodin, he resumed: "When your reverence
thought fit to take my place, and to blame, very severely perhaps, the
manner in which I had managed the interests confided to my care, I
confess honestly that these interests were gravely compromised."

"Compromised?" said Rodin, ironically; "you mean lost.  Did you not order
me to write to Rome, to bid them renounce all hope?"

"That is true," said Father d'Aigrigny.

"It was then a desperate case, given up by the best doctors," continued
Rodin, with irony, "and yet I have undertaken to restore it to life.  Go

And, plunging both hands into the pockets of his trousers, he looked
Father d'Aigrigny full in the face.

"Your reverence blamed me harshly," resumed Father d'Aigrigny, "not for
having sought, by every possible means, to recover the property odiously
diverted from our society--"

"All your casuists authorize you to do so," said the cardinal; "the texts
are clear and positive; you have a right to recover; per fas aut nefas
what has been treacherously taken from you."

"And therefore," resumed Father d'Aigrigny, "Father Rodin only reproached
me with the military roughness of my means.  `Their violence,' he said,
`was in dangerous opposition to the manners of the age.' Be it so; but
first of all, I could not be exposed to any legal proceedings, and, but
for one fatal circumstance, success would have crowned the course I had
taken, however rough and brutal it may appear.  Now, may I ask your
reverence what--"

"What I have done more than you?" said Rodin to Father d'Aigrigny, giving
way to his impertinent habit of interrupting people; "what I have done
better than you?--what step I have taken in the Rennepont affair, since I
received it from you in a desperate condition?  Is that what you wish to

"Precisely," said Father d'Aigrigny, dryly.

"Well, I confess," resumed Rodin, in a sardonic tone, "just as you did
great things, coarse things, turbulent things, I have been doing little,
puerile, secret things.  Oh, heaven! you cannot imagine what a foolish
part I, who passed for a man of enlarged views, have been acting for the
last six weeks."

"I should never have allowed myself to address such a reproach to your
reverence, however deserved it may appear," said Father d'Aigrigny, with
a bitter smile.

"A reproach?" said Rodin, shrugging his shoulders; "a reproach?  You
shall be the judge.  Do you know what I wrote about you, some six weeks
ago?  Here it is: `Father d'Aigrigny has excellent qualities.  He will be
of much service to me'--and from to-morrow I shall employ you very
actively, added Rodin, by way of parenthesis--`but he is not great enough
to know how to make himself little on occasion.' Do you understand?"

"Not very well," said Father d'Aigrigny, blushing.

"So much the worse for you," answered Rodin; "it only proves that I was
right.  Well, since I must tell you, I have been wise enough to play the
most foolish part for six whole weeks.  Yes, I have chatted nonsense with
a grisette--have talked of liberty, progress, humanity, emancipation of
women, with a young, excited girl; of Napoleon the Great, and all sorts
of Bonapartist idolatry, with an old, imbecile soldier; of imperial
glory, humiliation of France, hopes in the King of Rome, with a certain
marshal of France, who, with a heart full of adoration for the robber of
thrones, that was transported to Saint-Helena, has a head as hollow and
sonorous as a trumpet, into which you have only to blow some warlike or
patriotic notes, and it will flourish away of itself, without knowing why
or how.  More than all this, I have talked of love affairs with a young
tiger.  When I told you it was lamentable to see a man of any
intelligence descend, as I have done, to all such petty ways of
connecting the thousand threads of this dark web, was I not right?  Is it
not a fine spectacle to see the spider obstinately weaving its net?--to
see the ugly little black animal crossing thread upon thread, fastening
it here, strengthening it there, and again lengthening it in some other
place?  You shrug your shoulders in pity; but return two hours after--
what will you find?  The little black animal eating its fill, and in its
web a dozen of the foolish flies, bound so securely, that the little
black animal has only to choose the moment of its repast."

As he uttered those words, Rodin smiled strangely; his eyes, gradually
half closed, opened to their full width, and seemed to shine more than
usual.  The Jesuit felt a sort of feverish excitement, which he
attributed to the contest in which he had engaged before these eminent
personages, who already felt the influence of his original and cutting

Father d'Aigrigny began to regret having entered on the contest.  He
resumed, however, with ill-repressed irony: "I do not dispute the
smallness of your means.  I agree with you, they are very puerile--they
are even very vulgar.  But that is not quite sufficient to give an
exalted notion of your merit.  May I be allowed to ask--"

"What these means have produced?" resumed Rodin, with an excitement that
was not usual with him.  "Look into my spider's web, and you will see
there the beautiful and insolent young girl, so proud, six weeks ago, of
her grace, mind, and audacity--now pale, trembling, mortally wounded at
the heart."

"But the act of chivalrous intrepidity of the Indian prince, with which
all Paris is ringing," said the princess, "must surely have touched
Mdlle. de Cardoville."

"Yes; but I have paralyzed the effect of that stupid and savage devotion,
by demonstrating to the young lady that it is not sufficient to kill
black panthers to prove one's self a susceptible, delicate, and faithful

"Be it so," said Father d'Aigrigny; "we will admit the fact that Mdlle.
de Cardoville is wounded to the heart."

"But what does this prove with regard to the Rennepont affair?" asked the
cardinal, with curiosity, as he leaned his elbows on the table.

"There results from it," said Rodin, "that when our most dangerous enemy
is mortally wounded, she abandons the battlefield.  That is something, I
should imagine."

"Indeed," said the princess, "the talents and audacity of Mdlle. de
Cardoville would make her the soul of the coalition formed against us."

"Be it so," replied Father d'Aigrigny, obstinately; "she may be no longer
formidable in that respect.  But the wound in her heart will not prevent
her from inheriting."

"Who tells you so?" asked Rodin, coldly, and with assurance.  "Do you
know why I have taken such pains, first to bring her in contact with
Djalma, and then to separate her from him?"

"That is what I ask you," said Father D'Aigrigny; "how can this storm of
passion prevent Mdlle. de Cardoville and the prince from inheriting?"

"Is it from the serene, or from the stormy sky, that darts the destroying
thunderbolt?" said Rodin, disdainfully.  "Be satisfied; I shall know
where to place the conductor.  As for M. Hardy, the man lived for three
things: his workmen, his friend, his mistress.  He has been thrice
wounded in the heart.  I always take aim at the heart; it is legal and

"It is legal, and sure, and praiseworthy," said the bishop; "for, if I
understand you rightly, this manufacturer had a concubine; now it is well
to make use of an evil passion for the punishment of the wicked."

"True, quite true," added the cardinal; "if they have evil passion for us
to make use of it, it is their own fault."

"Our holy Mother Perpetue," said the princess, "took every means to
discover this abominable adultery."

"Well, then, M. Hardy is wounded in his dearest affections, I admit,"
said Father d'Aigrigny, still disputing every inch of ground; "ruined too
in his fortune, which will only make him the more eager after this

The argument appeared of weight to the two prelates and the princess; all
looked at Rodin with anxious curiosity.  Instead of answering he walked
up to the sideboard, and, contrary to his habits of stoical sobriety, and
in spite of his repugnance for wine, he examined the decanters, and said:
"What is there in them?"

"Claret and sherry," said the hostess, much astonished at the sudden
taste of Rodin, "and--"

The latter took a decanter at hazard, and poured out a glass of Madeira,
which he drank off at a draught.  Just be fore he had felt a strange kind
of shivering; to this had succeeded a sort of weakness.  He hoped the
wine would revive him.

After wiping his mouth with the back of his dirty hand, he returned to
the table, and said to Father d'Aigrigny: "What did you tell me about M.

"That being ruined in fortune, he would be the more eager to obtain this
immense inheritance," answered Father d'Aigrigny, inwardly much offended
at the imperious tone.

"M. Hardy think of money?" said Rodin, shrugging his shoulders.  "He is
indifferent to life, plunged in a stupor from which he only starts to
burst into tears.  Then he speaks with mechanical kindness to those about
him.  I have placed him in good hands.  He begins, however, to be
sensible to the attentions shown him, for he is good, excellent, weak;
and ii is to this excellence, Father d'Aigrigny, that you must appeal to
finish the work in hand."

"I?" said Father d'Aigrigny, much surprised.

"Yes; and then you will find that the result I have obtained is
considerable, and--"

Rodin paused, and, pressing his hand to his forehead, said to himself:
"It is strange!"

"What is the matter?" said the princess, with interest.

"Nothing, madame," answered Rodin, with a shiver; "it is doubtless the
wine I drank; I am not accustomed to it.  I feel a slight headache; but
it will pass."

"Your eyes are very bloodshot, my good father, said the princess.

"I have looked too closely into my web," answered the Jesuit, with a
sinister smile; "and I must look again, to make Father d'Aigrigny, who
pretends to be blind, catch a glimpse of my other flies.  The two
daughters of Marshal Simon, for instance, growing sadder and more
dejected every day, at the icy barrier raised between them and their
father; and the latter thinking himself one day dishonored if he does
this, another if he does that; so that the hero of the Empire has become
weaker and more irresolute than a child.  What more remains of this
impious family?  Jacques Rennepont?  Ask Morok, to what a state of
debasement intemperance has reduced him, and towards what an abyss he is
rushing!--There is my occurrence-sheet; you see to what are reduced all
the members of this family, who, six weeks ago, had each elements of
strength and union! Behold these Renneponts, who, by the will of their
heretical ancestor, were to unite their forces to combat and crush our
Society!--There was good reason to fear them; but what did I say?  That I
would act upon their passions.  What have I done?  I have acted upon
their passions.  At this hour they are vainly struggling in my web--they
are mine--they are mine--"

As he was speaking, Rodin's countenance and voice had undergone a
singular alteration; his complexion, generally so cadaverous, had become
flushed, but unequally, and in patches; then, strange phenomenon! his
eyes grew both more brilliant and more sunken, and his voice sharper and
louder.  The change in the countenance of Rodin, of which he did not
appear to be conscious, was so remarkable, that the other actors in this
scene looked at him with a sort of terror.

Deceived as to the cause of this impression, Rodin exclaimed with
indignation, in a voice interrupted by deep gaspings for breath: "It is
pity for this impious race, that I read upon your faces?  Pity for the
young girl, who never enters a church, and erects pagan altars in her
habitation?  Pity for Hardy, the sentimental blasphemer, the
philanthropic atheist, who had no chapel in his factory, and dared to
blend the names of Socrates, Marcus, Aurelius, and Plato, with our
Savior's?  Pity for the Indian worshipper of Brahma?  Pity for the two
sisters, who have never even been baptized?  Pity for that brute, Jacques
Rennepont?  Pity for the stupid imperial soldier, who has Napoleon for
his god, and the bulletins of the Grand Army for his gospel?  Pity for
this family of renegades, whose ancestor, a relapsed heretic, not content

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