The Wandering Jew, Entire
Part 10 out of 31
"Who calls you?" asked the lady of the physician.
"A person that I promised to meet here this morning." replied he, with
the utmost depression, "to go with him to St. Mary's Convent, which is
close at hand."
"And what answer have you to give me?" said Adrienne with mortal anguish.
After a moment's solemn silence, during which he turned his face towards
the wicket, the doctor replied, in a voice of deep emotion: "I am--what I
have always been--a friend incapable of deceiving you."
Adrienne became deadly pale. Then, extending her hand to M. Baleinier,
she said to him in a voice that she endeavored to render calm: "Thank
you--I will have courage--but will it be very long?"
"Perhaps a month. Solitude, reflection, a proper regimen, my attentive
care, may do much. You will be allowed everything that is compatible
with your situation. Every attention will be paid you. If this room
displeases you, I will see you have another."
"No--this or another--it is of little consequence," answered Adrienne,
with an air of the deepest dejection.
"Come, come! be of good courage. There is no reason to despair."
"Perhaps you flatter me," said Adrienne with the shadow of a smile.
"Return soon," she added, "my dear M. Baleinier! my only hope rests in
Her head fell upon her bosom, her hands upon her knees and she remained
sitting on the edge of the bed, pale, motionless, overwhelmed with woe.
"Mad!" she said when M. Baleinier had disappeared. "Perhaps mad!"
We have enlarged upon this episode much less romantic than it may appear.
Many times have motives of interest or vengeance or perfidious
machination led to the abuse of the imprudent facility with which inmates
are received in certain private lunatic asylums from the hands of their
families or friends.
We shall subsequently explain our views, as to the establishment of a
system of inspection, by the crown or the civil magistrates, for the
periodical survey of these institutions, and others of no less
importance, at present placed beyond the reach of all superintendence.
These latter are the nunneries of which we will presently have an
Whilst the preceding events took place in Dr. Baleinier's asylum, other
scenes were passing about the same hour, at Frances Baudoin's, in the Rue
Seven o'clock in the morning had just struck at St. Mary church; the day
was dark and gloomy, and the sleet rattled against the windows of the
joyless chamber of Dagobert's wife.
As yet ignorant of her son's arrest, Frances had waited for him the whole
of the preceding evening, and a good part of the night, with the most
anxious uneasiness; yielding at length to fatigue and sleep, about three
o'clock in the morning, she had thrown herself on a mattress beside the
bed of Rose and Blanche. But she rose with the first dawn of day, to
ascend to Agricola's garret, in the very faint hope that he might have
returned home some hours before.
Rose and Blanche had just risen, and dressed themselves. They were alone
in the sad, chilly apartment. Spoil-sport, whom Dagobert had left in
Paris, was stretched at full length near the cold stove; with his long
muzzle resting on his forepaws, he kept his eye fixed on the sisters.
Having slept but little during the night, they had perceived the
agitation and anguish of Dagobert's wife. They had seen her walk up and
down, now talking to herself, now listening to the least noise that came
up the staircase, and now kneeling before the crucifix placed at one
extremity of the room. The orphans were not aware, that, whilst she
brayed with fervor on behalf of her son, this excellent woman was praying
for them also. For the state of their souls filled her with anxiety and
The day before, when Dagobert had set out for Chartres, Frances, having
assisted Rose and Blanche to rise, had invited them to say their morning
prayer: they answered with the utmost simplicity, that they did not know
any, and that they never more than addressed their mother, who was in
heaven. When Frances, struck with painful surprise, spoke to them of
catechism, confirmation, communion, the sisters opened widely their large
eyes with astonishment, understanding nothing of such talk.
According to her simple faith, terrified at the ignorance of the young
girls in matters of religion, Dagobert's wife believed their souls to be
in the greatest peril, the more so as, having asked them if they had ever
been baptized (at the same time explaining to them the nature of that
sacrament), the orphans answered they did not think they had, since there
was neither church nor priest in the village where they were born, during
their mother's exile in Siberia.
Placing one's self in the position of Frances, you understand how much
she was grieved and alarmed; for, in her eyes, these young girls, whom
she already loved tenderly, so charmed was she with their sweet
disposition, were nothing but poor heathens, innocently doomed to eternal
damnation. So, unable to restrain her tears, or conceal her horrors, she
had clasped them in her arms, promising immediately to attend to their
salvation, and regretting that Dagobert had not thought of having them
baptized by the way. Now, it must be confessed, that this notion had
never once occurred to the ex-grenadier.
When she went to her usual Sunday devotions, Frances had not dared to
take Rose and Blanche with her, as their complete ignorance of sacred
things would have rendered their presence at church, if not useless,
scandalous; but, in her own fervent prayers she implored celestial mercy
for these orphans, who did not themselves know the desperate position of
Rose and Blanche were now left alone, in the absence of Dagobert's wife.
They were still dressed in mourning, their charming faces seeming even
more pensive than usual. Though they were accustomed to a life of
misfortune, they had been struck, since their arrival in the Rue Brise-
Miche, with the painful contrast between the poor dwelling which they had
come to inhabit, and the wonders which their young imagination had
conceived of Paris, that golden city of their dreams. But, soon this
natural astonishment was replaced by thoughts of singular gravity for
their age. The contemplation of such honest and laborious poverty made
the orphans have reflections no longer those of children, but of young
women. Assisted by their admirable spirit of justice and of sympathy for
all that is good, by their noble heart, by a character at once delicate
and courageous, they had observed and meditated much during the last
"Sister," said Rose to Blanche, when Frances had quitted the room,
"Dagobert's poor wife is very uneasy. Did you remark in the night, how
agitated she was? how she wept and prayed?"
"I was grieved to see it, sister, and wondered what could be the cause."
"I am almost afraid to guess. Perhaps we may be the cause of her
"Why so, sister? Because we cannot say prayers, nor tell if we have ever
"That seemed to give her a good deal of pain, it is true. I was quite
touched by it, for it proves that she loves us tenderly. But I could not
understand how we ran such terrible danger as she said we did."
"Nor I either, sister. We have always tried not to displease our mother,
who sees and hears us."
"We love those who love us; we are resigned to whatever may happen to us.
So, who can reproach us with any harm?"
"No one. But, perhaps, we may do some without meaning it."
"Yes, and therefore I thought: We may perhaps be the cause of her
"Listen, sister! yesterday Madame Baudoin tried to work at those sacks of
coarse cloth there on the table."
"Yes; but in about an half-hour, she told us sorrowfully, that she could
not go on, because her eyes failed her, and she could not see clearly."
"So that she is not able to earn her living."
"No--but her son, M. Agricola, works for her. He looks so good, so gay,
so frank, and so happy to devote himself for his mother. Oh, indeed! he
is the worthy brother of our angel Gabriel!"
"You will see my reason for speaking of this. Our good old Dagobert told
us, that, when we arrived here, he had only a few pieces of money left."
"That is true."
"Now both he and his wife are unable to earn their living; what can a
poor old soldier like him do?"
"You are right; he only knows how to love us, and take care of us, like
"It must then be M. Agricola who will have to support his father; for
Gabriel is a poor priest, who possesses nothing, and can render no
assistance to those who have brought him up. So M. Agricola will have to
support the whole family by himself."
"Doubtless--he owes it to father and mother--it is his duty, and he will
do it with a good will."
"Yes, sister--but he owes us nothing."
"What do you say, Blanche?"
"He is obliged to work for us also, as we possess nothing in the world."
"I had not thought of that. True."
"It is all very well, sister, for our father to be Duke and Marshal of
France, as Dagobert tells us, it is all very well for us to hope great
things from this medal, but as long as father is not here, and our hopes
are not realized, we shall be merely poor orphans, obliged to remain a
burden to this honest family, to whom we already owe so much, and who
find it so hard to live, that--"
"Why do you pause, sister?"
"What I am about to say would make other people laugh; but you will
understand it. Yesterday, when Dagobert's wife saw poor Spoil-sport at
his dinner, she said, sorrowfully: "Alas! he eats as much as a man!"--so
that I could almost have cried to hear her. They must be very poor, and
yet we have come to increase their poverty."
The sisters looked sadly at each other, while Spoil-sport pretended not
to know they were talking of his voracity.
"Sister, I understand," said Rose, after a moment's silence. "Well, we
must not be at the charge of any one. We are young, and have courage.
Till our fate is decided, let us fancy ourselves daughters of workmen.
After all, is not our grandfather a workman? Let us find some
employment, and earn our own living. It must be so proud and happy to
earn one's living!"
"Good little sister," said Blanche, kissing Rose. "What happiness! You
have forestalled my thought; kiss me!"
"Your project is mine exactly. Yesterday, when I heard Dagobert's wife
complain so sadly that she had lost her sight. I looked into your large
eyes, which reminded me of my own, and said to myself: 'Well! this poor
old woman may have lost her sight, but Rose and Blanche Simon can see
pretty clearly'--which is a compensation," added Blanche, with a smile.
"And, after all," resumed Rose, smiling in her turn, "the young ladies in
question are not so very awkward, as not to be able to sew up great sacks
of coarse cloth--though it may chafe their fingers a little."
"So we had both the same thought, as usual; only I wished to surprise
you, and waited till we were alone, to tell you my plan."
"Yes, but there is something teases me."
"What is that?"
"First of all, Dagobert and his wife will be sure to say to us: 'Young
ladies, you are not fitted for such work. What, daughters of a Marshal
of France sewing up great ugly bags!' And then, if we insist upon it,
they will add: 'Well, we have no work to give you. If you want any, you
must hunt for it.' What would Misses Simon do then?"
"The fact is, that when Dagobert has made up his mind to anything--"
"Oh! even then, if we coax him well--"
"Yes, in certain things; but in others he is immovable. It is just as
when upon the journey, we wished to prevent his doing so much for us."
"Sister, an idea strikes me," cried Rose, "an excellent idea!"
"What is it? quick!"
"You know the young woman they call Mother Bunch, who appears to be so
serviceable and persevering?"
"Oh yes! and so timid and discreet. She seems always to be afraid of
giving offence, even if she looks at one. Yesterday, she did not
perceive that I saw her; but her eyes were fixed on you with so good and
sweet an expression, that tears came into mine at the very sight of it."
"Well, we must ask her how she gets work, for certainly she lives by her
"You are right. She will tell us all about it; and when we know,
Dagobert may scold us, or try to make great ladies of us, but we will be
as obstinate as he is."
"That is it; we must show some spirit! We will prove to him, as he says
himself, that we have soldier's blood in our veins."
"We will say to him: 'Suppose, as you say, we should one day be rich, my
good Dagobert, we shall only remember this time with the more pleasure."
"It is agreed then, is it not, Rose? The first time we are alone with
Mother Bunch, we must make her our confidant, and ask her for
information. She is so good a person, that she will not refuse us."
"And when father comes home, he will be pleased, I am sure, with our
"And will approve our wish to support ourselves, as if we were alone in
On these words of her sister, Rose started. A cloud of sadness, almost
of alarm, passed over her charming countenance, as she exclaimed: "Oh,
sister, what a horrible idea!"
"What is the matter? your look frightens me."
"At the moment I heard you say, that our father would approve our wish to
support ourselves, as if we were alone in the world--a frightful thought
struck me--I know not why--but feel how my heart beats--just as if some
misfortune were about to happen us."
"It is true; your poor heart beats violently. But what was this thought?
You alarm me."
"When we were prisoners, they did not at least separate us, and, besides,
the prison was a kind of shelter--"
"A sad one, though shared with you."
"But if, when arrived here, any accident had parted us from Dagobert--if
we had been left alone, without help, in this great town?"
"Oh, sister! do not speak of that. It would indeed be terrible. What
would become of us, kind heaven?"
This cruel thought made the girls remain for a moment speechless with
emotion. Their sweet faces, which had just before glowed with a noble
hope, grew pale and sad. After a pretty long silence, Rose uplifted her
eyes, now filled with tears, "Why does this thought," she said,
trembling, "affect us so deeply, sister? My heart sinks within me, as if
it were really to happen to us."
"I feel as frightened as you yourself. Alas! were we both to be lost in
this immense city, what would become of us?"
"Do not let us give way to such ideas, Blanche! Are we not here in
Dagobert's house, in the midst of good people?"
"And yet, sister," said Rose, with a pensive air, "it is perhaps good for
us to have had this thought."
"Because we shall now find this poor lodging all the better, as it
affords a shelter from all our fears. And when, thanks to our labor, we
are no longer a burden to any one, what more can we need until the
arrival of our father?"
"We shall want for nothing--there you are right--but still, why did this
thought occur to us, and why does it weigh so heavily on our minds?"
"Yes, indeed--why? Are we not here in the midst of friends that love us?
How could we suppose that we should ever be left alone in Paris? It is
impossible that such a misfortune should happen to us--is it not, my dear
"Impossible!" said Rose, shuddering. "If the day before we reached that
village in Germany, where poor Jovial was killed, any one had said to us:
'To-morrow, you will be in prison'--we should have answered as now: 'It
is impossible. Is not Dagobert here to protect us; what have we to
fear?' And yet, sister, the day after we were in prison at Leipsic."
"Oh! do not speak thus, my dear sister! It frightens me."
By a sympathetic impulse, the orphans took one another by the hand, while
they pressed close together, and looked around with involuntary fear.
The sensation they felt was in fact deep, strange, inexplicable, and yet
lowering--one of those dark presentiments which come over us, in spite of
ourselves--those fatal gleams of prescience, which throw a lurid light on
the mysterious profundities of the future.
Unaccountable glimpses of divination! often no sooner perceived than
forgotten--but, when justified by the event, appearing with all the
attributes of an awful fatality!
The daughters of Marshal Simon were still absorbed in the mournful
reverie which these singular thoughts had awakened, when Dagobert's wife,
returning from her son's chamber, entered the room with a painfully
Frances' agitation was so perceptible that Rose could not help
exclaiming: "Good gracious, what is the matter?"
"Alas, my dear young ladies! I can no longer conceal it from you," said
Frances, bursting into tears. "Since yesterday I have not seen him. I
expected my son to supper as usual, and he never came; but I would not
let you see how much I suffered. I continued to expect him, minute after
minute; for ten years he has never gone up to bed without coming to kiss
me; so I spent a good part of the night close to the door, listening if I
could hear his step. But he did not come; and, at last, about three
o'clock in the morning, I threw myself down upon the mattress. I have
just been to see (for I still had a faint hope), if my son had come in
"There is no sign of him!" said the poor mother, drying her eyes.
Rose and Blanche looked at each other with emotion; the same thought
filled the minds of both; if Agricola should not return, how would this
family live? would they not, in such an event, become doubly burdensome?
"But, perhaps, madame," said Blanche, "M. Agricola remained too late at
his work to return home last night."
"Oh! no, no! he would have returned in the middle of the night, because
he knew what uneasiness he would cause me by stopping out. Alas! some
misfortune must have happened to him! Perhaps he has been injured at the
forge, he is so persevering at his work. Oh, my poor boy! and, as if I
did not feel enough anxiety about him, I am also uneasy about the poor
young woman who lives upstairs."
"Why so, madame?"
"When I left my son's room, I went into hers, to tell her my grief, for
she is almost a daughter to me; but I did not find her in the little
closet where she lives, and the bed had not even been slept in. Where
can she have gone so early--she, that never goes out?"
Rose and Blanche looked at each other with fresh uneasiness, for they
counted much upon Mother Bunch to help them in the resolution they had
taken. Fortunately, both they and Frances were soon to be satisfied on
this head, for they heard two low knocks at the door, and the
sempstress's voice, saying: "Can I come in, Mrs. Baudoin?"
By a spontaneous impulse, Rose and Blanche ran to the door, and opened it
to the young girl. Sleet and snow had been falling incessantly since the
evening before; the gingham dress of the young sempstress, her scanty
cotton shawl, and the black net cap, which, leaving uncovered two thick
bands of chestnut hair, encircled her pale and interesting countenance,
were all dripping wet; the cold had given a livid appearance to her thin,
white hands; it was only in the fire of her blue eyes, generally so soft
and timid, that one perceived the extraordinary energy which this frail
and fearful creature had gathered from the emergency of the occasion.
"Dear me! where do you come from, my good Mother Bunch?" said Frances.
"Just now, in going to see if my son had returned, I opened your door,
and was quite astonished to find you gone out so early."
"I bring you news of Agricola."
"Of my son!" cried Frances, trembling all over. "What has happened to
him? Did you see him?--Did you speak to him?--Where is he?"
"I did not see him, but I know where he is." Then, perceiving that
Frances grew very pale, the girl added: "He is well; he is in no danger."
"Blessed be God, who has pity on a poor sinner!--who yesterday restored
me my husband, and to-day, after a night of cruel anguish, assures me of
the safety of my child!" So saying, Frances knelt down upon the floor,
and crossed herself with fervor.
During the moment of silence, caused by this pious action, Rose and
Blanche approached Mother Bunch, and said to her in a low voice, with an
expression of touching interest: "How wet you are! you must be very cold.
Take care you do not get ill. We did not venture to ask Madame Frances
to light the fire in the stove, but now we will do so."
Surprised and affected by the kindness of Marshal Simon's daughters, the
hunchback, who was more sensible than others to the least mark of
kindness, answered them with a look of ineffable gratitude: "I am much
obliged to you, young ladies; but I am accustomed to the cold, and am
moreover so anxious that I do not feel it."
"And my son?" said Frances, rising after she had remained some moments on
her knees; "why did he stay out all night? And could you tell me where
to find him, my good girl? Will he soon come? why is he so long?"
"I assure you, Agricola is well; but I must inform you, that for some
"You must have courage, mother."
"Oh! the blood runs cold in my veins. What has happened? why shall I not
"Alas, he is arrested."
"Arrested!" cried Rose and Blanche, with affright.
"Father! Thy will be done!" said Frances; "but it is a great misfortune.
Arrested! for what? He is so good and honest, that there must be some
"The day before yesterday," resumed Mother Bunch, "I received an
anonymous letter, by which I was informed that Agricola might be arrested
at any moment, on account of his song. We agreed together that he should
go to the rich young lady in the Rue de Babylone, who had offered him her
services, and ask her to procure bail for him; to prevent his going to
prison. Yesterday morning he set out to go to the young lady's."
"And neither of you told me anything of all this--why did you hide it
"That we might not make you uneasy, mother; for, counting on the
generosity of that young lady, I expected Agricola back every moment.
When he did not come yesterday evening. I said to myself: 'Perhaps the
necessary formalities with regard to the bail have detained him.' But the
time passed on, and he did not make his appearance. So, I watched all
night, expecting him."
"So you did not go to bed either, my good girl?"
"No, I was too uneasy. This morning, not being able to conquer my fears,
I went out before dawn. I remembered the address of the young lady in
the Rue de Babylone, and I ran thither."
"Oh, well!" said Frances, with anxiety; "you were in the right.
According to what my son told us, that young lady appeared very good and
Mother Bunch shook her head sorrowfully; a tear glittered in her eyes, as
she continued: "It was still dark when I arrived at the Rue de Babylone;
I waited till daylight was come."
"Poor child! you, who are so weak and timid," said Frances, with deep
feeling, "to go so far, and in this dreadful weather!--Oh, you have been
a real daughter to me!"
"Has not Agricola been like a brother to me!" said Mother Bunch, softly,
with a slight blush.
"When it was daylight," she resumed: "I ventured to ring at the door of
the little summer-house; a charming young girl, but with a sad, pale
countenance, opened the door to me. 'I come in the name of an
unfortunate mother in despair,' said I to her immediately, for I was so
poorly dressed that I feared to be sent away as a beggar; but seeing, on
the contrary, that the young girl listened to me with kindness, I asked
her if, the day before, a young workman had not come to solicit a great
favor of her mistress. 'Alas! yes,' answered the young girl; 'my
mistress was going to interest herself for him, and, hearing that he was
in danger of being arrested, she concealed him here; unfortunately, his
retreat was discovered, and yesterday afternoon, at four o'clock, he was
arrested and taken to prison.'"
Though the orphans took no part in this melancholy conversation, the
sorrow and anxiety depicted in their countenances, showed how much they
felt for the sufferings of Dagobert's wife.
"But the young lady?" cried Frances. "You should have tried to see her,
my good Mother Bunch, and begged her not to abandon my son. She is so
rich that she must have influence, and her protection might save us from
"Alas!" said Mother Bunch, with bitter grief, "we must renounce this last
"Why?" said Frances. "If this young lady is so good, she will have pity
upon us, when she knows that my son is the only support of a whole
family, and that for him to go to prison is worse than for another,
because it will reduce us all to the greatest misery."
"But this young lady," replied the girl, "according to what I learned
from her weeping maid, was taken last evening to a lunatic asylum: it
appears she is mad."
"Mad! Oh! it is horrible for her, and for us also--for now there is no
hope. What will become of us without my son? Oh, merciful heaven!" The
unfortunate woman hid her face in her hands.
A profound silence followed this heart-rending outburst. Rose and
Blanche exchanged mournful glances, for they perceived that their
presence augmented the weighty embarrassments of this family. Mother
Bunch, worn out with fatigue, a prey to painful emotions, and trembling
with cold in her wet clothes, sank exhausted on a chair, and reflected on
their desperate position.
That position was indeed a cruel one!
Often, in times of political disturbances, or of agitation amongst the
laboring classes, caused by want of work, or by the unjust reduction of
wages (the result of the powerful coalition of the capitalists)--often
are whole families reduced, by a measure of preventive imprisonment, to
as deplorable a position as that of Dagobert s household by Agricola's
arrest--an arrest, which, as will afterwards appear, was entirely owing
to Rodin's arts.
Now, with regard to this "precautionary imprisonment," of which the
victims are almost always honest and industrious mechanics, driven to the
necessity of combining together by the In organization of Labor and the
Insufficiency of Wages, it is painful to see the law, which ought to be
equal for all, refuse to strikers what it grants to masters--because the
latter can dispose of a certain sum of money. Thus, under many
circumstances, the rich man, by giving bail, can escape the annoyance and
inconveniences of a preventive incarceration; he deposits a sum of money,
pledges his word to appear on a certain day, and goes back to his
pleasures, his occupations, and the sweet delights of his family.
Nothing can be better; an accused person is innocent till he is proved
guilty; we cannot be too much impressed with that indulgent maxim. It is
well for the rich man that he can avail himself of the mercy of the law.
But how is it with the poor?
Not only has he no bail to give, for his whole capital consists of his
daily labor; but it is upon him chiefly that the rigors of preventive
measures must fall with a terrible and fatal force.
For the rich man, imprisonment is merely the privation of ease and
comfort, tedious hours, and the pain of separation from his family--
distresses not unworthy of interest, for all suffering deserves pity, and
the tears of the rich man separated from his children are as bitter as
those of the poor. But the absence of the rich man does not condemn his
family to hunger and cold, and the incurable maladies caused by
exhaustion and misery.
For the workman, on the contrary, imprisonment means want, misery,
sometimes death, to those most dear to him. Possessing nothing, he is
unable to find bail, and he goes to prison. But if he have, as it often
happens, an old, infirm father or mother, a sick wife, or children in the
cradle? What will become of this unfortunate family? They could hardly
manage to live from day to day upon the wages of this man, wages almost
always insufficient, and suddenly this only resource will be wanting for
three or four months together.
What will this family do? To whom will they have recourse?
What will become of these infirm old men, these sickly wives, these
little children, unable to gain their daily bread? If they chance to
have a little linen and a few spare clothes, these will be carried to the
pawnbroker's, and thus they will exist for a week or so--but afterwards?
And if winter adds the rigors of the season to this frightful and
Then will the imprisoned artisan see in his mind's eyes, during the long
and sleepless nights, those who are dear to him, wan, gaunt, haggard,
exhausted, stretched almost naked upon filthy straw, or huddled close
together to warm their frozen limbs. And, should he afterwards be
acquitted, it is ruin and desolation that he finds on his return to his
And then, after that long cessation from labor, he will find it difficult
to return to his old employers. How many days will be lost in seeking
for work! and a day without employment is a day without bread!
Let us repeat our opinion, that if, under various circumstances, the law
did not afford to the rich the facility of giving bail, we could only
lament over all such victims of individual and inevitable misfortune.
But since the law does provide the means of setting provisionally at
liberty those who possess a certain sum of money, why should it deprive
of this advantage those very persons, for whom liberty is indeed
indispensable, as it involves the existence of themselves and families?
Is there any remedy for this deplorable state of things? We believe
The law has fixed the minimum of bail at five hundred francs. Now five
hundred francs represent, upon the average, six months' labor of an
If he have a wife and two children (which is also about the average), it
is evidently quite impossible for him to have saved any such sum.
So, to ask of such a man five hundred francs, to enable him to continue
to support his family, is in fact to put him beyond the pale of the law,
though, more than any one else, he requires its protection, because of
the disastrous consequences which his imprisonment entails upon others.
Would it not be equitable and humane, a noble and salutary example, to
accept, in every case where bail is allowed (and where the good character
of the accused could be honorably established), moral guarantees, in the
absence of material ones, from those who have no capital but their labor
and their integrity--to accept the word of an honest man to appear upon
the day of trial? Would it not be great and moral, in these days to
raise the value of the lighted word, and exalt man in his own eyes, by
showing him that his promise was held to be sufficient security?
Will you so degrade the dignity of man, as to treat this proposition as
an impossible and Utopian dream? We ask, how many prisoners of war have
ever broken their parole, and if officers and soldiers are not brothers
of the workingman?
Without exaggerating the virtue of promise-keeping in the honest and
laborious poor, we feel certain, that an engagement taken by the accused
to appear on the day of trial would be always fulfilled, not only with
fidelity, but with the warmest gratitude--for his family would not have
suffered by his absence, thanks to the indulgence of the law.
There is also another fact, of which France may well be proud. It is,
that her magistrates (although miserably paid as the army itself) are
generally wise, upright, humane, and independent; they have the true
feeling of their own useful and sacred mission; they know how to
appreciate the wants and distresses of the working classes, with whom
they are so often brought in contact; to them might be safely granted the
power of fixing those cases in which a moral security, the only one that
can be given by the honest and necessitous man, should be received as
Finally, if those who make the laws have so low an opinion of the people
as to reject with disdain the suggestions we have ventured to throw out,
let them at least so reduce the minimum of bail, as to render it
available for those who have most need to escape the fruitless rigors of
imprisonment. Let them take as their lowest limit, the month's wages of
an artisan--say eighty francs.
This sum would still be exorbitant; but, with the aid of friends, the
pawnbroker's, and some little advances, eighty francs might perhaps be
found--not always, it is true--but still sometimes--and, at all events,
many families would be rescued from frightful misery.
Having made these observations, let us return to Dagobert's family, who,
in consequence of the preventive arrest of Agricola, were now reduced to
an almost hopeless state.
The anguish of Dagobert's wife increased, the more she reflected on her
situation, for, including the marshal's daughters, four persons were left
absolutely without resource. It must be confessed, however, that the
excellent mother thought less of herself, than of the grief which her son
must feel in thinking over her deplorable position.
At this moment there was a knock at the door.
"Who is there?" said Frances.
"It is me--Father Loriot."
"Come in," said Dagobert's wife.
The dyer, who also performed the functions of a porter, appeared at the
door of the room. This time, his arms were no longer of a bright apple-
green, but of a magnificent violet.
"Mrs. Baudoin," said Father Loriot, "here is a letter that the giver of
holy water at Saint Merely's has just brought from Abbe Dubois, with a
request that I would bring it up to you immediately, as it is very
"A letter from my confessor?" said Frances, in astonishment; and, as she
took it, added: "Thank you, Father Loriot."
"You do not want anything?"
"No, Father Loriot."
"My respects to the ladies!" and the dyer went out.
"Mother Bunch, will you read this letter for me?" said Frances, anxious
to learn the contents of the missive in question.
"Yes, mother,"--and the young girl read as follows:
"'MY DEAR MADAME BAUDOIN,--I am in the habit of hearing you Tuesday and
Saturday, but I shall not be at liberty either to-morrow or the last day
of the week; you must then come to me this morning, unless you wish to
remain a whole week without approaching the tribunal of penance.'"
"Good heavens! a week!" cried Dagobert's wife. "Alas! I am only too
conscious of the necessity of going there today, notwithstanding the
trouble and grief in which I am plunged."
Then, addressing herself to the orphans, she continued: "Heaven has
heard the prayers that I made for you, my dear young ladies; this very
day I shall be able to consult a good and holy man with regard to the
great dangers to which you are exposed. Poor dear souls, that are so
innocent, and yet so guilty, without any fault of your own! Heaven is my
witness, that my heart bleeds for you as much as for my son."
Rose and Blanche looked at each other in confusion; they could not
understand the fears with which the state of their souls inspired the
wife of Dagobert. The latter soon resumed, addressing the young
"My good girl, will you render me yet another service?"
"My husband took Agricola's week's wages with him to pay his journey to
Chartres. It was all the money I had in the house; I am sure that my
poor child had none about him, and in prison he will perhaps want some.
Therefore take my silver cup, fork, and spoon, the two pair of sheets
that remain over, and my wadded silk shawl, that Agricola gave me on my
birthday, and carry them all to the pawnbroker's. I will try and find
out in which prison my son is confined, and will send him half of the
little sum we get upon the things; the rest will serve us till my husband
comes home. And then, what shall we do? What a blow for him--and only
more misery in prospect--since my son is in prison, and I have lost my
sight. Almighty Father!" cried the unfortunate mother, with an
expression of impatient and bitter grief, "why am I thus afflicted? Have
I not done enough to deserve some pity, if not for myself, at least for
those belonging to me?" But immediately reproaching herself for this
outburst, she added, "No, no! I ought to accept with thankfulness all
that Thou sandiest me. Forgive me for these complaints, or punish only
"Be of good courage, mother!" said Mother Bunch. "Agricola is innocent,
and will not remain long in prison."
"But now I think of it," resumed Dagobert's wife, "to go to the
pawnbroker's will make you lose much time, my poor girl."
"I can make up that in the night, Madame Frances; I could not sleep,
knowing you in such trouble. Work will amuse me."
"Yes, but the candles--"
"Never mind, I am a little beforehand with my work," said the poor girl,
telling a falsehood.
"Kiss me, at least," said Frances, with moist eyes, "for you are the very
best creature in the world." So saying, she hastened cut of the room.
Rose and Blanche were left alone with Mother Bunch; at length had arrived
the moment for which they had waited with so much impatience. Dagobert's
wife proceeded to St. Merely Church, where her confessor was expecting to
Nothing could be more gloomy than the appearance of St. Merely Church, on
this dark and snowy winter's day. Frances stopped a moment beneath the
porch, to behold a lugubrious spectacle.
While a priest was mumbling some words in a low voice, two or three dirty
choristers, in soiled surplices, were charting the prayers for the dead,
with an absent and sullen air, round a plain deal coffin, followed only
by a sobbing old man and a child, miserably clad. The beadle and the
sacristan, very much displeased at being disturbed for so wretched a
funeral, had not deigned to put on their liveries, but, yawning with
impatience, waited for the end of the ceremony, so useless to the
interests of the establishment. At length, a few drops of holy water
being sprinkled on the coffin, the priest handed the brush to the beadle,
Then took place one of those shameful scenes, the necessary consequence
of an ignoble and sacrilegious traffic, so frequent with regard to the
burials of the poor, who cannot afford to pay for tapers, high mass, or
violins--for now St. Thomas Aquinas' Church has violins even for the
The old man stretched forth his hand to the sacristan to receive the
brush. "Come, look sharp!" said that official, blowing on his fingers.
The emotion of the old man was profound, and his weakness extreme; he
remained for a moment without stirring, while the brush was clasped
tightly in his trembling hand. In that coffin was his daughter, the
mother of the ragged child who wept by his side--his heart was breaking
at the thought of that last farewell; he stood motionless, and his bosom
heaved with convulsive sobs.
"Now, will you make haste?" said the brutal beadle. "Do you think we are
going to sleep here?"
The old man quickened his movements. He made the sign of the cross over
the corpse, and, stooping down, was about to place the brush in the hand
of his grandson, when the sacristan, thinking the affair had lasted long
enough, snatched the sprinkling-brush from the child, and made a sign to
the bearers to carry away the coffin--which was immediately done.
"Wasn't that old beggar a slow coach?" said the beadle to his companion,
as they went back to the sacristy. "We shall hardly have time to get
breakfast, and to dress ourselves for the bang-up funeral of this
morning. That will be something like a dead man, that's worth the
trouble. I shall shoulder my halberd in style!"
"And mount your colonel's epaulets, to throw dust in the eyes of the
women that let out the chairs--eh, you old rascal!" said the other, with
a sly look.
"What can I do, Capillare? When one has a fine figure, it must be seen,"
answered the beadle, with a triumphant air. "I cannot blind the women to
prevent their losing their hearts!"
Thus conversing; the two men reached the sacristy. The sight of the
funeral had only increased the gloom of Frances. When she entered the
church, seven or eight persons, scattered about upon chairs, alone
occupied the damp and icy building. One of the distributors of holy
water, an old fellow with a rubicund, joyous, wine-bibbing face, seeing
Frances approach the little font, said to her in a low voice: "Abbe
Dubois is not yet in his box. Be quick, and you will have the first wag
of his beard."
Though shocked at this pleasantry, Frances thanked the irreverent
speaker, made devoutly the sign of the cross, advanced some steps into
the church, and knelt down upon the stones to repeat the prayer, which
she always offered up before approaching the tribunal of penance. Having
said this prayer, she went towards a dark corner of the church, in which
was an oaken confessional, with a black curtain drawn across the grated
door. The places on each side were vacant; so Frances knelt down in that
upon the right hand, and remained there for some time absorbed in bitter
In a few minutes, a priest of tall stature, with gray hair and a stern
countenance, clad in a long black cassock, stalked slowly along one of
the aisles of the church. A short, old, misshapen man, badly dressed,
leaning upon an umbrella, accompanied him, and from time to time
whispered in his ear, when the priest would stop to listen with a
profound and respectful deference.
As they approached the confessional, the short old man, perceiving
Frances on her knees, looked at the priest with an air of interrogation.
"It is she," said the clergyman.
"Well, in two or three hours, they will expect the two girls at St.
Mary's Convent. I count upon it," said the old man.
"I hope so, for the sake of their souls," answered the priest; and,
bowing gravely, he entered the confessional. The short old man quitted
This old man was Rodin. It was on leaving Saint Merely's that he went to
the lunatic asylum, to assure himself that Dr. Baleinier had faithfully
executed his instructions with regard to Adrienne de Cardoville.
Frances was still kneeling in the interior of the confessional. One of
the slides opened, and a voice began to speak. It was that of the
priest, who, for the last twenty years had been the confessor of
Dagobert's wife, and exercised over her an irresistible and all-powerful
"You received my letter?" said the voice.
"Very well--I listen to you."
"Bless me, father--for I have sinned!" said Frances.
The voice pronounced the formula of the benediction. Dagobert's wife
answered "amen," as was proper, said her confider to "It is my fault,"
gave an account of the manner in which she had performed her last
penance, and then proceeded to the enumeration of the new sins, committed
since she had received absolution.
For this excellent woman, a glorious martyr of industry and maternal
love, always fancied herself sinning: her conscience was incessantly
tormented by the fear that she had committed some incomprehensible
offence. This mild and courageous creature, who, after a whole life of
devotion, ought to have passed what time remained to her in calm serenity
of soul, looked upon herself as a great sinner, and lived in continual
anxiety, doubting much her ultimate salvation.
"Father," said Frances, in a trembling voice, "I accuse myself of
omitting my evening prayer the day before yesterday. My husband, from
whom I had been separated for many years, returned home. The joy and the
agitation caused by his arrival, made me commit this great sin."
"What next?" said the voice, in a severe tone, which redoubled the poor
"Father, I accuse myself of falling into the same sin yesterday evening.
I was in a state of mortal anxiety, for my son did not come home as
usual, and I waited for him minute after minute, till the hour had passed
"What next?" said the voice.
"Father, I accuse myself of having told a falsehood all this week to my
son, by letting him think that on account of his reproaching me for
neglecting my health, I had taken a little wine for my dinner--whereas I
had left it for him, who has more need of it, because he works so much."
"Go on!" said the voice.
"Father, I accuse myself of a momentary want of resignation this morning,
when I learned that my poor son was arrested; instead of submitting with
respect and gratitude to this new trial which the Lord hath sent me--
alas! I rebelled against it in my grief--and of this I accuse myself."
"A bad week," said the priest, in a tone of still greater severity, "a
bad week--for you have always put the creature before the Creator. But
"Alas, father!" resumed Frances, much dejected, "I know that I am a great
sinner; and I fear that I am on the road to sins of a still graver kind."
"My husband brought with him from Siberia two young orphans, daughters of
Marshal Simon. Yesterday morning, I asked them to say their prayers, and
I learned from them, with as much fright as sorrow, that they know none
of the mysteries of our holy faith, though they are fifteen years old.
They have never received the sacrament, nor are they even baptized,
father--not even baptized!"
"They must be heathens!" cried the voice, in a tone of angry surprise.
"That is what so much grieves me, father; for, as I and my husband are in
the room of parents to these young orphans, we should be guilty of the
sins which they might commit--should we not, father?"
"Certainly,--since you take the place of those who ought to watch over
their souls. The shepherd must answer for his flock," said the voice.
"And if they should happen to be in mortal sin, father, I and my husband
would be in mortal sin?"
"Yes," said the voice; "you take the place of their parents; and fathers
and mothers are guilty of all the sins which their children commit when
those sins arise from the want of a Christian education."
"Alas, father! what am I to do? I address myself to you as I would to
heaven itself. Every day, every hour, that these poor young girls remain
heathens, may contribute to bring about their eternal damnation, may it
not, father?" said Frances, in a tone of the deepest emotion.
"Yes," answered the voice; "and the weight of this terrible
responsibility rests upon you and your husband; you have the charge of
"Lord, have mercy upon me!" said Frances weeping.
"You must not grieve yourself thus," answered the voice, in a softer
tone; "happily for these unfortunates, they have met you upon the way.
They, will have in you and your husband good and pious examples--for I
suppose that your husband, though formerly an ungodly person, now
practices his religious duties!"
"We must pray for him, father," said Frances, sorrowfully; "grace has not
yet touched his heart. He is like my poor child, who has also not been
called to holiness. Ah, father!" said Frances, drying her tears, "these
thoughts are my heaviest cross."
"So neither your husband nor your son practises," resumed the voice, in a
tone of reflection; "this is serious--very serious. The religious
education of these two unfortunate girls has yet to begin. In your
house, they will have ever before them the most deplorable examples.
Take care! I have warned you. You have the charge of souls--your
responsibility is immense!"
"Father, it is that which makes me wretched--I am at a loss what to do.
Help me, and give me your counsels: for twenty years your voice has been
to me as the voice of the Lord."
"Well! you must agree with your husband to send these unfortunate girls
to some religious house where they may be instructed."
"We are too poor, father, to pay for their schooling, and unfortunately
my son has just been put in prison for songs that he wrote."
"Behold the fruit of impiety," said the voice, severely; "look at
Gabriel! he has followed my counsels, and is now the model of every
"My son, Agricola, has had good qualities, father; he is so kind, so
"Without religion," said the voice, with redoubled severity, "what you
call good qualities are only vain appearances; at the least breath of the
devil they will disappear--for the devil lurks in every soul that has no
"Oh! my poor son!" said Frances, weeping; "I pray for him every day, that
faith may enlighten him."
"I have always told you," resumed the voice, "that you have been too weak
with him. God now punishes you for it. You should have parted from this
irreligious son, and not sanctioned his impiety by loving him as you do.
'If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off,' saith the Scripture."
"Alas, father! you know it is the only time I have disobeyed you; but I
could not bring myself to part from my son."
"Therefore is your salvation uncertain--but God is merciful. Do not fall
into the same fault with regard to these young girls, whom Providence has
sent you, that you might save them from eternal damnation. Do not plunge
them into it by your own culpable indifference."
"Oh, father! I have wept and prayed for them."
"That is not sufficient. These unfortunate children cannot have any
notion of good or evil. Their souls must be an abyss of scandal and
impurity--brought up as they have been, by an impious mother, and a
soldier devoid of religion."
"As for that, father," said Frances, with simplicity, "they are gentle as
angels, and my husband, who has not quitted them since their birth,
declares they have the best hearts in the world."
"Your husband has dwelt all his life in mortal sin," said the voice,
harshly; "how can he judge of the state of souls? I repeat to you, that
as you represent the parents of these unfortunates, it is not to-morrow,
but it is today, and on the instant, that you must labor for their
salvation, if you would not incur a terrible responsibility."
"It is true--I know it well, father--and I suffer as much from this fear
as from grief at my son's arrest. But what is to be done? I could not
instruct these young girls at home--for I have not the knowledge--I have
only faith--and then my poor husband, in his blindness, makes game of
sacred things, which my son, at least, respects in my presence, out of
regard for me. Then, once more, father, come to my aid, I conjure you!
Advise me: what is to be done?"
"We cannot abandon these two young souls to frightful perdition," said
the voice, after a moment's silence: "there are not two ways of saving
them: there is only one, and that is to place them in a religious house,
where they may be surrounded by good and pious examples."
"Oh, father! if we were not so poor, or if I could still work, I would
try to gain sufficient to pay for their board, and do for them as I did
for Gabriel. Unfortunately, I have quite lost my sight; but you, father,
know some charitable souls, and if you could get any of them to interest
them, selves for these poor orphans--"
"Where is their father?"
"He was in India; but, my husband tells me, he will soon be in France.
That, however, is uncertain. Besides, it would make my heart bleed to
see those poor children share our misery--which will soon be extreme--for
we only live by my son's labor."
"Have these girls no relation here?" asked the voice.
"I believe not, father."
"It was their mother who entrusted them to your husband, to bring them to
"Yes, father; he was obliged to set out yesterday for Chartres, on some
very pressing business, as he told me."
It will be remembered that Dagobert had not thought fit to inform his
wife of the hopes which the daughters of Marshall Simon founded on the
possession of the medal, and that he had particularly charged them not to
mention these hopes, even to Frances.
"So," resumed the voice, after a pause of some moments' duration, "your
husband is not in Paris."
"No, father; but he will doubtless return this evening or to-morrow
"Listen to me," said the voice, after another pause. "Every minute lost
for those two young girls is a new step on the road to perdition. At any
moment the hand of God may smite them, for He alone knows the hour of our
death; and were they to die in the state in which they now are, they
would most probably be lost to all eternity. This very day, therefore,
you must open their eyes to the divine light, and place them in a
religious house. It is your duty--it should be your desire!"
"Oh, yes, father; but, unfortunately, I am too poor, as I have already
"I know it--you do not want for zeal or faith--but even were you capable
of directing these young girls, the impious examples of your husband and
son would daily destroy your work. Others must do for these orphans, in
the name of Christian charity, that which you cannot do, though you are
answerable for them before heaven."
"Oh, father! if, thanks to you, this good work could be accomplished, how
grateful I should be!"
"It is not impossible. I know the superior of a convent, where these
young girls would be instructed as they ought. The charge for their
board would be diminished in consideration of their poverty; but, however
small, it must be paid and there would be also an outfit to furnish. All
that would be too dear for you."
"Alas! yes, father."
"But, by taking a little from my poor-box, and by applying to one or two
generous persons, I think I shall be able to complete the necessary sum,
and so get the young girls received at the convent."
"Ah, father! you are my deliverer, and these children's."
"I wish to be so--but, in the interest of their salvation, and to make
these measures really efficacious, I must attach some conditions to the
support I offer you."
"Name them, father; they are accepted beforehand. Your commands shall be
obeyed in everything."
"First of all, the children must be taken this very morning to the
convent, by my housekeeper, to whom you must bring them almost
"Nay, father; that is impossible!" cried Frances.
"In the absence of my husband--"
"I dare not take a such a step without consulting him."
"Not only must you abstain from consulting him, but the thing must be
done during his absence."
"What, father? should I not wait for his return?"
"No, for two reasons," answered the priest, sternly: "first, because his
hardened impiety would certainly lead him to oppose your pious
resolution; secondly, because it is indispensable that these young girls
should break off all connection with your husband, who, therefore, must
be left in ignorance of the place of their retreat."
"But, father," said Frances, a prey to cruel doubt and embarrassment, "it
is to my husband that these children were entrusted--and to dispose of
them without his consent would be--"
"Can you instruct these children at your house--yes or no?" interrupted
"No, father, I cannot."
"Are they exposed to fall into a state of final impenitence by remaining
with you--yes or no?"
"Yes, father, they are so exposed."
"Are you responsible, as you take the place of their parents, for the
mortal sins they may commit--yes or no?"
"Alas, father! I am responsible before God."
"Is it in the interest of their eternal salvation that I enjoin you to
place them this very day in a convent?"
"It is for their salvation, father."
"Well, then, choose!"
"But tell me, I entreat you, father if I have the right to dispose of
them without the consent of my husband?"
"The right! you have not only the right, but it is your sacred duty.
Would you not be bound, I ask you, to rescue these unfortunate creatures
from a fire, against the will of your husband, or during his absence?
Well! you must now rescue them, not from a fire that will only consume
the body, but from one in which their souls would burn to all eternity."
"Forgive me, I implore you, father," said the poor woman, whose
indecision and anguish increased every minute; "satisfy my doubts!--How
can I act thus, when I have sworn obedience to my husband?"
"Obedience for good--yes--but never for evil. You confess, that, were it
left to him, the salvation of these orphans would be doubtful, and
"But, father," said Frances, trembling, "when my husband returns, he will
ask me where are these children? Must I tell him a falsehood?"
"Silence is not falsehood; you will tell him that you cannot answer his
"My husband is the kindest of men; but such an answer will drive him
almost mad. He has been a soldier, and his anger will be terrible,
father," said Frances, shuddering at the thought.
"And were his anger a hundred times more terrible, you should be proud to
brave it in so sacred a cause!" cried the voice, with indignation. "Do
you think that salvation is to be so easily gained on earth? Since when
does the sinner, that would walk in the way of the Lord, turn aside for
the stones and briars that may bruise and tear him?"
"Pardon, father, pardon!" said Frances, with the resignation of despair.
"Permit me to ask one more question, one only. Alas! if you do not guide
me, how shall I find the way?"
"When Marshal Simon arrives, he will ask his children of my husband.
What answer can he then give to their father?"
"When Marshal Simon arrives, you will let me know immediately, and then--
I will see what is to be done. The rights of a father are only sacred in
so far as he make use of them for the salvation of his children. Before
and above the father on earth, is the Father in heaven, whom we must
first serve. Reflect upon all this. By accepting what I propose to you,
these young girls will be saved from perdition; they will not be at your
charge; they will not partake of your misery; they will be brought up in
a sacred institution, as, after all, the daughters of a Marshal of France
ought to be--and, when their father arrives at Paris, if he be found
worthy of seeing them again, instead of finding poor, ignorant, half-
savage heathens, he will behold two girls, pious, modest, and well-
informed, who, being acceptable with the Almighty, may invoke His mercy
for their father, who, it must be owned, has great need of it--being a
man of violence, war, and battle. Now decide! Will you, on peril of
your soul, sacrifice the welfare of these girls in this world and the
next, because of an impious dread of your husband's anger?"
Though rude and fettered by intolerance, the confessor's language was
(taking his view of the case) reasonable and just, because the honest
priest was himself convinced of what he said; a blind instrument of
Rodin, ignorant of the end in view, he believed firmly, that, in forcing
Frances to place these young girls in a convent, he was performing a
pious duty. Such was, and is, one of the most wonderful resources of the
order to which Rodin belonged--to have for accomplices good and sincere
people, who are ignorant of the nature of the plots in which they are the
Frances, long accustomed to submit to the influence of her confessor,
could find nothing to object to his last words. She resigned herself to
follow his directions, though she trembled to think of the furious anger
of Dagobert, when he should no longer find the children that a dying
mother had confided to his care. But, according to the priest's opinion,
the more terrible this anger might appear to her, the more she would show
her pious humility by exposing herself to it.
"God's will be done, father!" said she, in reply to her confessor.
"Whatever may happen, I wilt do my duty as a Christian--in obedience to
"And the Lord will reward you for what you may have to suffer in the
accomplishment of this meritorious act. You promise then, before God,
that you will not answer any of your husband's questions, when he asks
you for the daughters of Marshal Simon?"
"Yes, father, I promise!" said Frances, with a shudder.
"And will preserve the same silence towards Marshal Simon himself, in
case he should return, before his daughters appear to me sufficiently
grounded in the faith to be restored to him?"
"Yes, father," said Frances, in a still fainter voice.
"You will come and give me an account of the scene that takes place
between you and your husband, upon his return?"
"Yes, father; when must I bring the orphans to your house?"
"In an hour. I will write to the superior, and leave the letter with my
housekeeper. She is a trusty person, and will conduct the young girls to
After she had listened to the exhortations of her confessor, and received
absolution for her late sins, on condition of performing penance,
Dagobert's wife left the confessional.
The church was no longer deserted. An immense crowd pressed into it,
drawn thither by the pomp of the grand funeral of which the beadle had
spoken to the sacristan two hours before. It was with the greatest
difficulty that Frances could reach the door of the church, now hung with
What a contrast to the poor and humble train, which had that morning so
timidly presented themselves beneath the porch!
The numerous clergy of the parish, in full procession, advanced
majestically to receive the coffin covered with a velvet pall; the
watered silks and stuffs of their copes and stoles, their splendid
silvered embroideries, sparkled in the light of a thousand tapers. The
beadle strutted in all the glory of his brilliant uniform and flashing
epaulets; on the opposite side walked in high glee the sacristan,
carrying his whalebone staff with a magisterial air; the voice of the
choristers, now clad in fresh, white surplices, rolled out in bursts of
thunder; the trumpets' blare shook the windows; and upon the countenances
of all those who were to have a share in the spoils of this rich corpse,
this excellent corpse, this first-class corpse, a look of satisfaction
was visible, intense and yet subdued, which suited admirably with the air
and attitude of the two heirs, tall, vigorous fellows with florid
complexions, who, without overstepping the limits of a charming modesty
of enjoyment, seemed to cuddle and hug themselves most comfortably in
their mourning cloaks.
Notwithstanding her simplicity and pious faith, Dagobert's wife was
painfully impressed with this revolting difference between the reception
of the rich and the poor man's coffin at the door of the house of God--
for surely, if equality be ever real, it is in the presence of death and
The two sad spectacles she had witnessed, tended still further to depress
the spirits of Frances. Having succeeded with no small trouble in making
her way out of the church, she hastened to return to the Rue Brise-Miche,
in order to fetch the orphans and conduct them to the housekeeper of her
confessor, who was in her turn to take them to St. Mary's Convent.
situated, as we know, next door to Dr. Baleinier's lunatic-asylum, in
which--Adrienne de Cardoville was confined.
MY LORD AND SPOIL-SPORT.
The wife of Dagobert, having quitted the church, arrived at the corner of
the Rue Brise-Miche, when she was accosted by the distributor of holy
water; he came running out of breath, to beg her to return to Saint-
Mery's, where the Abbe Dubois had yet something of importance to say to
The moment Frances turned to go back, a hackney-coach stopped in front of
the house she inhabited. The coachman quitted his box to open the door.
"Driver," said a stout woman dressed in black, who was seated in the
carriage, and held a pug-dog upon her knees, "ask if Mrs. Frances Baudoin
lives in this house."
"Yes, ma'am," said the coachman.
The reader will no doubt have recognized Mrs. Grivois, head waiting-woman
to the Princess de Saint-Dizier, accompanied by My Lord, who exercised a
real tyranny over his mistress. The dyer, whom we have already seen
performing the duties of a porter, being questioned by the coachman as to
the dwelling of Frances, came out of his workshop, and advanced gallantly
to the coach-door, to inform Mrs. Grivois, that Frances Baudoin did in
fact live in the house, but that she was at present from home.
The arms, hands, and part of the face of Father Loriot were now of a
superb gold-color. The sight of this yellow personage singularly
provoked My Lord, and at the moment the dyer rested his hand upon the
edge of the coach-window, the cur began to yelp frightfully, and bit him
in the wrist.
"Oh! gracious heaven!" cried Mrs. Grivois, in an agony, whilst Father
Loriot, withdrew his hand with precipitation; "I hope there is nothing
poisonous in the dye that you have about you--my dog is so delicate!"
So saying, she carefully wiped the pug-nose, spotted with yellow. Father
Loriot, not at all satisfied with this speech, when he had expected to
receive some apology from Mrs. Grivois on account of her dog's behavior,
said to her, as with difficulty he restrained his anger: "If you did not
belong to the fair sex, which obliges me to respect you in the person of
that wretched animal I would have the pleasure of taking him by the tail,
and making him in one minute a dog of the brightest orange color, by
plunging him into my cauldron, which is already on the fire."
"Dye my pet yellow!" cried Mrs. Grivois, in great wrath, as she descended
from the hackney-coach, clasping My Lord tenderly to her bosom, and
surveying Father Loriot with a savage look.
"I told you, Mrs. Baudoin is not at home," said the dyer, as he saw the
pug-dog's mistress advance in the direction of the dark staircase.
"Never mind; I will wait for her," said Mrs. Grivois tartly. "On which
story does she live?"
"Up four pair!" answered Father Loriot, returning abruptly to his shop.
And he added to himself, with a chuckle at the anticipation: "I hope
Father Dagobert's big prowler will be in a bad humor, and give that
villainous pug a shaking by the skin of his neck."
Mrs. Grivois mounted the steep staircase with some difficulty, stopping
at every landing-place to take breath, and looking about her with
profound disgust. At length she reached the fourth story, and paused an
instant at the door of the humble chamber, in which the two sisters and
Mother Bunch then were.
The young sempstress was occupied in collecting the different articles
that she was about to carry to the pawnbroker's. Rose and Blanche seemed
happier, and somewhat less uneasy about the future; for they had learned
from Mother Bunch, that, when they knew how to sew, they might between
them earn eight francs a week, which would at least afford some
assistance to the family.
The presence of Mrs. Grivois in Baudoin's dwelling was occasioned by a
new resolution of Abbe d'Aigrigny and the Princess de Saint-Dizier; they
had thought it more prudent to send Mrs. Grivois, on whom they could
blindly depend, to fetch the young girls, and the confessor was charged
to inform Frances that it was not to his housekeeper, but to a lady that
would call on her with a note from him, that she was to deliver the
orphans, to be taken to a religious establishment.
Having knocked at the door, the waiting-woman of the Princess de Saint-
Dizier entered the room, and asked for Frances Baudoin.
"She is not at home, madame," said Mother Bunch timidly, not a little
astonished at so unexpected a visit, and casting down her eyes before the
gaze of this woman.
"Then I will wait for her, as I have important affairs to speak of,"
answered Mrs. Grivois, examining with curiosity and attention the faces
of the two orphans, who also cast down their eyes with an air of
So saying, Madame Grivois sat down, not without some repugnance, in the
old arm-chair of Dagobert's wife, and believing that she might now leave
her favorite at liberty, she laid him carefully on the floor.
Immediately, a low growl, deep and hollow, sounding from behind the
armchair, made Mrs. Grivois jump from her seat, and sent the pug-dog,
yelping with affright, and trembling through his fat, to take refuge
close to his mistress, with all the symptoms of angry alarm.
"What! is there a dog here?" cried Mrs. Grivois, stooping precipitately
to catch up My Lord, whilst, as if he wished himself to answer the
question, Spoil-sport rose leisurely from his place behind the arm-chair,
and appeared suddenly, yawning and stretching himself.
At sight of this powerful animal, with his double row of formidable
pointed fangs, which he seemed to take delight in displaying as he opened
his large jaws, Mrs. Grivois could not help giving utterance to a cry of
terror. The snappish pug had at first trembled in all his limbs at the
Siberian's approach; but, finding himself in safety on the lap of his
mistress, he began to growl insolently, and to throw the most provoking
glances at Spoil-sport. These the worthy companion of the deceased
Jovial answered disdainfully by gaping anew; after which he went smelling
round Mrs. Grivois with a sort of uneasiness, turned his back upon My
Lord, and stretched himself at the feet of Rose and Blanche, keeping his
large, intelligent eyes fixed upon them, as if he foresaw that they were
menaced with some danger.
"Turn out that beast," said Mrs. Grivois, imperiously; "he frightens my
dog, and may do him some harm."
"Do not be afraid, madame," replied Rose, with a smile; "Spoil-sport will
do no harm, if he is not attacked."
"Never mind!" cried Mrs. Grivois; "an accident soon happens. The very
sight of that enormous dog, with his wolf's head and terrible teeth, is
enough to make one tremble at the injuries he might do one. I tell you
to turn him out."
Mrs. Grivois had pronounced these last words in a tone of irritation,
which did not sound at all satisfactory in Spoil-sport's ears; so he
growled and showed his teeth, turning his head in the direction of the
"Be quiet, Spoil-sport!" said Blanche sternly.
A new personage here entered the room, and put an end to this situation,
which was embarrassing enough for the two young girls. It was a
commissionaire, with a letter in his hand.
"What is it, sir?" asked Mother Bunch.
"A very pressing letter from the good man of the house; the dyer below
stairs told me to bring it up here."
"A letter from Dagobert!" cried Rose and Blanche, with a lively
expression of pleasure. "He is returned then? where is he?"
"I do not know whether the good man is called Dagobert or not," said the
porter; "but he is an old trooper, with a gray moustache, and may be
found close by, at the office of the Chartres coaches."
"That is he!" cried Blanche. "Give me the letter."
The porter handed it to the young girl, who opened it in all haste.
Mrs. Grivois was struck dumb with dismay; she knew that Dagobert had been
decoyed from Paris, that the Abbe Dubois might have an opportunity to act
with safety upon Frances. Hitherto, all had succeeded; the good woman
had consented to place the young girls in the hands of a religious
community--and now arrives this soldier, who was thought to be absent
from Paris for two or three days at least, and whose sudden return might
easily ruin this laborious machination, at the moment when it seemed to
"Oh!" said Blanche, when she had read the letter. "What a misfortune!"
"What is it, then, sister?" cried Rose.
"Yesterday, half way to Chartres, Dagobert perceived that he had lost his
purse. He was unable to continue his journey; he took a place upon
credit, to return, and he asks his wife to send him some money to the
office, to pay what he owes."
"That's it," said the porter; "for the good man told me to make haste,
because he was there in pledge."
"And nothing in the house!" cried Blanche. "Dear me! what is to be
At these words, Mrs. Grivois felt her hopes revive for a moment, they
were soon, however, dispelled by Mother Bunch, who exclaimed, as she
pointed to the parcel she had just made up: "Be satisfied, dear young
ladies! here is a resource. The pawnbroker's, to which I am going, is
not far off, and I will take the money direct to M. Dagobert: in half an
hour, at latest, he will be here."
"Oh, my dear friend! you are right," said Rose. "How good you are! you
think of everything."
"And here," said Blanche, "is the letter, with the address upon it. Take
that with you."
"Thank you," answered Mother Bunch: then, addressing the porter, she
added: "Return to the person who sent you, and tell him I shall be at the
coach-office very shortly."
"Infernal hunchback!" thought Mrs. Grivois, with suppressed rage, "she
thinks of everything. Without her, we should have escaped the plague of
this man's return. What is to be done now? The girls would not go with
me, before the arrival of the soldier's wife; to propose it to them would
expose me to a refusal, and might compromise all. Once more, what is to
"Do not be uneasy, ladies," said the porter as he went out; "I will go
and assure the good man, that he will not have to remain long in pledge."
Whilst Mother Bunch was occupied in tying her parcel, in which she had
placed the silver cup, fork, and spoon, Mrs. Grivois seemed to reflect
deeply. Suddenly she started. Her countenance, which had been for some
moments expressive of anxiety and rage, brightened up on the instant.
She rose, still holding My Lord in her arms, and said to the young girls:
"As Mrs. Baudoin does not come in, I am going to pay a visit in the
neighborhood, and will return immediately. Pray tell her so!"
With these words Mr. Grivois took her departure, a few minutes before
Mother Bunch left.
After she had again endeavored to cheer up the orphans, the sewing-girl
descended the stairs, not without difficulty, for, in addition to the
parcel, which was already heavy, she had fetched down from her own room
the only blanket she possessed--thus leaving herself without protection
from the cold of her icy garret.
The evening before, tortured with anxiety as to Agricola's fate, the girl
had been unable to work; the miseries of expectation and hope delayed had
prevented her from doing so; now another day would be lost, and yet it
was necessary to live. Those overwhelming sorrows, which deprive the
poor of the faculty of labor, are doubly dreaded; they paralyze the
strength, and, with that forced cessation from toil, want and destitution
are often added to grief.
But Mother Bunch, that complete incarnation of holiest duty, had yet
strength enough to devote herself for the service of others. Some of the
most frail and feeble creatures are endowed with extraordinary vigor of
soul; it would seem as if, in these weak, infirm organizations, the
spirit reigned absolutely over the body, and knew how to inspire it with
a factitious energy.
Thus, for the last twenty-four hours, Mother Bunch had neither slept nor
eaten; she had suffered from the cold, through the whole of a frosty
night. In the morning she had endured great fatigue, in going, amid rain
and snow, to the Rue de Babylone and back, twice crossing Paris and yet
her strength was not exhausted--so immense is the power of the human
She had just arrived at the corner of the Rue Saint Mery. Since the
recent Rue des Prouvaires conspiracy, there were stationed in this
populous quarter of the town a much larger number of police-officers than
usual. Now the young sempstress, though bending beneath the weight of
her parcel, had quickened her pace almost to a run, when, just as she
passed in front of one of the police, two five-franc pieces fell on the
ground behind her, thrown there by a stout woman in black, who followed
Immediately after the stout woman pointed out the two pieces to the
policeman, and said something hastily to him with regard to Mother Bunch.
Then she withdrew at all speed in the direction of the Rue Brise-Miche.
The policeman, struck with what Mrs. Grivois had said to him ( for it was
that person), picked up the money, and, running after the humpback, cried
out to her: "Hi, there! young woman, I say--stop! stop!"
On this outcry, several persons turned round suddenly and, as always
happens in those quarters of the town, a nucleus of five or six persons
soon grew to a considerable crowd.
Not knowing that the policeman was calling to her, Mother Bunch only
quickened her speed, wishing to get to the pawnbroker's as soon as
possible, and trying to avoid touching any of the passers-by, so much did
she dread the brutal and cruel railleries, to which her infirmity so
often exposed her.
Suddenly, she heard many persons running after her, and at the same
instant a hand was laid rudely on her shoulder. It was the policeman,
followed by another officer, who had been drawn to the spot by the noise.
Mother Bunch turned round, struck with as much surprise as fear.
She found herself in the centre of a crowd, composed chiefly of that
hideous scum, idle and in rags, insolent and malicious, besotted with
ignorance, brutalized by want, and always loafing about the corners.
Workmen are scarcely ever met with in these mobs, for they are for the
most part engaged in their daily labors.
"Come, can't you hear? you are deaf as Punch's dog," said the policeman,
seizing Mother Bunch so rudely by the arm, that she let her parcel fall
at her feet.
When the unfortunate girl, looking round in terror, saw herself exposed
to all those insolent, mocking, malicious glances, when she beheld the
cynical and coarse grimace on so many ignoble and filthy countenances,
she trembled in all her limbs, and became fearfully pale. No doubt the
policeman had spoken roughly to her; but how could he speak otherwise to
a poor deformed girl, pale and trembling, with her features agitated by
grief and fear--to a wretched creature, miserably clad, who wore in
winter a thin cotton gown, soiled with mud, and wet with melted snow--for
the poor sempstress had walked much and far that morning. So the
policeman resumed, with great severity, following that supreme law of
appearances which makes poverty always suspected: "Stop a bit, young
woman! it seems you are in a mighty hurry, to let your money fall without
picking it up."
"Was her blunt hid in her hump?" said the hoarse voice of a match-boy, a
hideous and repulsive specimen of precocious depravity.
This sally was received with laughter, shouts, and hooting, which served
to complete the sewing-girl's dismay and terror. She was hardly able to
answer, in a feeble voice, as the policeman handed her the two pieces of
silver: "This money, sir, is not mine."
"You lie," said the other officer, approaching; "a respectable lady saw
it drop from your pocket."
"I assure you, sir, it is not so," answered Mother Bunch, trembling.
"I tell you that you lie," resumed the officer; "for the lady, struck
with your guilty and frightened air, said to me: 'Look at yonder little
hunchback, running away with that large parcel, and letting her money
fall without even stopping to pick it up--it is not natural.'"
"Bobby," resumed the match-vendor in his hoarse voice, "be on your guard!
Feel her hump, for that is her luggage-van. I'm sure that you'll find
boots, and cloaks, and umbrellas, and clocks in it--for I just heard the
hour strike in the bend of her back."
Then came fresh bursts of laughter and shouts and hooting, for this
horrible mob has no pity for those who implore and suffer. The crowd
increased more and more, and now they indulged in hoarse cries, piercing
whistles, and all kinds of horse play.
"Let a fellow see her; it's free gratis."
"Don't push so; I've paid for my place!"
"Make her stand up on something, that all may have a look."
"My corns are being ground: it was not worth coming."
"Show her properly--or return the money."
"That's fair, ain't it?"
"Give it us in the 'garden' style."
"Trot her out in all her paces! Kim up!"
Fancy the feelings of this unfortunate creature, with her delicate mind,
good heart, and lofty soul, and yet with so timid and nervous a
character, as she stood alone with the two policemen in the thick of the
crowd, and was forced to listen to all these coarse and savage insults.
But the young sempstress did not yet understand of what crime she was
accused. She soon discovered it, however, for the policeman, seizing the
parcel which she had picked up and now held in her trembling hands, said
to her rudely: "What is there in that bundle?"
"Sir--it is--I am going--" The unfortunate girl hesitated--unable, in her
terror, to find the word.
"If that's all you have to answer," said the policeman, "it's no great
shakes. Come, make haste! turn your bundle inside out."
So saying, the policeman snatched the parcel from her, half opened it,
and repeated, as he enumerated the divers articles it contained: "The
devil!--sheets--a spoon and fork--a silver mug--a shawl--a blanket--
you're a downy mot! it was not so bad a move. Dressed like a beggar, and
with silver plate about you. Oh, yes! you're a deep 'un."
"Those articles do not belong to you," said the other officer.
"No, sir," replied Mother Bunch, whose strength was failing her; "but--"
"Oh, vile hunchback! you have stolen more than you are big!"
"Stolen!" cried Mother Bunch, clasping her hands in horror, for she now
understood it all. "Stolen!"
"The guard! make way for the lobsters!" cried several persons at once.
"Oh, ho! here's the lobsters!"
"The Arab devourers!"
"Come for their dromedary!"
In the midst of these noisy jests, two soldiers and a corporal advanced
with much difficulty. Their bayonets and the barrels of their guns were
alone visible above the heads of this hideous and compact crowd. Some
officious person had been to inform the officer at the nearest guard-
house, that a considerable crowd obstructed the public way.
"Come, here is the guard--so march to the guard-house!" said the
policeman, taking Mother Bunch by the arm.
"Sir," said the poor girl, in a voice stifled by sobs, clasping her hands
in terror, and sinking upon her knees on the pavement; "sir,--have pity--
let me explain--"
"You will explain at the guard-house; so come on!"
"But, sir--I am not a thief," cried Mother Bunch, in a heart-rending
tone; "have pity upon me--do not take me away like a thief, before all
this crowd. Oh! mercy! mercy!"
"I tell you, there will be time to explain at the guard-house. The
street is blocked up; so come along!" Grasping the unfortunate creature
by both her hands, he set her, as it were, on her feet again.
At this instant, the corporal and his two soldiers, having succeeded in
making their way through the crowd, approached the policeman.
"Corporal," said the latter, "take this girl to the guard-house. I am an
officer of the police."
"Oh, gentlemen!" cried the girl, weeping hot tears, and wringing her
hands, "do not take me away, before you let me explain myself. I am not
a thief--indeed, indeed, I am not a thief! I will tell you--it was to
render service to others--only let me tell you--"
"I tell you, you should give your explanations at the guard-house; if you
will not walk, we must drag you along," said the policeman.
We must renounce the attempt to paint this scene, at once ignoble and
Weak, overpowered, filled with alarm, the unfortunate girl was dragged
along by the soldiers, her knees sinking under her at every step. The
two police-officers had each to lend an arm to support her, and
mechanically she accepted their assistance. Then the vociferations and
hootings burst forth with redoubled fury. Half-swooning between the two
men, the hapless creature seemed to drain the cup of bitterness to the
Beneath that foggy sky, in that dirty street, under the shadow of the
tall black houses, those hideous masses of people reminded one of the
wildest fancies of Callot and of Goya: children in rags, drunken women,
grim and blighted figures of men, rushed against each other, pushed,
fought, struggled, to follow with howls and hisses an almost inanimate
victim--the victim of a deplorable mistake.
Of a mistake! How one shudders to think, that such arrests may often
take place, founded upon nothing but the suspicion caused by the
appearance of misery, or by some inaccurate description. Can we forget
the case of that young girl, who, wrongfully accused of participating in
a shameful traffic, found means to escape from the persons who were
leading her to prison, and, rushing up the stairs of a house, threw
herself from a window, in her despair, and was crushed to death upon the
Meanwhile, after the abominable denunciation of which Mother Bunch was
the victim, Mrs. Grivois had returned precipitately to the Rue Brise-
Miche. She ascended in haste to the fourth story, opened the door of
Frances Baudoin's room, and saw--Dagobert in company with his wife and
the two orphans!
Let us explain in a few words the presence of Dagobert. His countenance
was impressed with such an air of military frankness that the manager of
the coach-office would have been satisfied with his promise to return and
pay the money; but the soldier had obstinately insisted on remaining in
pledge, as he called it, till his wife had answered his letter. When,
however, on the return of the porter, he found that the money was coming,
his scruples were satisfied, and he hastened to run home.
We may imagine the stupor of Mrs. Grivois, when, upon entering the
chamber, she perceived Dagobert (whom she easily recognized by the
description she had heard of him) seated beside his wife and the orphans.
The anxiety of Frances at sight of Mrs. Grivois was equally striking.
Rose and Blanche had told her of the visit of a lady, during her absence,
upon important business; and, judging by the information received from
her confessor, Frances had no doubt that this was the person charged to
conduct the orphans to a religious establishment.
Her anxiety was terrible. Resolved to follow the counsels of Abbe
Dubois, she dreaded lest a word from Mrs. Grivois should put Dagobert on
the scent--in which case all would be lost, and the orphans would remain
in their present state of ignorance and mortal sin, for which she
believed herself responsible.
Dagobert, who held the hands of Rose and Blanche, left his seat as the
Princess de Saint-Dizier's waiting-woman entered the room and cast an
inquiring glance on Frances.
The moment was critical--nay, decisive; but Mrs. Grivois had profited by
the example of the Princess de Saint-Dizier. So, taking her resolution
at once, and turning to account the precipitation with which she had
mounted the stairs, after the odious charge she had brought against poor
Mother Bunch, and even the emotion caused by the unexpected sight of
Dagobert, which gave to her features an expression of uneasiness and
alarm--she exclaimed, in an agitated voice, after the moment's silence
necessary to collect her thoughts: "Oh, madame! I have just been the
spectator of a great misfortune. Excuse my agitation! but I am so
"Dear me! what is the matter?" said Frances, in a trembling voice, for
she dreaded every moment some indiscretion on the part of Mrs. Grivois.
"I called just now," resumed the other, "to speak to you on some
important business; whilst I was waiting for you, a poor young woman,
rather deformed, put up sundry articles in a parcel--"
"Yes," said Frances; "it was Mother Bunch, an excellent, worthy
"I thought as much, madame; well, you shall hear what has happened. As
you did not come in, I resolved to pay a visit in the neighborhood. I go
out, and get as far as the Rue St. Mery, when--Oh, madame!"
"Well?" said Dagobert, "what then?"
"I see a crowd--I inquire what is the matter--I learn that a policeman
has just arrested a young girl as a thief, because she had been seen
carrying a bundle, composed of different articles which did not appear to
belong to her--I approached--what do I behold?--the same young woman that
I had met just before in this room."
"Oh! the poor child!" exclaimed Frances, growing pale, and clasping her
hands together. "What a dreadful thing!"
"Explain, then," said Dagobert to his wife. "What was in this bundle?"
"Well, my dear--to confess the truth--I was a little short, and I asked
our poor friend to take some things for me to the pawnbroker's--"
"What! and they thought she had robbed us!" cried Dagobert; "she, the
most honest girl in the world! it is dreadful--you ought to have
interfered, madame; you ought to have said that you knew her."
"I tried to do so, sir; but, unfortunately, they would not hear me. The
crowd increased every moment, till the guard came up, and carried her
"She might die of it, she is so sensitive and timid!" exclaimed Frances.
"Ah, good Mother Bunch! so gentle! so considerate!" said Blanche, turning
with tearful eyes towards her sister.
"Not being able to help her," resumed Mrs. Grivois "I hastened hither to
inform you of this misadventure--which may, indeed, easily be repaired--
as it will only be necessary to go and claim the young girl as soon as
At these words, Dagobert hastily seized his hat, and said abruptly to
Mrs. Grivois: "Zounds, madame! you should have begun by telling us that.
Where is the poor child? Do you know?"
"I do not, sir; but there are still so many excited people in the street
that, if you will have the kindness to step out, you will be sure to
"Why the devil do you talk of kindness? It is my duty, madame. Poor
child!" repeated Dagobert. "Taken up as a thief!--it is really horrible.
I will go to the guard-house, and to the commissary of police for this
neighborhood, and, by hook or crook, I will find her, and have her out,
and bring her home with me."
So saying, Dagobert hastily departed. Frances, now that she felt more
tranquil as to the fate of Mother Bunch, thanked the Lord that this
circumstance had obliged her husband to go out, for his presence at this
juncture caused her a terrible embarrassment.
Mrs. Grivois had left My Lord in the coach below, for the moments were
precious. Casting a significant glance at Frances she handed her Abbe
Dubois' letter, and said to her, with strong emphasis on every word: "You
will see by this letter, madame, what was the object of my visit, which I
have not before been able to explain to you, but on which I truly
congratulate myself, as it brings me into connection with these two
charming young ladies." Rose and Blanche looked at each other in
surprise. Frances took the letter with a trembling hand. It required
all the pressing and threatening injunctions of her confessor to conquer
the last scruples of the poor woman, for she shuddered at the thought of
Dagobert's terrible indignation. Moreover, in her simplicity, she knew
not how to announce to the young girls that they were to accompany this
Mrs. Grivois guessed her embarrassment, made a sign to her to be at her
ease, and said to Rose, whilst Frances was reading the letter of her
confessor: "How happy your relation will be to see you, my dear young
"Our relation, madame?" said Rose, more and more astonished.
"Certainly. She knew of your arrival here, but, as she is still
suffering from the effects of a long illness, she was not able to come
herself to-day, and has sent me to fetch you to her. Unfortunately,"
added Mrs. Grivois, perceiving a movement of uneasiness on the part of
the two sisters, "it will not be in her power, as she tells Mrs. Baudoin
in her letter, to see you for more than a very short time--so you may be
back here in about an hour. But to-morrow or the next day after, she
will be well enough to leave home, and then she will come and make
arrangements with Mrs. Baudoin and her husband, to take you into her
house--for she could not bear to leave you at the charge of the worthy
people who have been so kind to you."
These last words of Mrs. Grivois made a favorable impression upon the two
sisters, and banished their fears of becoming a heavy burden to
Dagobert's family. If it had been proposed to them to quit altogether
the house in the Rue Bris-Miche, without first asking the consent of
their old friend, they would certainly have hesitated; but Mrs. Grivois
had only spoken of an hour's visit. They felt no suspicion, therefore,
and Rose said to Frances: "We may go and see our relation, I suppose,
madame, without waiting for Dagobert's return?"
"Certainly," said Frances, in a feeble voice, "since you are to be back
"Then, madame, I would beg these dear young ladies to come with me as
soon as possible, as I should like to bring them back before noon.
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