The Wandering Jew, Entire
Part 7 out of 31
At these simple and pathetic words, Agricola trembled.
"A month without work," he said, with a sad and thoughtful air. "And my
mother, and father, and the two young ladies who make part of our family
until the arrival in Paris of their father, Marshal Simon. Oh! you are
right. That thought, in spite of myself, affrights me!"
"Agricola!" exclaimed the girl impetuously; "suppose you apply to M.
Hardy; he is so good, and his character is so much esteemed and honored,
that, if he offered bail for you, perhaps they would give up their
"Unfortunately," replied Agricola, "M. Hardy is absent; he is on a
journey with Marshal Simon."
After a silence of some time, Agricola, striving to surmount his fear,
added: "But no! I cannot give credence to this letter. After all, I had
rather await what may come. I'll at least have the chance of proving my
innocence on my first examination: for indeed, my good sister, whether it
be that I am in prison or that I fly to conceal myself, my working for my
family will be equally prevented."
"Alas! that is true," said the poor girl; "what is to be done! Oh, what
is to be done?"
"My brave father," said Agricola to himself, "if this misfortune happen
to-morrow, what an awakening it will be for him, who came here to sleep
so joyously!" The blacksmith buried his face in his hands.
Unhappily Mother Bunch's fears were too well-founded, for it will be
recollected that at that epoch of the year 1832, before and after the Rue
des Prouvaires conspiracy, a very great number of arrests had been made
among the working classes, in consequence of a violent reaction against
Suddenly, the girl broke the silence which had been maintained for some
seconds. A blush colored her features, which bore the impressions of an
indefinable expression of constraint, grief, and hope.
"Agricola, you are saved!"
"What say you?" he asked.
"The young lady, so beautiful, so good, who gave you this flower" (she
showed it to the blacksmith) "who has known how to make reparation with
so much delicacy for having made a painful offer, cannot but have a
generous heart. You must apply to her--"
With these words which seemed to be wrung from her by a violent effort
over herself, great tears rolled down her cheeks. For the first time in
her life she experienced a feeling of grievous jealousy. Another woman
was so happy as to have the power of coming to the relief of him whom she
idolized; while she herself, poor creature, was powerless and wretched.
"Do you think so?" exclaimed Agricola surprised. "But what could be done
with this young lady?"
"Did she not say to you," answered Mother Bunch, "'Remember my name; and
in all circumstances address yourself to me?'"
"She did indeed!" replied Agricola.
"This young lady, in her exalted position, ought to have powerful
connections who will be able to protect and defend you. Go to her to-
morrow morning; tell her frankly what has happened, and request her
"But tell me, my good sister, what it is you wish me to do?"
"Listen. I remember that, in former times, my father told us that he had
saved one of his friends from being put in prison, by becoming surety for
him. It will be easy for you so to convince this young lady of your
innocence, that she will be induced to become surety; and after that, you
will have nothing more to fear."
"My poor child!" said Agricola, "to ask so great a service from a person
to whom one is almost unknown is hard."
"Believe me, Agricola," said the other sadly, "I would never counsel what
could possibly lower you in the eyes of any one, and above all--do you
understand?--above all, in the eyes of this young lady. I do not propose
that you should ask money from her; but only that she should give surety
for you, in order that you may have the liberty of continuing at your
employment, so that the family may not be without resources. Believe me,
Agricola, that such a request is in no respect inconsistent with what is
noble and becoming upon your part. The heart of the young lady is
generous. She will comprehend your position. The required surety will
be as nothing to her; while to you it will be everything, and will even
be the very life to those who depend upon you."
"You are right, my good sister," said Agricola, with sadness and
dejection. "It is perhaps worth while to risk taking this step. If the
young lady consent to render me this service, and if giving surety will
indeed preserve me from prison, I shall be prepared for every event. But
no, no!" added he, rising, "I'd never dare to make the request to her!
What right have I to do so? What is the insignificant service that I
rendered her, when compared with that which I should solicit from her?"
"Do you imagine then, Agricola, that a generous spirit measures the
services which ought to be rendered, by those previously received? Trust
to me respecting a matter which is an affair of the heart. I am, it is
true, but a lowly creature, and ought not to compare myself with any
other person. I am nothing, and I can do nothing. Nevertheless, I am
sure--yes, Agricola, I am sure--that this young lady, who is so very far
above me, will experience the same feelings that I do in this affair;
yes, like me, she will at once comprehend that your position is a cruel
one; and she will do with joy, with happiness, with thankfulness, that
which I would do, if, alas! I could do anything more than uselessly
consume myself with regrets."
In spite of herself, she pronounced the last words with an expression so
heart-breaking--there was something so moving in the comparison which
this unfortunate creature, obscure and disdained, infirm and miserable,
made of herself with Adrienne de Cardoville, the very type of resplendent
youth, beauty, and opulence--that Agricola was moved even to tears; and,
holding out one of his hands to the speaker, he said to her, tenderly,
"How very good you are; how full of nobleness, good feeling, and
"Unhappily," said the weeping girl, "I can do nothing more than advise."
"And your counsels shall be followed out, my sister dear. They are those
of a soul the most elevated I have ever known. Yes, you have won me over
into making this experiment, by persuading me that the heart of Miss de
Cardoville is perhaps equal in value to your own!"
At this charming and sincere assimilation of herself to Miss Adrienne,
the sempstress forgot almost everything she had suffered, so exquisitely
sweet and consoling were her emotions. If some poor creatures, fatally
devoted to sufferings, experience griefs of which the world knows naught,
they sometimes, too, are cheered by humble and timid joys, of which the
world is equally ignorant. The least word of true tenderness and
affection, which elevates them in their own estimation, is ineffably
blissful for these unfortunate beings, habitually consigned, not only to
hardships and to disdain, but even to desolating doubts, and distrust of
"Then it is agreed that you will go, to-morrow morning to this young
lady's house?" exclaimed Mother Bunch, trembling with a new-born hope.
"And," she quickly added, "at break of day I'll go down to watch at the
street-door, to see if there be anything suspicious, and to apprise you
of what I perceive."
"Good, excellent girl!" exclaimed Agricola, with increasing emotion.
"It will be necessary to endeavor to set off before the wakening of your
father," said the hunchback. "The quarter in which the young lady
dwells, is so deserted, that the mere going there will almost serve for
your present concealment."
"I think I hear the voice of my father," said Agricola suddenly.
In truth, the little apartment was so near Agricola's garret, that he and
the sempstress, listening, heard Dagobert say in the dark:
"Agricola, is it thus that you sleep, my boy? Why, my first sleep is
over; and my tongue itches deucedly."
"Go quick, Agricola!" said Mother Bunch; "your absence would disquiet
him. On no account go out to-morrow morning, before I inform you whether
or not I shall have seen anything suspicious."
"Why, Agricola, you are not here?" resumed Dagobert, in a louder voice.
"Here I am, father," said the smith, while going out of the sempstress's
apartment, and entering the garret, to his father.
"I have been to fasten the shutter of a loft that the wind agitated, lest
its noise should disturb you."
"Thanks, my boy; but it is not noise that wakes me," said Dagobert,
gayly; "it is an appetite, quite furious, for a chat with you. Oh, my
dear boy, it is the hungering of a proud old man of a father, who has not
seen his son for eighteen years."
"Shall I light a candle, father?"
"No, no; that would be luxurious; let us chat in the dark. It will be a
new pleasure for me to see you to-morrow morning at daybreak. It will be
like seeing you for the first time twice." The door of Agricola's garret
being now closed, Mother Bunch heard nothing more.
The poor girl, without undressing, threw herself upon the bed, and closed
not an eye during the night, painfully awaiting the appearance of day, in
order that she might watch over the safety of Agricola. However, in
spite of her vivid anxieties for the morrow, she sometimes allowed
herself to sink into the reveries of a bitter melancholy. She compared
the conversation she had just had in the silence of night, with the man
whom she secretly adored, with what that conversation might have been,
had she possessed some share of charms and beauty--had she been loved as
she loved, with a chaste and devoted flame! But soon sinking into belief
that she should never know the ravishing sweets of a mutual passion, she
found consolation in the hope of being useful to Agricola. At the dawn
of day, she rose softly, and descended the staircase with little noise,
in order to see if anything menaced Agricola from without.
The weather, damp and foggy during a portion of the night, became clear
and cold towards morning. Through the glazed skylight of Agricola's
garret, where he lay with his father, a corner of the blue sky could be
The apartment of the young blacksmith had an aspect as poor as the
sewing-girl's. For its sole ornament, over the deal table upon which
Agricola wrote his poetical inspirations, there hung suspended from a
nail in the wall a portrait of Beranger--that immortal poet whom the
people revere and cherish, because his rare and transcendent genius has
delighted to enlighten the people, and to sing their glories and their
Although the day had only begun to dawn, Dagobert and Agricola had
already risen. The latter had sufficient self command to conceal his
inquietude, for renewed reflection had again increased his fears.
The recent outbreak in the Rue des Prouvaires had caused a great number
of precautionary arrests; and the discovery of numerous copies of
Agricola's song, in the possession of one of the chiefs of the
disconcerted plot, was, in truth, calculated slightly to compromise the
young blacksmith. His father, however, as we have already mentioned,
suspected not his secret anguish. Seated by the side of his son, upon
the edge of their mean little bed, the old soldier, by break of day, had
dressed and shaved with military care; he now held between his hands both
those of Agricola, his countenance radiant with joy, and unable to
discontinue the contemplation of his boy.
"You will laugh at me, my dear boy," said Dagobert to his son; "but I
wished the night to the devil, in order that I might gaze upon you in
full day, as I now see you. But all in good time; I have lost nothing.
Here is another silliness of mine; it delights me to see you wear
moustaches. What a splendid horse-grenadier you would have made! Tell
me; have you never had a wish to be a soldier?"
"I thought of mother!"
"That's right," said Dagobert: "and besides, I believe, after all, look
ye, that the time of the sword has gone by. We old fellows are now good
for nothing, but to be put in a corner of the chimney. Like rusty old
carbines, we have had our day."
"Yes; your days of heroism and of glory," said Agricola with excitement;
and then he added, with a voice profoundly softened and agitated, "it is
something good and cheering to be your son!"
"As to the good, I know nothing of that," replied Dagobert; "but as for
the cheering, it ought to be so; for I love you proudly. And I think
this is but the beginning! What say you, Agricola? I am like the
famished wretches who have been some days without food. It is but by
little and little that they recover themselves, and can eat. Now, you
may expect to be tasted, my boy, morning and evening, and devoured during
the day. No, I wish not to think that--not all the day--no, that thought
dazzles and perplexes me; and I am no longer myself."
These words of Dagobert caused a painful feeling to Agricola. He
believed that they sprang from a presentiment of the separation with
which he was menaced.
"Well," continued Dagobert; "you are quite happy; M. Hardy is always good
"Oh!" replied Agricola: "there is none in the world better, or more
equitable and generous! If you knew what wonders he has brought about in
his factory! Compared to all others, it is a paradise beside the
stithies of Lucifer!"
"Indeed!" said Dagobert.
"You shall see," resumed Agricola, "what welfare, what joy, what
affection, are displayed upon the countenances of all whom he employs;
who work with an ardent pleasure.
"This M. Hardy of yours must be an out-and-out magician," said Dagobert.
"He is, father, a very great magician. He has known how to render labor
pleasant and attractive. As for the pleasure, over and above good wages,
he accords to us a portion of his profits according to our deserts;
whence you may judge of the eagerness with which we go to work. And that
is not all: he has caused large, handsome buildings to be erected, in
which all his workpeople find, at less expense than elsewhere, cheerful
and salubrious lodgings, in which they enjoy all the advantages of an
association. But you shall see--I repeat--you shall see!"
"They have good reason to say, that Paris is the region of wonders,"
"Well, behold me here again at last, never more to quit you, nor good
"No, father, we will never separate again," said Agricola, stifling a
sigh. "My mother and I will both try to make you forget all that you
"Suffered!" exclaimed Dagobert, "who the deuce has suffered? Look me
well in the face; and see if I have a look of suffering! Bombs and
bayonets! Since I have put my foot here, I feel myself quite a young man
again! You shall see me march soon: I bet that I tire you out! You must
rig yourself up something extra! Lord, how they will stare at us! I
wager that in beholding your black moustache and my gray one, folks will
say, behold father and son! But let us settle what we are to do with the
day. You will write to the father of Marshal Simon, informing him the
his grand-daughters have arrived, and that it is necessary that he should
hasten his return to Paris; for he has charged himself with matters which
are of great importance for them. While you are writing, I will go down
to say good-morning to my wife, and to the dear little ones. We will
then eat a morsel. Your mother will go to mass; for I perceive that she
likes to be regular at that: the good soul! no great harm, if it amuse
her! and during her absence, we will make a raid together."
"Father," said Agricola, with embarrassment, "this morning it is out of
my power to accompany you."
"How! out of your power?" said Dagobert; "recollect this is Monday!"
"Yes, father," said Agricola, hesitatingly; "but I have promised to
attend all the morning in the workshop, to finish a job that is required
in a hurry. If I fail to do so, I shall inflict some injury upon M.
Hardy. But I'll soon be at liberty."
"That alters the case," said Dagobert, with a sigh of regret. "I thought
to make my first parade through Paris with you this morning; but it must
be deferred in favor of your work. It is sacred: since it is that which
sustains your mother. Nevertheless, it is vexatious, devilish vexatious.
And yet no--I am unjust. See how quickly one gets habituated to and
spoilt by happiness. I growl like a true grumbler, at a walk being put
off for a few hours! I do this! I who, during eighteen years, have only
hoped to see you once more, without daring to reckon very much upon it!
Oh! I am but a silly old fool! Vive l'amour et cogni--I mean--my
Agricola!" And, to console himself, the old soldier gayly slapped his
This seemed another omen of evil to the blacksmith; for he dreaded one
moment to another lest the fears of Mother Bunch should be realized.
"Now that I have recovered myself," said Dagobert, laughing, "let us
speak of business. Know you where I find the addresses of all the
notaries in Paris?"
"I don't know; but nothing is more easy than to discover it."
"My reason is," resumed Dagobert, "that I sent from Russia by post, and
by order of the mother of the two children that I have brought here, some
important papers to a Parisian notary. As it was my duty to see this
notary immediately upon my arrival, I had written his name and his
address in a portfolio, of which however, I have been robbed during my
journey; and as I have forgotten his devil of a name, it seems to me,
that if I should see it again in the list of notaries, I might recollect
Two knocks at the door of the garret made Agricola start. He
involuntarily thought of a warrant for his apprehension.
His father, who, at the sound of the knocking turned round his head, had
not perceived his emotion, and said with a loud voice: "Come in!" The
door opened. It was Gabriel. He wore a black cassock and a broad-
To recognize his brother by adoption, and to throw himself into his arms,
were two movements performed at once by Agricola--as quick as thought.--
"My brother!" exclaimed Agricola.
"Agricola!" cried Gabriel.
"Gabriel!" responded the blacksmith.
"After so long an absence!" said the one.
"To behold you again!" rejoined the other.
Such were the words exchanged between the blacksmith and the missionary,
while they were locked in a close embrace.
Dagobert, moved and charmed by these fraternal endearments, felt his eyes
become moist. There was something truly touching in the affection of the
young men--in their hearts so much alike, and yet of characters and
aspects so very different--for the manly countenance of Agricola
contrasted strongly with the delicacy and angelic physiognomy of Gabriel.
"I was forewarned by my father of your arrival," said the blacksmith at
length. "I have been expecting to see you; and my happiness has been a
hundred times the greater, because I have had all the pleasures of hoping
"And my good mother?" asked Gabriel, in affectionately grasping the hands
of Dagobert. "I trust that you have found her in good health."
"Yes, my brave boy!" replied Dagobert; "and her health will have become a
hundred times better, now that we are all together. Nothing is so
healthful as joy." Then addressing himself to Agricola, who, forgetting
his fear of being arrested, regarded the missionary with an expression of
ineffable affection, Dagobert added:
"Let it be remembered, that, with the soft cheek of a young girl, Gabriel
has the courage of a lion; I have already told with what intrepidity he
saved the lives of Marshal Simon's daughters, and tried to save mine
"But, Gabriel! what has happened to your forehead?" suddenly exclaimed
Agricola, who for a few seconds had been attentively examining the
Gabriel, having thrown aside his hat on entering, was now directly
beneath the skylight of the garret apartment, the bright light through
which shone upon his sweet, pale countenance: and the round scar, which
extended from one eyebrow to the other, was therefore distinctly visible.
In the midst of the powerful and diversified emotion, and of the exciting
events which so rapidly followed the shipwreck on the rocky coast near
Cardoville House, Dagobert, during the short interview he then had with
Gabriel, had not perceived the scar which seamed the forehead of the
young missionary. Now, partaking, however, of the surprise of his son,
"Aye, indeed! how came this scar upon your brow?"
"And on his hands, too; see, dear father!" exclaimed the blacksmith,
with renewed surprise, while he seized one of the hands which the young
priest held out towards him in order to tranquillize his fears.
"Gabriel, my brave boy, explain this to us!" added Dagobert; "who has
wounded you thus?" and in his turn, taking the other hand of the
missionary, he examined the scar upon it with the eye of a judge of
wounds, and then added, "In Spain, one of my comrades was found and taken
down alive from a cross, erected at the junction of several roads, upon
which the monks had crucified, and left him to die of hunger, thirst, and
agony. Ever afterwards he bore scars upon his hands, exactly similar to
this upon your hand."
"My father is right!" exclaimed Agricola. "It is evident that your hands
have been pierced through! My poor brother!" and Agricola became
"Do not think about it," said Gabriel, reddening with the embarrassment
of modesty. "Having gone as a missionary amongst the savages of the
Rocky Mountains, they crucified me, and they had begun to scalp me, when
Providence snatched me from their hands."
"Unfortunate youth," said Dagobert; "without arms then? You had not a
sufficient escort for your protection?"
"It is not for such as me to carry arms." said Gabriel, sweetly smiling;
"and we are never accompanied by any escort."
"Well, but your companions, those who were along with you, how came it
that they did not defend you?" impetuously asked Agricola.
"I was alone, my dear brother."
"Yes, alone; without even a guide."
"You alone! unarmed! in a barbarous country!" exclaimed Dagobert,
scarcely crediting a step so unmilitary, and almost distrusting his own
sense of hearing.
"It was sublime!" said the young blacksmith and poet.
"The Christian faith," said Gabriel, with mild simplicity, "cannot be
implanted by force or violence. It is only by the power of persuasion
that the gospel can be spread amongst poor savages."
"But when persuasions fail!" said Agricola.
"Why, then, dear brother, one has but to die for the belief that is in
him, pitying those who have rejected it, and who have refused the
blessings it offers to mankind."
There was a period of profound silence after the reply of Gabriel, which
was uttered with simple and touching pathos.
Dagobert was in his own nature too courageous not to comprehend a heroism
thus calm and resigned; and the old soldier, as well as his son, now
contemplated Gabriel with the most earnest feelings of mingled admiration
Gabriel, entirely free from the affection of false modesty, seemed quite
unconscious of the emotions which he had excited in the breasts of his
two friends; and he therefore said to Dagobert, "What ails you?"
"What ails me!" exclaimed the brave old soldier, with great emotion:
"After having been for thirty years in the wars, I had imagined myself to
be about as courageous as any man. And now I find I have a master! And
that master is yourself!"
"I!" said Gabriel; "what do you mean? What have I done?"
"Thunder, don't you know that the brave wounds there" (the veteran took
with transport both of Gabriel's hands), "that these wounds are as
glorious--are more glorious than our--than all ours, as warriors by
"Yes! yes, my father speaks truth!" exclaimed Agricola; and he added,
with enthusiasm, "Oh, for such priests! How I love them! How I venerate
them! How I am elevated by their charity, their courage, their
"I entreat you not to extol me thus," said Gabriel with embarrassment.
"Not extol you!" replied Dagobert. "Hanged if I shouldn't. When I have
gone into the heat of action, did I rush into it alone? Was I not under
the eyes of my commanding officer? Were not my comrades there along with
me? In default of true courage, had I not the instinct of self-
preservation to spur me on, without reckoning the excitement of the
shouts and tumult of battle, the smell of the gunpowder, the flourishes
of the trumpets, the thundering of the cannon, the ardor of my horse,
which bounded beneath me as if the devil were at his tail? Need I state
that I also knew that the emperor was present, with his eye upon every
one--the emperor, who, in recompense for a hole being made in my tough
hide, would give me a bit of lace or a ribbon, as plaster for the wound.
Thanks to all these causes, I passed for game. Fair enough! But are you
not a thousand times more game than I, my brave boy; going alone,
unarmed, to confront enemies a hundred times more ferocious than those
whom we attacked--we, who fought in whole squadrons, supported by
artillery, bomb-shells, and case-shot?"
"Excellent father!" cried Agricola, "how noble of you to render to
Gabriel this justice!"
"Oh, dear brother," said Gabriel, "his kindness to me makes him magnify
what was quite natural and simple!"
"Natural!" said the veteran soldier; "yes, natural for gallants who have
hearts of the true temper: but that temper is rare."
"Oh, yes, very rare," said Agricola; "for that kind of courage is the
most admirable of all. Most bravely did you seek almost certain death,
alone, bearing the cross in hand as your only weapon, to preach charity
and Christian brotherhood. They seized you, tortured you; and you await
death and partly endure it, without complaint, without remonstrance,
without hatred, without anger, without a wish for vengeance; forgiveness
issuing from your mouth, and a smile of pity beaming upon your lips; and
this in the depths of forests, where no one could witness your
magnanimity,--none could behold you--and without other desire, after you
were rescued than modestly to conceal blessed wounds under your black
robe! My father is right, by Jove! can you still contend that you are
not as brave as he?"
"And besides, too," resumed Dagobert, "the dear boy did all that for a
thankless paymaster; for it is true, Agricola, that his wounds will never
change his humble black robe of a priest into the rich robe of a bishop!"
"I am not so disinterested as I may seem to be," said Gabriel to
Dagobert, smiling meekly. "If I am deemed worthy, a great recompense
awaits me on high."
"As to all that, my boy," said Dagobert, "I do not understand it; and I
will not argue about it. I maintain it, that my old cross of honor would
be at least as deservedly affixed to your cassock as upon my uniform."
"But these recompenses are never conferred upon humble priests like
Gabriel," said Agricola, "and if you did know, dear father, how much
virtue and valor is among those whom the highest orders in the priesthood
insolently call the inferior clergy,--the unseen merit and the blind
devotedness to be found amongst worthy, but obscure, country curates, who
are inhumanly treated and subjugated to a pitiless yoke by the lordly
lawnsleeves! Like us, those poor priests are worthy laborers in their
vocation; and for them, also, all generous hearts ought to demand
enfranchisement! Sons of common people, like ourselves, and useful as we
are, justice ought to be rendered both to them and to us. Do I say
right, Gabriel? You will not contradict it; for you have told me, that
your ambition would have been to obtain a small country curacy; because
you understand the good that you could work within it."
"My desire is still the same," said Gabriel sadly: "but unfortunately--"
and then, as if he wished to escape from a painful thought, and to change
the conversation, he, addressing himself to Dagobert, added: "Believe me:
be more just than to undervalue your own courage by exalting mine. Your
courage must be very great--very great; for, after a battle, the
spectacle of the carnage must be truly terrible to a generous and feeling
heart. We, at least, though we may be killed, do not kill."
At these words of the missionary, the soldier drew himself up erect,
looked upon Gabriel with astonishment, and said, "This is most
"What is?" inquired Agricola.
"What Gabriel has just told us," replied Dagobert, "brings to my mind
what I experienced in warfare on the battlefield in proportion as I
advanced in years. Listen, my children: more than once, on the night
after a general engagement, I have been mounted as a vidette,--alone,--by
night,--amid the moonlight, on the field of battle which remained in our
possession, and upon which lay the bodies of seven or eight thousand of
the slain, amongst whom were mingled the slaughtered remains of some of
my old comrades: and then this sad scene, when the profound silence has
restored me to my senses from the thirst for bloodshed and the delirious
whirling of my sword (intoxicated like the rest), I have said to myself,
'for what have these men been killed?--FOR WHAT--FOR WHAT?' But this
feeling, well understood as it was, hindered me not, on the following
morning, when the trumpets again sounded the charge, from rushing once
more to the slaughter. But the same thought always recurred when my arm
became weary with carnage; and after wiping my sabre upon the mane of my
horse, I have said to myself, 'I have killed!--killed!!--killed !!! and,
The missionary and the blacksmith exchanged looks on hearing the old
soldier give utterance to this singular retrospection of the past.
"Alas!" said Gabriel to him, "all generous hearts feel as you did during
the solemn moments, when the intoxication of glory has subsided, and man
is left alone to the influence of the good instincts planted in his
"And that should prove, my brave boy," rejoined Dagobert, "that you are
greatly better than I; for those noble instincts, as you call them, have
never abandoned you. * * * * But how the deuce did you escape from the
claws of the infuriated savages who had already crucified you?"
At this question of Dagobert, Gabriel started and reddened so visibly,
that the soldier said to him: "If you ought not or cannot answer my
request, let us say no more about it."
"I have nothing to conceal, either from you or from my brother," replied
the missionary with altered voice. "Only; it will be difficult for me to
make you comprehend what I cannot comprehend myself."
"How is that?" asked Agricola with surprise.
"Surely," said Gabriel, reddening more deeply, "I must have been deceived
by a fallacy of my senses, during that abstracted moment in which I
awaited death with resignation. My enfeebled mind, in spite of me, must
have been cheated by an illusion; or that, which to the present hour has
remained inexplicable, would have been more slowly developed; and I
should have known with greater certainty that it was the strange woman--"
Dagobert, while listening to the missionary, was perfectly amazed; for he
also had vainly tried to account for the unexpected succor which had
freed him and the two orphans from the prison at Leipsic.
"Of what woman do you speak?" asked Agricola.
"Of her who saved me," was the reply.
"A woman saved you from the hands of the savages?" said Dagobert.
"Yes," replied Gabriel, though absorbed in his reflections, "a woman,
young and beautiful!"
"And who was this woman?" asked Agricola.
"I know not. When I asked her, she replied, 'I am the sister of the
"And whence came she? Whither went she?" asked Dagobert, singularly
"'I go wheresoever there is suffering,' she replied," answered the
missionary;" and she departed, going towards the north of America--
towards those desolate regions in which there is eternal snow, where the
nights are without end."
"As in Siberia," said Dagobert, who had become very thoughtful.
"But," resumed Agricola, addressing himself to Gabriel, who seemed also
to have become more and more absorbed, "in what manner or by what means
did this woman come to your assistance?"
The missionary was about to reply to the last question, when there was
heard a gentle tap at the door of the garret apartment, which renewed the
fears that Agricola had forgotten since the arrival of his adopted
brother. "Agricola," said a sweet voice outside the door, "I wish to
speak with you as soon as possible."
The blacksmith recognized Mother Bunch's voice, and opened the door. But
the young sempstress, instead of entering, drew back into the dark
passage, and said, with a voice of anxiety: "Agricola, it is an hour
since broad day, and you have not yet departed! How imprudent! I have
been watching below, in the street, until now, and have seen nothing
alarming; but they may come any instant to arrest you. Hasten, I conjure
you, your departure for the abode of Miss de Cardoville. Not a minute
should be lost."
"Had it not been for the arrival of Gabriel, I should have been gone.
But I could not resist the happiness of remaining some little time with
"Gabriel here!" said Mother Bunch, with sweet surprise; for, as has been
stated, she had been brought up with him and Agricola.
"Yes," answered Agricola, "for half an hour he has been with my father
"What happiness I shall have in seeing him again," said the sewing-girl.
"He doubtless came upstairs while I had gone for a brief space to your
mother, to ask if I could be useful in any way on account of the young
ladies; but they have been so fatigued that they still sleep. Your
mother has requested me to give you this letter for your father. She has
just received it."
"Well," resumed Mother Bunch, "now that you have seen Gabriel, do not
delay long. Think what a blow it would he for your father, if they came
to arrest you in his very presence mon Dieu!"
"You are right," said Agricola; "it is indispensable that I should
depart--while near Gabriel in spite of my anxiety, my fears were
"Go quickly, then; and if Miss de Cardoville should grant this favor,
perhaps in a couple of hours you will return, quite at ease both as to
yourself and us."
"True! a very few minutes more; and I'll come down."
"I return to watch at the door. If I perceive anything. I'll come up
again to apprise you. But pray, do not delay."
"Be easy, good sister." Mother Bunch hurriedly descended the staircase,
to resume her watch at the street door, and Agricola re-entered his
garret. "Dear father," he said to Dagobert, "my mother has just received
this letter, and she requests you to read it."
"Very well; read it for me, my boy." And Agricola read as follows:
MADAME.--I understand that your husband has been charged by General Simon
with an affair of very great importance. Will you, as soon as your
husband arrives in Paris, request him to come to my office at Chartres
without a moment's delay. I am instructed to deliver to himself, and to
no other person, some documents indispensable to the interests of General
"DURAND, Notary at Chartres."
Dagobert looked at his son with astonishment, and said to him, "Who can
have told this gentleman already of my arrival in Paris?"
"Perhaps, father," said Agricola, "this is the notary to whom you
transmitted some papers, and whose address you have lost."
"But his name was not Durand; and I distinctly recollect that his address
was Paris, not Chartres. And, besides," said the soldier, thoughtfully,
"if he has some important documents, why didn't he transmit them to me?"
"It seems to me that you ought not to neglect going to him as soon as
possible," said Agricola, secretly rejoiced that this circumstance would
withdraw his father for about two days, during which time his
(Agricola's) fate would be decided in one way or other.
"Your counsel is good," replied his father.
"This thwarts your intentions in some degree?" asked Gabriel.
"Rather, my lads; for I counted upon passing the day with you. However,
'duty before everything.' Having come happily from Siberia to Paris, it
is not for me to fear a journey from Paris to Chartres, when it is
required on an affair of importance. In twice twenty-four hours I shall
be back again. But the deuce take me if I expected to leave Paris for
Chartres to-day. Luckily, I leave Rose and Blanche with my good wife;
and Gabriel, their angel, as they call him, will be here to keep them
"That is, unfortunately, impossible," said the missionary, sadly. "This
visit on my arrival is also a farewell visit."
"A farewell visit! Now!" exclaimed Dagobert and Agricola both at once.
"You start already on another mission?" said Dagobert; "surely it is not
"I must answer no question upon this subject," said Gabriel, suppressing
a sigh: "but from now, for some time, I cannot, and ought not, come again
into this house."
"Why, my brave boy," resumed Dagobert with emotion, "there is something
in thy conduct that savors of constraint, of oppression. I know
something of men. He you call superior, whom I saw for some moments
after the shipwreck at Cardoville Castle, has a bad look; and I am sorry
to see you enrolled under such a commander."
"At Cardoville Castle!" exclaimed Agricola, struck with the identity of
the name with that of the young lady of the golden hair; "was it in
Cardoville Castle that you were received after your shipwreck?"
"Yes, my boy; why, does that astonish you?" asked Dagobert.
"Nothing father; but were the owners of the castle there at the time?"
"No; for the steward, when I applied to him for an opportunity to return
thanks for the kind hospitality we had experienced, informed me that the
person to whom the house belonged was resident at Paris."
"What a singular coincidence," thought Agricola, "if the young lady
should be the proprietor of the dwelling which bears her name!"
This reflection having recalled to Agricola the promise which he had made
to Mother Bunch, he said to Dagobert; "Dear father, excuse me; but it is
already late, and I ought to be in the workshop by eight o'clock."
"That is too true, my boy. Let us go. This party is adjourned till my
return from Chartres. Embrace me once more, and take care of yourself."
Since Dagobert had spoken of constraint and oppression to Gabriel, the
latter had continued pensive. At the moment when Agricola approached him
to shake hands, and to bid him adieu, the missionary said to him
solemnly, with a grave voice, and in a tone of decision that astonished
both the blacksmith and the soldier: "My dear brother, one word more. I
have come here to say to you also that within a few days hence I shall
have need of you; and of you also, my father (permit me so to call you),"
added Gabriel, with emotion, as he turned round to Dagobert.
"How! you speak thus to us!" exclaimed Agricola; "what is the matter?"
"Yes," replied Gabriel, "I need the advice and assistance of two men of
honor--of two men of resolution;--and I can reckon upon you two--can I
not? At any hour, on whatever day it may be, upon a word from me, will
Dagobert and his son regarded each other in silence, astonished at the
accents of the missionary. Agricola felt an oppression of the heart. If
he should be a prisoner when his brother should require his assistance,
what could be done?
"At every hour, by night or by day, my brave boy, you may depend upon
us," said Dagobert, as much surprised as interested--"You have a father
and a brother; make your own use of them."
"Thanks, thanks," said Gabriel, "you set me quite at ease."
"I'll tell you what," resumed the soldier, "were it not for your priest's
robe, I should believe, from the manner in which you have spoken to us,
that you are about to be engaged in a duel--in a mortal combat."
"In a duel?" said Gabriel, starting. "Yes; it may be a duel--uncommon
and fearful--at which it is necessary to have two witnesses such as you--
A FATHER and A BROTHER!"
Some instants afterwards, Agricola, whose anxiety was continually
increasing, set off in haste for the dwelling of Mademoiselle de
Cardoville, to which we now beg leave to take the reader.
Dizier House was one of the largest and handsomest in the Rue Babylone,
in Paris. Nothing could be more severe, more imposing, or more
depressing than the aspect of this old mansion. Several immense windows,
filled with small squares of glass, painted a grayish white, increased
the sombre effect of the massive layers of huge stones, blackened by
time, of which the fabric was composed.
This dwelling bore a resemblance to all the others that had been erected
in the same quarter towards the middle of the last century. It was
surmounted in front by a pediment; it had an elevated ground floor, which
was reached from the outside by a circular flight of broad stone steps.
One of the fronts looked on an immense court-yard, on each side of which
an arcade led to the vast interior departments. The other front
overlooked the garden, or rather park, of twelve or fifteen roods; and,
on this side, wings, approaching the principal part of the structure,
formed a couple of lateral galleries. Like nearly all the other great
habitations of this quarter, there might be seen at the extremity of the
garden, what the owners and occupiers of each called the lesser mansion.
This extension was a Pompadour summer-house, built in the form of a
rotunda, with the charming though incorrect taste of the era of its
erection. It presented, in every part where it was possible for the
stones to be cut, a profusion of endives, knots of ribbons, garlands of
flowers, and chubby cupids. This pavilion, inhabited by Adrienne de
Cardoville was composed of a ground floor, which was reached by a
peristyle of several steps. A small vestibule led to a circular hall,
lighted from the roof. Four principal apartments met here; and ranges of
smaller rooms, concealed in the upper story, served for minor purposes.
These dependencies of great habitations are in our days disused, or
transformed into irregular conservatories; but by an uncommon exception,
the black exterior of the pavilion had been scraped and renewed, and the
entire structure repaired. The white stones of which it was built
glistened like Parian marble; and its renovated, coquettish aspect
contrasted singularly with the gloomy mansion seen at the other extremity
of an extensive lawn, on which were planted here and there gigantic
clumps of verdant trees.
The following scene occurred at this residence on the morning following
that of the arrival of Dagobert, with the daughters of Marshal Simon, in
the Rue Brise-Miche. The hour of eight had sounded from the steeple of a
neighboring church; a brilliant winter sun arose to brighten a pure blue
sky behind the tall leafless trees, which in summer formed a dome of
verdure over the summer-house. The door in the vestibule opened, and the
rays of the morning sun beamed upon a charming creature, or rather upon
two charming creatures, for the second one, though filling a modest place
in the scale of creation, was not less distinguished by beauty of its
own, which was very striking. In plain terms two individuals, one of
them a young girl, and the other a tiny English dog, of great beauty, of
that breed of spaniels called King Charles's, made their appearance under
the peristyle of the rotunda. The name of the young girl was Georgette;
the beautiful little spaniel's was Frisky. Georgette was in her
eighteenth year. Never had Florine or Manton, never had a lady's maid of
Marivaux, a more mischievous face, an eye more quick, a smile more
roguish, teeth more white, cheeks more roseate, figure more coquettish,
feet smaller, or form smarter, attractive, and enticing. Though it was
yet very early, Georgette was carefully and tastefully dressed. A tiny
Valenciennes cap, with flaps and flap-band, of half peasant fashion,
decked with rose-colored ribbons, and stuck a little backward upon bands
of beautiful fair hair, surrounded her fresh and piquant face; a robe of
gray levantine, and a cambric neck-kerchief, fastened to her bosom by a
large tuft of rose-colored ribbons, displayed her figure elegantly
rounded; a hollands apron, white as snow, trimmed below by three large
hems, surmounted by a Vandyke-row, encircled her waist, which was as
round and flexible as a reed; her short, plain sleeves, edged with bone-
lace, allowed her plump arms to be seen, which her long Swedish gloves,
reaching to the elbow, defended from the rigor of the cold. When
Georgette raised the bottom of her dress, in order to descend more
quickly the steps, she exhibited to Frisky's indifferent eyes a beautiful
ankle, and the beginning of the plump calf of a fine leg, encased in
white silk, and a charming little foot, in a laced half-boot of Turkish
satin. When a blonde like Georgette sets herself to be ensnaring; when
vivid glances sparkle from her eyes of bright yet tender blue; when a
joyous excitement suffuses her transparent skin, she is more resistless
for the conquest of everything before her than a brunette.
This bewitching and nimble lady's-maid, who on the previous evening had
introduced Agricola to the pavilion, was first waiting woman to the
Honorable Miss Adrienne de Cardoville, niece of the Princess Saint-
Frisky, so happily found and brought back by the blacksmith, uttered weak
but joyful barks, and bounded, ran, and frolicked upon the turf. She was
not much bigger than one's fist; her curled hair, of lustrous black,
shone like ebony, under the broad, red satin ribbon which encircled her
neck; her paws, fringed with long silken fur, were of a bright and fiery
tan, as well as her muzzle, the nose of which was inconceivably pug; her
large eyes were full of intelligence; and her curly ears so long that
they trailed upon the ground. Georgette seemed to be as brisk and
petulant as Frisky, and shared her sportiveness,--now scampering after
the happy little spaniel, and now retreating, in order to be pursued upon
the greensward in her turn. All at once, at the sight of a second
person, who advanced with deliberate gravity, Georgette and Frisky were
suddenly stopped in their diversion. The little King Charles, some steps
in advance of Georgette, faithful to her name, and bold as the devil,
held herself firmly upon her nervous paws, and fiercely awaited the
coming up of the enemy, displaying at the same time rows of little teeth,
which, though of ivory, were none the less pointed and sharp. The enemy
consisted of a woman of mature age, accompanied by a very fat dog, of the
color of coffee and milk; his tail was twisted like a corkscrew; he was
pot-bellied; his skin was sleek; his neck was turned little to one side;
he walked with his legs inordinately spread out, and stepped with the air
of a doctor. His black muzzle, quarrelsome and scowling showed two fangs
sallying forth, and turning up from the left side of the mouth, and
altogether he had an expression singularly forbidding and vindictive.
This disagreeable animal, a perfect type of what might be called a
"church-goer's pug," answered to the name of "My Lord." His mistress, a
woman of about fifty years of age, corpulent and of middle size, was
dressed in a costume as gloomy and severe as that of Georgette was gay
and showy. It consisted of a brown robe, a black silk mantle, and a hat
of the same dye. The features of this woman might have been agreeable in
her youth; and her florid cheeks, her correct eyebrows, her black eyes,
which were still very lively, scarcely accorded with the peevish and
austere physiognomy which she tried to assume. This matron, of slow and
discreet gait, was Madame Augustine Grivois, first woman to the Princess
Saint-Dizier. Not only did the age, the face, and the dress of these two
women present a striking contrast; but the contrast extended itself even
to the animals which attended them. There were similar differences
between Frisky and My Lord, as between Georgette and Mrs. Grivois. When
the latter perceived the little King Charles, she could not restrain a
movement of surprise and repugnance, which escaped not the notice of the
young lady's maid. Frisky, who had not retreated one inch, since the
apparition of My Lord, regarded him valiantly, with a look of defiance,
and even advanced towards him with an air so decidedly hostile, that the
cur, though thrice as big as the little King Charles, uttered a howl of
distress and terror, and sought refuge behind Mrs. Grivois, who bitterly
said to Georgette:
"It seems to me, miss, that you might dispense with exciting your dog
thus, and setting him upon mine."
"It was doubtless for the purpose of protecting this respectable but ugly
animal from similar alarms, that you tried to make us lose Frisky
yesterday, by driving her into the street through the little garden gate.
But fortunately an honest young man found Frisky in the Rue de Babylone,
and brought her back to my mistress. However," continued Georgette, "to
what, madame, do I owe the pleasure of seeing you this morning?"
"I am commanded by the Princess," replied Mrs. Grivois, unable to conceal
a smile of triumphant satisfaction, "immediately to see Miss Adrienne.
It regards a very important affair, which I am to communicate only to
At these words Georgette became purple, and could not repress a slight
start of disquietude, which happily escaped Grivois, who was occupied
with watching over the safety of her pet, whom Frisky continued to snarl
at with a very menacing aspect; and Georgette, having quickly overcome
her temporary emotion, firmly answered: "Miss Adrienne went to rest very
late last night. She has forbidden me to enter her apartment before mid-
"That is very possible: but as the present business is to obey an order
of the Princess her aunt, you will do well if you please, miss, to awaken
your mistress immediately."
"My mistress is subject to no one's orders in her own house; and I will
not disturb her till mid-day, in pursuance of her commands," replied
"Then I shall go myself," said Mrs. Grivois.
"Florine and Hebe will not admit you. Indeed, here is the key of the
saloon; and through the saloon only can the apartments of Miss Adrienne
"How! do you dare refuse me permission to execute the orders of the
"Yes; I dare to commit the great crime of being unwilling to awaken my
"Ah! such are the results of the blind affection of the Princess for her
niece," said the matron, with affected grief: "Miss Adrienne no longer
respects her aunt's orders; and she is surrounded by young hare-brained
persons, who, from the first dawn of morning, dress themselves out as if
"Oh, madame! how came you to revile dress, who were formerly the greatest
coquette and the most frisky and fluttering of all the Princess's women.
At least, that is what is still spoken of you in the hotel, as having
been handed down from time out of mind, by generation to generation, even
"How! from generation to generation! do you mean to insinuate that I am a
hundred years old, Miss Impertinence?"
"I speak of the generations of waiting-women; for, except you, it is the
utmost if they remain two or three years in the Princess's house, who has
too many tempers for the poor girls!"
"I forbid you to speak thus of my mistress, whose name some people ought
not to pronounce but on their knees."
"However," said Georgette, "if one wished to speak ill of--"
"Do you dare!"
"No longer ago than last night, at half past eleven o'clock--"
"A four-wheeler," continued Georgette, "stopped at a few paces from the
house. A mysterious personage, wrapped up in a cloak, alighted from it,
and directly tapped, not at the door, but on the glass of the porter's
lodge window; and at one o'clock in the morning, the cab was still
stationed in the street, waiting for the mysterious personage in the
cloak, who, doubtless, during all that time, was, as you say, pronouncing
the name of her Highness the Princess on his knees."
Whether Mrs. Grivois had not been instructed as to a visit made to the
Princess Saint-Dizier by Rodin (for he was the man in the cloak), in the
middle of the night, after he had become certain of the arrival in Paris
of General Simon's daughters; or whether Mrs. Grivois thought it
necessary to appear ignorant of the visit, she replied, shrugging her
shoulders disdainfully: "I know not what you, mean, madame. I have not
come here to listen to your impertinent stuff. Once again I ask you--
will you, or will you not, introduce me to the presence of Miss
"I repeat, madame, that my mistress sleeps, and that she has forbidden me
to enter her bed-chamber before mid-day."
This conversation took place at some distance from the summer-house, at a
spot from which the peristyle could be seen at the end of a grand avenue,
terminating in trees arranged in form of a V. All at once Mrs. Grivois,
extending her hand in that direction, exclaimed: "Great heavens! is it
possible? what have I seen?"
"What have you seen?" said Georgette, turning round.
"What have I seen?" repeated Mrs. Grivois, with amazement.
"Yes: what was it?"
"Where?" asked Georgette.
"I saw her run up the porch steps. I perfectly recognized her by her
gait, by her hat, and by her mantle. To come home at eight o'clock in
the morning !" cried Mrs. Grivois: "it is perfectly incredible!"
"See my lady? Why, you came to see her!" and Georgette burst out into
fits of laughter: and then said: "Oh! I understand! you wish to out-do my
story of the four-wheeler last night! It is very neat of you!"
"I repeat," said Mrs. Grivois, "that I have this moment seen--"
"Oh! adone, Mrs. Grivois: if you speak seriously, you are mad!"
"I am mad, am I? because I have a pair of good eyes! The little gate
that open's on the street lets one into the quincunx near the pavilion.
It is by that door, doubtless, that mademoiselle has re-entered. Oh,
what shameful conduct! what will the Princess say to it! Ah! her
presentiments have not yet been mistaken. See to what her weak
indulgence of her niece's caprices has led her! It is monstrous!--so
monstrous, that, though I have seen her with my own eyes, still I can
scarcely believe it!"
"Since you've gone so far, ma'am, I now insist upon conducting you into
the apartment of my lady, in order that you may convince yourself, by
your own senses, that your eyes have deceived you!"
"Oh, you are very cunning, my dear, but not more cunning than I! You
propose my going now! Yes, yes, I believe you: you are certain that by
this time I shall find her in her apartment!"
"But, madame, I assure you--"
"All that I can say to you is this: that neither you, nor Florine, nor
Hebe, shall remain here twenty-four hours. The Princess will put an end
to this horrible scandal; for I shall immediately inform her of what has
passed. To go out in the night! Re-enter at eight o'clock in the
morning! Why, I am all in a whirl! Certainly, if I had not seen it with
my own eyes, I could not have believed it! Still, it is only what was to
be expected. It will astonish nobody. Assuredly not! All those to whom
I am going to relate it, will say, I am quite sure, that it is not at all
astonishing! Oh! what a blow to our respectable Princess! What a blow
Mrs. Grivois returned precipitately towards the mansion, followed by her
fat pug, who appeared to be as embittered as herself.
Georgette, active and light, ran, on her part, towards the pavilion, in
order to apprise Miss de Cardoville that Mrs. Grivois had seen her, or
fancied she had seen her, furtively enter by the little garden gate.
ADRIENNE AT HER TOILET.
About an hour had elapsed since Mrs. Grivois had seen or pretended to
have seen Adrienne de Cardoville re-enter in the morning the extension of
It is for the purpose, not of excusing, but of rendering intelligible,
the following scenes, that it is deemed necessary to bring out into the
light some striking peculiarities in the truly original character of Miss
This originality consisted in an excessive independence of mind, joined
to a natural horror of whatsoever is repulsive or deformed, and to an
insatiable desire of being surrounded by everything attractive and
beautiful. The painter most delighted with coloring and beauty, the
sculptor most charmed by proportions of form, feel not more than Adrienne
did the noble enthusiasm which the view of perfect beauty always excites
in the chosen favorites of nature.
And it was not only the pleasures of sight which this young lady loved to
gratify: the harmonious modulations of song, the melody of instruments,
the cadences of poetry, afforded her infinite pleasures; while a harsh
voice or a discordant noise made her feel the same painful impression, or
one nearly as painful as that which she involuntarily experienced from
the sight of a hideous object. Passionately fond of flowers, too, and of
their sweet scents, there are some perfumes which she enjoyed equally
with the delights of music or those of plastic beauty. It is necessary,
alas, to acknowledge one enormity: Adrienne was dainty in her food! She
valued more than any one else the fresh pulp of handsome fruit, the
delicate savor of a golden pheasant, cooked to a turn, and the odorous
cluster of a generous vine.
But Adrienne enjoyed all these pleasures with an exquisite reserve. She
sought religiously to cultivate and refine the senses given her. She
would have deemed it black ingratitude to blunt those divine gifts by
excesses, or to debase them by unworthy selections of objects upon which
to exercise them; a fault from which, indeed, she was preserved by the
excessive and imperious delicacy of her taste.
The BEAUTIFUL and the UGLY occupied for her the places which GOOD and
EVIL holds for others.
Her devotion to grace, elegance, and physical beauty, had led her also to
the adoration of moral beauty; for if the expression of a low and bad
passion render uncomely the most beautiful countenances, those which are
in themselves the most ugly are ennobled, on the contrary, by the
expression of good feelings and generous sentiments.
In a word, Adrienne was the most complete, the most ideal personification
of SENSUALITY--not of vulgar, ignorant, non intelligent, mistaken
sensuousness which is always deceit ful and corrupted by habit or by the
necessity for gross and ill-regulated enjoyments, but that exquisite
sensuality which is to the senses what intelligence is to the soul.
The independence of this young lady's character was extreme. Certain
humiliating subjections imposed upon her success by its social position,
above all things were revolting to her, and she had the hardihood to
resolve to withdraw herself from them. She was a woman, the most
womanish that it is possible to imagine--a woman in her timidity as well
as in her audacity--a woman in her hatred of the brutal despotism of men,
as well as in her intense disposition to self-devoting herself, madly
even and blindly, to him who should merit such a devotion from her--a
woman whose piquant wit was occasionally paradoxical--a superior woman,
in brief, who entertained a well-grounded disdain and contempt for
certain men either placed very high or greatly adulated, whom she had
from time to time met in the drawing-room of her aunt, the Princess
Saint-Dizier, when she resided with her.
These indispensable explanations being given, we usher, the reader into
the presence of Adrienne de Cardoville, who had just come out of the
It would require all the brilliant colorings of the Venetian school to
represent that charming scene, which would rather seem to have occurred
in the sixteenth century, in some palace of Florence or Bologna, than in
Paris, in the Faubourg Saint-Germain, in the month of February, 1832.
Adrienne's dressing-room was a kind of miniature temple seemingly one
erected and dedicated to the worship of beauty, in gratitude to the Maker
who has lavished so many charms upon woman, not to be neglected by her,
or to cover and conceal them with ashes, or to destroy them by the
contact of her person with sordid and harsh haircloth; but in order that,
with fervent gratitude for the divine gifts wherewith she is endowed, she
may enhance her charms with all the illusions of grace and all the
splendors of apparel, so as to glorify the divine work of her own
perfections in the eyes of all. Daylight was admitted into this
semicircular apartment, through one of those double windows, contrived
for the preservation of heat, so happily imported from Germany. The
walls of the pavilion being constructed of stone of great thickness, the
depth of the aperture for the windows was therefore very great. That of
Adrienne's dressing-room was closed on the outside by a sash containing a
single large pane of plate glass, and within, by another large plate of
ground glass. In the interval or space of about three feet left between
these two transparent enclosures, there was a case or box filled with
furze mould, whence sprung forth climbing plants, which, directed round
the ground glass, formed a rich garland of leaves and flowers. A garnet
damask tapestry, rich with harmoniously blended arabesques, in the purest
style, covered the walls and a thick carpet of similar color was extended
over the floor: and this sombre ground, presented by the floor and walls,
marvellously enhanced the effects of all the harmonious ornaments and
decorations of the chamber.
Under the window, opposite to the south, was placed Adrienne's dressing-
case, a real masterpiece of the skill of the goldsmith. Upon a large
tablet of lapis-lazuli, there were scattered boxes of jewels, their lids
precisely enamelled; several scent boxes of rock crystal, and other
implements and utensils of the toilet, some formed of shells, some of
mother-of-pearl, and others of ivory, covered with ornaments of gold in
extraordinary taste. Two large figures, modelled in silver with antique
purity; supported an oval swing mirror, which had for its rim, in place
of a frame curiously carved, a fresh garland of natural flowers, renewed
every day like a nosegay for a ball.
Two enormous Japanese vases, of purple and gold, three feet each in
diameter, were placed upon the carpet on each side of the toilet, and,
filled with camellias, ibiscures, and cape jasmine, in full flower formed
a sort of grove, diversified with the most brilliant colors. At the
farther end of the apartment, opposite the casement, was to be seen,
surrounded by another mass of flowers, a reduction in white marble of the
enchanting group of Daphnis and Chloe, the more chaste ideal of graceful
modesty and youthful beauty.
Two golden lamps burned perfumes upon the same pedestal which supported
those two charming figures. A coffer of frosted silver, set off with
small figures in jewelry and precious stones, and supported on four feet
of gilt bronze, contained various necessaries for the toilette; two
frosted Psyches, decorated with diamond ear-rings; some excellent
drawings from Raphael and Titian, painted by Adrienne herself, consisting
of portraits of both men and women of exquisite beauty; several consoles
of oriental jasper, supporting ewers and basins of silver and of silver
gilt, richly chased and filled with scented waters; a voluptuously rich
divan, some seats, and an illuminated gilt fable, completed the furniture
of this chamber, the atmosphere of which was impregnated with the
Adrienne, whom her attendants had just helped from the bath, was seated
before her toilette, her three women surrounding her. By a caprice, or
rather by a necessary and logical impulse of her soul, filled as it was
with the love of beauty and of harmony in all things, Adrienne had wished
the young women who served her to be very pretty, and be dressed with
attention and with a charming originality. We have already seen
Georgette, a piquante blonde, attired in her attractive costume of an
intriguing lady's maid of Marivaux; and her two companions were quite
equal to her both in gracefulness and gentility.
One of them, named Florine, a tall, delicately slender, and elegant girl,
with the air and form of Diana Huntress, was of a pale brown complexion.
Her thick black hair was turned up behind, where it was fastened with a
long golden pin. Like the two other girls, her arms were uncovered to
facilitate the performance of her duties about and upon the person of her
charming mistress. She wore a dress of that gay green so familiar to the
Venetian painters. Her petticoat was very ample. Her slender waist
curved in from under the plaits of a tucker of white cambric, plaited in
five minute folds, and fastened by five gold buttons. The third of
Adrienne's women had a face so fresh and ingenuous, a waist so delicate,
so pleasing, and so finished, that her mistress had given her the name of
Hebe. Her dress of a delicate rose color, and Grecian cut, displayed her
charming neck, and her beautiful arms up to the very shoulders. The
physiognomy of these three young women was laughter loving and happy. On
their features there was no expression of that bitter sullenness, willing
and hated obedience, or offensive familiarity, or base and degraded
deference, which are the ordinary results of a state of servitude. In
the zealous eagerness of the cares and attentions which they lavished
upon Adrienne, there seemed to be at least as much of affection as of
deference and respect. They appeared to derive an ardent pleasure from
the services which they rendered to their lovely mistress. One would
have thought that they attached to the dressing and embellishment of her
person all the merits and the enjoyment arising from the execution of a
work of art, in the accomplishing of which, fruitful of delights, they
were stimulated by the passions of love, of pride, and of joy.
The sun beamed brightly upon the toilet-case, placed in front of the
window. Adrienne was seated on a chair, its back elevated a little more
than usual. She was enveloped in a long morning-gown of blue silk,
embroidered with a leaf of the same color, which was fitted close to her
waist, as exquisitely slender and delicate as that of a child of twelve
years, by a girdle with floating tags. Her neck, delicately slender and
flexible as a bird's, was uncovered, as were also her shoulders and arms,
and all were of incomparable beauty. Despite the vulgarity of the
comparison, the purest ivory alone can give an idea of the dazzling
whiteness of her polished satin skin, of a texture so fresh and so firm,
that some drops of water, collected and still remaining about the roots
of her hair from the bath, rolled in serpentine lines over her shoulders,
like pearls, or beads, of crystal, over white marble.
And what gave enhanced lustre to this wondrous carnation, known but to
auburn-headed beauties, was the deep purple of her, humid lips,--the
roseate transparency of her small ears, of her dilated nostrils, and her
nails, as bright and glossy, as if they had been varnished. In every
spot, indeed, where her pure arterial blood, full of animation and heat,
could make its way to the skin and shine through the surface, it
proclaimed her high health and the vivid life and joyous buoyancy of her
glorious youth. Her eyes were very large, and of a velvet softness. Now
they glanced, sparkling and shining with comic humor or intelligence and
wit; and now they widened and extended themselves, languishing and
swimming between their double fringes of long crisp eyelashes, of as deep
a black as her finely-drawn and exquisitely arched eyebrows; for, by a
delightful freak of nature, she had black eyebrows and eyelashes to
contrast with the golden red of her hair. Her forehead, small like those
of ancient Grecian statues, formed with the rest of her face a perfect
oval. Her nose, delicately curved, was slightly aquiline; the enamel of
her teeth glistened when the light fell upon them; and her vermeil mouth
voluptuously sensual, seemed to call for sweet kisses, and the gay smiles
and delectations of dainty and delicious pleasure. It is impossible to
behold or to conceive a carriage of the head freer, more noble, or more
elegant than hers; thanks to the great distance which separated the neck
and the ear from their attachment to her outspread and dimpled shoulders.
We have already said that Adrienne was red-haired; but it was the redness
of many of the admirable portraits of women by Titian and Leonardo da
Vinci,--that is to say, molten gold presents not reflections more
delightfully agreeable or more glittering, than the naturally undulating
mass of her very long hair, as soft and fine as silk, so long, that, when
let loose, it reached the floor; in it, she could wholly envelop herself,
like another Venus arising from the sea. At the present moment,
Adrienne's tresses were ravishing to behold; Georgette, her arms bare,
stood behind her mistress, and had carefully collected into one of her
small white hands, those splendid threads whose naturally ardent
brightness was doubled in the sunshine. When the pretty lady's-maid
pulled a comb of ivory into the midst of the undulating and golden waves
of that enormously magnificent skein of silk, one might have said that a
thousand sparks of fire darted forth and coruscated away from it in all
directions. The sunshine, too, reflected not less golden and fiery rays
from numerous clusters of spiral ringlets, which, divided upon Adrienne's
forehead, fell over her cheeks, and in their elastic flexibility caressed
the risings of her snowy bosom, to whose charming undulations they
adapted and applied themselves. Whilst Georgette, standing, combed the
beautiful locks of her mistress, Hebe, with one knee upon the floor, and
having upon the other the sweet little foot of Miss Cardoville, busied
herself in fitting it with a remarkably small shoe of black satin, and
crossed its slender ties over a silk stocking of a pale yet rosy flesh-
color, which imprisoned the smallest and finest ankle in the world.
Florine, a little farther back, presented to her mistress, in a jeweled
box, a perfumed paste, with which Adrienne slightly rubbed her dazzling
hands and outspread fingers, which seemed tinted with carmine to their
extremities. Let us not forget Frisky, who, couched in the lap of her
mistress, opened her great eyes with all her might, and seemed to observe
the different operations of Adrienne's toilette with grave and reflective
attention. A silver bell being sounded from without, Florine, at a sign
from her mistress, went out and presently returned, bearing a letter upon
a small silver-gilt salve. Adrienne, while her women continued fitting
on her shoes, dressing her hair, and arranging her in her habiliments,
took the letter, which was written by the steward of the estate of
Cardoville, and read aloud as follows:
"Knowing your goodness of heart and generosity, I venture to address you
with respectful confidence. During twenty years I served the late Count
and Duke of Cardoville, your noble father, I believe I may truly say,
with probity and zeal. The castle is now sold; so that I and my wife, in
our old age, behold ourselves about to be dismissed, and left destitute
of all resources: which, alas! is very hard at our time of life."
"Poor creature!" said Adrienne, interrupting herself in reading: "my
father, certainly, always prided himself upon their devotion to him, and
their probity." She continued:
"There does, indeed, remain to us a means of retaining our place here;
but it would constrain us to be guilty of baseness; and, be the
consequences to us what they may, neither I nor my wife wish to purchase
our bread at such a price."
"Good, very good," said Adrienne, "always the same--dignity even in
poverty--it is the sweet perfume of a flower, not the less sweet because
it has bloomed in a meadow."
"In order to explain to you, honored madame, the unworthy task exacted
from us, it is necessary to inform you, in the first place, that M. Rodin
came here from Paris two days ago."
"Ah! M. Rodin!" said Mademoiselle de Cardoville, interrupting herself
anew; "the secretary of Abbe d'Aigrigny! I am not at all surprised at
him being engaged in a perfidious or black intrigue. But let us see."
"M. Rodin came from Paris to announce to us that the estate was sold, and
that he was sure of being able to obtain our continuance in our place, if
we would assist him in imposing a priest not of good character upon the
new proprietress as her future confessor; and if, the better to attain
this end, we would consent to calumniate another priest, a deserving and
excellent man, much loved and much respected in the country. Even that
is not all. I was required to write twice or thrice a week to M. Rodin,
and to relate to him everything that should occur in the house. I ought
to acknowledge, honored madame, that these infamous proposals were as
much as possible disguised and dissimulated under sufficiently specious
pretexts; but, notwithstanding the aspect which with more or less skill
it was attempted to give to the affair, it was precisely and
substantially what I have now had the honor of stating to you."
"Corruption, calumny, and false and treacherous impeachment!" said
Adrienne, with disgust: "I cannot think of such wretches without
involuntarily feeling my mind shocked by dismal ideas of black, venomous,
and vile reptiles, of aspects most hideous indeed. How much more do I
love to dwell upon the consoling thought of honest Dupont and his wife!"
"Believe me, we hesitated not an instant. We quit Cardoville, which has
been our home for the last twenty years;--but we shall quit it like
honest people, and with the consciousness of our integrity. And now,
honored madame, if, in the brilliant circle in which you move--you, who
are so benevolent and amiable--could find a place for us by your
recommendation, then, with endless gratitude to you, we shall escape from
a position of most cruel embarrassment."
"Surely, surely," said Adrienne, "they shall not in vain appeal to me.
To wrest excellent persons from the grip of M. Rodin, is not only a duty
but a pleasure: for it is at once a righteous and a dangerous enterprise;
and dearly do I love to brave powerful oppressors!" Adrienne again went
"After having thus spoken to you of ourselves, honored madame, permit us
to implore your protection for other unfortunates; for it would be wicked
to think only of one's self. Three days ago, two shipwrecks took place
upon our ironbound coast. A few passengers only were saved, and were
conducted hither, where I and my wife gave them all necessary attentions.
All these passengers have departed for Paris, except one, who still
remains, his wounds having hitherto prevented him from leaving the house,
and, indeed, they will constrain him to remain for some days to come. He
is a young East Indian prince, of about twenty years of age, and he
appears to be as amiable and good as he is handsome, which is not a
little to say, though he has a tawny skin, like the rest of his
countrymen, as I understand."
"An Indian prince! twenty years of age! young, amiable, and handsome!"
exclaimed Adrienne, gayly; "this is quite delightful, and not at all of
an ordinary or vulgar nature! Oh! this Indian prince has already
awakened all my sympathies! But what can I do with this Adonis from the
banks of the Ganges, who has come to wreck himself upon the Picardy
Adrienne's three women looked at her with much astonishment, though they
were accustomed to the singular eccentricities of her character.
Georgette and Hebe even indulged in discreet and restrained smiles.
Florine, the tall and beautiful pale brown girl, also smiled like her
pretty companions; but it was after a short pause of seeming reflection,
as if she had previously been entirely engrossed in listening to and
recollecting the minutest words of her mistress, who, though powerfully
interested by the situation of the "Adonis from Ganges banks," as she had
called him, continued to read Dupont's letter:
"One of the countrymen of the Indian prince, who has also remained to
attend upon him, has given me to understand that the youthful prince has
lost in the shipwreck all he possessed, and knows not how to get to
Paris, where his speedy presence is required by some affairs of the very
greatest importance. It is not from the prince himself that I have
obtained this information: no; he appears to be too dignified and proud
to proclaim of his fate: but his countryman, more communicative,
confidentially told me what I have stated, adding, that his young
compatriot has already been subjected to great calamities, and that his
father, who was the sovereign of an Indian kingdom, has been killed by
the English, who have also dispossessed his son of his crown."
"This is very singular," said Adrienne, thoughtfully. "These
circumstances recall to my mind that my father often mentioned that one
of our relations was espoused in India by a native monarch; and that
General Simon: (whom they have created a marshal) had entered into his
service." Then interrupting herself to indulge in a smile, she added,
"Gracious! this affair will be quite odd and fantastical! Such things
happen to nobody but me; and then people say that I am the uncommon
creature! But it seems to me that it is not I, but Providence, which, in
truth, sometimes shows itself very eccentric! But let us see if worthy
Dupont gives the name of this handsome prince?"
"We trust, honored madame, that you will pardon our boldness: but we
should have thought ourselves very selfish, if, while stating to you our
own griefs, we had not also informed you that there is with us a brave
and estimable prince involved in so much distress. In fine, lady, trust
to me; I am old; and I have had much experience of men; and it was only
necessary to see the nobleness of expression and the sweetness of
countenance of this young Indian, to enable me to judge that he is worthy
of the interest which I have taken the liberty to request in his behalf.
It would be sufficient to transmit to him a small sum of money for the
purchase of some European clothing; for he has lost all his Indian
vestments in the shipwreck."
"Good heavens! European clothing!" exclaimed Adrienne, gayly. "Poor
young prince! Heaven preserve him from that; and me also! Chance has
sent hither from the heart of India, a mortal so far favored as never to
have worn the abominable European costume--those hideous habits, and
frightful hats, which render the men so ridiculous, so ugly, that in
truth there is not a single good quality to be discovered in them, nor
one spark of what can either captivate or attract! There comes to me at
last a handsome young prince from the East, where the men are clothed in
silk and cashmere. Most assuredly I'll not miss this rare and unique
opportunity of exposing myself to a very serious and formidable
temptation! No, no! not a European dress for me, though poor Dupont
requests it! But the name--the name of this dear prince! Once more,
what a singular event is this! If it should turn out to be that cousin
from beyond the Ganges! During my childhood, I have heard so much in
praise of his royal father! Oh! I shall be quite ravished to give his
son the kind reception which he merits!" And then she read on:
"If, besides this small sum, honored madame, you are so kind as to give
him, and also his companion, the means of reaching Paris, you will confer
a very great service upon this poor young prince, who is at present so
"To conclude, I know enough of your delicacy to be aware that it would
perhaps be agreeable to you to afford this succor to the prince without
being known as his benefactress; in which case, I beg that you will be
pleased to command me; and you may rely upon my discretion. If, on the
contrary, you wish to address it directly to himself, his name is, as it
has been written for me by his countrymen, Prince Djalma, son of Radja-
sing, King of Mundi."
"Djalma!" said Adrienne, quickly, and appearing to call up her
recollections, "Radja-sing! Yes--that is it! These are the very names
that my father so often repeated, while telling me that there was nothing
more chivalric or heroic in the world than the old king, our relation by
marriage; and the son has not derogated, it would seem, from that
character. Yes, Djalma, Radja-sing--once more, that is it--such names
are not so common," she added, smiling, "that one should either forget or
confound them with others. This Djalma is my cousin! Brave and good--
young and charming! above all, he has never worn the horrid European
dress! And destitute of every resource! This is quite ravishing! It is
too much happiness at once! Quick, quick let us improvise a pretty fairy
tale, of which the handsome and beloved prince shall be the hero! The
poor bird of the golden and azure plumage has wandered into our dismal
climate; but he will find here, at least, something to remind him of his
native region of sunshine and perfumes!" Then, addressing one of her
women, she said: "Georgette, take paper and write, my child!" The young
girl went to the gilt, illuminated table, which contained materials for
writing; and, having seated herself, she said to her mistress: "I await
Adrienne de Cardoville, whose charming countenance was radiant with the
gayety of happiness and joy, proceeded to dictate the following letter to
a meritorious old painter, who had long since taught her the arts of
drawing and designing; in which arts she excelled, as indeed she did in
"MY DEAR TITIAN, MY GOOD VERONESE, MY WORTHY RAPHAEL.
"You can render me a very great service,--and you will do it, I am sure,
with that perfect and obliging complaisance by which you are ever
"It is to go immediately and apply yourself to the skillful hand who
designed my last costumes of the fifteenth century. But the present
affair is to procure modern East Indian dresses for a young man--yes,
sir--for a young man,--and according to what I imagine of him, I fancy
that you can cause his measure to be taken from the Antinous, or rather,
from the Indian Bacchus; yes--that will be more likely.
"It is necessary that these vestments be at once of perfect propriety and
correctness, magnificently rich, and of the greatest elegance. You will
choose the most beautiful stuffs possible; and endeavor, above all
things, that they be, or resemble, tissues of Indian manufacture; and you
will add to them, for turbans and sashes, six splendid long cashmere
shawls, two of them white, two red, and two orange; as nothing suits
brown complexions better than those colors.
"This done (and I allow you at the utmost only two or three days), you
will depart post in my carriage for Cardoville Manor House, which you
know so well. The steward, the excellent Dupont, one of your old
friends, will there introduce you to a young Indian Prince, named Djalma;
and you will tell that most potent grave, and reverend signior, of
another quarter of the globe, that you have come on the part of an
unknown friend, who, taking upon himself the duty of a brother, sends him
what is necessary to preserve him from the odious fashions of Europe.
You will add, that his friend expects him with so much impatience that he
conjures him to come to Paris immediately. If he objects that he is
suffering, you will tell him that my carriage is an excellent bed-closet;
and you will cause the bedding, etc., which it contains, to be fitted up,
till he finds it quite commodious. Remember to make very humble excuses
for the unknown friend not sending to the prince either rich palanquins,
or even, modestly, a single elephant; for alas! palanquins are only to be
seen at the opera; and there are no elephants but those in the
menagerie,--though this must make us seem strangely barbarous in his
"As soon as you shall have decided on your departure, perform the journey
as rapidly as possible, and bring here, into my house, in the Rue de
Babylone (what predestination! that I should dwell in the street of
BABYLON,--a name which must at least accord with the ear of an
Oriental),--you will bring hither, I say, this dear prince, who is so
happy as to have been born in a country of flowers, diamonds, and sun!
"Above all, you will have the kindness, my old and worthy friend, not to
be at all astonished at this new freak, and refrain from indulging in
extravagant conjectures. Seriously, the choice which I have made of you
in this affair,--of you, whom I esteem and most sincerely honor,--is
because it is sufficient to say to you that, at the bottom of all this,
there is something more than a seeming act of folly."
In uttering these last words, the tone of Adrienne was as serious and
dignified as it had been previously comic and jocose. But she quickly
resumed, more gayly, dictating to Georgette.
"Adieu, my old friend. I am something like that commander of ancient
days, whose heroic nose and conquering chin you have so often made me
draw: I jest with the utmost freedom of spirit even in the moment of
battle: yes, for within an hour I shall give battle, a pitched battle--to
my dear pew-dwelling aunt. Fortunately, audacity and courage never
failed me, and I burn with impatience for the engagement with my austere
"A kiss, and a thousand heartfelt recollections to your excellent wife.
If I speak of her here, who is so justly respected, you will please to
understand, it is to make you quite at ease as to the consequences of
this running away with, for my sake, a charming young prince,--for it is
proper to finish well where I should have begun, by avowing to you that
he is charming indeed!
"Once more, adieu!"
Then, addressing Georgette, said she, "Have you done writing, chit?"
"Oh, add this postscript."
"P.S.--I send you draft on sight on my banker for all expenses. Spare
nothing. You know I am quite a grand seigneur. I must use this
masculine expression, since your sex have exclusively appropriated to
yourselves (tyrants as you are) a term, so significant as it is of noble
"Now, Georgette," said Adrienne; "bring me an envelope, and the letter,
that I may sign it." Mademoiselle de Cardoville took the pen that
Georgette presented to her, signed the letter, and enclosed in it an
order upon her banker, which was expressed thus:
"Please pay M. Norval, on demand without grace, the sum of money he may
require for expenses incurred on my account.
"ADRIENNE DE CARDOVILLE."
During all this scene, while Georgette wrote, Florine and Hebe had
continued to busy themselves with the duties of their mistress's
toilette, who had put off her morning gown, and was now in full dress, in
order to wait upon the princess, her aunt. From the sustained and
immovably fixed attention with which Florine had listened to Adrienne's
dictating to Georgette her letter to M. Norval, it might easily have been
seen that, as was her habit indeed, she endeavored to retain in her
memory even the slightest words of her mistress.
"Now, chit," said Adrienne to Hebe, "send this letter immediately to M.
The same silver bell was again rung from without. Hebe moved towards the
door of the dressing-room, to go and inquire what it was, and also to
execute the order of her mistress as to the letter. But Florine
precipitated herself, so to speak, before her, and so as to prevent her
leaving the apartment; and said to Adrienne:
"Will it please my lady for me to send this letter? I have occasion to
go to the mansion."
"Go, Florine, then," said Adrienne, "seeing that you wish it. Georgette,
seal the letter."
At the end of a second or two, during which Georgette had sealed the
letter, Hebe returned.
"Madame," said she, re-entering, "the working-man who brought back Frisky
yesterday, entreats you to admit him for an instant. He is very pale,
and he appears quite sad."
"Would that he may already have need of me! I should be too happy!"
said Adrienne gayly. "Show the excellent young man into the little
saloon. And, Florine, despatch this letter immediately."
Florine went out. Miss de Cardoville, followed by Frisky, entered the
little reception-room, where Agricola awaited her.
When Adrienne de Cardoville entered the saloon where Agricola expected
her, she was dressed with extremely elegant simplicity. A robe of deep
blue, perfectly fitted to her shape, embroidered in front with
interlacings of black silk, according to the then fashion, outlined her
nymph-like figure, and her rounded bosom. A French cambric collar,
fastened by a large Scotch pebble, set as a brooch, served her for a
necklace. Her magnificent golden hair formed a framework for her fair
countenance, with an incredible profusion of long and light spiral
tresses, which reached nearly to her waist.
Agricola, in order to save explanations with his father, and to make him
believe that he had indeed gone to the workshop of M. Hardy, had been
obliged to array himself in his working dress; he had put on a new blouse
though, and the collar of his shirt, of stout linen, very white, fell
over upon a black cravat, negligently tied; his gray trousers allowed his
well polished boots to be seen; and he held between his muscular hands a
cap of fine woolen cloth, quite new. To sum up, his blue blouse,
embroidered with red, showing off the nervous chest of the young
blacksmith, and indicating his robust shoulders, falling down in graceful
folds, put not the least constraint upon his free and easy gait, and
became him much better than either frock-coat or dress-coat would have
done. While awaiting Miss de Cardoville, Agricola mechanically examined
a magnificent silver vase, admirably graven. A small tablet, of the same
metal, fitted into a cavity of its antique stand, bore the words--"Chased
by JEAN MARIE, working chaser, 1831."
Adrienne had stepped so lightly upon the carpet of her saloon, only
separated from another apartment by the doors, that Agricola had not
perceived the young lady's entrance. He started, and turned quickly
round, upon hearing a silver and brilliant voice say to him--
"That is a beautiful vase, is it not, sir?"
"Very beautiful, madame," answered Agricola greatly embarrassed.
"You may see from it that I like what is equitable." added Miss de
Cardoville, pointing with her finger to the little silver tablet;--"an
artist puts his name upon his painting; an author publishes his on the
title-page of his book; and I contend that an artisan ought also to have
his name connected with his workmanship."
"Oh, madame, so this name?"
"Is that of the poor chaser who executed this masterpiece, at the order
of a rich goldsmith. When the latter sold me the vase, he was amazed at
my eccentricity, he would have almost said at my injustice, when, after
having made him tell me the name of the author of this production, I
ordered his name to be inscribed upon it, instead of that of the
goldsmith, which had already been affixed to the stand. In the absence
of the rich profits, let the artisan enjoy the fame of his skill. Is it
not just, sir?"
It would have been impossible for Adrienne to commence the conversation
more graciously: so that the blacksmith, already beginning to feel a
little more at ease, answered:
"Being a mechanic myself, madame, I cannot but be doubly affected by such
a proof of your sense of equity and justice."
"Since you are a mechanic, sir," resumed Adrienne, "I cannot but
felicitate myself on having so suitable a hearer. But please to be
With a gesture full of affability, she pointed to an armchair of purple
silk embroidered with gold, sitting down herself upon a tete-d-tete of
the same materials.
Seeing Agricola's hesitation, who again cast down his eyes with
embarrassment, Adrienne, to encourage him, showed him Frisky, and said to
him gayly: "This poor little animal, to which I am very much attached,
will always afford me a lively remembrance of your obliging complaisance,
sir. And this visit seems to me to be of happy augury; I know not what
good presentiment whispers to me, that perhaps I shall have the pleasure
of being useful to you in some affair."
"Madame," said Agricola, resolutely, "my name is Baudoin: a blacksmith in
the employment of M. Hardy, at Pressy, near the city. Yesterday you
offered me your purse and I refused it: to-day, I have come to request of
you perhaps ten or twenty times the sum that you had generously proposed.
I have said thus much all at once, madame, because it causes me the
greatest effort. The words blistered my lips, but now I shall be more at
"I appreciate the delicacy of your scruples, sir," said Adrienne; "but if
you knew me, you would address me without fear. How much do you
"I do not know, madame," answered Agricola.
"I beg your pardon. You don't know what sum?"
"No madame; and I come to you to request, not only the sum necessary to
me, but also information as to what that sum is."
"Let us see, sir," said Adrienne, smiling, "explain this to me. In spite
of my good will, you feel that I cannot divine, all at once, what it is
that is required."
"Madame, in two words, I can state the truth. I have a food old mother,
who in her youth, broke her health by excessive labor, to enable her to
bring me up; and not only me, but a poor abandoned child whom she had
picked up. It is my turn now to maintain her; and that I have the
happiness of doing. But in order to do so, I have only my labor. If I
am dragged from my employment, my mother will be without support."
"Your mother cannot want for anything now, sir, since I interest myself
"You will interest yourself for her, madame?" said Agricola.
"Certainly," replied Adrienne.
"But you don't know her," exclaimed the blacksmith.
"Now I do; yes."
"Oh, madame!" said Agricola, with emotion, after a moment's silence. "I
understand you. But indeed you have a noble heart. Mother Bunch was
"Mother Bunch?" said Adrienne, looking at Agricola with a very surprised
air; for what he said to her was an enigma.
The blacksmith, who blushed not for his friends, replied frankly.
"Madame, permit me to explain, to you. Mother Bunch is a poor and very
industrious young workwoman, with whom I have been brought up. She is
deformed, which is the reason why she is called Mother Bunch. But
though, on the one hand, she is sunk, as low as you are highly elevated
on the other, yet as regards the heart--as to delicacy--oh, lady, I am
certain that your heart is of equal worth with hers! That was at once
her own thought, after I had related to her in what manner, yesterday,
you had presented me with that beautiful flower."
"I can assure you, sir," said Adrienne, sincerely touched, "that this
comparison flatters and honors me more than anything else that you could
say to me,--a heart that remains good and delicate, in spite of cruel
misfortunes, is so rare a treasure; while it is very easy to be good,
when we have youth and beauty, and to be delicate and generous, when we
are rich. I accept, then, your comparison; but on condition that you
will quickly put me in a situation to deserve it. Pray go on,
In spite of the gracious cordiality of Miss de Cardoville, there was
always observable in her so much of that natural dignity which arises
from independence of character, so much elevation of soul and nobleness
of sentiment that Agricola, forgetting the ideal physical beauty of his
protectress, rather experienced for her the emotions of an affectionate
and kindly, though profound respect, which offered a singular and
striking contrast with the youth and gayety of the lovely being who
inspired him with this sentiment.
"If my mother alone, madame, were exposed to the rigor which I dread. I
should not be so greatly disquieted with the fear of a compulsory
suspension of my employment. Among poor people, the poor help one
another; and my mother is worshipped by all the inmates of our house, our
excellent neighbors, who would willingly succor her. But, they
themselves are far from being well off; and as they would incur
privations by assisting her, their little benefit would still be more
painful to my mother than the endurance even of misery by herself. And
besides, it is not only for my mother that my exertions are required, but
for my father, whom we have not seen for eighteen years, and who has just
arrived from Siberia, where he remained during all that time, from
zealous devotion to his former general, now Marshal Simon."
"Marshal Simon!" said Adrienne, quickly, with an expression of much
"Do you know the marshal, madame?"
"I do not personally know him, but he married a lady of our family."
"What joy!" exclaimed the blacksmith, "then the two young ladies, his
daughters, whom my father has brought from Russia, are your relations!"
"Has Marshal Simon two daughters?" asked Adrienne, more and more
astonished and interested.
"Yes, madame, two little angels of fifteen or sixteen, and so pretty, so
sweet; they are twins so very much alike, as to be mistaken for one
another. Their mother died in exile; and the little she possessed having
been confiscated, they have come hither with my father, from the depths
of Siberia, travelling very wretchedly; but he tried to make them forget
so many privations by the fervency of his devotion and his tenderness.
My excellent father! you will not believe, madame, that, with the courage
of a lion, he has all the love and tenderness of a mother."
"And where are the dear children, sir?" asked Adrienne.
"At our home, madame. It is that which renders my position so very hard;
that which has given me courage to come to you; it is not but that my
labor would be sufficient for our little household, even thus augmented;
but that I am about to be arrested."
"About to be arrested? For what?"
"Pray, madame, have the goodness to read this letter, which has been sent
by some one to Mother Bunch."
Agricola gave to Miss de Cardoville the anonymous letter which had been
received by the workwoman.
After having read the letter, Adrienne said to the blacksmith, with
surprise, "It appears, sir, you are a poet!"
"I have neither the ambition nor the pretension to be one, madame. Only,
when I return to my mother after a day's toil, and often, even while
forging my iron, in order to divert and relax my attention, I amuse
myself with rhymes, sometimes composing an ode, sometimes a song."
"And your song of the Freed Workman, which is mentioned in this letter,
is, therefore, very disaffected--very dangerous?"
"Oh, no, madame; quite the contrary. For myself, I have the good fortune
to be employed in the factory of M. Hardy, who renders the condition of
his workpeople as happy as that of their less fortunate comrades is the
reverse; and I had limited myself to attempt, in favor of the great mass
of the working classes, an equitable, sincere, warm, and earnest claim--
nothing more. But you are aware, perhaps, Madame, that in times of
conspiracy, and commotion, people are often incriminated and imprisoned
on very slight grounds. Should such a misfortune befall me, what will
become of my mother, my father, and the two orphans whom we are bound to
regard as part of our family until the return of their father, Marshal
Simon? It is on this account, madame, that, if I remain, I run the risk
of being arrested. I have come to you to request you to provide surety
for me; so that I should not be compelled to exchange the workshop for
the prison, in which case I can answer for it that the fruits of my labor
will suffice for all."
"Thank the stars!" said Adrienne, gayly, "this affair will arrange
itself quite easily. Henceforth, Mr. Poet, you shall draw your
inspirations in the midst of good fortune instead of adversity. Sad
muse! But first of all, bonds shall be given for you."
"Oh, madame, you have saved us!"
"To continue," said Adrienne, "the physician of our family is intimately
connected with a very important minister (understand that, as you like,"
said she, smiling, "you will not deceive yourself much). The doctor
exercises very great influence over this great statesman; for he has
always had the happiness of recommending to him, on account of his
health; the sweets and repose of private life, to the very eve of the day
on which his portfolio was taken from him. Keep yourself, then,
perfectly at ease. If the surety be insufficient, we shall be able to
devise some other means.
"Madame," said Agricola, with great emotion, "I am indebted to you for
the repose, perhaps for the life of my mother. Believe that I shall ever
"That is all quite simple. Now for another thing. It is proper that
those who have too much should have the right of coming to the aid of
those who have too little. Marshal Simon's daughters are members of my
family, and they will reside here with me, which will be more suitable.
You will apprise your worthy mother of this; and in the evening, besides
going to thank her for the hospitality which she has shown to my young
relations, I shall fetch them home."
At this moment Georgette, throwing open the door which separated the room
from an adjacent apartment, hurriedly entered, with an affrighted look,
"Oh, madame, something extraordinary is going on in the street."
"How so? Explain yourself," said Adrienne.
"I went to conduct my dressmaker to the little garden-gate," said
Georgette; "where I saw some ill-looking men, attentively examining the
walls and windows of the little out-building belonging to the pavilion,
as if they wished to spy out some one."
"Madame," said Agricola, with chagrin, "I have not been deceived. They
are after me."
"What say you?"
"I thought I was followed, from the moment when I left the Rue St. Merry:
and now it is beyond doubt. They must have seen me enter your house; and
are on the watch to arrest me. Well, now that your interest has been
acquired for my mother,--now that I have no farther uneasiness for
Marshal Simon's daughters,--rather than hazard your exposure to anything
the least unpleasant, I run to deliver myself up."
"Beware of that sir," said Adrienne, quickly. "Liberty is too precious
to be voluntarily sacrificed. Besides, Georgette may have been mistaken.
But in any case, I entreat you not to surrender yourself. Take my
advice, and escape being arrested. That, I think, will greatly
facilitate my measures; for I am of opinion that justice evinces a great
desire to keep possession of those upon whom she has once pounced."
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