The Wandering Jew, Entire
Part 8 out of 31
"Madame," said Hebe, now also entering with a terrified look, "a man
knocked at the little door, and inquired if a young man in a blue blouse
has not entered here. He added, that the person whom he seeks is named
Agricola Baudoin, and that he has something to tell him of great
"That's my name," said Agricola; "but the important information is a
trick to draw me out."
"Evidently," said Adrienne; "and therefore we must play off trick for
trick. What did you answer, child?" added she, addressing herself to
"I answered, that I didn't know what he was talking about."
"Quite right," said Adrienne: "and the man who put the question?"
"He went away, madame."
"Without doubt to come back again, soon," said Agricola.
"That is very probable," said Adrienne, "and therefore, sir, it is
necessary for you to remain here some hours with resignation. I am
unfortunately obliged to go immediately to the Princess Saint-Dizier, my
aunt, for an important interview, which can no longer be delayed, and is
rendered more pressing still by what you have told me concerning the
daughters of Marshal Simon. Remain here, then, sir; since if you go out,
you will certainly be arrested."
"Madame, pardon my refusal; but I must say once more that I ought not to
accept this generous offer."
"They have tried to draw me out, in order to avoid penetrating with the
power of the law into your dwelling but if I go not out, they will come
in; and never will I expose you to anything so disagreeable. Now that I
am no longer uneasy about my mother, what signifies prison?"
"And the grief that your mother will feel, her uneasiness, and her
fears,--nothing? Think of your father; and that poor work-woman who
loves you as a brother, and whom I value as a sister;--say, sir, do you
forget them also? Believe me, it is better to spare those torments to
your family. Remain here; and before the evening I am certain, either by
giving surety, or some other means, of delivering you from these
"But, madame, supposing that I do accept your generous offer, they will
come and find me here."
"Not at all. There is in this pavilion, which was formerly the abode of
a nobleman's left-handed wife,--you see, sir," said Adrienne, smiling,
"that live in a very profane place--there is here a secret place of
concealment, so wonderfully well-contrived, that it can defy all
searches. Georgette will conduct you to it. You will be very well
accommodated. You will even be able to write some verses for me, if the
place inspire you."
"Oh, madame! how great is your goodness! how have I merited it?"
"Oh, sir, I will tell you. Admitting that your character and your
position do not entitle you to any interest;--admitting that I may not
owe a sacred debt to your father for the touching regards and cares he
has bestowed upon the daughters of Marshal Simon, my relations--do you
forget Frisky, sir?" asked Adrienne, laughing,--"Frisky, there, whom you
have restored to my fondles? Seriously, if I laugh," continued this
singular and extravagant creature, "it is because I know that you are
entirely out of danger, and that I feel an increase of happiness.
Therefore, sir, write for me quickly your address, and your mother's, in
this pocket-book; follow Georgette; and spin me some pretty verses, if
you do not bore yourself too much in that prison to which you fly."
While Georgette conducted the blacksmith to the hiding-place, Hebe
brought her mistress a small gray beaver hat with a gray feather; for
Adrienne had to cross the park to reach the house occupied by the
A quarter of an hour after this scene, Florine entered mysteriously the
apartment of Mrs. Grivois, the first woman of the princess.
"Well?" demanded Mrs. Grivois of the young woman.
"Here are the notes which I have taken this morning," said Florine,
putting a paper into the duenna's hand. "Happily, I have a good memory."
"At what time exactly did she return home this morning?" asked the
"She did not go out, madame. We put her in the bath at nine o'clock."
"But before nine o'clock she came home, after having passed the night out
of her house. Eight o'clock was the time at which she returned,
Florine looked at Mrs. Grivois with profound astonishment, and said--
"I do not understand you, madame."
"What's that? Madame did not come home this morning at eight o'clock?
Dare you lie?"
"I was ill yesterday, and did not come down till nine this morning, in
order to assist Georgette and Hebe help our young lady from the bath. I
know nothing of what passed previously, I swear to you, madame."
"That alters the case. You must ferret out what I allude to from your
companions. They don't distrust you, and will tell you all."
"What has your mistress done this morning since you saw her?"
"Madame dictated a letter to Georgette for M. Norval, I requested
permission to send it off, as a pretext for going out, and for writing
down all I recollected."
"Very well. And this letter?"
"Jerome had to go out, and I gave it him to put in the post-office."
"Idiot!" exclaimed Mrs. Grivois: "couldn't you bring it to me?"
"But, as madame dictated it aloud to Georgette, as is her custom, I knew
the contents of the letter; and I have written it in my notes."
"That's not the same thing. It is likely there was need to delay sending
off this letter; the princess will be very much displeased."
"I thought I did right, madame."
"I know that it is not good will that fails you. For these six months I
have been satisfied with you. But this time you have committed a very
"Be indulgent, madame! what I do is sufficiently painful!" The girl
stifled a sigh.
Mrs. Grivois looked fixedly at her, and said in a sardonic tone:
"Very well, my dear, do not continue it. If you have scruples, you are
free. Go your way."
"You well know that I am not free, madame," said Florine, reddening; and
with tears in her eyes she added: "I am dependent upon M. Rodin, who
placed me here."
"Wherefore these regrets, then?"
"In spite of one's self, one feels remorse. Madame is so good, and so
"She is all perfection, certainly! But you are not here to sing her
praises. What occurred afterwards?"
"The working-man who yesterday found and brought back Frisky, came early
this morning and requested permission to speak with my young lady."
"And is this working-man still in her house?"
"I don't know. He came in when I was going out with the letter."
"You must contrive to learn what it was this workingman came about."
"Has your mistress seemed preoccupied, uneasy, or afraid of the interview
which she is to have to-day with the princess? She conceals so little of
what she thinks, that you ought to know."
"She has been as gay as usual. She has even jested about the interview!"
"Oh! jested, has she?" said the tire-woman, muttering between her teeth,
without Florine being able to hear her: "'They laugh most who laugh
last.' In spite of her audacious and diabolical character, she would
tremble, and would pray for mercy, if she knew what awaits her this day."
Then addressing Florine, she continued--
"Return, and keep yourself, I advise you, from those fine scruples, which
will be quite enough to do you a bad turn. Do not forget!"
"I cannot forget that I belong not to myself, madame."
"Anyway, let it be so. Farewell."
Florine quitted the mansion and crossed the park to regain the summer-
house, while Mrs Grivois went immediately to the Princess Saint-Dizier.
THE WANDERING JEW
By Eugene Sue
XXXVI. A Female Jesuit
XXXVII. The Plot
XXXVIII. Adrienne's Enemies
XXXIX. The Skirmish
XL. The Revolt
XLII. The Snare
XLIII. A False Friend
XLIV. The Minister's Cabinet
XLV. The Visit
XLVII. The Letter
XLVIII. The Confessional
XLIX. My Lord and Spoil-sport
LI. The Convent
LII. The Influence of a Confessor
LIII. The Examination
A FEMALE JESUIT.
During the preceding scenes which occurred in the Pompadour rotunda,
occupied by Miss de Cardoville, other events took place in the residence
of the Princess Saint-Dizier. The elegance and sumptuousness of the
former dwelling presented a strong contrast to the gloomy interior of the
latter, the first floor of which was inhabited by the princess, for the
plan of the ground floor rendered it only fit for giving parties; and,
for a long time past, Madame de Saint-Dizier had renounced all worldly
splendors. The gravity of her domestics, all aged and dressed in black;
the profound silence which reigned in her abode, where everything was
spoken, if it could be called speaking, in an undertone; and the almost
monastic regularity and order of this immense mansion, communicated to
everything around the princess a sad and chilling character. A man of
the world, who joined great courage to rare independence of spirit,
speaking of the princess (to whom Adrienne de Cardoville went, according
to her expression, to fight a pitched battle), said of her as follows:
"In order to avoid having Madame de Saint-Dizier for an enemy, I, who am
neither bashful nor cowardly, have, for the first time in my life, been
both a noodle and a coward." This man spoke sincerely. But Madame de
Saint-Dizier had not all at once arrived at this high degree of
Some words are necessary for the purpose of exhibiting distinctly some
phases in the life of this dangerous and implacable woman who, by her
affiliation with the Order of Jesuits, had acquired an occult and
formidable power. For there is something even more menacing than a
Jesuit: it is a Jesuits; and, when one has seen certain circles, it
becomes evident that there exist, unhappily, many of those affiliated,
who, more or less, uniformly dress (for the lay members of the Order call
themselves "Jesuits of the short robe").
Madame de Saint-Dizier, once very beautiful, had been, during the last
years of the Empire, and the early years of the Restoration, one of the
most fashionable women of Paris, of a stirring, active, adventurous, and
commanding spirit, of cold heart, but lively imagination. She was
greatly given to amorous adventures, not from tenderness of heart, but
from a passion for intrigue, which she loved as men love play--for the
sake of the emotions it excites. Unhappily, such had always been the
blindness or the carelessness of her husband, the Prince of Saint-Dizier
(eldest brother of the Count of Rennepont and Duke of Cardoville, father
of Adrienne), that during his life he had never said one word that could
make it be thought that he suspected the actions of his wife. Attaching
herself to Napoleon, to dig a mine under the feet of the Colossus, that
design at least afforded emotions sufficient to gratify the humor of the
most insatiable. During some time, all went well. The princess was
beautiful and spirited, dexterous and false, perfidious and seductive.
She was surrounded by fanatical adorers, upon whom she played off a kind
of ferocious coquetry, to induce them to run their heads into grave
conspiracies. They hoped to resuscitate the Fonder party, and carried on
a very active secret correspondence with some influential personages
abroad, well known for their hatred against the emperor and France.
Hence arose her first epistolary relations with the Marquis d'Aigrigny,
then colonel in the Russian service and aide-de-camp to General Moreau.
But one day all these petty intrigues were discovered. Many knights of
Madame de Saint-Dizier were sent to Vincennes; but the emperor, who might
have punished her terribly, contented himself with exiling the princess
to one of her estates near Dunkirk.
Upon the Restoration, the persecutions which Madame de Saint-Dizier had
suffered for the Good Cause were entered to her credit, and she acquired
even then very considerable influence, in spite of the lightness of her
behavior. The Marquis d'Aigrigny, having entered the military service of
France, remained there. He was handsome, and of fashionable manners and
address. He had corresponded and conspired with the princess, without
knowing her; and these circumstances necessarily led to a close
connection between them.
Excessive self-love, a taste for exciting pleasures, aspirations of
hatred, pride, and lordliness, a species of evil sympathy, the perfidious
attraction of which brings together perverse natures without mingling
them, had made of the princess and the Marquis accomplices rather than
lovers. This connection, based upon selfish and bitter feelings, and
upon the support which two characters of this dangerous temper could lend
to each other against a world in which their spirit of intrigue, of
gallantry, and of contempt had made them many enemies, this connection
endured till the moment when, after his duel with General Simon, the
Marquis entered a religious house, without any one understanding the
cause of his unexpected and sudden resolution.
The princess, having not yet heard the hour of her conversion strike,
continued to whirl round the vortex of the world with a greedy, jealous,
and hateful ardor, for she saw that the last years of her beauty were
An estimate of the character of this woman may be formed from the
Still very agreeable, she wished to close her worldly and volatile career
with some brilliant and final triumph, as a great actress knows the
proper time to withdraw from the stage so as to leave regrets behind.
Desirous of offering up this final incense to her own vanity, the
princess skillfully selected her victims. She spied out in the world a
young couple who idolized each other; and, by dint of cunning and
address, she succeeded in taking away the lover from his mistress, a
charming woman of eighteen, by whom he was adored. This triumph being
achieved, Madame Saint-Dizier retired from the fashionable world in the
full blaze of her exploit. After many long conversations with the Abbe-
Marquis d'Aigrigny, who had become a renowned preacher, she departed
suddenly from Paris, and spent two years upon her estate near Dunkirk, to
which she took only one of her female attendants, viz., Mrs. Grivois.
When the princess afterwards returned to Paris, it was impossible to
recognize the frivolous, intriguing, and dissipated woman she had
formerly been. The metamorphosis was as complete as it was extraordinary
and even startling. Saint-Dizier House, heretofore open to the banquets
and festivals of every kind of pleasure, became gloomily silent and
austere. Instead of the world of elegance and fashion, the princess now
received in her mansion only women of ostentatious piety, and men of
consequence, who were remarkably exemplary by the extravagant rigor of
their religious and monarchial principles. Above all, she drew around
her several noted members of the higher orders of the clergy. She was
appointed patroness of a body of religious females. She had her own
confessor, chaplin, almoner, and even spiritual director; but this last
performed his functions in partibus. The Marquis-Abbe d'Aigrigny
continued in reality to be her spiritual guide; and it is almost
unnecessary to say that for a long time past their mutual relations as to
flirting had entirely ceased.
This sudden and complete conversion of a gay and distinguished woman,
especially as it was loudly trumpeted forth, struck the greater number of
persons with wonder and respect. Others, more discerning, only smiled.
A single anecdote, from amongst a thousand, will suffice to show the
alarming influence and power which the princess had acquired since her
affiliation with the Jesuits. This anecdote will also exhibit the deep,
vindictive, and pitiless character of this woman, whom Adrienne de
Cardoville had so imprudently made herself ready to brave.
Amongst the persons who smiled more or less at the conversion of Madame
de Saint-Dizier were the young and charming couple whom she had so
cruelly disunited before she quitted forever the scenes of revelry in
which she had lived. The young couple became more impassioned and
devoted to each other than ever; they were reconciled and married, after
the passing storm which had hurled them asunder; and they indulged in no
other vengeance against the author of their temporary infelicity than
that of mildly jesting at the pious conversion of the woman who had done
them so much injury.
Some time after, a terrible fatality overtook the loving pair. The
husband, until then blindly unsuspicious, was suddenly inflamed by
anonymous communications. A dreadful rupture ensued, and the young wife
As for the husband, certain vague rumors, far from distinct, yet pregnant
with secret meanings, perfidiously contrived, and a thousand times more
detestable than formal accusations, which can, at least, be met and
destroyed, were strewn about him with so much perseverance, with a skill
so diabolical, and by means and ways so very various, that his best
friends, by little and little, withdrew themselves from him, thus
yielding to the slow, irresistible influence of that incessant whispering
and buzzing, confused as indistinct, amounting to some such results as
"Well! you know!" says one.
"No!" replies another.
"People say very vile things about him."
"Do they? really! What then?"
"I don't know! Bad reports! Rumors grievously affecting his honor!"
"The deuce! That's very serious. It accounts for the coldness with
which he is now everywhere received!"
"I shall avoid him in future!"
"So will I," etc.
Such is the world, that very often nothing more than groundless surmises
are necessary to brand a man whose very, happiness may have incurred
envy. So it was with the gentleman of whom we speak. The unfortunate
man, seeing the void around him extending itself,--feeling (so to speak)
the earth crumbling from beneath his feet, knew not where to find or
grasp the impalpable enemy whose blows he felt; for not once had the idea
occurred to him of suspecting the princess, whom he had not seen since
his adventure with her. Anxiously desiring to learn why he was so much
shunned and despised, he at length sought an explanation from an old
friend; but he received only a disdainfully evasive answer; at which,
being exasperated, he demanded satisfaction. His adversary replied--"If
you can find two persons of our acquaintance, I will fight you!" The
unhappy man could not find one!
Finally, forsaken by all, without having ever obtained an explanation of
the reason for forsaking him--suffering keenly for the fate of the wife
whom he had lost, he became mad with grief, rage, and despair, and killed
On the day of his death, Madame de Saint-Dizier remarked that it was fit
and necessary that one who had lived so shamefully should come to an
equally shameful end, and that he who had so long jested at all laws,
human and divine, could not seemly otherwise terminate his wretched life
than by perpetrating a last crime--suicide! And the friends of Madame de
Saint-Dizier hawked about and everywhere repeated these terrible words
with a contrite air, as if beatified and convinced! But this was not
all. Along with chastisements there were rewards.
Observant people remarked that the favorites of the religious clan of
Madame de Saint-Dizier rose to high distinction with singular rapidity.
The virtuous young men, such as were religiously attentive to tiresome
sermons, were married to rich orphans of the Sacred Heart Convents, who
were held in reserve for the purpose; poor young girls, who, learning too
late what it is to have a pious husband selected and imposed upon them by
a set of devotees, often expiated by very bitter tears the deceitful
favor of thus being admitted into a world of hypocrisy and falsehood, in
which they found themselves strangers without support, crushed by it if
they dared to complain of the marriages to which they had been condemned.
In the parlor of Madame de Saint-Dizier were appointed prefects,
colonels, treasurers, deputies, academicians, bishops and peers of the
realm, from whom nothing more was required in return for the all-powerful
support bestowed upon them, but to wear a pious gloss, sometimes publicly
take the communion, swear furious war against everything impious or
revolutionary,--and above all, correspond confidentially upon "different
subjects of his choosing" with the Abbe d'Aigrigny,--an amusement,
moreover, which was very agreeable; for the abbe was the most amiable man
in the world, the most witty, and above all, the most obliging. The
following is an historical fact, which requires the bitter and vengeful
irony of Moliere or Pascal to do it justice.
During the last year of the Restoration, there was one of the mighty
dignitaries of the court a firm and independent man, who did not make
profession (as the holy fathers call it), that is, who did not
communicate at the altar. The splendor amid which he moved was
calculated to give the weight of a very injurious example to his
indifference. The Abbe-Marquis d'Aigrigny was therefore despatched to
him; and he knowing the honorable and elevated character of the non-
communicant, thought that if he could only bring him to profess by any
means (whatever the means might be) the effect would be what was desired.
Like a man of intellect, the abbe prized the dogma but cheaply himself.
He only spoke of the suitableness of the step, and of the highly salutary
example which the resolution to adopt it would afford to the public.
"M. Abbe," replied the person sought to be influenced, "I have a greater
respect for religion than you have. I should consider it an infamous
mockery to go to the communion table without feeling the proper
"Nonsense! you inflexible man! you frowning Alcestes," said the Marquis-
Abbe, smiling slyly. "Your profits and your scruples will go together,
believe me, by listening to me. In short, we shall manage to make it a
BLANK COMMUNION for you; for after all, what is it that we ask?--only the
Now, a BLANK COMMUNION means breaking an unconsecrated wafer!
The Abbe-Marquis retired with his offers, which were rejected with
indignation;--but then, the refractory man was dismissed from his place
at court. This was but a single isolated fact. Woe to all who found
themselves opposed to the interest and principles of Madame de Saint-
Dizier or her friends! Sooner or later, directly or indirectly, they
felt themselves cruelly stabbed, generally immediately--some in their
dearest connections, others in their credit, some in their honor; others
in their official functions; and all by secret action, noiseless,
continuous, and latent, in time becoming a terrible and mysterious
dissolvent, which invisibly undermined reputations, fortunes, positions
the most solidly established, until the moment when all sunk forever into
the abyss, amid the surprise and terror of the beholders.
It will now be conceived how under the Restoration the Princess de Saint-
Dizier had become singularly influential and formidable. At the time of
the Revolution of July (1830) she had "rallied," and, strangely enough,
by preserving some relation of family and of society with persons
faithful to the worship of decayed monarchy, people still attributed to
the princess much influence and power. Let us mention, at last, that the
Prince of Saint-Dizier, having died many years since, his very large
personal fortune had descended to his younger brother, the father of
Adrienne de Cardoville; and he, having died eighteen months ago, that
young lady found herself to be the last and only representative of that
branch of the family of the Renneponts.
The Princess of Saint-Dizier awaited her niece in a very large room,
rendered dismal by its gloomy green damask. The chairs, etc., covered
with similar stuff, were of carved ebony. Paintings of scriptural and
other religious subjects, and an ivory crucifix thrown up from a
background of black velvet, contributed to give the apartment a
lugubrious and austere aspect.
Madame de Saint-Dizier, seated before a large desk, has just finished
putting the seals on numerous letters; for she had a very extensive and
very diversified correspondence. Though then aged about forty-five she
was still fair. Advancing years had somewhat thickened her shape, which
formerly of distinguished elegance, was still sufficiently handsome to be
seen to advantage under the straight folds of her black dress. Her
headdress, very simple, decorated with gray ribbons, allowed her fair
sleek hair to be seen arranged in broad bands. At first look, people
were struck with her dignified though unassuming appearance; and would
have vainly tried to discover in her physiognomy, now marked with
repentant calmness, any trace of the agitations of her past life. So
naturally grave and reserved was she, that people could not believe her
the heroine of so many intrigues and adventures and gallantry. Moreover,
if by chance she ever heard any lightness of conversation, her
countenance, since she had come to believe herself a kind of "mother in
the Church," immediately expressed candid but grieved astonishment, which
soon changed into an air of offended chastity and disdainful pity.
For the rest, her smile, when requisite, was still full of grace, and
even of the seducing and resistless sweetness of seeming good-nature.
Her large blue eyes, on fit occasions, became affectionate and caressing.
But if any one dared to wound or ruffle her pride, gainsay her orders or
harm her interests, her countenance, usually placid and serene, betrayed
a cold but implacable malignity. Mrs. Grivois entered the cabinet,
holding in her hand Florine's report of the manner in which Adrienne de
Cardoville had spent the morning.
Mrs. Grivois had been about twenty years in the service of Madame de
Saint-Dizier. She knew everything that a lady's-maid could or ought to
have known of her mistress in the days of her sowing of wild (being a
lady) flowers. Was it from choice that the princess had still retained
about her person this so-well-informed witness of the numerous follies of
her youth? The world was kept in ignorance of the motive; but one thing
was evident, viz., that Mrs. Grivois enjoyed great privileges under the
princess, and was treated by her rather as a companion than as a tiring-
"Here are Florine's notes, madame," said Mrs. Grivois, giving the paper
to the princess.
"I will examine them presently," said the princess; "but tell me, is my
niece coming? Pending the conference at which she is to be present, you
will conduct into her house a person who will soon be here, to inquire
for you by my desire."
"This man will make an exact inventory of everything contained in
Adrienne's residence. You will take care that nothing is omitted; for
that is of very great importance."
"Yes, madame. But should Georgette or Hebe make any opposition?"
"There is no fear; the man charged with taking the inventory is of such a
stamp, that when they know him, they will not dare to oppose either his
making the inventory, or his other steps. It will be necessary not to
fail, as you go along with him, to be careful to obtain certain
peculiarities destined to confirm the reports which you have spread for
some time past."
"Do not have the slightest doubt, madame. The reports have all the
consistency of truth."
"Very soon, then, this Adrienne, so insolent and so haughty, will be
crushed and compelled to pray for pardon; and from me!"
An old footman opened both of the folding doors, and announced the
"If Miss de Cardoville present herself," said the princess to Mrs.
Grivois, "you will request her to wait an instant."
"Yes, madame," said the duenna, going out with the servant.
Madame de Saint-Dizier and D'Aigrigny remained alone.
The Abbe-Marquis d'Aigrigny, as the reader has easily divined, was the
person already seen in the Rue du Milieu-des-Ursins; whence he had
departed from Rome, in which city he had remained about three months.
The marquis was dressed in deep mourning, but with his usual elegance.
His was not a priestly robe; his black coat, and his waistcoat, tightly
gathered in at the waist, set off to great advantage the elegance of his
figure: his black cassimere pantaloons disguised his feet, exactly fitted
with lace boots, brilliantly polished. And all traces of his tonsure
disappeared in the midst of the slight baldness which whitened slightly
the back part of his head. There was nothing in his entire costume, or
aspect, that revealed the priest, except, perhaps, the entire absence of
beard, the more remarkable upon so manly a countenance. His chin, newly
shaved, rested on a large and elevated black cravat, tied with a military
ostentation which reminded the beholder, that this abbe-marquis this
celebrated preacher--now one of the most active and influential chiefs of
his order, had commanded a regiment of hussars upon the Restoration, and
had fought in aid of the Russians against France.
Returned to Paris only this morning, the marquis had not seen the
princess since his mother, the Dowager Marchioness d'Aigrigny, had died
near Dunkirk, upon an estate belonging to Madame de Saint-Dizier, while
vainly calling for her son to alleviate her last moments; but the order
to which M. d'Aigrigny had thought fit to sacrifice the most sacred
feeling and duties of nature, having been suddenly transmitted to him
from Rome, he had immediately set out for that city; though not without
hesitation, which was remarked and denounced by Rodin; for the love of M.
d'Aigrigny for his mother had been the only pure feeling that had
invariably distinguished his life.
When the servant had discreetly withdrawn with Mrs. Grivois, the marquis
quickly approached the princess, held out his hand to her, and said with
a voice of emotion:
"Herminia, have you not concealed something in your letters. In her last
moments did not my mother curse me?"
"No, no, Frederick, compose yourself. She had anxiously desired your
presence. Her ideas soon became confused. But in her delirium it was
still for you that she called."
"Yes," said the marquis, bitterly; "her maternal instinct doubtless
assured her that my presence could have saved her life."
"I entreat you to banish these sad recollections," said the princess,
"this misfortune is irreparable."
"Tell me for the last time, truly, did not my absence cruelly affect my
mother? Had she no suspicion that a more imperious duty called me
"No, no, I assure you. Even when her reason was shaken, she believed
that you had not yet had time to come to her. All the sad details which
I wrote to you upon this painful subject are strictly true. Again, I beg
of you to compose yourself."
"Yes, my conscience ought to be easy; for I have fulfilled my duty in
sacrificing my mother. Yet I have never been able to arrive at that
complete detachment from natural affection, which is commanded to us by
those awful words: 'He who hates not his father and his mother, even
with the soul, cannot be my disciple.'"
"Doubtless, Frederick," said the princess, "these renunciations are
painful. But, in return, what influence, what power!"
"It is true," said the marquis, after a moment's silence. "What ought
not to be sacrificed in order to reign in secret over the all-powerful of
the earth, who lord it in full day? This journey to Rome, from which I
have just returned, has given me a new idea of our formidable power.
For, Herminia, it is Rome which is the culminating point, overlooking the
fairest and broadest quarters of the globe, made so by custom, by
tradition, or by faith. Thence can our workings be embraced in their
full extent. It is an uncommon view to see from its height the myriad
tools, whose personality is continually absorbed into the immovable
personality of our Order. What a might we possess! Verily, I am always
swayed with admiration, aye, almost frightened, that man once thinks,
wishes, believes, and acts as he alone lists, until, soon ours, he
becomes but a human shell; its kernel of intelligence, mind, reason,
conscience, and free will, shrivelled within him, dry and withered by the
habit of mutely, fearingly bowing under mysterious tasks, which shatter
and slay everything spontaneous in the human soul! Then do we infuse in
such spiritless clay, speechless, cold, and motionless as corpses, the
breath of our Order, and, lo! the dry bones stand up and walk, acting and
executing, though only within the limits which are circled round them
evermore. Thus do they become mere limbs of the gigantic trunk, whose
impulses they mechanically carry out, while ignorant of the design, like
the stonecutter who shapes out a stone, unaware if it be for cathedral or
In so speaking, the marquis's features wore an incredible air of proud
and domineering haughtiness.
"Oh, yes! this power is great, most great," observed the princess; "and
the more formidable because it moves in a mysterious way over minds and
"Aye, Herminia," said the marquis: "I have had under my command a
magnificent regiment. Very often have I experienced the energetic and
exquisite enjoyment of command! At my word my squadrons put themselves
in action; bugles blared, my officers, glittering in golden embroidery,
galloped everywhere to repeat my orders: all my brave soldiers, burning
with courage, and cicatrized by battles, obeyed my signal; and I felt
proud and strong, holding as I did (so to speak) in my hands, the force
and valor of each and all combined into one being of resistless strength
and invincible intrepidity,--of all of which I was as much the master, as
I mastered the rage and fire of my war-horse! Aye! that was greatness.
But now, in spite of the misfortunes which have befallen our Order, I
feel myself a thousand times more ready for action, more authoritative,
more strong and more daring, at the head of our mute and black-robed
militia, who only think and wish, or move and obey, mechanically,
according to my will. On a sign they scatter over the surface of the
globe, gliding stealthily into households under the guise of confessing
the wife or teaching the children, into family affairs by hearing the
dying avowals,--up to the throne through the quaking conscience of a
credulous crowned coward;--aye, even to the chair of the Pope himself,
living manifesto of the Godhead though he is, by the services rendered
him or imposed by him. Is not this secret rule, made to kindle or glut
the wildest ambition, as it reaches from the cradle to the grave, from
the laborer's hovel to the royal palace, from palace to the papal chair?
What career in all the world presents such splendid openings? what
unutterable scorn ought I not feel for the bright butterfly life of early
days, when we made so many envy us? Don't you remember, Herminia?" he
added, with a bitter smile.
"You are right, perfectly right, Frederick!" replied the princess
quickly. "How little soever we may reflect, with what contempt do we not
think upon the past! I, like you, often compare it with the present; and
then what satisfaction I feel at having followed your counsels! For,
indeed, without you, I should have played the miserable and ridiculous
part which a woman always plays in her decline from having been beautiful
and surrounded by admirers. What could I have done at this hour? I
should have vainly striven to retain around me a selfish and ungrateful
world of gross and shameful men, who court women only that they may turn
them to the service of their passions, or to the gratification of their
vanity. It is true that there would have remained to me the resource of
what is called keeping an agreeable house for all others,--yes, in order
to entertain them, be visited by a crowd of the indifferent, to afford
opportunities of meeting to amorous young couples, who, following each
other from parlor to parlor, come not to your house but for the purpose
of being together; a very pretty pleasure, truly, that of harboring those
blooming, laughing, amorous youths, who look upon the luxury and
brilliancy with which one surrounds them, as if they were their due upon
bonds to minister to their pleasure, and to their impudent amours!"
Her words were so stinging, and such hateful envy sat upon her face, that
she betrayed the intense bitterness of her regrets in spite of herself.
"NO, no; thanks to you, Frederick," she continued, "After a last and
brilliant triumph, I broke forever with the world, which would soon have
abandoned me, though I was so long its idol and its queen. And I have
only changed my queendom. Instead of the dissipated men whom I ruled
with a frivolity superior to their own, I now find myself surrounded by
men of high consideration, of redoubtable character, and all-powerful,
many of whom have governed the state; to them I have devoted myself, as
they have devoted themselves to me! It is now only that I really enjoy
that happiness, of which I ever dreamt. I have taken an active part and
have exercised a powerful influence over the greatest interests of the
world; I have been initiated into the most important secrets; I have been
able to strike, surely, whosoever scoffed at or hated me; and I have been
able to elevate beyond their hopes those who have served or respected and
"There are some madmen, and some so blind, that they imagine that we are
struck down, because we ourselves have had to struggle against some
misfortunes," said M. d'Aigrigny, disdainfully, "as if we were not, above
all others, securely founded, organized for every struggle, and drew not
from our very struggles a new and more vigorous activity. Doubtless the
times are bad. But they will become better; and, as you know, it is
nearly certain that in a few days (the 13th of February), we shall have
at our disposal a means of action sufficiently powerful for re-
establishing our influence which has been temporarily shaken."
"Yes, doubtless this affair of the medals is most important," said the
"I should not have made so much haste to return hither," resumed the
abbe, "were it not to act in what will be, perhaps, for us, a very great
"But you are aware of the fatality which has once again overthrown
projects the most laboriously conceived and matured?"
"Yes; immediately on arriving I saw Rodin."
"And he told you--?"
"The inconceivable arrival of the Indian, and of General Simon's
daughters at Cardoville Castle, after a double shipwreck, which threw
them upon the coast of Picardy; though it was deemed certain that the
young girls were at Leipsic, and the Indian in Java. Precautions were so
well taken, indeed," added the marquis in vexation, "that one would think
an invisible power protects this family."
"Happily, Rodin is a man of resources and activity, resumed the princess.
"He came here last night, and we had a long conversation."
"And the result of your consultation is excellent," added the marquis:
"the old soldier is to be kept out of the way for two days; and his
wife's confessor has been posted; the rest will proceed of itself. To-
morrow, the girls need no longer be feared; and the Indian remains at
Cardoville, wounded dangerously. We have plenty of time for action."
"But that is not all," continued the princess: "there are still, without
reckoning my niece, two persons, who, for our interests, ought not to be
found in Paris on the 13th of February."
"Yes, M. Hardy: but his most dear and intimate friend has betrayed him;
for, by means of that friend, we have drawn M. Hardy into the South,
whence it is impossible for him to return before a month. As for that
miserable vagabond workman, surnamed 'Sleepinbuff!'"
"Fie!" exclaimed the princess, with an expression of outraged modesty.
"That man," resumed the marquis, "is no longer an object of inquietude.
Lastly, Gabriel, upon whom our vast and certain hope reposes, will not be
left by himself for a single minute until the great day. Everything
seems, you see, to promise success; indeed, more so than ever; and it is
necessary to obtain this success at any price. It is for us a question
of life or death; for, in returning, I stopped at Forli, and there saw
the Duke d'Orbano. His influence over the mind of the king is all-
powerful--indeed, absolute; and he has completely prepossessed the royal
mind. It is with the duke alone, then, that it is possible to treat."
"D'Orbano has gained strength; and he can, I know it, assure to us a
legal existence, highly protected, in the dominions of his master, with
full charge of popular education. Thanks to such advantages, after two
or three years in that country we shall become so deeply rooted, that
this very Duke d'Orbano, in his turn, will have to solicit support and
protection from us. But at present he has everything in his power; and
he puts an absolute condition upon his services."
"What is the condition?"
"Five millions down; and an annual pension of a hundred thousand francs."
"It is very much."
"Nay, but little if it be considered that our foot once planted in that
country, we shall promptly repossess ourselves of that sum, which, after
all, is scarcely an eighth part of what the affair of the medals, if
happily brought to an issue, ought to assure to the Order."
"Yes, nearly forty millions," said the princess, thoughtfully.
"And again: these five millions that Orbano demands will be but an
advance. They will be returned to us in voluntary gifts, by reason even
of the increase of influence that we shall acquire from the education of
children; through whom we have their families. And yet, the fools
hesitate! those who govern see not, that in doing our own business, we do
theirs also;--that in abandoning education to us (which is what we wish
for above all things) we mold the people into that mute and quiet
obedience, that servile and brutal submission, which assures the repose
of states by the immobility of the mind. They don't reflect that most of
the upper and middle classes fear and hate us; don't understand that
(when we have persuaded the mass that their wretchedness is an eternal
law, that sufferers must give up hope of relief, that it is a crime to
sigh for welfare in this world, since the crown of glory on high is the
only reward for misery here), then the stupefied people will resignedly
wallow in the mire, all their impatient aspirations for better days
smothered, and the volcano-blasts blown aside, which made the future of
rulers so horrid and so dark? They see not, in truth, that this blind
and passive faith which we demand from the mass, furnishes their rulers
with a bridle with which both to conduct and curb them; whilst we ask
from the happy of the world only some appearances which ought, if they
had only the knowledge of their own corruption, to give an increased
stimulant to their pleasures.
"It signifies not," resumed the princess; "since, as you say, a great day
is at hand, bringing nearly forty millions, of which the Order can become
possessed by the happy success of the affair of the medals. We certainly
can attempt very great things. Like a lever in your hands, such a means
of action would be of incalculable power, in times during which all men
buy and sell one another."
"And then," resumed M. d'Aigrigny, with a thoughtful air, "here the
reaction continues: the example of France is everything. In Austria and
Holland we can rarely maintain ourselves; while the resources of the
Order diminish from day to day. We have arrived at a crisis; but it can
be made to prolong itself. Thus, thanks to the immense resource of the
affair of the medals, we can not only brave all eventualities, but we can
again powerfully establish ourselves, thanks to the offer of the Duke
d'Orbano, which we accept; and then, from that inassailable centre, our
radiations will be incalculable. Ah! the 13th of February!" added M.
d'Aigrigny, after a moment of silence, and shaking his head: "the 13th of
February, a date perhaps fortunate and famous for our power as that of
the council which gave to us (so to say) a new life!"
"And nothing must be spared." resumed the princess, "in order to succeed
at any price. Of the six persons whom we have to fear, five are or will
be out of any condition to hurt us. There remains then only my niece;
and you know that I have waited but for your arrival in order to take my
last resolution. All my preparations are completed; and this very
morning we will begin to act."
"Have your suspicions increased since your last letter?"
"Yes, I am certain that she is more instructed than she wishes to appear;
and if so, we shall not have a more dangerous enemy."
"Such has always been my opinion. Thus it is six month: since I advised
you to take in all cases the measures which you have adopted, in order to
provoke, on her part, that demand of emancipation, the consequences of
which now render quite easy that which would have been impossible without
"At last," said the princess, with an expression of joy, hateful and
bitter, "this indomitable spirit will be broken. I am at length about to
be avenged of the many insolent sarcasms which I have been compelled to
swallow, lest I should awaken her suspicions. I! I to have borne so much
till now! for this Adrienne has made it her business (imprudent as she
is!) to irritate me against herself!"
"Whosoever offends you, offends me; you know it," said D'Aigrigny, "my
hatreds are yours."
"And you yourself!" said the princess, "how many times have you been the
butt of her poignant irony!"
"My instincts seldom deceive me. I am certain that this young girl may
become a dangerous enemy for us," said the marquis, with a voice
painfully broken into short monosyllables.
"And, therefore, it is necessary that she may be rendered incapable of
exciting further fear," responded Madame de Saint-Dizier, fixedly
regarding the marquis.
"Have you seen Dr. Baleinier, and the sub-guardian, M. Tripeaud?" asked
"They will be here this morning. I have informed them of everything."
"Did you find them well disposed to act against her?"
"Perfectly so--and the best is, Adrienne does not at all suspect the
doctor, who has known how, up to a certain point, to preserve her
confidence. Moreover, a circumstance which appears to me inexplicable
has come to our aid."
"What do you allude to?"
"This morning, Mrs. Grivois went, according to my orders, to remind
Adrienne that I expected her at noon, upon important business. As she
approached the pavilion, Mrs. Grivois saw, or thought she saw, Adrienne
come in by the little garden-gate."
"What do you tell me? Is it possible? Is there any positive proof of it?"
cried the marquis.
"Till now, there is no other proof than the spontaneous declaration of
Mrs. Grivois: but whilst I think of it," said the Princess, taking up a
paper that lay before her, "here is the report, which, every day, one of
Adrienne's women makes to me."
"The one that Rodin succeeded in introducing into your niece's service?"
"The same; as this creature is entirely in Rodin's hands, she has
hitherto answered our purpose very well. In this report, we shall
perhaps find the confirmation of what Mrs. Grivois affirms she saw."
Hardly had the Princess glanced at the note, than she exclaimed almost in
terror: "What do I see? Why, Adrienne is a very demon!"
"The bailiff at Cardoville, having written to my niece to ask her
recommendation, informed her at the same time of the stay of the Indian
prince at the castle. She knows that he is her relation, and has just
written to her old drawing-master, Norval, to set out post with Eastern
dresses, and bring Prince Djalma hither--the man that must be kept away
from Paris at any cost."
The marquis grew pale, and said to Mme. de Saint-Dizier: "If this be not
merely one of her whims, the eagerness she displays in sending for this
relation hither, proves that she knows more than you even suspected. She
is 'posted' on the affair of the medals. Have a care--she may ruin all."
"In that case," said the princess, resolutely, "there is no room to
hesitate. We must carry things further than we thought, and make an end
this very morning."
"Yes, though it is almost impossible."
"Nay, all is possible. The doctor and M. Tripeaud are ours," said the
"Though I am as sure as you are of the doctor, or of M. Tripeaud, under
present circumstances, we must not touch on the question of acting--which
will be sure to frighten them at first--until after our interview with
your niece. It will he easy, notwithstanding her cleverness, to find out
her armor's defect. If our suspicions should be realized--if she is
really informed of what it would be so dangerous for her to know--then we
must have no scruples, and above all no delay. This very day must see
all set at rest. The time for wavering is past."
'Have you been able to send for the person agreed on?" asked the
princess, after a moment's silence.
"He was to be here at noon. He cannot be long."
"I thought this room would do very well for our purpose. It is separated
from the smaller parlor by a curtain only behind which your man may be
"Is he a man to be depended on?"
"Quite so--we have often employed him in similar matters. He is as
skillful as discreet."
At this moment a low knock was heard at the door.
"Come in," said the princess.
"Dr. Baleinier wishes to know if her Highness the Princess can receive
him," asked the valet-de-chambre.
"Certainly. Beg him to walk in."
"There is also a gentleman that M. l'Abbe appointed to be here at noon,
by whose orders I have left him waiting in the oratory."
"'Tis the person in question," said the marquis to the princess. "We
must have him in first. 'Twould be useless for Dr. Baleinier to see him
"Show this person in first," said the princess; "next when I ring the
bell, you will beg Dr. Baleinier to walk this way: and, if Baron Tripeaud
should call, you will bring him here also. After that, I am at home to
no one, except Mdlle. Adrienne." The servant went out.
 With regard to this text, a commentary upon it will be found in the
Constitutions of the Jesuits, as follows: "In order that the habit of
language may come to the help of the sentiments, it is wise not to say,
'I have parents, or I have brothers;' but to say, 'I had parents; I had
brothers.'"--General Examination, p. 29; Constitutions.--Paulin; 1843.
The Princess de Saint-Dizier's valet soon returned, showing in a little,
pale man, dressed in black, and wearing spectacles. He carried under his
left arm a long black morocco writing-case.
The princess said to this man: "M. l'Abbe, I suppose, has already
informed you of what is to be done?"
"Yes, your highness," said the man in a faint, shrill, piping voice,
making at the same time a low bow.
"Shall you be conveniently placed in this room?" asked the princess,
conducting him to the adjoining apartment, which was only separated from
the other by a curtain hung before a doorway.
"I shall do nicely here, your highness," answered the man in spectacles,
with a second and still lower bow.
"In that case, sir, please to step in here; I will let you know when it
"I shall wait your highness's order."
"And pray remember my instructions," added the marquis, as he unfastened
the loops of the curtain.
"You may be perfectly tranquil, M. l'Abbe." The heavy drapery, as it
fell, completely concealed the man in spectacles.
The princess touched the bell; some moments after, the door opened, and
the servant announced a very important personage in this work.
Dr. Baleinier was about fifty years of age, middling size, rather plump,
with a full shining, ruddy countenance. His gray hair, very smooth and
rather long, parted by a straight line in the middle, fell flat over his
temples. He had retained the fashion of wearing short, black silk
breeches, perhaps because he had a well-formed leg; his garters were
fastened with small, golden buckles, as were his shoes of polished
morocco leather; his coat, waistcoat, and cravat were black, which gave
him rather a clerical appearance; his sleek, white hand was half hidden
beneath a cambric ruffle, very closely plaited; on the whole, the gravity
of his costume did not seem to exclude a shade of foppery.
His face was acute and smiling; his small gray eye announced rare
penetration and sagacity. A man of the world and a man of pleasure, a
delicate epicure, witty in conversation, polite to obsequiousness,
supple, adroit, insinuating, Baleinier was one of the oldest favorites of
the congregational set of the Princess de Saint-Dizier. Thanks to this
powerful support, its cause unknown, the doctor, who had been long
neglected, in spite of real skill and incontestable merit, found himself,
under the Restoration, suddenly provided with two medical sinecures most
valuable, and soon after with numerous patients. We must add, that, once
under the patronage of the princess, the doctor began scrupulously to
observe his religious duties; he communicated once a week, with great
publicity, at the high mass in Saint Thomas Aquinas Church.
At the year's end, a certain class of patients, led by the example and
enthusiasm of Madame de Saint-Dizier's followers, would have no other
physician than Doctor Baleinier, and his practice was now increased to an
extraordinary degree. It may be conceived how important it was for the
order, to have amongst its "plain clothes members" one of the most
popular practitioners of Paris.
A doctor has in some sort a priesthood of his own. Admitted at all hours
to the most secret intimacy of families, he knows, guesses, and is able
to effect much. Like the priest, in short, he has the ear of the sick
and the dying. Now, when he who cares for the health of the body, and he
who takes charge of the health of the soul, understands each other, and
render mutual aid for the advancement of a common interest, there is
nothing (with certain exceptions), which they may not extract from the
weakness and fears of a sick man at the last gasp--not for themselves
(the laws forbid it)--but for third parties belonging more or less to the
very convenient class of men of straw. Doctor Baleinier was therefore
one of the most active and valuable assistant members of the Paris
When he entered the room, he hastened to kiss the princess's hand with
the most finished gallantry.
"Always punctual, my dear M. Baleinier."
"Always eager and happy to attend to your highness's orders." Then
turning towards the marquis, whose hand he pressed cordially, he added:
"Here we have you then at last. Do you know, that three months' absence
appears very long to your friends?"
"The time is as long to the absent as to those who remain, my dear
doctor. Well! here is the great day. Mdlle. de Cardoville is coming."
"I am not quite easy," said the princess; "suppose she had any suspicion?
"That's impossible," said M. Baleinier; "we are the best friends in the
world. You know, that Mdlle. Adrienne has always had great confidence in
me. The day before yesterday, we laughed a good deal, and as I made some
observations to her, as usual, on her eccentric mode of life, and on the
singular state of excitement in which I sometimes found her--"
"M. Baleinier never fails to insist on these circumstances, in appearance
so insignificant," said Madame de Saint-Dizier to the marquis with a
"They are indeed very essential," replied the other.
"Mdlle. Adrienne answered my observations," resumed the doctor, "by
laughing at me in the gayest and most witty manner; for I must confess,
that this young lady has one of the aptest and most accomplished minds I
"Doctor, doctor!" said Madame de Saint-Dizier, "no weakness!"
Instead of answering immediately, M. Baleinier drew his gold snuff-box
from his waistcoat pocket, opened it, and took slowly a pinch of snuff,
looking all the time at the princess with so significant an air, that she
appeared quite reassured. "Weakness, madame?" observed he at last,
brushing some grains of snuff from his shirt-front with his plump white
hand; "did I not have the honor of volunteering to extricate you from
"And you are the only person in the world that could render us this
important service," said D'Aigrigny.
"Your highness sees, therefore," resumed the doctor, "that I am not
likely to show any weakness. I perfectly understand the responsibility
of what I undertake; but such immense interests, you told me, were at
"Yes," said D'Aigrigny, "interests of the first consequence."
"Therefore I did not hesitate," proceeded M. Baleinier; "and you need not
be at all uneasy. As a man of taste, accustomed to good society, allow
me to render homage to the charming qualities of Mdlle. Adrienne; when
the time for action comes, you will find me quite as willing to do my
"Perhaps, that moment may be nearer than we thought," said Madame de
Saint-Dizier, exchanging a glance with D'Aigrigny.
"I am, and will be, always ready," said the doctor. "I answer for
everything that concerns myself. I wish I could be as tranquil on every
"Is not your asylum still as fashionable--as an asylum can well be?"
asked Madame de Saint-Dizier, with a half smile.
"On the contrary. I might almost complain of having too many boarders.
It is not that. But, whilst we are waiting for Mdlle. Adrienne, I will
mention another subject, which only relates to her indirectly, for it
concerns the person who, bought Cardoville Manor, one Madame de la
Sainte-Colombe, who has taken me for a doctor, thanks to Rodin's able
"True," said D'Aigrigny; "Rodin wrote to me on the subject--but without
entering into details."
"These are the facts," resumed the doctor. "This Madame de la Sainte-
Colombe, who was at first considered easy enough to lead, has shown
herself very refractory on the head of her conversion. Two spiritual
directors have already renounced the task of saving her soul. In
despair, Rodin unslipped little Philippon on her. He is adroit,
tenacious, and above all patient in the extreme--the very man that was
wanted. When I got Madame de la Sainte-Colombe for a patient, Philippon
asked my aid, which he was naturally entitled to. We agreed upon our
plan. I was not to appear to know him the least in the world; and he was
to keep me informed of the variations in the moral state of his penitent,
so that I might be able, by the use of very inoffensive medicines--for
there was nothing dangerous in the illness--to keep my patient in
alternate states of improvement or the reverse, according as her director
had reason to be satisfied or displeased--so that he might say to her:
'You see, madame, you are in the good way! Spiritual grace acts upon
your bodily health, and you are already better. If, on the contrary, you
fall back into evil courses, you feel immediately some physical ail,
which is a certain proof of the powerful influence of faith, not only on
the soul, but on the body also?'"
"It is doubtless painful," said D'Aigrigny, with perfect coolness, "to be
obliged to have recourse to such means, to rescue perverse souls from
perdition--but we must needs proportion our modes of action to the
intelligence and the character of the individual."
"By-the-bye, the princess knows," resumed the doctor, "that I have often
pursued this plan at St. Mary's Convent, to the great advantage of the
soul's peace and health of some of our patients, being extremely
innocent. These alternations never exceed the difference between "pretty
well," and "not quite so well." Yet small as are the variations, they
act most efficaciously on certain minds. It was thus with Madame de la
Sainte-Colombe. She was in such a fair way of recovery, both moral and
physical, that Rodin thought he might get Philippon to advise the country
for his penitent, fearing that Paris air might occasion a relapse. This
advice, added to the desire the woman had to play 'lady of the parish,'
induced her to buy Cardoville Manor, a good investment in any respect.
But yesterday, unfortunate Philippon came to tell me, that Madame de la
Sainte-Colombe was about to have an awful relapse--moral, of course--for
her physical health is now desperately good. The said relapse appears to
have been occasioned by an interview she has had with one Jacques
Dumoulin, whom they tell me you know, my dear abbe; he has introduced
himself to her, nobody can guess how."
"This Jacques Dumoulin," said the marquis, with disgust, "is one of those
men, that we employ while we despise. He is a writer full of gall, envy,
and hate, qualities that give him a certain unmercifully cutting
eloquence. We pay him largely to attack our enemies, though it is often
painful to see principles we respect defended by such a pen. For this
wretch lives like a vagabond--is constantly in taverns--almost always
intoxicated--but, I must own, his power of abuse is inexhaustible, and he
is well versed in the most abstruse theological controversies, so that he
is sometimes very useful to us."
"Well! though Madame de la Sainte-Colombe is hard upon sixty, it appears
that Dumoulin has matrimonial views on her large fortune. You will do
well to inform Rodin, so that he may be on his guard against the dark
designs of this rascal. I really beg a thousand pardons for having so
long occupied you with such a paltry affair--but, talking of St. Mary's
Convent," added the doctor, addressing the princess, "may I take the
liberty of asking if your highness has been there lately?"
The princess exchanged a rapid glance with D'Aigrigny, and answered: "Oh,
let me see! Yes, I was there about a week ago."
"You will find great changes then. The wall that was next to my asylum
has been taken down, for they are going to build anew wing and a chapel,
the old one being too small. I must say in praise of Mdlle. Adrienne"
continued the doctor with a singular smile aside, "that she promised me a
copy of one of Raphael's Madonnas for this chapel."
"Really? very appropriate!" said the princess. "But here it is almost
noon, and M. Tripeaud has not come."
"He is the deputy-guardian of Mdlle. de Cardoville, whose property he has
managed, as former agent of the count-duke," said the marquis, with
evident anxiety, "and his presence here is absolutely indispensable. It
is greatly to be desired that his coming should precede that of Mdlle.
de Cardoville, who may he here at any moment."
"It is unlucky that his portrait will not do as well," said the doctor,
smiling maliciously, and drawing a small pamphlet from his pocket.
"What is that, doctor?" asked the princess.
"One of those anonymous sheets, which are published from time to time.
It is called the 'Scourge,' and Baron Tripeaud's portrait is drawn with
such faithfulness, that it ceases to be satire. It is really quite life-
like; you have only to listen. The sketch is entitled: 'TYPE OF THE LYNX
"'The Baron Tripeaud.--This man, who is as basely humble towards his
social superiors, as he is insolent and coarse to those who depend upon
him--is the living, frightful incarnation of the worst pardon of the
moneyed and commercial aristocracy--one of the rich and cynical
speculators, without heart, faith or conscience, who would speculate for
a rise or fall on the death of his mother, if the death of his mother
could influence the price of stocks.
"'Such persons have all the odious vices of men suddenly elevated, not
like those whom honest and patient labor has nobly enriched, but like
those who owe their wealth to some blind caprice of fortune, or some
lucky cast of the net in the miry waters of stock-jobbing.
"'Once up in the world, they hate the people--because the people remind
them of a mushroom origin of which they are ashamed. Without pity for
the dreadful misery of the masses, they ascribe it wholly to idleness or
debauchery. because this calumny forms an excuse for their barbarous
"'And this is not all. On the strength of his well-filled safe, mounted
on his right of the candidate, Baron Tripeaud insults the poverty and
"'Of the officer, who, after forty years of wars and hard service, is
just able to live on a scanty pension--
"'Of the magistrate, who has consumed his strength in the discharge of
stern and sad duties, and who is not better remunerated in his litter
"'Of the learned man who has made his country illustrious by useful
labors; or the professor who has initiated entire generations in the
various branches of human knowledge--
"'Of the modest and virtuous country curate, the pure representative of
the gospel, in its charitable, fraternal, and democratic tendencies, etc.
"'In such a state of things, how should our shoddy baron of in-dust-ry
not feel the most sovereign contempt for all that stupid mob of honest
folk, who, having given to their country their youth, their mature age,
their blood, their intelligence, their learning, see themselves deprived
of the rights which he enjoys, because he has gained a million by unfair
and illegal transactions?
"'It is true, that your optimists say to these pariahs of civilization,
whose proud and noble poverty cannot be too much revered and honored:
"Buy an estate and you too may be electors and candidates!"
"'But to come to the biography of our worthy baron--Andrew Tripeaud, the
son of an ostler, at a roadside inn '"
At this instant the folding-doors were thrown open, and the valet
announced: "The Baron Tripeaud!"
Dr. Baleinier put his pamphlet into his pocket, made the most cordial bow
to the financier, and even rose to give him his hand. The baron entered
the room, overwhelming every one with salutations. "I have the honor to
attend the orders of your highness the princess. She knows that she may
always count upon me."
"I do indeed rely upon you, M. Tripeaud, and particularly under present
"If the intentions of your highness the princess are still the same with
regard to Mdlle. de Cardoville--"
"They are still the same, M. Tripeaud, and we meet to-day on that
"Your highness may be assured of my concurrence, as, indeed, I have
already promised. I think that the greatest severity must at length be
employed, and that even if it were necessary."
"That is also our opinion," said the marquis, hastily making a sign to
the princess, and glancing at the place where the man in spectacles was
hidden; "we are all perfectly in harmony. Still, we must not leave any
point doubtful, for the sake of the young lady herself, whose interests
alone guides us in this affair. We must draw out her sincerity by every
"Mademoiselle has just arrived from the summer-house and wishes to see
your highness," said the valet, again entering, after having knocked at
"Say that I wait for her," answered the princess; "and now I am at home
to no one--without exception. You understand me; absolutely to no one."
Thereupon, approaching the curtain behind which the man was concealed,
Mme. de Saint-Dizier gave him the cue--after which she returned to her
It is singular, but during the short space which preceded Adrienne's
arrival, the different actors in this scene appeared uneasy and
embarrassed, as if they had a vague fear of her coming. In about a
minute, Mdlle. de Cardoville entered the presence of her aunt.
On entering, Mdlle. de Cardoville threw down upon a chair the gray beaver
hat she had worn to cross the garden, and displayed her fine golden hair,
falling on either side of her face in long, light ringlets, and twisted
in a broad knot behind her head. She presented herself without boldness,
but with perfect ease: her countenance was gay and smiling; her large
black eyes appeared even more brilliant than usual. When she perceived
Abbe d'Aigrigny, she started in surprise, and her rosy lips were just
touched with a mocking smile.
After nodding graciously to the doctor, she passed Baron Tripeaud by
without looking at him, and saluted the princess with stately obeisance,
in the most fashionable style.
Though the walk and bearing of Mdlle. de Cardoville were extremely
elegant, and full of propriety and truly feminine grace, there was about
her an air of resolution and independence by no means common in women,
and particularly in girls of her age. Her movements, without being
abrupt, bore no traces of restraint, stiffness, or formality. They were
frank and free as her character, full of life, youth, and freshness; and
one could easily divine that so buoyant, straightforward, and decided a
nature had never been able to conform itself to the rules of an affected
Strangely enough, though he was a man of the world, a man of great
talent, a churchman distinguished for his eloquence, and, above all, a
person of influence and authority. Marquis d'Aigrigny experienced an
involuntary, incredible, almost painful uneasiness, in presence of
Adrienne de Cardoville. He--generally so much the master of himself, so
accustomed to exercise great power--who (in the name of his Order) had
often treated with crowned heads on the footing of an equal, felt himself
abashed and lowered in the presence of this girl, as remarkable for her
frankness as for her biting irony. Now, as men who are accustomed to
impose their will upon others generally hate those who, far from
submitting to their influence, hamper it and make sport of them, it was
no great degree of affection that the marquis bore towards the Princess
de Saint-Dizier's niece.
For a long time past, contrary to his usual habit, he had ceased to try
upon Adrienne that fascinating address to which he had often owed an
irresistible charm; towards her he had become dry, curt, serious, taking
refuge in that icy sphere of haughty dignity and rigid austerity which
completely hid all those amiable qualities with which he was endowed and
of which, in general, he made such efficient use. Adrienne was much
amused at all this, and thereby showed her imprudence--for the most
vulgar motives often engender the most implacable hatreds.
From these preliminary observations, the reader will understand the
divers sentiments and interests which animated the different actors in
the following scene.
Madame de Saint-Dizier was seated in a large arm-chair by one side of the
hearth. Marquis d'Aigrigny was standing before the fire. Dr. Baleinier
seated near a bureau, was again turning over the leaves of Baron
Tripeaud's biography, whilst the baron appeared to be very attentively
examining one of the pictures of sacred subjects suspended from the wall.
"You sent for me, aunt, to talk upon matters of importance?" said
Adrienne, breaking the silence which had reigned in the reception-room
since her entrance.
"Yes, madame," answered the princess, with a cold and severe mien; "upon
matters of the gravest importance."
"I am at your service, aunt. Perhaps we had better walk into your
"It is not necessary. We can talk here." Then, addressing the marquis,
the doctor, and the baron, she said to them, "Pray, be seated,
gentlemen," and they all took their places round the table.
"How can the subject of our interview interest these gentlemen, aunt?"
asked Mdlle. de Cardoville, with surprise.
"These gentlemen are old family friends; all that concerns you must
interest them, and their advice ought to be heard and accepted by you
"I have no doubt, aunt, of the bosom friendship of M. d'Aigrigny for our
family: I have still less of the profound and disinterested devotion of
M. Tripeaud; M. Baleinier is one of my old friends; still, before
accepting these gentlemen as spectators, or, if you will, as confidants
of our interview, I wish to know what we are going to talk of before
"I thought that, among your many singular pretensions, you had at least
those of frankness and courage."
"Really, aunt," said Adrienne, smiling with mock humility, "I have no
more pretensions to frankness and courage than you have to sincerity and
goodness. Let us admit, once for all, that we are what we are--without
"Be it so," said Madame de Saint-Dizier, in a dry tone; "I have long been
accustomed to the freaks of your independent spirit. I suppose, then,
that, courageous and frank as you say you are, you will not he afraid to
speak before such grave and respectable persons as these gentlemen what
you would speak to me alone?"
"Is it a formal examination that I am to submit to? if so, upon what
"It is not an examination: but, as I have a right to watch over you, and
as you take advantage of my weak compliance with your caprices, I mean to
put an end to what has lasted too long, and tell you my irrevocable
resolutions for the future, in presence of friends of the family. And,
first, you have hitherto had a very false and imperfect notion of my
power over you."
"I assure you, aunt, that I have never had any notion, true or false, on
the subject--for I have never even dreamt about it."
"That is my own fault; for, instead of yielding to your fancies, I should
have made you sooner feel my authority; but the moment has come to submit
yourself; the severe censures of my friends have enlightened me in time.
Your character is self-willed, independent, stubborn; it must change--
either by fair means or by force, understand me, it shall change."
At these words, pronounced harshly before strangers, with a severity
which did not seem at all justified by circumstances, Adrienne tossed her
head proudly; but, restraining herself, she answered with a smile: "You
say, aunt, that I shall change. I should not be astonished at it. We
hear of such odd conversions."
The princess bit her lips.
"A sincere conversion can never be called odd, as you term it, madame,"
said Abbe d'Aigrigny, coldly. "It is, on the contrary, meritorious, and
forms an excellent example."
"Excellent?" answered Adrienne: "that depends! For instance, what if one
converts defects into vices?"
"What do you mean, madame?" cried the princess.
"I am speaking of myself, aunt; you reproach me of being independent and
resolute--suppose I were to become hypocritical and wicked? In truth, I
prefer keeping my dear little faults, which I love like spoiled children.
I know what I am; I do not know what I might be."
"But you must acknowledge, Mdlle. Adrienne," said Baron Tripeaud, with a
self-conceited and sententious air, "that a conversion--"
"I believe," said Adrienne, disdainfully, "that M. Tripeaud is well
versed in the conversion of all sorts of property into all sorts of
profit, by all sorts of means--but he knows nothing of this matter."
"But, madame," resumed the financier, gathering courage from a glance of
the princess, "you forget that I have the honor to be your deputy
guardian, and that--"
"It is true that M. Tripeaud has that honor," said Adrienne, with still
more haughtiness, and not even looking at the baron; "I could never tell
exactly why. But as it is not now the time to guess enigmas, I wish to
know, aunt, the object and the end of this meeting?"
"You shall be satisfied, madame. I will explain myself in a very clear
and precise manner. You shall know the plan of conduct that you will
have henceforth to pursue; and if you refuse to submit thereto, with the
obedience and respect that is due to my orders, I shall at once see what
course to take."
It is impossible to give an idea of the imperious tone and stern look of
the princess, as she pronounced these words which were calculated to
startle a girl, until now accustomed to live in a great measure as she
pleased: yet, contrary perhaps to the expectation of Madame de Saint-
Dizier, instead of answering impetuously, Adrienne looked her full in the
face, and said, laughing: "This is a perfect declaration of war. It's
becoming very amusing."
"We are not talking of declarations of war," said the Abbe d'Aigrigny,
harshly, as if offended by the expressions of Mdlle. de Cardoville.
"Now, M. l'Abbe!" returned Adrienne, "for an old colonel, you are really
too severe upon a jest!--you are so much indebted to 'war,' which gave
you a French regiment after fighting so long against France--in order to
learn, of course, the strength and the weakness of her enemies."
On these words, which recalled painful remembrances, the marquis colored;
he was going to answer, but the princess exclaimed: "Really, madame, your
behavior is quite intolerable!"
"Well, aunt, I acknowledge I was wrong. I ought not to have said this is
very amusing--for it is not so, at all; but it is at least very curious--
and perhaps," added the young girl, after a moment's silence, "perhaps
very audacious and audacity pleases me. As we are upon this subject, and
you talk of a plan of conduct to which I must conform myself, under pain
of (interrupting herself)--under pain of what, I should like to know,
"You shall know. Proceed."
"I will, in the presence of these gentlemen, also declare, in a very
plain and precise manner, the determination that I have come to. As it
required some time to prepare for its execution, I have not spoken of it
sooner, for you know I am not in the habit of saying, 'I will do so and
so!' but I do it."
"Certainly; and it is just this habit of culpable independence of which
you must break yourself."
"Well, I had intended only to inform you of my determination at a later
period; but I cannot resist the pleasure of doing so to-day, you seem so
well disposed to hear and receive it. Still, I would beg of you to speak
first: it may just so happen, that our views are precisely the same."
"I like better to see you thus," said the princess. "I acknowledge at
least the courage of your pride, and your defiance of all authority. You
speak of audacity--yours is indeed great."
"I am at least decided to do that which others in their weakness dare
not--but which I dare. This, I hope, is clear and precise."
"Very clear, very precise," said the princess, exchanging a glance of
satisfaction with the other actors in this scene. "The positions being
thus established, matters will be much simplified. I have only to give
you notice, in your own interest, that this is a very serious affair--
much more so than you imagine--and that the only way to dispose me to
indulgence, is to substitute, for the habitual arrogance and irony of
your language, the modesty and respect becoming a young lady."
Adrienne smiled, but made no reply. Some moments of silence, and some
rapid glances exchanged between the princess and her three friends,
showed that these encounters, more or less brilliant in themselves, were
to be followed by a serious combat.
Mdlle. de Cardoville had too much penetration and sagacity, not to
remark, that the Princess de Saint-Dizier attached the greatest
importance to this decisive interview. But she could not understand how
her aunt could hope to impose her absolute will upon her: the threat of
coercive measures appearing with reason a mere ridiculous menace. Yet,
knowing the vindictive character of her aunt, the secret power at her
disposal, and the terrible vengeance she had sometimes exacted--
reflecting, moreover, that men in the position of the marquis and the
doctor would not have come to attend this interview without some weighty
motive--the young lady paused for a moment before she plunged into the
But soon, the very presentiment of some vague danger, far from weakening
her, gave her new courage to brave the worst, to exaggerate, if that were
possible, the independence of her ideas, and uphold, come what might, the
determination that she was about to signify to the Princess de Saint-
"Madame," said the princess to Adrienne de Cardoville, in a cold, severe
tone, "I owe it to myself, as well as to these gentlemen, to
recapitulate, in a few words, the events that have taken place for some
time past. Six months ago, at the end of the mourning for your father,
you, being eighteen years old, asked for the management of your fortune,
and for emancipation from control. Unfortunately, I had the weakness to
consent. You quitted the house, and established yourself in the
extension, far from all superintendence. Then began a train of
expenditures, each one more extravagant than the last. Instead of being
satisfied with one or two waiting-women, taken from that class from which
they are generally selected, you chose governesses for lady-companions,
whom you dressed in the most ridiculous and costly fashion. It is true,
that, in the solitude of your pavilion, you yourself chose to wear, one
after another, costumes of different ages. Your foolish fancies and
unreasonable whims have been without end and without limit: not only have
you never fulfilled your religious duties, but you have actually had the
audacity to profane one of your rooms, by rearing in the centre of it a
species of pagan altar, on which is a group in marble representing a
youth and a girl"--the princess uttered these words as if they would burn
her lips--"a work of art, if you will, but a work in the highest degree
unsuitable to a person of your age. You pass whole days entirely
secluded in your pavilion, refusing to see any one; and Dr. Baleinier,
the only one of my friends in whom you seem to have retained some
confidence, having succeeded by much persuasion in gaining admittance,
has frequently found you in so very excited a state, that he has felt
seriously uneasy with regard to your health. You have always insisted on
going out alone, without rendering any account of your actions to any
one. You have taken delight in opposing, in every possible way, your
will to my authority. Is all this true?"
"The picture of my past is not much flattered," said Adrienne; smiling,
"but it is not altogether unlike."
"So you admit, madame," said Abbe d'Aigrigny, laying stress on his words,
"that all the facts stated by your aunt are scrupulously true?"
Every eye was turned towards Adrienne, as if her answer would be of
"Yes, M. l'Abbe," said she; "I live openly enough to render this question
"These facts are therefore admitted," said Abbe d'Aigrigny, turning
towards the doctor and the baron.
"These facts are completely established," said M. Tripeaud, in a pompous
"Will you tell me, aunt," asked Adrienne, "what is the good of this long
"This long preamble, madame," resumed the princess with dignity, "exposes
the past in order to justify the future."
"Really, aunt, such mysterious proceedings are a little in the style of
the answers of the Cumaean Sybil. They must be intended to cover
"Perhaps, mademoiselle--for to certain characters nothing is so
formidable as duty and obedience. Your character is one of those
inclined to revolt--"
"I freely acknowledge it, aunt--and it will always he so, until duty and
obedience come to me in a shape that I can respect and love."
"Whether you respect and love my orders or not, madame," said the
princess, in a curt, harsh voice, "you will, from to-day, from this
moment, learn to submit blindly and absolutely to my will. In one word,
you will do nothing without my permission: it is necessary, I insist upon
it, and so I am determined it shall be."
Adrienne looked at her aunt for a second, and then burst into so free and
sonorous a laugh, that it rang for quite a time through the vast
apartment. D'Aigrigny and Baron Tripeaud started in indignation. The
princess looked angrily at her niece. The doctor raised his eyes to
heaven, and clasped his hands over his waistcoat with a sanctimonious
"Madame," said Abbe d'Aigrigny, "such fits of laughter are highly
unbecoming. Your aunt's words are serious, and deserve a different
"Oh, sir!" said Adrienne, recovering herself, "it is not my fault if I
laugh. How can I maintain my gravity, when I hear my aunt talking of
blind submission to her orders? Is the swallow, accustomed to fly
upwards and enjoy the sunshine, fledged to live with the mole in
At this answer, D'Aigrigny affected to stare at the other members of this
kind of family council with blank astonishment.
"A swallow? what does she mean?" asked the abbe of the baron making a
sign, which the latter understood.
"I do not know," answered Tripeaud, staring in his turn at the doctor.
"She spoke too of a mole. It 'is quite unheard-of--incomprehensible."
"And so, madame," said the princess, appearing to share in the surprise
of the others, "this is the reply that you make to me?"
"Certainly," answered Adrienne, astonished herself that they should
pretend not to understand the simile of which she had made use,
accustomed as she was to speak in figurative language.
"Come, come, madame," said Dr. Baleinier, smiling good-humoredly, "we
must be indulgent. My dear Mdlle. Adrienne has naturally so uncommon and
excitable a nature! She is really the most charming mad woman I know; I
have told her so a hundred times, in my position of an old friend, which
allows such freedom."
"I can conceive that your attachment makes you indulgent--but it is not
the less true, doctor," said D'Aigrigny, as if reproaching him for taking
the part of Mdlle. de Cardoville, "that such answers to serious questions
are most extravagant."
"The evil is, that mademoiselle does not seem to comprehend the serious
nature of this conference," said the princess, harshly. "She will
perhaps understand it better when I have given her my orders."
"Let us hear these orders, aunt," replied Adrienne as, seated on the
other side of the table, opposite to the princess, she leaned her small,
dimpled chin in the hollow of her pretty hand, with an air of graceful
mockery, charming to behold.
"From to-morrow forward," resumed the princess, "you will quit the
summer-house which you at present inhabit, you will discharge your women,
and come and occupy two rooms in this house, to which there will be no
access except through my apartment. You will never go out alone. You
will accompany me to the services of the church. Your emancipation
terminates, in consequence of your prodigality duly proven. I will take
charge of all your expenses, even to the ordering of your clothes, so
that you may be properly and modestly dressed. Until your majority
(which will be indefinitely postponed, by means of the intervention of a
family-council), you will have no money at your own disposal. Such is my
"And certainly your resolution can only be applauded, madame," said Baron
Tripeaud; "we can but encourage you to show the greatest firmness, for
such disorders must have an end."
"It is more than time to put a stop to such scandal," added the abbe.
"Eccentricity and exaltation of temperament--may excuse many things,"
ventured to observe the smooth-tongued doctor.
"No doubt," replied the princess dryly to Baleinier, who played his part
to perfection; "but then, doctor, the requisite measures must be taken
with such characters."
Madame de Saint-Dizier had expressed herself in a firm and precise
manner; she appeared convinced of the possibility of putting her threats
into execution. M. Tripeaud and D'Aigrigny had just now given their full
consent to the words of the princess. Adrienne began to perceive that
something very serious was in contemplation, and her gayety was at once
replaced by an air of bitter irony and offended independence.
She rose abruptly, and colored a little; her rosy nostrils dilated, her
eyes flashed fire, and, as she raised her head, she gently shook the
fine, wavy golden hair, with a movement of pride that was natural to her.
After a moment's silence, she said to her aunt in a cutting tone: "You
have spoken of the past, madame; I also will speak a few words concerning
it, since you force me to do so, though I may regret the necessity. I
quitted your dwelling, because it was impossible for me to live longer in
this atmosphere of dark hypocrisy and black treachery."
"Madame," said D'Aigrigny, "such words are as violent as they are
"Since you interrupt me, sir," said Adrienne, hastily, as she fixed her
eyes on the abbe, "tell me what examples did I meet with in my aunt's
"Excellent, examples, madame."
"Excellent, sir? Was it because I saw there, every day, her conversion
keep pace with your own?"
"Madame, you forget yourself!" cried the princess, becoming pale with
"Madame, I do not forget--I remember, like other people; that is all. I
had no relation of whom I could ask an asylum. I wished to live alone.
I wished to enjoy my revenues--because I chose rather to spend them
myself, than to see them wasted by M. Tripeaud."
"Madame," cried the baron, "I cannot imagine how you can presume--"
"Sir!" said Adrienne, reducing him to silence by a gesture of
overwhelming lordliness, "I speak of you--not to you. I wished to spend
my income," she continued, "according to my own tastes. I embellished
the retreat that I had chosen. Instead of ugly, ill-taught servants, I
selected girls, pretty and well brought up, though poor. Their education
forbade their being subjected to any humiliating servitude, though I have
endeavored to make their situation easy and agreeable. They do not serve
me, but render me service--I pay them, but I am obliged to them--nice
distinctions that your highness will not understand, I know. Instead of
seeing them badly or ungracefully dressed, I have given them clothes that
suit their charming faces well, because I like whatever is young and
fair. Whether I dress myself one way or the other, concerns only my
looking-glass. I go out alone, because I like to follow my fancy. I do
not go to mass--but, if I had still a mother, I would explain to her my
devotions, and she would kiss me none the less tenderly. It is true,
that I have raised a pagan altar to youth and beauty, because I adore God
in all that He has made fair and good, noble and grand--because, morn and
evening, my heart repeats the fervent and sincere prayer: 'Thanks, my
Creator! thanks!'--Your highness says that M. Baleinier has often found
me in my solitude, a prey to a strange excitement: yes, it is true; for
it is then that, escaping in thought from all that renders the present
odious and painful to me, I find refuge in the future--it is then that
magical horizons spread far before me--it is then that such splendid
visions appear to me, as make me feel myself rapt in a sublime and
heavenly ecstasy, as if I no longer appertained to earth!"
As Adrienne pronounced these last words with enthusiasm, her countenance
appeared transfigured, so resplendent did it become. In that moment, she
had lost sight of all that surrounded her.
"It is then," she resumed, with spirit soaring higher and higher, "that I
breathe a pure air, reviving and free--yes, free--above all, free--and so
salubrious, so grateful to the soul!--Yes, instead of seeing my sisters
painfully submit to a selfish, humiliating, brutal dominion, which
entails upon them the seductive vices of slavery, the graceful fraud, the
enchanting perfidy, the caressing falsehood, the contemptuous
resignation, the hateful obedience--I behold them, my noble sisters!
worthy and sincere because they are free, faithful and devoted because
they have liberty to choose--neither imperious not base, because they
have no master to govern or to flatter--cherished and respected, because
they can withdraw from a disloyal hand their hand, loyally bestowed. Oh,
my sisters! my sisters! I feel it. These are not merely consoling
visions--they are sacred hopes."
Carried away, in spite of herself, by the excitement of her feelings,
Adrienne paused for a moment, in order to return to earth; she did not
perceive that the other actors in this scene were looking at each other
with an air of delight.
"What she says there is excellent," murmured the doctor in the princess's
ear, next to whom he was seated; "were she in league with us, she would
not speak differently."
"It is only by excessive harshness," added D'Aigrigny, "that we shall
bring her to the desired point."
But it seemed as if the vexed emotion of Adrienne had been dissipated by
the contact of the generous sentiments she had just uttered. Addressing
Baleinier with a smile, she said: "I must own, doctor, that there is
nothing more ridiculous, than to yield to the current of certain
thoughts, in the presence of persons incapable of understanding them.
This would give you a fine opportunity to make game of that exaltation of
mind for which you sometimes reproach me. To let myself be carried away
by transports at so serious a moment!--for, verily, the matter in hand
seems to be serious. But you see, good M. Baleinier, when an idea comes
into my head, I can no more help following it out, than I could refrain
from running after butterflies when I was a little girl."
"And heaven only knows whither these brilliant butterflies of all
colors," said M. Baleinier, smiling with an air of paternal indulgence,
"that are passing through your brain, are likely to lead you. Oh,
madcap, when will she be as reasonable as she is charming?"
"This very instant, my good doctor," replied Adrienne. "I am about to
cast off my reveries for realities, and speak plain and positive
language, as you shall hear."
Upon which, addressing her aunt, she continued: "You have imparted to me
your resolution, madame; I will now tell you mine. Within a week, I
shall quit the pavilion that I inhabit, for a house which I have arranged
to my taste, where I shall live after my own fashion. I have neither
father nor mother, and I owe no account of my actions to any but myself."
"Upon my word, mademoiselle," said the princess, shrugging her shoulders,
"you talk nonsense. You forget that society has inalienable moral
rights, which we are bound to enforce. And we shall not neglect them,
depend upon it."
"So madame, it is you, and M. d'Aigrigny, and M. Tripeaud, that represent
the morality of society! This appears to me very fine. Is it because M.
Tripeaud has considered (I must acknowledge it) my fortune as his own?
Is it because--"
"Now, really, madame," began Tripeaud.
"In good time, madame," said Adrienne to her aunt, without noticing the
baron, "as the occasion offers, I shall have to ask you for explanations
with regard to certain interests, which have hitherto, I think, been
concealed from me."
These words of Adrienne made D'Aigrigny and the princess start, and then
rapidly exchange a glance of uneasiness and anxiety. Adrienne did not
seem to perceive it, but thus continued: "To have done with your demands,
madame, here is my final resolve. I shall live where and how I please.
I think that, if I were a man, no one would impose on me, at my age, the
harsh and humiliating guardianship you have in view, for living as I have
lived till now--honestly, freely, and generously, in the sight of all."
"This idea is absurd! is madness!" cried the princess. "To wish to live
thus alone, is to carry immorality and immodesty to their utmost limits."
"If so, madame," said Adrienne, "what opinion must you entertain of so
many poor girls, orphans like myself, who live alone and free, as I wish
to live? They have not received, as I have, a refined education,
calculated to raise the soul, and purify the heart. They have not
wealth, as I have, to protect them from the evil temptations of misery;
and yet they live honestly and proudly in their distress."
"Vice and virtue do not exist for such tag-rag vermin!" cried Baron
Tripeaud, with an expression of anger and hideous disdain.
"Madame, you would turn away a lackey, that would venture to speak thus
before you," said Adrienne to her aunt, unable to conceal her disgust,
"and yet you oblige me to listen to such speeches!"
The Marquis d'Aigrigny touched M. Tripeaud with his knee under the table,
to remind him that he must not express himself in the princess's parlors
in the same manner as he would in the lobbies of the Exchange. To repair
the baron's coarseness, the abbe thus continued: "There is no comparison,
mademoiselle, between people of the class you name, and a young lady of
"For a Catholic priest, M. l'Abbe, that distinction is not very
Christian," replied Adrienne.
"I know the purport of my words, madame," answered the abbe, dryly;
"besides the independent life that you wish to lead, in opposition to all
reason, may tend to very serious consequences for you. Your family may
one day wish to see you married--"
"I will spare my family that trouble, sir, if I marry at all, I will
choose for myself, which also appears to me reasonable enough. But, in
truth, I am very little tempted by that heavy chain, which selfishness
and brutality rivet for ever about our necks."
"It is indecent, madame," said the princess, to speak so lightly of such
"Before you, especially, madame, I beg pardon for having shocked your
highness! You fear that my independent planner of living will frighten
away all wooers; but that is another reason for persisting in my
independence, for I detest wooers. I only hope that they may have the
very worst opinion of me, and there is no better means of effecting that
object, than to appear to live as they live themselves. I rely upon my
whims, my follies, my sweet faults, to preserve me from the annoyance of
any matrimonial hunting."
"You will he quite satisfied on that head," resumed Madame de Saint-
Dizier, "if unfortunately the report should gain credit, that you have
carried the forgetfulness of all duty and decency, to such a height, as
to return home at eight o'clock in the morning. So I am told is the case
but I cannot bring myself to believe such an enormity."
"You are wrong, madame, for it is quite true."
"So you confess it?" cried the princess.
"I confess all that I do, madame. I came home this morning at eight
"You hear Gentlemen?" ejaculated the princess.
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