The Wandering Jew, v10
Part 1 out of 3
This etext was produced by David Widger
and Pat Castevens
THE WANDERING JEW
By Eugene Sue
XXXIV. More Confessions
XXXV. The Rivals
XXXVI. The Interview
XXXVII. Soothing Words
XXXVIII. The Two Carriages
XXXIX. The Appointment
XLI. Adrienne and Djalma
XLII. "The Imitation"
XLV. The Blockhead
XLVI. The Anonymous Letters
XLVII. The Golden City
XLVIII. The Stung Lion
XLIX. The Test
During the painful scene that we have just described, a lively emotion
glowed in the countenance of Mdlle. de Cardoville, grown pale and thin
with sorrow. Her cheeks, once so full, were now slightly hollowed,
whilst a faint line of transparent azure encircled those large black
eyes, no longer so bright as formerly. But the charming lips, though
contracted by painful anxiety, had retained their rich and velvet
moisture. To attend more easily to Mother Bunch, Adrienne had thrown
aside her bonnet, and the silky waves of her beautiful golden hair almost
concealed her face as she bent over the mattress, rubbing the thin, ivory
hands of the poor sempstress, completely called to life by the salubrious
freshness of the air, and by the strong action of the salts which
Adrienne carried in her smelling-bottle. Luckily, Mother Bunch had
fainted, rather from emotion and weakness than from the effects of
suffocation, the senses of the unfortunate girl having failed her before
the deleterious gas had attained its highest degree of intensity.
Before continuing the recital of the scene between the sempstress and the
patrician, a few retrospective words will be necessary. Since the
strange adventure at the theatre of the Porte-Saint-Martin, where Djalma,
at peril of his life, rushed upon the black panther in sight of Mdlle.
de Cardoville, the young lady had been deeply affected in various ways.
Forgetting her jealousy, and the humiliation she had suffered in presence
of Djalma--of Djalma exhibiting himself before every one with a woman so
little worthy of him--Adrienne was for a moment dazzled by the chivalrous
and heroic action of the prince, and said to herself: "In spite of odious
appearances, Djalma loves me enough to brave death in order to pick up my
But with a soul so delicate as that of this young lady, a character so
generous, and a mind so true, reflection was certain soon to demonstrate
the vanity of such consolations, powerless to cure the cruel wounds of
offended dignity an love.
"How many times," said Adrienne to herself, and with reason, "has the
prince encountered, in hunting, from pure caprice and with no gain, such
danger as he braved in picking up my bouquet! and then, who tells me he
did not mean to offer it to the woman who accompanied him?"
Singular (it may be) in the eyes of the world, but just and great in
those of heaven, the ideas which Adrienne cherished with regard to love,
joined to her natural pride, presented an invincible obstacle to the
thought of her succeeding this woman (whoever she might be), thus
publicly displayed by the prince as his mistress. And yet Adrienne
hardly dared avow to herself, that she experienced a feeling of jealousy,
only the more painful and humiliating, the less her rival appeared worthy
to be compared to her.
At other times, on the contrary, in spite of a conscious sense of her own
value, Mdlle. de Cardoville, remembering the charming countenance of
Rose-Pompon, asked herself if the bad taste and improper manners of this
pretty creature resulted from precocious and depraved effrontery, or from
a complete ignorance of the usages of society. In the latter case, such
ignorance, arising from a simple and ingenuous nature, might in itself
have a great charm; and if to this attraction, combined with that of
incontestable beauty, were added sincere love and a pure soul, the
obscure birth, or neglected education of the girl might be of little
consequence, and she might be capable of inspiring Djalma with a profound
passion. If Adrienne hesitated to see a lost creature in Rose-Pompon,
notwithstanding unfavorable appearances, it was because, remembering what
so many travellers had related of Djalma's greatness of soul, and
recalling the conversation she had overheard between him and Rodin, she
could not bring herself to believe that a man of such remarkable
intelligence, with so tender a heart, so poetical, imaginative and
enthusiastic a mind could be capable of loving a depraved and vulgar
creature, and of openly exhibiting himself in public along with her.
There was a mystery in the transaction, which Adrienne sought in vain to
penetrate. These trying doubts, this cruel curiosity, only served to
nourish Adrienne's fatal love; and we may imagine her incurable despair,
when she found that the indifference, or even disdain of Djalma, was
unable to stifle a passion that now burned more fiercely than ever.
Sometimes, having recourse to notions of fatality, she fancied that she
was destined to feel this love; that Djalma must therefore deserve it,
and that one day whatever was incomprehensible in the conduct of the
prince would be explained to his advantage. At other times, on the
contrary, she felt ashamed of excusing Djalma, and the consciousness of
this weakness was for Adrienne a constant occasion for remorse and
torture. The victim of all these agonies, she lived in perfect solitude.
The cholera soon broke out, startling as a clap of thunder. Too unhappy
to fear the pestilence on her own account, Adrienne was only moved by the
sorrows of others. She was amongst the first to contribute to those
charitable donations, which were now flowing in from all sides in the
admirable spirit of benevolence. Florine was suddenly attacked by the
epidemic. In spite of the danger, her mistress insisted on seeing her,
and endeavored to revive her failing courage. Conquered by this new mark
of kindness, Florine could no longer conceal the treachery in which she
had borne a part. Death was about to deliver her from the odious tyranny
of the people whose yoke weighed upon her, and she was at length in a
position to reveal everything to Adrienne. The latter thus learned how
she had been continually betrayed by Florine, and also the cause of the
sewing-girl's abrupt departure. At these revelations, Adrienne felt her
affection and tender pity for the poor sempstress greatly increase. By
her command, the most active steps were taken to discover traces of the
hunchback; but Florine's confession had a still more important result.
Justly alarmed at this new evidence of Rodin's machinations, Adrienne
remembered the projects formed, when, believing herself beloved, the
instinct of affection had revealed to her the perils to which Djalma and
other members of the Rennepont family were exposed. To assemble the race
around her, and bid them rally against the common enemy, such was
Adrienne's first thought, when she heard the confession of Florine. She
regarded it as a duty to accomplish this project. In a struggle with
such dangerous and powerful adversaries as Rodin, Father d'Aigrigny, and
the Princess de Saint-Dizier, and their allies, Adrienne saw not only the
praiseworthy and perilous task of unmasking hypocrisy and cupidity, but
also, if not a consolation, at least a generous diversion in the midst of
From this moment, a restless, feverish activity took the place of the
mournful apathy in which the young lady had languished. She called round
her all the members of her family capable of answering the appeal, and,
as had been mentioned in the secret note delivered to Father d'Aigrigny,
Cardoville House soon became the centre of the most active and unceasing
operations, and also a place of meeting, in which the modes of attack and
defence were fully discussed. Perfectly correct in all points, the
secret note of which we have spoken stated, as a mere conjecture, that
Mdlle. de Cardoville had granted an interview to Djalma. This fact was
untrue, but the cause which led to the supposition will be explained
hereafter. Far from such being the case, Mdlle. de Cardoville scarcely
found, in attending to the great family interests now at stake, a
momentary diversion from the fatal love, which was slowly undermining her
health, and with which she so bitterly reproached herself.
The morning of the day on which Adrienne, at length discovering Mother
Bunch's residence, came so miraculously to rescue her from death,
Agricola Baudoin had been to Cardoville House to confer on the subject of
Francis Hardy, and had begged Adrienne to permit him to accompany her to
the Rue Clovis, whither they repaired in haste.
Thus, once again, there was a noble spectacle, a touching symbol! Mdlle.
de Cardoville and Mother Bunch, the two extremities of the social chain,
were united on equal terms--for the sempstress and the fair patrician
were equal in intelligence and heart--and equal also, because the one was
the ideal of riches, grace, and beauty, and the other the ideal of
resignation and unmerited misfortune--and does not a halo rest on
misfortune borne with courage and dignity? Stretched on her mattress,
the hunchback appeared so weak, that even if Agricola had not been
detained on the ground floor with Cephyse, now dying a dreadful death,
Mdlle. de Cardoville would have waited some time, before inducing Mother
Bunch to rise and accompany her to her carriage. Thanks to the presence
of mind and pious fraud of Adrienne, the sewing-girl was persuaded that
Cephyse had been carried to a neighboring hospital, to receive the
necessary succors, which promised to be crowned with success. The
hunchback's faculties recovering slowly from their stupor, she at first
received this fable without the least suspicion--for she did not even
know that Agricola had accompanied Mdlle. de Cardoville.
"And it is to you, lady, that Cephyse and I owe our lives," said she,
turning her mild and melancholy face towards Adrienne, "you, kneeling in
this garret, near this couch of misery, where I and my sister meant to
die--for you assure me, lady, that Cephyse was succored in time."
"Be satisfied! I was told just now that she was recovering her senses."
"And they told her I was living, did they not, lady? Otherwise, she
would perhaps regret having survived me."
"Be quite easy, my dear girl!" said Adrienne, pressing the poor hands in
her own, and gazing on her with eyes full of tears; "they have told her
all that was proper. Do not trouble yourself about anything; only think
of recovering--and I hope you will yet enjoy that happiness of which you
have known so little, my poor child."
"How kind you are, lady! After flying from your house--and when you must
think me so ungrateful!"
"Presently, when you are not so weak, I have a great deal to tell you.
Just now, it would fatigue you too much. But how do you feel?"
"Better, lady. This fresh air--and then the thought, that, since you are
come--my poor sister will no more be reduced to despair; for I will tell
you all, and I am sure you will have pity on Cephyse--will you not, lady?"
"Rely upon me, my child, answered Adrienne, forced to dissemble her
painful embarrassment; "you know I am interested in all that interests
you. But tell me," added Mdlle. de Cardoville, in a voice of emotion,
"before taking this desperate resolution, did you not write to me?"
"Alas!" resumed Adrienne, sorrowfully; "and when you received no answer--
how cruel, how ungrateful you must have thought me!"
"Oh! never, lady, did I accuse you of such feelings; my poor sister will
tell you so. You had my gratitude to the last."
"I believe you--for I knew your heart. But how then did you explain my
"I had justly offended you by my sudden departure, lady."
"Offended!--Alas! I never received your letter."
"And yet you know that I wrote to you, lady."
"Yes, my poor girl; I know, also, that you wrote to me at my porter's
lodge. Unfortunately, he delivered your letter to one of my women, named
Florine, telling her it came from you."
"Florine! the young woman that was so kind to me!"
"Florine deceived me shamefully; she was sold to my enemies, and acted as
a spy on my actions."
"She!--Good Heavens!" cried Mother Bunch. "Is it possible?"
"She herself," answered Adrienne, bitterly; "but, after all, we must pity
as well as blame her. She was forced to obey by a terrible necessity,
and her confession and repentance secured my pardon before her death."
"Then she is dead--so young! so fair!"
"In spite of her faults, I was greatly moved by her end. She confessed
what she had done, with such heart-rending regrets. Amongst her avowals,
she told me she had intercepted a letter, in which you asked for an
interview that might save your sister's life."
"It is true, lady; such were the terms of my letter. What interest had
they to keep it from you?"
"They feared to see you return to me, my good guardian angel. You loved
me so tenderly, and my enemies dreaded your faithful affection, so
wonderfully aided by the admirable instinct of your heart. Ah! I shall
never forget how well-deserved was the horror with which you were
inspired by a wretch whom I defended against your suspicions."
"M. Rodin?" said Mother Bunch, with a shudder.
"Yes," replied Adrienne; "but we will not talk of these people now.
Their odious remembrance would spoil the joy I feel in seeing you
restored to life--for your voice is less feeble, your cheeks are
beginning to regain a little color. Thank God! I am so happy to have
found you once more;--if you knew all that I hope, all that I expect from
our reunion--for we will not part again--promise me that, in the name of
"I--your friend!" said Mother Bunch, timidly casting down her eyes.
"A few days before your departure from my house, did I not call you my
friend, my sister? What is there changed? Nothing, nothing," added
Mdlle. de Cardoville, with deep emotion. "One might say, on the
contrary, that a fatal resemblance in our positions renders your
friendship even dearer to me. And I shall have it, shall I not. Oh, do
not refuse it me--I am so much in want of a friend!"
"You, lady? you in want of the friendship of a poor creature like me?"
"Yes," answered Adrienne, as she gazed on the other with an expression of
intense grief; "nay, more, you are perhaps the only person, to whom I
could venture to confide my bitter sorrows." So saying, Mdlle. de
Cardoville colored deeply.
"And how do I deserve such marks of confidence?" asked Mother Bunch, more
and more surprised.
"You deserve it by the delicacy of your heart, by the steadiness of your
character," answered Adrienne, with some hesitation; "then--you are a
woman--and I am certain you will understand what I suffer, and pity me."
"Pity you, lady?" said the other, whose astonishment continued to
increase. "You, a great lady, and so much envied--I, so humble and
despised, pity you?"
"Tell me, my poor friend," resumed Adrienne, after some moments of
silence, "are not the worst griefs those which we dare not avow to any
one, for fear of raillery and contempt? How can we venture to ask
interest or pity, for sufferings that we hardly dare avow to ourselves,
because they make us blush?"
The sewing-girl could hardly believe what she heard. Had her
benefactress felt, like her, the effects of an unfortunate passion, she
could not have held any other language. But the sempstress could not
admit such a supposition; so, attributing to some other cause the sorrows
of Adrienne, she answered mournfully, whilst she thought of her own fatal
love for Agricola, "Oh! yes, lady. A secret grief, of which we are
ashamed, must be frightful--very frightful!"
"But then what happiness to meet, not only a heart noble enough to
inspire complete confidence, but one which has itself been tried by a
thousand sorrows, and is capable of affording you pity, support and
counsel!--Tell me, my dear child," added Mdlle. de Cardoville, as she
looked attentively at Mother Bunch, "if you were weighed down by one of
those sorrows, at which one blushes, would you not be happy, very happy,
to find a kindred soul, to whom you might entrust your griefs, and half
relieve them by entire and merited confidence?"
For the first time in her life, Mother Bunch regarded Mdlle. de
Cardoville with a feeling of suspicion and sadness.
The last words of the young lady seemed to her full of meaning
"Doubtless, she knows my secret," said Mother Bunch to herself;
"doubtless, my journal has fallen into her hands.--She knows my love for
Agricola, or at least suspects it. What she has been saying to me is
intended to provoke my confidence, and to assure herself if she has been
These thoughts excited in the workgirl's mind no bitter or ungrateful
feeling towards her benefactress; but the heart of the unfortunate girl
was so delicately susceptible on the subject of her fatal passion, that,
in spite of her deep and tender affection for Mdlle. de Cardoville, she
suffered cruelly at the thought of Adrienne's being mistress of her
The fancy, at first so painful, that Mdlle. de Cardoville was informed of
her love for Agricola was soon exchanged in the hunchbacks heart, thanks
to the generous instincts of that rare and excellent creature, for a
touching regret, which showed all her attachment and veneration for
"Perhaps," said Mother Bunch to herself, "conquered by the influence of
the adorable kindness of my protectress, I might have made to her a
confession which I could make to none other, and revealed a secret which
I thought to carry with me to my grave. It would, at least, have been a
mark of gratitude to Mdlle. de Cardoville; but, unfortunately, I am now
deprived of the sad comfort of confiding my only secret to my
benefactress. And then--however generous may be her pity for me, however
intelligent her affection, she cannot--she, that is so fair and so much
admired--she cannot understand how frightful is the position of a
creature like myself, hiding in the depth of a wounded heart, a love at
once hopeless and ridiculous. No, no--in spite of the delicacy of her
attachment, my benefactress must unconsciously hurt my feelings, even
whilst she pities me--for only sympathetic sorrows can console each
other. Alas! why did she not leave me to die?"
These reflections presented themselves to the thinker's mind as rapidly
as thought could travel. Adrienne observed her attentively; she remarked
that the sewing-girl's countenance, which had lately brightened up, was
again clouded, and expressed a feeling of painful humiliation. Terrified
at this relapse into gloomy dejection, the consequences of which might be
serious, for Mother Bunch was still very weak, and, as it were, hovering
on the brink of the grave, Mdlle. de Cardoville resumed hastily: "My
friend, do not you think with me, that the most cruel and humiliating
grief admits of consolation, when it can be entrusted to a faithful and
"Yes, lady," said the young sempstress, bitterly; "but the heart which
suffers in silence, should be the only judge of the moment for making so
painful a confession. Until then, it would perhaps be more humane to
respect its fatal secret, even if one had by chance discovered it."
"You are right, my child," said Adrienne, sorrowfully, "if I choose this
solemn moment to entrust you with a very painful secret, it is that, when
you have heard me, I am sure you will set more value on your life, as
knowing how much I need your tenderness, consolation, and pity."
At these words, the other half raised herself on the mattress, and looked
at Mdlle. de Cardoville in amazement. She could scarcely believe what
she heard; far from designing to intrude upon her confidence, it was her
protectress who was to make the painful confession, and who came to
implore pity and consolation from her!
"What!" stammered she; "you, lady!"
"I come to tell you that I suffer, and am ashamed of my sufferings.
Yes," added the young lady, with a touching expression, "yes--of all
confessions, I am about to make the most painful--I love--and I blush for
"Like myself!" cried Mother Bunch, involuntarily, clasping her hands
"I love," resumed Adrienne, with a long-pent-up grief; "I love, and am
not beloved--and my love is miserable, is impossible--it consumes me--it
kills me--and I dare not confide to any one the fatal secret!"
"Like me," repeated the other, with a fixed look. "She--a queen in
beauty, rank, wealth, intelligence--suffers like me. Like me, poor
unfortunate creature! she loves, and is not loved again."
"Well, yes! like you, I love and am not loved again," cried Mdlle. de
Cardoville; "was I wrong in saying, that to you alone I could confide my
secret--because, having suffered the same pangs, you alone can pity
"Then, lady," said Mother Bunch, casting down her eyes, and recovering
from her first amazement, "you knew--"
"I knew all, my poor child--but never should I have mentioned your
secret, had I not had one to entrust you with, of a still more painful
nature. Yours is cruel, but mine is humiliating. Oh, my sister!" added
Mdlle. de Cardoville, in a tone impossible to describe, "misfortune, you,
see, blends and confounds together what are called distinctions of rank
and fortune--and often those whom the world envies are reduced by
suffering far below the poorest and most humble, and have to seek from
the latter pity and consolation."
Then, drying her tears, which nosy flowed abundantly, Mdlle. de
Cardoville resumed, in a voice of emotion: "Come, sister! courage,
courage! let us love and sustain each other. Let this sad and mysterious
bond unite us forever."
"Oh, lady! forgive me. But now that you know the secret of my life,"
said the workgirl, casting down her eyes, and unable to vanquish her
confusion, "it seems to me, that I can never look at you without
"And why? because you love Agricola?" said Adrienne. "Then I must die of
shame before you, since, less courageous than you, I had not the strength
to suffer and be resigned, and so conceal my love in the depths of my
heart. He that I love, with a love henceforth deprived of hope, knew of
that love and despised it--preferring to me a woman, the very choice of
whom was a new and grievous insult, if I am not much deceived by
appearances. I sometimes hope that I am deceived on this point. Now
tell me--is it for you to blush?"
"Alas, lady! who could tell you all this?"
"Which you only entrusted to your journal? Well, then--it was the dying
Florine who confessed her misdeeds. She had been base enough to steal
your papers, forced to this odious act, by the people who had dominion
over her. But she had read your journal--and as every good feeling was
not dead within her, your admirable resignation, your melancholy and
pious love, had left such an impression on her mind, that she was able to
repeat whole passages to me on her death bed, and thus to explain the
cause of your sudden disappearance--for she had no doubt that the fear of
seeing your love for Agricola divulged had been the cause of your
"Alas! it is but too true, lady."
"Oh, yes!" answered Adrienne, bitterly; "those who employed the wretched
girl to act as she did, well knew the effect of the blow. It was not
their first attempt. They reduced you to despair, they would have killed
you, because you were devoted to me, and because you had guessed their
intentions. Oh! these black-gowns are implacable, and their power is
great!" said Adrienne, shuddering.
"It is fearful, lady."
"But do not be alarmed, dear child; you see, that the arms of the wicked
have turned against themselves; for the moment I knew the cause of your
flight, you became dearer to me than ever. From that time I made every
exertion to find out where you were; after long efforts, it was only this
morning that the person I had employed succeeded in discovering that you
inhabited this house. Agricola was with me when I heard it, and
instantly asked to accompany me."
"Agricola!" said Mother Bunch, clasping her hands; "he came--"
"Yes, my child--be calm. Whilst I attended to you, he was busy with your
poor sister. You will soon see him."
"Alas, lady!" resumed the hunchback, in alarm. "He doubtless knows--"
"Your love! No, no; be satisfied. Only think of the happiness of again
seeing your good and worthy brother."
"Ah, lady! may he never know what caused me so much shame, that I was
like to die of it. Thank God, he is not aware of it!"
"Then let us have no more sad thoughts, my child. Only remember, that
this worthy brother came here in time to save us from everlasting
regrets--and you from a great fault. Oh! I do not speak of the
prejudices of the world, with regard to the right of every creature to
return to heaven a life that has become too burdensome!--I only say that
you ought not to have died, because those who love you, and whom you
love, were still in need of your assistance."
"I thought you happy; Agricola was married to the girl of his choice, who
will, I am sure, make him happy. To whom could I be useful?"
"First, to myself, as you see--and then, who tells you that Agricola will
never have need of you? Who tells you, that his happiness, or that of
his family, will last forever, and will not be tried by cruel shocks?
And even if those you love had been destined to be always happy, could
their happiness be complete without you? And would not your death, with
which they would perhaps have reproached themselves, have left behind it
"It is true, lady," answered the other, "I was wrong--the dizziness of
despair had seized me--frightful misery weighed upon us--we had not been
able to find work for some days--we lived on the charity of a poor woman,
and her the cholera carried off. To-morrow or next day, we must have
died of hunger."
"Die of hunger!--and you knew where I lived!"
"I had written to you, lady, and receiving no answer, I thought you
offended at my abrupt departure."
"Poor, dear child! you must have been, as you say, seized with dizziness
in that terrible moment; so that I have not the courage to reproach you
for doubting me a single instant. How can I blame you? Did I not myself
think of terminating my life?"
"You, lady!" cried the hunchback.
"Yes, I thought of it--when they came to tell me, that Florine, dying,
wished to speak to me. I heard what she had to say; her revelations
changed my projects. This dark and mournful life which had become
insupportable to me, was suddenly lighted up. The sense of duty woke
within me. You were no doubt a prey to horrible misery; it was my duty
to seek and save you. Florine's confessions unveiled to me the new plots
of the enemies of my scattered family, dispersed by sorrows and cruel
losses; it was my duty to warn them of their danger, and to unite them
against the common enemy. I had been the victim of odious manoeuvres: it
was my duty to punish their authors, for fear that, encouraged by
impunity, these black-gowns should make other victims. Then the sense of
duty gave me strength, and I was able to rouse myself from my lethargy.
With the help of Abbe Gabriel, a sublime, oh! a sublime priest--the ideal
of a true Christian--the worthy brother of Agricola--I courageously
entered on the struggle. What shall I say to you, my child? The
performance of these duties, the hope of finding you again, have been
some relief to me in my trouble. If I was not consoled, I was at least
occupied. Your tender friendship, the example of your resignation, will
do the rest--I think so--I am sure so--and I shall forget this fatal
At the moment Adrienne pronounced these words, rapid footsteps were heard
upon the stairs, and a young, clear voice exclaimed: "Oh! dear me, poor
Mother Bunch! How lucky I have come just now! If only I could be of some
use to her!"
Almost immediately, Rose-Pompon entered the garret with precipitation.
Agricola soon followed the grisette, and pointing to the open window,
tried to make Adrienne understand by signs, that she was not to mention
to the girl the deplorable end of the Bacchanal Queen. This pantomime
was lost on Mdlle. de Cardoville. Adrienne's heart swelled with grief,
indignation, pride, as she recognized the girl she had seen at the Porte-
Saint-Martin in company with Djalma, and who alone was the cause of the
dreadful sufferings she endured since that fatal evening. And, strange
irony of fate! it was at the very moment when Adrienne had just made the
humiliating and cruel confession of her despised love, that the woman, to
whom she believed herself sacrificed, appeared before her.
If the surprise of Mdlle. de Cardoville was great, Rose-Pompon's was not
less so. Not only did she recognize in Adrienne the fair young lady with
the golden locks, who had sat opposite to her at the theatre, on the
night of the adventure of the black panther, but she had serious reasons
for desiring most ardently this unexpected interview. It is impossible
to paint the look of malignant joy and triumph, that she affected to cast
upon Adrienne. The first impulse of Mdlle. de Cardoville was to quit the
room. But she could not bear to leave Mother Bunch at this moment, or to
give, in the presence of Agricola, her reasons for such an abrupt
departure, and moreover, an inexplicable and fatal curiosity held her
back, in spite of her offended pride. She remained, therefore, and was
about to examine closely, to hear and to judge, this rival, who had
nearly occasioned her death, to whom, in her jealous agony, she had
ascribed so many different aspects, in order to explain Djalma's love for
such a creature.
Rose-Pompon, whose presence caused such deep emotion in Mdlle. de
Cardoville, was dressed in the most showy and extravagant bad taste. Her
very small, narrow, rose-colored satin bonnet, placed so forward over her
face as almost to touch the tip of her little nose, left uncovered behind
half of her light, silky hair; her plaid dress, of an excessively broad
pattern, was open in front, and the almost transparent gauze, rather too
honest in its revelations, hardly covered the charms of the form beneath.
The grisette having run all the way upstairs, held in her hands the ends
of her large blue shawl, which, falling from her shoulders, had slid down
to her wasp-like waist, and there been stopped by the swell of the
figure. If we enter into these details, it is to explain how, at the
sight of this pretty creature, dressed in so impertinent and almost
indecent, a fashion, Mdlle. de Cardoville, who thought she saw in her a
successful rival, felt her indignation, grief, and shame redoubled.
But judge of the surprise and confusion of Adrienne, when Mdlle. Rose-
Pompon said to her, with the utmost freedom and pertness, "I am delighted
to see you, madame. You and I must have a long talk together. Only I
must begin by kissing poor Mother Bunch--with your permission, madame!"
To understand the tone and manner with which this word, "madame" was
pronounced, you must have been present at some stormy discussion between
two Rose-Pompons, jealous of each other; then you would be able to judge
how much provoking hostility may be compressed into the word "madame,"
under certain circumstances. Amazed at the impudence of Rose-Pompon,
Mdlle. de Cardoville remained mute; whilst Agricola, entirely occupied
with the interest he took in the workgirl, who had never withdrawn her
eyes from him since he entered the room, and with the remembrance of the
painful scene he had just quitted, whispered to Adrienne, without
remarking the grisette's effrontery, "Alas, lady! it is all over.
Cephyse has just breathed her last sigh, without recovering her senses."
"Unfortunate girl!" said Adrienne, with emotion; and for the moment she
"We must keep this sad news from Mother Bunch, and only let her know it
hereafter, with great caution," resumed Agricola. "Luckily, little Rose-
Pompon knows nothing about it."
And he pointed to the grisette, who was now stooping down by the side of
the workgirl. On hearing Agricola speak so familiarly of Rose-Pompon,
Adrienne's amazement increased. It is impossible to describe what she
felt; yet, strangely enough, her sufferings grew less and less, and her
anxiety diminished, as she listened to the chatter of the grisette.
"Oh, my good dear!" said the latter, with as much volubility as emotion,
while her pretty blue eyes were filled with tears; "is it possible that
you did so stupid a thing? Do not poor people help one another? Could
you not apply to me? You knew that others are welcome to whatever is
mine, and I would have made a raffle of Philemon's bazaar," added this
singular girl, with a burst of feeling, at once sincere, touching, and
grotesque; "I would have sold his three boots, pipes, boating-costume,
bed, and even his great drinking-glass, and at all events you should not
have been brought to such an ugly pass. Philemon would not have minded,
for he is a good fellow; and if he had minded, it would have been all the
same. Thank heaven! we are not married. I am only wishing to remind you
that you should have thought of little Rose-Pompon."
"I know you are obliging and kind, miss," said Mother Bunch: for she had
heard from her sister that Rose-Pompon, like so many of her class, had a
warm and generous heart.
"After all," resumed the grisette, wiping with the back of her hand the
tip of her little nose, down which a tear was trickling, "you may tell me
that you did not know where I had taken up my quarters. It's a queer
story, I can tell you. When I say queer," added Rose-Pompon, with a deep
sigh, "it is quite the contrary--but no matter: I need not trouble you
with that. One thing is certain; you are getting better--and you and
Cephyse will not do such a thing again. She is said to be very weak.
Can I not see her yet, M. Agricola?
"No," said the smith, with embarrassment, for Mother Bunch kept her eyes
fixed upon him; "you must have patience."
"But I may see her to-day, Agricola?" exclaimed the hunchback.
"We will talk about that. Only be calm, I entreat."
"Agricola is right; you must be reasonable, my good dear," resumed Rose-
Pompon; "we will wait patiently. I can wait too, for I have to talk
presently to this lady;" and Rose-Pompon glanced at Adrienne with the
expression of an angry cat. "Yes, yes; I can wait; for I long to tell
Cephyse also that she may reckon upon me." Here Rose-Pompon bridled up
very prettily, and thus continued, "Do not be uneasy! It is the least one
can do, when one is in a good position, to share the advantages with
one's friends, who are not so well off. It would be a fine thing to keep
one's happiness to one's self! to stuff it with straw, and put it under a
glass, and let no one touch it! When I talk of happiness, it's only to
make talk; it is true in one sense; but to another, you see, my good
dear--Bah! I am only seventeen--but no matter--I might go on talking till
tomorrow, and you would not be any the wiser. So let me kiss you once
more, and don't be down-hearted--nor Cephyse either, do you hear? for I
shall be close at hand."
And, stooping still lower, Rose-Pompon cordially embraced Mother Bunch.
It is impossible to express what Mdlle. de Cardoville felt during this
conversation, or rather during this monologue of the grisette on the
subject of the attempted suicide. The eccentric jargon of Mdlle. Rose-
Pompon, her liberal facility in disposing of Philemon's bazaar, to the
owner of which (as she said) she was luckily not married--the goodness of
her heart, which revealed itself in her offers of service--her contrasts,
her impertinence, her drollery--all this was so new and inexplicable to
Mdlle. de Cardoville, that she remained for some time mute and motionless
with surprise. Such, then, was the creature to whom Djalma had
If Adrienne's first impression at sight of Rose-Pompon had been horribly
painful, reflection soon awakened doubts, which were to become shortly
ineffable hopes. Remembering the interview she had overheard between
Rodin and Djalma, when, concealed in the conservatory, she had wished to
prove the Jesuit's fidelity, Adrienne, asked herself if it was
reasonable, if it was possible to believe, that the prince, whose ideas
of love seemed to be so poetical, so elevated, so pure, could find any
charm in the disjointed and silly chat of this young girl? Adrienne
could not hesitate; she pronounced the thing impossible, from the moment
she had seen her rival near, and witnessed her style both of manners and
conversation, which, without detracting from the prettiness of her
features, gave them a trivial and not very attractive character.
Adrienne's doubts with regard to the deep love of the prince for Rose-
Pompon were hence soon changed to complete incredulity. Endowed with too
much sense and penetration, not to perceive that this apparent
connection, so inconceivable on the part of Djalma, must conceal some
mystery, Mdlle. de Cardoville felt her hopes revive. As this consoling
thought arose in her mind, her heart, until now so painfully oppressed,
began once more to dilate; she felt vague aspirations towards a better
future; and yet, cruelly warned by the past, she feared to yield too
readily to a mere illusion, for she remembered the notorious fact that
the prince had really appeared in public with this girl. But now that
Mdlle. de Cardoville could fully appreciate what she was, she found the
conduct of the prince only the more incomprehensible. And how can we
judge soundly and surely of that which is enveloped in mystery? And then
a secret presentiment told her, that it would, perhaps, be beside the
couch of the poor sempstress, whom she had just saved from death, that,
by a providential coincidence, she would learn the secret on which
depended the happiness of her life.
The emotions which agitated she heart of Adrienne, became so violent,
that her fine face was flushed with a bright red, her bosom heaved, and
her large, black eyes, lately dimmed by sadness, once more shone with a
mild radiance. She waited with inexpressible impatience for what was to
follow. In the interview, with which Rose-Pompon had threatened her, and
which a few minutes before Adrienne would have declined with all the
dignity of legitimate indignation, she now hoped to find the explanation
of a mystery, which it was of such importance for her to clear up. After
once more tenderly embracing Mother Bunch, Rose-Pompon got up from the
ground, and, turning towards Adrienne, eyed her from head to foot, with
the utmost coolness, and said to her, in a somewhat impertinent tone: "It
is now our turn, madame"--the word "madame" still pronounced with the
accent before described--"we have a little matter to settle together."
"I am at your order," answered Adrienne, with much mildness and
At sight of the triumphant and decisive air of Rose-Pompon, and on
hearing her challenge to Mdlle. de Cardoville, the worthy Agricola, after
exchanging a few words with Mother Bunch, opened his eyes and ears very
wide, and remained staring in amazement at the effrontery of the
grisette; then, advancing towards her, he whispered, as he plucked her by
the sleeve: "I say, are you mad? Do you know to whom you speak?"
"Well! what then? Is not one pretty woman worth another! I say that for
the lady. She will not eat me, I suppose," replied Rose-Pompon, aloud,
and with an air of defiance. "I have to talk with madame, here. I am
sure, she knows why and wherefore. If not, I will tell her; it will not
take me long."
Adrienne, who feared some ridiculous exposure on the subject of Djalma,
in the presence of Agricola, made a sign to the latter, and thus answered
the grisette: "I am ready to hear you, miss, but not in this place. You
will understand why."
"Very well, madame, I have my key. You can come to any apartments"--the
last word pronounced with an air of ostentatious importance.
"Let us go then to your apartments, miss since you to me the honor to
receive me there," answered Mdlle. de Cardoville, in her mild, sweet
voice, and with a slight inclination of the head, so full of exquisite
politeness, that Rose-Pompon was daunted, notwithstanding all her
"What, lady!" said Agricola to Adrienne; "you are good enough--"
"M. Agricola," said Mdlle. de Cardoville, interrupting him, "please to
remain with our poor friend: I shall soon be back."
Then, approaching Mother Bunch, who shared in Agricola's astonishment she
said to her: "Excuse me for leaving you a few seconds. Only regain a
little strength, and, when I return, I will take you home with me, dear
Then, turning towards Rose-Pompon, who was more and more surprised at
hearing so fine a lady call the workgirl her sister, she added: "I am
ready whenever you please, mademoiselle."
"Beg pardon, madame, if I go first to show you the way, but it's a
regular break-neck sort of a place," answered Rose-Pompon, pressing her
elbows to her sides, and screwing up her lips to prove that she was no
stranger to polite manners and fine language. And the two rivals quitted
the garret together, leaving Agricola alone with Mother Bunch.
Luckily, the disfigured remains of the Bacchanal Queen had been carried
into Mother Arsene's subterraneous shop, so that the crowd of spectators,
always attracted by any fatal event, had assembled in front of the house;
and Rose-Pompon, meeting no one in the little court she had to traverse
with Adrienne, continued in ignorance of the tragical death of her old
friend Cephyse. In a few moments the grisette and Mdlle. de Cardoville
had reached Philemon's apartment. This singular abode remained in the
same state of picturesque disorder in which Rose-Pompon had left it, when
Ninny Moulin came to fetch her to act the heroine of a mysterious
Adrienne, completely ignorant of the eccentric modes of life of students
and their companions, could not, in spite of the thoughts which occupied
her mind, forebear examining, with a mixture of surprise and curiosity,
this strange and grotesque chaos, composed of the most dissimilar
objects--disguises for masked balls, skulls with pipes in their mouths,
odd boots standing on book shelves, monstrous bottles, women's clothes,
ends of tobacco pipes, etc., etc. To the first astonishment of Adrienne
succeeded an impression of painful repugnance. The young lady felt
herself uneasy and out of place in this abode, not of poverty, but
disorder; whilst, on the contrary, the sewing-girl's miserable garret had
caused her no such feeling.
Rose-Pompon, notwithstanding all her airs, was considerably troubled when
she found herself alone with Mdlle, de Cardoville; the rare beauty of the
young patrician, her fashionable look, the elegance of her manners, the
style, both dignified and affable, with which she had answered the
impertinent address of the grisette, began to have their effect upon the
latter, who, being moreover a good-natured girl, had been touched at
hearing Mdlle. de Cardoville call the hunchback "friend and sister."
Without knowing exactly who Adrienne was, Rose-Pompon was not ignorant
that she belonged to the richest and highest class of society; she felt
already some remorse at having attacked her so cavalierly; and her
intentions, at first very hostile with regard to Mdlle. de Cardoville,
were gradually much modified. Yet, being very obstinate, and not wishing
to appear to submit to an influence that offended her pride, Rose-Pompon
endeavored to recover her assurance; and, having bolted the door, she
said to Adrienne: "Pray do me the favor to sit down, madame"--still with
the intention of showing that she was no stranger to refined manners and
Mdlle. de Cardoville was about mechanically to take a chair, when Rose-
Pompon, worthy to practise those ancient virtues of hospitality, which
regarded even an enemy as sacred in the person of a guest, cried out
hastily: "Don't take that chair, madame; it wants a leg."
Adrienne laid her hand on another chair.
"Nor that either; the back is quite loose," again exclaimed Rose-Pompon.
And she spoke the truth; for the chair-back, which was made in the form
of a lyre, remained in the hands of Mdlle. de Cardoville, who said, as
she replaced it discreetly in its former position: "I think, miss, that
we can very well talk standing."
"As you please, madame," replied Rose-Pompon, steadying herself the more
bravely the more uneasy she felt. And the interview of the lady and the
grisette began in this fashion.
After a minute's hesitation, Rose-Pompon said to Adrienne, whose heart
was beating violently: "I will tell you directly, madame, what I have on
my mind. I should not have gone out of my way to seek you, but, as I
happen to fall in with you, it is very natural I should take advantage of
"But, miss," said Adrienne, mildly, "may I at least know the subject of
the conversation we are to have together?"
"Yes, madame," replied Rose-Pompon, affecting an air of still more
decided confidence; "first of all, you must not suppose I am unhappy, or
going to make a scene of jealousy, or cry like a forsaken damsel. Do not
flatter yourself! Thank heaven, I have no reason to complain of Prince
Charming--that is the pet name I gave him--on the contrary, he has made
me very happy. If I left him, it was against his will, and because I
So saying, Rose-Pompon, whose heart was swelling in spite of her fine
airs, could not repress a sigh.
"Yes, madame," she resumed, "I left him because I chose--for he quite
doted on me. If I had liked, he would have married me--yes, madame,
married me--so much the worse, if that gives you pain. Though, when I
say 'so much the worse,' it is true that I meant to pain you. To be sure
I did--but then, just now when I saw you so kind to poor Mother Bunch,
though I was certainly in the right, still I felt something. However, to
cut matters short, it is clear that I detest you, and that you deserve
it," added Rose-Pompon, stamping her foot.
From all this it resulted, even for a person much less sagacious than
Adrienne, and much less interested in discovering the truth, that Rose-
Pompon, notwithstanding her triumphant airs in speaking of him whom she
represented as so much attached to her, and even anxious to wed her, was
in reality completely disappointed, and was now taking refuge in a
deliberate falsehood. It was evident that she was not loved, and that
nothing but violent jealousy had induced her to desire this interview
with Mdlle. de Cardoville, in order to make what is vulgarly called a
scene, considering Adrienne (the reason will be explained presently) as
her successful rival. But Rose-Pompon, having recovered her good-nature,
found it very difficult to continue the scene in question, particularly
as, for many reasons, she felt overawed by Adrienne.
Though she had expected, if not the singular speech of the grisette, at
least something of the same result--for she felt it was impossible that
the prince could entertain a serious attachment for this girl--Mdlle. de
Cardoville was at first delighted to hear the confirmation of her hopes
from the lips of her rival; but suddenly these hopes were succeeded by a
cruel apprehension, which we will endeavor to explain. What Adrienne had
just heard ought to have satisfied her completely. Sure that the heart
of Djalma had never ceased to belong to her, she ought, according to the
customs and opinions of the world, to have cared little if, in the
effervescence of an ardent youth, he had chanced to yield to some
ephemeral caprice for this creature, who was, after all, very pretty and
desirable--the more especially as he had now repaired his error by
separating from her.
Notwithstanding these good reasons, such an error of the senses would not
have been pardoned by Adrienne. She did not understand that complete
separation of the body and soul that would make the one exempt from the
stains of the other. She did not think it a matter of indifference to
toy with one woman whilst you were thinking of another. Her young,
chaste, passionate love demanded an absolute fealty--a fealty as just in
the eyes of heaven and nature as it may be ridiculous and foolish in the
eyes of man. For the very reason that she cherished a refined religion
of the senses, and revered them as an adorable and divine manifestation,
Adrienne had all sorts of delicate scruples and nice repugnances, unknown
to the austere spirituality of those ascetic prudes who despise vile
matter too much to take notice of its errors, and allow it to grovel in
filth, to show the contempt in which they hold it. Mdlle. de Cardoville
was not one of those wonderfully modest creatures who would die of
confusion rather than say plainly that they wished for a young and
handsome husband, at once ardent and pure. It is true that they
generally marry old, ugly, and corrupted men, and make up for it by
taking two or three lovers six months after. But Adrienne felt
instinctively how much of virginal and celestial freshness there is in
the equal innocence of two loving and passionate beings--what guarantees
for the future in the remembrance which a man preserves of his first
We say, then, that Adrienne was only half-satisfied, though convinced by
the vexation of Rose-Pompon that Djalma had never entertained a serious
attachment for the grisette.
"And why do you detest me, miss?" said Adrienne mildly, when Rose-Pompon
had finished her speech.
"Oh! bless me, madame!" replied the latter, forgetting altogether her
assumption of triumph, and yielding to the natural sincerity of her
character; "pretend that you don't know why I detest you!--Oh, yes!
people go and pick bouquets from the jaws of a panther for people that
they care nothing about, don't they? And if it was only that!" added
Rose-Pompon, who was gradually getting animated, and whose pretty face,
at first contracted into a sullen pout, now assumed an expression of real
and yet half-comic sorrow.
"And if it was only the nosegay!" resumed she. "Though it gave me a
dreadful turn to see Prince Charming leap like a kid upon the stage, I
might have said to myself: 'Pooh! these Indians have their own way of
showing politeness. Here, a lady drops her nosegay, and a gentleman
picks it up and gives it to her; but in India it is quite another thing;
the man picks up the nosegay, and does not return it to the woman--he
only kills a panther before her eyes.' Those are good manners in that
country, I suppose; but what cannot be good manners anywhere is to treat
a woman as I have been treated. And all thanks to you, madame!"
These complaints of Rose-Pompon, at once bitter and laughable, did not at
all agree with what she had previously stated as to Djalma's passionate
love for her; but Adrienne took care not to point out this contradiction,
and said to her, mildly: "You must be mistaken, miss, when you suppose
that I had anything to do with your troubles. But, in any case, I regret
sincerely that you should have been ill-treated by any one."
"If you think I have been beaten, you are quite wrong," exclaimed Rose-
Pompon. "Ah! well, I am sure! No, it is not that. But I am certain
that, had it not been for you, Prince Charming would have got to love me
a little. I am worthy of the trouble, after all--and then there are
different sorts of love--I am not so very particular--not even so much as
that," added Rose-Pompon, snapping her fingers.
"Ah!" she continued, "when Ninny Moulin came to fetch me, and brought me
jewels and laces to persuade me to go with him, he was quite right in
saying there was no harm in his offers."
"Ninny Moulin?" asked Mdlle. de Cardoville, becoming more and more
interested; "who is this Ninny Moulin, miss?"
"A religious writer," answered Rose-Pompon, pouting; "the right-hand man
of a lot of old sacristans, whose money he takes on pretense of writing
about morality and religion. A fine morality it is!"
At these words--"a religious writer"--"sacristans" Adrienne instantly
divined some new plot of Rodin or Father d'Aigrigny, of which she and
Djalma were to have been the victims. She began vaguely to perceive the
real state of the case, as she resumed: "But, miss, under what pretence
could this man take you away with him?"
"He came to fetch me, and said I need not fear for my virtue, and was
only to make myself look pretty. So I said to myself: 'Philemon's out of
town, and it's very dull here all alone: This seems a droll affair; what
can I risk by it?'--Alas! I didn't know what I risked," added Rose-
Pompon, with a sigh. "Well! Ninny Moulin takes me away in a fine
carriage. We stop in the Place du Palais-Royal. A sullen-looking man,
with a yellow face, gets up in the room of Ninny Moulin, and takes me to
the house of Prince Charming. When I saw him--la! he was so handsome, so
very handsome, that I was quite dizzy-like; and he had such a kind, noble
air, that I said to myself, 'Well! there will be some credit if I remain
a good girl now!'--I did not know what a true word I was speaking. I
have been good--oh! worse than good."
"What, miss! do you regret having been so virtuous?"
"Why, you see, I regret, at least, that I have not had the pleasure of
refusing. But how can you refuse, when nothing is asked--when you are
not even thought worth one little loving word?"
"But, miss, allow me to observe to you that the indifference of which you
complain does not see to have prevented your making a long stay in the
house in question."
"How should I know why the prince kept me there, or took me out riding
with him, or to the play? Perhaps it is the fashion in his savage
country to have a pretty girl by your side, and to pay no attention to
her at all!"
"But why, then, did you remain, miss?"
"Why did I remain?" said Rose-Pompon, stamping her loot with vexation.
"I remained because, without knowing how it happened, I began to get very
fond of Prince Charming; and what is queer enough, I, who am as gay as a
lark, loved him because he was so sorrowful, which shows that it was a
serious matter. At last, one day, I could hold out no longer. I said:
'Never mind; I don't care for the consequences. Philemon, I am sure, is
having his fun in the country.' That set my mind at ease. So one
morning, I dress myself in my best, all very pretty, look in my glass,
and say: 'Well, that will do--he can't stand that! and, going to his
room, I tell him all that passes through my head; I laugh, I cry--at last
I tell him that I adore him. What do you think he answers, in his mild
voice, and as cold as a piece of marble? Why, 'Poor child--poor child--
poor child!'" added Rose-Pompon, with indignation; "neither more nor less
than if I had come to complain to him of the toothache. But the worst of
it is that I am sure, if he were not in love elsewhere, he would be all
fire and gunpowder. Only now he is so sad, so dejected!"
Then, pausing a moment, Rose-Pompon added: "No, I will not tell you that;
you would be too pleased." But, after another pause, she continued:
"Well, never mind; I will tell you, though"; and this singular girl
looked at Mdlle. de Cardoville with a mixture of sympathy and deference.
"Why should I keep it from you? I began by riding the high horse, and
saying that the prince wished to marry me; and I finished by confessing
that he almost turned me out. Well, it's not my fault; when I try to
fib, I am sure to get confused. So, madame, this is the plain truth:--
When I met you at poor Mother Bunch's, I was at first as angry as a
little turkey-cock; but when I heard you, that are such a fine great
lady, speak so kindly to the poor girl, and treat her as your sister, do
what I would, my anger began to go away. Since we have been here, I have
done my utmost to get it up again; but I find it impossible, and the more
I see the difference between us, the more I perceive that Prince Charming
was right in thinking so much of you. For you must know, madame, that he
is over head and ears in love with you. I don't say so merely because he
killed the panther for you at the Porte-Saint-Martin; but if you knew all
the tricks he played with your bouquet, and how he will sit up all night
weeping in that room where he saw you for the first time--and then your
portrait, that he has drawn upon glass, after the fashion of his country,
and so many other things--the fact is, that I, who was fond of him, and
saw all this was at first in a great rage; but afterwards it was so
touching that it brought the tears into my eyes. Yes, madame, just as it
does now, when I merely think of the poor prince. Oh, madame!" added
Rose-Pompon, her eyes swimming in tears, and with such an expression of
sincere interest, that Adrienne was much moved by it; "oh, madame, you
look so mild and good, that you will not make this poor prince miserable.
Pray love him a little bit; what can it matter to you?"
So saying, Rose-Pompon, with a perfectly simple, though too familiar,
gesture, took hold of Adrienne's hand, as if to enforce her request. It
had required great self-command in Mdlle. de Cardoville to repress the
rush of joy that was mounting from her heart to her lips, to check the
torrent of questions which she burned to address to Rose-Pompon, and to
restrain the sweet tears of happiness that for some seconds had trembled
in her eyes; and, strangely enough, when Rose-Pompon took her hand,
Adrienne, instead of withdrawing it, pressed the offered hand almost
affectionately, and led her towards the window, as if to examine her
sweet face more attentively.
On entering the room, the grisette had thrown her bonnet and shawl down
upon the bed, so that Adrienne could admire the thick and silky masses of
light hair that crowned the fresh face of the charming girl, with its
firm, rosy cheeks, its mouth as red as a cherry, and its large blue
laughing eyes; and, thanks to the somewhat scanty dress of Rose-Pompon,
Adrienne could fully appreciate the various graces of her nymph-like
figure. Strange as it may appear, Adrienne was delighted at finding the
girl still prettier than she had at first imagined. The stoical
indifference of Djalma to so attractive a creature was the best proof of
the sincerity of the passion by which he was actuated.
Having taken the hand of Adrienne, Rose-Pompon was herself confused and
surprised at the kindness with which Mdlle. de Cardoville permitted this
familiarity. Emboldened by this indulgence, and by the silence of
Adrienne, who for some moments had been contemplating her with almost
grateful benevolence, the grisette resumed: "Oh, you will not refuse,
madame? You will take pity on this poor prince?"
We cannot tell how Adrienne would have answered this indiscreet question
of Rose-Pompon, for suddenly a loud, wild, shrill, piercing sound,
evidently intended to imitate the crowing of a cock, was heard close to
the door of the room.
Adrienne started in alarm; but the countenance of Rose Pompon, just now
so sad, brightened up joyously at this signal, and, clapping her hands
she exclaimed, "It is Philemon!"
"What--who?" said Adrienne, hastily.
"My lover; oh, the monster! he must have come upstairs on tiptoe, to take
me by surprise with his crowing. Just like him!"
A second cock-a-doodle-doo, still louder than the first, was heard close
to the door. "What a stupid, droll creature it is! Always the same
joke, and yet it always amuses me," said Rose-Pompon.
And drying her tears with the back of her hand, she began to laugh like
one bewitched at Philemon's jest, which, though well known to her, always
seemed new and agreeable.
"Do not open the door," whispered Adrienne, much embarrassed; "do not
answer, I beg of you."
"Though the door is bolted, the key is on the outside; Philemon can see
that there is some one at home."
"No matter--do not let him in."
"But, madame, he lives here; the room belongs to him."
In fact, Philemon, probably growing tired of the little effect produced
by his two ornithological imitations, turned the key in the lock, and
finding himself unable to open the door, said in a deep bass voice:
"What, dearest puss, have you shut yourself in? Are you praying Saint-
Flambard for the return of Philly?" (short for Philemon.)
Adrienne, not coshing to increase, by prolonging it, the awkwardness of
this ridiculous situation, went straight to the door and opened it, to
the great surprise of Philemon, who recoiled two or three steps.
Notwithstanding the annoyance of this incident, Mdlle. de Cardoville
could not help smiling at sight of Rose-Pompon's lover, and of the
articles he carried in his hand or under his arm.
Philemon was a tall fellow, with dark hair and a very fresh color, and,
being just arrived from a journey, he wore a white cap; his thick, black
beard flowed down on his sky-blue waistcoat; and a short olive-colored
velvet shooting-coat, with extravagantly large plaid trousers, completed
his costume. As for the accessories which had provoked a smile from
Adrienne, they consisted: first, of a portmanteau tucked under his arm,
with the head and neck of a goose protruding from it; secondly, of a cage
held in his hand, with an enormous white rabbit all alive within it.
"Oh! the darling white rabbit! what pretty red eyes!" Such, it must be
confessed, was the first exclamation of Rose-Pompon, though Philemon, to
whom it was not addressed, had returned after a long absence; but the
student far from being shocked at seeing himself thus sacrificed to his
long-earned companion, smiled complacently, rejoicing at the success of
his attempt to please his mistress.
All this passed very rapidly. While Rose-Pompon, kneeling before the
cage, was still occupied with her admiration of the rabbit, Philemon,
struck with the lofty air of Mdlle. de Cardoville, raised his hand to his
cap, and bowed respectfully as he made way for her to pass. Adrienne
returned his salutation with politeness, full of grace and dignity, and,
lightly descending the stairs, soon disappeared. Dazzled by her beauty,
as well as impressed with her noble and lofty bearing, and curious to
know how in the world Rose-Pompon had fallen in with such an
acquaintance, Philemon said to her, in his amorous jargon: "Dearest puss!
tell her Philly who is that fine lady?"
"One of my school-fellows, you great satyr!" said Rose-Pompon, still
playing with the rabbit.
Then, glancing at a box, which Philemon deposited close to the cage and
the portmanteau, she added: "I'll wager anything you have brought me some
"Philly has brought something better to his dear puss," said the student,
imprinting two vigorous kisses on the rosy cheeks of Rose-Pompon, who had
at length, consented to stand up; "Philly has brought her his heart."
"Fudge!" said the grisette, delicately placing the thumb of her left hand
on the tip of her nose, and opening the fingers, which she slightly moved
to and fro. Philemon answered this provocation by putting his arm around
her waist; and then the happy pair shut their door.
During the interview of Adrienne with Rose-Pompon a touching scene took
place between Agricola and Mother Bunch, who had been much surprised at
Mdlle. de Cardoville's condescension with regard to the grisette.
Immediately after the departure of Adrienne, Agricola had knelt down
beside Mother Bunch, and said to her, with profound emotion: "We are
alone, and I can at length tell you what weighs upon my heart. This act
is too cruel--to die of misery and despair, and not to send to me for
"Listen to me, Agricola--"
"No, there is no excuse for this. What! we called each other by the
names of brother and sister, and for fifteen years gave every proof of
sincere affection--and, when the day of misfortune comes, you quit life
without caring for those you must leave behind--without considering that
to kill yourself is to tell them they are indifferent to you!"
"Forgive me, Agricola! it is true. I had never thought of that," said
the workgirl, casting down her eyes; "but poverty--want of work--"
"Misery! want of work! and was I not here?"
"But why despair? This generous young lady had received you in her
house; she knew your worth, and treated you as her friend--and just at
the moment when you had every chance of happiness, you leave the house
abruptly, and we remain in the most horrible anxiety on your account."
"I feared--to be--to be a burden to my benefactress," stammered she.
"You a burden to Mdlle. de Cardoville, that is so rich and good!"
"I feared to be indiscreet," said the sewing-girl, more and more
Instead of answering his adopted sister, Agricola remained silent, and
contemplated her for some moments with an undefinable expression; then he
exclaimed suddenly, as if replying to a question put by himself: "She
will forgive me for disobeying her.--I am sure of it."
He next turned towards Mother Bunch, who was looking at him in
astonishment, and said to her in a voice of emotion: "I am too frank to
keep up this deception. I am reproaching you--blaming you--and my
thoughts are quite different."
"How so, Agricola?"
"My heart aches, when I think of the evil I have done you."
"I do not understand you, my friend; you have never done me any evil."
"What! never? even in little things? when, for instance, yielding to a
detestable habit, I, who loved and respected you as my sister, insulted
you a hundred times a day?"
"Yes--when I gave you an odious and ridiculous nickname, instead of
calling you properly."
At these words, Mother Bunch looked at the smith in the utmost alarm,
trembling lest he had discovered her painful secret, notwithstanding the
assurance she had received from Mdlle. de Cardoville. Yet she calmed
herself a little when she reflected, that Agricola might of himself have
thought of the humiliation inflicted on her by calling her Mother Bunch,
and she answered him with a forced smile. "Can you be grieved at so
small a thing? It was a habit, Agricola, from childhood. When did your
good and affectionate mother, who nevertheless loved me as her daughter,
ever call me anything else?"
"And did my mother consult you about my marriage, speak to you of the
rare beauty of my bride, beg you to come and see her, and study her
character, in the hope that the instinct of your affection for me would
warn you--if I made a bad choice? Did my mother have this cruelty?--No;
it was I, who thus pierced your heart!"
The fears of the hearer were again aroused; there could be but little
doubt that Agricola knew her secret. She felt herself sinking with
confusion; yet, making a last effort not to believe the discovery, she
murmured in a feeble voice: "True, Agricola! It was not your mother, but
yourself, who made me that request--and I was grateful to you for such a
mark of confidence."
"Grateful, my poor girl!" cried the smith, whilst his eyes filled with
tears; "no, it is not true. I pained you fearfully--I was merciless--
heaven knows, without being aware of it!"
"But," said the other, in a voice now almost unintelligible, "what makes
you think so?"
"Your love for me!" cried the smith, trembling with emotion, as he
clasped Mother Bunch in a brotherly embrace.
"Oh heaven!" murmured the unfortunate creature, as she covered her face
with her hands, "he knows all."
"Yes, I know all," resumed Agricola, with an expression of ineffable
tenderness and respect: "yes, I know all, and I will not have you blush
for a sentiment, which honors me, and of which I feel so justly proud.
Yes, I know all; and I say to myself with joy and pride, that the best,
the most noble heart in the world is mine--will be mine always. Come,
Magdalen; let us leave shame to evil passions. Raise your eyes, and look
at me! You know, if my countenance was ever false--if it ever reflected
a feigned emotion. Then look and tell me, if you cannot read in my
features, how proud I am, Magdalen, how justly proud of your love!"
Overwhelmed with grief and confusion, Mother Bunch had not dared to look
on Agricola; but his words expressed so deep a conviction, the tones of
his voice revealed so tender an emotion, that the poor creature felt her
shame gradually diminish, particularly when Agricola added, with rising
animation: "Be satisfied, my sweet, my noble Magdalen; I will be worthy
of this love. Believe me, it shall yet cause you as much happiness as it
has occasioned tears. Why should this love be a motive for estrangement,
confusion, fear? For what is love, in the sense in which it is held by
your generous heart? Is it not a continual exchange of devotion,
tenderness, esteem, of mutual and blind confidence?--Why, Magdalen! we
may have all this for one another--devotion, tenderness, confidence--even
more than in times past; for, on a thousand occasions, your secret
inspired you with fear and suspicion--while, for the future, on the
contrary, you will see me take such delight in the place I fill in your
good and valiant heart, that you will be happy in the happiness you
bestow. What I have just said may seem very selfish and conceited; so
much the worse! I do not know how to lie."
The longer the smith spoke, the less troubled became Mother Bunch. What
she had above all feared in the discovery of her secret was to see it
received with raillery, contempt, or humiliating compassion; far from
this, joy and happiness were distinctly visible on the manly and honest
face of Agricola. The hunchback knew him incapable of deception;
therefore she exclaimed, this time without shame or confusion, but rather
with a sort of pride.
"Every sincere and pure passion is so far good and con soling as to end
by deserving interest and sympathy, when it has triumphed over its first
excess! It is alike honorable to the heart which feels and that which
inspires it!--Thanks to you, Agricola--thanks to the kind words, which
have raised me in my own esteem--I feel that, instead of blushing, I
ought to be proud of this love. My benefactress is right--you are right:
why should I be ashamed of it? Is it not a true and sacred love? To be
near you, to love you, to tell you so, to prove it by constant devotion,
what did I ever desire more? And yet shame and fear, joined with that
dizziness of the brain which extreme misery produces, drove me to
suicide!--But then some allowance must be made for the suspicions of a
poor creature, who has been the subject of ridicule from her cradle. So
my secret was to die with me, unless some unforeseen accident should
reveal it to you; and, in that case, you are right--sure of myself, sure
of you, I ought to have feared nothing. But I may claim some indulgence;
mistrust, cruel mistrust of one's self makes one doubt others also. Let
us forget all that. Agricola, my generous brother, I will say to you, as
you said to me just now, 'Look at me; you know my countenance cannot lie.
Look at me: see if I shun your gaze; see if, ever in my life, I looked so
happy'--and yet, even now, I was about to die!"
She spoke the truth. Agricola himself could not have hoped so prompt an
effect from his words. In spite of the deep traces which misery, grief,
and sickness had imprinted on the girl's features, they now shone with
radiant happiness and serenity, whilst her blue eyes, gentle and pure as
her soul, were fixed, without embarrassment, on those of Agricola.
"Oh! thanks, thanks!" cried the smith, in a rapture of delight: "when I
see you so calm, and so happy, Magdalen, I am indeed grateful."
"Yes, I am calm, I am happy," replied she; "and happy I shall be, for I
can now tell you my most secret thoughts. Yes, happy; for this day,
which began so fatally, ends like a divine dream. Far from being afraid,
I now look at you with hope and joy. I have again found my generous
benefactress, and I am tranquil as to the fate of my poor sister. Oh!
shall we not soon see her? I should like her to take part in this
She seemed so happy, that the smith did not dare to inform her of the
death of Cephyse, and reserved himself to communicate the same at a more
fitting opportunity. Therefore he answered: "Cephyse, being the
stronger, has been the more shaken; it will not be prudent, I am told, to
see her to-day."
"I will wait then. I can repress my impatience, I have so much to say to
"Dear, gentle Magdalen!"
"Oh, my friend!" cried the girl, interrupting Agricola, with tears of
joy: "I cannot tell you what I feel, when I hear you call me Magdalen.
It is so sweet, so soothing, that my heart expands with delight."
"Poor girl! how dreadfully she must have suffered!" cried the smith, with
inexpressible emotion, "when she displays so much happiness, so much
gratitude, at being called by her own poor name!"
"But consider, my friend; that word in your mouth contains a new life for
me. If you only knew what hopes, what pleasures I can now see gleaming
in the future! If you knew all the cherished longings of my tenderness!
Your wife, the charming Angela, with her angel face and angel-soul--oh!
in my turn, I can say to, you, 'Look at me, and see how sweet that name
is to my lips and heart!' Yes, your charming, your good Angela will call
me Magdalen--and your children, Agricola, your children!--dear little
creatures!--to them also I shall be Magdalen--their good Magdalen--and
the love I shall bear them will make them mine, as well as their
mother's--and I shall have my part in every maternal care--and they will
belong to us three; will they not, Agricola?--Oh! let me, let me weep!
These tears without bitterness do me so much good; they are tears that
need not be concealed. Thank heaven! thank you, my friend! those other
tears are I trust dried forever."
For some seconds, this affecting scene had been overlooked by an
invisible witness. The smith and Mother Bunch had not perceived Mdlle.
de Cardoville standing on the threshold of the door. As Mother Bunch had
said, this day, which dawned with all under such fatal auspices, had
become for all a day of ineffable felicity. Adrienne, too, was full of
joy, for Djalma had been faithful to her, Djalma loved her with passion.
The odious appearances, of which she had been the dupe and victim,
evidently formed part of a new plot of Rodin, and it only remained for
Mdlle. de Cardoville to discover the end of these machinations.
Another joy was reserved for her. The happy are quick in detecting
happiness in others, and Adrienne guessed, by the hunchback's last words,
that there was no longer any secret between the smith and the sempstress.
She could not therefore help exclaiming, as she entered: "Oh! this
will be the brightest day of my life, for I shall not be happy alone!"
Agricola and Mother Bunch turned round hastily. "Lady," said the smith,
"in spite of the promise I made you, I could not conceal from Magdalen
that I knew she loved me!"
"Now that I no longer blush for this love before Agricola, why should I
blush for it before you, lady, that told me to be proud of it, because it
is noble and pure?" said Mother Bunch, to whom her happiness gave
strength enough to rise, and to lean upon Agricola's arm.
"It is well, my friend," said Adrienne, as she threw her arms round her
to support her; "only one word, to excuse the indiscretion with which you
will perhaps reproach me. If I told your secret to M. Agricola--"
"Do you know why it was, Magdalen?" cried the smith, interrupting
Adrienne. "It was only another proof of the lady's delicate generosity.
'I long hesitate to confide to you this secret,' said she to me this
morning, 'but I have at length made up my mind to it. We shall probably
find your adopted sister; you have been to her the best of brothers: but
many times, without knowing it, you have wounded her feelings cruelly--
and now that you know her secret, I trust in your kind heart to keep it
faithfully, and so spare the poor child a thousand pangs--pangs the more
bitter, because they come from you, and are suffered in silence. Hence,
when you speak to her of your wife, your domestic happiness, take care
not to gall that noble and tender heart.'--Yes, Magdalen, these were the
reasons that led the lady to commit what she called an indiscretion."
"I want words to thank you now and ever," said Mother Bunch.
"See, my friend," replied Adrienne, "how often the designs of the wicked
turn against themselves. They feared your devotion to me, and therefore
employed that unhappy Florine to steal your journal--"
"So as to drive me from your house with shame, lady, When I supposed my
most secret thoughts an object of ridicule to all. There can be no doubt
such was their plan," said Mother Bunch.
"None, my child. Well! this horrible wickedness, which nearly caused
your death, now turns to the confusion of the criminals. Their plot is
discovered--and, luckily, many other of their designs," said Adrienne, as
she thought of Rose-Pompon.
Then she resumed, with heartfelt joy: "At last, we are again united,
happier than ever, and in our very happiness we shall find new resources
to combat our enemies. I say our enemies--for all that love me are
odious to these wretches. But courage, the hour is come, and the good
people will have their turn."
"Thank heaven, lady," said the smith; "or my part, I shall not be wanting
in zeal. What delight to strip them of their mask!"
"Let me remind you, M. Baudoin, that you have an appointment for to-
morrow with M. Hardy."
"I have not forgotten it, lady, any more than the generous offers I am to
convey to him."
"That is nothing. He belongs to my family. Tell him (what indeed I
shall write to him this evening), that the funds necessary to reopen his
factory are at his disposal; I do not say so for his sake only, but for
that of a hundred families reduced to want. Beg him to quit immediately
the fatal abode to which they have taken him: for a thousand reasons he
should be on his guard against all that surround him."
"Be satisfied, lady. The letter he wrote to me in reply to the one I got
secretly delivered to him, was short, affectionate, sad--but he grants me
the interview I had asked for, and I am sure I shall be able to persuade
him to leave that melancholy dwelling, and perhaps to depart with me, he
has always had so much confidence in my attachment."
"Well, M. Baudoin, courage!" said Adrienne, as she threw her cloak over
the workgirl's shoulders, and wrapped her round with care. "Let us be
gone, for it is late. As soon as we get home, I will give you a letter
for M. Hardy, and to-morrow you will come and tell me the result of your
visit. No, not to-morrow," she added, blushing slightly. "Write to me
to-morrow, and the day after, about twelve, come to me."
Some minutes later, the young sempstress, supported by Agricola and
Adrienne, had descended the stairs of that gloomy house, and, being
placed in the carriage by the side of Mdlle. de Cardoville, she earnestly
entreated to be allowed to see Cephyse; it was in vain that Agricola
assured her it was impossible, and that she should see her the next day.
Thanks to the information derived from Rose-Pompon, Mdlle. de Cardoville
was reasonably suspicious of all those who surrounded Djalma, and she
therefore took measures, that, very evening, to have a letter delivered
to the prince by what she considered a sure hand.
THE TWO CARRIAGES.
It is the evening of the day on which Mdlle. de Cardoville prevented the
sewing-girl's suicide. It strikes eleven; the night is dark; the wind
blows with violence, and drives along great black clouds, which
completely hide the pale lustre of the moon. A hackney-coach, drawn by
two broken-winded horses, ascends slowly and with difficulty the slope of
the Rue Blanche, which is pretty steep near the barrier, in the part
where is situated the house occupied by Djalma.
The coach stops. The coachman, cursing the length of an interminable
drive "within the circuit," leading at last to this difficult ascent,
turns round on his box, leans over towards the front window of the
vehicle, and says in a gruff tone to the person he is driving: "Come! are
we almost there? From the Rue de Vaugirard to the Barriere Blanche, is a
pretty good stretch, I think, without reckoning that the night is so
dark, that one can hardly see two steps before one--and the street-lamps
not lighted because of the moon, which doesn't shine, after all!"
"Look out for a little door with a portico-drive on about twenty yards
beyond--and then stop close to the wall," answered a squeaking voice,
impatiently, and with an Italian accent.
"Here is a beggarly Dutchman, that will make me as savage as a bear?"
muttered the angry Jehu to himself. Then he added: "Thousand thunders! I
tell you that I can't see. How the devil can I find out your little
"Have you no sense? Follow the wall to the right, brush against it, and
you will easily find the little door. It is next to No. 50. If you do
not find it, you must be drunk," answered the Italian, with increased
The coachman only replied by swearing like a trooper, and whipping up his
jaded horses. Then, keeping close to the wall, he strained his eyes in
trying to read the numbers of the houses, by the aid of his carriage-
After some moments, the coach again stopped. "I have passed No. 50, and
here is a little door with a portico," said the coachman. "Is that the
"Yes," said the voice. "Now go forward some twenty yards, and then
"Well! I never--"
"Then get down from your box, and give twice three knocks at the little
door we have just passed--you understand me?--twice three knocks."
"Is that all you give me to drink?" cried the exasperated coachman.
"When you have taken me back to the Faubourg Saint-Germain, where I live,
you shall have something handsome, if you do but manage matters well."
"Ha! now the Faubourg Saint-Germain! Only that little bit of distance!"
said the driver, with repressed rage. "And I who have winded my horses,
wanted to be on the boulevard by the time the play was out. Well, I'm
blowed!" Then, putting a good face on his bad luck, and consoling
himself with the thought of the promised drink-money, he resumed: "I am
to give twice three knocks at the little door?"
"Yes; three knocks first--then pause--then three other knocks. Do you
"Tell the person who comes, that he is waited for, and bring him here to
"The devil burn you!" said the coachman to himself, as he turned round on
the box, and whipped up his horses, adding: "this crusty old Dutchman has
something to do with Free-masons, or, perhaps, smugglers, seeing we are
so near the gates. He deserves my giving him in charge, for bringing me
all the way from the Rue de Vaugirard."
At twenty steps beyond the little door, the coach again stopped, and the
coachman descended from the box to execute the orders he had received.
Going to the little door, he knocked three times; then paused, as he had
been desired, and then knocked three times more. The clouds, which had
hitherto been so thick as entirely to conceal the disk of the moon, just
then withdrew sufficiently to afford a glimmering light, so that when the
door opened at the signal, the coachman saw a middle-sized person issue
from it, wrapped in a cloak, and wearing a colored cap.
This man carefully locked the door, and then advanced two steps into the
street. "They are waiting for you," said the coachman; "I am to take you
along with me to the coach."
Preceding the man with the cloak, who only answered him by a nod, he led
him to the coach-door, which he was about to open, and to let down the
step, when the voice exclaimed from the inside: "It is not necessary.
The gentleman may talk to me through the window. I will call you when it
is time to start."
"Which means that I shall be kept here long enough to send you to all the
devils!" murmured the driver. "However, I may as well walk about, just
to stretch my legs."
So saying, he began to walk up and down, by the side of the wall in which
was the little door. Presently he heard the distant sound of wheels,
which soon came nearer and nearer, and a carriage, rapidly ascending the
slope, stopped on the other side of the little garden-door.
"Come, I say! a private carriage!" said the coachman. "Good horses
those, to come up the Rue Blanche at a trot."
The coachman was just making this observation, when, by favor of a
momentary gleam of light, he saw a man step from the carriage, advance
rapidly to the little door, open it, and go in, closing it after him.
"It gets thicker and thicker!" said the coachman. "One comes out, and
the other goes in."
So saying, he walked up to the carriage. It was splendidly harnessed,
and drawn by two handsome and vigorous horses. The driver sat
motionless, in his great box-coat, with the handle of his whip resting on
his right knee.
"Here's weather to drive about in, with such tidy dukes as yours,
comrade!" said the humble hackney-coachman to this automaton, who
remained mute and impassible, without even appearing to know that he was
"He doesn't understand French--he's an Englishman. One could tell that
by his horses," said the coachman, putting this interpretation on the
silence of his brother whip. Then, perceiving a tall footman at a little
distance, dressed in a long gray livery coat, with blue collar and silver
buttons, the coachman addressed himself to him, by way of compensation,
but without much varying his phrase: "Here's nice weather to stand about
in, comrade!" On the part of the footman, he was met with the same
"They're both Englishmen," resumed the coachman, philosophically; and,
though somewhat astonished at the incident of the little door, he
recommenced his walk in the direction of his own vehicle.
While these facts were passing, the man in the cloak, and the man with
the Italian accent continued their conversation, the one still in the
coach, and the other leaning with his hand on the door. It had already
lasted for some time, and was carried on in Italian. They were evidently
talking of some absent person, as will appear from the following.
"So," said the voice from the coach, "that is agreed to?"
"Yes, my lord," answered the man in the cloak; "but only in case the
eagle should become a serpent."
"And, in the contrary event, you will receive the other half of the ivory
crucifix I gave you."
"I shall know what it means, my lord."
"Continue to merit and preserve his confidence."
"I will merit and preserve it, my lord, because I admire and respect this
man, who is stronger than the strongest, by craft, and courage, and will.
I have knelt before him with humility, as I would kneel before one of the
three black idols that stand between Bowanee and her worshippers; for his
religion, like mine, teaches to change life into nothingness."
"Humph!" said the voice, in a tone of some embarrassment; "these
comparisons are useless and inaccurate. Only think of obeying him,
without explaining your obedience."
"Let him speak, and I perform his will! I am in his hands like a corpse,
as he himself expresses it. He has seen, he sees every day, my devotion
to his interests with regard to Prince Djalma. He has only to say: 'Kill
him!'and this son of a king--"
"For heaven's salve, do not have such ideas!" cried the voice,
interrupting the man in the cloak. "Thank heaven, you will never be
asked for such proofs of your submission."
"What I am ordered I do. Bowanee sees me."
"I do not doubt your zeal. I know that you are a loving and intelligent
barrier, placed between the prince and many guilty interests; and it is
because I have heard of that zeal, of your skill in circumventing this
young Indian, and, above all, of the motives of your blind devotion, that
I have wished to inform you of everything. You are the fanatical
worshipper of him you serve. That is well; man should be the obedient
slave of the god he chooses for himself."
"Yes, my lord; so long as the god remains a god."
"We understand each other perfectly. As for your recompense, you know
what I have promised."
"My lord, I have my reward already."
"I know what I know."
"Very well. Then as for secrecy--"
"You have securities, my lord."
"Yes--and sufficient ones."
"The interest of the cause I serve, my lord, would alone be enough to
secure my zeal and discretion."
"True; you are a man of firm and ardent convictions."
"I strive to be so, my lord."
"And, after all, a very religious man in your way. It is very
praiseworthy, in these irreligious times, to have any views at all on
such matters--particularly when those views will just enable me to count
upon your aid."
"You may count upon it, my lord, for the same reason that the intrepid
hunter prefers a jackal to ten foxes, a tiger to ten jackals, a lion to
ten tigers, and the welmiss to ten lions."
"What is the welmiss?"
"It is what spirit is to matter, the blade to the scabbard, the perfume
to the flower, the head to the body."
"I understand. There never was a more just comparison. You are a man of
sound judgment. Always recollect what you have just told me, and make
yourself more and more worthy of the confidence of--your idol."
"Will he soon be in a state to hear me, my lord?"
"In two or three days, at most. Yesterday a providential crisis saved
his life; and he is endowed with so energetic a will, that his cure will
be very rapid."
"Shall you see him again to-morrow, my lord?"
"Yes, before my departure, to bid him farewell."
"Then tell him a strange circumstance, of which I have not been able to
inform him, but which happened yesterday."
"What was it?"
"I had gone to the garden of the dead. I saw funerals everywhere, and
lighted torches, in the midst of the black night, shining upon tombs.
Bowanee smiled in her ebon sky. As I thought of that divinity of
destruction, I beheld with joy the dead-cart emptied of its coffins. The
immense pit yawned like the mouth of hell; corpses were heaped upon
corpses, and still it yawned the same. Suddenly, by the light of a
torch, I saw an old man beside me. He wept. I had seen him before. He
is a Jew--the keeper of the house in the Rue Saint-Francois--you know
what I mean." Here the man in the cloak started.
"Yes, I know; but what is the matter? why do you stop short?"
"Because in that house there has been for a hundred and fifty years the
portrait of a man whom I once met in the centre of India, on the banks of
the Ganges." And the man in the cloak again paused and shuddered.
"A singular resemblance, no doubt."
"Yes, my lord, a singular resemblance--nothing more."
"But the Jew--the old Jew?"
"I am coming to that, my lord. Still weeping, he said to a gravedigger,
'Well! and the coffin?' 'You were right,' answered the man; 'I found it
in the second row of the other grave. It had the figure of a cross on
it, formed by seven black nails. But how could you know the place and
the mark?' 'Alas! it is no matter,' replied the old Jew, with bitter
melancholy. 'You see that I was but too well informed on the subject.
But where is the coffin?' 'Behind the great tomb of black marble; I have
hidden it there. So make haste; for, in the confusion, nothing will be
noticed. You have paid me well, and I wish you to succeed in what you
"And what did the old Jew do with the coffin marked with the seven black
"Two men accompanied him, my lord, bearing a covered litter, with
curtains drawn round it. He lighted a lantern, and, followed by these
two men, went towards the place pointed out by the gravedigger. A
stoppage, occasioned by the dead-carts, made me lose sight of the old
Jew, whom I was following amongst the tombs. Afterwards I was unable to
"It is indeed a strange affair. What could this old Jew want with the
"It is said, my lord, that they use dead bodies in preparing their magic
"Those unbelievers are capable of anything--even of holding communication
with the Enemy of mankind. However, we will look after this: the
discovery may be of importance."
At this instant a clock struck twelve in the distance.
"Yes, my lord."
"I must be gone. Good-bye--but for the last time swear to me that,
should matters so turn out, as soon as you receive the other half of the
ivory crucifix I have just given you, you will keep your promise."
"I have sworn it by Bowanee, my lord."
"Don't forget that, to make all sure, the person who will deliver to you
the other half of the crucifix is to say--come, what is he to say?"
"He is to say, my lord: 'There is many a slip 'twixt the cup and the
"Very well. Adieu! secrecy and fidelity!"
"Secrecy and fidelity, my lord," answered the man in the cloak.
Some seconds after the hackney-coach started, carrying with it Cardinal
Malipieri, one of the speakers in the above dialogue. The other, whom
the reader has no doubt recognized as Faringhea, returned to the little
garden-door of the house occupied by Djalma. At the moment he was
putting the key into the lock, the door opened, to his great
astonishment, and a man came forth. Faringhea rushed upon the unknown,
seized him violently by the collar, and exclaimed: "Who are you? whence
The stranger evidently found the tone of this question anything but
satisfactory; for, instead of answering, he struggled to disengage
himself from Faringhea's hold, and cried out, in a loud voice: "Help!
Instantly the carriage, which had been standing a few yards off, dashed
up at full speed, and Peter, the tall footman, seizing the half-breed by
the shoulders, flung him back several paces, and thus made a seasonable
diversion in favor of the unknown.
"Now, sir," said the latter to Faringhea, shaking himself, and still
protected by the gigantic footman, "I am in a state to answer your
questions, though you certainly have a very rough way of receiving an old
acquaintance. I am Dupont, ex-bailiff of the estate of Cardoville, and
it was I who helped to fish you out of the water, when the ship was
wrecked in which you had embarked."
By the light of the carriage-lamps, indeed, the half-caste recognized the
good, honest face of Dupont, formerly bailiff, and now house-steward, to
Mdlle. de Cardoville. It must not be forgotten that Dupont had been the
first to write to Mdlle. de Cardoville, to ask her to interest herself
for Djalma, who was then detained at Cardoville Castle by the injuries he
had received during the shipwreck.
"But, sir, what is your business here? Why do you introduce yourself
clandestinely into this house?" said Faringhea, in an abrupt and
"I will--just observe to you that there is nothing clandestine in the
matter. I came here in a carriage, with servants in the livery of my
excellent mistress, Mdlle. de Cardoville, charged by her, without any
disguise or mystery, to deliver a letter to Prince Djalma, her cousin,"
replied Dupont, with dignity.
On these words, Faringhea trembled with mute rage, as he answered: "And
why, sir, come at this late hour, and introduce yourself by this little
"I came at this hour, my dear sir, because such was Mdlle. de
Cardoville's command, and I entered by this little gate because there is
every reason to believe that if I had gone around to the other I should
not have been permitted to see the prince."
"You are mistaken, sir," replied the half-caste.
"It is possible: but as we knew that the prince usually passed a good
portion of the night in the little saloon, which communicates with the
greenhouse, and as Mdlle. de Cardoville had kept a duplicate key of this
door, I was pretty certain, by taking this course, to be able to deliver
into the prince's own hands the letter from Mdlle. de Cardoville, his
cousin, which I have now had the honor of doing, my dear sir; and I have
been deeply touched by the kindness with which the prince deigned to
receive me and to remember our last interview."
"And who kept you so well informed, sir, of the prince's habits?" said
Faringhea, unable to control his vexation.
"If I have been well informed as to his habits, my dear sir, I have had
no such correct knowledge of yours," answered Dupont, with a mocking air;
"for I assure you that I had no more notion of seeing you than you had of
So saying, M. Dupont bowed with something like mock politeness to the
half-caste, and got into the carriage, which drove off rapidly, leaving
Faringhea in a state of the utmost surprise and anger.
The morning after--Dupont's mission to Prince Djalma, the latter was
walking with hasty and impatient step up and down the little saloon,
which communicated, as we already know, with the greenhouse from which
Adrienne had entered when she first appeared to him. In remembrance of
that day, he had chosen to dress himself as on the occasion in question;
he wore the same tunic of white cashmere, with a cherry-colored turban,
to match with his girdle; his gaiters, of scarlet velvet, embroidered
with silver, displayed the fine form of his leg, and terminated in small
white morocco slippers, with red heels. Happiness has so instantaneous,
and, as it were, material an influence upon young, lively, and ardent
natures, that Djalma, dejected and despairing only the day before, was no
longer like the same person. The pale, transparent gold of his
complexion was no longer tarnished by a livid hue. His large eyes, of
late obscured like black diamonds by a humid vapor, now shone with mild
radiance in the centre of their pearly setting; his lips, long pale, had
recovered their natural color, which was rich and soft as the fine purple
flowers of his country.
Ever and anon, pausing in his hasty walk, he stopped suddenly, and drew
from his bosom a little piece of paper, carefully folded, which he
pressed to his lips with enthusiastic ardor. Then, unable to restrain
the expression of his full happiness, he uttered a full and sonorous cry
of joy, and with a bound he was in front of the plate-glass which
separated the saloon from the conservatory, in which he had first seen
Mdlle. de Cardoville. By a singular power of remembrance, or marvellous
hallucination of a mind possessed by a fixed idea, Djalma had often seen,
or fancied he saw, the adored semblance of Adrienne appear to him through
this sheet of crystal. The illusion had been so complete, that, with his
eyes ardently fixed on the vision he invoked, he had been able, with the
aid of a pencil dipped in carmine, to trace with astonishing exactness,
the profile of the ideal countenance which the delirium of his
imagination had presented to his view. It was before these delicate
lines of bright carmine that Djalma now stood in deep contemplation,
after perusing and reperusing, and raising twenty times to his lips, the
letter he had received the night before from the hands of Dupont. Djalma
was not alone. Faringhea watched all the movements of the prince, with a
subtle, attentive, and gloomy aspect. Standing respectfully in a corner
of the saloon, the half-caste appeared to be occupied in unfolding and
spreading out Djalma's sash, light, silky Indian web, the brown ground of
which was almost entirely concealed by the exquisite gold and silver
embroidery with which it was overlaid.
The countenance of the half-caste wore a dark and gloomy expression. He
could not deceive himself. The letter from Mdlle. de Cardoville,
delivered by Dupont to Djalma, must have been the cause of the delight he
now experienced, for, without doubt, he knew himself beloved. In that
event, his obstinate silence towards Faringhea, ever since the latter had
entered the saloon, greatly alarmed the half-caste, who could not tell
what interpretation to put upon it. The night before, after parting with
Dupont, he had hastened, in a state of anxiety easily understood, to look
for the prince, in the hope of ascertaining the effect produced by Mdlle.
de Cardoville's letter. But he found the parlor door closed, and when he
knocked, he received no answer from within. Then, though the night was
far advanced, he had dispatched a note to Rodin, in which he informed him
of Dupont's visit and its probable intention. Djalma had indeed passed
the night in a tumult of happiness and hope, and a fever of impatience
quite impossible to describe. Repairing to his bed-chamber only towards
the morning, he had taken a few moments of repose, and had then dressed
himself without assistance.
Many times, but in vain, the half-caste had discreetly knocked at the
door of Djalma's apartment. It was only in the early part of the
afternoon that the prince had rung the bell to order his carriage to be
ready by half-past two. Faringhea having presented himself, the prince
had given him the order without looking at him, as he might have done to
any other of his servants. Was this suspicion, aversion, or mere absence
of mind on the part of Djalma? Such were the questions which the half-
caste put to himself with growing anguish; for the designs of which he
was the most active and immediate instrument might all be ruined by the
least suspicion in the prince.
"Oh! the hours--the hours--how slow they are!" cried the young Indian,
suddenly, in a low and trembling voice.
"The day before yesterday, my lord, you said the hours were very long,"
observed Faringhea, as he drew near Djalma in order to attract his
attention. Seeing that he did not succeed in this he advanced a few
steps nearer, and resumed: "Your joy seems very great, my lord; tell the
cause of it to your poor and faithful servant, that he also may rejoice
If he heard the words, Djalma did not pay any attention to them. He made
no answer, and his large black eyes gazed upon vacancy. He seemed to
smile admiringly upon some enchanting vision, and he folded his two hands
upon his bosom, in the attitude which his countrymen assume at the hour
of prayer. After some instants of contemplation, he said: "What o'clock
is it?"--but he asked this question of himself, rather than of any third
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