The Wandering Jew, v3
Part 4 out of 4
"You are too kind to us, madame."
"Oh, no--I am sure you resemble each other as much in disposition as in
"That is quite natural, madame," said Rose, "for since our birth we have
never left each other a minute, whether by night or day. It would be
strange, if we were not like in character."
"Really, my dear young ladies! you have never left each other a minute?"
"Never, madame." The sisters joined hands with an expressive smile.
"Then, how unhappy you would be, and how much to be pitied, if ever you
"Oh, madame! it is impossible," said Blanche, smiling.
"Who would have the heart to separate us?"
"No doubt, my dear young ladies, it would be very cruel."
"Oh, madame," resumed Blanche, "even very wicked people would not think
of separating us."
"So much the better, my dear young ladies--pray, why?"
"Because it would cause us too much grief."
"Because it would kill us."
"Poor little dears!"
"Three months ago, we were shut up in prison. Well when the governor of
the prison saw us, though he looked a very stern man, he could not help
saying: "It would be killing these children to separate them;" and so we
remained together, and were as happy as one can be in prison."
"It shows your excellent heart, and also that of the persons who knew how
to appreciate it."
The carriage stopped, and they heard the coachman call out "Any one at
the gate there?"
"Oh! here we are at your relation's," said Mrs. Grivois. Two wings of a
gate flew open, and the carriage rolled over the gravel of a court-yard.
Mrs. Grivois having drawn up one of the blinds, they found themselves in
a vast court, across the centre of which ran a high wall, with a kind of
porch upon columns, under which was a little door. Behind this wall,
they could see the upper part of a very large building in freestone.
Compared with the house in the Rue Brise-Miche, this building appeared a
palace; so Blanche said to Mrs. Grivois, with an expression of artless
admiration: "Dear me, madame, what a fine residence!"
"That is nothing," replied Madame Grivois; "wait till you see the
interior, which is much finer."
When the coachman opened the door of the carriage, what was the rage of
Mrs. Grivois, and the surprise of the girls, to see Spoil-sport, who had
been clever enough to follow the coach. Pricking up his ears, and
wagging his tail, he seemed to have forgotten his late offences, and to
expect to be praised for his intelligent fidelity.
"What!" cried Mrs. Grivois, whose sorrows were renewed at the sight; "has
that abominable dog followed the coach?"
"A famous dog, mum," answered the coachman "he never once left the heels
of my horses. He must have been trained to it. He's a powerful beast,
and two men couldn't scare him. Look at the throat of him now!"
The mistress of the deceased pug, enraged at the somewhat unseasonable
praises bestowed upon the Siberian, said to the orphans, "I will announce
your arrival, wait for me an instant in the coach."
So saying, she went with a rapid step towards the porch, and rang the
bell. A woman, clad in a monastic garb, appeared at the door, and bowed
respectfully to Mrs. Grivois, who addressed her in these few words, "I
have brought you the two young girls; the orders of Abbe d'Aigrigny and
the princess are, that they be instantly separated, and kept apart in
solitary cells--you understand, sister--and subjected to the rule for
"I will go and inform the superior, and it will be done," said the
portress, with another bend.
"Now, will you come, my dear young ladies?" resumed Mrs. Grivois,
addressing the two girls, who had secretly bestowed a few caresses upon
Spoil sport, so deeply were they touched by his instinctive attachment;
"you will be introduced to your relation, and I will return and fetch you
in half an hour. Coachman keep that dog back."
Rose and Blanche, in getting out of the coach, were so much occupied with
Spoil-sport, that they did not perceive the portress, who was half hidden
behind the little door. Neither did they remark, that the person who was
to introduce them was dressed as a nun, till, taking them by the hand,
she had led them across the threshold, when the door was immediately
closed behind them.
As soon as Mrs. Grivois had seen the orphans safe into the convent, she
told the coachman to leave the court-yard, and wait for her at the outer-
gate. The coachman obeyed; but Spoil-sport, who had seen Rose and
Blanche enter by the little door, ran to it, and remained there.
Mrs. Grivois then called the porter of the main entrance, a tall,
vigorous fellow and said to him: "Here are ten francs for you, Nicholas,
if you will beat out the brains of that great dog, who is crouching under
Nicholas shook his head, as he observed Spoil-sport's size and strength.
"Devil take me, madame!" said he; "'tis not so easy to tackle a dog of
"I will give you twenty francs; only kill him before me."
"One ought to have a gun, and I have only an iron hammer."
"That will do; you can knock him down at a blow."
"Well, madame--I will try--but I have my doubts." And Nicholas went to
fetch his mallet.
"Oh! if I had the strength!" said Mrs. Grivois.
The porter returned with his weapon, and advanced slowly and
treacherously towards Spoil-sport, who was still crouching beneath the
porch. "Here, old fellow! here, my good dog!" said Nicholas striking his
left hand on his thigh, and keeping his right behind him, with the
crowbar grasped in it.
Spoil-sport rose, examined Nicholas attentively, and no doubt perceiving
by his manner that the porter meditated some evil design, bounded away
from him, outflanked the enemy, saw clearly what was intended, and kept
himself at a respectful distance.
"He smells a rat," said Nicholas; "the rascal's on his guard. He will
not let me come near him. It's no go."
"You are an awkward fellow," said Mrs. Grivois in a passion, as she threw
a five-franc piece to Nicholas: "at all events, drive him away."
"That will be easier than to kill him, madame," said the porter. Indeed,
finding himself pursued, and conscious probably that it would be useless
to attempt an open resistance, Spoil-sport fled from the court-yard into
the street; but once there, he felt himself, as it were, upon neutral
ground, and notwithstanding all the threats of Nicholas, refused to
withdraw an inch further than just sufficient to keep out of reach of the
sledge-hammer. So that when Mrs. Grivois, pale with rage, again stepped
into her hackney-coach, in which were My Lord's lifeless remains, she saw
with the utmost vexation that Spoil-sport was lying at a few steps from
the gate, which Nicholas had just closed, having given up the chase in
The Siberian dog, sure of finding his way back to the Rue Brise-Miche,
had determined, with the sagacity peculiar to his race, to wait for the
orphans on the spot where he then was.
Thus were the two sisters confined in St. Mary's Convent, which, as we
have already said, was next door to the lunatic asylum in which Adrienne
de Cardoville was immured.
We now conduct the reader to the dwelling of Dagobert's wife, who was
waiting with dreadful anxiety for the return of her husband, knowing that
he would call her to account for the disappearance of Marshal Simon's
THE INFLUENCE OF A CONFESSOR.
Hardly had the orphans quitted Dagobert's wife, when the poor woman,
kneeling down, began to pray with fervor. Her tears, long restrained,
now flowed abundantly; notwithstanding her sincere conviction that she
had performed a religious duty in delivering up the girl's she waited
with extreme fear her husband's return. Though blinded by her pious
zeal, she could not hide from herself, that Dagobert would have good
reason to be angry; and then this poor mother had also, under these
untoward circumstances, to tell him of Agricola's arrest.
Every noise upon the stairs made Frances start with trembling anxiety;
after which, she would resume her fervent prayers, supplicating strength
to support this new and arduous trial. At length, she heard a step upon
the landing-place below, and, feeling sure this time that it was
Dagobert, she hastily seated herself, dried her tears, and taking a sack
of coarse cloth upon her lap, appeared to be occupied with sewing--though
her aged hands trembled so much, that she could hardly hold the needle.
After some minutes the door opened, and Dagobert appeared. The soldier's
rough countenance was stern and sad; as he entered, he flung his hat
violently upon the table, so full of painful thought, that he did not at
first perceive the absence of the orphans.
"Poor girl!" cried he. "It is really terrible!"
"Didst see Mother Bunch? didst claim her?" said Frances hastily,
forgetting for a moment her own fears.
"Yes, I have seen her--but in what a state--twas enough to break one's
heart. I claimed her, and pretty loud too, I can tell you; but they said
to me, that the commissary must first come to our place in order--" here
Dagobert paused, threw a glance of surprise round the room, and exclaimed
abruptly: "Where are the children?"
Frances felt herself seized with an icy shudder. "My dear," she began in
a feeble voice--but she was unable to continue.
"Where are Rose and Blanche! Answer me then! And Spoil-sport, who is
not here either!"
"Do not be angry."
"Come," said Dagobert, abruptly, "I see you have let them go out with a
neighbor--why not have accompanied them yourself, or let them wait for
me, if they wished to take a walk; which is natural enough, this room
being so dull. But I am astonished that they should have gone out before
they had news of good Mother Bunch--they have such kind hearts. But how
pale you are?" added the soldier looking nearer at Frances; "what is the
matter, my poor wife? Are you ill?"
Dagobert took Frances's hand affectionately in his own but the latter,
painfully agitated by these words, pronounced with touching goodness,
bowed her head and wept as she kissed her husband's hand. The soldier,
growing more and more uneasy as he felt the scalding tears of his wife,
exclaimed: "You weep, you do not answer--tell me, then, the cause of your
grief, poor wife! Is it because I spoke a little loud, in asking you how
you could let the dear children go out with a neighbor? Remember their
dying mother entrusted them to my care--'tis sacred, you see--and with
them, I am like an old hen after her chickens," added he, laughing to
"Yes, you are right in loving them!"
"Come, then--becalm--you know me of old. With my great, hoarse voice, I
am not so bad a fellow at bottom. As you can trust to this neighbor,
there is no great harm done; but, in future, my good Frances, do not take
any step with regard to the children without consulting me. They asked,
I suppose, to go out for a little stroll with Spoil-sport?"
"No, my dear!"
"No! Who is this neighbor, to whom you have entrusted them? Where has
she taken them? What time will she bring them back?"
"I do not know," murmured Frances, in a failing voice.
"You do not know!" cried Dagobert, with indignation; but restraining
himself, he added, in a tone of friendly reproach: "You do not know? You
cannot even fix an hour, or, better still, not entrust them to any one?
The children must have been very anxious to go out. They knew that I
should return at any moment, so why not wait for me--eh, Frances? I ask
you, why did they not wait for me? Answer me, will you!--Zounds! you
would make a saint swear!" cried Dagobert, stamping his foot; "answer me,
The courage of Frances was fast failing. These pressing and reiterated
questions, which might end by the discovery of the truth, made her endure
a thousand slow and poignant tortures. She preferred coming at once to
the point, and determined to bear the full weight of her husband's anger,
like a humble and resigned victim, obstinately faithful to the promise
she had sworn to her confessor.
Not having the strength to rise, she bowed her head, allowed her arms to
fall on either side of the chair, and said to her husband in a tone of
the deepest despondency: "Do with me what you will--but do not ask what
is become of the children--I cannot answer you."
If a thunderbolt had fallen at the feet of the soldier, he would not have
been more violently, more deeply moved; he became deadly pale; his bald
forehead was covered with cold sweat; with fixed and staring look, he
remained for some moments motionless, mute, and petrified. Then, as if
roused with a start from this momentary torpor, and filled with a
terrific energy, he seized his wife by the shoulders, lifted her like a
feather, placed her on her feet before him, and, leaning over her,
exclaimed in a tone of mingled fury and despair: "The children!"
"Mercy! mercy!" gasped Frances, in a faint voice.
"Where are the children?" repeated Dagobert, as he shook with his
powerful hands that poor frail body, and added in a voice of thunder:
"Will you answer? the children!"
"Kill me, or forgive me, I cannot answer you," replied the unhappy woman,
with that inflexible, yet mild obstinacy, peculiar to timid characters,
when they act from convictions of doing right.
"Wretch!" cried the soldier; wild with rage, grief, despair, he lifted up
his wife as if he would have dashed her upon the floor--but he was too
brave a man to commit such cowardly cruelty, and, after that first burst
of involuntary fury, he let her go.
Overpowered, Frances sank upon her knees, clasped her hands, and, by the
faint motion of her lips, it was clear that she was praying. Dagobert
had then a moment of stunning giddiness; his thoughts wandered; what had
just happened was so sudden, so incomprehensible that it required some
minutes to convince himself that his wife (that angel of goodness, whose
life had been one course of heroic self-devotion, and who knew what the
daughters of Marshal Simon were to him) should say to him: "Do not ask me
about them--I cannot answer you."
The firmest, the strongest mind would have been shaken by this
inexplicable fact. But, when the soldier had a little recovered himself,
he began to look coolly at the circumstances, and reasoned thus sensibly
with himself: "My wife alone can explain to me this inconceivable
mystery--I do not mean either to beat or kill her--let us try every
possibly method, therefore, to induce her to speak, and above all, let me
try to control myself."
He took a chair, handed another to his wife, who was still on her knees,
and said to her: "Sit down." With an air of the utmost dejection,
"Listen to me, wife," resumed Dagobert in a broken voice, interrupted by
involuntary starts, which betrayed the boiling impatience he could hardly
restrain. "Understand me--this cannot pass over in this manner--you
know. I will never use violence towards you--just now, I gave way to a
first moment of hastiness--I am sorry for it. Be sure, I shall not do so
again: but, after all, I must know what has become of these children.
Their mother entrusted them to my care, and I did not bring them all the
way from Siberia, for you to say to me: 'Do not ask me--I cannot tell you
what I have done with them.' There is no reason in that. Suppose Marshal
Simon were to arrive, and say to me, 'Dagobert, my children?' what answer
am I to give him? See, I am calm--judge for yourself--I am calm--but
just put yourself in my place, and tell me--what answer am I to give to
the marshal? Well--what say you! Will you speak!"
"Alas! my dear--"
"It is of no use crying alas!" said the soldier wiping his forehead, on
which the veins were swollen as if they would burst; "what am I to answer
to the marshal?"
"Accuse me to him--I will bear it all--I will say--"
"What will you say?"
"That, on going out, you entrusted the two girls to me, and that not
finding them on return you asked be about them--and that my answer was,
that I could not tell you what had become of them."
"And you think the marshal will be satisfied with such reasons?" cried
Dagobert, clinching his fists convulsively upon his knees.
"Unfortunately, I can give no other--either to him or you--no--not if I
were to die for it."
Dagobert bounded from his chair at this answer, which was given with
hopeless resignation. His patience was exhausted; but determined not to
yield to new bursts of anger, or to spend his breath in useless menaces,
he abruptly opened one of the windows, and exposed his burning forehead
to the cool air. A little calmer, he walked up and down for a few
moments, and then returned to seat himself beside his wife. She, with
her eyes bathed in tears, fixed her gaze upon the crucifix, thinking that
she also had to bear a heavy cross.
Dagobert resumed: "By the manner in which you speak, I see that no
accident has happened, which might endanger the health of the children."
"No, oh no! thank God, they are quite well--that is all I can say to
"Did they go out alone?"
"I cannot answer you."
"Has any one taken them away?"
"Alas, my dear! why ask me these questions? I cannot answer you."
"Will they come back here?"
"I do not know."
Dagobert started up; his patience was once more exhausted. But, after
taking a few turns in the room, he again seated himself as before.
"After all," said he to his wife, "you have no interest to conceal from
me what is become of the children. Why refuse to let me know?"
"I cannot do otherwise."
"I think you will change your opinion, when you know something that I am
now forced to tell you. Listen to me well!" added Dagobert, in an
agitated voice; "if these children are not restored to me before the 13th
of February--a day close at hand--I am in the position of a man that
would rob the daughters of Marshal Simon--rob them, d'ye understand?"
said the soldier, becoming more and more agitated. Then, with an accent
of despair which pierced Frances's heart, he continued: "And yet I have
done all that an honest man could do for those poor children--you cannot
tell what I have had to suffer on the road--my cares, my anxieties--I, a
soldier, with the charge of two girls. It was only by strength of heart,
by devotion, that I could go through with it--and when, for my reward, I
hoped to be able to say to their father: 'Here are your children!--'"
The soldier paused. To the violence of his first emotions had succeeded
a mournful tenderness; he wept.
At sight of the tears rolling slowly down Dagobert's gray moustache,
Frances felt for a moment her resolution give way; but, recalling the
oath which she had made to her confessor, and reflecting that the eternal
salvation of the orphans was at stake, she reproached herself inwardly
with this evil temptation, which would no doubt be severely blamed by
Abbe Dubois. She answered, therefore, in a trembling voice: "How can
they accuse you of robbing these children?"
"Know," resumed Dagobert, drawing his hand across his eyes, "that if
these young girls have braved so many dangers, to come hither, all the
way from Siberia, it is that great interests are concerned--perhaps an
immense fortune--and that, if they are not present on the 13th February--
here, in Paris, Rue Saint Francois--all will be lost--and through my
fault--for I am responsible for your actions."
"The 13th February? Rue Saint Francois?" cried Frances, looking at her
husband with surprise. "Like Gabriel!"
"What do you say about Gabriel?"
"When I took him in (poor deserted child!), he wore a bronze medal about
"A bronze medal!" cried the soldier, struck with amazement; "a bronze
medal with these words, 'At Paris you will be, the 13th of February,
1832, Rue Saint Francois?"
"Yes--how do you know?"
"Gabriel, too!" said the soldier speaking to himself. Then he added
hastily: "Does Gabriel know that this medal was found upon him?"
"I spoke to him of it at some time. He had also about him a portfolio,
filled with papers in a foreign tongue. I gave them to Abbe Dubois, my
confessor, to look over. He told me afterwards, that they were of little
consequence; and, at a later period, when a charitable person named M.
Rodin, undertook the education of Gabriel, and to get him into the
seminary, Abbe Dubois handed both papers and medal to him. Since then, I
have heard nothing of them."
When Frances spoke of her confessor a sudden light flashed across the
mind of the soldier, though he was far from suspecting the machinations
which had so long been at work with regard to Gabriel and the orphans.
But he had a vague feeling that his wife was acting in obedience to some
secret influence of the confessional--an influence of which he could not
understand the aim or object, but which explained, in part at least,
Frances's inconceivable obstinacy with regard to the disappearance of the
After a moment's reflection, he rose, and said sternly to his wife,
looking fixedly at her: "There is a priest at the bottom of all this."
"What do you mean, my dear?"
"You have no interest to conceal these children. You are one of the best
of women. You see that I suffer; if you only were concerned, you would
have pity upon me."
"I tell you, all this smacks of the confessional," resumed Dagobert.
"You would sacrifice me and these children to your confessor; but take
care--I shall find out where he lives--and a thousand thunders! I will
go and ask him who is master in my house, he or I--and if he does not
answer," added the soldier, with a threatening expression of countenance,
"I shall know how to make him speak."
"Gracious heaven!" cried Frances, clasping her hands in horror at these
sacrilegious words; "remember he is a priest!"
"A priest, who causes discord, treachery, and misfortune in my house, is
as much of a wretch as any other; whom I have a right to call to account
for the evil he does to me and mine. Therefore, tell me immediately
where are the children--or else, I give you fair warning, I will go and
demand them of the confessor. Some crime is here hatching, of which you
are an accomplice without knowing it, unhappy woman! Well, I prefer
having to do with another than you."
"My dear," said Frances, in a mild, firm voice, "you cannot think to
impose by violence on a venerable man, who for twenty years has had the
care of my soul. His age alone should be respected."
"No age shall prevent me!"
"Heavens! where are you going? You alarm me!"
"I am going to your church. They must know you there--I will ask for
your confessor--and we shall see!"
"I entreat you, my dear," cried Frances, throwing herself in a fright
before Dagobert, who was hastening towards the door; "only think, to what
you will expose yourself! Heavens! insult a priest? Why, it is one of
the reserved cases!"
These last words, which appeared most alarming to the simplicity of
Dagobert's wife, did not make any impression upon the soldier. He
disengaged himself from her grasp, and was going to rush out bareheaded,
so high was his exasperation, when the door opened, and the commissary of
police entered, followed by Mother Bunch and a policeman, carrying the
bundle which he had taken from the young girl.
"The commissary!" cried Dagobert, who recognized him by his official
scarf. "Ah! so much the better--he could not have come at a fitter
"Mistress Frances Baudoin?" asked the magistrate.
"Yes, sir--it is I," said Frances. Then, perceiving the pale and
trembling sewing-girl, who did not dare to come forward, she stretched
out her arms to her. "Oh, my poor child!" she exclaimed, bursting into
tears; "forgive--forgive us--since it is for our sake you have suffered
When Dagobert's wife had tenderly embraced the young sempstress, the
latter, turning towards the commissary, said to him with an expression of
sad and touching dignity: 'You see, sir, that I am not a thief."
"Madame," said the magistrate, addressing Frances, "am I to understand
that the silver mug, the shawl, the sheets contained in this bundle--"
"Belong to me, sir. It was to render me a service that this dear girl,
who is the best and most honest creature in the world, undertook to carry
these articles to the pawnbroker's."
"Sir," said the magistrate sternly to the policeman, "you have committed
a deplorable error. I shall take care to report you, and see that you
are punished. You may go, sir." Then, addressing Mother Bunch, with an
air of real regret, he added: "I can only express my sorrow for what has
happened. Believe me, I deeply feel for the cruel position in which you
have been placed."
"I believe it, sir," said Mother Bunch, "and I thank you." Overcome by
so many emotions, she sank upon a chair.
The magistrate was about to retire, when Dagobert, who had been seriously
reflecting for some minutes, said to him in a firm voice: "Please to hear
me, Sir; I have a deposition to make."
"What I am about to say is very important; it is to you, in your quality
of a magistrate, that I make this declaration."
"And as a magistrate I will hear you, sir."
"I arrived here two days ago, bringing with me from Russia two girls who
had been entrusted to me by their mother--the wife of Marshal Simon."
"Of Marshal Simon, Duke de Ligny?" said the commissary, very much
"Yes, Sir. Well, I left them here, being obliged to get out on pressing
business. This morning, during my absence, they disappeared--and I am
certain I know the man who has been the cause of it."
"Now, my dear," said Frances, much alarmed.
"Sir," said the magistrate, "your declaration is a very serious one.
Disappearance of persons--sequestration, perhaps. But are you quite
"These young ladies were here an hour ago; I repeat, sir, that during my
absence, they have been taken away."
"I do not doubt the sincerity of your declaration, sir; but still it is
difficult to explain so strange an abduction. Who tells you that these
young girls will not return? Besides, whom do you suspect? One word,
before you make your accusation. Remember, it is the magistrate who
hears you. On leaving this place, the law will take its course in this
"That is what I wish, Sir; I am responsible for those young ladies to
their father. He may arrive at any moment, and I must be prepared to
"I understand all these reasons, sir; but still have a care you are not
deceived by unfounded suspicions. Your denunciation once made, I may
have to act provisionally against the person accused. Now, if you should
be under a mistake, the consequences would be very serious for you; and,
without going further," said the magistrate, pointing to Mother Bunch,
with emotion, "you see what are the results of a false accusation."
"You hear, my dear," cried Frances, terrified at the resolution of
Dagobert to accuse Abbe Dubois; "do not say a word more, I entreat you."
But the more the soldier reflected, the more he felt convinced that
nothing but the influence of her confessor could have induced Frances to
act as she had done; so he resumed, with assurance: "I accuse my wife's
confessor of being the principal or the accomplice in the abduction of
Marshal Simon's daughters."
Frances uttered a deep groan, and hid her face in her hands; while Mother
Bunch, who had drawn nigh, endeavored to console her. The magistrate had
listened to Dagobert with extreme astonishment, and he now said to him
with some severity: "Pray, sir, do not accuse unjustly a man whose
position is in the highest degree respectable--a priest, sir?--yes, a
priest? I warned you beforehand to reflect upon what you advanced. All
this becomes very serious, and, at your age, any levity in such matters
would be unpardonable."
"Bless me, sir!" said Dagobert, with impatience; "at my age, one has
common sense. These are the facts. My wife is one of the best and most
honorable of human creatures--ask any one in the neighborhood, and they
will tell you so--but she is a devotee; and, for twenty years, she has
always seen with her confessor's eyes. She adores her son, she loves me
also; but she puts the confessor before us both."
"Sir," said the commissary, "these family details--"
"Are indispensable, as you shall see. I go out an hour ago, to look after
this poor girl here. When I come back, the young ladies have
disappeared. I ask my wife to whom she has entrusted them, and where
they are; she falls at my feet weeping, and says: 'Do what you will with
me, but do not ask me what has become of the children. I cannot answer
"Is thus true, madame?" cried the commissary, looking at Frances with
"Anger, threats, entreaties, had no effect," resumed Dagobert; "to
everything she answered as mildly as a saint: 'I can tell you nothing!'
Now, sir, I maintain that my wife has no interest to take away these
children; she is under the absolute dominion of her confessor; she has
acted by his orders and for his purposes; he is the guilty party."
Whilst Dagobert spoke, the commissary looked more and more attentively at
Frances, who, supported by the hunchback, continued to weep bitterly.
After a moment's reflection, the magistrate advanced towards Dagobert's
wife, and said to her: "Madame, you have heard what your husband has just
"What have you to say in your justification?"
"But, sir," cried Dagobert, "it is not my wife that I accuse--I do not
mean that; it is her confessor."
"Sir, you have applied to a magistrate; and the magistrate must act as he
thinks best for the discovery of the truth. Once more, madame," he
resumed, addressing Frances, "what have you to say in your
"Alas! nothing, sir."
"Is it true that your husband left these young girls in your charge when
he went out?"
"Is it true that, on his return, they were no longer to be found?"
"Is it true that, when he asked you where they were, you told him that
you could give him no information on the subject?"
The commissary appeared to wait for Frances' reply with kind of anxious
"Yes, sir," said she, with the utmost simplicity, "that was the answer I
made my husband."
"What, madame!" said the magistrate, with an air of painful astonishment;
"that was your only answer to all the prayers and commands of your
husband? What! you refused to give him the least information? It is
neither probable nor possible."
"It is the truth, sir."
"Well, but, after all, madame, what have you done with the young ladies
that were entrusted to your care?"
"I can tell you nothing about it, sir. If I would not answer my poor
husband, I certainly will not answer any one else."
"Well, sir," resumed Dagobert, "was I wrong? An honest, excellent woman
like that, who was always full of good sense and affection, to talk in
this way--is it natural? I repeat to you, sir that it is the work of her
confessor; act against him promptly and decidedly, we shall soon know
all, and my poor children will be restored to me."
"Madame," continued the commissary, without being able to repress a
certain degree of emotion, "I am about to speak to you very severely.
My duty obliges me to do so. This affair becomes so serious and
complicated, that I must instantly commence judicial proceedings on the
subject. Yon acknowledge that these young ladies have been left in your
charge, and that you cannot produce them. Now, listen to me: if you
refuse to give any explanation in the matter, it is you alone that will
be accused of their disappearance. I shall be obliged, though with great
regret, to take you into custody."
"Me!" cried Frances, with the utmost alarm.
"Her!" exclaimed Dagobert; "never! It is her confessor that I accuse, not
my poor wife. Take her into custody, indeed!" He ran towards her, as if
he would protect her.
"It is too late, sir," said the commissary. "You have made your charge
for the abduction of these two young ladies. According to your wife's
own declaration, she alone is compromised up to this point. I must take
her before the Public Prosecutor, who will decide what course to pursue."
"And I say, sir," cried Dagobert, in a menacing tone, "that my wife shall
not stir from this room."
"Sir," said the commissary coolly, "I can appreciate your feelings; but,
in the interest of justice, I would beg you not to oppose a necessary
measure--a measure which, moreover, in ten minutes it would be quite
impossible for you to prevent."
These words, spoken with calmness, recalled the soldier to himself.
"But, sir," said he, "I do not accuse my wife."'
"Never mind, my dear--do not think of me!" said Frances, with the
angelic resignation of a martyr. "The Lord is still pleased to try me
sorely; but I am His unworthy servant, and must gratefully resign myself
to His will. Let them arrest me, if they choose; I will say no more in
prison than I have said already on the subject of those poor children."
"But, sir," cried Dagobert, "you see that my wife is out of her head. You
cannot arrest her."
"There is no charge, proof, or indication against the other person whom
you accuse, and whose character should be his protection. If I take your
wife, she may perhaps be restored to you after a preliminary examination.
I regret," added the commissary, in a tone of pity, "to have to execute
such a mission, at the very moment when your son's arrest--"
"What!" cried Dagobert, looking with speechless astonishment at his wife
and Mother Bunch; "what does he say? my son?"
"You were not then aware of it? Oh, sir, a thousand pardons!" said the
magistrate, with painful emotion. "It is distressing to make you such a
"My son!" repeated Dagobert, pressing his two hands to his forehead.
"My son! arrested!"
"For a political offence of no great moment," said the commissary.
"Oh! this is too much. All comes on me at once!" cried the soldier,
falling overpowered into a chair, and hiding his face with his hands.
After a touching farewell, during which, in spite of her terror, Frances
remained faithful to the vow she had made to the Abbe Dubois--Dagobert,
who had refused to give evidence against his wife, was left leaning upon
a table, exhausted by contending emotions, and could not help explaining:
"Yesterday, I had with me my wife, my son, my two poor orphans--and now--
I am alone--alone!"
The moment he pronounced these words, in a despairing tone, a mild sad
voice was heard close behind him, saying timidly: "M. Dagobert, I am
here; if you will allow me, I will remain and wait upon you."
It was Mother Bunch!
Trusting that the reader's sympathy is with the old soldier thus left
desolate, with Agricola in his prison, Adrienne in hers, the madhouse,
and Rose and Blanche Simon in theirs, the nunnery; we hasten to assure
him (or her, as the case may be), that not only will their future steps
be traced, but the dark machinations of the Jesuits, and the thrilling
scenes in which new characters will perform their varied parts, pervaded
by the watching spirit of the Wandering Jew, will be revealed in Part
Second of this work, entitled: THE CHASTISEMENT.
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