The Wandering Jew, v7
Part 3 out of 3
"What astonishes me, so much, M. Agricola," said Angela, as they
continued their walk, "is the comparison of the insufficient, unwholesome
food of the workmen in our country, with that which is provided here."
"And yet we do not spend more than twenty-five sous a day, for much
better food than we should get for three francs in Paris."
"But really it is hard to believe, M. Agricola. How is it possible?"
"It is thanks to the magic wand of M. Hardy. I will explain it all
"Oh! how impatient I am to see M. Hardy!"
"You will soon see him--perhaps to-day; for he is expected every moment.
But here is the refectory, which you do not yet know, as your family,
like many others, prefer dining at home. See what a fine room, looking
out on the garden, just opposite the fountain!"
It was indeed a vast hall, built in the form of a gallery, with ten
windows opening on the garden. Tables, covered with shining oil-cloth,
were ranged along the walls, so that, in winter, this apartment served in
the evening, after work, as a place of meeting for those who preferred to
pass an hour together, instead of remaining alone or with their families.
Then, in this large hall, well warmed and brilliantly lighted with gas,
some read, some played cards, some talked, and some occupied themselves
with easy work.
"That is not all," said Agricola to the young girl; "I am sure you will
like this apartment still better when I tell you, that on Thursdays and
Sundays we make a ball-room of it, and on Tuesdays and Saturdays a
"Yes," continued the smith, proudly, "we have amongst us musicians, quite
capable of tempting us to dance. Moreover, twice a week, nearly all of
us sing in chorus--men, women, and children. Unfortunately, this week,
some disputes that have arisen in the factory have prevented our
"So many voices! that must be superb."
"It is very fine, I assure you. M. Hardy has always encouraged this
amusement amongst us, which has, he says--and he is right--so powerful an
effect on the mind and the manners. One winter, he sent for two pupils
of the celebrated Wilhelm, and, since then, our school has made great
progress. I assure you, Mdlle. Angela, that, without flattering
ourselves, there is something truly exciting in the sound of two hundred
voices, singing in chorus some hymn to Labor or Freedom. You shall hear
it, and you will, I think, acknowledge that there is something great and
elevating in the heart of man, in this fraternal harmony of voices,
blending in one grave, sonorous, imposing sound."
"Oh! I believe it. But what happiness to inhabit here. It is a life of
joy; for labor, mixed with recreation, becomes itself a pleasure."
"Alas! here, as everywhere, there are tears and sorrows," replied
Agricola, sadly. "Do you see that isolated building, in a very exposed
"Yes; what is it?"
"That is our hospital for the sick. Happily, thanks to our healthy mode
of life, it is not often full; an annual subscription enables us to have
a good doctor. Moreover, a mutual benefit society is arranged in such a
manner amongst us, that any one of us, in case of illness, receives two-
thirds of what he would have gained in health."
"How well it is all managed! And there, M. Agricola, on the other side
of the grass-plot?"
"That is the wash-house, with water laid on, cold and hot; and under
yonder shed is the drying-place: further on, you see the stables, and the
lofts and granaries for the provender of the factory horses."
"But M. Agricola, will you tell me the secret of all these wonders?"
"In ten minutes you shall understand it all, mademoiselle."
Unfortunately, Angela's curiosity was for a while disappointed. The girl
was now standing with Agricola close to the iron gate, which shut in the
garden from the broad avenue that separated the factory from the Common
Dwelling-house. Suddenly, the wind brought from the distance the sound
of trumpets and military music; then was heard the gallop of two horses,
approaching rapidly, and soon after a general officer made his
appearance, mounted on a fine black charger, with a long flowing tail and
crimson housings; he wore cavalry boots and white breeches, after the
fashion of the empire; his uniform glittered with gold embroidery, the
red ribbon of the Legion of Honor was passed over his right epaulet, with
its four silver stars, and his hat had a broad gold border, and was
crowned with a white plume, the distinctive sign reserved for the
marshals of France. No warrior could have had a more martial and
chivalrous air, or have sat more proudly on his war-horse. At the moment
Marshal Simon (for it was he) arrived opposite the place where Angela and
Agricola were standing, he drew up his horse suddenly, sprang lightly to
the ground, and threw the golden reins to a servant in livery, who
followed also on horseback.
"Where shall I wait for your grace?" asked the groom.
"At the end of the avenue," said the marshal.
And, uncovering his head respectfully, he advanced hastily with his hat
in his hand, to meet a person whom Angela and Agricola had not previously
perceived. This person soon appeared at a turn of the avenue; he was an
old man, with an energetic, intelligent countenance. He wore a very neat
blouse, and a cloth cap over his long, white hair. With his hands in his
pocket, he was quietly smoking an old meerschaum pipe.
"Good-morning, father," said the marshal, respectfully, as he
affectionately embraced the old workman, who, having tenderly returned
the pressure, said to him: "Put on your hat, my boy. But how gay we
are!" added he, with a smile.
"I have just been to a review, father, close by; and I took the
opportunity to call on you as soon as possible."
"But shall I then not see my granddaughters to-day, as I do every
"They are coming in a carriage, father, and Dagobert accompanies them."
"But what is the matter? you appear full of thought."
"Indeed, father," said the marshal, with a somewhat agitated air, "I have
serious things to talk about."
"Come in, then," said the old man, with some anxiety. The marshal and
his father disappeared at the turn of the avenue.
Angela had been struck with amazement at seeing this brilliant General,
who was entitled "your grace," salute an old workman in a blouse as his
father; and, looking at Agricola with a confused air she said to him:
"What, M. Agricola! this old workman--"
"Is the father of Marshal Duke de Ligny--the friend--yes, I may say the
friend," added Agricola, with emotion, "of my father, who for twenty
years served under him in war.'
"To be placed so high, and yet to be so respectful and tender to his
father!" said Angela. "The marshal must have a very noble heart; but why
does he let his father remain a workman?"
"Because Father Simon will not quit his trade and the factory for
anything in the world. He was born a workman, and he will die a workman,
though he is the father of a duke and marshal of France."
 See Adolphe Bobierre "On Air and Health," Paris, 1844.
When the very natural astonishment which the arrival of Marshal Simon had
caused in Angela had passed away, Agricola said to her with a smile: "I
do not wish to take advantage of this circumstance, Mdlle. Angela, to
spare you the account of the secret, by which all the wonders of our
Common Dwelling-house are brought to pass."
"Oh! I should not have let you forget your promise, M. Agricola,"
answered Angela, "what you have already told me interests me too much for
"Listen, then. M. Hardy, like a true magician, has pronounced three
cabalistic words: ASSOCIATION--COMMUNITY--FRATERNITY. We have understood
the sense of these words, and the wonders you have seen have sprung from
them, to our great advantage; and also, I repeat, to the great advantage
of M. Hardy."
"It is that which appears so extraordinary, M. Agricola."
"Suppose, mademoiselle, that M. Hardy, instead of being what he is, had
only been a cold-hearted speculator, looking merely to the profit, and
saying to himself: 'To make the most of my factory, what is needed? Good
work--great economy in the raw material--full employment of the workman's
time; in a word, cheapness of manufacture, in order to produce cheaply--
excellence of the thing produced, in order to sell dear.'"
"Truly, M. Agricola, no manufacturer could desire more."
"Well, mademoiselle, these conditions might have been fulfilled, as they
have been, but how? Had M. Hardy only been a speculator, he might have
said: 'At a distance from my factory, my workmen might have trouble to
get there: rising earlier, they will sleep less; it is a bad economy to
take from the sleep so necessary to those who toil. When they get
feeble, the work suffers for it; then the inclemency of the seasons makes
it worse; the workman arrives wet, trembling with cold, enervated before
he begins to work--and then, what work!'"
"It is unfortunately but too true, M. Agricola. At Lille, when I reached
the factory, wet through with a cold rain, I used sometimes to shiver all
day long at my work."
"Therefore, Mdlle. Angela, the speculator might say: 'To lodge my workmen
close to the door of my factory would obviate this inconvenience. Let us
make the calculation. In Paris the married workman pays about two
hundred and fifty francs a-year, for one or two wretched rooms and a
closet, dark, small, unhealthy, in a narrow, miserable street; there he
lives pell-mell with his family. What ruined constitutions are the
consequence! and what sort of work can you expect from a feverish and
diseased creature? As for the single men, they pay for a smaller, and
quite as unwholesome lodging, about one hundred and fifty francs a-year.
Now, let us make the addition. I employ one hundred and forty-six
married workmen, who pay together, for their wretched holes, thirty-six
thousand five hundred francs; I employ also one hundred and fifteen
bachelors, who pay at the rate of seventeen thousand two hundred and
eighty francs; the total will amount to about fifty thousand francs per
annum, the interest on a million."'
"Dear me, M. Agricola! what a sum to be produced by uniting all these
little rents together!"
"You see, mademoiselle, that fifty thousand francs a-year is a
millionaire's rent. Now, what says our speculator: To induce our workmen
to leave Paris, I will offer them, enormous advantages. I will reduce
their rent one-half, and, instead of small, unwholesome rooms, they shall
have large, airy apartments, well-warmed and lighted, at a trifling
charge. Thus, one hundred and forty-six families, paying me only one
hundred and twenty-five francs a-year, and one hundred and fifteen
bachelors, seventy-five francs, I shall have a total of twenty-six to
twenty-seven thousand francs. Now, a building large enough to hold all
these people would cost me at most five hundred thousand francs. I
shall then have invested my money at five per cent at the least, and with
perfect security, since the wages is a guarantee for the payment of the
"Ah, M. Agricola! I begin to understand how it may sometimes be
advantageous to do good, even in a pecuniary sense."
"And I am almost certain, mademoiselle, that, in the long run, affairs
conducted with uprightness and honesty turn out well. But to return to
our speculator. 'Here,' will he say, 'are my workmen, living close to my
factory, well lodged, well warmed, and arriving always fresh at their
work. That is not all; the English workman who eats good beef, and
drinks good beer, does twice as much, in the same time, as the French
workman, reduced to a detestable kind of food, rather weakening than
the reverse, thanks to the poisonous adulteration of the articles he
consumes. My workmen will then labor much better, if they eat much
better. How shall I manage it without loss? Now I think of it, what is
the food in barracks, schools, even prisons? Is it not the union of
individual resources which procures an amount of comfort impossible to
realize without such an association? Now, if my two hundred and sixty
workmen, instead of cooking two hundred and sixty detestable dinners,
were to unite to prepare one good dinner for all of them, which might be
done, thanks to the savings of all sorts that would ensue, what an
advantage for me and them! Two or three women, aided by children, would
suffice to make ready the daily repasts; instead of buying wood and
charcoal in fractions, and so paying for it double its value, the
association of my workmen would, upon my security (their wages would be
an efficient security for me in return), lay in their own stock of wood,
flour, butter, oil, wine, etc., all which they would procure directly
from the producers. Thus, they would pay three or four sous for a bottle
of pure wholesome wine, instead of paying twelve or fifteen sous for
poison. Every week the association would buy a whole ox, and some sheep,
and the women would make bread, as in the country. Finally, with these
resources, and order, and economy, my workmen may have wholesome,
agreeable, and sufficient food, for from twenty to twenty-five sous a
"Ah! this explains it, M. Agricola."
"It is not all, mademoiselle. Our cool-headed speculator would continue:
'Here are my workmen well lodged, well warmed, well fed, with a saving of
at least half; why should they not also be warmly clad? Their health
will then have every chance of being good, and health is labor. The
association will buy wholesale, and at the manufacturing price (still
upon my security, secured to me by their wages), warm, good, strong
materials, which a portion of the workmen's wives will be able to make
into clothes as well as any tailor. Finally, the consumption of caps and
shoes being considerable, the association will obtain them at a great
reduction in price.' Well, Mdlle. Angela! what do you say to our
"I say, M. Agricola," answered the young girl; with ingenuous admiration,
"that it is almost incredible, and yet so simple!"
"No doubt, nothing is more simple than the good and beautiful, and yet we
think of it so seldom. Observe, that our man has only been speaking with
a view to his own interest--only considering the material side of the
question--reckoning for nothing the habit of fraternity and mutual aid,
which inevitably springs from living together in common--not reflecting
that a better mode of life improves and softens the character of man--not
thinking of the support and instruction which the strong owe to the weak-
--not acknowledging, in fine, that the honest, active, and industrious
man has a positive right to demand employment from society, and wages
proportionate to the wants of his condition. No, our speculator only
thinks of the gross profits; and yet, you see, he invests his money in
buildings at five per cent., and finds the greatest advantages in the
material comfort of his workmen."
"It is true, M. Agricola."
"And what will you say, mademoiselle, when I prove to you that our
speculator finds also a great advantage in giving to his workmen, in
addition to their regular wages, a proportionate share of his profits?"
"That appears to me more difficult to prove, M. Agricola."
"Yet I will convince you of it in a few minutes."
Thus conversing, Angela and Agricola had reached the garden-gate of the
Common Dwelling-house. An elderly woman, dressed plainly, but with care
and neatness, approached Agricola, and asked him: "Has M. Hardy returned
to the factory, sir?"
"No, madame; but we expect him hourly."
"To-day or to-morrow, madame."
"You cannot tell me at what hour he will be here?"
"I do not think it is known, madame, but the porter of the factory, who
also belongs to M. Hardy's private house, may, perhaps, be able to inform
"I thank you, sir."
"Quite welcome, madame."
"M. Agricola," said Angela, when the woman who had just questioned him
was gone, "did you remark that this lady was very pale and agitated?"
"I noticed it as you did, mademoiselle; I thought I saw tears standing in
"Yes, she seemed to have been crying. Poor woman! perhaps she came to
ask assistance of M. Hardy. But what ails you, M. Agricola? You appear
Agricola had a vague presentiment that the visit of this elderly woman
with so sad a countenance, had some connection with the adventure of the
young and pretty lady, who, three days before had come all agitated and
in tears to inquire after M. Hardy, and who had learned--perhaps too
late--that she was watched and followed.
"Forgive me, mademoiselle," said Agricola to Angela; but the presence of
this old lady reminded me of a circumstance, which, unfortunately, I
cannot tell you, for it is a secret that does not belong to me alone."
"Oh! do not trouble yourself, M. Agricola," answered the young girl, with
a smile; "I am not inquisitive, and what we were talking of before
interests me so much, that I do not wish to hear you speak of anything
"Well, then mademoiselle, I will say a few words more, and you will be as
well informed as I am of the secrets of our association."
"I am listening, M. Agricola."
"Let us still keep in view the speculator from mere interest. 'Here are
my workmen, says he, 'in the best possible condition to do a great deal
of work. Now what is to be done to obtain large profits? Produce
cheaply, and sell dear. But there will be no cheapness, without economy
in the use of the raw material, perfection of the manufacturing process,
and celerity of labor. Now, in spite of all my vigilance, how am I to
prevent my workmen from wasting the materials? How am I to induce them,
each in his own province, to seek for the most simple and least irksome
"True, M. Agricola; how is that to be done?"
"'And that is not all,' says our man; 'to sell my produce at high prices,
it should be irreproachable, excellent. My workmen do pretty well; but
that is not enough. I want them to produce masterpieces.'"
"But, M. Agricola, when they have once performed the task set them what
interest have workmen to give themselves a great deal of trouble to
"There it is, Mdlle. Angela; what interest have they? Therefore, our
speculator soon says to himself: 'That my workmen may have an interest to
be economical in the use of the materials, an interest to employ their
time well, an interest to invent new and better manufacturing processes,
an interest to send out of their hands nothing but masterpieces--I must
give them an interest in the profits earned by their economy, activity,
zeal and skill. The better they manufacture, the better I shall sell,
and the larger will be their gain and mine also.'"
"Oh! now I understand, M. Agricola."
"And our speculator would make a good speculation. Before he was
interested, the workman said: 'What does it matter to me, that I do more
or do better in the course of the day? What shall I gain by it?
Nothing. Well, then, little work for little wages. But now, on the
contrary (he says), I have an interest in displaying zeal and economy.
All is changed. I redouble my activity, and strive to excel the others.
If a comrade is lazy, and likely to do harm to the factory, I have the
right to say to him: 'Mate, we all suffer more or less from your
laziness, and from the injury you are doing the common weal.'"
"And then, M. Agricola, with what ardor, courage, and hope, you must set
"That is what our speculator counts on; and he may say to himself,
further: 'Treasures of experience and practical wisdom are often buried
in workshops, for want of goodwill, opportunity, or encouragement.
Excellent workmen, instead of making all the improvements in their power,
follow with indifference the old jog-trot. What a pity! for an
intelligent man, occupied all his life with some special employment, must
discover, in the long run, a thousand ways of doing his work better and
quicker. I will form, therefore, a sort of consulting committee; I will
summon to it my foremen and my most skillful workmen. Our interest 1s
now the same. Light will necessarily spring from this centre of
practical intelligence.' Now, the speculator is not deceived in this,
and soon struck with the incredible resources, the thousand new,
ingenious, perfect inventions suddenly revealed by his workmen, 'Why' he
exclaims, 'if you knew this, did you not tell it before? What for the
last ten years has cost me a hundred francs to make, would have cost me
only fifty, without reckoning an enormous saving of time.' 'Sir, answers
the workman, who is not more stupid than others, "what interest had I,
that you should effect a saving of fifty per cent? None. But now it is
different. You give me, besides my wages, a share in your profits; you
raise me in my own esteem, by consulting my experience and knowledge.
Instead of treating me as an inferior being, you enter into communion
with me. It is my interest, it is my duty, to tell you all I know, and
to try to acquire more.' And thus it is, Mdlle. Angela, that the
speculator can organize his establishment, so as to shame his
oppositionists, and provoke their envy. Now if, instead of a cold-
hearted calculator, we tape a man who unites with the knowledge of these
facts the tender and generous sympathies of an evangelical heart, and the
elevation of a superior mind, he will extend his ardent solicitude; not
only to the material comfort, but to the moral emancipation, of his
workmen. Seeking everywhere every possible means to develop their
intelligence, to improve their hearts, and strong in the authority
acquired by his beneficence, feeling that he on whom depends the
happiness or the misery of three hundred human creatures has also the
care of souls, he will be the guide of those whom he no longer calls his
workmen, but his brothers, in a straightforward and noble path, and will
try to create in them the taste for knowledge and art, which will render
them happy and proud of a condition of life that is often accepted by
others with tears and curses of despair. Well, Mdlle. Angela, such a man
is--but, see! he could not arrive amongst us except in the middle of a
blessing. There he is--there is M. Hardy!"
"Oh, M. Agricola!" said Angela, deeply moved, and drying her tears; "we
should receive him with our hands clasped in gratitude."
"Look if that mild and noble countenance is not the image of his
A carriage with post horses, in which was M. Hardy, with M. de Blessac,
the unworthy friend who was betraying him in so infamous a manner,
entered at this moment the courtyard of the factory.
A little while after, a humble hackney-coach was seen advancing also
towards the factory, from the direction of Paris. In this coach was
 The average price of a workman's lodging, composed of two small
rooms and a closet at most, on the third or fourth story.
 This calculation is amply sufficient, if not excessive. A similar
building, at one league from Paris, on the side of Montrouge, with all
the necessary offices, kitchen, wash-houses, etc., with gas and water
laid on, apparatus for warming, etc., and a garden of ten acres, cost, at
the period of this narrative, hardly five hundred thousand francs. An
experienced builder less obliged us with an estimate, which confirms what
we advance. It is, therefore, evident, that, even at the same price
which workmen are in the habit of paying, it would be possible to provide
them with perfectly healthy lodgings, and yet invest one's money at ten
 The fact was proved in the works connected with the Rouen Railway.
Those French workmen who, having no families, were able to live like the
English, did at least as much work as the latter, being strengthened by
wholesome and sufficient nourishment.
 Buying penny-worths, like all other purchases at minute retail, are
greatly to the poor man's disadvantage.
During the visit of Angela and Agricola to the Common Dwelling-house, the
band of Wolves, joined upon the road by many of the haunters of taverns,
continued to march towards the factory, which the hackney-coach, that
brought Rodin from Paris, was also fast approaching. M. Hardy, on
getting out of the carriage with his friend, M. de Blessac, had entered
the parlor of the house that he occupied next the factory. M. Hardy was
of middle size, with an elegant and slight figure, which announced a
nature essentially nervous and impressionable. His forehead was broad
and open, his complexion pale, his eyes black, full at once of mildness
and penetration, his countenance honest, intelligent, and attractive.
One word will paint the character of M. Hardy. His mother had called him
her Sensitive Plant. His was indeed one of those fine and exquisitely
delicate organizations, which are trusting, loving, noble, generous, but
so susceptible, that the least touch makes them shrink into themselves.
If we join to this excessive sensibility a passionate love for art, a
first-rate intellect, tastes essentially refined, and then think of the
thousand deceptions, and numberless infamies of which M. Hardy must have
been the victim in his career as a manufacturer, we shall wonder how this
heart, so delicate and tender, had not been broken a thousand times, in
its incessant struggle with merciless self-interest. M. Hardy had indeed
suffered much. Forced to follow the career of productive industry, to
honor the engagements of his father, a model of uprightness and probity,
who had yet left his affairs somewhat embarrassed, in consequence of the
events of 1815, he had succeeded, by perseverance and capacity, in
attaining one of the most honorable positions in the commercial world.
But, to arrive at this point, what ignoble annoyances had he to bear
with, what perfidious opposition to combat, what hateful rivalries to
Sensitive as he was, M. Hardy would a thousand times have fallen a victim
to his emotions of painful indignation against baseness, of bitter
disgust at dishonesty, but for the wise and firm support of his mother.
When he returned to her, after a day of painful struggles with odious
deceptions, he found himself suddenly transported into an atmosphere of
such beneficent purity, of such radiant serenity, that he lost almost on
the instant the remembrance of the base things by which he had been so
cruelly tortured during the day; the pangs of his heart were appeased at
the mere contact of her great and lofty soul; and therefore his love for
her resembled idolatry. When he lost her, he experienced one of those
calm, deep sorrows which have no end--which become, as it were, part of
life, and have even sometimes their days of melancholy sweetness. A
little while after this great misfortune, M. Hardy became more closely
connected with his workmen. He had always been a just and good master;
but, although the place that his mother left in his heart would ever
remain void, he felt as it were a redoubled overflowing of the
affections, and the more he suffered, the more he craved to see happy
faces around him. The wonderful ameliorations, which he now produced in
the physical and moral condition of all about him, served, not to divert,
but to occupy his grief. Little by little, he withdrew from the world,
and concentrated his life in three affections: a tender and devoted
friendship, which seemed to include all past friendships--a love ardent
and sincere, like a last passion--and a paternal attachment to his
workmen. His days therefore passed in the heart of that little world, so
full of respect and gratitude towards him--a world, which he had, as it
were, created after the image of his mind, that he might find there a
refuge from the painful realities he dreaded, surrounded with good,
intelligent, happy beings, capable of responding to the noble thoughts
which had become more and more necessary to his existence. Thus, after
many sorrows, M. Hardy, arrived at the maturity of age, possessing a
sincere friend, a mistress worthy of his love, and knowing himself
certain of the passionate devotion of his workmen, had attained, at the
period of this history, all the happiness he could hope for since his
M. de Blessac, his bosom friend, had long been worthy of his touching and
fraternal affection; but we have seen by what diabolical means Father
d'Aigrigny and Rodin had succeeded in making M. de Blessac, until then
upright and sincere, the instrument of their machinations. The two
friends, who had felt on their journey a little of the sharp influence of
the north wind, were warming themselves at a good fire lighted in M.
"Oh! my dear Marcel, I begin really to get old," said M. Hardy, with a
smile, addressing M. de Blessac; "I feel more and more the want of being
at home. To depart from my usual habits has become painful to me, and I
execrate whatever obliges me to leave this happy little spot of ground."
"And when I think," answered M. de Blessac, unable to forbear blushing,
"when I think, my friend, that you undertook this long journey only for
"Well, my dear Marcel! have you not just accompanied me in your turn, in
an excursion which, without you, would have been as tiresome as it has
"What a difference, my friend! I have contracted towards you a debt that
I can never repay."
"Nonsense, my dear Marcel! Between us, there are no distinctions of meum
and tuum. Besides, in matters of friendship, it is as sweet to give as
"Noble heart! noble heart!"
"Say, happy heart!--most happy, in the last affections for which it
"And who, gracious heaven! could deserve happiness on earth, if it be not
you, my friend?"
"And to what do I owe that happiness? To the affections which I found
here, ready to sustain me, when deprived of the support of my mother, who
was all my strength, I felt myself (I confess my weakness) almost
incapable of standing up against adversity."
"You, my friend--with so firm and resolute a character in doing good--
you, that I have seen struggle with so much energy and courage, to secure
the triumph of some great and noble idea?"
"Yes; but the farther I advance in my career, the more am I disgusted
with all base and shameful actions, and the less strength I feel to
"Were it necessary, you would have the courage, my friend."
"My dear Marcel," replied M. Hardy, with mild and restrained emotion, "I
have often said to you: My courage was my mother. You see, my friend,
when I went to her, with my heart torn by some horrible ingratitude, or
disgusted by some base deceit, she, taking my hands between her own
venerable palms, would say to me in her grave and tender voice: 'My dear
child, it is for the ungrateful and dishonest to suffer; let us pity the
wicked, let us forget evil, and only think of good.'--Then, my friend,
this heart, painfully contracted, expanded beneath the sacred influence
of the maternal words, and every day I gathered strength from her, to
recommence on the morrow a cruel struggle with the sad necessities of my
condition. Happily, it has pleased God, that, after losing that beloved
mother, I have been able to bind up my life with affections, deprived of
which, I confess, I should find myself feeble and disarmed for you cannot
tell, Marcel, the support, the strength that I have found in your
"Do not speak of me, my dear friend," replied M. de Blessac, dissembling
his embarrassment. "Let us talk of another affection, almost as sweet
and tender as that of a mother."
"I understand you, my good Marcel," replied M. Hardy: "I have concealed
nothing from you since, under such serious circumstances, I had recourse
to the counsels of your friendship. Well! yes; I think that every day I
live augment my adoration for this woman, the only one that I have ever
passionately loved, the only one that I shall now ever love. And then I
must tell you, that my mother, not knowing what Margaret was to me, as
often loud in her praise, and that circumstance renders this love almost
sacred in my eyes."
"And then there are such strange resemblances between Mme. de Noisy's
character and yours, my friend; above all, in her worship of her mother."
"It is true, Marcel; that affection has often caused me both admiration
and torment. How often she has said to me, with her habitual frankness:
'I have sacrificed all for you, but I would sacrifice you for my
"Thank heaven, my friend, you will never see Mme. de Noisy exposed to
that cruel choice. Her mother, you say, has long renounced her intention
of returning to America, where M. de Noisy, perfectly careless of his
wife, appears to have settled himself permanently. Thanks to the
discreet devotion of the excellent woman by whom Margaret was brought up,
your love is concealed in the deepest mystery. What could disturb it
"Nothing--oh! nothing," cried M. Hardy. "I have almost security for its
"What do you mean, my friend?"
"I do not know if I ought to tell you."
"Have you ever found me indiscreet, my friend?"
"You, good Marcel! how can you suppose such a thing?" said M. Hardy, in a
tone of friendly reproach; "no! but I do not like to tell you of my
happiness, till it is complete; and I am not yet quite certain--"
A servant entered at this moment and said to M. Hardy: "Sir, there is an
old gentleman who wishes to speak to you on very pressing business."
"So soon!" said M. Hardy, with a slight movement of impatience. "With
your permission, my friend." Then, as M. de Blessac seemed about to
withdraw into the next room, M. Hardy added with a smile: "No, no; do not
stir. Your presence will shorten the interview."
"But if it be a matter of business, my friend?"
"I do everything openly, as you know." Then, addressing the servant, M.
Hardy bade him: "Ask the gentleman to walk in."
"The postilion wishes to know if he is to wait?"
"Certainly: he will take M. de Blessac back to Paris."
The servant withdrew, and presently returned, introducing Rodin, with
whom M. de Blessac was not acquainted, his treacherous bargain having
been negotiated through another agent.
"M. Hardy?" said Rodin, bowing respectfully to the two friends, and
looking from one to the other with an air of inquiry.
"That is my name, sir; what can I do to serve you?" answered the
manufacturer, kindly; for, at first sight of the humble and ill-dressed
old man, he expected an application for assistance.
"M. Francois Hardy," repeated Rodin, as if he wished to make sure of the
identity of the person.
"I have had the honor to tell you that I am he."
"I have a private communication to make to you, sir," said Rodin.
"You may speak, sir. This gentleman is my friend," said M. Hardy,
pointing to M. de Blessac.
"But I wish to speak to you alone, sir," resumed Rodin.
M. de Blessac was again about to withdraw, when M. Hardy retained him
with a glance, and said to Rodin kindly, for he thought his feelings
might be hurt by asking a favor in presence of a third party: "Permit me
to inquire if it is on your account or on mine, that you wish this
interview to be secret?"
"On your account entirely, sir," answered Rodin.
"Then, sir," said M. Hardy, with some surprise, "you may speak out. I
have no secrets from this gentleman."
After a moment's silence, Rodin resumed, addressing himself to M. Hardy:
"Sir, you deserve, I know, all the good that is said of you; and you
therefore command the sympathy of every honest man."
"I hope so, sir."
"Now, as an honest man, I come to render you a service."
"And this service, sir--"
"To reveal to you an infamous piece of treachery, of which you have been
"I think, sir, you must be deceived."
"I have the proofs of what I assert."
"The written proofs of the treachery that I come to reveal: I have them
here," answered Rodin "In a word, a man whom you believed your friend,
has shamefully deceived you, sir."
"And the name of this man?"
"M. Marcel de Blessac," replied Rodin.
On these words, M. de Blessac started, and became pale as death. He
could hardly murmur: "Sir--"
But, without looking at his friend, or perceiving his agitation, M. Hardy
seized his hand, and exclaimed hastily: "Silence, my friend!" Then,
whilst his eye flashed with indignation, he turned towards Rodin, who had
not ceased to look him full in the face, and said to him, with an air of
lofty disdain: "What! do you accuse M. de Blessac?"
"Yes, I accuse him," replied Rodin, briefly.
"Do you know him?"
"I have never seen him."
"Of what do you accuse him? And how dare you say that he has betrayed
"Two words, if you please," said Rodin, with an emotion which he appeared
hardly able to restrain. "If one man of honor sees another about to be
slain by an assassin, ought he not give the alarm of murder?"
"Yes, sir; but what has that to do--"
"In my eyes, sir, certain treasons are as criminal as murders: I have
come to place myself between the assassin and his victim."
"The assassin? the victim?" said M. Hardy more and more astonished.
"You doubtless know M. de Blessac's writing?" said Rodin.
"Then read this," said Rodin, drawing from his pocket a letter, which he
handed to M. Hardy.
Casting now for the first time a glance at M. de Blessac, the
manufacturer drew back a step, terrified at the death-like paleness of
this man, who, struck dumb with shame, could not find a word to justify
himself; for he was far from possessing the audacious effrontery
necessary to carry him through his treachery.
"Marcel!" cried M. Hardy, in alarm, and deeply agitated by this
unexpected blow. "Marcel! how pale you are! you do not answer!"
"Marcel! this, then, is M. de Blessac?" cried Rodin, feigning the most
painful surprise. "Oh, sir, if I had known--"
"But don't you hear this man, Marcel?" cried M. Hardy. "He says that you
have betrayed me infamously." He seized the hand of M. de Blessac. That
hand was cold as ice. "Oh, God! Oh God!" said M. Hardy, drawing back in
horror: "he makes no answer!"
"Since I am in presence of M. de Blessac," resumed Rodin, "I am forced to
ask him, if he can deny having addressed many letters to the Rue du
Milieu des Ursins, at Paris under cover of M. Rodin."
M. de Blessac remained dumb. M. Hardy, still unwilling to believe what
he saw and heard, convulsively tore open the letter, which Rodin had just
delivered to him, and read the first few lines--interrupting the perusal
with exclamations of grief and amazement. He did not require to finish
the letter, to convince himself of the black treachery of M. de Blessac.
He staggered; for a moment his senses seemed to abandon him. The
horrible discovery made him giddy, and his head swam on his first look
down into that abyss of infamy. The loathsome letter dropped from his
trembling hands. But soon indignation, rage, and scorn succeeded this
moment of despair, and rushing, pale and terrible, upon M. de Blessac:
"Wretch!" he exclaimed, with a threatening gesture. But, pausing as in
the act to strike: "No!" he added, with fearful calmness. "It would be
to soil my hands."
He turned towards Rodin, who had approached hastily, as if to interpose.
"It is not worth while chastising a wretch," said M. Hardy; "But I will
press your honest hand, sir--for you have had the courage to unmask a
traitor and a coward."
"Sir!" cried M. de Blessac, overcome with shame; "I am at your orders--
He could not finish. The sound of voices was heard behind the door,
which opened violently, and an aged woman entered, in spite of the
efforts of the servant, exclaiming in an agitated voice: "I tell you, I
must speak instantly to your master."
On hearing this voice, and at sight of the pale, weeping woman, M. Hardy,
forgetting M. de Blessac, Rodin, the infamous treachery, and all, fell
back a step, and exclaimed: "Madame Duparc! you here! What is the
"Oh, sir! a great misfortune--"
"Margaret!" cried M. Hardy, in a tone of despair.
"She is gone, sir!"
"Gone!" repeated M. Hardy, as horror-struck as if a thunderbolt had
fallen at his feet. "Margaret gone!"
"All is discovered. Her mother took her away--three days ago!" said the
unhappy woman, in a failing voice.
"Gone! Margaret! It is not true. You deceive me," cried M. Hardy.
Refusing to hear more, wild, despairing, he rushed out of the house,
threw himself into his carriage, to which the post-horses were still
harnessed, waiting for M. de Blessac, and said to the postilion: "To
Paris! as fast as you can go!"
As the carriage, rapid as lightning, started upon the road to Paris, the
wind brought nearer the distant sound of the war-song of the Wolves, who
were rushing towards the factory. In this impending destruction, see
Rodin's subtle hand, administering his fatal blows to clear his way up to
the chair of St. Peter to which he aspired. His tireless, wily course
can hardly be darker shadowed by aught save that dread coming horror the
Cholera, whose aid he evoked, and whose health the Bacchanal Queen wildly
That once gay girl, and her poor famished sister; the fair patrician and
her Oriental lover; Agricola, the workman, and his veteran father; the
smiling Rose-Pompon, and the prematurely withered Jacques Rennepont;
Father d'Aigrigny, the mock priest; and Gabriel, the true disciple; with
the rest that have been named and others yet to be pictured, in the blaze
of the bolts of their life's paths, will be seen in the third and
concluding part of this romance entitled, "THE WANDERING JEW:
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