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The Wandering Jew, Complete
by Eugene Sue
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"I am at your order," answered Adrienne, with much mildness and simplicity.

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 effrontery.

"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 sister."

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 adventure.

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 conversation.

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.



CHAPTER XXXVI. THE INTERVIEW.

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 it."

"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 chose."

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 love!

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 more preserves!"

"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.



CHAPTER XXXVII. SOOTHING WORDS.

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 assistance."

"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?"

"And despair!"

"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 embarrassed.

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?"

"Insulted me!"

"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 happiness."

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 you."

"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.



CHAPTER XXXVIII. 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 door?"

"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 bitterness.

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 lamps.

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 one?"

"Yes," said the voice. "Now go forward some twenty yards, and then stop."

"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 understand?"

"What next?"

"Tell the person who comes, that he is waited for, and bring him here to the coach."

"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 spoken to.

"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 imperturbable silence.

"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."

"How so?"

"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 require.'"

"And what did the old Jew do with the coffin marked with the seven black nails?"

"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 find him."

"It is indeed a strange affair. What could this old Jew want with the coffin?"

"It is said, my lord, that they use dead bodies in preparing their magic charms."

"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.

"Midnight! already?"

"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 lip.'"

"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 came you?"

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! Peter!"

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 suspicious tone.

"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 door?"

"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 seeing me."

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.



CHAPTER XXXIX. THE APPOINTMENT.

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.(42) 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 with you."

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 person.

"It will soon be two o'clock, my lord," said Faringhea.

Having heard this answer, Djalma seated himself, and hid his face in his hands, as if completely absorbed in some ineffable meditation. Urged on by his growing anxiety, and wishing at any cost to attract the attention of Djalma, Faringhea approached still nearer to him, and, almost certain of the effect of the words he was about to utter, said to him in a slow and emphatic voice: "My lord, I am sure that you owe the happiness which now transports you to Mdlle. de Cardoville."

Hardly had this name been pronounced, than Djalma started from his chair, looked the half-breed full in the face, and exclaimed, as if only just aware of his presence, "Faringhea! you here!—what is the matter?"

"Your faithful servant shares in your joy, my lord."

"What joy?"

"That which the letter of Mdlle. de Cardoville has occasioned, my lord."

Djalma returned no answer, but his eye shone with so much serene happiness, that the half-caste recovered from his apprehensions. No cloud of doubt or suspicion obscured the radiant features of the prince. After a few moments of silence, Djalma fixed upon the half-caste a look half-veiled with a tear of joy, and said to him, with the expression of one whose heart overflows with love and happiness: "Oh! such delight is good—great—like heaven!—for it is heaven which—"

"You deserve this happiness, my lord, after so many sufferings."

"What sufferings?—Oh! yes. I formerly suffered at Java; but that was years ago."

"My lord, this great good fortune does not astonish me. What have I always told you? Do not despair; feign a violent passion for some other woman, and then this proud young lady—"

At these words Djalma looked at the half-caste with so piercing a glance, that the latter stopped short; but the prince said to him with affectionate goodness, "Go on! I listen."

Then, leaning his chin upon his hand, and his elbow on his knee, he gazed so intently on Faringhea, and yet with such unutterable mildness, that even that iron soul was touched for a moment with a slight feeling of remorse.

"I was saying, my lord," he resumed, "that by following the counsels of your faithful slave, who persuaded you to feign a passionate love for another woman, you have brought the proud Mdlle. de Cardoville to come to you. Did I not tell you it would be so?"

"Yes, you did tell me so," answered Djalma, still maintaining the same position, and examining the half-caste with the same fixed and mild attention.

The surprise of Faringhea increased; generally, the prince, without treating him with the least harshness, preserved the somewhat distant and imperious manners of their common country, and he had never before spoken to him with such extreme mildness. Knowing all the evil he had done the prince, and suspicious as the wicked must ever be, the half-caste thought for a moment, that his master's apparent kindness might conceal a snare. He continued, therefore, with less assurance, "Believe me, my lord, this day, if you do but know how to profit by your advantages, will console you for all your troubles, which have indeed been great—for only yesterday, though you were generous enough to forget it, only yesterday you suffered cruelly—but you were not alone in your sufferings. This proud young lady suffered also!"

"Do you think so?" said Djalma.

"Oh! it is quite sure, my lord. What must she not have felt, when she saw you at the theatre with another woman!—If she loved you only a little, she must have been deeply wounded in her self-esteem; if she loved you with passion, she must have been struck to the heart. At length, you see, wearied out with suffering, she has come to you."

"So that, any way, she must have suffered—and that does not move your pity?" said Djalma, in a constrained, but still very mild voice.

"Before thinking of others, my lord, I think of your distresses; and they touch me too nearly to leave me any pity for other woes," added Faringhea hypocritically, so greatly had the influence of Rodin already modified the character of the Phansegar.

"It is strange!" said Djalma, speaking to himself, as he viewed the half caste with a glance still kind but piercing.

"What is strange, my lord?"

"Nothing. But tell me, since your advice has hitherto prospered so well, what think you of the future?"

"Of the future, my lord?"

"Yes; in an hour I shall be with Mdlle. de Cardoville."

"That is a serious matter, my lord. The whole future will depend upon this interview."

"That is what I was just thinking."

"Believe me, my lord, women never love any so well, as the bold man who spares them the embarrassment of a refusal."

"Explain more fully."

"Well, my lord, they despise the timid and languishing lover, who asks humbly for what he might take by force."

"But to-day I shall meet Mdlle. de Cardoville for the first time."

"You have met her a thousand times in your dreams, my lord; and depend upon it, she has seen you also in her dreams, since she loves you. Every one of your amorous thoughts has found an echo in her heart. All your ardent adorations have been responded to by her. Love has not two languages, and, without meeting, you have said all that you had to say to each other. Now, it is for you to act as her master, and she will be yours entirely."

"It is strange—very strange!" said Djalma, a second time, without removing his eyes from Faringhea's face.

Mistaking the sense which the prince attached to these words, the half caste resumed: "Believe me, my lord, however strange it may appear, this is the wisest course. Remember the past. Was it by playing the part of a timid lover that you have brought to your feet this proud young lady, my lord? No, it was by pretending to despise her, in favor of another woman. Therefore, let us have no weakness. The lion does not woo like the poor turtle-dove. What cares the sultan of the desert for a few plaintive howls from the lioness, who is more pleased than angry at his rude and wild caresses? Soon submissive, fearful and happy, she follows in the track of her master. Believe me, my lord—try everything—dare everything—and to-day you will become the adored sultan of this young lady, whose beauty all Paris admires."

After some minutes' silence, Djalma, shaking his head with an expression of tender pity, said to the half-caste, in his mild, sonorous voice: "Why betray me thus? Why advise me thus wickedly to use violence, terror, and surprise, towards an angel of purity, whom I respect as my mother? Is it not enough for you to have been so long devoted to my enemies, whose hatred has followed me from Java?"

Had Djalma sprung upon the half-caste with bloodshot eye, menacing brow, and lifted poniard, the latter would have been less surprised, and perhaps less frightened, than when he heard the prince speak of his treachery in this tone of mild reproach.

He drew back hastily, as if about to stand on his guard. But Djalma resumed, with the same gentleness, "Fear nothing. Yesterday I should have killed you! But to-day happy love renders me too just, too merciful for that. I pity you, without any feeling of bitterness—for you must have been very unhappy, or you could not have become so wicked."

"My lord!" said the half-caste, with growing amazement.

"Yes, you must have suffered much, and met with little mercy, poor creature, to have become so merciless, in your hate, and proof against the sight of a happiness like mine. When I listened to you just now, and saw the sad perseverance of your hatred, I felt the deepest commiseration for you."

"I do not know, my lord—but—" stammered the half-caste, and was unable to find words to proceed.

"Come, now—what harm have I ever done you?"

"None, my lord," answered Faringhea.

"Then why do you hate me thus? why pursue me with so much animosity? Was it not enough to give me the perfidious counsel to feign a shameful love for the young girl that was brought hither, and who quitted the house disgusted at the miserable part she was to play?"

"Your feigned love for that young girl, my lord," replied Faringhea, gradually recovering his presence of mind, "conquered the coldness of—"

"Do not say that," resumed the prince, interrupting him with the same mildness. "If I enjoy this happiness, which makes me compassionate towards you, and raises me above myself, it is because Mdlle de Cardoville now knows that I have never for a moment ceased to love her as she ought to be loved, with adoration and reverence. It was your intention to have parted us forever, and you had nearly succeeded."

"If you think this of me, my lord, you must look upon me as your most mortal enemy."

"Fear nothing, I tell you. I have no right to blame you. In the madness of my grief, I listened to you and followed your advice. I was not only your dupe, but your accomplice. Only confess that, when you saw me at your mercy, dejected, crushed, despairing, it was cruel in you to advise the course that might have been most fatal to me."

"The ardor of my zeal may have deceived me, my lord."

"I am willing to believe it. And yet again to-day there were the same evil counsels. You had no more pity for my happiness than for my sorrow. The rapture of my heart inspires you with only one desire—that of changing this rapture into despair."

"I, my lord!"

"Yes, you. It was your intention to ruin me—to dishonor me forever in the eyes of Mdlle. de Cardoville. Now, tell me—why this furious hate? what have I done to you?"

"You misjudge me, my lord—and—"

"Listen to me. I do not wish you to be any longer wicked and treacherous. I wish to make you good. In our country, they charm serpents, and tame the wildest tigers. You are a man, with a mind to reason, a heart to love, and I will tame you too by gentleness. This day has bestowed on me divine happiness; you shall have good cause to bless this day. What can I do for you? what would you have—gold? You shall have it. Do you desire more than gold? Do you desire a friend, to console you for the sorrows that made you wicked, and to teach you to be good? Though a king's son, I will be that friend—in spite of the evil—ay, because of the evil you have done me. Yes; I will be your sincere friend, and it shall be my delight to say to myself: 'The day on which I learned that my angel loved me, my happiness was great indeed—for, in the morning, I had an implacable enemy, and, ere night, his hatred was changed to friendship.' Believe me, Faringhea, misery makes crime, but happiness produces virtue. Be happy!"

At this moment the clock struck two. The prince started. It was time to go on his visit to Adrienne. The handsome countenance of Djalma, doubly embellished by the mild, ineffable expression with which it had been animated whilst he was talking to the half-caste, now seemed illumined with almost divine radiance.

Approaching Faringhea, he extended his hand with the utmost, grace and courtesy, saying to him, "Your hand!"

The half-caste, whose brow was bathed with a cold sweat, whose countenance was pale and agitated, seemed to hesitate for an instant; then, overawed, conquered, fascinated, he offered his trembling hand to the prince, who pressed it, and said to him, in their country's fashion, "You have laid your hand honestly in a friend's; this hand shall never be closed against you. Faringhea, farewell! I now feel myself more worthy to kneel before my angel."

And Djalma went out, on his way to the appointment with Adrienne. In spite of his ferocity, in spite of the pitiless hate he bore to the whole human race, the dark sectary of Bowanee was staggered by the noble and clement words of Djalma, and said to himself, with terror, "I have taken his hand. He is now sacred for me."

Then, after a moment's silence, a thought occurred to him, and he exclaimed, "Yes—but he will not be sacred for him who, according to the answer of last night, waits for him at the door of the house."

So saying, the half-caste hastened into the next room, which looked upon the street, and, raising a corner of the curtain, muttered anxiously to himself, "The carriage moves off—the man approaches. Perdition! it is gone and I see no more."



CHAPTER XL. ANXIETY.

By a singular coincidence of ideas, Adrienne, like Djalma, had wished to be dressed exactly in the same costume as at their interview in the house in the Rue Blanche. For the site of this solemn meeting, so important to her future happiness, Adrienne had chosen, with habitual tact, the grand drawing-room of Cardoville House, in which hung many family portraits. The most apparent were those of her father and mother. The room was large and lofty, and furnished, like those which preceded it, with all the imposing splendor of the age of Louis XIV. The ceiling, painted by Lebrun, to represent the Triumph of Apollo, displayed his bold designing and vigorous coloring, in the centre of a wide cornice, magnificently carved and gilt, and supported at its angles by four large gilt figures, representing the Seasons. Huge panels, covered with crimson damask, and set in frames, served as the background to the family portraits which adorned this apartment. It is easier to conceive than describe the thousand conflicting emotions which agitated the bosom of Mdlle. de Cardoville as the moment approached for her interview with Djalma. Their meeting had been hitherto prevented by so many painful obstacles, and Adrienne was so well aware of the vigilant and active perfidy of her enemies, that even now she doubted of her happiness. Every instant, in spite of herself, her eyes wandered to the clock. A few minutes more, and the hour of the appointment would strike. It struck at last. Every reverberation was echoed from the depth of Adrienne's heart. She considered that Djalma's modest reserve had, doubtless, prevented his coming before the moment fixed by herself. Far from blaming this discretion, she fully appreciated it. But, from that moment, at the least noise in the adjoining apartments, she held her breath and listened with the anxiety of expectation.

For the first few minutes which followed the hour at which she expected Djalma, Mdlle. de Cardoville felt no serious apprehension, and calmed her impatience by the notion (which appears childish enough to those who have never known the feverish agitation of waiting for a happy meeting), that perhaps the clocks in the Rue Blanche might vary a little from those in the Rue d'Anjou. But when this supposed variation, conceivable enough in itself, could no longer explain a delay of a quarter of an hour, of twenty minutes, of more, Adrienne felt her anxiety gradually increase. Two or three times the young girl rose, with palpitating heart, and went on tip-toe to listen at the door of the saloon. She heard nothing. The clock struck half-past three.

Unable to suppress her growing terror, and clinging to a last hope, Adrienne returned towards the fireplace and rang the bell. After which she endeavored to compose her features, so as to betray no outward sign of emotion. In a few seconds, a gray-haired footman, dressed in black, opened the door, and waited in respectful silence for the orders of his mistress. The latter said to him, in a calm voice, "Andrew, request Hebe to give you the smelling bottle that I left on the chimney-piece in my room, and bring it me here." Andrew bowed; but just as he was about to withdraw to execute Adrienne's orders, which was only a pretext to enable her to ask a question without appearing to attach much importance to it in her servant's eyes, already informed of the expected visit of the prince, Mdlle. de Cardoville added, with an air of indifference. "Pray, is that clock right?"

Andrew drew out his watch, and replied as he cast his eyes upon it, "Yes, mademoiselle. I set my watch by the Tuileries. It is more than half past three."

"Very well—thank you!" said Adrienne kindly.

Andrew again bowed; but, before going out, he said to Adrienne, "I forgot to tell you, lady, that Marshal Simon called about an hour ago; but, as you were only to be at home to Prince Djalma, we told him that you received no company."

"Very well," said Adrienne. With another low bow, Andrew quitted the room, and all returned to silence.

For the precise reason that, up to the last minute of the hour previous to the time fixed for her interview with Djalma, the hopes of Adrienne had not been disturbed by the slightest shadow of doubt, the disappointment she now felt was the more dreadful. Casting a desponding look at one of the portraits placed above her, she murmured, with a plaintive and despairing accent, "Oh, mother!"

Hardly had Mdlle. de Cardoville uttered the words than the windows were slightly shaken by a carriage rolling into the courtyard. The young lady started, and was unable to repress a low cry of joy. Her heart bounded at the thought of meeting Djalma, for this time she felt that he was really come. She was quite as certain of it as if she had seen him. She resumed her seat and brushed away a tear suspended from her long eyelashes. Her hand trembled like a leaf. The sound of several doors opening and shutting proved that the young lady was right in her conjecture. The gilded panels of the drawing-room door soon turned upon their hinges, and the prince appeared.

While a second footman ushered in Djalma, Andrew placed on a gilded table, within reach of his mistress, a little silver salver, on which stood the crystal smelling-bottle. Then he withdrew, and the door of the room was closed. The prince and Mdlle. de Cardoville were left alone together.



CHAPTER XLI. ADRIENNE AND DJALMA.

The prince had slowly approached Mdlle. de Cardoville. Notwithstanding the impetuosity of the Oriental's passions, his uncertain and timid step—timid, yet graceful—betrayed his profound emotion. He did not venture to lift his eyes to Adrienne's face; he had suddenly become very pale, and his finely formed hands, folded over his bosom in the attitude of adoration, trembled violently. With head bent down, he remained standing at a little distance from Adrienne. This embarrassment, ridiculous in any other person, appeared touching in this prince of twenty years of age, endowed with an almost fabulous intrepidity, and of so heroic and generous a character, that no traveller could speak of the son of Kadja sing without a tribute of admiration and respect. Sweet emotion! chaste reserve! doubly interesting if we consider that the burning passions of this youth were all the more inflammable, because they had hitherto been held in check.

No less embarrassed than her cousin, Adrienne de Cardoville remained seated. Like Djalma, she cast down her eyes; but the burning blush on her cheeks, the quick heaving of her virgin bosom, revealed an emotion that she did not even attempt to hide. Notwithstanding the powers of her mind, by turns gay, graceful, and witty—notwithstanding the decision of her proud and independent character, and her complete acquaintance with the manners of the world—Adrienne shared Djalma's simple and enchanting awkwardness, and partook of that kind of temporary weakness, beneath which these two pure, ardent, and loving beings appeared sinking—as if unable to support the boiling agitation of the senses, combined with the intoxicating excitement of the heart. And yet their eyes had not met. Each seemed to fear the first electric shock of the other's glance—that invincible attraction of two impassioned beings—that sacred fire, which suddenly kindles the blood, and lifts two mortals from earth to heaven; for it is to approach the Divinity to give one's self up with religious fervor to the most noble and irresistible sentiment that He has implanted within us—the only sentiment that, in His adorable wisdom, the Dispenser of all good has vouchsafed to sanctify, by endowing it with a spark of His own creative energy.

Djalma was the first to raise his eyes. They were moist and sparkling. The excitement of passionate love, the burning ardor of his age, so long repressed, the intense admiration in which he held ideal beauty, were all expressed in his look, mingled with respectful timidity, and gave to the countenance of this youth an undefinable, irresistible character. Yes, irresistible!—for, when Adrienne encountered his glance, she trembled in every limb, and felt herself attracted by a magnetic power. Already, her eyes were heavy with a kind of intoxicating languor, when, by a great effort of will and dignity, she succeeded in overcoming this delicious confusion, rose from her chair, and said to Djalma in a trembling voice: "Prince, I am happy to receive you here." Then, pointing to one of the portraits suspended above her, she added, as if introducing him to a living person: "Prince—my mother!"

With an instinct of rare delicacy, Adrienne had thus summoned her mother to be present at her interview with Djalma. It seemed a security for herself and the prince, against the seductions of a first interview—which was likely to be all the more perilous, that they both knew themselves madly loved that they both were free, and had only to answer to Providence for the treasures of happiness and enjoyment with which He had so magnificently endowed them. The prince understood Adrienne's thoughts; so that, when the young lady pointed to the portrait, Djalma, by a spontaneous movement full of grace and simplicity, knelt down before the picture, and said to it in a gentle, but manly voice: "I will love and revere you as my mother. And, in thought, my mother too shall be present, and stand like you, beside your child!"

No better answer could have been given to the feeling which induced Mdlle. de Cardoville to place herself, as it were, under the protection of her mother. From that moment, confident in Djalma, confident in herself, the young lady felt more at her ease, and the delicious sense of happiness replaced those exciting emotions, which had at first so violently agitated her.

Then, seating herself once more, she said to Djalma, as she pointed to the opposite chair: "Pray take a seat, my dear cousin; and allow me to call you so, for there is too much ceremony in the word prince; and do you call me cousin also, for I find other names too grave. Having settled this point, we can talk together like old friends."

"Yes cousin," answered Djalma, blushing.

"And, as frankness is proper between friends," resumed Adrienne, "I have first to make you a reproach," she added, with a half-smile.

The prince had remained standing, with his arm resting on the chimney piece, in an attitude full of grace and respect.

"Yes, cousin," continued Adrienne, "a reproach, that you will perhaps forgive me for making. I had expected you a little sooner."

"Perhaps, cousin, you may blame me for having come so soon."

"What do you mean?"

"At the moment when I left home, a man, whom I did not know, approached my carriage, and said to me, with such an air of sincerity that I believed him: 'You are able to save the life of a person who has been a second father to you. Marshal Simon is in great danger, and, to rescue him, you must follow me on the instant—'"

"It was a snare," cried Adrienne, hastily. "Marshal Simon was here, scarcely an hour ago."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Djalma, joyfully, and as if he had been relieved from a great weight. "Then there will be nothing to sadden this happy day!"

"But, cousin," resumed Adrienne, "how came you not to suspect this emissary?"

"Some words, which afterwards escaped from him, inspired me with doubts," answered Djalma: "but at first I followed him, fearing the marshal might be in danger—for I know that he also has enemies."

"Now that I reflect on it, you were quite right, cousin, for some new plot against the marshal was probable enough; and the least doubt was enough to induce you to go to him."

"I did so—even though you were waiting for me."

"It was a generous sacrifice; and my esteem for you is increased by it, if it could be increased," said Adrienne, with emotion. "But what became of this man?"

"At my desire, he got into the carriage with me. Anxious about the marshal, and in despair at seeing the time wasted, that I was to have passed with you, cousin, I pressed him with all sorts of questions. Several times, he replied to me with embarrassment, and then the idea struck me that the whole might be a snare. Remembering all that they had already attempted, to ruin me in your opinion, I immediately changed my course. The vexation of the man who accompanied me then because so visible, that I ought to have had no doubt upon the subject. Still, when I thought of Marshal Simon, I felt a kind of vague remorse, which you, cousin, have now happily set at rest."

"Those people are implacable!" said Adrienne; "but our happiness will be stronger than their hate."

After a moment's silence, she resumed, with her habitual frankness: "My dear cousin, it is impossible for me to conceal what I have at heart. Let us talk for a few seconds of the past, which was made so painful to us, and then we will forget it forever, like an evil dream."

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