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just as the captive, in his mournful hours
of leisure, counts the nails in the door of
his prison, or the bars of the grated win-
dow. This was already a great point
gained by the reverend fathers.

And soon his weakened mind was struck
with the apparent correctness of these false
and melancholy aphorisms.

Thus he read:

"Do not count upon the affection of any
human creature" and he had himself
been shamefully betrayed.

"Man is born to sorrow and despair"
and he was himself despairing.

"There is no rest save in the cessation of


thought" and the slumber of his mind
had brought some relief to his pain.

Peepholes, skillfully concealed by the
hangings and in the wainscoting of these
apartments, enabled the reverend fathers
at all times to see and hear the boarders,
and, above all, to observe their countenance
and manner, when they believed them-
selves to be alone. Every exclamation of
grief which escaped Hardy in his gloomy
solitude was repeated to Father d'Aigrigny
by a mysterious listener. The reverend
father, following scrupulously Rodin's in-
structions, had at first visited his boarder
very rarely. We have said that when
Father d'Aigrigny wished it he could dis-
play an almost irresistible power of charm-
ing; and accordingly he threw all his tact
and skill into the interviews he had with
Hardy, when he came from time to time
to inquire after his health. Informed of
everything by his spies, and aided by his
natural sagacity, he soon saw all the use
that might be made of the physical and
moral prostration of the boarder. Certain
beforehand that Hardy would not take the
hint, he spoke to him frequently of the
gloom of the house, advising him affection-
ately to leave it, if he felt oppressed by its
monotony, or at all events to seek beyond


its walls for some pleasure and amusement.
To speak of pleasure and amusement to
this unfortunate man was in his present
state to insure a refusal, and so it of course
happened. Father d'Aigrigny did not at
first try to gain the recluse's confidence,
nor did he speak to him of sorrow; but
every time he came, he appeared to take
such a tender interest in him, and showed
it by a few simple and well-timed words.
By degrees, these interviews, at first so
rare, became more frequent and longer.
Endowed with a flow of honeyed, insinu-
ating, and persuasive eloquence, Father
d'Aigrigny naturally took for his theme
those gloomy maxims, to which Hardy's
attention was now so often directed.

Supple, prudent, skillful, knowing that
the hermit had hitherto professed that gen-
erous natural religion which teaches the
grateful adoration of God, the love of
humanity, the worship of what is just and
good, and which, disdaining dogmas, pro-
fesses the same veneration for Marcus
Aurelius as for Confucius, for Plato as for
Christ, for Moses as for Lycurgus Father
d'Aigrigny did not at first attempt to con-
vert him, but began by incessantly remind-
ing him of the abominable deceptions prac-
ticed upon him; and, instead of describing


such treachery as an exception in life in-
stead of trying to calm, encourage, and
revive this drooping soul instead of .ex-
horting Hardy to seek oblivion and conso-
lation in the discharge of his duties toward
humanity, toward his brethren, whom he
had previously loved and succored Father
d'Aigrigny strove to inflame the bleeding
wounds of the unfortunate man, painted
the human race in the most atrocious
blackness, and, by declaring all men
treacherous, ungrateful, wicked, suc-
ceeded in rendering his despair incur-
able. Having attained this object, the
Jesuit took another step. Knowing
Hardy's admirable goodness of heart,
and profiting by the weakened state of
his mind, he spoke to him of the consola-
tion to be derived, by a man overwhelmed
with sorrow, from the belief that every
one of his tears, instead of being unfruit-
ful, was in fact^ agreeable to God, and
might aid in the salvation of souls the
belief, as the reverend father adroitly
added, that by faith alone can sorrow be
made useful to humanity, and acceptable
to Divinity.

Whatever impiety, whatever atrocious
Machiavelism there was in these detesta-
ble maxims, which make of a loving-kind
VOL. 51


Deity a being delighted with the tears of
His creatures, was thus skillfully concealed
from Hardy's eyes, whose generous in-
stincts were still alive. Soon did this
loving and tender soul, whom unworthy
priests were driving to a sort of moral
suicide, find a mournful charm in the fic-
tion, that his sorrows would at least be
profitable to other men. It was at first a
fiction ; but the enfeebled mind which takes
pleasure in such a fable, finishes by receiv-
ing it as a reality, and by degrees will sub-
mit to the consequences. Such was Hardy's
moral and physical state, when, by means
of a servant who had been bought over, he
received from Agricola Baudoin a letter
requesting an interview. Alone, the
workman could not have broken the band
of the Jesuit's pleadings, but he was ac-
companied by Gabriel, whose eloquence
and reasonings were of a most convincing
nature to a spirit like Hardy's.

It is unnecessary to point out to the
reader with what dignified reserve Gabriel
had confined himself to the most generous
means of rescuing Hardy from the deadly
influence of the reverend fathers. It was
repugnant to the great soul of the young
missionary to stoop to a revelation of the
odious plots of these priests. He would


only have taken this extreme course had
his powerful and sympathetic words failed
to have any effect on Hardy's blindness. -
About a quarter of an hour had elapsed
since Gabriel's departure, when the serv-
ant appointed to wait on this boarder of
the reverend fathers entered and delivered
to him a letter.

"From whom is this?" asked Hardy.

"From a boarder in the house, sir," an-
swered the servant, bowing.

This man had a crafty and hypocritical
face; he wore his hair combed over his
forehead, spoke in a low voice, and always'
cast down his eyes. Waiting the answer,
he joined his hands, and began to twiddle
his thumbs. Hardy opened the letter and
read as follows :

"Sm I have only just heard, by mere
chance, that you also inhabit this respect-
able house ; a long illness, and the retire-
ment in which I live, will explain my igno-
rance of your being so near. Though we
have only met once, sir, the circumstance
which led to that meeting was of so serious
a nature, that I cannot think you have
forgotten it."

Hardy stopped, and tasked his memory
for an explanation, and not finding any-


thing to put him on the right track, he
continued to read :

"This circumstance excited in me a feel-
ing of such deep and respectful sympathy
for you, sir, that I cannot resist my anxi-
ous desire to wait upon you, particularly
as I learn that you intend leaving this
house to-day a piece of information I
have just derived from the excellent and
worthy Abbe Gabriel, one of the men I
most love, esteem, and reverence. May
I venture to hope, sir, that just at the mo-
ment of quitting our common retreat to re-
turn to the world, you will deign to receive
favorably the request, however intrusive,
of a poor old man, whose life will hence-
forth be passed in solitude, arid who can-
not therefore have any prospect of meeting
you in that vortex of society which he has
abandoned forever. "Waiting the honor of
your answer, I beg you to accept, sir, the
assurance of the sentiments of high esteem
with which I remain, sir, with the deepest

"Your very humble and most obedient
servant, RODIN."

After reading this letter and the signa-
ture of the writer, Hardy remained for


some time in deep thought, without being
able to recollect the name of Rodin, or to
what serious circumstance he alluded.

After a silence of some duration, he said
to the servant: "M. Rodin gave you this

"Yes, sir."

"And who is M. Rodin?"

"A good old gentleman, who is just re-
covering from a long illness that almost
carried him off. Lately, he has been get-
ting better, but he is still so weak and
melancholy that it makes one sad to see
him. It is a great pity, for there is not a
better and more worthy gentleman in the
house unless it be you, sir," added the
servant, bowing with an air of flattering

"M. Rodin?" said Hardy, thoughtfully.
"It is singular that I should not remember
the name, nor any circumstances connected
with it."

"If you will give me your answer, sir,"
resumed the servant, "I will take it to M.
Rodin. He is now with Father d'Aigri-
gny, to whom he is bidding farewell."


"Yes, sir, the post-horses have just

"Post-horses for whom?"


"For Father d'Aigrigny, sir."

"He is going on a journey, then!" said
Hardy, with some surprise.

"Oh! he will not, I think, be long ab-
sent," said the servant, with a confidential
air, "for the reverend father takes no one
with him, and but very light luggage. No
doubt, the reverend father will come to
say farewell to you, sir, before he starts.
But what answer shall I give M. Rodin?"

The letter, just received, was couched in
such polite terms it spoke of Gabriel with
so much respect that Hardy, urged more-
over by a natural curiosity, and seeing no
motive to refuse this interview before
quitting the house, said to the servant:
"Please tell M. Rodin that, if he will give
himself the trouble to come to me, I shall
be glad to see him."

"I will let him knftw immediately, sir,"
answered the servant, bowing as he left
the room.

When alone, Hardy, while wondering
who this M. Rodin could be, began to
make some slight preparations for his de-
parture. For nothing in the world would
he have passed another night in this house ;
and, in order to keep up his courage, he
recalled every instant the mild, evangeli-
cal language of Gabriel, just as the super-


stitious recite certain litanies, with the
view of ^escaping from temptation.

The servant soon returned, and said:
"M. Rodin is here, sir."

"Beg him to walk in." "

Rodin entered, clad in his long black
dressing-gown, with his old silk cap in his
hand. The servant then withdrew. The
day was just closing. Hardy rose to meet
Rodin, whose features he did not at first
distinguish. But, as the reverend father
approached the window, Hardy looked
narrowly at him for an instant, and then
uttered an exclamation, wrung from him
by surprise and painful remembrance.
But, recovering himself from this first
movement, Hardy said to the Jesuit, in
an agitated voice: "You here, sir? Oh,
you are right ! It was indeed a very seri-
ous circumstance that first brought us to-

"Oh, my dear sir!" said Rodin, in a
kindly and unctuous tone; "I was sure
you would not have forgotten me."



IT will doubtless be remembered that
Rodin gone (although a stranger to


Hardy) to visit him at his factory, and in-
form him of De Blessac's shameful treach-
ery a dreadful blow, which had only pre-
ceded by a few moments a second no less
horrible misfortune; for it was in the pres-
ence of Rodin that Hardy had learned the
unexpected departure of the woman he
adored. Painful to him must have been
the sudden appearance of Rodin. Yet,
thanks to the salutary influence of Ga-
briel's counsels, he recovered himself by
degrees, and the contraction of his features
being succeeded by a melancholy calm, he
said to Rodin: "I did not indeed expect to
meet you, sir, in this house."

"Alas, sir!" answered Rodin, with a
sigh, "I did not expect to come hither,
probably to end my days beneath this roof,
when I went, without being acquainted
with you, but only as one honest man
should serve another, to unveil to you a
great infamy."

"Indeed, sir, you then rendered me a
true service ; perhaps, in that painful mo-
ment, I did not fully express my gratitude;
for, at the same moment in which you re-
vealed to me the treachery of Monsieur de
Blessac "

"You were overwhelmed by another
piece of painful intelligence, " said Rodin,


interrupting M. Hardy; "I shall never
forget the sudden arrival of that poor wo-
man, who, pale and affrighted, and with-
out considering my presence, came to in-
form you that a person who was exceed-
ingly dear to you had quitted Paris

"Yes, sir; and, without stopping to
thank you, I set out immediately," an-
swered Hardy, with a mournful air.

"Do you know, sir," said Rodin, after
a 'moment's silence, "that there are some-
times very strange coincidences?"

"To what do you allude, sir?"

"While I went to inform you that you
were betrayed in so infamous a manner
I was myself"

Rodin paused, as if unable to control his
deep emotion, and his countenance wore
the expression of such overpowering grief
that Hardy said to him with interest:
"What ails you, sir?"

"Forgive me," replied Rodin, with a
bitter smile. "Thanks to the ghostly
counsels of the angelic Abbe Gabriel, I
have reached a sort of resignation. Still
there are certain memories which affect me
with the most acute pain. I told you,"
resumed Rodin, in a firmer voice, "or was
going to tell you, that the very day after


that on which I informed you of the
treachery practiced against you, I was
myself the victim of a frightful deception.
An adopted son a poor unfortunate child
whom I had brought up ' He paused
again, drew his trembling hand over his
eyes, and added : ' ' Pardon me, sir, for
speaking of matters which must be in-
different to you. Excuse the intrusive
sorrow of a poor, broken-hearted old

"I have suffered too much myself, sir,
to be indifferent to any kind of sorrow," re-
plied Hardy. "Besides, you are no stran-
ger to me for you did me a real service
and we both agree in our veneration for
the same young priest."

"The Abbe Gabriel!" cried Rodin, in-
terrupting Hardy; "ah, sir! he is my de-
liverer, my benefactor. If you knew all
his care and devotion, during my long ill-
ness, caused by intense grief if you knew
the ineffable sweetness of his counsels "

"I know them, sir," cried Hardy; "oh,
yes ! I know how salutary is the influence. "

"In his mouth, sir, the precepts of re-
ligion are full of mildness," resumed Ro-
din, with excitement. "Do they not heal
and console? do they not make us love and
hope, instead of fear and tremble?"


"Alas, sir! in this very house," said
Hardy, "I have been able, to make the

"I was happy enough," said Rodin, "to
have the angelic Abbe Gabriel for my con-
fessor, or, rather, my confidant."

"Yes," replied Hardy, "for he prefers
confidence to confession."

"How well you know him!" said Ro-
din, in a tone of the utmost simplicity.
Then he resumed: "He is not a man, but
an angel. His words would convert the
most hardened sinner. Without being
exactly impious, I had myself lived in the
profession of what is called Natural Relig-
ion ; but the angelic Abbe Gabriel has, by
degrees, fixed my wavering belief, given
it body and soul, and, in fact, endowed me
with faith."

"Yes! he i a truly Christian priest a
priest of love and pardon!" cried Hardy.

"What you say is perfectly true," re-
plied Rodin-; "for I came here almost mad
with grief, thinking only of the unhappy
boy who had repaid my paternal goodness
with the most monstrous ingratitude, and
sometimes I yielded to violent bursts of de-
spair, and sometimes sunk into a state of
mournful dejection, cold as the grave it-
self. But, suddenly, the Abbe Gabriel


appeared and the darkness fled before the
dawning of a new day."

"You were right, sir; there are strange
coincidences," said Hardy, yielding more
and more to the feeling of confidence and
sympathy, produced by the resemblance
of his real position to Rodin's pretended
one. "And to speak frankly," he added,
"I am very glad I have seen you before
quitting this house. Were I capable of
falling back into fits of cowardly weakness,
your example alone would prevent me.
Since I listen to you, I feel myself stronger
in the noble path which the angelic Abbe
Gabriel has opened before me, as you so
well express it."

"The poor old man will not then regret
having listened to the first impulse of his
heart, which urged him to come to you,"
said Rodin, with a touching expression.
"You will sometimes remember me in that
world to which you are returning?"

"Be sure of it, sir; but allow me to ask
one question : You remain, you say, in this

"What would you have me do? There
reigns here a calm repose, and one is not
disturbed in one's prayers," said Rodin, in
a very gentle tone. "You see, I have suf-
fered so much the conduct of that un-


happy youth was so horrible he plunged
into such shocking excesses that the
wrath of Heaven must he kindled against
him. Now I am very old, and it is only
by passing the few days that are left me
in fervent prayer that lean hope to disarm
the just anger of the Lord. Oh ! prayer
prayer! It was the Abbe Gabriel who
revealed to me all its power and sweetness
and therewith the formidable duties it

"Its duites are indeed great and sacred, "
answered Hardy, with a pensive air.

"Do you remember the life of Rancey?"
said Rodin, abruptly, as he darted a pe-
culiar glance at Hardy.

"The founder of La Trappe?" said
Hardy, surprised at Rodin's question. "I
remember hearing a very vague account,
some time ago, of the motives of his con-

"There is, mark you, no more striking
an example of the power of prayer, and of
the state of almost divine ecstasy to which
it may lead a religious soul. In a few
words, I will relate to you this instructive
and tragic history. Rancey but I beg
your pardon ; I fear I am trespassing on
your time."

"No, no," answered Hardy, hastily;


"you cannot think how interested I am
in what you tell me. My interview with
the Abbe Gabriel was abruptly broken off,
and in listening to you I fancy that I hear
the further development of his views. Go
on, I conjure you."

"With all my heart. I only wish that
the instruction which, thanks to our angelic
priest, I derived from the story of Rancey,
might be as profitable to you as it was to

"This, then, also came from the Abbe

"He related to me this kind of parable
in support of his exhortations," replied
Rodin. "Oh, sir! do I not owe to the
consoling words of that young priest all
that has strengthened and revived my poor
old broken heart?" .

"Then I shall listen to you with a double

"Rancey was a man of the world," re-
sumed Rodin, as he looked attentively at
Hardy; "a gentleman young, ardent,
and handsome. He loved a young lady
of high rank. I cannot tell what impedi-
ments stood in the way of their union. But
this love, though successful, was kept
secret, and every evening Rancey visited
his mistress by means of a private stair-


case. It was, they say, one of those pas-
sionate loves which men feel but once in
their lives. The mystery, even the sacri-
fice made by the unfortunate girl, who
forgot every duty, seemed to give new
charms to this guilty passion. In the si-
lence and darkness of secrecy, these two
lovers passed two years of voluptuous de-
lirium,, which amounted almost to ecstasy. "
At these words Hardy started. For the
first time of late his brow was suffused
with a deep blush ; his heart throbbed vio-
lently; he remembered that he too had
once known the ardent intoxication of a
guilty and hidden love. Though the day
was closing rapidly, Rodin cast a sidelong
glance at Hardy, and perceived the im-
pression he had made. "Sometimes," he
continued, "thinking of the dangers to
which his mistress was exposed, if their
connection should be discovered, Rancey
wished to sever these delicious ties; but
the girl, beside herself with passion, threw
herself on the neck of her lover, and threat-
ened him, in the language of intense excite-
ment, to reveal and to brave all, if he
thought of leaving her. Too weak and
loving to resist the prayers of his mistress,
Rancey again and again yielded, and they
both gave themselves up to a torrent of


delight, which carried them along, forget-
ful of earth and heaven."

M. Hardy listened to Rodin with fever-
ish and devouring avidity. The Jesuit, in
painting, with these almost sensual colors,
an ardent and secret love, revived in Hardy
burning memories, which till now had
been drowned in tears. To the beneficent
calm produced by the mild language of
Gabriel had succeeded a painful agitation,
which, mingled with the reaction of the
shocks received that day, began to throw
his mind into a strange state of confusion.

Rodin, having so far succeeded in his
object, continued as follows: "A fatal day
came at last. Rancey, obliged to go to
the wars, quitted the girl; but, after a
short campaign, he returned, more in love
than ever. He had written privately, to
say he would arrive almost immediately
after his letter. He came accordingly. It
was night. He ascended, as usual, the
private staircase which led to the chamber
of his mistress; he entered the room, his
heart beating with love and hope. His
mistress had died that morning!"

"Ah!" cried Hardy, covering his face
with his hands, in terror.

' ' She was dead, ' ' resumed Rodin. " T wo
wax candles were burning beside the funeral


couch. Rancey could not, would not, be-
lieve that she was dead. He threw him-
self on his knees by the corpse. In his
delirium, he seized that fair, beloved head
to cover it with kisses. The head parted
from the body and remained in his hands!
Yes," resumed Rodin, as Hardy drew
back, pale and mute with terror, "yes,
the girl had fallen a victim to so swift and
extraordinary a disease, that she had not
been able to receive the last sacraments.
After her death, the doctors, in the hope
of discovering the cause of this unknown
malady, had begun to dissect that fair

As Rodin reached this part of his narra-
tive, night 'was almost come. A sort of
hazy twilight alone reigned in this silent
chamber, in the center of which appeared
the pale and ghastly from of Rodin, clad
in his long black gown, while his eyes
seemed to sparkle with diabolic fire. Over-
come by the violent emotions occasioned by
this story, in which thoughts of death and
voluptuousness, love and horror, were so
strangely mingled, Hardy remained fixed
and motionless, waiting for the words of
Rodin, with a combination of curiosity,
anguish, and alarm.

"And Rancey?" said he, at last, in an


agitated voice, while he wiped the cold
sweat from his brow.

"After two days of furious delirium,"
resumed Rodin, "he renounced the world,
and shut himself up in impenetrable soli-
tude. The first period of his retreat was
frightful; in his despair he uttered loud
yells of grief and rage that were audible
at some distance; twice he attempted
suicide, to escape from the terrible vi-

"He had visions, then?" said Hardy,
with an increased agony of curiosity.

"Yes," replied Rodin in a solemn tone,
"he had fearful visions. He saw the girl
who, for his sake, had died in mortal sin.
plunged in the heat of the 'everlasting
flames of hell! On that fair face, disfig-
ured by infernal tortures, was stamped the
despairing laugh of the damned! Her
teeth gnashed with pain ; her arms writhed
in anguish ! She wept tears of blood, and,
with agonized and avenging voice, she
cried to her seducer: 'Thou art the cause
of my perdition my curse, my curse be
upon thee!' '

As he pronounced these last words, Ro-
din advanced three steps nearer to Hardy,
accompanying each step with a menacing
gesture. If we remember the state of


weakness, trouble, and fear, in which M.
Hardy was if we remember that the
Jesuit had just roused in the soul of this
unfortunate man all the sensual and spirit-
ual memories of a love, cooled, but not ex-
tinguished, in tears if we remember, too,
that Hardy reproached himself with the
seduction of a beloved object, whom her
departure from her duties might (accord-
ing to the Catholic faith) doom to everlast-

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Online LibraryEugène SueThe wandering Jew ; (Volume 5) → online text (page 10 of 26)