The Wandering Jew— Volume 3

Contents:
Author: Eugène Sue

Chapter XLIII. A False Friend.

Night had set in dark and cold. The sky, which had been clear till the sun went down, was now covered with gray and lurid clouds; a strong wind raised here and there, in circling eddies, the snow that was beginning to fall thick and fast.

The lamps threw a dubious light into the interior of Dr. Baleinier’s carriage, in which he was seated alone with Adrienne de Cardoville. The charming countenance of the latter, faintly illumined by the lamps beneath the shade of her little gray hat, looked doubly white and pure in contrast with the dark lining of the carriage, which was now filled with that, sweet, delicious, and almost voluptuous perfume which hangs about the garments of young women of taste. The attitude of the girl, seated next to the doctor, was full of grace. Her slight and elegant figure, imprisoned in her high-necked dress of blue cloth, imprinted its wavy outline on the soft cushion against which she leaned; her little feet, crossed one upon the other, and stretched rather forward, rested upon a thick bear-skin, which carpeted the bottom of the carriage. In her hand, which was ungloved and dazzlingly white, she held a magnificently embroidered handkerchief, with which, to the great astonishment of M. Baleinier, she dried her eyes, now filled with tears.

Yes; Adrienne wept, for she now felt the reaction from the painful scenes through which she had passed at Saint-Dizier House; to the feverish and nervous excitement, which had till then sustained her, had succeeded a sorrowful dejection. Resolute in her independence, proud in her disdain, implacable in her irony, audacious in her resistance to unjust oppression, Adrienne was yet endowed with the most acute sensibility, which she always dissembled, however, in the presence of her aunt and those who surrounded her.

Notwithstanding her courage, no one could have been less masculine, less of a virago, than Mdlle. Cardoville. She was essentially womanly, but as a woman, she knew how to exercise great empire over herself, the moment that the least mark of weakness on her part would have rejoiced or emboldened her enemies.

The carriage had rolled onwards for some minutes; but Adrienne, drying her tears in silence, to the doctor’s great astonishment, had not yet uttered a word.

"What, my dear Mdlle. Adrienne?" said M. Baleinier, truly surprised at her emotion; "what! you, that were just now so courageous, weeping?"

"Yes," answered Adrienne, in an agitated voice; "I weep in presence of a friend; but, before my aunt—oh! never."

"And yet, in that long interview, your stinging replies "

"Ah me! do you think that I resigned myself with pleasure to that war of sarcasm? Nothing is more painful to me than such combats of bitter irony, to which I am forced by the necessity of defending myself from this woman and her friends. You speak of my courage: it does not consist, I assure you, in the display of wicked feelings—but in the power to repress and hide all that I suffer, when I hear myself treated so grossly—in the presence, too, of people that I hate and despise— when, after all, I have never done them any harm, and have only asked to be allowed to live alone, freely and quietly, and see those about me happy."

"That’s where it is: they envy your happiness, and that which you bestow upon others."

"And it is my aunt," cried Adrienne, with indignation, "my aunt, whose whole life has been one long scandal that accuses me in this revolting manner!—as if she did not know me proud and honest enough never to make a choice of which I should be ashamed! Oh! if I ever love, I shall proclaim it, I shall be proud of it: for love, as I understand it, is the most glorious feeling in the world. But, alas!" continued Adrienne, with redoubled bitterness, "of what use are truth and honor, if they do not secure you from suspicions, which are as absurd as they are odious?" So saying, she again pressed her handkerchief to her eyes.

"Come, my dear Mdlle. Adrienne," said M. Baleinier, in a voice full of the softest unction, "becalm—it is all over now. You have in me a devoted friend." As he pronounced these last words, he blushed in spite of his diabolical craft.

"I know you are my friend," said Adrienne: "I shall never forget that, by taking my part to-day, you exposed yourself to the resentment of my aunt- -for I am not ignorant of her power, which is very great, alas! for evil."

"As for that," said the doctor, affecting a profound indifference, "we medical men are pretty safe from personal enmities."

"Nay, my dear M. Baleinier! Mme. de Saint-Dizier and her friends never forgive," said the young girl, with a shudder. "It needed all my invincible aversion, my innate horror for all that is base, cowardly, and perfidious, to induce me to break so openly with her. But if death itself were the penalty, I could not hesitate and yet," she added, with one of those graceful smiles which gave such a charm to her beautiful countenance, "yet I am fond of life: if I have to reproach myself with anything, it is that I would have it too bright, too fair, too harmonious; but then, you know, I am resigned to my faults."

"Well, come, I am more tranquil," said the doctor, gayly; "for you smile- -that is a good sign."

"It is often the wisest course; and yet, ought I smile, after the threats that my aunt has held out to me? Still, what can she do? what is the meaning of this kind of family council? Did she seriously think that the advice of a M. D’Aigrigny or a M. Tripeaud could have influenced me? And then she talked of rigorous measures. What measures can she take; do you know?"

"I think, between ourselves, that the princess only wished to frighten you, and hopes to succeed by persuasion. She has the misfortune to fancy herself a mother of the Church, and dreams of your conversion," said the doctor, maliciously, for he now wished to tranquillize Adrienne at any cost; "but let us think no more about it. Your fire eyes must shine with all their lustre, to fascinate the minister that we are going to see."

"You are right, dear doctor; we ought always avoid grief, for it has the disadvantage of making us forget the sorrows of others. But here am I, availing myself of your kindness, without even telling you what I require."

"Luckily, we shall have plenty of time to talk over it, for our statesman lives at some distance."

"In two words, here’s the mystery," answered Adrienne. "I told you what reasons I had to interest myself in that honest workman. This morning he came to me in great grief, to inform me that he was compromised by some songs he had written (for he is a poet), and that, though innocent, he was threatened with an arrest; and if they put him into prison, his family, whose sole support he is, would die of hunger. Therefore he came to beg me to procure bail for him, so that he might be left at liberty to work: I promised immediately, thinking of your interest with the minister; for, as they were already in pursuit of the poor lad, I chose to conceal him in my residence, and you know how my aunt has twisted that action. Now tell me, do you think, that, by means of your recommendation, the minister will grant me the freedom of this workman, bail being given for the same?"

"No doubt of it. There will not be the shadow of a difficulty— especially when you have explained the facts to him, with that eloquence of the heart which you possess in perfection."

"Do you know, my dear Dr. Baleinier, why I have taken the resolution (which is perhaps a strange one) to ask you to accompany me to the minister’s?"

"Why, doubtless, to recommend your friend in a more effective manner."

"Yes—but also to put an end, by a decisive step, to the calumnies which my aunt will be sure to spread with regard to me, and which she has already, you know, had inserted in the report of the commissary of police. I have preferred to address myself at once, frankly and openly, to a man placed in a high social position. I will explain all to him, who will believe me, because truth has an accent of its own."

"All this, my dear Mdlle. Adrienne, is wisely planned. You will, as the saw says, kill two birds with one stone—or rather, you will obtain by one act of kindness two acts of justice; you will destroy a dangerous calumny, and restore a worthy youth to liberty."

"Come," said Adrienne, laughing, "thanks to this pleasing prospect, my light heart has returned."

"How true that in life," said the doctor, philosophically, "everything depends on the point of view."

Adrienne was so completely ignorant of the forms of a constitutional government, and had so blind a confidence in the doctor, that she did not doubt for an instant what he told her. She therefore resumed with joy: "What happiness it will be! when I go to fetch the daughters of Marshal Simon, to be able to console this workman’s mother, who is now perhaps in a state of cruel anxiety, at not seeing her son return home!"

"Yes, you will have this pleasure," said M. Baleinier, with a smile; "for we will solicit and intrigue to such purpose, that the good, mother may learn from you the release of her son before she even knows that he has been arrested."

"How kind, how obliging you are!" said Adrienne. "Really, if the motive were not so serious, I should he ashamed of making you lose so much precious time, my dear M. Baleinier. But I know your heart."

"I have no other wish, than to prove to you my profound devotion, my sincere attachment," said the doctor inhaling a pinch of snuff. But at the same time, he cast an uneasy glance through the window, for the carriage was just crossing the Place de l’Odeon, and in spite of the snow, he could see the front of the Odeon theatre brilliantly illuminated. Now Adrienne, who had just turned her head towards that side, might perhaps be astonished at the singular road they were taking.

In order to draw off her attention by a skillful diversion, the doctor exclaimed suddenly: "Bless me! I had almost forgotten."

"What is the matter, M. Baleinier?" said Adrienne, turning hastily towards him.

"I had forgotten a thing of the highest importance, in regard to the success of our petition."

"What is it, please?" asked the young girl, anxiously.

M. Baleinier gave a cunning smile. "Every man," said he, "has his weakness—ministers even more than others. The one we are going to visit has the folly to attach the utmost importance to his title, and the first impression would be unfavorable, if you did not lay great stress on the Minister."

"Is that all, my dear M. Baleinier?" said Adrienne, smiling in her turn. "I will even go so far as Your Excellency, which is, I believe, one of his adopted titles."

"Not now—but that is no matter; if you could even slide in a My Lord or two, our business would be done at once."

"Be satisfied! since there are upstart ministers as well as City-turned gentlemen, I will remember Moliere’s M. Jourdain, and feed full the gluttonous vanity of your friend."

"I give him up to you, for I know he will be in good hands," replied the physician, who rejoiced to see that the carriage had now entered those dark streets which lead from the Place de l’Odeon to the Pantheon district; "I do not wish to find fault with the minister for being proud, since his pride may be of service to us on this occasion."

"These petty devices are innocent enough," said Mdlle. de Cardoville, "and I confess that I do not scruple to have recourse to them." Then, leaning towards the door-sash, she added: "Gracious! how sad and dark are these streets. What wind! what snow! In which quarter are we?"

"What! are you so ungrateful, that you do not recognize by the absence of shops, your dear quarter of the Faubourg Saint Germain?"

"I imagine we had quitted it long ago."

"I thought so too," said the physician, leaning forward as if to ascertain where they were, "but we are still there. My poor coachman, blinded by the snow, which is beating against his face, must have gone wrong just now—but we are all right again. Yes, I perceive we are in the Rue Saint Guillaume—not the gayest of streets by the way—but, in ten minutes, we shall arrive at the minister’s private entrance, for intimate friends like myself enjoy the privilege of escaping the honors of a grand reception."

Mdlle. de Cardoville, like most carriage-people, was so little acquainted with certain streets of Paris, as well as with the customs of men in office, that she did not doubt for a moment the statements of Baleinier, in whom she reposed the utmost confidence.

When they left the Saint-Dizier House, the doctor had upon his lips a question which he hesitated to put, for fear of endangering himself in the eyes of Adrienne. The latter had spoken of important interests, the existence of which had been concealed from her. The doctor, who was an acute and skillful observer, had quite clearly remarked the embarrassment and anxiety of the princess and D’Aigrigny. He no longer doubted, that the plot directed against Adrienne—one in which he was the blind agent, in submission to the will of the Order—related to interests which had been concealed from him, and which, for that very reason, he burned to discover; for every member of the dark conspiracy to which he belonged had necessarily acquired the odious vices inherent to spies and informers—envy, suspicion, and jealous curiosity.

It is easy to understand, therefore, that Dr. Baleinier, though quite determined to serve the projects of D’Aigrigny, was yet very anxious to learn what had been kept from him. Conquering his irresolution, and finding the opportunity favorable, and no time to be lost, he said to Adrienne, after a moment’s silence: "I am going perhaps to ask you a very indiscreet question. If you think it such, pray do not answer."

"Nay—go on, I entreat you."

"Just now—a few minutes before the arrival of the commissary of police was announced to your aunt—you spoke, I think, of some great interests, which had hitherto been concealed from you."

"Yes, I did so."

"These words," continued M. Baleinier, speaking slowly and emphatically, "appeared to make a deep impression on the princess."

"An impression so deep," said Adrienne, "that sundry suspicions of mine were changed to certainty."

"I need not tell you, my charming friend," resumed M. Baleinier, in a bland tone, "that if I remind you of this circumstance, it is only to offer you my services, in case they should be required. If not—and there is the shadow of impropriety in letting me know more—forget that I have said a word."

Adrienne became serious and pensive, and, after a silence of some moments, she thus answered Dr. Baleinier: "On this subject, there are some things that I do not know—others that I may tell you—others again that I must keep from you: but you are so kind to-day, that I am happy to be able to give you a new mark of confidence."

"Then I wish to know nothing," said the doctor, with an air of humble deprecation, "for I should have the appearance of accepting a kind of reward; whilst I am paid a thousand times over, by the pleasure I feel in serving you."

"Listen," said Adrienne, without attending to the delicate scruples of Dr. Baleinier; "I have powerful reasons for believing that an immense inheritance must, at no very distant period, be divided between the members of my family, all of whom I do not know—for, after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, those from whom we are descended were dispersed in foreign countries, and experienced a great variety of fortunes."

"Really!" cried the doctor, becoming extremely interested. "Where is this inheritance, in whose hands?"

"I do not know."

"Now how will you assert your rights?"

"That I shall learn soon."

"Who will inform you of it?"

"That I may not tell you."

"But how did you find out the existence of this inheritance?"

"That also I may not tell you," returned Adrienne, in a soft and melancholy tone, which remarkably contrasted with the habitual vivacity of her conversation. "It is a secret—a strange secret—and in those moments of excitement, in which you have sometimes surprised me, I have been thinking of extraordinary circumstances connected with this secret, which awakened within me lofty and magnificent ideas."

Adrienne paused and was silent, absorbed in her own reflections. Baleinier did not seek to disturb her. In the first place, Mdlle. de Cardoville did not perceive the direction the coach was taking; secondly, the doctor was not sorry to ponder over what he had just heard. With his usual perspicuity, he saw that the Abbe d’Aigrigny was concerned in this inheritance, and he resolved instantly to make a secret report on the subject; either M. d’Aigrigny was acting under the instructions of the Order, or by his own impulse; in the one event, the report of the doctor would confirm a fact; in the other, it would reveal one.

For some time, therefore, the lady and Dr. Baleinier remained perfectly silent, no longer even disturbed by the noise of the wheels, for the carriage now rolled over a thick carpet of snow, and the streets had become more and more deserted. Notwithstanding his crafty treachery, notwithstanding his audacity and the blindness of his dupe, the doctor was not quite tranquil as to the result of his machinations. The critical moment approached, and the least suspicion roused in the mind of Adrienne by any inadvertence on his part, might ruin all his projects.

Adrienne, already fatigued by the painful emotions of the day, shuddered from time to time, as the cold became more and more piercing; in her haste to accompany Dr. Baleinier, she had neglected to take either shawl or mantle.

For some minutes the coach had followed the line of a very high wall, which, seen through the snow, looked white against a black sky. The silence was deep and mournful. Suddenly the carriage stopped, and the footman went to knock at a large gateway; he first gave two rapid knocks, and then one other at a long interval. Adrienne did not notice the circumstance, for the noise was not loud, and the doctor had immediately begun to speak, to drown with his voice this species of signal.

"Here we are at last," said he gayly to Adrienne; "you must be very winning—that is, you must be yourself."

"Be sure I will do my best," replied Adrienne, with a smile; then she added, shivering in spite of herself: "How dreadfully cold it is! I must confess, my dear Dr. Baleinier, that when I have been to fetch my poor little relations from the house of our workman’s mother, I shall be truly glad to find myself once more in the warmth and light of my own cheerful rooms, for you know my aversion to cold and darkness."

"It is quite natural," said the doctor, gallantly; "the most charming flowers require the most light and heat."

Whilst the doctor and Mdlle. de Cardoville exchanged these few words, a heavy gate had turned creaking upon its hinges, and the carriage had entered a court-yard. The physician got down first, to offer his arm to Adrienne.

Contents:

Related Resources

None available for this document.

Download Options


Title: The Wandering Jew— Volume 3

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options


Title: The Wandering Jew— Volume 3

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: Eugène Sue, "Chapter XLIII. A False Friend.," The Wandering Jew— Volume 3, ed. CM01B10.Txt - 149 Kb, CM01B10.Zip - 56 Kb and trans. Stanley Young in The Wandering Jew—Volume 3 (New York: The Modern Library Publishers, 1918), Original Sources, accessed April 23, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CJUW293R83TTNSH.

MLA: Sue, Eugène. "Chapter XLIII. A False Friend." The Wandering Jew— Volume 3, edited by CM01B10.Txt - 149 Kb, CM01B10.Zip - 56 Kb, and translated by Stanley Young, in The Wandering Jew—Volume 3, New York, The Modern Library Publishers, 1918, Original Sources. 23 Apr. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CJUW293R83TTNSH.

Harvard: Sue, E, 'Chapter XLIII. A False Friend.' in The Wandering Jew— Volume 3, ed. and trans. . cited in 1918, The Wandering Jew—Volume 3, The Modern Library Publishers, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 23 April 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CJUW293R83TTNSH.