The Wandering Jew — Volume 06 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 174 pages of information about The Wandering Jew — Volume 06.

And then, had he not just now protested against this supposition, by declaring his devotion, not to Mdlle. de Cardoville—­not to the fair, rich, noble lady—­but to the high-souled and generous girl?  Finally, as Rodin had said himself, could any but a miserable wretch fail to be interested in Adrienne’s fate?  A strange mixture of curiosity, surprise, and interest, was joined with Mdlle. de Cardoville’s feelings of gratitude towards Rodin.  Yet, as she recognized the superior mind under that humble exterior, she was suddenly struck with a grave suspicion.  “Sir,” said she to Rodin, “I always confess to the persons I esteem the doubts they may have inspired, so that they may justify themselves, and excuse me, if I am wrong.”

Rodin looked at Mdlle. de Cardoville with surprise, as if mentally calculating the suspicions than she might entertain, and replied, after a moment’s silence:  “You are perhaps thinking of my journey to Cardoville, of my base proposals to your good and worthy bailiff?  Oh! if you—­”

“No, no, sir,” said Adrienne, interrupting him; “you made that confession spontaneously, and I quite understand, that, blinded with regard to M. d’Aigrigny, you passively executed instructions repugnant to your delicacy.  But how comes it, that, with your incontestable merits, you have so long; occupied so mean a position in his service?”

“It is true,” said Rodin, with a smile; “that must impress you unfavorably, my dear young lady; for a man of any capacity, who remains long in an inferior condition, has evidently some radical vice, some bad or base passion—­”

“It is generally true, sir.”

“And personally true—­with regard to myself.”

“What, sir! do you make this avowal?”

“Alas!  I confess that I have a bad passion, to which, for forty years, I have sacrificed all chances of attaining to a better position.”

“And this passion, sir?”

“Since I must make the unpleasant avowal, this passion is indolence—­yes, indolence—­the horror of all activity of mind, of all moral responsibility, of taking the lead in anything.  With the twelve hundred francs that Abbe d’Aigrigny gave me, I was the happiest man in the world; I trusted to the nobleness of his views; his thoughts became mine, his wishes mine.  My work once finished, I returned to my poor little chamber, I lighted my fire, I dined on vegetables—­then, taking up some book of philosophy, little known, and dreaming over it, I gave free course to my imagination, which, restrained all the day long, carried me through numberless theories to a delicious Utopia.  Then, from the eminences of my intelligence, lifted up Lord knows whither, by the audacity of my thoughts, I seemed to look down upon my master, and upon the great men of the earth.  This fever lasted for three or four hours, after which I had a good sleep; and, the next morning, I went lightly to my work, secure of my daily bread, without cares for the future, living content with little, waiting with impatience for the delights of my solitary evening, and saying to myself as I went on writing like a stupid machine:  `And yet—­and yet—­if I chose!’—­”

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The Wandering Jew — Volume 06 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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