“Oh, Messiah!” cried the Jew, “the avenging arm of heaven brings me back to the foot of this heavy cross, which thou didst bear, when, stopping at the door of my poor dwelling, thou wert repulsed with merciless harshness, and I said unto thee: ’Go on! go on!’—After my long life of wanderings, I am again before this cross, and my hair begins to whiten. Oh Lord! in thy divine mercy, hast thou at length pardoned me? Have I reached the term of my endless march? Will thy celestial clemency grant me at length the repose of the sepulchre, which, until now, alas! has ever fled before me?—Oh! if thy mercy should descend upon me, let it fall likewise upon that woman, whose woes are equal to mine own! Protect also the last descendants of my race! What will be their fate? Already, Lord, one of them—the only one that misfortune had perverted—has perished from the face of the earth. Is it for this that my hair grows gray? Will my crime only be expiated when there no longer remains in this world one member of our accursed race? Or does this proof of thy powerful goodness, Lord, which restores me to the condition of humanity, serve also as a sign of the pardon and happiness of my family? Will they at length triumph over the perils which beset them? Will they, accomplishing the good which their ancestor designed for his fellow creatures, merit forgiveness both for themselves and me? Or will they, inexorably condemned as the accursed scions of an accursed stock, expiate the original stain of my detested crime?
“Oh, tell me—tell me, gracious Lord! shall I be forgiven with them, or will they be punished with me?”
The twilight gave place to a dark and stormy night, yet the Jew continued to pray, kneeling at the foot of the cross.
The following scene took place at Saint-Dizier House, two days after the reconciliation of Marshal Simon with his daughters. The princess is listening with the most profound attention to the words of Rodin. The reverend father, according to his habit, stands leaning against the mantelpiece, with his hands thrust into the pockets of his old brown great-coat. His thick, dirty shoes have left their mark on the ermine hearth-rug. A deep sense of satisfaction is impressed on the Jesuit’s cadaverous countenance. Princess de Saint-Dizier, dressed with that sort of modest elegance which becomes a mother of the church, keeps her eyes fixed on Rodin—for the latter has completely supplanted Father d’Aigrigny in the good graces of this pious lady. The coolness, audacity lofty intelligence, and rough and imperious character of the ex-socius have overawed this proud woman, and inspired her with a sincere admiration. Even his filthy habits and often brutal repartees have their charm for her, and she now prefers them to the exquisite politeness and perfumed elegance of the accomplished Father d’Aigrigny.