The Wandering Jew — Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,953 pages of information about The Wandering Jew — Complete.

“May I at length be informed, sir,” said Dr. Baleinier, in a polite but firm tone, “to whom I have the honor of speaking?”

“Sir, I am juge d’instruction, and I have come to inform myself as to a fact which has been pointed out to me—­”

“Will you do me the honor to explain yourself, sir?” said the doctor, bowing.

“Sir,” resumed the magistrate, M. de Gernande, a man of about fifty years of age, full of firmness and straightforwardness, and knowing how to unite the austere duties of his position with benevolent politeness, “you are accused of having committed—­a very great error, not to use a harsher expression.  As for the nature of that error, I prefer believing, sir, that you (a first rate man of science) may have been deceived in the calculation of a medical case, rather than suspect you of having forgotten all that is sacred in the exercise of a profession that is almost a priesthood.”

“When you specify the facts, sir,” answered the Jesuit of the short robe, with a degree of haughtiness, “it will be easy for me to prove that my reputation as a man of science is no less free from reproach, than my conscience as a man of honor.”

“Madame,” said M. de Gernande, addressing Adrienne, “is it true that you were conveyed to this house by stratagem?”

“Sir,” cried M. Baleinier, “permit me to observe, that the manner in which you open this question is an insult to me.”

“Sir, it is to the lady that I have the honor of addressing myself,” replied M. de Gernande, sternly; “and I am the sole judge of the propriety of my questions.”

Adrienne was about to answer affirmatively to the magistrate, when an expressive took from Dr. Baleinier reminded her that she would perhaps expose Dagobert and his son to cruel dangers.  It was no base and vulgar feeling of vengeance by which Adrienne was animated, but a legitimate indignation, inspired by odious hypocrisy.  She would have thought it cowardly not to unmask the criminals; but wishing to avoid compromising others, she said to the magistrate, with an accent full of mildness and dignity:  “Permit me, sir, in my turn, rather to ask you a question.”

“Speak, madame.”

“Will the answer I make be considered a formal accusation?”

“I have come hither, madame, to ascertain the truth, and no consideration should induce you to dissemble it.”

“So be it, sir,” resumed Adrienne; “but suppose, having just causes of complaint, I lay them before you, in order to be allowed to leave this house, shall I afterwards be at liberty not to press the accusations I have made?”

“You may abandon proceedings, madame, but the law will take up your case in the name of society, if its rights have been inured in your person.”

“Shall I then not be allowed to pardon?  Should I not be sufficiently avenged by a contemptuous forgetfulness of the wrongs I have suffered?”

“Personally, madame, you may forgive and forget; but I have the honor to repeat to you, that society cannot show the same indulgence, if it should turn out that you have been the victim of a criminal machination—­and I have every reason to fear it is so.  The manner in which you express yourself, the generosity of your sentiments, the calmness and dignity of your attitude, convince me that I have been well informed.”

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The Wandering Jew — Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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