It is known that, in 1845, the Inquisition, solitary confinement, etc., still existed at Rome.
Rendering the account.
At sight of Rodin, the two prelates and Father d’Aigrigny rose spontaneously, so much were they overawed by the real superiority of this man; their faces, just before contracted with suspicion and jealousy, suddenly brightened up, and seemed to smile on the reverend father with affectionate deference. The princess advanced some steps to meet him.
Rodin, badly dressed as ever, leaving on the soft carpet the muddy track of his clumsy shoes, put his umbrella into one corner, and advanced towards the table—not with his accustomed humility, but with slow step, uplifted head, and steady glance; not only did he feel himself in the midst of his partisans, but he knew that he could rule them all by the power of his intellect.
“We were speaking of your reverence, my dear, good father,” said the cardinal, with charming affability.
“Ah!” said Rodin, looking fixedly at the prelate; “and what were you saying?”
“Why,” replied the Belgian bishop, wiping his forehead, “all the good that can be said of your reverence.”
“Will you not take something, my good father?” said the princess to Rodin, as she pointed to the splendid sideboard.
“Thank you, madame, I have eaten my radish already this morning.”
“My secretary, Abbe Berlini, who was present at your repast, was, indeed, much astonished at your reverence’s frugality,” said the prelate: “it is worthy of an anchorite.”
“Suppose we talk of business,” said Rodin, abruptly, like a man accustomed to lead and control the discussion.
“We shall always be most happy to hear you,” said the prelate. “Your reverence yourself fixed to-day to talk over this great Rennepont affair. It is of such importance, that it was partly the cause of my journey to France; for to support the interests of the glorious Company of Jesus, with which I have the honor of being associated, is to support the interests of Rome itself, and I promised the reverend Father-General that I would place myself entirely at your orders.”
“I can only repeat what his Eminence has just said,” added the bishop. “We set out from Rome together, and our ideas are just the same.”
“Certainly,” said Rodin, addressing the cardinal, “your Eminence may serve our cause, and that materially. I will tell you how presently.”
Then, addressing the princess, he continued: “I have desired Dr. Baleinier to come here, madame, for it will be well to inform him of certain things.”
“He will be admitted as usual,” said the princess.