“I must tell you, reverend father,” answered the doctor, “that it is not half finished, and, if we leave off, the renewal will be more painful—”
Rodin made a sign that he did not care, and that he wanted to write.
“Gentlemen, stop a moment,” said Dr. Baleinier; “keep down your moxas, but do not blow the fire.”
So the fire was to burn slowly, instead of fiercely, but still upon the skin of the patient. In spite of this pain, less intense, but still sharp and keen, Rodin, stretched upon his back, began to write, holding the paper above his head. On the first sheet he traced some alphabetic signs, part of a cipher known to himself alone. In the midst of the torture, a luminous idea had crossed his mind; fearful of forgetting it amidst his sufferings, he now took note of it. On another paper he wrote the following, which was instantly delivered to Father d’Aigrigny: “Send B. immediately to Faringhea, for the report of the last few days with regard to Djalma, and let B. bring it hither on the instant.” Father d’Aigrigny went out to execute this new order. The cardinal approached a little nearer to the scene of the operation, for, in spite of the bad odor of the room, he took delight in seeing the Jesuit half roasted, having long cherished against him the rancor of an Italian and a priest.
“Come, reverend father,” said the doctor to Rodin, “continue to be admirably courageous, and your chest will free itself. You have still a bitter moment to go through—and then I have good hope.”
The patient resumed his former position. The moment Father d’Aigrigny returned, Rodin questioned him with a look, to which the reverend father replied by a nod. At a sign from the doctor, the four assistants began to blow through the tubes with all their might. This increase of torture was so horrible, that, in spite of his self-control, Rodin gnashed his teeth, started convulsively, and so expanded his palpitating chest, that, after a violent spasm, there rose from his throat and lungs a scream of terrific pain—but it was free, loud, sonorous.
“The chest is free!” cried the doctor, in triumph. “The lungs have play—the voice returns—he is saved!—Blow, gentlemen, blow; and, reverend father, cry out as much as you please: I shall be delighted to hear you, for it will give you relief. Courage! I answer for the result. It is a wonderful cure. I will publish it by sound of trumpet.”
“Allow me, doctor,” whispered Father d’Aigrigny, as he approached Dr. Baleinier; “the cardinal can witness, that I claimed beforehand the publication of this affair—as a miraculous fact.”
“Let it be miraculous then,” answered Dr. Baleinier, disappointed—for he set some value on his own work.
On hearing he was saved, Rodin though his sufferings were perhaps worse than ever, for the fire had now pierced the scarf-skin, assumed almost an infernal beauty. Through the painful contraction of his features shone the pride of savage triumph; the monster felt that he was becoming once more strong and powerful, and he seemed conscious the evils that his fatal resurrection was to cause. And so, of still writhing beneath the flames, he pronounced these words, the first that struggled from his chest: “I told you I should live!”