THE WANDERING JEW - VOLUME 2
THE WANDERING JEW - VOLUME 2
INTERVAL.--THE WANDERING JEW'S SENTENCE.
XVII. The Ajoupa
XVIII. The Tattooing
XIX. The Smuggler
XX. M. Joshua Van Dael
XXI. The Ruins of Tchandi
XXII. The Ambuscade
XXIII. M. Rodin
XXIV. The Tempest
XXV. The Shipwrecked
XXVI. The Departure for Paris
XXVII. Dagobert's Wife
XXVIII. The Sister of the Bacchanal Queen
XXIX. Agricola Baudoin
XXX. The Return
XXXI. Agricola and Mother Bunch
XXXII. The Awakening
XXXIII. The Pavilion
XXXIV. Adrienne at her Toilet
XXXV. The Interview
THE WANDERING JEW'S SENTENCE.
The site is wild and rugged. It is a lofty eminence covered with huge
boulders of sandstone between which rise birch trees and oaks their
foliage already yellowed by autumn. These tall trees stand out from the
background of red light which the sun has left in the west resembling
the reflection of a great fire.
From this eminence the eye looks down into a deep valley shady fertile
and half-veiled in light vapor by the evening mist. The rich meadows
the tufts of bushy trees the fields from which the ripe corn has been
gathered in all blend together in one dark uniform tint which
contrasts with the limpid azure of the heavens. Steeples of gray stone
or slate lift their pointed spires at intervals from the midst of this
valley; for many villages are spread about it bordering a high-road
which leads from the north to the west.
It is the hour of repose--the hour when for the most part every cottage
window brightens to the joyous crackling of the rustic hearth and shines
afar through shade and foliage whilst clouds of smoke issue from the
chimneys and curl up slowly towards the sky. But now strange to say
every hearth in the country seems cold and deserted. Stranger and more
fatal still every steeple rings out a funeral knell. Whatever there is
of activity movement or life appears concentrated in that lugubrious
and far-sounding vibration.
Lights begin to show themselves in the dark villages but they rise not
from the cheerful and pleasant rustic hearth. They are as red as the
fires of the herdsmen seen at night through the midst of the fog. And
then these lights do not remain motionless. They creep slowly towards
the churchyard of every village. Louder sounds the death-knell the air
trembles beneath the strokes of so many bells and at rare intervals
the funeral chant rises faintly to the summit of the hill.
Why so many interments? What valley of desolation is this where the
peaceful songs which follow the hard labors of the day are replaced by
the death dirge? where the repose of evening is exchanged for the repose
of eternity? What is this valley of the shadow where every village
mourns for its many dead and buries them at the same hour of the same
Alas! the deaths are so sudden and numerous and frightful that there is
hardly time to bury the dead. During day the survivors are chained to
the earth by hard but necessary toil; and only in the evening when they
return from the fields are they able though sinking with fatigue to
dig those other furrows in which their brethren are to lie heaped like
grains of corn.
And this valley is not the only one that has seen the desolation. During
a series of fatal years many villages many towns many cities many
great countries have seen like this valley their hearths deserted and
cold--have seen like this valley mourning take the place of joy and
the death-knell substituted for the noise of festival--have wept in the
same day for their many dead and buried them at night by the lurid glare
For during those fatal years an awful wayfarer had slowly journeyed
over the earth from one pole to the other--from the depths of India and
Asia to the ice of Siberia--from the ice of Siberia to the borders of the
seas of France.
This traveller mysterious as death slow as eternity implacable as
fate terrible as the hand of heaven was the CHOLERA!
The tolling of bells and the funeral chants still rose from the depths of
the valley to the summit of the hill like the complaining of a mighty
voice; the glare of the funeral torches was still seen afar through the
mist of evening; it was the hour of twilight--that strange hour which
gives to the most solid forms a vague indefinite fantastic appearance--
when the sound of firm and regular footsteps was heard on the stony soil
of the rising ground and between the black trunks of the trees a man
passed slowly onward.
His figure was tall his head was bowed upon his breast; his countenance
was noble gentle and sad; his eyebrows uniting in the midst extended
from one temple to the other like a fatal mark on his forehead.
This man did not seem to hear the distant tolling of so many funeral
bells--and yet a few days before repose and happiness health and joy
had reigned in those villages through which he had slowly passed and
which he now left behind him mourning and desolate. But the traveller
continued on his way absorbed in his own reflections.
"The 13th of February approaches" thought he; "the day approaches in
which the descendants of my beloved sister the last scions of our race