Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
A solitary figure stalks down a bleak hill in Poland. He is an old man, his face gentle and sad. His footsteps leave in the soil imprints of a cross made by the several large nails in his shoes. He is hurrying, for he has to be in Paris on the thirteenth of February, 1832, when the surviving descendants of his sister will gather in that city—the last members of that family over whom he watched for eighteen centuries. The lonely traveler is the Wandering Jew, that artisan of Jerusalem who mocks Christ on the day of the Crucifixion, the sinner condemned to wander undying through the centuries over all the world. Far in the wilds of America a woman also turns toward Paris, driven by that same power that guides the Wandering Jew. She is Herodias, who demanded the head of John the Baptist on a charger, also condemned to live through the centuries of sorrow.
François Baudoin, called Dagobert, a faithful friend of Marshal Simon and an old Bonapartist hero, never falters in his loyalty toward the Simon family. Years before, he followed the marshal’s Polish wife into Siberia, where she was exiled, and after her death he set out with her twin daughters, Blanche and Rose, for Paris, where, on a certain day in February, 1832, a legacy awaits the two girls. This is the legacy of Marius de Rennepont, an ancestor who, despoiled by the Jesuits, salvaged out of his ruined estate a house and a small sum of money. He placed the money in the hands of a faithful Jewish...
(The entire section is 1311 words.)
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