Part 2 out of 31
Now, on the evening in question, the two sisters chatted together whilst
waiting for Dagobert. Their theme interested them much, for, since some
days, they had a secret, a great secret, which often quickened the
beatings of their innocent hearts, often agitated their budding bosoms,
changed to bright scarlet the roses on their cheeks, and infused a
restless and dreamy langour into the soft blue of their large eyes.
Rose, this evening, occupied the edge of the couch, with her rounded arms
crossed behind her head, which was half turned towards her sister;
Blanche, with her elbow resting on the bolster, looked at her smilingly,
and said: "Do you think he will come again to-night?"
"Oh, yes! certainly. He promised us yesterday."
"He is so good, he would not break his promise."
"And so handsome, with his long fair curls."
"And his name--what a charming name!--How well it suits his face."
"And what a sweet smile and soft voice, when he says to us, taking us by
the hand: 'My children, bless God that he has given you one soul. What
others seek elsewhere, you will find in yourselves.'"
"'Since your two hearts,' he added, 'only make one.'"
"What pleasure to remember his words, sister!"
"We are so attentive! When I see you listening to him, it is as if I saw
myself, my dear little mirror!" said Rose, laughing, and kissing her
sister's forehead. "Well--when he speaks, your--or rather our eyes--are
wide, wide open, our lips moving as if we repeated every word after him.
It is no wonder we forget nothing that he says."
"And what he says is so grand, so noble, and generous."
"Then, my sister, as he goes on talking, what good thoughts rise within
us! If we could but always keep them in mind."
"Do not be afraid! they will remain in our hearts, like little birds in
their mother's nests."
"And how lucky it is, Rose, that he loves us both at the same time!"
"He could not do otherwise, since we have but one heart between us."
"How could he love Rose, without loving Blanche?"
"What would have become of the poor, neglected one?"
"And then again he would have found it so difficult to choose."
"We are so much like one another."
"So, to save himself that trouble," said Rose, laughing, "he has chosen
"And is it not the best way? He is alone to love us; we are two together
to think of him."
"Only he must not leave us till we reach Paris."
"And in Paris, too--we must see him there also."
"Oh, above all at Paris; it will be good to have him with us--and
Dagobert, too--in that great city. Only think, Blanche, how beautiful it
"Paris!--it must be like a city all of gold."
"A city, where every one must be happy, since it is so beautiful."
"But ought we, poor orphans, dare so much as to enter it? How people
will look at us!"
"Yes--but every one there is happy, every one must be good also."
"They will love us."
"And, besides, we shall be with our friend with the fair hair and blue
"He has yet told us nothing of Paris."
"He has not thought of it; we must speak to him about it this very
"If he is in the mood for talking. Often you know, he likes best to gaze
on us in silence--his eyes on our eyes."
"Yes. In those moments, his look recalls to me the gaze of our dear
"And, as she sees it all, how pleased she must be at what has happened to
"Because, when we are so much beloved, we must, I hope, deserve it."
"See what a vain thing it is!" said Blanche, smoothing with her slender
fingers the parting of the hair on her sister's forehead.
After a moment's reflection, Rose said to her: "Don't you think we should
relate all this to Dagobert?"
"If you think so, let us do it."
"We tell him everything, as we told everything to mother. Why should we
conceal this from him?"
"Especially as it is something which gives us so much pleasure."
"Do you not find that, since we have known our friend, our hearts beat
quicker and stronger?"
"Yes, they seem to be more full."
"The reason why is plain enough; our friend fills up a good space in
"Well, we will do best to tell Dagobert what a lucky star ours is."
"You are right--" At this moment the dog gave another deep growl.
"Sister," said Rose, as she pressed closer to Blanche, "there is the dog
growling again. What can be the matter with him?"
"Spoil-sport, do not growl! Come hither," said Blanche, striking with
her little hand on the side of the bed.
The dog rose, again growled deeply, and came to lay his great,
intelligent looking head on the counterpane, still obstinately casting a
sidelong glance at the window; the sisters bent over him to pat his broad
forehead, in the centre of which was a remarkable bump, the certain sign
of extreme purity of race.
"What makes you growl so, Spoil-sport?" said Blanche, pulling him gently
by the ears--"eh, my good dog?"
"Poor beast! he is always so uneasy when Dagobert is away."
"It is true; one would think he knows that he then has a double charge
"Sister, it seems to me, Dagobert is late in coming to say good-night."
"No doubt he is attending to Jovial."
"That makes me think that we did not bid good-night to dear old Jovial.
"I am sorry for it."
"Poor beast! he seems so glad when he licks our hands. One would think
that he thanked us for our visit."
"Luckily, Dagobert will have wished him good-night for us."
"Good Dagobert! he is always thinking of us. How he spoils us! We
remain idle, and he has all the trouble."
"How can we prevent it?"
"What a pity that we are not rich, to give him a little rest."
"We rich! Alas, my sister! we shall never be anything but poor orphans."
"Oh, there's the medal!"
"Doubtless, there is some hope attached to it, else we should not have
made this long journey."
"Dagobert has promised to tell us all, this evening."
She was prevented from continuing, for two of the windowpanes flew to
pieces with a loud crash.
The orphans, with a cry of terror, threw themselves into each other's
arms, whilst the dog rushed towards the window, barking furiously.
Pale, trembling, motionless with affright, clasping each other in a close
embrace, the two sisters held their breath; in their extreme fear, they
durst not even cast their eyes in the direction of the window. The dog,
with his forepaws resting on the sill, continued to bark with violence.
"Alas! what can it be?" murmured the orphans. "And Dagobert not here!"
"Hark!" cried Rose, suddenly seizing Blanche by the arm; "hark!--some one
coming up the stairs!"
"Good heaven! it does not sound like the tread of Dagobert. Do you not
hear what heavy footsteps?"
"Quick! come, Spoil-sport, and defend us!" cried the two sisters at
once, in an agony of alarm.
The boards of the wooden staircase really creaked beneath the weight of
unusually heavy footsteps, and a singular kind of rustling was heard
along the thin partition that divided the chamber from the landing-place.
Then a ponderous mass, falling against the door of the room, shook it
violently; and the girls, at the very height of terror, looked at each
other without the power of speech.
The door opened. It was Dagobert.
At the sight of him Rose and Blanche joyfully exchanged a kiss, as if
they had just escaped from a great danger.
"What is the matter? why are you afraid?" asked the soldier in surprise.
"Oh, if you only knew!" said Rose, panting as she spoke, for both her
own heart and her sister's beat with violence.
"If you knew what has just happened! We did not recognize your
footsteps--they seemed so heavy--and then that noise behind the
"Little frightened doves that you are! I could not run up the stairs
like a boy of fifteen, seeing that I carried my bed upon my back--a straw
mattress that I have just flung down before your door, to sleep there as
"Bless me! how foolish we must be, sister, not to have thought of that!"
said Rose, looking at Blanche. And their pretty faces, which had
together grown pale, together resumed their natural color.
During this scene the dog, still resting against the window, did not
cease barking a moment.
"What makes Spoil-sport bark in that direction, my children?" said the
"We do not know. Two of our windowpanes have just been broken. That is
what first frightened us so much."
Without answering a word Dagobert flew to the window, opened it quickly,
pushed back the shutter, and leaned out.
He saw nothing; it was a dark night. He listened; but heard only the
moaning of the wind.
"Spoil-sport," said he to his dog, pointing to the open window, "leap
out, old fellow, and search!" The faithful animal took one mighty spring
and disappeared by the window, raised only about eight feet above the
Dagobert, still leaning over, encouraged his dog with voice and gesture:
"Search, old fellow, search! If there is any one there, pin him--your
fangs are strong--and hold him fast till I come."
But Spoil-sport found no one. They heard him go backwards and forwards,
snuffing on every side, and now and then uttering a low cry like a hound
"There is no one, my good dog, that's clear, or you would have had him by
the throat ere this." Then, turning to the maidens, who listened to his
words and watched his movements with uneasiness: "My girls," said he,
"how were these panes broken? Did you not remark?"
"No, Dagobert; we were talking together when we heard a great crash, and
then the glass fell into the room."
"It seemed to me," added Rose, "as if a shutter had struck suddenly
against the window."
Dagobert examined the shutter, and observed a long movable hook, designed
to fasten it on the inside.
"It blows hard," said he; "the wind must have swung round the shutter,
and this hook broke the window. Yes, yes; that is it. What interest
could anybody have to play such a sorry trick?" Then, speaking to Spoil-
sport, he asked, "Well, my good fellow, is there no one?"
The dog answered by a bark, which the soldier no doubt understood as a
negative, for he continued: "Well, then, come back! Make the round--you
will find some door open--you are never at a loss."
The animal followed this advice. After growling for a few seconds
beneath the window, he set off at a gallop to make the circuit of the
buildings, and come back by the court-yard.
"Be quite easy, my children!" said the soldier, as he again drew near the
orphans; "it was only the wind."
"We were a good deal frightened," said Rose.
"I believe you. But now I think of it, this draught is likely to give
you cold." And seeking to remedy this inconvenience, he took from a
chair the reindeer pelisse, and suspended it from the spring-catch of the
curtainless window, using the skirts to stop up as closely as possible
the two openings made by the breaking of the panes.
"Thanks, Dagobert, how good you are! We were very uneasy at not seeing
"Yes, you were absent longer than usual. But what is the matter with
you?" added Rose, only just then perceiving that his countenance was
disturbed and pallid, for he was still under the painful influence of the
brawl with Morok; "how pale you are!"
"Me, my pets?--Oh, nothing."
"Yes, I assure you, your countenance is quite changed. Rose is right."
"I tell you there is nothing the matter," answered the soldier, not
without some embarrassment, for he was little used to deceive; till,
finding an excellent excuse for his emotion, he added: "If I do look at
all uncomfortable, it is your fright that has made me so, for indeed it
was my fault."
"Yes; for if I had not lost so much time at supper, I should have been
here when the window was broken, and have spared you the fright."
"Anyhow, you are here now, and we think no more of it."
"Why don't you sit down?"
"I will, my children, for we have to talk together," said Dagobert, as he
drew a chair close to the head of the bed.
"Now tell me, are you quite awake?" he added, trying to smile in order to
reassure them. "Are those large eyes properly open?"
"Look, Dagobert!" cried the two girls, smiling in their turn, and opening
their blue eyes to the utmost extent.
"Well, well," said the soldier, "they are yet far enough, from shutting;
besides, it is only nine o'clock."
"We also have something to tell, Dagobert," resumed Rose, after
exchanging glances with her sister.
"A secret to tell you."
"Yes, to be sure."
"Ah, and a very great secret!" added Rose, quite seriously.
"A secret which concerns us both," resumed Blanche.
"Faith! I should think so. What concerns the one always concerns the
other. Are you not always, as the saying goes, 'two faces under one
"Truly, how can it be otherwise, when you put our heads under the great
hood of your pelisse?" said Rose, laughing.
"There they are again, mocking-birds! One never has the last word with
them. Come, ladies, your secret, since a secret there is."
"Speak, sister," said Rose.
"No, miss, it is for you to speak. You are to-day on duty, as eldest,
and such an important thing as telling a secret like that you talk of
belongs of right to the elder sister. Come, I am listening to you,"
added the soldier, as he forced a smile, the better to conceal from the
maidens how much he still felt the unpunished affronts of the brute-
It was Rose (who, as Dagobert said, was doing duty as eldest) that spoke
for herself and for her sister.
"First of all, good Dagobert," said Rose, in a gracefully caressing
manner, "as we are going to tell our secret--you must promise not to
"You will not scold your darlings, will you?" added Blanche, in a no less
"Granted!" replied Dagobert gravely; "particularly as I should not well
know how to set about it--but why should I scold you."
"Because we ought perhaps to have told you sooner what we are going to
"Listen, my children," said Dagobert sententiously, after reflecting a
moment on this case of conscience; "one of two things must be. Either
you were right, or else you were wrong, to hide this from me. If you
were right, very well; if you were wrong, it is done: so let's say no
more about it. Go on--I am all attention."
Completely reassured by this luminous decision, Rose resumed, while she
exchanged a smile with her sister.
"Only think, Dagobert; for two successive nights we have had a visitor."
"A visitor!" cried the soldier, drawing himself up suddenly in his chair.
"Yes, a charming visitor--he is so very fair."
"Fair--the devil!" cried Dagobert, with a start.
"Yes, fair--and with blue eyes," added Blanche.
"Blue eyes--blue devils!" and Dagobert again bounded on his seat.
"Yes, blue eyes--as long as that," resumed Rose, placing the tip of one
forefinger about the middle of the other.
"Zounds! they might be as long as that," said the veteran, indicating the
whole length of his term from the elbow they might be as long as that,
and it would have nothing to do with it. Fair, and with blue eyes. Pray
what may this mean, young ladies?" and Dagobert rose from his seat with a
severe and painfully unquiet look.
"There now, Dagobert, you have begun to scold us already."
"Just at the very commencement," added Blanche.
"Commencement!--what, is there to be a sequel? a finish?"
"A finish? we hope not," said Rose, laughing like mad.
"All we ask is, that it should last forever," added Blanche, sharing in
the hilarity of her sister.
Dagobert looked gravely from one to the other of the two maidens, as if
trying to guess this enigma; but when he saw their sweet, innocent faces
gracefully animated by a frank, ingenuous laugh, he reflected that they
would not be so gay if they had any serious matter for self-reproach, and
he felt pleased at seeing them so merry in the midst of their precarious
"Laugh on, my children!" he said. "I like so much to see you laugh."
Then, thinking that was not precisely the way in which he ought to treat
the singular confession of the young girls, he added in a gruff voice:
"Yes, I like to see you laugh--but not when you receive fair visitors
with blue eyes, young ladies!--Come, acknowledge that I'm an old fool to
listen to such nonsense--you are only making game of me."
"Nay, what we tell you is quite true."
"You know we never tell stories," added Rose.
"They are right--they never fib," said the soldier, in renewed
"But how the devil is such a visit possible? I sleep before your door--
Spoil-sport sleeps under your window--and all the blue eyes and fair
locks in the world must come in by one of those two ways--and, if they
had tried it, the dog and I, who have both of us quick ears, would have
received their visits after our fashion. But come, children! pray, speak
to the purpose. Explain yourselves!"
The two sisters, who saw, by the expression of Dagobert's countenance,
that he felt really uneasy, determined no longer to trifle with his
kindness. They exchanged a glance, and Rose, taking in her little hand
the coarse, broad palm of the veteran, said to him: "Come, do not plague
yourself! We will tell you all about the visits of our friend, Gabriel."
"There you are again!--He has a name, then?"
"Certainly, he has a name. It is Gabriel."
"Is it not a pretty name, Dagobert? Oh, you will see and love, as we do,
our beautiful Gabriel!"
"I'll love your beautiful Gabriel, will I?" said the veteran, shaking his
head--"Love your beautiful Gabriel?--that's as it may be. I must first
know--"Then, interrupting himself, he added: "It is queer. That reminds
me of something."
"Of what, Dagobert?"
"Fifteen years ago, in the last letter that your father, on his return
from France, brought me from my wife: she told me that, poor as she was,
and with our little growing Agricola on her hands, she had taken in a
poor deserted child, with the face of a cherub, and the name of Gabriel--
and only a short time since I heard of him again."
"And from whom, then?"
"You shall know that by and by."
"Well, then--since you have a Gabriel of your own--there is the more
reason that you should love ours."
"Yours! but who is yours? I am on thorns till you tell me."
"You know, Dagobert," resumed Rose, "that Blanche and I are accustomed to
fall asleep, holding each other by the hand."
"Yes, yes, I have often seen you in your cradle. I was never tired of
looking at you; it was so pretty."
"Well, then--two nights ago, we had just fallen asleep, when we beheld--"
"Oh, it was in a dream!" cried Dagobert. "Since you were asleep, it was
in a dream!"
"Certainly, in a dream--how else would you have it?"
"Pray let my sister go on with her tale!"
"All, well and good!" said the soldier with a sigh of satisfaction; "well
and good! To be sure, I was tranquil enough in any case--because--but
still--I like it better to be a dream. Continue, my little Rose."
"Once asleep, we both dreamt the same thing."
"What! both the same?"
"Yes, Dagobert; for the next morning when we awoke we related our two
dreams to each other."
"And they were exactly alike."
"That's odd enough, my children; and what was this dream all about?"
"In our dream, Blanche and I were seated together, when we saw enter a
beautiful angel, with a long white robe, fair locks, blue eyes, and so
handsome and benign a countenance, that we elapsed our hands as if to
pray to him. Then he told us, in a soft voice, that he was called
Gabriel; that our mother had sent him to be our guardian angel, and that
he would never abandon us."
"And, then," added Blanche, "he took us each by the hand, and, bending
his fair face over us, looked at us for a long time in silence, with so
much goodness--with so much goodness, that we could not withdraw our eyes
"Yes," resumed Rose, "and his look seemed, by turns, to attract us, or to
go to our hearts. At length, to our great sorrow, Gabriel quitted us,
having told us that we should see him again the following night."
"And did he make his appearance?"
"Certainly. Judge with what impatience we waited the moment of sleep, to
see if our friend would return, and visit us in our slumbers."
"Humph!" said Dagobert, scratching his forehead; "this reminds me, young
ladies, that you kept on rubbing your eyes last evening, and pretending
to be half asleep. I wager, it was all to send me away the sooner, and
to get to your dream as fast as possible."
"The reason being, you could not say to me, as you would to Spoil-sport:
Lie down, Dagobert! Well--so your friend Gabriel came back?"
"Yes, and this time he talked to us a great deal, and gave us, in the
name of our mother, such touching, such noble counsels, that the next
day, Rose and I spent our whole time in recalling every word of our
guardian angel--and his face, and his look--"
"This reminds me again, young ladies, that you were whispering all along
the road this morning; and that when I spoke of white, you answered
"Yes, Dagobert, we were thinking of Gabriel."
"And, ever since, we love him as well as he loves us."
"But he is only one between both of you!"
"Was not our mother one between us?"
"And you, Dagobert--are you not also one for us both?"
"True, true! And yet, do you know, I shall finish by being jealous of
"You are our friend by day--he is our friend by night."
"Let's understand it clearly. If you talk of him all day, and dream of
him all night, what will there remain for me?"
"There will remain for you your two orphans, whom you love so much," said
"And who have only you left upon earth," added Blanche, in a caressing
"Humph! humph! that's right, coax the old man over, Nay, believe me, my
children," added the soldier, tenderly, "I am quite satisfied with my
lot. I can afford to let you have your Gabriel. I felt sure that Spoil-
sport and myself could take our rest in quiet. After all, there is
nothing so astonishing in what you tell me; your first dream struck your
fancy, and you talked so much about it that you had a second; nor should
I be surprised if you were to see this fine fellow a third time."
"Oh, Dagobert! do not make a jest of it! They are only dreams, but we
think our mother sends them to us. Did she not tell us that orphan
children were watched over by guardian angels? Well, Gabriel is our
guardian angel; he will protect us, and he will protect you also."
"Very kind of him to think of me; but you see, my dear children, for the
matter of defence, I prefer the dog; he is less fair than your angel, but
he has better teeth, and that is more to be depended on."
"How provoking you are, Dagobert--always jesting!"
"It is true; you can laugh at everything."
"Yes, I am astonishingly gay; I laugh with my teeth shut, in the style of
old Jovial. Come, children, don't scold me: I know I am wrong. The
remembrance of your dear mother is mixed with this dream, and you do well
to speak of it seriously. Besides," added he, with a grave air, "dreams
will sometimes come true. In Spain, two of the Empress's dragoons,
comrades of mine, dreamt, the night before their death, that they would
be poisoned by the monks--and so it happened. If you continue to dream
of this fair angel Gabriel, it is--it is--why, it is, because you are
amused by it; and, as you have none too many pleasures in the daytime,
you may as well get an agreeable sleep at night. But, now, my children,
I have also much to tell you; it will concern your mother; promise me not
to be sad."
"Be satisfied! when we think of her we are not sad, though serious."
"That is well. For fear of grieving you, I have always delayed the
moment of telling what your poor mother would have confided to you as
soon as you were no longer children. But she died before she had time to
do so, and that which I have to tell broke her heart--as it nearly did
mine. I put off this communication as long as I could, taking for
pretext that I would say nothing till we came to the field of battle
where your father was made prisoner. That gave me time; but the moment
is now come; I can shuffle it off no longer."
"We listen, Dagobert," responded the two maidens, with an attentive and
After a moment's silence, during which he appeared to reflect, the
veteran thus addressed the young girls:
"Your father, General Simon, was the son of a workman, who remained a
workman; for, notwithstanding all that the general could say or do, the
old man was obstinate in not quitting his trade. He had a heart of gold
and a head of iron, just like his son. You may suppose, my children,
that when your father, who had enlisted as a private soldier, became a
general and a count of the empire, it was not without toil or without
"A count of the Empire! what is that, Dagobert?"
"Flummery--a title, which the Emperor gave over and above the promotion,
just for the sake of saying to the people, whom he loved because he was
one of them: Here, children! You wish to play at nobility! You shall be
nobles. You wish to play at royalty! You shall be kings. Take what you
like--nothing is too good for you--enjoy yourselves!"
"Kings!" said the two girls, joining their hands in admiration.
"Kings of the first water. Oh, he was no niggard of his crowns, our
Emperor! I had a bed-fellow of mine, a brave soldier, who was afterwards
promoted to be king. This flattered us; for, if it was not one, it was
the other. And so, at this game, your father became count; but, count or
not, he was one of the best and bravest generals of the army."
"He was handsome, was he not, Dagobert?--mother always said so."
"Oh, yes! indeed he was--but quite another thing from your fair guardian
angel. Picture to yourself a fine, dark man, who looked splendid in his
full uniform, and could put fire into the soldiers' hearts. With him to
lead, we would have charged up into Heaven itself--that is, if Heaven
had, permitted it," added Dagobert, not wishing to wound in any way the
religious beliefs of the orphans.
"And father was as good as he was brave, Dagobert."
"Good, my children? Yes, I should say so!--He could bend a horse-shoe in
his hand as you would bend a card, and the day he was taken prisoner he
had cut down the Prussian artillerymen on their very cannon. With
strength and courage like that, how could he be otherwise than good?
It is then about nineteen years ago, not far from this place--on the spot
I showed you before we arrived at the village--that the general,
dangerously wounded, fell from his horse. I was following him at the
time, and ran to his assistance. Five minutes after we were made
prisoners--and by whom think you?--by a Frenchman."
"Yes, an emigrant marquis, a colonel in the service of Russia," answered
Dagobert, with bitterness. "And so, when this marquis advanced towards
us, and said to the general: 'Surrender, sir, to a countryman!'--'A
Frenchman, who fights against France,' replied the general, 'is no longer
my countryman; he is a traitor, and I'd never surrender to a traitor!'
And, wounded though he was, he dragged himself up to a Russian grenadier,
and delivered him his sabre, saying: 'I surrender to you my brave
fellow!' The marquis became pale with rage at it."
The orphans looked at each other with pride, and a rich crimson mantled
their cheeks, as they exclaimed: "Oh, our brave father!"
"Ah, those children," said Dagobert, as he proudly twirled his moustache.
"One sees they have soldier's blood in their veins! Well," he continued,
"we were now prisoners. The general's last horse had been killed under
him; and, to perform the journey, he mounted Jovial, who had not been
wounded that day. We arrived at Warsaw, and there it was that the
general first saw your mother. She was called the Pearl of Warsaw; that
is saying everything. Now he, who admired all that is good and
beautiful, fell in love with her almost immediately; and she loved him in
return; but her parents had promised her to another--and that other was
Dagobert was unable to proceed. Rose uttered a piercing cry, and pointed
in terror to the window.
Upon the cry of the young girl, Dagobert rose abruptly.
"What is the matter, Rose?"
"There--there!" she said, pointing to the window. "I thought I saw a
hand move the pelisse."
She had not concluded these words before Dagobert rushed to the window
and opened it, tearing down the mantle, which had been suspended from the
It was still dark night, and the wind was blowing hard. The soldier
listened, but could hear nothing.
Returning to fetch the lamp from the table, he shaded the flame with his
hand, and strove to throw the light outside. Still he saw nothing.
Persuaded that a gust of wind had disturbed and shaken the pelisse: and
that Rose had been deceived by her own fears he again shut the window.
"Be satisfied, children! The wind is very high; it is that which lifted
the corner of the pelisse."
"Yet methought I saw plainly the fingers which had hold of it," said
Rose, still trembling.
"I was looking at Dagobert," said Blanche, "and I saw nothing."
"There was nothing to see, my children; the thing is clear enough. The
window is at least eight feet above the ground; none but a giant could
reach it without a ladder. Now, had any one used a ladder, there would
not have been time to remove it; for, as soon as Rose cried out, I ran to
the window, and, when I held out the light, I could see nothing."
"I must have been deceived," said Rose.
"You may be sure, sister, it was only the wind," added Blanche.
"Then I beg pardon for having disturbed you, my good Dagobert."
"Never mind!" replied the soldier musingly, "I am only sorry that Spoil-
sport is not come back. He would have watched the window, and that would
have quite tranquillized you. But he no doubt scented the stable of his
comrade, Jovial, and will have called in to bid him good-night on the
road. I have half a mind to go and fetch him."
"Oh, no, Dagobert! do not leave us alone," cried the maidens; "we are too
"Well, the dog is not likely to remain away much longer, and I am sure we
shall soon hear him scratching at the door, so we will continue our
story," said Dagobert, as he again seated himself near the head of the
bed, but this time with his face towards the window.
"Now the general was prisoner at Warsaw," continued he, "and in love with
your mother, whom they wished to marry to another. In 1814, we learned
the finish of the war, the banishment of the Emperor to the Isle of Elba,
and the return of the Bourbons. In concert with the Prussians and
Russians, who had brought them back, they had exiled the Emperor.
Learning all this, your mother said to the general: 'The war is finished;
you are free, but your Emperor is in trouble. You owe everything to him;
go and join him in his misfortunes. I know not when we shall meet again,
but I shall never marry any one but you, I am yours till death!'--Before
he set out the general called me to him, and said: 'Dagobert, remain
here; Mademoiselle Eva may have need of you to fly from her family, if
they should press too hard upon her; our correspondence will have to pass
through your hands; at Paris, I shall see your wife and son; I will
comfort them, and tell them you are my friend.'"
"Always the same," said Rose, with emotion, as she looked affectionately
"As faithful to the father and mother as to their children," added
"To love one was to love them all," replied the soldier. "Well, the
general joined the Emperor at Elba; I remained at Warsaw, concealed in
the neighborhood of your mother's house; I received the letters, and
conveyed them to her clandestinely. In one of those letters--I feel
proud to tell you of it my children--the general informed me that the
Emperor himself had remembered me."
"What, did he know you?"
"A little, I flatter myself--'Oh! Dagobert!' said he to your father, who
was talking to him about me; 'a horse-grenadier of my old guard--a
soldier of Egypt and Italy, battered with wounds--an old dare-devil, whom
I decorated with my own hand at Wagram--I have not forgotten him!'--I
vow, children, when your mother read that to me, I cried like a fool."
"The Emperor--what a fine golden face he has on the silver cross with the
red ribbon that you would sometimes show us when we behaved well."
"That cross--given by him--is my relic. It is there in my knapsack, with
whatever we have of value--our little purse and papers. But, to return
to your mother; it was a great consolation to her, when I took her
letters from the general, or talked with her about him--for she suffered
much--oh, so much! In vain her parents tormented and persecuted her; she
always answered: 'I will never marry any one but General Simon.' A
spirited woman, I can tell you--resigned, but wonderfully courageous.
One day she received a letter from the general; he had left the Isle of
Elba with the Emperor; the war had again broken out, a short campaign,
but as fierce as ever, and heightened by soldiers' devotion. In that
campaign of France; my children, especially at Montmirail, your father
fought like a lion, and his division followed his example it was no
longer valor--it was frenzy. He told me that, in Champagne, the peasants
killed so many of those Prussians, that their fields were manured with
them for years. Men, women, children, all rushed upon them. Pitchforks,
stones, mattocks, all served for the slaughter. It was a true wolf-
The veins swelled on the soldier's forehead, and his cheeks flushed as he
spoke, for this popular heroism recalled to his memory the sublime
enthusiasm of the wars of the republic--those armed risings of a whole
people, from which dated the first steps of his military career, as the
triumphs of the Empire were the last days of his service.
The orphans, too, daughters of a soldier and a brave woman, did not
shrink from the rough energy of these words, but felt their cheeks glow,
and their hearts beat tumultuously.
"How happy we are to be the children of so brave a father!" cried
"It is a happiness and an honor too, my children--for the evening of the
battle of Montmirail, the Emperor, to the joy of the whole army, made
your father Duke of Ligny and Marshal of France."
"Marshal of France!" said Rose in astonishment, without understanding the
exact meaning of the words.
"Duke of Ligny!" added Blanche with equal surprise.
"Yes; Peter Simon, the son of a workman, became duke and marshal--there
is nothing higher except a king!" resumed Dagobert, proudly. "That's how
the Emperor treated the sons of the people, and, therefore, the people
were devoted to him. It was all very fine to tell them 'Your Emperor
makes you food for cannon.' 'Stuff!' replied the people, who are no
fools, 'another would make us food for misery. We prefer the cannon,
with the chance of becoming captain or colonel, marshal, king--or
invalid; that's better than to perish with hunger, cold, and age, on
straw in a garret, after toiling forty years for others.'"
"Even in France--even in Paris, that beautiful city--do you mean to say
there are poor people who die of hunger and misery, Dagobert?"
"Even in Paris? Yes, my children; therefore, I come back to the point,
the cannon is better. With it, one has the chance of becoming, like your
father, duke and marshal: when I say duke and marshal, I am partly right
and partly wrong, for the title and the rank were not recognized in the
end; because, after Montmirail, came a day of gloom, a day of great
mourning, when, as the general has told me, old soldiers like myself
wept--yes, wept!--on the evening of a battle. That day, my children, was
There was in these simple words of Dagobert an expression of such deep
sorrow, that it thrilled the hearts of the orphans.
"Alas!" resumed the soldier, with a sigh, "there are days which seem to
have a curse on them. That same day, at Waterloo, the general fell,
covered with wounds, at the head of a division of the Guards. When he
was nearly cured, which was not for a long time, he solicited permission
to go to St. Helena--another island at the far end of the world, to which
the English had carried the Emperor, to torture him at their leisure; for
if he was very fortunate in the first instance, he had to go through a
deal of hard rubs at last, my poor children."
"If you talk in that way, you will make us cry, Dagobert."
"There is cause enough for it--the Emperor suffered so much! He bled
cruelly at the heart believe me. Unfortunately, the general was not with
him at St. Helena; he would have been one more to console him; but they
would not allow him to go. Then, exasperated, like so many others,
against the Bourbons, the general engaged in a conspiracy to recall the
son of the Emperor. He relied especially on one regiment, nearly all
composed of his old soldiers, and he went down to a place in Picardy,
where they were then in garrison; but the conspiracy had already been
divulged. Arrested the moment of his arrival, the general was taken
before the colonel of the regiment. And this colonel," said the soldier,
after a brief pause, "who do you think it was again? Bah! it would be
too long to tell you all, and would only make you more sad; but it was a
man whom your father had many reasons to hate. When he found himself
face to face with him, he said: 'if you are not a coward, you will give
me one hour's liberty, and we will fight to the death; I hate you for
this, I despise you for that'--and so on. The colonel accepted the
challenge, and gave your father his liberty till the morrow. The duel
was a desperate one; the colonel was left for dead on the spot."
"The general was yet wiping his sword, when a faithful friend came to
him, and told him he had only just time to save himself. In fact, he
happily succeeded in leaving France--yes, happily--for a fortnight after,
he was condemned to death as a conspirator."
"What misfortunes, good heaven!"
"There was some luck, however, in the midst of his troubles. Your mother
had kept her promise bravely, and was still waiting for him. She had
written to him: 'The Emperor first, and me next!' both unable to do
anything more for the Emperor, nor even for his son, the general,
banished from France, set out for Warsaw. Your mother had lost her
parents, and was now free; they were married--and I am one of the
witnesses to the marriage."
"You are right, Dagobert; that was great happiness in the midst of great
"Yes, they were very happy; but, as it happened with all good hearts, the
happier they were themselves, the more they felt for the sorrows of
others--and there was quite enough to grieve them at Warsaw. The
Russians had again begun to treat the Poles as their slaves; your brave
mother, though of French origin, was a Pole in heart and soul; she spoke
out boldly what others did not dare speak in a whisper, and all the
unfortunate called her their protecting angel. That was enough to excite
the suspicions of the Russian governor. One day, a friend of the
general's, formerly a colonel in the lancers, a brave and worthy man, was
condemned to be exiled to Siberia for a military plot against the
Russians. He took refuge in your father's house, and lay hid there; but
his retreat was discovered. During the next night, a party of Cossacks,
commanded by an officer, and followed by a travelling-carriage, arrive at
our door; they rouse the general from his sleep and take him away with
"Oh, heaven! what did they mean to do with him?"
"Conduct him out of the Russian dominions, with a charge never to return,
on pain of perpetual imprisonment. His last words were: 'Dagobert, I
entrust to thee my wife and child!'--for it wanted yet some months of the
time when you were to be born. Well, notwithstanding that, they exiled
your mother to Siberia; it was an opportunity to get rid of her; she did
too much good at Warsaw, and they feared her accordingly. Not content
with banishing her, they confiscated all her property; the only favor she
could obtain was, that I should accompany her, and, had it not been for
Jovial, whom the general had given to me, she would have had to make the
journey on foot. It was thus, with her on horseback, and I leading her
as I lead you, my children, that we arrived at the poverty-stricken
village, where, three months after, you poor little things were born!"
"And our father?"
"It was impossible for him to return to Russia; impossible for your
mother to think of flight, with two children; impossible for the general
to write to her, as he knew not where she was."
"So, since that time, you have had no news of him?"
"Yes, my children--once we had news."
"And by whom?"
After a moment's silence, Dagobert resumed with a singular expression of
countenance: "By whom?--by one who is not like other men. Yes--that you
may understand me better, I will relate to you an extraordinary
adventure, which happened to your father during his last French campaign.
He had been ordered by the Emperor to carry a battery, which was playing
heavily on our army; after several unsuccessful efforts, the general put
himself at the head of a regiment of cuirassiers, and charged the
battery, intending, as was his custom, to cut down the men at their guns.
He was on horseback, just before the mouth of a cannon, where all the
artillerymen had been either killed or wounded, when one of them still
found strength to raise himself upon one knee, and to apply the lighted
match to the touchhole--and that when your father was about ten paces in
front of the loaded piece."
"Oh! what a peril for our father!"
"Never, he told me, had he run such imminent danger for he saw the
artilleryman apply the match, and the gun go off--but, at the very nick,
a man of tall stature, dressed as a peasant, and whom he had not before
remarked, threw himself in front of the cannon."
"Unfortunate creature! what a horrible death!"
"Yes," said Dagobert, thoughtfully; "it should have been so. He ought by
rights to have been blown into a thousand pieces. But no--nothing of the
"What do you tell us?"
"What the general told me. 'At the moment when the gun went off,' as he
often repeated to me, 'I shut my eyes by an involuntary movement, that I
might not see the mutilated body of the poor wretch who had sacrificed
himself in my place. When I again opened them, the first thing I saw in
the midst of the smoke, was the tall figure of this man, standing erect
and calm on the same spot, and casting a sad mild look on the
artilleryman, who, with one knee on the ground, and his body thrown
backward, gazed on him in as much terror as if he had been the devil.
Afterwards, I lost sight of this man in the tumult,' added your father."
"Bless me Dagobert! how can this be possible?"
"That is just what I said to the general. He answered me that he had
never been able to explain to himself this event, which seemed as
incredible as it was true. Moreover, your father must have been greatly
struck with the countenance of this man, who appeared, he said, about
thirty years of age--for he remarked, that his extremely black eyebrows
were joined together, and formed, as it were, one line from temple to
temple, so that he seemed to have a black streak across his forehead.
Remember this, my children; you will soon see why."
"Oh, Dagobert! we shall not forget it," said the orphans, growing more
and more astonished as he proceeded.
"Is it not strange--this man with a black seam on his forehead?"
"Well, you shall hear. The general had, as I told you, been left for
dead at Waterloo. During the night which he passed on the field of
battle, in a sort of delirium brought on by the fever of his wounds, he
saw, or fancied he saw, this same man bending over him, with a look of
great mildness and deep melancholy, stanching his wounds, and using every
effort to revive him. But as your father, whose senses were still
wandering, repulsed his kindness saying, that after such a defeat, it
only remained to die--it appeared as if this man replied to him; 'You
must live for Eva!' meaning your mother, whom the general had left at
Warsaw, to join the Emperor, and make this campaign of France."
"How strange, Dagobert!--And since then, did our father never see this
"Yes, he saw him--for it was he who brought news of the general to your
"When was that? We never heard of it."
"You remember that, on the day your mother died, you went to the pine-
forest with old Fedora?"
"Yes," answered Rose, mournfully; "to fetch some heath, of which our
mother was so fond."
"Poor mother!" added Blanche; "she appeared so well that morning, that we
could not dream of the calamity which awaited us before night."
"True, my children; I sang and worked that morning in the garden,
expecting, no more than you did, what was to happen. Well, as I was
singing at my work, on a sudden I heard a voice ask me in French: 'Is
this the village of Milosk?'--I turned round, and saw before me a
stranger; I looked at him attentively, and, instead of replying, fell
back two steps, quite stupefied."
"He was of tall stature, very pale, with a high and open forehead; but
his eyebrows met, and seemed to form one black streak across it."
"Then it was the same man who had twice been with our father in battle?"
"Yes--it was he."
"But, Dagobert," said Rose, thoughtfully, "is it not a long time since
"About sixteen years,"
"And of what age was this stranger?"
"Hardly more than thirty."
"Then how can it be the same man, who sixteen years before, had been with
our father in the wars?"
"You are right," said Dagobert, after a moment's silence, and shrugging
his shoulders: "I may have been deceived by a chance likeness--and yet--"
"Or, if it were the same, he could not have got older all that while."
"But did you ask him, if he had not formerly relieved our father?"
"At first I was so surprised that I did not think of it; and afterwards,
he remained so short a time, that I had no opportunity. Well, he asked
me for the village of Milosk. 'You are there, sir,' said I, 'but how do
you know that I am a Frenchman?' 'I heard you singing as I passed,'
replied he; 'could you tell me the house of Madame Simon, the general's
wife?' 'She lives here, sir.' Then looking at me for some seconds in
silence, he took me by the hand and said: 'You are the friend of
General Simon--his best friend?' Judge of my astonishment, as I answered:
'But, sir, how do you know?' 'He has often spoken of you with gratitude.'
'You have seen the general then?' 'Yes, some time ago, in India. I am
also his friend: I bring news of him to his wife, whom I knew to be
exiled in Siberia. At Tobolsk, whence I come, I learned that she
inhabits this village. Conduct me to her!'"
"The good traveller--I love him already," said Rose.
"Yes, being father's friend."
"I begged him to wait an instant, whilst I went to inform your mother, so
that the surprise might not do her harm; five minutes after, he was
"And what kind of man was this traveller, Dagobert?"
"He was very tall; he wore a dark pelisse, and a fur cap, and had long
"Was he handsome?"
"Yes, my children--very handsome; but with so mild and melancholy an air,
that it pained my heart to see him."
"Poor man! he had doubtless known some great sorrow."
"Your mother had been closeted with him for some minutes, when she called
me to her and said that she had just received good news of the general.
She was in tears, and had before her a large packet of papers; it was a
kind of journal, which your father had written every evening to console
himself; not being able to speak to her, he told the paper all that he
would have told her."
"Oh! where are these papers, Dagobert?"
"There, in the knapsack, with my cross and our purse. One day I will
give them to you: but I have picked out a few leaves here and there for
you to read presently. You will see why."
"Had our father been long in India?"
"I gathered from the few words which your mother said, that the general
had gone to that country, after fighting for the Greeks against the
Turks--for he always liked to side with the weak against the strong. In
India he made fierce war against the English, they had murdered our
prisoners in pontoons, and tortured the Emperor at St. Helena, and the
war was a doubly good one, for in harming them he served a just cause."
"What cause did he serve then?"
"That of one of the poor native princes, whose territories the English,
lay waste, till the day when they can take possession of them against law
and right. You see, my children, it was once more the weak against the
strong, and your father did not miss this opportunity. In a few months
he had so well-trained and disciplined the twelve or fifteen thousand men
of the prince, that, in two encounters, they cut to pieces the English
sent against them, and who, no doubt, had in their reckoning left out
your brave father, my children. But come, you shall read some pages of
his journal, which will tell you more and better than I can. Moreover,
you will find in them a name which you ought always to remember; that's
why I chose this passage."
"Oh, what happiness! To read the pages written by our father, is almost
to hear him speak," said Rose.
"It is as if he were close beside us," added Blanche.
And the girls stretched out their hands with eagerness, to catch hold of
the leaves that Dagobert had taken from his pocket. Then, by a
simultaneous movement, full of touching grace, they pressed the writing
of their father in silence to their lips.
"You will see also, my children, at the end of this letter, why I was
surprised that your guardian angel, as you say, should be called Gabriel.
Read, read," added the soldier, observing the puzzled air of the orphans.
"Only I ought to tell you that, when he wrote this, the general had not
yet fallen in with the traveller who brought the papers."
Rose, sitting up in her bed, took the leaves, and began to read in a soft
and trembling voice, Blanche, with her head resting on her sister's
shoulder, followed attentively every word. One could even see, by the
slight motion of her lips, that she too was reading, but only to herself.
EXTRACTS FROM GENERAL SIMON'S DIARY.
Bivouac on the Mountains of Avers February the 20th, 1830.
"Each time I add some pages to this journal, written now in the heart of
India, where the fortune of my wandering and proscribed existence has
thrown me--a journal which, alas! my beloved Eva, you may never read--I
experience a sweet, yet painful emotion; for, although to converse thus
with you is a consolation, it brings back the bitter thought that I am
unable to see or speak to you.
"Still, if these pages should ever meet your eyes, your generous heart
will throb at the name of the intrepid being, to whom I am this day
indebted for my life, and to whom I may thus perhaps owe the happiness of
seeing you again--you and my child--for of course our child lives. Yes,
it must be--for else, poor wife, what an existence would be yours amid
the horrors of exile! Dear soul! he must now be fourteen. Whom does he
resemble? Is he like you? Has he your large and beautiful blue eyes?--
Madman that I am! how many times, in this long day-book, have I already
asked the same idle question, to which you can return no answer!--How
many times shall I continue to ask it?--But you will teach our child to
speak and love the somewhat savage name of Djalma."
"Djalma!" said Rose, as with moist eyes she left off reading.
"Djalma!" repeated Blanche, who shared the emotion of her sister. "Oh,
we shall never forget that name."
"And you will do well, my children; for it seems to be the name of a
famous soldier, though a very young one. But go on, my little Rose!"
"I have told you in the preceding pages, my dear Eva, of the two glorious
days we had this month. The troops of my old friend, the prince, which
daily make fresh advances in European discipline, have performed wonders.
We have beaten the English, and obliged them to abandon a portion of this
unhappy country, which they had invaded in contempt of all the rights of
justice, and which they continue to ravage without mercy, for, in these
parts, warfare is another name for treachery, pillage, and massacre.
This morning, after a toilsome march through a rocky and mountainous
district, we received information from our scouts, that the enemy had
been reinforced, and was preparing to act on the offensive; and, as we
were separated from them by a distance of a few leagues only, an
engagement became inevitable. My old friend the prince, the father of my
deliverer, was impatient to march to the attack. The action began about
three o'clock; it was very bloody and furious. Seeing that our men
wavered for a moment, for they were inferior in number, and the English
reinforcements consisted of fresh troops, I charged at the head of our
weak reserve of cavalry. The old prince was in the centre, fighting, as
he always fights, intrepidly; his son, Djalma, scarcely eighteen, as
brave as his father, did not leave my side. In the hottest part of the
engagement, my horse was killed under me, and rolling over into a ravine,
along the edge of which I was riding, I found myself so awkwardly
entangled beneath him, that for an instant I thought my thigh was
"Poor father!" said Blanche.
"This time, happily, nothing more dangerous ensued thanks to Djalma! You
see, Dagobert," added Rose, "that I remember the name." And she
continued to read,
"The English thought--and a very flattering opinion it was--that, if they
could kill me, they would make short work of the prince's army. So a
Sepoy officer, with five or six irregulars--cowardly, ferocious
plunderers--seeing me roll down the ravine, threw themselves into it to
despatch me. Surrounded by fire and smoke, and carried away by their
ardor, our mountaineers had not seen me fall; but Djalma never left me.
He leaped into the ravine to my assistance, and his cool intrepidity
saved my life. He had held the fire of his double-barrelled carbine;
with one load, he killed the officer on the spot; with the other he broke
the arm of an irregular, who had already pierced my left hand with his
bayonet. But do not be alarmed, dear Eva; it is nothing--only a
"Wounded--again wounded--alas!" cried Blanche, clasping her hands
together, and interrupting her sister.
"Take courage!" said Dagobert: "I dare say it was only a scratch, as the
general calls it. Formerly, he used to call wounds, which did not
disable a man from fighting, blank wounds. There was no one like him for
"Djalma, seeing me wounded," resumed Rose, wiping her eyes, "made use of
his heavy carbine as a club, and drove back the soldiers. At that
instant, I perceived a new assailant, who, sheltered behind a clump of
bamboos which commanded the ravine, slowly lowered his long gun, placed
the barrel between two branches, and took deliberate aim at Djalma.
Before my shouts could apprise him of his danger, the brave youth had
received a ball in his breast. Feeling himself hit, he fell bark
involuntarily two paces, and dropped upon one knee: but he still remained
firm, endeavoring to cover me with his body. You may conceive my rage
and despair, whilst all my efforts to disengage myself were paralyzed by
the excruciating pain in my thigh. Powerless and disarmed, I witnessed
for some moments this unequal struggle.
"Djalma was losing blood rapidly; his strength of arm began to fail him;
already one of the irregulars, inciting his comrades with his voice, drew
from his belt a huge, heavy kind of bill-hook, when a dozen of our
mountaineers made their appearance, borne towards the spot by the
irresistible current of the battle. Djalma was rescued in his turn, I
was released, and, in a quarter of an hour, I was able to mount a horse.
The fortune of the day is ours, though with severe loss; but the fires of
the English camp are still visible, and to-morrow the conflict will be
decisive. Thus, my beloved Eva, I owe my life to this youth. Happily,
his wound occasions us no uneasiness; the ball only glanced along the
ribs in a slanting direction."
"The brave boy might have said: "'A blank wound,' like the general,"
"Now, my dear Eva," continued Rose, "you must become acquainted, by means
of this narrative at least, with the intrepid Djalma. He is but just
eighteen. With one word, I will paint for you his noble and valiant
nature; it is a custom of this country to give surnames, and, when only
fifteen, he was called 'The Generous'--by which was, of course, meant
generous in heart and mind. By another custom, no less touching than
whimsical, this name was reverted to his parent, who is called 'The
Father of the Generous,' and who might, with equal propriety, be called
'The Just,' for this old Indian is a rare example of chivalrous honor and
proud independence. He might, like so many other poor princes of this
country, have humbled himself before the execrable despotism of the
English, bargained for the relinquishment of sovereign power, and
submitted to brute force--but it was not in his nature. 'My whole
rights, or a grave in my native mountains!'--such is his motto. And this
is no empty boast; it springs from the conviction of what is right and
just. 'But you will be crushed in the struggle,' I have said to him--'My
friend,' he answered, 'what if, to force you to a disgraceful act, you
were told to yield or die?'--From that day I understood him, and have
devoted myself, mind and body, to the ever sacred cause of the weak
against the strong. You see, my Eva, that Djalma shows himself worthy of
such a father. This young Indian is so proud, so heroic in his bravery,
that, like a young Greek of Leonidas' age, he fights with his breast
bare; while other warriors of his country (who, indeed, usually have
arms, breast, and shoulders uncovered) wear, in time of battle, a thick,
impenetrable vest. The rash daring of this youth reminds me of Murat,
King of Naples, who, I have so often told you, I have seen a hundred
times leading the most desperate charges with nothing but a riding-whip
in his hand."
"That's another of those kings I was telling you of, whom the Emperor set
up for his amusement," said Dagobert. "I once saw a Prussian officer
prisoner, whose face had been cut across by that mad-cap King of Naples'
riding-whip; the mark was there, a black and blue stripe. The Prussian
swore he was dishonored, and that a sabre-cut would have been preferable.
I should rather think so! That devil of a king; he only had one idea:
'Forward, on to the cannon!' As soon as they began to cannonade, one
would have thought the guns were calling him with all their might, for he
was soon up to them with his 'Here I am!' If I speak to you about him,
my children, it's because he was fond of repeating,--'No one can break
through a square of infantry, if General Simon or I can't do it.'"
"I have observed with pain, that, notwithstanding his youth, Djalma is
often subject to fits of deep melancholy. At times, I have seen him
exchange with his father looks of singular import. In spite of our
mutual attachment, I believe that both conceal from me some sad family
secret, in so far as I can judge from expressions which have dropped from
them by chance.
"It relates to some strange event which their vivid imaginations have
invested with a supernatural character.
"And yet, my love, you and I have no longer the right to smile at the
credulity of others. I, since the French campaign, when I met with that
extraordinary adventure, which, to this day, I am quite unable to
"This refers to the man who threw himself before the mouth of the
cannon," said Dagobert.
"And you," continued the maiden, still reading, "you, my dear Eva, since
the visits of that young and beautiful woman, whom, as your mother
asserted, she had seen at her mother's house forty years before."
The orphans, in amazement, looked at the soldier.
"Your mother never spoke to me of that, nor the general either, my
children; this is as strange to me as it is to you."
With increasing excitement and curiosity, Rose continued:
"After all, my dear Eva, things which appear very extraordinary, may
often be explained by a chance resemblance or a freak of nature. Marvels
being always the result of optical illusion or heated fancy, a time must
come, when that which appeared to be superhuman or supernatural, will
prove to be the most simple and natural event in the world. I doubt not,
therefore, that the things, which we denominate our prodigies, will one
day receive this commonplace solution."
"You see, my children--things appear marvelous, which at bottom are quite
simple--though for a long time we understand nothing about them."
"As our father relates this, we must believe it, and not be astonished--
"Yes, truly--since it will all be explained one day."
"For example," said Dagobert, after a moment's reflection, "you two are
so much alike, that any one, who was not in the habit of seeing you
daily, might easily take one for the other. Well! if they did not know
that you are, so to speak,'doubles,' they might think an imp was at work
instead of such good little angels as you are."
"You are right, Dagobert; in this way many things may be explained, even
as our father says." And Rose continued to read:
"Not without pride, my gentle Eva, have I learned that Djalma has French
blood in his veins. His father married, some years ago, a young girl,
whose family, of French origin, had long been settled at Batavia in the
island of Java. This similarity of circumstances between my old friend
and myself--for your family also, my Eva, is of French origin, and long
settled in a foreign land--has only served to augment my sympathy for
him. Unfortunately, he has long had to mourn the loss of the wife whom he
"See, my beloved Eva! my hand trembles as I write these words. I am
weak--I am foolish--but, alas! my heart sinks within me. If such a
misfortune were to happen to me--Oh, my God!--what would become of our
child without thee--without his father--in that barbarous country? But
no! the very fear is madness; and yet what a horrible torture is
uncertainty! Where may you now be? What are you doing? What has become
of you? Pardon these black thoughts, which are sometimes too much for
me. They are the cause of my worst moments--for, when free from them, I
can at least say to myself: I am proscribed, I am every way unfortunate--
but, at the other end of the world, two hearts still beat for me with
affection--yours, my Eva, and our child's!"
Rose could hardly finish this passage; for some seconds her voice was
broken by sobs. There was indeed a fatal coincidence between the fears
of General Simon and the sad reality; and what could be more touching
than these outpourings of the heart, written by the light of a watch-
fire, on the eve of battle, by a soldier who thus sought to soothe the
pangs of a separation, which he felt bitterly, but knew not would be
"Poor general! he is unaware of our misfortune," said Dagobert, after a
moment's silence; "but neither has he heard that he has two children,
instead of one. That will be at least some consolation. But come,
Blanche; do go on reading: I fear that this dwelling on grief fatigues
your sister, and she is too much affected by it. Besides, after all, it
is only just, that you should take your share of its pleasure and its
Blanche took the letter, and Rose, having dried her eyes, laid in her
turn her sweet head on the shoulder of her sister, who thus continued:
"I am calmer now, my dear Eva; I left off writing for a moment, and
strove to banish those black presentiments. Let us resume our
conversation! After discoursing so long about India, I will talk to you
a little of Europe. Yesterday evening, one of our people (a trusty
fellow) rejoined our outposts. He brought me a letter, which had arrived
from France at Calcutta; at length, I have news of my father, and am no
longer anxious on his account. This letter is dated in August of last
year. I see by its contents, that several other letters, to which he
alludes, have either been delayed or lost; for I had not received any for
two years before, and was extremely uneasy about him. But my excellent
father is the same as ever! Age has not weakened him; his character is
as energetic, his health as robust, as in times past--still a workman,
still proud of his order, still faithful to his austere republican ideas,
still hoping much.
"For he says to me, 'the time is at hand,' and he underlines those words.
He gives me also, as you will see, good news of the family of old
Dagobert, our friend--for in truth, my dear Eva, it soothes my grief to
think, that this excellent man is with you, that he will have accompanied
you in your exile--for I know him--a kernel of gold beneath the rude rind
of a soldier! How he must love our child!"
Here Dagobert coughed two or three times, stooped down, and appeared to
be seeking on the ground the little red and blue check-handkerchief
spread over his knees. He remained thus bent for some seconds, and, when
he raised himself, he drew his hand across his moustache.
"How well father knows you!"
"How rightly has he guessed that you would love us!"
"Well, well, children; pass over that!--Let's come to the part where the
general speaks of my little Agricola, and of Gabriel, my wife's adopted
child. Poor woman! when I think that in three months perhaps--but come,
child, read, read," added the old soldier, wishing to conceal his
"I still hope against hope, my dear Eva, that these pages will one day
reach you, and therefore I wish to insert in them all that can be
interesting to Dagobert. It will be a consolation to him, to have some
news of his family. My father, who is still foreman at Mr. Hardy's,
tells me that worthy man has also taken into his house the son of old
Dagobert. Agricola works under my father, who is enchanted with him. He
is, he tells me, a tall and vigorous lad, who wields the heavy forge-
hammer as if it were a feather, and is light-spirited as he is
intelligent and laborious. He is the best workman on the establishment;
and this does not prevent him in the evening, after his hard day's work,
when he returns home to his mother, whom he truly loves, from making
songs and writing excellent patriotic verses. His poetry is full of fire
and energy; his fellow-workmen sing nothing else, and his lays have the
power to warm the coldest and the most timid hearts."
"How proud you must be of your son, Dagobert," said Rose, in admiration;
"he writes songs."
"Certainly, it is all very fine--but what pleases me best is, that he is
good to his mother, and that he handles the hammer with a will. As for
the songs, before he makes a 'Rising of the People,' or a 'Marseillaise,'
he will have had to beat a good deal of iron; but where can this rascally
sweet Agricola have learned to make songs at all?--No doubt, it was at
school, where he went, as you will see, with his adopted brother
At this name of Gabriel, which reminded them of the imaginary being whom
they called their guardian angel, the curiosity of the young girls was
greatly excited. With redoubled attention, Blanche continued in these
"The adopted brother of Agricola, the poor deserted child whom the wife
of our good Dagobert so generously took in, forms, my father tells me, a
great contrast with Agricola; not in heart, for they have both excellent
hearts; but Gabriel is as thoughtful and melancholy as Agricola is
lively, joyous, and active. Moreover, adds my father, each of them, so
to speak, has the aspect, which belongs to his character. Agricola is
dark, tall, and strong, with a gay and bold air; Gabriel, on the
contrary, is weak, fair, timid as a girl, and his face wears an
expression of angelic mildness."
The orphans looked at each other in surprise; then, as they turned
towards the soldier their ingenuous countenances, Rose said to him; "Have
you heard, Dagobert? Father says, that your Gabriel is fair, and has the
face of an angel. Why, 'tis exactly like ours!"
"Yes, yes, I heard very well; it is that which surprised me, in your
"I should like to know, if he has also blue eyes," said Rose.
"As for that, my children, though the general says nothing about it, I
will answer for it: your fair boys have always blue eyes. But, blue or
black, he will not use them to stare at young ladies; go on, and you will
"His face wears an expression of angelic mildness. One of the Brothers
of the Christian Schools, where he went with Agricola and other children
of his quarter, struck with his intelligence and good disposition, spoke
of him to a person of consequence, who, becoming interested in the lad,
placed him in a seminary for the clergy, and, since the last two years,
Gabriel is a priest. He intends devoting himself to foreign missions,
and will soon set out for America."
"Your Gabriel is a priest, it appears?" said Rose, looking at Dagobert.
"While ours is an angel," added Blanche.
"Which only proves that yours is a step higher than mine. Well, every
one to his taste; there are good people in all trades; but I prefer that
it should be Gabriel who has chosen the black gown. I'd rather see my
boy with arms bare, hammer in hand, and a leathern apron round him,
neither more nor less than your old grandfather, my children--the father
of Marshal Simon, Duke of Ligny--for, after all, marshal and duke he is
by the grace of the Emperor. Now finish your letter."
"Soon, alas, yes!" said Blanche; "there are only a few lines left." And
"Thus, my dear, loving Eva, if this journal should ever reach its
destination, you will be able to satisfy Dagobert as to the position of
his wife and son, whom he left for our sakes. How can we ever repay such
a sacrifice? But I feel sure, that your good and generous heart will
have found some means of compensation.
"Adieu!--Again adieu, for to-day, my beloved Eva; I left off writing for
a moment, to visit the tent of Djalma. He slept peacefully, and his
father watched beside him; with a smile, he banished my fears. This
intrepid young man is no longer in any danger. May he still be spared in
the combat of to-morrow! Adieu, my gentle Eva! the night is silent and
calm; the fires of the bivouac are slowly dying out, and our poor
mountaineers repose after this bloody day; I can hear, from hour to hour,
the distant all's well of our sentinels. Those foreign words bring back
my grief; they remind me of what I sometimes forget in writing--that I am
faraway, separated from you and from my child! Poor, beloved beings!
what will be your destiny? Ah! if I could only send you, in time, that
medal, which, by a fatal accident, I carried away with me from Warsaw,
you might, perhaps, obtain leave to visit France, or at least to send our
child there with Dagobert; for you know of what importance--But why add
this sorrow to all the rest? Unfortunately, the years are passing away,
the fatal day will arrive, and this last hope, in which I live for you,
will also be taken from me: but I will not close the evening by so sad a
thought. Adieu, my beloved Eva! Clasp our child to your bosom, and
cover it with all the kisses which I send to both of you from the depths
"Till to-morrow--after the battle!"
The reading of this touching letter was followed by long silence. The
tears of Rose and Blanche flowed together. Dagobert, with his head
resting on his hand, was absorbed in painful reflections.
Without doors, the wind had now augmented in violence; a heavy rain began
to beat on the sounding panes; the most profound silence reigned in the
interior of the inn. But, whilst the daughters of General Simon were
reading with such deep emotion, these fragments of their father's
journal, a strange and mysterious scene transpired in the menagerie of
Morok had prepared himself. Over his deer-skin vest he had drawn the
coat of mail--that steel tissue, as pliable as cloth, as hard as
diamonds; next, clothing his arms and legs in their proper armor, and his
feet in iron-bound buskins, and concealing all this defensive equipment
under loose trousers and an ample pelisse carefully buttoned, he took in
his hand a long bar of iron, white-hot, set in a wooden handle.
Though long ago daunted by the skill and energy of the Prophet, his tiger
Cain, his lion Judas, and his black panther Death, had sometimes
attempted, in a moment of rebellion, to try their fangs and claws on his
person; but, thanks to the armor concealed beneath his pelisse, they
blunted their claws upon a skin of steel, and notched their fangs upon
arms or legs of iron, whilst a slight touch of their master's metallic
wand left a deep furrow in their smoking, shrivelled flesh.
Finding the inutility of their efforts, and endowed with strong memory,
the beasts soon learned that their teeth and claws were powerless when
directed against this invulnerable being. Hence, their terrified
submission reached to such a point that, in his public representations,
their master could make them crouch and cower at his feet by the least
movement of a little wand covered with flame-colored paper.
The Prophet, thus armed with care, and holding in his hand the iron made
hot by Goliath, descended by the trapdoor of the loft into the large shed
beneath, in which were deposited the cages of his animals. A mere wooden
partition separated this shed from the stable that contained his horses.
A lantern, with a reflector, threw a vivid light on the cages. They were
four in number. A wide iron grating formed their sides, turning at one
end upon hinges like a door, so as to give ingress to the animal; the
bottom of each den rested on two axle-trees and four small iron castors,
so that they could easily be removed to the large covered wagon in which
they were placed during a journey. One of them was empty; the other
three contained, as already intimated, a panther, a tiger, and a lion.
The panther, originally from Java, seemed to merit the gloomy name of
Death, by her grim, ferocious aspect. Completely black, she lay
crouching and rolled up in the bottom of her cage, and her dark hues
mingling with the obscurity which surrounded her, nothing was distinctly
visible but fixed and glaring eyes--yellow balls of phosphoric light,
which only kindled, as it were, in the night-time; for it is the nature
of all the animals of the feline species to enjoy entire clearness of
vision but in darkness.
The Prophet entered the stable in silence: the dark red of his long
pelisse contrasted with the pale yellow of his straight hair and beard;
the lantern, placed at some height above the ground, threw its rays full
upon this man, and the strong light, opposed to the deep shadows around
it, gave effect to the sharp proportions of his bony and savage looking
He approached the cage slowly. The white rim, which encircled his
eyeball, appeared to dilate, and his look rivaled in motionless
brilliancy the steadily sparkling gaze of the panther. Still crouching
in the shade, she felt already the fascination of that glance; two or
three times she dropped her eyelids, with a low, angry howl; then,
reopening her eyes, as if in spite of herself, she kept them fastened
immovably on those of the Prophet. And now her rounded ears clung to her
skull, which was flattened like a viper's; the skin of her forehead
became convulsively wrinkled; she drew in her bristling, but silky
muzzle, and twice silently opened her jaws, garnished with formidable
fangs. From that moment a kind of magnetic connection seemed to be
established between the man and the beast.
The Prophet extended his glowing bar towards the cage, and said, in a
sharp, imperious tone: "Death! come here."
The panther rose, but so dragged herself along that her belly and the
bend of her legs touched the ground. She was three feet high, and nearly
five in length; her elastic and fleshy spine, the sinews of her thighs as
well developed as those of a race-horse, her deep chest, her enormous
jutting shoulders, the nerve and muscle in her short, thick paws--all
announced that this terrible animal united vigor with suppleness, and
strength with agility.
Morok, with his iron wand still extended in the direction of the cage,
made a step towards the panther. The panther made a stride towards the
Prophet. Morok stopped; Death stopped also.
At this moment the tiger, Judas, to whom Morok's back was turned, bounded
violently in his cage, as if jealous of the attention, which his master
paid to the panther. He growled hoarsely, and, raising his head, showed
the under-part of his redoubtable triangular jaw, and his broad chest of
a dirty white, with which blended the copper color, streaked with black,
of his sides; his tail, like a huge red serpent, with rings of ebony, now
clung to his flanks, now lashed them with a slow and continuous movement:
his eyes, of a transparent, brilliant green, were fixed upon the Prophet.
Such was the influence of this man over his animals, that Judas almost
immediately ceased growling, as if frightened at his own temerity; but
his respiration continued loud and deep. Morok turned his face towards
him, and examined him very attentively during some seconds. The panther,
no longer subject to the influence of her master's look, slunk back to
crouch in the shade.
A sharp cracking, in sudden breaks, like that which great animals make in
gnawing hard substances, was now heard from the cage of the lion. It
drew the attention of the Prophet, who, leaving the tiger, advanced
towards the other den.
Nothing could be seen of the lion but his monstrous croup of a reddish
yellow. His thighs were gathered under him, and his thick mane served
entirely to conceal his head. But by the tension and movement of the
muscles of his loins, and the curving of his backbone, it was easy to
perceive that he was making violent efforts with his throat and his
forepaws. The Prophet approached the cage with same uneasiness, fearing
that, notwithstanding his orders, Goliath had given the lion some bones
to gnaw. To assure himself of it, he said in a quick and firm voice:
The lion did not change his position.
"Cain! come here!" repeated Morok in a louder tone. The appeal was
useless; the lion did not move, and the noise continued.
"Cain! come here!" said the Prophet a third time; but, as he pronounced
these words, he applied the end of the glowing bar to the haunch of the
Scarcely did the light track of smoke appear on the reddish hide of Cain,
when, with a spring of incredible agility, he turned and threw himself
against the grating, not crouching, but at a single bound--upright,
superb, terrifying. The Prophet being at the angle of the cage, Cain, in
his fury, had raised himself sideways to face his master, and, leaning
his huge flank against the bars, thrust between them his enormous fore-
leg, which, with his swollen muscles, was as large as Goliath's thigh.
"Cain! down!" said the Prophet, approaching briskly.
The lion did not obey immediately. His lips, curling with rage,
displayed fangs as long, as large, and as pointed as the tusks of a wild
boar. But Morok touched those lips with the end of the burning metal;
and, as he felt the smart, followed by an unexpected summons of his
master, the lion, not daring to roar, uttered a hollow growl, and his
great body sank down at once in an attitude of submission and fear.
The Prophet took down the lantern to see what Cain had been gnawing. It
was one of the planks from the floor of his den, which he had succeeded
in tearing up, and was crunching between his teeth in the extremity of
his hunger. For a few moments the most profound silence reigned in the
menagerie. The Prophet, with his hands behind his back, went from one
cage to the other, observing the animals with a restless contemplative
look, as if he hesitated to make between them an important and difficult
From time to time he listened at the great door of the shed, which opened
on the court-yard of the inn. At length this door turned on its hinges,
and Goliath appeared, his clothes dripping with water.
"Well! is it done?" said the Prophet.
"Not without trouble. Luckily, the night is dark, it blows hard, and it
pours with rain."
"Then there is no suspicion?"
"None, master. Your information was good. The door of the cellar opens
on the fields, just under the window of the lasses. When you whistled to
let me know it was time, I crept out with a stool I had provided; I put
it up against the wall, and mounted upon it; with my six feet, that made
nine, and I could lean my elbows on the window-ledge; I took the shutter
in one hand, and the haft of my knife in the other, and, whilst I broke
two of the panes, I pushed the shutter with all my might."
"And they thought it was the wind?"
"Yes, they thought it was the wind. You see, the 'brute' is not such a
brute, after all. That done, I crept back into my cellar, carrying my
stool with me. In a little time, I heard the voice of the old man; it
was well I had made haste."
"Yes, when I whistled to you, he had just entered the supper-room. I
thought he would have been longer."
"That man's not built to remain long at supper," said the giant,
contemptuously. "Some moments after the panes had been broken, the old
man opened the window, and called his dog, saying: 'Jump out!'--I went
and hid myself at the further end of the cellar, or that infernal dog
would have scented me through the door."
"The dog is now shut up in the stable with the old man's horse."
"When I heard them close shutter and window, I came out of my cellar,
replaced my stool, and again mounted upon it. Unfastening the shutter, I
opened it without noise, but the two broken panes were stopped up with
the skirts of a pelisse. I heard talking, but I could see nothing; so I
moved the pelisse a little, and then I could see the two lasses in bed
opposite to me, and the old man sitting down with his back to where I
"But the knapsack--the knapsack?--That is the most important."
"The knapsack was near the window, on a table, by the side of a lamp; I
could have reached it by stretching out my arm."
"What did you hear said?"
"As you told me to think only of the knapsack, I can only remember what
concerns the knapsack. The old man said he had some papers in it--the
letter of a general--his money--his cross."
"As it was difficult for me to keep the pelisse away from the hole, it
slipped through my fingers. In trying to get hold of it again, I put my
hand too much forward. One of the lasses saw it, and screamed out,
pointing to the window."
"Dolt!" exclaimed the Prophet, becoming pale with rage, "you have ruined
"Stop a bit! there is nothing broken yet. When I heard the scream, I
jumped down from my stool, and got back into the cellar; as the dog was
no longer about, I left the door ajar, so that I could hear them open the
window, and see, by the light, that the old man was looking out with the
lamp; but he could find no ladder, and the window was too high for any
man of common size to reach it!"
"He will have thought, like the first time, that it was the wind. You
are less awkward than I imagined."
"The wolf has become a fox, as you said. Knowing where the knapsack was
to be found with the money and the papers, and not being able to do more
for the moment, I came away--and here I am."
"Go upstairs and fetch me the longest pike."
"And the red blanket."
Goliath began to mount the ladder; half-way up he stopped. "Master,"
said he, "may I not bring down a bit of meat for Death?--you will see
that she'll bear me malice; she puts it all down to my account; she never
forgets, and on the first occasion--"
"The pike and the cloth!" repeated the Prophet, in an imperious tone.
And whilst Goliath, swearing to himself, proceeded to execute his
instructions, Morok opened the great door of the shed, looked out into
the yard, and listened.
"Here's the pike and the cloth," said the giant, as he descended the
ladder with the articles. "Now what must I do next?"
"Return to the cellar, mount once more by the window, and when the old
man leaves the room--"
"Who will make him leave the room?"
"Never mind! he will leave it."
"You say the lamp is near the window?"
"Quite near--on the table next to the knapsack."
"Well, then, as soon as the old man leaves the room, push open the
window, throw down the lamp, and if you accomplish cleverly what remains
to do--the ten florins are yours--you remember it all?"
"The girls will be so frightened by the noise and darkness, that they
will remain dumb with terror."
"Make yourself easy! The wolf turned into a fox; why not a serpent?"
"There is yet something."
"Well, what now?"
"The roof of this shed is not very high, the window of the loft is easy
of access, the night is dark--instead of returning by the door--"
"I will come in at the window."
"Ay, and without noise."
"Like a regular snake!" and the giant departed.
"Yes!" said the Prophet to himself, after a long silence, "these means
are sure. It was not for me to hesitate. A blind and obscure
instrument, I know not the motives of the orders I have received: but
from the recommendations which accompany them--but from the position of
him who sends them--immense interests must be involved--interests
connected with all that is highest and greatest upon earth!--And yet how
can these two girls, almost beggars, how can this wretched soldier
represent such interests?--No matter," added he, with humility; "I am the
arm which acts--it is for the head, which thinks and orders, to answer
for its work."
Soon after the Prophet left the shed, carrying with him the red cloth,
and directed his steps towards the little stable that contained Jovial.
The crazy door, imperfectly secured by a latch, was easily opened. At
sight of a stranger Spoil-sport threw himself upon him; but his teeth
encountered the iron leggings of the Prophet, who, in spite of the
efforts of the dog took Jovial by his halter, threw the blanket over his
head to prevent his either seeing or smelling, and led him from the
stable into the interior of the menagerie, of which he closed the door.
The orphans, after reading the journal of their father, remained for some
moments silent, sad, and pensive, contemplating the leaves yellowed by
time. Dagobert, also plunged in a reverie, thought of his wife and son,
from whom he had been so long separated, and hoped soon to see again.
The soldier was the first to break the silence, which had lasted for
several minutes. Taking the leaves from the hand of Blanche, he folded
them carefully, put them into his pocket, and thus addressed the orphans:
"Courage, my children! you see what a brave father you have. Think only
of the pleasure of greeting him, and remember always the name of the
gallant youth, to whom you will owe that pleasure--for without him your
father would have been killed in India."
"Djalma! we shall never forget him," said Rose.
"And if our guardian angel Gabriel should return," added Blanche, "we
will ask him to watch over Djalma as over ourselves."
"Very well, my children; I am sure that you will forget nothing that
concerns good feeling. But to return to the traveller, who came to visit
your poor mother in Siberia, he had seen the general a month after the
events of which you have read, and at a moment when he was about to enter
on a new campaign against the English. It was then that your father
entrusted him with the papers and medal."
"But of what use will this medal be to us, Dagobert?"
"And what is the meaning of these words engraved upon it?" added Rose, as
she drew it from her bosom.
"Why it means, my children, that on the 13th of February, 1832, we must
be at No. 3, Rue Saint Francois, Paris."
"But what are we to do there?"
"Your poor mother was seized so quickly with her last illness, that she
was unable to tell me. All I know is, that this medal came to her from
her parents, and that it had been a relic preserved in her family for
more than a century."
"And how did our father get it?"
"Among the articles which had been hastily thrown into the coach, when he
was removed by force from Warsaw, was a dressing-case of your mother's,
in which was contained this medal. Since that time the general had been
unable to send it back, having no means of communicating with us, and not
even knowing where we were."
"This medal is, then, of great importance to us?"
"Unquestionably; for never, during fifteen years, had I seen your mother
so happy, as on the day the traveller brought it back to her. 'Now,'
said she to me, in the presence of the stranger, and with tears of joy in
her eyes, 'now may my children's future be brilliant as their life has
hitherto been miserable. I will entreat of the governor of Siberia
permission to go to France with my daughters; it will perhaps be thought
I have been sufficiently punished, by fifteen years of exile, and the
confiscation of my property. Should they refuse, I will remain here; but
they will at least allow me to send my children to France, and you must
accompany them, Dagobert. You shall set out immediately, for much time
has been already lost; and, if you were not to arrive before the 13th of
next February, this cruel separation and toilsome journey would have been
all in vain.'"
"Suppose we were one day after?"
"Your mother told me that if we arrived the 14th instead of the 13th, it
would be too late. She also gave me a thick letter, to put into the post
for France, in the first town we should pass through--which I have done."
"And do you think we shall be at Paris in time?"
"I hope so; still, if you are strong enough, we must sometimes make
forced marches--for, if we only travel our five leagues a day, and that
without accident, we shall scarcely reach Paris until the beginning of
February, and it is better to be a little beforehand."
"But as father is in--India, and condemned to death if he return to
France, when shall we see him?"
"And where shall we see him?"
"Poor children! there are so many things you have yet to learn. When the
traveller quitted him, the general could not return to France, but now he
can do so."
"And why is that?"
"Because the Bourbons, who had banished him, were themselves turned out
last year. The news must reach India, and your father will certainly
come to meet you at Paris, because he expects that you and your mother
will be there on the 13th of next February."