Part 3 out of 31
"Ah! now I understand how we may hope to see him," said Rose with a sigh.
"Do you know the name of this traveller, Dagobert?"
"No, my children; but whether called Jack or John, he is a good sort.
When he left your mother, she thanked him with tears for all his kindness
and devotion to the general, herself, and the children; but he pressed
her hands in his, and said to her, in so gentle a voice that I could not
help being touched by it: "Why do you thank me? Did He not Say--LOVE YE
"Who is that, Dagobert?"
"Yes, of whom did the traveller speak?"
"I know nothing about it; only the manner in which he pronounced those
words struck me, and they were the last he spoke."
"Love one another!" repeated Rose, thoughtfully.
"How beautiful are those words!" added Blanche.
"And whither was the traveller going?"
"Far, very far into the North, as he told your mother. When she saw him
depart, she said to me: 'His mild, sad talk has affected me even to
tears; whilst I listened to him, I seemed to be growing better--I seemed
to love my husband and my children more--and yet, to judge by the
expression of his countenance, one would think that this stranger had
never either smiled or wept!' She and I watched him from the door as long
as we could follow him with our eyes; he carried his head down, and his
walk was slow, calm, and firm; one might fancy that he counted his steps.
And, talking of steps, I remarked yet another thing."
"What was it, Dagobert?"
"You know that the road which led to our house way, always damp, because
of the overflowing of the little spring."
"Well, then, the mark of the traveller's footsteps remained in the clay,
and I saw that he had nails under his shoe in the form of a cross."
"How in the form of a cross?"
"Look!" said Dagobert, placing the tip of his finger seven times on the
coverlet of the bed; "they were arrange: thus beneath his heel:"
"You see it forms a cross."
"What could it mean, Dagobert?"
"Chance, perhaps--yes, chance--and yet, in spite of myself, this
confounded cross left behind him struck me as a bad omen, for hardly was
he gone when misfortune after misfortune fell upon us."
"Alas! the death of our mother!"
"Yes--but, before that, another piece of ill-luck. You had not yet
returned, and she was writing her petition to ask leave to go to France
or to send you there, when I heard the gallop of a horse. It was a
courier from the governor general of Siberia. He brought us orders to
change our residence; within three days we were to join other condemned
persons, and be removed with them four hundred leagues further north.
Thus, after fifteen years of exile, they redoubled in cruelty towards
"Why did they thus torment her?"
"One would think that some evil genius was at work against her. A few
days later, the traveller would no longer have found us at Milosk; and if
he had joined us further on, it would have been too far for the medal and
papers to be of use--since, having set out almost immediately, we shall
hardly arrive in time at Paris. 'If they had some interest to prevent me
and my children from going to France,' said your mother, 'they would act
just as they have done. To banish us four hundred leagues further, is to
render impossible this journey, of which the term is fixed.' And the
idea overwhelmed her with grief."
"Perhaps it was this unexpected sorrow that was the cause of her sudden
"Alas! no, my children; it was that infernal cholera, who arrives without
giving you notice--for he too is a great traveller--and strikes you down
like a thunderbolt. Three hours after the traveller had left us, when
you returned quite pleased and gay from the forest, with your large
bunches of wild-flowers for your mother, she was already in the last
agony, and hardly to be recognized. The cholera had broken out in the
village, and that evening five persons died of it. Your mother had only
time to hang the medal about your neck, my dear little Rose, to recommend
you both to my care, and to beg that we should set out immediately. When
she was gone, the new order of exile could not apply to you; and I
obtained permission from the governor to take my departure with you for
France, according to the last wishes--"
The soldier could not finish the sentence; he covered his eyes with his
hand, whilst the orphans embraced him sobbing.
"Oh! but," resumed Dagobert, with pride, after a moment of painful
silence, "it was then that you showed yourselves the brave daughters of
the general. Notwithstanding the danger, it was impossible to tear you
from your mother's bedside; you remained with her to the last, you closed
her eyes, you watched there all night, and you would not leave the
village till you had seen me plant the little wooden cross over the grave
I had dug for her."
Dagobert paused abruptly. A strange, wild neighing, mingled with
ferocious roarings, made the soldier start from his seat. He grew pale,
and cried: "It is Jovial! my horse! What are they doing to my horse?"
With that, opening the door he rushed down the stairs precipitately.
The two sisters clung together, so terrified at the sudden departure of
the soldier, that they saw not an enormous hand pass through the broken
panes, unfasten the catch of the window, push it violently open, and
throw down the lamp placed on the little table, on which was the
soldiers's knapsack. The orphans thus found themselves plunged into
JOVIAL and DEATH.
Morok had led Jovial into the middle of the menagerie, and then removed
the cloth which prevented him from seeing and smelling. Scarcely had the
tiger, lion, and panther caught a glimpse of him than they threw
themselves, half famished, against the bars of their dens.
The horse struck with stupor, his neck stretched out, his eye fixed, and
trembling through all his limbs, appeared as if nailed to the ground; an
abundant icy sweat rolled suddenly down his flanks. The lion and the
tiger uttered fearful roarings, and struggled violently in their dens.
The panther did not roar, but her mute rage was terrific.
With a tremendous bound, at the risk of breaking her skull, she sprang
from the back of the cage against the bars; then, still mute, still
furious, she crawled back to the extreme corner of the den, and with a
new spring, as impetuous as it was blind, she again strove to force out
the iron grating. Three times had she thus bounded--silent, appalling--
when the horse, passing from the immobility of stupor to the wild agony
of fear, neighed long and loud, and rushed in desperation at the door by
which he had entered. Finding it closed he hung his head, bent his knees
a little, and rubbed his nostrils against the opening left between the
ground and the bottom of the door, as if he wished to inhale the air from
the outside; then, more and more affrighted, he began to neigh with
redoubled force, and struck out violently with his fore-feet.
At the moment when Death was about once more to make her spring, the
Prophet approached her cage. The heavy bolt which secured the grating
was pushed from its staple by the pike of the brute-tamer, and, in
another second, Morok was half way up the ladder that communicated with
The roaring of the lion and tiger, mingled with the neighing of Jovial,
now resounded through all parts of the inn. The panther had again thrown
herself furiously on the grating, and this time yielding with one spring,
she was in the middle of the shed.
The light of the lantern was reflected from the glossy ebon of her hide,
spotted with stains of a duller black. For an instant she remained
motionless, crouching upon her thick-set limbs, with her head close to
the floor, as if calculating the distance of the leap by which she was to
reach the horse; then suddenly she darted upon him.
On seeing her break from her cage Jovial had thrown himself violently
against the door, which was made to open inwards, and leaned against it
with all his might, as though he would force it down. Then, at the
moment when Death took her leap, he reared up in almost an erect
position; but she, rapid as lightning, had fastened upon his throat and
hung there, whilst at the same time she buried the sharp claws of her
fore-feet in his chest. The jugular vein of the horse opened; a torrent
of bright red blood spouted forth beneath the tooth of the panther, who,
now supporting herself on her hind legs, squeezed her victim up against
the door, whilst she dug into his flank with her claws, and laid bare the
palpitating flesh. Then his half-strangled neighing became awful.
Suddenly these words resounded: "Courage, Jovial!--I am at hand!
It was the voice of Dagobert, who was exhausting himself in desperate
exertions to force open the door that concealed this sanguinary struggle.
"Jovial!" cried the soldier, "I am here. Help! Help!"
At the sound of that friendly and well-known voice, the poor animal,
almost at its last gasp, strove to turn its head in the direction whence
came the accents of his master, answered him with a plaintive neigh, and,
sinking beneath the efforts of the panther, fell prostrate, first on its
knees, then upon its flank, so that its backbone lay right across the
door, and still prevented its being opened. And now all was finished.
The panther, squatting down upon the horse, crushed him with all her
paws, and, in spite of some last faint kicks, buried her bloody snout in
"Help! help! my horse!" cried Dagobert, as he vainly shook the door.
"And no arms!" he added with rage; "no arms!"
"Take care!" exclaimed the brute-tamer, who appeared at the window of the
loft; "do not attempt to enter it might cost you your life. My panther
"But my horse! my horse!" cried Dagobert, in a voice of agony.
"He must have strayed from his stable during the night, and pushed open
the door of the shed. At sight of him the panther must have broken out
of her cage and seized him. You are answerable for all the mischief that
may ensue," added the brute-tamer, with a menacing air; "for I shall have
to run the greatest danger, to make Death return to her den."
"But my horse! only save my horse!" cried Dagobert, in a tone of hopeless
The Prophet disappeared from the window.
The roaring of the animals and the shouts of Dagobert, had roused from
sleep every one in the White Falcon. Here and there lights were seen
moving and windows were thrown open hurriedly. The servants of the inn
soon appeared in the yard with lanterns, and surrounding Dagobert,
inquired of him what had happened.
"My horse is there," cried the soldier, continuing to shake the door,
"and one of that scoundrel's animals has escaped from its cage."
At these words the people of the inn, already terrified by the frightful
roaring, fled from the spot and ran to inform the host. The soldier's
anguish may be conceived, as pale, breathless, with his ear close to the
chink of the door, he stood listening. By degrees the roaring had
ceased, and nothing was heard but low growls, accompanied by the stern
voice of the Prophet, repeating in harsh, abrupt accents: "Death! come
The night was profoundly dark, and Dagobert did not perceive Goliath,
who, crawling carefully along the tiled roof entered the loft by the
And now the gate of the court-yard was again opened, and the landlord of
the inn appeared, followed by a number of men. Armed with a carbine, he
advanced with precaution; his people carried staves and pitchforks.
"What is the row here?" said he, as he approached Dagobert. "What a
hubbub in my house! The devil take wild beast showmen, and negligent
fellows who don't know how to tie a horse to the manger! If your beast
is hurt, so much the worse for you; you should have taken more care of
Instead of replying to these reproaches, the soldier, who still listened
attentively to what was going on in the shed, made a sign to entreat
silence. Suddenly a ferocious roar was heard, followed by a loud scream
from the Prophet; and, almost immediately after, the panther howled
"You are no doubt the cause of some great accident," said the frightened
host to the soldier; "did you not hear that cry? Morok is, perhaps,
Dagobert was about to answer, when the door opened, and Goliath appeared
on the threshold.
"You may enter now," said he; "the danger is over."
The interior of the menagerie presented a singular spectacle. The
Prophet, pale, and scarcely able to conceal his agitation beneath an
apparent air of calmness, was kneeling some paces from the cage of the
panther, in the attitude of one absorbed in himself; the motion of his
lips indicating that he was praying. At sight of the host and the people
of the inn, he rose, and said in a solemn voice: "I thank thee, my
Preserver, that I have been able to conquer, by the strength which Thou
hast given me."
Then folding his arms, with haughty brow and imperious glance, he seemed
to enjoy the triumph he had achieved over Death, who, stretched on the
bottom of her den, continued to utter plaintive howlings. The spectators
of this scene, ignorant that the pelisse of the brute-tamer covered a
complete suit of armor, and attributing the cries of the panther solely
to fear, were struck with astonishment and admiration at the intrepidity
and almost supernatural power of this man. A few steps behind him stood
Goliath, leaning upon the ashen pikestaff. Finally, not far from the
cage, in the midst of a pool of blood, lay the dead body of Jovial.
At sight of the blood-stained and torn remains, Dagobert stood
motionless, and his rough countenance assumed an expression of the
deepest grief: then, throwing himself on his knees, he lifted the head of
Jovial; and when he saw those dull, glassy, and half-closed eyes, once so
bright and intelligent, as they turned towards a much-loved master, the
soldier could not suppress an exclamation of bitter anguish. Forgetting
his anger, forgetting the deplorable consequences of this accident, so
fatal to the interests of the two maidens, who would thus be prevented
from continuing their journey--he thought only of the horrible death of
his poor old horse, the ancient companion of his fatigues and wars, the
faithful animal, twice wounded like himself, and from whom for so many
years he had never been separated. This poignant emotion was so cruelly,
so affectingly visible in the soldier's countenance, that the landlord
and his people felt themselves for a moment touched with pity, as they
gazed on the tall veteran kneeling beside his dead horse.
But, when following the course of his regrets, he thought how Jovial had
also been the companion of his exile, how the mother of the orphans had
formerly (like her daughters) undertaken a toilsome journey with the aid
of this unfortunate animal, the fatal consequences of his loss presented
themselves on a sudden to his mind. Then, fury succeeding to grief, he
rose, with anger flashing from his eyes, and threw himself on the
Prophet; with one hand he seized him by the throat, and with the other
administered five or six heavy blows, which fell harmlessly on the coat
"Rascal! you shall answer to me for my horse's death!" said the soldier,
as he continued his correction. Morok, light and sinewy, could not
struggle with advantage against Dagobert, who, aided by his tall stature,
still displayed extraordinary vigor. It needed the intervention of
Goliath and the landlord to rescue the Prophet from the hands of the old
grenadier. After some moments, they succeeded in separating the two
champions. Morok was white with rage. It needed new efforts to prevent
his seizing the pike to attack Dagobert.
"It is abominable!" cried the host, addressing the soldier, who pressed
his clinched fists in despair against his bald forehead. "You expose
this good man to be devoured by his beasts, and then you wish to beat him
into the bargain. Is this fitting conduct for a graybeard? Shall we
have to fetch the police? You showed yourself more reasonable in the
early part of the evening."
These words recalled the soldier to himself. He regretted his
impetuosity the more, as the fact of his being a stranger might augment
the difficulty of his position. It was necessary above all to obtain the
price of his horse, so as to be enabled to continue his journey, the
success of which might be compromised by a single day's delay. With a
violent effort, therefore, he succeeded in restraining his wrath.
"You are right--I was too hasty," said he to the host, in an agitated
voice, which he tried to make as calm as possible. "I had not the same
patience as before. But ought not this man be responsible for the loss
of my horse? I make you judge in the matter."
"Well, then, as judge, I am not of your opinion. All this has been your
own fault. You tied up your horse badly, and he strayed by chance into
this shed, of which no doubt the door was half-open," said the host,
evidently taking the part of the brute-tamer.
"It was just as you say," answered Goliath. "I can remember it. I left
the door ajar, that the beasts might have some air in the night. The
cages were well shut, and there was no danger."
"Very true," said one of the standers-by.
"It was only the sight of the horse," added another, "that made the
panther furious, so as to break out of its cage."
"It is the Prophet who has the most right to complain," observed a third.
"No matter what this or that person says," returned Dagobert, whose
patience was beginning to fail him, "I say, that I must have either money
or a horse on the instant--yes, on the instant--for I wish to quit this
"And I say, it is you that must indemnify me," cried Morok, who had kept
this stage-trick for the last, and who now exhibited his left hand all
bloody, having hitherto concealed it beneath the sleeve of his pelisse.
"I shall perhaps be disabled for life," he added; "see what a wound the
panther has made here!"
Without having the serious character that the Prophet ascribed to it, the
wound was a pretty deep one. This last argument gained for him the
general sympathy. Reckoning no doubt upon this incident, to secure the
winning of a cause that he now regarded as his own, the host said to the
hostler: "There is only one way to make a finish. It is to call up the
burgomaster, and beg him to step here. He will decide who is right or
"I was just going to propose it to you," said the soldier, "for, after
all, I cannot take the law into my own hands."
"Fritz, run to the burgomaster's!"--and the hustler started in all haste.
His master, fearing to be compromised by the examination of the soldier,
whose papers he had neglected to ask for on his arrival, said to him:
"The burgomaster will be in a very bad humor, to be disturbed so late. I
have no wish to suffer by it, and I must therefore beg you to go and
fetch me your papers, to see if they are in rule. I ought to have made
you show them, when you arrived here in the evening."
"They are upstairs in my knapsack; you shall have them," answered the
soldier--and turning away his head, and putting his hand before his eyes,
as he passed the dead body of Jovial, he went out to rejoin the sisters.
The Prophet followed him with a glance of triumph, and said to himself:
"There he goes!--without horse, without money, without papers. I could
not do more--for I was forbidden to do more--I was to act with as much
cunning as possible and preserve appearances. Now every one will think
this soldier in the wrong. I can at least answer for it, that he will
not continue his journey for some days--since such great interests appear
to depend on his arrest, and that of the young girls."
A quarter of an hour after this reflection of the brute-tamer, Karl,
Goliath's comrade, left the hiding-place where his master had concealed
him during the evening, and set out for Leipsic, with a letter which
Morok had written in haste, and which Karl, on his arrival, was to put
immediately into the post.
The address of this letter was as follows:
"A Monsieur Rodin, Rue du Milieu-des-Ursins, No, 11, A Paris, France."
Dagobert's anxiety increased every moment. Certain that his horse had
not entered the shed of its own accord, he attributed the event which had
taken place to the spite of the brute-tamer; but he sought in vain for
the motive of this wretch's animosity, and he reflected with dismay, that
his cause, however just, would depend on the good or bad humor of a judge
dragged from his slumbers and who might be ready to condemn upon
Fully determined to conceal, as long as possible, from the orphans the
fresh misfortunes, which had befallen them, he was proceeding to open the
door of their chamber, when he stumbled over Spoil-sport--for the dog had
run back to his post, after vainly trying to prevent the Prophet from
leading away Jovial. "Luckily the dog has returned; the poor little
things have been well guarded," said the soldier, as he opened the door.
To his great surprise, the room was in utter darkness.
"My children," cried he, "why are you without a light?" There was no
answer. In terror he groped his way to the bed, and took the hand of one
of the sisters; the hand was cold as ice.
"Rose, my children!" cried he. "Blanche! Give me some answer! you
frighten me." Still the same silence continued; the hand which he held
remained cold and powerless, and yielded passively to his touch.
Just then, the moon emerged from the black clouds that surrounded her,
and threw sufficient light into the little room, and upon the bed, which
faced the window, for the soldier to see that the two sisters had
fainted. The bluish light of the moon added to the paleness of the
orphans; they held each other in a half embrace, and Rose had buried her
head on Blanche's bosom.
"They must have fainted through fear," exclaimed Dagobert, running to
fetch his gourd. "Poor things! after a day of so much excitement, it is
not surprising." And moistening the corner of a handkerchief with a few
drops of brandy, the soldier knelt beside the bed, gently chafed the
temples of the two sisters, and held the linen, wet with the spirituous
liquor, to their little pink nostrils.
Still on his knees, and bending his dark, anxious face over the orphans,
he waited some moments before again resorting to the only restorative in
his power. A slight shiver of Rose gave him renewed hope; the young girl
turned her head on the pillow with a sigh; then she started, and opened
her eyes with an expression of astonishment and alarm; but, not
immediately recognizing Dagobert, she exclaimed: "Oh, sister!" and threw
herself into the arms of Blanche.
The latter also was beginning to experience the effect of the soldier's
care. The exclamation of Rose completely roused her from her lethargy,
and she clung to her sister, again sharing the fright without knowing its
"They've come to--that's the chief point," said Dagobert, "now we shall
soon get rid of these foolish fears." Then softening his voice, he
added: "Well, my children, courage? You are better. It is I who am
The orphans made a hasty movement, and, turning towards the soldier their
sweet faces, which were still full of dismay and agitation, they both, by
a graceful impulse, extended their arms to him and cried: "It is you,
Dagobert--then we are safe!"
"Yes, my children, it is I," said the veteran, taking their hands in his,
and pressing them joyfully. "So you have been much frightened during my
"Oh, frightened to death!"
"If you knew--oh, goodness! if you knew--"
"But the lamp is extinguished--why is that?"
"We did not do it."
"Come--recover yourselves, poor children, and tell me all about it. I
have no good opinion of this inn; but, luckily, we shall soon leave it.
It was an ill wind that blew me hither--though, to be sure, there was no
other in the village. But what has happened?"
"You were hardly gone, when the window flew open violently, and the lamp
and table fell together with a loud crash."
"Then our courage failed--we screamed and clasped each other, for we
thought we could hear some one moving in the room."
"And we were so frightened, that we fainted away."
Unfortunately, persuaded that it was the violence of the wind which had
already broken the glass, and shaken the window, Dagobert attributed this
second accident to the same cause as the first, thinking that he had not
properly secured the fastening and that the orphans had been deceived by
a false alarm. "Well, well--it is over now," said he to them: "Calm
yourselves, and don't think of it any more."
"But why did you leave us so hastily, Dagobert?"
"Yes, now I remember--did we not hear a great noise, sister, and see
Dagobert run to the staircase, crying: 'My horse! what are they doing to
"It was then Jovial who neighed?"
These questions renewed the anguish of the soldier; he feared to answer
them, and said, with a confused air: "Yes--Jovial neighed--but it was
nothing. By the by, we must have a light here. Do you know where I put
my flint and steel last evening? Well, I have lost my senses; it is here
in my pocket. Luckily, too, we have a candle, which I am going to light;
I want to look in my knapsack for some papers I require."
Dagobert struck a few sparks, obtained a light, and saw that the window
was indeed open, the table thrown down, and the lamp lying by the side of
the knapsack. He shut the window, set the little table on its feet
again, placed the knapsack upon it, and began to unbuckle this last in
order to take out his portfolio, which had been deposited along with his
cross and purse, in a kind of pocket between the outside and the lining.
The straps had been readjusted with so much care, that there was no
appearance of the knapsack having been disturbed; but when the soldier
plunged his hand into the pocket above-mentioned, he found it empty.
Struck with consternation, he grew pale, and retreated a step, crying:
"How is this?--Nothing!"
"What is the matter?" said Blanche. He made her no answer. Motionless,
he leaned against the table, with his hand still buried in the pocket.
Then, yielding to a vague hope--for so cruel a reality did not appear
possible--he hastily emptied the contents of the knapsack on the table--
his poor half-worn clothes--his old uniform-coat of the horse-grenadiers
of the Imperial Guard, a sacred relic for the soldiers--but, turn and
return them as he would, he found neither his purse, nor the portfolio
that contained his papers, the letters of General Simon, and his cross.
In vain, with that serious childishness which always accompanies a
hopeless search, he took the knapsack by the two ends, and shook it
vigorously; nothing came out. The orphans looked on with uneasiness, not
understanding his silence or his movements, for his back was turned to
them. Blanche ventured to say to him in a timid voice: "What ails you--
you don't answer us.--What is it you are looking for in your knapsack?"
Still mute, Dagobert searched his own person, turned out all his pockets-
-nothing!--For the first time in his life, perhaps, his two children, as
he called them, had spoken to him without receiving a reply. Blanche and
Rose felt the big tears start into their eyes; thinking that the soldier
was angry, they darst not again address him.
"No, no! it is impossible--no!" said the veteran, pressing his hand to
his forehead, and seeking in his memory where he might have put those
precious objects, the loss of which he could not yet bring himself to
believe. A sudden beam of joy flashed from his eyes. He ran to a chair,
and took from it the portmanteau of the orphans; it contained a little
linen, two black dresses, and a small box of white wood, in which were a
silk handkerchief that had belonged to their mother, two locks of her
hair, and a black ribbon she had worn round her neck. The little she
possessed had been seized by the Russian government, in pursuance of the
confiscation. Dagobert searched and researched every article--peeped
into all the corners of the portmanteau--still nothing!
This time, completely worn out, leaning against the table, the strong,
energetic man felt himself giving way. His face was burning, yet bathed
in a cold sweat; his knees trembled under him. It is a common saying,
that drowning men will catch at straws; and so it is with the despair
that still clings to some shred of hope. Catching at a last chance--
absurd, insane, impossible--he turned abruptly towards the orphans, and
said to them, without considering the alteration in his voice and
features: "I did not give them to you--to keep for me?--speak?"
Instead of answering, Rose and Blanche, terrified at his paleness and the
expression of his countenance, uttered a cry. "Good heavens! what is the
matter with you?" murmured Rose.
"Have you got them--yes, or no?" cried in a voice of thunder the
unfortunate, distracted man. "If you have not--I'll take the first knife
I meet with, and stick it into my body!"
"Alas! You are so good: pardon us if we have done anything to afflict
you! You love us so much, you would not do us any harm." The orphans
began to weep, as they stretched forth their hands in supplication
towards the soldier.
He looked at them with haggard eye, without even seeing them; till, as
the delusion passed away, the reality presented itself to his mind with
all its terrible consequences. Then he clasped his hands together, fell
on his knees before the bed of the orphans, leaned his forehead upon it,
and amid his convulsive sobs--for the man of iron sobbed like a child--
these broken words were audible: "Forgive me--forgive!--I do not know how
it can be!--Oh! what a misfortune!--what a misfortune!--Forgive me!"
At this outbreak of grief, the cause of which they understood not, but
which in such a man was heart-rending, the two sisters wound their arms
about his old gray head, and exclaimed amid their tears: "Look at us!
Only tell us what is the matter with you?--Is it our fault?"
At this instant, the noise of footsteps resounded from the stairs,
mingled with the barking of Spoil-sport, who had remained outside the
door. The nearer the steps approached, the more furious became the
barking; it was no doubt accompanied with hostile demonstrations, for the
host was heard to cry out in an angry tone: "Hollo! you there! Call off
your dog, or speak to him. It is Mr. Burgomaster who is coming up."
"Dagobert--do you hear?--it is the burgomaster," said Rose.
"They are coming upstairs--a number of people," resumed Blanche.
The word burgomaster recalled whatever had happened to the mind of
Dagobert, and completed, so to express it, the picture of his terrible
position. His horse was dead, he had neither papers nor money, and a
day, a single day's detention, might defeat the last hope of the sisters,
and render useless this long and toilsome journey.
Men of strong minds, and the veteran was of the number, prefer great
perils, positions of danger accurately defined, to the vague anxieties
which precede a settled misfortune. Guided by his good sense and
admirable devotion, Dagobert understood at once, that his only resource
was now in the justice of the burgomaster, and that all his efforts
should tend to conciliate the favor of that magistrate. He therefore
dried his eyes with the sheet, rose from the ground, erect, calm, and
resolute, and said to the orphans: "Fear nothing, my children; it is our
deliverer who is at hand."
"Will you call off your dog or no?" cried the host, still detained on the
stairs by Spoil-sport, who, as a vigilant sentinel, continued to dispute
the passage. "Is the animal mad, I say? Why don't you tie him up? Have
you not caused trouble enough in my house? I tell you, that Mr.
Burgomaster is waiting to examine you in your turn, for he has finished
Dagobert drew his fingers through his gray locks and across his
moustache, clasped the collar of his top-coat, and brushed the sleeves
with his hand, in order to give himself the best appearance possible; for
he felt that the fate of the orphans must depend on his interview with
the magistrate. It was not without a violent beating of the heart, that
he laid his hand upon the door-knob, saying to the young girls, who were
growing more and more frightened by such a succession of events: "Hide
yourselves in your bed, my children; if any one must needs enter, it
shall be the burgomaster alone."
Thereupon, opening the door, the soldier stepped out on the
landing place, and said: "Down, Spoil-sport!--Here!"
The dog obeyed, but with manifest repugnance. His master had to speak
twice, before he would abstain from all hostile movements towards the
host. This latter, with a lantern in one hand and his cap in the other,
respectfully preceded the burgomaster, whose magisterial proportions were
lost in the half shadows of the staircase. Behind the judge, and a few
steps lower, the inquisitive faces of the people belonging to the inn
were dimly visible by the light of another lantern.
Dagobert, having turned the dog into the room, shut the door after him,
and advanced two steps on the landing-place, which was sufficiently
spacious to hold several persons, and had in one corner a wooden bench
with a back to it. The burgomaster, as he ascended the last stair, was
surprised to see Dagobert close the door of the chamber, as though he
wished to forbid his entrance. "Why do you shut that door?" asked he in
an abrupt tone.
"First, because two girls, whom I have the charge of, are in bed in that
room; secondly, because your examination would alarm them," replied
Dagobert. "Sit down upon this bench, Mr. Burgomaster, and examine me
here; it will not make any difference, I should think."
"And by what right," asked the judge, with a displeased air, "do you
pretend to dictate to me the place of your examination?"
"Oh, I have no such pretension, Mr. Burgomaster!" said the soldier
hastily, fearing above all things to prejudice the judge against him:
"only, as the girls are in bed, and already much frightened, it would be
a proof of your good heart to examine me where I am."
"Humph!" said the magistrate, with ill-humor; "a pretty state of things,
truly!--It was much worth while to disturb me in the middle of the night.
But, come, so be it; I will examine you here." Then, turning to the
landlord, he added: "Put your lantern upon this bench, and leave us."
The innkeeper obeyed, and went down, followed by his people, as
dissatisfied as they were at being excluded from the examination. The
veteran was left alone with the magistrate.
The worthy burgomaster of Mockern wore a cloth cap, and was enveloped in
a cloak. He sat down heavily on the bench. He was a corpulent man,
about sixty, with an arrogant, morose countenance; and he frequently
rubbed with his red, fat fist, eyes that were still swollen and blood-
shot, from his having been suddenly roused from sleep.
Dagobert stood bareheaded before him, with a submissive, respectful air,
holding his old foraging cap in his hands, and trying to read in the
sullen physiognomy of his judge what chance there might be to interest
him in his favor--that is, in favor of the orphans.
In this critical juncture, the poor soldier summoned to his aid all his
presence of mind, reason, eloquence and resolution. He, who had twenty
times braved death with the utmost coolness--who, calm and serene,
because sincere and tried, had never quailed before the eagle-glance of
the Emperor, his hero and idol--now felt himself disconcerted and
trembling before the ill-humored face of a village burgomaster. Even so,
a few hours before, he had submitted, impassive and resigned, to the
insults of the Prophet--that he might not compromise the sacred mission
with which a dying mother had entrusted him--thus showing to what a
height of heroic abnegation it is possible for a simple and honest heart
"What have you to say in your justification? Come, be quick!" said the
judge roughly, with a yawn of impatience.
"I have not got to justify myself--I have to make a complaint, Mr.
Burgomaster," replied Dagobert in a firm voice.
"Do you think you are to teach me in what terms I am to put my
questions?" exclaimed the magistrate, in so sharp a tone that the soldier
reproached himself with having begun the interview so badly. Wishing to
pacify his judge, he made haste to answer with submission:
"Pardon me, Mr. Burgomaster, I have ill-explained my meaning. I only
wished to say that I was not wrong in this affair."
"The Prophet says the contrary."
"The Prophet?" repeated the soldier, with an air of doubt.
"The Prophet is a pious and honest man," resumed the judge, "incapable of
"I cannot say anything upon that subject; but you are too just, and have
too good a heart, Mr. Burgomaster, to condemn without hearing me. It is
not a man like you that would do an injustice; oh, one can see that at a
In resigning himself thus to play the part of a courtier, Dagobert
softened as much as possible his gruff voice, and strove to give to his
austere countenance a smiling, agreeable, and flattering expression. "A
man like you," he added, with redoubled suavity of manner, "a respectable
judge like you, never shuts his ears to one side or the other."
"Ears are not in question, but eyes; and, though mine smart as if I had
rubbed them with nettles, I have seen the hand of the brute-tamer, with a
frightful wound on it."
"Yes, Mr. Burgomaster, it is very true; but consider, if he had shut his
cages and his door, all this would not have happened."
"Not so; it is your fault. You should have fastened your horse securely
to the manger."
"You are right, Mr. Burgomaster, certainly, you are right," said the
soldier, in a still more affable and conciliating voice. "It is not for
a poor devil like me to contradict you. But supposing my horse was let
loose out of pure malice, in order that he might stray into the
menagerie--you will then acknowledge that it was not my fault. That is,
you will acknowledge it if you think fit," hastily added the soldier "I
have no right to dictate to you in anything."
"And why the devil should any one do you this ill-turn?"
"I do not know, Mr. Burgomaster--but--"
"You do not know--well, nor I either," said the burgomaster impatiently.
"Zounds! what a many words about the carcass of an old horse!"
The countenance of the soldier, losing on a sudden its expression of
forced suavity, became once more severe; he answered in a grave voice,
full of emotion: "My horse is dead--he is no more than a carcass--that is
true; but an hour ago, though very old, he was full of life and
intelligence. He neighed joyously at my voice--and, every evening, he
licked the hands of the two poor children, whom he had carried all the
day--as formerly he had carried their mother. Now he will never carry
any one again; they will throw him to the dogs, and all will be finished.
You need not have reminded me harshly of it, Mr. Burgomaster--for I loved
By these words, pronounced with noble and touching simplicity, the
burgomaster was moved in spite of himself, and regretted his hasty
speech. "It is natural that you should be sorry for your horse," said
he, in a less impatient tone; "but what is to be done?--It is a
"A misfortune?--Yes, Mr. Burgomaster, a very great misfortune. The
girls, who accompany me, were too weak to undertake a long journey on
foot, too poor to travel in a carriage--and yet we have to arrive in
Paris before the month of February. When their mother died, I promised
her to take them to France, for these children have only me to take care
"You are then their--"
"I am their faithful servant, Mr. Burgomaster; and now that my horse has
been killed, what can I do for them? Come, you are good, you have
perhaps children of your own; if, one day, they should find themselves in
the position of my two little orphans--with no wealth, no resources in
the world, but an old soldier who loves them, and an old horse to carry
them along--if, after being very unfortunate from their birth--yes, very
unfortunate, for my orphans are the daughters of exiles--they should see
happiness before them at the end of a journey, and then, by the death of
their horse, that journey become impossible--tell me, Mr. Burgomaster, if
this would not touch your heart? Would you not find, as I do, that the
loss of my horse is irreparable?"
"Certainly," answered the burgomaster, who was not ill natured at bottom,
and who could not help taking part in Dagobert's emotion; "I now
understand the importance of the loss you have suffered. And then your
orphans interest me: how old are they?"
"Fifteen years and two months. They are twins."
"Fifteen years and two months--that is about the age of my Frederica."
"You have a young lady of that age?" cried Dagobert, once more awaking to
hope; "ah, Mr. Burgomaster! I am really no longer uneasy about my poor
children. You will do us justice."
"To do justice is my duty. After all, in this affair, the faults are
about equal on both sides. You tied up your horse badly, and the brute-
tamer left his door open. He says: 'I am wounded in the hand.' You
answer: 'My horse has been killed--and, for a thousand reasons, the loss
of my horse is irreparable.'"
"You make me speak better than I could ever speak on my own account, Mr.
Burgomaster," said the soldier, with a humble, insinuating smile; "but
'tis what I meant to express--and, as you say yourself, Mr. Burgomaster,
my horse being my whole fortune, it is only fair--"
"Exactly so," resumed the magistrate, interrupting the soldier; "your
reasons are excellent. The Prophet--who is a good and pious man with all
has related the facts to me in his own way; and then, you see, he is an
old acquaintance. We are nearly all zealous Catholics here, and he sells
to our wives such cheap and edifying little books, with chaplets and
amulets of the best manufacture, at less than the prime cost. All this,
you will say, has nothing to do with the affair; and you will be right in
saying so: still I must needs confess that I came here with the
"Of deciding against me, eh, Mr. Burgomaster?" said Dagobert, gaining
more and more confidence. "You see, you were not quite awake, and your
justice had only one eye open."
"Really, master soldier," answered the judge with good humor, "it is not
unlikely; for I did not conceal from Morok that I gave it in his favor.
Then he said to me (very generously, by the way): 'Since you condemn my
adversary, I will not aggravate his position by telling you certain
"What! against me?"
"Apparently so; but, like a generous enemy, when I told him that I should
most likely condemn you to pay him damages, he said no more about it.
For I will not hide from you, that, before I heard your reasons, I fully
intended that you should make compensation for the Prophet's wound."
"See, Mr. Burgomaster, how the most just and able persons are subject to
be deceived," said Dagobert, becoming once more the courtier; then,
trying to assume a prodigiously knowing look, he added: "But such persons
find out the truth at last, and are not to be made dupes of, whatever
prophets may say."
This poor attempt at a jest--the first and only one, perhaps, that
Dagobert had ever been guilty of--will show the extremity to which he was
reduced, and the desperate efforts of all kinds he was making to
conciliate the good graces of his judge. The burgomaster did not at
first see the pleasantry; he was only led to perceive it by the self-
satisfied mien of Dagobert, and by his inquiring glance, which seemed to
say: "Is it not good, eh?--I am astonished at it myself."
The magistrate began, therefore, to smile with a patronizing air, and,
nodding his head, replied in the same jocular spirit: "Ha! Ha! Ha! You
are right; the Prophet is out in his prophecy. You shall not pay him any
damages. The faults on both sides are equal, and the injuries balance
one another. He has been wounded, your horse has been killed; so you may
cry quits, and have done with it."
"But how much then, do you think he owes me?" asked the soldier, with
"Yes, Mr. Burgomaster, what sum will he have to pay me? Yes--but, before
you decide, I must tell you one thing, Mr. Burgomaster. I think I shall
be entitled to spend only part of the money in buying a horse. I am
sure, that, in the environs of Leipsic, I could get a beast very cheap
from some of the peasants; and, between ourselves, I will own to you,
that, if I could meet with only a nice little donkey--I should not be
over particular--I should even like it just as well; for, after my poor
Jovial, the company of another horse would be painful to me. I must also
"Hey-day!" cried the burgomaster, interrupting Dagobert, "of what money,
what donkey, and what other horse are you talking? I tell you, that you
owe nothing to the Prophet, and that he owes you nothing!"
"He owes me nothing?"
"You are very dull of comprehension, my good man. I repeat, that, if the
Prophet's animals have killed your horse, the Prophet himself has been
badly wounded; so you may cry quits. In other words, you owe him
nothing, and he owes you nothing. Now do you understand?"
Dagobert, confounded, remained for some moments without answering, whilst
he looked at the burgomaster with an expression of deep anguish. He saw
that his judgment would again destroy all his hopes.
"But, Mr. Burgomaster," resumed he, in an agitated voice, "you are too
just not to pay attention to one thing: the wound of the brute-tamer does
not prevent him from continuing his trade; the death of my horse prevents
me from continuing my journey; therefore, he ought to indemnify me."
The judge considered he had already done a good deal for Dagobert, in not
making him responsible for the wound of the Prophet, who, as we have
already said, exercised a certain influence over the Catholics of the
country by the sale of his devotional treasures, and also from its being
known that he was supported by some persons of eminence. The soldier's
pertinacity, therefore, offended the magistrate, who, reassuming his
lofty air, replied, in a chilling tone: "You will make me repent my
impartiality. How is this? Instead of thanking me, you ask for more."
"But, Mr. Burgomaster, I ask only for what is just. I wish I were
wounded in the hand, like the Prophet, so that I could but continue my
"We are not talking of what you wish. I have pronounced sentence--there
is no more to say."
"But, Mr. Burgomaster--"
"Enough, enough. Let us go to the next subject. Your papers?"
"Yes, we will speak about my papers; but I beg of you, Mr. Burgomaster,
to have pity on those two children. Let us have the means to continue
our journey, and--"
"I have done all I could for you--perhaps, more than I ought. Once
again, your papers!"
"I must first explain to you--"
"No "No explanation--your papers!--Or would you like me to have you
arrested as a vagabond?"
"I tell you that, if you refuse to show me your papers, it will be as if
you had none. Now, those people who have no papers we take into custody
till the authorities can dispose of them. Let me see your papers, and
make haste!--I am in a hurry to get home."
Dagobert's position was the more distressing, as for a moment he had
indulged in sanguine hope. The last blow was now added to all the
veteran had suffered since the commencement of this scene, which was a
cruel as well as dangerous trial, for a man of his character--upright,
but obstinate--faithful, but rough and absolute--a man who, for a long
time a soldier, and a victorious one, had acquired a certain despotic
mariner of treating with civilians.
At these words--"your papers," Dagobert became very pale; but he tried to
conceal his anguish beneath an air of assurance, which he thought best
calculated to gain the magistrate's good opinion. "I will tell you all
about it, Mr. Burgomaster," said he. "Nothing can be clearer. Such a
thing might happen to any one. I do not look like a beggar and a
vagabond, do I? And yet--you will understand, that an honest man who
travels with two young girls--"
"No more words! Your papers!"
At this juncture two powerful auxiliaries arrived to the soldier's aid.
The orphans, growing more and more uneasy, and hearing Dagobert still
talking upon the landing-place, had risen and dressed themselves; so that
just at the instant, when the magistrate said in a rough voice--"No more
words! Your papers!"--Rose and Blanche holding each other by the hand,
came forth from the chamber.
At sight of those charming faces, which their poor mourning vestments
only rendered more interesting, the burgomaster rose from his seat,
struck with surprise and admiration. By a spontaneous movement, each
sister took a hand of Dagobert, and pressed close to him, whilst they
regarded the magistrate with looks of mingled anxiety and candor.
It was so touching a picture, this of the old soldier presenting as it
were to his judge the graceful children, with countenances full of
innocence and beauty, that the burgomaster, by a sudden reaction, found
himself once more disposed to sentiments of pity. Dagobert perceived it;
and, still holding the orphans by the hand, he advanced towards him, and
said in a feeling voice: "Look at these poor children, Mr. Burgomaster!
Could I show you a better passport?" And, overcome by so many painful
sensations--restrained, yet following each other in quick succession--
Dagobert felt, in spite of himself, that the tears were starting to his
Though naturally rough, and rendered still more testy by the interruption
of his sleep, the burgomaster was not quite deficient in sense of
feeling. He perceived at once, that a man thus accompanied, ought not to
inspire any great distrust. "Poor dear children!" said he, as he
examined them with growing interest; "orphans so young, and they come
"From the heart of Siberia, Mr. Burgomaster, where their mother was an
exile before their birth. It is now more than five months that we have
been travelling on by short stages--hard enough, you will say, for
children of their age. It is for them that I ask your favor and support
for them against whom everything seems to combine to-day for, only just
now, when I went to look for my papers, I could not find in my knapsack
the portfolio in which they were, along with my purse and cross--for you
must know, Mr. Burgomaster--pardon me, if I say it--'tis not from vain
glory--but I was decorated by the hand of the Emperor; and a man whom he
decorated with his own hand, you see, could not be so bad a fellow,
though he may have had the misfortune to lose his papers--and his purse.
That's what has happened to me, and made me so pressing about the
"How and where did you suffer this loss?"
"I do not know, Mr. Burgomaster; I am sure that the evening before last,
at bed-time, I took a little money out of the purse, and saw the
portfolio in its place; yesterday I had small change sufficient, and did
not undo the knapsack."
"And where then has the knapsack been kept?"
"In the room occupied by the children: but this night--"
Dagobert was here interrupted by the tread of some one mounting the
stairs: it was the Prophet. Concealed in the shadow of the staircase, he
had listened to this conversation, and he dreaded lest the weakness of
the burgomaster should mar the complete success of his projects.
Morok, who wore his left arm in a sling, having slowly ascended the
staircase, saluted the burgomaster respectfully. At sight of the
repulsive countenance of the lion-tamer, Rose and Blanche, affrighted,
drew back a step nearer to the soldier. The brow of the latter grew
dark, for he felt his blood boil against Morok, the cause of all his
difficulties--though he was yet ignorant that Goliath, at the instigation
of the Prophet, had stolen his portfolio and papers.
"What did you want, Morok?" said the burgomaster, with an air half
friendly and half displeased. "I told the landlord that I did not wish
to be interrupted."
"I have come to render you a service, Mr. Burgomaster."
"Yes, a great service; or I should not have ventured to disturb you. My
conscience reproaches me."
"Yes, Mr. Burgomaster, it reproaches me for not having told you all that
I had to tell about this man; a false pity led me astray."
"Yell, but what have you to tell?"
Morok approached the judge, and spoke to him for sometime in a low voice.
At first apparently much astonished, the burgomaster became by degrees
deeply attentive and anxious; every now and then be allowed some
exclamation of surprise or doubt to escape him, whilst he glanced
covertly at the group formed by Dagobert and the two young girls. By the
expression of his countenance, which grew every moment more unquiet,
severe, and searching, it was easy to perceive that the interest which
the magistrate had felt for the orphans and for the soldier, was
gradually changed, by the secret communications of the Prophet, into a
sentiment of distrust and hostility.
Dagobert saw this sudden revolution, and his fears, which had been
appeased for an instant, returned with redoubled force; Rose and Blanche,
confused, and not understanding the object of this mute scene, looked at
the soldier with increased perplexity.
"The devil!" said the burgomaster, rising abruptly; "all of this never
occurred to me. What could I have been thinking of?--But you see, Morok,
when one is roused up in the middle of the night, one has not always
presence of mind. You said well: it is a great service you came to render
"I assert nothing positively, but--"
"No matter; 'tis a thousand to one that you are right."
"It is only a suspicion founded upon divers circumstances; but even a
"May give you scent of the truth. And here was I, going like a gull into
the snare!--Once more, what could I have been thinking of?"
"It is so difficult to be on guard against certain appearances."
"You need not tell me so, my dear Morok, you need not tell me so."
During this mysterious conversation, Dagobert was on thorns; he saw
vaguely that a violent storm was about to burst. He thought only of how
he should still keep his anger within bounds.
Morok again approached the judge, and glancing at the orphans,
recommenced speaking in a low voice. "Oh" cried the burgomaster, with,
indignation, "you go too far now."
"I affirm nothing," said Morok, hastily; "it is a mere supposition
founded on--" and he again brought his lips close to the ear of the
"After all, why not?" resumed the magistrate, lifting up his hands; "such
people are capable of anything. He says that he brings them from the
heart of Siberia: why may not all this prove to be a tissue of impudent
falsehoods?--But I am not to be made a dupe twice," cried the
burgomaster, in an angry tone, for, like all persons of a weak and
shifting character, he was without pity for those whom he thought capable
of having beguiled his compassion.
"Do not be in a hurry to decide--don't give to my words more weight than
they deserve," resumed Morok with a hypocritical affectation of humility.
"I am unhappily placed in so false a position with regard to this man,"--
pointing to Dagober--"that I might be thought to have acted from private
resentment for the injury he has done me; perhaps I may so act without
knowing it, while I fancy that I am only influenced by love of justice,
horror of falsehood, and respect for our holy religion. Well--who lives
long enough will know--and may heaven forgive me if I am deceived!--In
any case, the law will pronounce upon it; and if they should prove
innocent, they will be released in a month or two."
"And, for that reason, I need not hesitate. It is a mere measure of
precaution; they will not die of it. Besides, the more I think of it,
the more it seems probable. Yes this man is doubtless a French spy or
agitator, especially when I compare these suspicions with the late
demonstration of the students at Frankfort."
"And, upon that theory, nothing is better fitted to excite and stir up
those hot-headed youths than--" He glanced significantly at the two
sisters; then, after a pause, he added with a sigh, "Satan does not care
by what means he works out his ends!"
"Certainly, it would be odious, but well-devised."
"And then, Mr Burgomaster, look at him attentively: you will see that
this man has a dangerous face. You will see--"
In continuing thus to speak in a low tone, Morok had evidently pointed to
Dagobert. The latter, notwithstanding his self-command, felt that the
restraint he had imposed upon himself, since his arrival at this unlucky
inn, and above all wince the commencement of the conversation between
Morok and the burgomaster, was becoming no longer bearable; besides, he
saw clearly that all his efforts to conciliate the favor of the judge
were rendered completely null by the fatal influence of the brute-tamer;
so, losing patience, he advanced towards him with his arms folded on his
breast, and said to him in a subdued voice: "Was it of me that you were
whispering to Mr. Burgomaster?"
"Yes," said Morok, looking fixedly at him.
"Why did you not speak out loud?" Having said this, the almost
convulsive movement of his thick moustache, as he stood looping Morok
full in the face, gave evidence of a severe internal conflict. Seeing
that his adversary preserved a contemptuous silence, he repeated in a
sterner voice: "I ask you, why you did not speak out loud to Mr.
Burgomaster, when you were talking of me?"
"Because there are some things so shameful, that one would blush to utter
them aloud," answered Morok insolently.
Till then Dagobert had kept his arms folded; he now extended them
violently, clenching his fists. This sudden movement was so expressive
that the two sisters uttered a cry of terror, and drew closer to him.
"Hark ye, Mr. Burgomaster!" said the soldier, grinding his teeth with
rage: "bid that man go down, or I will not answer for myself!"
"What!" said the burgomaster, haughtily; "do you dare to give orders to
"I tell you to make that man go down," resumed Dagobert, quite beside
himself, "or there will be mischief!"
"Dagobert!--good heaven!--be calm," cried the children, grasping his
"It becomes you, certainly--miserable vagabond that you are--not to say
worse," returned the burgomaster, in a rage: "it becomes you to give
orders to me!--Oh! you think to impose upon me, by telling me you have
lost your papers!--It will not serve your turn, for which you carry about
with you these two girls, who, in spite of their innocent looks, are
perhaps after all--"
"Wretch!" cried Dagobert, with so terrible a voice and gesture that the
official did not dare to finish. Taking the children by the arm before
they could speak a word, the soldier pushed them back into the chamber;
then, locking the door, and putting the key into his pocket, he returned
precipitately towards the burgomaster, who, frightened at the menacing
air and attitude of the veteran, retreated a couple of steps, and held by
one hand to the rail of the staircase.
"Listen to me!" said the soldier, seizing the judge by the arm. "Just
now, that scoundrel insulted me--I bore with it--for it only concerned
myself. I have heard patiently all your idle talk, because you seemed
for a moment to interest yourself in those poor children. But since you
have neither soul, nor pity, nor justice--I tell you that, burgomaster
though you are--I will spurn you as I would spurn that dog," pointing
again to the Prophet, "if you have the misfortune to mention those two
young girls, in any other way than you would speak of your own child!--
Now, do you mark me?"
"What!--you dare to say," cried the burgomaster, stammering with rage,
"that if I happen to mention two adventuresses--"
"Hats off!--when you speak of the daughters of the Duke of Ligny," cried
the soldier, snatching the cap of the burgomaster and flinging it on the
ground. On this act of aggression, Morok could not restrain his joy.
Exasperated and losing all hope, Dagobert had at length yielded to the
violence of his anger, after struggling so painfully against it for some
When the burgomaster saw his cap at his feet, he looked at the brute-
tamer with an air of stupefaction, as if he hesitated to believe so great
an enormity. Dagobert, regretting, his violence, and feeling that no
means of conciliation note remained, threw a rapid glance around him,
and, retreating several paces, gained the topmost steps of the staircase.
The burgomaster stood near the bench, in a corner of the landing-place,
whilst Morok, with his arm in the sling, to give the more serious
appearance to his wound, was close beside him. "So!" cried the
magistrate, deceived by the backward movement of Dagobert, "you think to
escape, after daring to lift hand against me!--Old villain!"
"Forgive me, Mr. Burgomaster! It was a burst of rashness that I was not
able to control. I am sorry for it," said Dagobert in a repentant voice,
and hanging his head humbly.
"No pity for thee, rascal! You would begin again to smooth me over with
your coaxing ways, but I have penetrated your secret designs. You are
not what you appear to be, and there is perhaps an affair of state at the
bottom of all this," added the magistrate, in a very diplomatic tone.
"All means are alike to those who wish to set Europe in flames."
"I am only a poor devil, Mr. Burgomaster; you, that have a good heart,
will show me some mercy."
"What! when you have pulled off my cap?"
"And you," added the soldier, turning towards Morok, "you, that have been
the cause of all this--have same pity upon me--do not bear malice!--You,
a holy man, speak a word in my favor to Mr. Burgomaster."
"I have spoken to him what I was bound to speak," answered the Prophet
"Oho! you can look foolish enough now, you old vagabond! Did you think
to impose on me with lamentations?" resumed the burgomaster, advancing
towards Dagobert. "Thanks be, I am no longer your dupe!--You shall see
that we have good dungeons at Leipsic for French agitators and female
vagrants, for your damsels are no better than you are. Come," added he,
puffing out his cheeks with an important air, "go down before me--and as
for you, Morok--"
The burgomaster was unable to finish. For some minutes Dagobert had only
sought to gain time, and had cast many a side-glance at a half-open door
on the landing-place, just opposite to the chamber occupied by the
orphans: finding the moment favorable, he now rushed quick as lightning
on the burgomaster, seized him by the throat, and dashed him with such
violence against the door in question, that the magistrate, stupefied by
this sudden attack, and unable to speak a word or utter a cry, rolled
over to the further end of the room, which was completely dark. Then,
turning towards Morok, who, with his arm encumbered by the sling, made a
rush for the staircase, the soldier caught him by his long, streaming
hair, pulled him back, clasped him with hands of iron, clapped his hand
over his mouth to stifle his outcries, and notwithstanding his desperate
resistance, dragged him into the chamber, on the floor of which the
burgomaster lay bruised and stunned.
Having double-locked the door, and put the key in his pocket, Dagobert
descended the stairs at two bounds, and found himself in a passage, that
opened on the court-yard. The gate of the inn was shut, and there was no
possibility of escape on that side. The rain fell in torrents. He could
see through the window of a parlor, in which a fire was burning, the host
and his people waiting for the decision of the burgomaster. To bolt the
door of the passage, and thus intercept all communication with the yard,
was for the soldier the affair of an instant, and he hastened upstairs
again to rejoin the orphans.
Morok, recovering from his surprise, was calling for help with all his
might; but, even if the distance had permitted him to be heard, the noise
of the wind and rain would have drowned his outcries. Dagobert had about
an hour before him, for it would require some time to elapse before the
length of his interview with the magistrate would excite astonishment;
and, suspicion or fear once awakened, it would be necessary to break open
two doors--that which separated the passage from the court-yard, and that
of the room in which the burgomaster and the Prophet were confined.
"My children, it is now time to prove that you have a soldier's blood in
your veins," said Dagobert, as he entered abruptly the chamber of the
young girls, who were terrified at the racket they had heard for some
"Good heaven, Dagobert! what has happened?" cried Blanche.
"What do you wish us to do?" added Rose.
Without answering, the soldier ran to the bed, tore off the sheets, tied
them strongly together, made a knot at one end, passed it over the top of
the left half of the casement, and so shut it in. Thus made fast by the
size of the knot, which could not slip through, the sheets, floating on
the outside, touched the ground. The second half of the window was left
open, to afford a passage to the fugitives.
The veteran next took his knapsack, the children's portmanteau, and the
reindeer pelisse, and threw them all out of the window, making a sign to
Spoil-sport to follow, to watch over them. The dog did not hesitate, but
disappeared at a single bound. Rose and Blanche looked at Dagobert in
amazement, without uttering a word.
"Now, children," said he to them, "the doors of the inn are shut, and it
is by this way," pointing to the window, "that we must pass--if we would
not be arrested, put in prison--you in one place, and I in the other--and
have our journey altogether knocked on the head."
"Arrested! put in prison!" cried Rose.
"Separated from you!" exclaimed Blanche.
"Yes, my poor children!--They have killed Jovial--we must make our escape
on foot, and try to reach Leipsic--when you are tired, I will carry you,
and, though I have to beg my way, we will go through with it. But a
quarter of an hour later, and all will be lost. Come, children, have
trust in me--show that the daughters of General Simon are no cowards--and
there is yet hope."
By a sympathetic movement, the sisters joined hands, as though they would
meet the danger united. Their sweet faces, pale from the effect of so
many painful emotions, were now expressive of simple resolve, founded on
the blind faith they reposed in the devotion of the soldier.
"Be satisfied, Dagobert! we'll not be frightened," said Rose, in a firm
"We will do what must be done," added Blanche, in a no less resolute
"I was sure of it," cried Dagobert; "good blood is ever thicker than
water. Come! you are light as feathers, the sheet is strong, it is
hardly eight feet to the ground, and the pup is waiting for you."
"It is for me to go first--I am the eldest for to-day," cried Rose, when
she had tenderly embraced Blanche; and she ran to the window, in order,
if there were any danger, to expose herself to it before her sister.
Dagobert easily guessed the cause of this eagerness. "Dear children!"
said he, "I understand you. But fear nothing for one another--there is
no danger. I have myself fastened the sheet. Quick, my little Rose!"
As light as a bird, the young girl mounted the ledge of the window, and
assisted by Dagobert, took hold of the sheet, and slid gently down
according to the recommendation of the soldier, who, leaning out his
whole body, encouraged her with his voice.
"Don't be afraid, sister!" said she, as soon as she touched the ground,
"it is very easy to come down this way. And Spoil-sport is here, licking
my hands." Blanche did not long keep her waiting; as courageous as her
sister, she descended with the same success.
"Dear little creatures! what have they done to be so unfortunate?--
Thousand thunders! there must be a curse upon the family," cried
Dagobert, as, with heavy heart, he saw the pale, sweet face of the young
girl disappear amid the gloom of the dark night, which violent squalls of
wind and torrents of rain rendered still more dismal.
"Dagobert, we are waiting for you; come quickly!" said the orphans in a
low voice, from beneath the window. Thanks to his tall stature, the
soldier rather leaped than glided to the ground.
Dagobert and the two young girls had not fled from the inn of the White
Falcon more than a quarter of an hour, when a long crash resounded
through the house. The door had yielded to the efforts of the
burgomaster and Morok, who had made use of a heavy table as a battering-
ram. Guided by the light, they ran to the chamber of the orphans, now
deserted. Morok saw the sheets floating from the casement, and cried:
"Mr. Burgomaster, they have escaped by the window--they are on foot--in
this dark and stormy night, they cannot be far."
"No doubt, we shall catch them, the miserable tramps! Oh, I will be
revenged! Quick, Morok; your honor is concerned as well as mine."
"My honor?--Much more is concerned than that, Mr. Burgomaster," answered
the Prophet, in a tone of great irritation. Then, rapidly descending the
stairs, he opened the door of the court-yard, and shouted in a voice of
"Goliath! unchain the dogs!--and, landlord! bring us lanterns, torches--
arm your people--open the doors!--We must pursue the fugitives; they
cannot escape us; we must have them--alive or dead!"
When we read, in the rules of the order of the Jesuits, under the title
De formula scribendi (Institut. 2, 11, p. 125, 129), the development of
the 8th part of the constitutions, we are appalled by the number of
letters, narratives, registers, and writings of all kinds, preserved in
the archives of the society.
It is a police infinitely more exact and better informed than has ever
been that of any state. Even the government of Venice found itself
surpassed by the Jesuits: when it drove them out in 1606, it seized all
their papers, and reproached them for their great and laborious
curiosity. This police, this secret inquisition, carried to such a
degree of perfection, may give some idea of the strength of a government,
so well-informed so persevering in its projects, so powerful by its
unity, and, as the constitutions have it, by the union of its members.
It is not hard to understand, what immense force must belong to the heads
of this society, and how the general of the Jesuits could say to the Duke
de Brissac: "From this room, your grace, I govern not only Paris, but
China--not only China, but the whole world--and all without any one
knowing how it is done:"
(Constitution of the Jesuits, edited by Paulin, Paris, 1843.)
Morok, the lion-tamer, seeing Dagobert deprived of his horse, and
stripped of his money and papers, and thinking it was thus out of his
power to continue his journey, had, previous to the arrival of the
burgomaster, despatched Karl to Leipsic, as the bearer of a letter which
he was to put immediately into the post. The address of this letter was
as follows: "A Monsieur Rodin, Rue du Milieu des Ursins, Paris."
About the middle of this obscure and solitary street, situate below the
level of the Quai Napoleon, which it joins not far from the Rue Saint
Landry, there stood a house of unpretentious appearance, at the bottom of
a dark and narrow court-yard, separated from the street by a low building
in front, with arched doorway, and two windows protected by thick iron
bars. Nothing could be more simple than the interior of this quiet
dwelling, as was sufficiently shown by the furniture of a pretty large
room on the ground floor. The walls of this apartment were lined with
old gray wainscot; the tiled floor was painted red, and carefully
polished; curtains of white calico shaded the windows.
A sphere of about four feet in diameter, raised on a pedestal of massive
oak, stood at one end of the room, opposite to the fireplace. Upon this
globe, which was painted on a large scale, a host of little red crosses
appeared scattered over all parts of the world--from the North to the
South, from the rising to the setting sun, from the most barbarous
countries, from the most distant isles, to the centres of civilization,
to France itself. There was not a single country which did not present
some spots marked with these red crosses, evidently indicative of
stations, or serving as points of reference.
Before a table of black wood, loaded with papers, and resting against the
wall near the chimney, a chair stood empty. Further on, between the two
windows, was a large walnut-wood desk, surmounted by shelves full of
At the end of the month of October, 1831, about eight o'clock in the
morning, a man sat writing at this desk. This was M. Rodin, the
correspondent of Morok, the brute-tamer.
About fifty years of age, he wore an old, shabby, olive greatcoat, with a
greasy collar, a snuff-powdered cotton handkerchief for a cravat, and
waistcoat and trousers of threadbare black cloth. His feet, buried in
loose varnished shoes, rested on a petty piece of green baize upon the
red, polished floor. His gray hair lay flat on his temples, and
encircled his bald forehead; his eyebrows were scarcely marked; his upper
eyelid, flabby and overhanging, like the membrane which shades the eyes
of reptiles, half concealed his small, sharp, black eye. His thin lips,
absolutely colorless, were hardly distinguishable from the wan hue of his
lean visage, with its pointed nose and chin; and this livid mask
(deprived as it were of lips) appeared only the more singular, from its
maintaining a death-like immobility. Had it not been for the rapid
movement of his fingers, as, bending over the desk, he scratched along
with his pen, M. Rodin might have been mistaken for a corpse.
By the aid of a cipher (or secret alphabet) placed before him he was
copying certain passages from a long sheet full of writing, in a manner
quite unintelligible to those who did not possess the key to the system.
Whilst the darkness of the day increased the gloom of the large, cold,
naked-looking apartment, there was something awful in the chilling aspect
of this man, tracing his mysterious characters in the midst of profound
The clock struck eight. The dull sound of the knocker at the outer door
was heard, then a bell tinkled twice, several doors opened and shut, and
a new personage entered the chamber. On seeing him, M. Rodin rose from
the desk, stuck his pen between his teeth, bowed with a deeply submissive
air, and sat down again to his work without uttering a word
The two formed a striking contrast to one another. The newcomer, though
really older than he seemed, would have passed for thirty-six or thirty-
eight years of age at most. His figure was tall and shapely, and few
could have encountered the brightness of his large gray eye, brilliant as
polished steel. His nose, broad at the commencement, formed a well-cut
square at its termination; his chin was prominent, and the bluish tints
of his close-shaved beard were contrasted with the bright carnation of
his lips, and the whiteness of his fine teeth. When he took off his hat
to change it for a black velvet cap which he found on the small table, he
displayed a quantity of light chestnut hair, not yet silvered by time.
He was dressed in a long frock-coat, buttoned up to the neck in military
The piercing glance and broad forehead of this man revealed a powerful
intellect, even as the development of his chest and shoulders announced a
vigorous physical organization; whilst his gentlemanly appearance, the
perfection of his gloves and boots, the light perfume which hung about
his hair and person, the grace and ease of his least movements, betrayed
what is called the man of the world, and left the impression that he had
sought or might still seek every kind of success, from the most frivolous
to the most serious. This rare combination of strength of mind, strength
of body, and extreme elegance of manners, was in this instance rendered
still more striking by the circumstance, that whatever there might be of
haughtiness or command in the upper part of that energetic countenance,
was softened down, and tempered by a constant but not uniform smile--for,
as occasion served, this smile became either kind or sly, cordial or gay,
discreet or prepossessing, and thus augmented the insinuating charm of
this man, who, once seen, was never again forgotten. But, in yielding to
this involuntary sympathy, the doubt occurred if the influence was for
good--or for evil.
M. Rodin, the secretary of the newcomer, continued to write.
"Are there any letters from Dunkirk, Rodin?" inquired his master.
"Post not yet in."
"Without being positively uneasy as to my mother's health, since she was
already convalescent," resumed the other, "I shall only be quite
reassured by a letter from my excellent friend, the Princess de Saint-
Dizier. I shall have good news this morning, I hope."
"It is to be desired," said the secretary, as humble and submissive as he
was laconic and impassible.
"Certainly it is to be desired," resumed his master; "for one of the
brightest days of my life was when the Princess de Saint-Dizier announced
to me that this sudden and dangerous illness had yielded to the care and
attention with which she surrounds my mother. Had it not been for that I
must have gone down to her instantly, though my presence here is very
Then, approaching the desk, he added: "Is the summary of the foreign
"Here is the analysis."
"The letters are still sent under envelope to the places named, and are
then brought here as I directed?"
"Read to me the notes of this correspondence; if there are any letters
for me to answer, I will tell you." And Rodin's master began to walk up
and down the room, with his hands crossed behind his back, dictating
observations of which Rodin took careful note.
The secretary turned to a pretty large pile of papers, and thus began:
"Don Raymond Olivarez acknowledges from Cadiz receipt of letter No.19; he
will conform to it, and deny all share in the abduction."
"Very well; file it."
"Count Romanoff, of Riga, finds himself in a position of pecuniary
"Let Duplessis send him fifty louis; I formerly served as captain in his
regiment, and he has since given us good information."
"They have received at Philadelphia the last cargo of Histories of
France, expurgated for the use of the faithful they require some more of
the same sort."
"Take note of it, and write to Duplessis. Go on."
"M. Spindler sends from Namur the secret report on M. Ardouin."
"To be examined."
"M. Ardouin sends from the same town the secret report on M. Spindler."
"To be examined."
"Doctor Van Ostadt, of the same town, sends a confidential note on the
subject of Messrs. Spindler and Ardouin."
"To be compared. Go on!"
"Count Malipierri, of Turin, announces that the donation of 300,000
francs is signed."
"Inform Duplessis. What next?"
"Don Stanislaus has just quitted the waters of Baden with Queen Marie
Ernestine. He informs us that her majesty will receive with gratitude
the promised advices, and will answer them with her own hand."
"Make a note of it. I will myself write to the queen."
Whilst Rodin was inscribing a few remarks on the margin of the paper, his
master, continuing to walk up and down the room, found himself opposite
to the globe marked with little red crosses, and stood contemplating it
for a moment with a pensive air.
Rodin continued: "In consequence of the state of the public mind in
certain parts of Italy, where sundry agitators have turned their eyes in
the direction of France, Father Arsenio writes from Milan, that it would
be of importance to distribute profusely in that country, some little
book, in which the French would be represented as impious and debauched,
rapacious and bloody."
"The idea is excellent. We might turn to good account the excesses
committed by our troops in Italy during the wars of the Republic. You
must employ Jacques Dumoulin to write it. He is full of gall, spite, and
venom: the pamphlet will be scorching. Besides, I may furnish a few
notes; but you must not pay Dumoulin till after delivery of the
"That is well understood: for, if we were to pay him beforehand, he would
be drunk for a week in some low den. It was thus we had to pay him twice
over for his virulent attack on the pantheistic tendencies of Professor
"Take note of it--and go on!"
"The merchant announces that the clerk is about to send the banker to
give in his accounts. You understand?' added Rodin, after pronouncing
these words with a marked emphasis.
"Perfectly," said the other, with a start; "they are but the expressions
agreed on. What next?"
"But the clerk," continued the secretary, "is restrained by a last
After a moment's silence, during which the features of Rodin's master
worked strongly, he thus resumed: "They most continue to act on the
clerk's mind by silence and solitude; then, let him read once more the
list of cases in which regicide is authorized and absolved. "Go on!"
"The woman Sydney writes from Dresden, that she waits for instructions.
Violent scenes of jealousy on her account have again taken place between
the father and son; but neither from these new bursts of mutual hatred,
nor from the confidential communications which each has made to her
against his rival, has she yet been able to glean the information
required. Hitherto, she has avoided giving the preference to one or the
other; but, should this situation be prolonged, she fears it may rouse
their suspicion. Which ought she then to choose--the father or the son?"
"The son--for jealous resentment will be much more violent and cruel in
the old man, and, to revenge himself for the preference bestowed upon his
son, he will perhaps tell what they have both such an interest to
conceal. The next?"
"Within the last three years, two maid-servants of Ambrosius whom we
placed in that little parish in the mountains of the Valais, have
disappeared, without any one knowing what has become of them. A third
has just met with the same fate. The Protestants of the country are
roused--talk of murder with frightful attendant circumstances--"
"Until there is proof positive and complete of the fact, Ambrosius must
be defended against these infamous calumnies, the work of a party that
never shrinks from; monstrous inventions. Go on!"
"Thompson, of Liverpool, has at length succeeded in procuring for Justin
the place of agent or manager to Lord Stewart, a rich Irish Catholic,
whose head grows daily weaker."
"Let the fact be once verified, and Thompson shall have a premium of
fifty louis. Make a note of it for Duplessis. Proceed."
"Frantz Dichstein, of Vienna," resumed Rodin, "announces that his father
has just died of the cholera, in a little village at some leagues from
that city: for the epidemic continues to advance slowly, coming from the
north of Russia by way of Poland."
"It is true," said Rodin's master, interrupting him; "may its terrible
march be stayed, and France be spared."
"Frantz Dichstein," resumed Rodin, "says that his two brothers are
determined to contest the donation made by his father, but that he is of
an opposite opinion."
"Consult the two persons that are charged with all matters of litigation.
"The Cardinal Prince d'Amalfi will conform to the three first points of
the proposal: he demands to make a reservation upon the fourth point."
"No reserve!--Either full and absolute acceptance--or else war--and (mark
me well) war without mercy--on him and his creatures. Go on!"
"Fra Paolo announces that the Prince Boccari, chief of a redoubtable
secret society, in despair at seeing his friends accuse him of treachery,
in consequence of suspicions excited in their minds by Fra Paolo himself,
has committed suicide."
"Boccari! is it possible?" cried Rodin's master. "Boccari! the patriot
Boccari! so dangerous a person!"
"The patriot Boccari," repeated the impassible secretary.
"Tell Duplessis to send an order for five-and-twenty louis to Fra Paolo.
Make a note of it."
"Hausman informs us that the French dancer, Albertine Ducornet, is the
mistress of the reigning prince; she has the most complete influence over
him, and it would be easy through her means to arrive at the end
proposed, but that she is herself governed by her lover (condemned in
France as a forger), and that she does nothing without consulting him."
Let Hausman get hold of this man--if his claims are reasonable, accede to
them--and learn if the girl has any relations in Paris."
"The Duke d'Orbano announces, that the king his master will authorize the
new establishment, but on the conditions previously stated."
"No condition!--either a frank adhesion or a positive refusal. Let us
know our friends from our enemies. The more unfavorable the
circumstances, the more we must show firmness, and overbear opposition by
confidence in ourselves."
"The same also announces, that the whole of the corps diplomatique
continues to support the claims of the father of that young Protestant
girl, who refuses to quit the convent where she has taken refuge, unless
it be to marry her lover against her father's will."
"Ah! the corps diplomatique continues to remonstrate in the father's
"Then, continue to answer, that the spiritual power has nothing to do
with the temporal."
At this moment, the bell of the outer door again sounded twice. "See who
it is," said Rodin's master; and the secretary rose and left the room.
The other continued to walk thoughtfully up and down, till, coming near
to the huge globe, he stopped short before it.
For some time he contemplated, in profound silence, the innumerable
little red crosses, which appeared to cover, as with an immense net, all
the countries of the earth. Reflecting doubtless on the invisible action
of his power, which seemed to extend over the whole world, the features
of this man became animated, his large gray eye sparkled, his nostrils
swelled, and his manly countenance assumed an indescribable expression of
pride, energy, and daring. With haughty brow and scornful lip, he drew
still nearer to the globe, and leaned his strong hand upon the pole.
This powerful pressure, an imperious movement, as of one taking
possession, seemed to indicate, that he felt sure of governing this
globe, on which he looked down from the height of his tall figure, and on
which he rested his hand with so lofty and audacious an air of
But now he no longer smiled. His eye threatened, and his large forehead
was clad with a formidable scowl. The artist, who had wished to paint
the demon of craft and pride, the infernal genius of insatiable
domination, could not have chosen a more suitable model.
When Rodin returned, the face of his master had recovered its ordinary
expression. "It is the postman," said Rodin, showing the letters which
he held in his hand; "there is nothing from Dunkirk."
"Nothing?" cried his master--and his painful emotion formed a strange
contrast to his late haughty and implacable expression of countenance--
"nothing? no news of my mother?--Thirty-six hours more, then, of
"It seems to me, that, if the princess had bad news to give, she would
have written. Probably the improvement goes on."
"You are doubtless right, Rodin--but no matter--I am far from easy. If,
to-morrow, the news should not be completely satisfactory, I set out for
the estate of the princess. Why would my mother pass the autumn in that
part of the country? The environs of Dunkirk do not, I fear, agree with
After a few moments' silence, he added, as he continued to walk: "Well--
these letters--whence are they?"
Rodin looked at the post-marks, and replied: "Out of the four there are
three relative to the great and important affairs of the medals."
"Thank heaven!--provided the news be favorable," cried his master, with
an expression of uneasiness, which showed how much importance he attached
to this affair.
"One is from Charlestown, and no doubt relative to Gabriel, the
missionary," answered Rodin; "this other from Batavia, and no doubt
concerns the Indian, Djalma. The third is from Leipsic, and will
probably confirm that received yesterday, in which the lion-tamer, Morok,
informed us, that, in accordance with his orders, and without his being
compromised in any way, the daughters of General Simon would not be able
to continue their journey."
At the name of General Simon, a cloud passed over the features of Rodin's
The principal houses correspond with that in Paris; they are also in
direct communication with the General, who resides at Rome. The
correspondence of the Jesuits so active, various, and organized in so
wonderful a manner, has for its object to supply the heads with all the
information they can require. Every day, the General receives a host of
reports, which serve to check one another. In the central house, at
Rome, are immense registers, in which are inscribed the names of all the
Jesuits, of their adherents, and of all the considerable persons, whether
friends or enemies, with whom they have any connection. In these
registers are reported, without alteration, hatred or passion the facts
relating to the life of each individual. It is the most gigantic
biographical collection that has ever been formed. The frailties of a
woman, the secret errors of a statesman, are chronicled in this book with
the same cold impartiality. Drawn up for the purpose of being useful,
these biographies are necessarily exact. When the Jesuits wish to
influence an individual, they have but to turn to this book, and they
know immediately his life, his character, his parts, his faults, his
projects, his family, his friends, his most sacred ties. Conceive, what
a superior facility of action this immense police-register, which
includes the whole world, must give to any one society! It is not
lightly that I speak of these registers; I have my facts from a person
who has seen this collection, and who is perfectly well acquainted with
the Jesuits. Here then, is matter to reflect on for all those families,
who admit freely into their houses the members of a community that
carries its biographical researches to such a point.
(Libri, Member of the Institute. Letters on the Clergy.)
When he had conquered the involuntary emotion which the name or
remembrance of General Simon had occasioned, Rodin's master said to the
secretary: "Do not yet open the letters from Leipsic, Charlestown, and
Batavia; the information they contain will doubtless find its place
presently. It will save our going over the same ground twice."
The secretary looked inquiringly at his master.
The latter continued--"Have you finished the note relating to the
"Here it is," replied the secretary; "I was just finishing my
interpretation of the cipher."
"Read it to me, in the order of the facts. You can append to it the news
contained in those three letters."
"True," said Rodin; "in that way the letters will find their right
"I wish to see," rejoined the other, "whether this note is clear and
fully explanatory; you did not forget that the person it is intended for
ought not to know all?"
"I bore it in mind, and drew up the paper accordingly."
"Read," said the master.
M. Rodin read as follows, slowly and deliberately:
"'A hundred and fifty years ago, a French Protestant family, foreseeing
the speedy--revocation of the edict of Nantes, went into voluntary exile,
in order to avoid the just and rigorous decrees already issued against
the members of the reformed church--those indomitable foes of our holy
"'Some members of this family sought refuge in Holland, and afterwards in
the Dutch colonies; others in Poland, others in Germany; some in England,
and some in America.
"'It is supposed that only seven descendants remain of this family, which
underwent strange vicissitudes since; its present representatives are
found in all ranks of society, from the sovereign to the mechanic.
"'These descendants, direct or indirect, are:
"'On the mother's side,
"'Rose and Blanche Simon--minors.
"'General Simon married, at Warsaw, a descendant of the said family.
"'Francois Hardy, manufacturer at Plessis, near Paris.
"'Prince Djalma, son of Kadja-sing, King of Mondi.
"'Kadja-sing, married, in 1802, a descendant of the said family, then
settled at Batavia, in the Island of Java, a, Dutch colony.
"'On the father's side--
"'Jacques Rennepont, surnamed Sleepinbuff, mechanic.
"'Adrienne de Cardoville, daughter of the Count of Rennepont, Duke of
"'Gabriel Rennepont, priest of the foreign missions.
"'All the members of this family possess, or should possess, a bronze
medal bearing the following inscriptions:
L. C. D. J.
Pray for me!
February the 13th, 1682.
Rue Saint Francois, No. 3,
In a century and a half
you will be.
February the 13th, 1832.
Pray For Me!
"'These words and dates show that all of them have a great interest to be
at Paris on the 13th of February, 1832; and that, not by proxy, but in
person, whether they are minors, married or single.
"'But other persons have an immense interest that none of the descendants
of this family be at Paris on the 13th February, except Gabriel
Rennepont, priest of the foreign missions.
"'At all hazards, therefore, Gabriel must be the only person present at
the appointment made with the descendants of this family, a century and a
"'To prevent the other six persons from reaching Paris on the said day,
or to render their presence of no effect, much has been already done; but
much remains to be done to ensure the success of this affair, which is
considered as the most vital and most important of the age, on account of
its probable results.'"
"'Tis but too true," observed Rodin's master, interrupting him, and
shaking his head pensively. "And, moreover, that the consequences of
success are incalculable, and there is no forseeing what may follow
failure. In a word, it almost involves a question of existence or non-
existence during several years. To succeed, therefore, 'all possible
means must be employed. Nothing must be shunned,' except, however, that
appearances must be skillfully maintained."
"I have written it," said Rodin, having added the words his master had
just dictated, who then said,
Rodin read on:
"'To forward or secure the affair in question, it is necessary to give
some private and secret particulars respecting the seven persons who
represent this family.
"'The truth of these particulars may be relied on. In case of need they
might be completed in the most minute degree for contradictory
information having been given, very lengthened evidence has been
obtained. The order in which the names of the persons stand will be
observed, and events that have happened up to the present time will only
"'NOTE, No. I.
"'Rose and Blanche Simon, twin sisters, about fifteen years of age; very
pretty, so much alike, one might be taken for the other; mild and timid
disposition, but capable of enthusiasm. Brought up in Siberia by their
mother, a woman of strong mind and deistical sentiments, they are wholly
ignorant of our holy religion.
"'General Simon, separated from his wife before they were born, is not
aware, even now, that he has two daughters.
"'It was hoped that their presence in Paris, on the 13th of February,
would be prevented, by sending their mother to a place of exile, much
more distant than the one first allotted her; but their mother dying, the
Governor of Siberia, who is wholly ours, supposing, by a deplorable
mistake, that the measure only affected the wife of General Simon
personally, unfortunately allowed the girls to return to France, under
the guidance of an old soldier.
"'This man is enterprising, faithful, and determined. He
is noted down as dangerous.
"'The Simon girls are inoffensive. It is hoped, on fair