A bit farther on we came to a log house where a veteran of the old war sat playing his bugle, and a motherly woman bade us sit awhile at the door-step.
D’ri came soon with horses, one the black thoroughbred of Louise which had brought her on this errand. We gave them free rein, heading for the chateau. Not far up the woods-pike we met M. de Lambert and the old count. The former was angry, albeit he held himself in hand as became a gentleman, save that he was a bit too cool with me.
“My girl, you have upset us terribly,” said the learned doctor. “I should like to be honored with your confidence.”
“And I with your kindness, dear father,” said she, as her tears began falling. “I am much in need of it.”
“She has saved my life, m’sieur,” I said.
“Then go to your work,” said he, coolly, “and make the most of it.”
“Ah, sir, I had rather—”
“Good-by,” said Louise, giving me her hand.
“Au revoir,” I said quickly, and wheeled my horse and rode away.
The boats were ready. The army was waiting for the order, now expected any moment, to move. General Brown had not been at his quarters for a day.
“Judas Priest!” said D’ri, when we were alone together, “thet air gal ‘d go through fire an’ water fer you.”
“You ’re mistaken,” I said.
“No, I hain’t nuther,” said he. “Ef I be, I ’m a reg’lar out-an’-out fool, hand over fist.”
He whittled a moment thoughtfully.
“Ain’ no use talkin’,” he added, “I can tell a hoss from a jack-rabbit any day.”
“Her father does not like me,” I suggested.
“Don’t hev to,” said D’ri, calmly.
He cut a deep slash in the stick he held, then added: “Don’t make no odds ner no diff’rence one way er t’ other. I did n’t like th’ measles, but I hed t’ hev ’em.”
“He’ll never permit a marriage with me,” I said.
“’T ain’t nec’sary,” he declared soberly. “In this ’ere country don’ tek only tew t’ mek a bargain. One o’ the blessin’s o’ liberty.”
He squinted up at the sky, delivering his confidence in slowly measured phrases, to wit; “Wouldn’t give ten cents fer no man ’at ’ll give up a gal ’less he ‘d orter—not fer nuthin’ ner nobody.”
I was called out of bed at cockcrow in the morning. The baroness and a footman were at the door.
“Ah, my captain, there is trouble,” she whispered. “M. de Lambert has taken his daughters. They are going back to Paris, bag and baggage. Left in the evening.”
“By what road?”
“The turnpike militaire.”
“Thanks, and good morning,” I said. “I shall overhaul them.”