“Well, well; I don’t wish to know it. Come, rest yourselves, a few moments more, and then we must start again; for it grows late, and we have to reach Mockern before night, so that we may be early on the road to-morrow.”
“Have we still a long, long way to go?” asked Rose.
“What, to reach Paris? Yes, my children; some hundred days’ march. We don’t travel quick, but we get on; and we travel cheap, because we have a light purse. A closet for you, a straw mattress and a blanket at your door for me, with Spoil-sport on my feet, and a clean litter for old Jovial, these are our whole traveling expenses. I say nothing about food, because you two together don’t eat more than a mouse, and I have learnt in Egypt and Spain to be hungry only when it suits.”
“Not forgetting that, to save still more, you do all the cooking for us, and will not even let us assist.”
“And to think, good Dagobert, that you wash almost every evening at our resting-place. As if it were not for us to—”
“You!” said the soldier, interrupting Blanche, “I, allow you to chap your pretty little hands in soap-suds! Pooh! don’t a soldier on a campaign always wash his own linen? Clumsy as you see me, I was the best washerwoman in my squadron—and what a hand at ironing! Not to make a brag of it.”
“Yes, yes—you can iron well—very well.”
“Only sometimes, there will be a little singe,” said Rose, smiling.
“Hah! when the iron is too hot. Zounds! I may bring it as near my cheek as I please; my skin is so tough that I don’t feel the heat,” said Dagobert, with imperturbable gravity.
“We are only jesting, good Dagobert!”
“Then, children, if you think that I know my trade as a washerwoman, let me continue to have your custom: it is cheaper; and, on a journey, poor people like us should save where we can, for we must, at all events, keep enough to reach Paris. Once there, our papers and the medal you wear will do the rest—I hope so, at least.”
“This medal is sacred to us; mother gave it to us on her death-bed.”
“Therefore, take great care that you do not lose it: see, from time to time, that you have it safe.”
“Here it is,” said Blanche, as she drew from her bosom a small bronze medal, which she wore suspended from her neck by a chain of the same material. The medal bore on its faces 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!
“What does it mean, Dagobert?” resumed Blanche, as she examined the mournful inscriptions. “Mother was not able to tell us.”
“We will discuss all that this evening; at the place where we sleep,” answered Dagobert. “It grows late, let us be moving. Put up the medal carefully, and away!—We have yet nearly an hour’s march to arrive at quarters. Come, my poor pets, once more look at the mound where your brave father fell—and then—to horse! to horse!”