But the horse, having just touched the oats with his mouth, as if in obedience to his master, returned to them no more, and began to nibble at the sleeve of Dagobert’s coat.
“Come, come, my poor Jovial! there is something the matter with you. You have generally such a good appetite, and now you leave your corn. ’Tis the first time this has happened since our departure,” said the soldier, who was now growing seriously uneasy, for the issue of his journey greatly depended on the health and vigor of his horse.
Just then a frightful roaring, so near that it seemed to come from the stable in which they were, gave so violent a shock to Jovial, that with one effort he broke his halter, leaped over the bar that marked his place, and rushing at the open door, escaped into the court-yard.
Dagobert had himself started at the suddenness of this wild and fearful sound, which at once explained to him the cause of his horse’s terror. The adjoining stable was occupied by the itinerant menagerie of the brute-tamer, and was only separated by the partition, which supported the mangers. The three horses of the Prophet, accustomed to these howlings, had remained perfectly quiet.
“Good!” said the soldier, recovering himself; “I understand it now. Jovial has heard another such roar before, and he can scent the animals of that insolent scoundrel. It is enough to frighten him,” added he, as he carefully collected the oats from the manger; “once in another stable, and there must be others in this place, he will no longer leave his peck, and we shall be able to start early to-morrow morning!”
The terrified horse, after running and galloping about the yard, returned at the voice of the soldier, who easily caught him by the broken halter; and a hostler, whom Dagobert asked if there was another vacant stable, having pointed out one that was only intended for a single animal, Jovial was comfortably installed there.
When delivered from his ferocious neighbors, the horse became tranquil as before, and even amused himself much at the expense of Dagobert’s top coat, which, thanks to his tricks, might have afforded immediate occupation for his master’s needle, if the latter had not been fully engaged in admiring the eagerness with which Jovial dispatched his provender. Completely reassured on his account, the soldier shut the door of the stable, and proceeded to get his supper as quickly as possible, in order to rejoin the orphans, whom he reproached himself with having left so long.
Rose and Blanche.
The orphans occupied a dilapidated chamber in one of the most remote wings of the inn, with a single window opening upon the country. A bed without curtains, a table, and two chairs, composed the more than modest furniture of this retreat, which was now lighted by a lamp. On the table, which stood near the window, was deposited the knapsack of the soldier.