“It seemed to me,” added Rose, “as if a shutter had struck suddenly against the window.”
Dagobert examined the shutter, and observed a long movable hook, designed to fasten it on the inside.
“It blows hard,” said he; “the wind must have swung round the shutter, and this hook broke the window. Yes, yes; that is it. What interest could anybody have to play such a sorry trick?” Then, speaking to Spoil sport, he asked, “Well, my good fellow, is there no one?”
The dog answered by a bark, which the soldier no doubt understood as a negative, for he continued: “Well, then, come back! Make the round—you will find some door open—you are never at a loss.”
The animal followed this advice. After growling for a few seconds beneath the window, he set off at a gallop to make the circuit of the buildings, and come back by the court-yard.
“Be quite easy, my children!” said the soldier, as he again drew near the orphans; “it was only the wind.”
“We were a good deal frightened,” said Rose.
“I believe you. But now I think of it, this draught is likely to give you cold.” And seeking to remedy this inconvenience, he took from a chair the reindeer pelisse, and suspended it from the spring-catch of the curtainless window, using the skirts to stop up as closely as possible the two openings made by the breaking of the panes.
“Thanks, Dagobert, how good you are! We were very uneasy at not seeing you.”
“Yes, you were absent longer than usual. But what is the matter with you?” added Rose, only just then perceiving that his countenance was disturbed and pallid, for he was still under the painful influence of the brawl with Morok; “how pale you are!”
“Me, my pets?—Oh, nothing.”
“Yes, I assure you, your countenance is quite changed. Rose is right.”
“I tell you there is nothing the matter,” answered the soldier, not without some embarrassment, for he was little used to deceive; till, finding an excellent excuse for his emotion, he added: “If I do look at all uncomfortable, it is your fright that has made me so, for indeed it was my fault.”
“Yes; for if I had not lost so much time at supper, I should have been here when the window was broken, and have spared you the fright.”
“Anyhow, you are here now, and we think no more of it.”
“Why don’t you sit down?”
“I will, my children, for we have to talk together,” said Dagobert, as he drew a chair close to the head of the bed.
“Now tell me, are you quite awake?” he added, trying to smile in order to reassure them. “Are those large eyes properly open?”
“Look, Dagobert!” cried the two girls, smiling in their turn, and opening their blue eyes to the utmost extent.
“Well, well,” said the soldier, “they are yet far enough, from shutting; besides, it is only nine o’clock.”