“Yes, an emigrant marquis, a colonel in the service of Russia,” answered Dagobert, with bitterness. “And so, when this marquis advanced towards us, and said to the general: ’Surrender, sir, to a countryman!’—’A Frenchman, who fights against France,’ replied the general, ’is no longer my countryman; he is a traitor, and I’d never surrender to a traitor!’ And, wounded though he was, he dragged himself up to a Russian grenadier, and delivered him his sabre, saying: ’I surrender to you my brave fellow!’ The marquis became pale with rage at it.”
The orphans looked at each other with pride, and a rich crimson mantled their cheeks, as they exclaimed: “Oh, our brave father!”
“Ah, those children,” said Dagobert, as he proudly twirled his moustache. “One sees they have soldier’s blood in their veins! Well,” he continued, “we were now prisoners. The general’s last horse had been killed under him; and, to perform the journey, he mounted Jovial, who had not been wounded that day. We arrived at Warsaw, and there it was that the general first saw your mother. She was called the Pearl of Warsaw; that is saying everything. Now he, who admired all that is good and beautiful, fell in love with her almost immediately; and she loved him in return; but her parents had promised her to another—and that other was the same—”
Dagobert was unable to proceed. Rose uttered a piercing cry, and pointed in terror to the window.
Upon the cry of the young girl, Dagobert rose abruptly.
“What is the matter, Rose?”
“There—there!” she said, pointing to the window. “I thought I saw a hand move the pelisse.”
She had not concluded these words before Dagobert rushed to the window and opened it, tearing down the mantle, which had been suspended from the fastening.
It was still dark night, and the wind was blowing hard. The soldier listened, but could hear nothing.
Returning to fetch the lamp from the table, he shaded the flame with his hand, and strove to throw the light outside. Still he saw nothing. Persuaded that a gust of wind had disturbed and shaken the pelisse: and that Rose had been deceived by her own fears he again shut the window.
“Be satisfied, children! The wind is very high; it is that which lifted the corner of the pelisse.”
“Yet methought I saw plainly the fingers which had hold of it,” said Rose, still trembling.
“I was looking at Dagobert,” said Blanche, “and I saw nothing.”
“There was nothing to see, my children; the thing is clear enough. The window is at least eight feet above the ground; none but a giant could reach it without a ladder. Now, had any one used a ladder, there would not have been time to remove it; for, as soon as Rose cried out, I ran to the window, and, when I held out the light, I could see nothing.”