“I must have been deceived,” said Rose.
“You may be sure, sister, it was only the wind,” added Blanche.
“Then I beg pardon for having disturbed you, my good Dagobert.”
“Never mind!” replied the soldier musingly, “I am only sorry that Spoil sport is not come back. He would have watched the window, and that would have quite tranquillized you. But he no doubt scented the stable of his comrade, Jovial, and will have called in to bid him good-night on the road. I have half a mind to go and fetch him.”
“Oh, no, Dagobert! do not leave us alone,” cried the maidens; “we are too much afraid.”
“Well, the dog is not likely to remain away much longer, and I am sure we shall soon hear him scratching at the door, so we will continue our story,” said Dagobert, as he again seated himself near the head of the bed, but this time with his face towards the window.
“Now the general was prisoner at Warsaw,” continued he, “and in love with your mother, whom they wished to marry to another. In 1814, we learned the finish of the war, the banishment of the Emperor to the Isle of Elba, and the return of the Bourbons. In concert with the Prussians and Russians, who had brought them back, they had exiled the Emperor. Learning all this, your mother said to the general: ’The war is finished; you are free, but your Emperor is in trouble. You owe everything to him; go and join him in his misfortunes. I know not when we shall meet again, but I shall never marry any one but you, I am yours till death!’—Before he set out the general called me to him, and said: ’Dagobert, remain here; Mademoiselle Eva may have need of you to fly from her family, if they should press too hard upon her; our correspondence will have to pass through your hands; at Paris, I shall see your wife and son; I will comfort them, and tell them you are my friend.’”
“Always the same,” said Rose, with emotion, as she looked affectionately at Dagobert.
“As faithful to the father and mother as to their children,” added Blanche.
“To love one was to love them all,” replied the soldier. “Well, the general joined the Emperor at Elba; I remained at Warsaw, concealed in the neighborhood of your mother’s house; I received the letters, and conveyed them to her clandestinely. In one of those letters—I feel proud to tell you of it my children—the general informed me that the Emperor himself had remembered me.”
“What, did he know you?”
“A little, I flatter myself—’Oh! Dagobert!’ said he to your father, who was talking to him about me; ’a horse-grenadier of my old guard—a soldier of Egypt and Italy, battered with wounds—an old dare-devil, whom I decorated with my own hand at Wagram—I have not forgotten him!’—I vow, children, when your mother read that to me, I cried like a fool.”
“The Emperor—what a fine golden face he has on the silver cross with the red ribbon that you would sometimes show us when we behaved well.”