The orphans looked at each other in surprise; then, as they turned towards the soldier their ingenuous countenances, Rose said to him; “Have you heard, Dagobert? Father says, that your Gabriel is fair, and has the face of an angel. Why, ’tis exactly like ours!”
“Yes, yes, I heard very well; it is that which surprised me, in your dream.”
“I should like to know, if he has also blue eyes,” said Rose.
“As for that, my children, though the general says nothing about it, I will answer for it: your fair boys have always blue eyes. But, blue or black, he will not use them to stare at young ladies; go on, and you will see why.”
“His face wears an expression of angelic mildness. One of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, where he went with Agricola and other children of his quarter, struck with his intelligence and good disposition, spoke of him to a person of consequence, who, becoming interested in the lad, placed him in a seminary for the clergy, and, since the last two years, Gabriel is a priest. He intends devoting himself to foreign missions, and will soon set out for America.”
“Your Gabriel is a priest, it appears?” said Rose, looking at Dagobert.
“While ours is an angel,” added Blanche.
“Which only proves that yours is a step higher than mine. Well, every one to his taste; there are good people in all trades; but I prefer that it should be Gabriel who has chosen the black gown. I’d rather see my boy with arms bare, hammer in hand, and a leathern apron round him, neither more nor less than your old grandfather, my children—the father of Marshal Simon, Duke of Ligny—for, after all, marshal and duke he is by the grace of the Emperor. Now finish your letter.”
“Soon, alas, yes!” said Blanche; “there are only a few lines left.” And she proceeded:
“Thus, my dear, loving Eva, if this journal should ever reach its destination, you will be able to satisfy Dagobert as to the position of his wife and son, whom he left for our sakes. How can we ever repay such a sacrifice? But I feel sure, that your good and generous heart will have found some means of compensation.
“Adieu!—Again adieu, for to-day, my beloved Eva; I left off writing for a moment, to visit the tent of Djalma. He slept peacefully, and his father watched beside him; with a smile, he banished my fears. This intrepid young man is no longer in any danger. May he still be spared in the combat of to-morrow! Adieu, my gentle Eva! the night is silent and calm; the fires of the bivouac are slowly dying out, and our poor mountaineers repose after this bloody day; I can hear, from hour to hour, the distant all’s well of our sentinels. Those foreign words bring back my grief; they remind me of what I sometimes forget in writing—that I am faraway, separated from you and from my child! Poor, beloved beings! what will be your destiny?