“Yes!” said the Prophet to himself, after a long silence, “these means are sure. It was not for me to hesitate. A blind and obscure instrument, I know not the motives of the orders I have received: but from the recommendations which accompany them—but from the position of him who sends them—immense interests must be involved—interests connected with all that is highest and greatest upon earth!—And yet how can these two girls, almost beggars, how can this wretched soldier represent such interests?—No matter,” added he, with humility; “I am the arm which acts—it is for the head, which thinks and orders, to answer for its work.”
Soon after the Prophet left the shed, carrying with him the red cloth, and directed his steps towards the little stable that contained Jovial. The crazy door, imperfectly secured by a latch, was easily opened. At sight of a stranger Spoil-sport threw himself upon him; but his teeth encountered the iron leggings of the Prophet, who, in spite of the efforts of the dog took Jovial by his halter, threw the blanket over his head to prevent his either seeing or smelling, and led him from the stable into the interior of the menagerie, of which he closed the door.
The orphans, after reading the journal of their father, remained for some moments silent, sad, and pensive, contemplating the leaves yellowed by time. Dagobert, also plunged in a reverie, thought of his wife and son, from whom he had been so long separated, and hoped soon to see again.
The soldier was the first to break the silence, which had lasted for several minutes. Taking the leaves from the hand of Blanche, he folded them carefully, put them into his pocket, and thus addressed the orphans:
“Courage, my children! you see what a brave father you have. Think only of the pleasure of greeting him, and remember always the name of the gallant youth, to whom you will owe that pleasure—for without him your father would have been killed in India.”
“Djalma! we shall never forget him,” said Rose.
“And if our guardian angel Gabriel should return,” added Blanche, “we will ask him to watch over Djalma as over ourselves.”
“Very well, my children; I am sure that you will forget nothing that concerns good feeling. But to return to the traveller, who came to visit your poor mother in Siberia, he had seen the general a month after the events of which you have read, and at a moment when he was about to enter on a new campaign against the English. It was then that your father entrusted him with the papers and medal.”
“But of what use will this medal be to us, Dagobert?”
“And what is the meaning of these words engraved upon it?” added Rose, as she drew it from her bosom.
“Why it means, my children, that on the 13th of February, 1832, we must be at No. 3, Rue Saint Francois, Paris.”