Fully determined to conceal, as long as possible, from the orphans the fresh misfortunes, which had befallen them, he was proceeding to open the door of their chamber, when he stumbled over Spoil-sport—for the dog had run back to his post, after vainly trying to prevent the Prophet from leading away Jovial. “Luckily the dog has returned; the poor little things have been well guarded,” said the soldier, as he opened the door. To his great surprise, the room was in utter darkness.
“My children,” cried he, “why are you without a light?” There was no answer. In terror he groped his way to the bed, and took the hand of one of the sisters; the hand was cold as ice.
“Rose, my children!” cried he. “Blanche! Give me some answer! you frighten me.” Still the same silence continued; the hand which he held remained cold and powerless, and yielded passively to his touch.
Just then, the moon emerged from the black clouds that surrounded her, and threw sufficient light into the little room, and upon the bed, which faced the window, for the soldier to see that the two sisters had fainted. The bluish light of the moon added to the paleness of the orphans; they held each other in a half embrace, and Rose had buried her head on Blanche’s bosom.
“They must have fainted through fear,” exclaimed Dagobert, running to fetch his gourd. “Poor things! after a day of so much excitement, it is not surprising.” And moistening the corner of a handkerchief with a few drops of brandy, the soldier knelt beside the bed, gently chafed the temples of the two sisters, and held the linen, wet with the spirituous liquor, to their little pink nostrils.
Still on his knees, and bending his dark, anxious face over the orphans, he waited some moments before again resorting to the only restorative in his power. A slight shiver of Rose gave him renewed hope; the young girl turned her head on the pillow with a sigh; then she started, and opened her eyes with an expression of astonishment and alarm; but, not immediately recognizing Dagobert, she exclaimed: “Oh, sister!” and threw herself into the arms of Blanche.
The latter also was beginning to experience the effect of the soldier’s care. The exclamation of Rose completely roused her from her lethargy, and she clung to her sister, again sharing the fright without knowing its cause.
“They’ve come to—that’s the chief point,” said Dagobert, “now we shall soon get rid of these foolish fears.” Then softening his voice, he added: “Well, my children, courage? You are better. It is I who am here—me, Dagobert!”
The orphans made a hasty movement, and, turning towards the soldier their sweet faces, which were still full of dismay and agitation, they both, by a graceful impulse, extended their arms to him and cried: “It is you, Dagobert—then we are safe!”
“Yes, my children, it is I,” said the veteran, taking their hands in his, and pressing them joyfully. “So you have been much frightened during my absence?”