Since Dagobert had spoken of constraint and oppression to Gabriel, the latter had continued pensive. At the moment when Agricola approached him to shake hands, and to bid him adieu, the missionary said to him solemnly, with a grave voice, and in a tone of decision that astonished both the blacksmith and the soldier: “My dear brother, one word more. I have come here to say to you also that within a few days hence I shall have need of you; and of you also, my father (permit me so to call you),” added Gabriel, with emotion, as he turned round to Dagobert.
“How! you speak thus to us!” exclaimed Agricola; “what is the matter?”
“Yes,” replied Gabriel, “I need the advice and assistance of two men of honor—of two men of resolution;—and I can reckon upon you two—can I not? At any hour, on whatever day it may be, upon a word from me, will you come?”
Dagobert and his son regarded each other in silence, astonished at the accents of the missionary. Agricola felt an oppression of the heart. If he should be a prisoner when his brother should require his assistance, what could be done?
“At every hour, by night or by day, my brave boy, you may depend upon us,” said Dagobert, as much surprised as interested—“You have a father and a brother; make your own use of them.”
“Thanks, thanks,” said Gabriel, “you set me quite at ease.”
“I’ll tell you what,” resumed the soldier, “were it not for your priest’s robe, I should believe, from the manner in which you have spoken to us, that you are about to be engaged in a duel—in a mortal combat.”
“In a duel?” said Gabriel, starting. “Yes; it may be a duel—uncommon and fearful—at which it is necessary to have two witnesses such as you—A father and A brother!”
Some instants afterwards, Agricola, whose anxiety was continually increasing, set off in haste for the dwelling of Mademoiselle de Cardoville, to which we now beg leave to take the reader.
Dizier House was one of the largest and handsomest in the Rue Babylone, in Paris. Nothing could be more severe, more imposing, or more depressing than the aspect of this old mansion. Several immense windows, filled with small squares of glass, painted a grayish white, increased the sombre effect of the massive layers of huge stones, blackened by time, of which the fabric was composed.
This dwelling bore a resemblance to all the others that had been erected in the same quarter towards the middle of the last century. It was surmounted in front by a pediment; it had an elevated ground floor, which was reached from the outside by a circular flight of broad stone steps. One of the fronts looked on an immense court-yard, on each side of which an arcade led to the vast interior departments. The other front overlooked the garden, or rather park, of twelve or fifteen roods; and, on this side, wings, approaching the principal part of the structure, formed a couple of lateral galleries. Like nearly all the other great habitations of this quarter, there might be seen at the extremity of the garden, what the owners and occupiers of each called the lesser mansion.