“Oh, no, I would not terrify you; on the contrary,” said Agricola, drying his eyes—“you will be so happy. But, again, you must try and command your feelings, for too much joy is as hurtful as too much grief.”
“Did I not say true, when I said he would come?”
“Father!” cried Frances. She rose from her seat; but her surprise and emotion were so great that she put one hand to her heart to still its beating, and then she felt her strength fail. Her son sustained her, and assisted her to sit down.
Mother Bunch, till now, had stood discreetly apart, witnessing from a distance the scene which completely engrossed Agricola and his mother. But she now drew near timidly, thinking she might be useful; for Frances changed color more and more.
“Come, courage, mother,” said the blacksmith; “now the shock is over, you have only to enjoy the pleasure of seeing my father.”
“My poor man! after eighteen years’ absence. Oh, I cannot believe it,” said Frances, bursting into tears. “Is it true? Is it, indeed, true?”
“So true, that if you will promise me to keep as calm as you can, I will tell you when you may see him.”
“Soon—may I not?”
“But when will he arrive?”
“He may arrive any minute—to-morrow—perhaps to-day.”
“Yes, mother! Well, I must tell you all—he has arrived.”
“He—he is—” Frances could not articulate the word.
“He was downstairs just now. Before coming up, he sent the dyer to apprise me that I might prepare you; for my brave father feared the surprise might hurt you.”
“And now,” cried the blacksmith, in an accent of indescribable joy—“he is there, waiting! Oh, mother! for the last ten minutes I have scarcely been able to contain myself—my heart is bursting with joy.” And running to the door, he threw it open.
Dagobert, holding Rose and Blanche by the hand, stood on the threshold. Instead of rushing to her husband’s arms, Frances fell on her knees in prayer. She thanked heaven with profound gratitude for hearing her prayers, and thus accepting her offerings. During a second, the actors of this scene stood silent and motionless. Agricola, by a sentiment of respect and delicacy, which struggled violently with his affection, did not dare to fall on his father’s neck. He waited with constrained impatience till his mother had finished her prayer.
The soldier experienced the same feeling as the blacksmith; they understood each other. The first glance exchanged by father and son expressed their affection—their veneration for that excellent woman, who in the fulness of her religious fervor, forgot, perhaps, too much the creature for the Creator.