“A person who has reasons for concealing himself, but who knows the sisterly interest you take in the welfare of Agricola Baudoin, warns you. That young and worthy workman will probably be arrested in the course of to-morrow.”
“I!” exclaimed Agricola, looking at Mother Bunch with an air of stupefied amazement. “What is the meaning of all this?”
“Read on!” quickly replied the sempstress, clasping her hands.
Agricola resumed reading, scarcely believing the evidence of his eyes:-"The song, entitled ‘Working-men Freed,’ has been declared libellous. Numerous copies of it have been found among the papers of a secret society, the leaders of which are about to be incarcerated, as being concerned in the Rue des Prouvaires conspiracy.”
“Alas!” said the girl, melting into tears, “now I see it all. The man who was lurking about below, this evening, who was observed by the dyer, was, doubtless, a spy, lying in wait for you coming home.”
“Nonsense!” exclaimed Agricola. “This accusation is quite ridiculous! Do not torment yourself. I never trouble myself with politics. My verses breathe nothing but philanthropy. Am I to blame, if they have been found among the papers of a secret society?” Agricola disdainfully threw the letter upon the table.
“Read! pray read!” said the other; “read on.”
“If you wish it,” said Agricola, “I will; no time is lost.”
He resumed the reading of the letter:
“A warrant is about to be issued against Agricola Baudoin. There is mo doubt of his innocence being sooner or later made clear; but it will be well if he screen himself for a time as much as possible from pursuit, in order that he may escape a confinement of two or three months previous to trial—an imprisonment which would be a terrible blow for his mother, whose sole support he is.
“A sincere friend, who is compelled to remain unknown.”
After a moment’s silence, the blacksmith raised his head; his countenance resumed its serenity; and laughing, he said: “Reassure yourself, good Mother Bunch, these jokers have made a mistake by trying their games on me. It is plainly an attempt at making an April-fool of me before the time.”
“Agricola, for the love of heaven!” said the girl, in a supplicating tone; “treat not the warning thus lightly. Believe in my forebodings, and listen to my advice.”
“I tell you again, my good girl,” replied Agricola, “that it is two months since my song was published. It is not in any way political; indeed, if it were, they would not have waited till now before coming down on me.”
“But,” said the other, “you forget that new events have arisen. It is scarcely two days since the conspiracy was discovered, in this very neighborhood, in the Rue des Prouvaires. And,” continued she, “if the verses, though perhaps hitherto unnoticed, have now been found in the possession of the persons apprehended for this conspiracy, nothing more is necessary to compromise you in the plot.”