Unaccountable glimpses of divination! often no sooner perceived than forgotten—but, when justified by the event, appearing with all the attributes of an awful fatality!
The daughters of Marshal Simon were still absorbed in the mournful reverie which these singular thoughts had awakened, when Dagobert’s wife, returning from her son’s chamber, entered the room with a painfully agitated countenance.
Frances’ agitation was so perceptible that Rose could not help exclaiming: “Good gracious, what is the matter?”
“Alas, my dear young ladies! I can no longer conceal it from you,” said Frances, bursting into tears. “Since yesterday I have not seen him. I expected my son to supper as usual, and he never came; but I would not let you see how much I suffered. I continued to expect him, minute after minute; for ten years he has never gone up to bed without coming to kiss me; so I spent a good part of the night close to the door, listening if I could hear his step. But he did not come; and, at last, about three o’clock in the morning, I threw myself down upon the mattress. I have just been to see (for I still had a faint hope), if my son had come in this morning—”
“There is no sign of him!” said the poor mother, drying her eyes.
Rose and Blanche looked at each other with emotion; the same thought filled the minds of both; if Agricola should not return, how would this family live? would they not, in such an event, become doubly burdensome?
“But, perhaps, madame,” said Blanche, “M. Agricola remained too late at his work to return home last night.”
“Oh! no, no! he would have returned in the middle of the night, because he knew what uneasiness he would cause me by stopping out. Alas! some misfortune must have happened to him! Perhaps he has been injured at the forge, he is so persevering at his work. Oh, my poor boy! and, as if I did not feel enough anxiety about him, I am also uneasy about the poor young woman who lives upstairs.”
“Why so, madame?”
“When I left my son’s room, I went into hers, to tell her my grief, for she is almost a daughter to me; but I did not find her in the little closet where she lives, and the bed had not even been slept in. Where can she have gone so early—she, that never goes out?”
Rose and Blanche looked at each other with fresh uneasiness, for they counted much upon Mother Bunch to help them in the resolution they had taken. Fortunately, both they and Frances were soon to be satisfied on this head, for they heard two low knocks at the door, and the sempstress’s voice, saying: “Can I come in, Mrs. Baudoin?”