“Yes, father, I promise!” said Frances, with a shudder.
“And will preserve the same silence towards Marshal Simon himself, in case he should return, before his daughters appear to me sufficiently grounded in the faith to be restored to him?”
“Yes, father,” said Frances, in a still fainter voice.
“You will come and give me an account of the scene that takes place between you and your husband, upon his return?”
“Yes, father; when must I bring the orphans to your house?”
“In an hour. I will write to the superior, and leave the letter with my housekeeper. She is a trusty person, and will conduct the young girls to the convent.”
After she had listened to the exhortations of her confessor, and received absolution for her late sins, on condition of performing penance, Dagobert’s wife left the confessional.
The church was no longer deserted. An immense crowd pressed into it, drawn thither by the pomp of the grand funeral of which the beadle had spoken to the sacristan two hours before. It was with the greatest difficulty that Frances could reach the door of the church, now hung with sumptuous drapery.
What a contrast to the poor and humble train, which had that morning so timidly presented themselves beneath the porch!
The numerous clergy of the parish, in full procession, advanced majestically to receive the coffin covered with a velvet pall; the watered silks and stuffs of their copes and stoles, their splendid silvered embroideries, sparkled in the light of a thousand tapers. The beadle strutted in all the glory of his brilliant uniform and flashing epaulets; on the opposite side walked in high glee the sacristan, carrying his whalebone staff with a magisterial air; the voice of the choristers, now clad in fresh, white surplices, rolled out in bursts of thunder; the trumpets’ blare shook the windows; and upon the countenances of all those who were to have a share in the spoils of this rich corpse, this excellent corpse, this first-class corpse, a look of satisfaction was visible, intense and yet subdued, which suited admirably with the air and attitude of the two heirs, tall, vigorous fellows with florid complexions, who, without overstepping the limits of a charming modesty of enjoyment, seemed to cuddle and hug themselves most comfortably in their mourning cloaks.
Notwithstanding her simplicity and pious faith, Dagobert’s wife was painfully impressed with this revolting difference between the reception of the rich and the poor man’s coffin at the door of the house of God—for surely, if equality be ever real, it is in the presence of death and eternity!
The two sad spectacles she had witnessed, tended still further to depress the spirits of Frances. Having succeeded with no small trouble in making her way out of the church, she hastened to return to the Rue Brise-Miche, in order to fetch the orphans and conduct them to the housekeeper of her confessor, who was in her turn to take them to St. Mary’s Convent. situated, as we know, next door to Dr. Baleinier’s lunatic-asylum, in which—Adrienne de Cardoville was confined.