“Yes, yes; I understand you, old fellow!” said the soldier, with emotion. “You are more faithful than I was; you did not leave the dear children for a minute. Yes, you followed them, and watched day and night, without food, at the door of the house to which they were taken—and, at length, weary of waiting to see them come forth, ran home to fetch me. Yes; whilst I was giving way to despair, like a furious madman, you were doing what I ought to have done—discovering their retreat. What does it all prove? Why, that beasts are better than men—which is well known. Well, at length I shall see them again. When I think that tomorrow is the 13th, and that without you, my did Spoil-sport, all would be lost—it makes me shudder. But I say, shall we soon be there? What a deserted quarter! and night coming on!”
Dagobert had held this discourse to Spoil-sport, as he walked along following the good dog, who kept on at a rapid pace. Suddenly, seeing the faithful animal start aside with a bound, he raised his eyes, and perceived the dog frisking about the hunchback and Agricola, who had just met at a little distance from the convent-gate.
“Mother Bunch?” exclaimed both father and son, as they approached the young workwoman, and looked at her with extreme surprise.
“There is good hope, M. Dagobert,” said she with inexpressible joy. “Rose and Blanche are found!” Then, turning towards the smith, she added, “There is good hope, Agricola: Mdlle. de Cardoville is not mad. I have just seen her.”
“She is not mad? what happiness!” exclaimed the smith.
“The children!” cried Dagobert, trembling with emotion, as he took the work-girl’s hands in his own. “You have seen them?”
“Yes; just now—very sad—very unhappy—but I was not able to speak to them.”
“Oh!” said Dagobert, stopping as if suffocated by the news, and pressing his hands on his bosom; “I never thought that my old heart could beat so!—And yet, thanks to my dog, I almost expected what has taken place. Anyhow, I am quite dizzy with joy.”
“Well, father, it’s a good day,” said Agricola, looking gratefully at the girl.
“Kiss me, my dear child!” added the soldier, as he pressed Mother Bunch affectionately in his arms; then, full of impatience, he added: “Come, let us go and fetch the children.”
“Ah, my good sister!” said Agricola, deeply moved; “you will restore peace, perhaps life, to my father—and Mdlle. de Cardoville—but how do you know?”
“A mere chance. And how did you come here?”
“Spoil-sport stops and barks,” cried Dagobert, who had already made several steps in advance.
Indeed the dog, who was as impatient as his master to see the orphans, and far better informed as to the place of their retreat, had posted himself at the convent gate, and was beginning to bark, to attract the attention of Dagobert. Understanding his dog, the latter said to the hunchback, as he pointed in that direction with his finger: “The children are there?”