“Yes, father; and with this medal, a sealed letter fell to the ground. On picking it up, I saw that it was addressed, in large letters: ’For Mdlle. de Cardoville. To be opened by her the moment it is delivered.’ Under these words, I saw the initials ‘R.’ and ‘C.,’ accompanied by a flourish, and this date: ‘Paris, November the 13th, 1830.’ On the other side of the envelope I perceived two seals, with the letters ‘R.’ and ‘C.,’ surmounted by a coronet.”
“And the seals were unbroken?” asked Mother Bunch.
“No doubt, then, Mdlle. de Cardoville was ignorant of the existence of these papers,” said the sempstress.
“That was my first idea, since she was recommended to open the letter immediately, and, notwithstanding this recommendation, which bore date two years back, the seals remained untouched.”
“It is evident,” said Dagobert. “What did you do?”
“I replaced the whole where it was before, promising myself to inform Mdlle. de Cardoville of it. But, a few minutes after, they entered my hiding-place, which had been discovered, and I did not see her again. I was only able to whisper a few words of doubtful meaning to one of her waiting-women, on the subject of what I had found, hoping thereby to arouse the attention of her mistress; and, as soon as I was able to write to you, my good sister, I begged you to go and call upon Mdlle. de Cardoville.”
“But this medal,” said Dagobert, “is exactly like that possessed by the daughter of Marshal Simon. How can you account for that?”
“Nothing so plain, father. Mdlle. de Cardoville is their relation. I remember now, that she told me so.”
“A relation of Rose and Blanche?”
“Yes,” added Mother Bunch; “she told that also to me just now.”
“Well, then,” resumed Dagobert, looking anxiously at his son, “do you now understand why I must have my children this very day? Do you now understand, as their poor mother told me on her death-bed, that one day’s delay might ruin all? Do you now see that I cannot be satisfied with a perhaps to-morrow, when I have come all the way from Siberia, only, that those children might be to-morrow in the Rue Saint-Francois? Do you at last perceive that I must have them this night, even if I have to set fire to the convent?”
“But, father, if you employ violence—”
“Zounds! do you know what the commissary of police answered me this morning, when I went to renew my charge against your mother’s confessor? He said to me that there was no proof, and that they could do nothing.”
“But now there is proof, father, for at least we know where the young girls are. With that certainty we shall be strong. The law is more powerful than all the superiors of convents in the world.”
“And the Count de Montbron, to whom Mdlle. de Cardoville begs you to apply,” said Mother Bunch, “is a man of influence. Tell him the reasons that make it so important for these young ladies, as well as Mdlle. de Cardoville, to be at liberty this evening and he will certainly hasten the course of justice, and to-night your children will be restored to you.”