“Sister is in the right, father. Go to the Count. Meanwhile, I will run to the commissary, and tell him that we now know where the young girls are confined. Do you go home, and wait for us, my good girl. We will meet at our own house!”
Dagobert had remained plunged in thought; suddenly, he said to Agricola: “Be it so. I will follow your counsel. But suppose the commissary says to you: ’We cannot act before to-morrow’—suppose the Count de Montbron says to me the same thing—do not think I shall stand with my arms folded until the morning.”
“It is enough,” resumed the soldier in an abrupt voice: “I have made up my mind. Run to the commissary, my boy; wait for us at home, my good girl; I will go to the Count. Give me the ring. Now for the address!”
“The Count de Montbron, No. 7, Place Vendome,” said she; “you come on behalf of Mdlle. de Cardoville.”
“I have a good memory,” answered the soldier. “We will meet as soon as possible in the Rue Brise-Miche.”
“Yes, father; have good courage. You will see that the law protects and defends honest people.”
“So much the better,” said the soldier; “because, otherwise, honest people would be obliged to protect and defend themselves. Farewell, my children! we will meet soon in the Rue Brise-Miche.”
When Dagobert, Agricola, and Mother Bunch separated, it was already dark night.
It is eight o’clock in the evening, the rain dashes against the windows of Frances Baudoin’s apartment in the Rue Brise-Miche, while violent squalls of wind shake the badly dosed doors and casements. The disorder and confusion of this humble abode, usually kept with so much care and neatness, bore testimony to the serious nature of the sad events which had thus disturbed existences hitherto peaceful in their obscurity.
The paved floor was soiled with mud, and a thick layer of dust covered the furniture, once so bright and clean. Since Frances was taken away by the commissary, the bed had not been made; at night Dagobert had thrown himself upon it for a few hours in his clothes, when, worn out with fatigue, and crushed by despair, he had returned from new and vain attempts to discover Rose and Blanche’s prison-house. Upon the drawers stood a bottle, a glass, and some fragments of dry bread, proving the frugality of the soldier, whose means of subsistence were reduced to the money lent by the pawnbroker upon the things pledged by Mother Bunch, after the arrest of Frances.
By the faint glimmer of a candle, placed upon the little stove, now cold as marble, for the stock of wood had long been exhausted, one might have seen the hunchback sleeping upon a chair, her head resting on her bosom, her hands concealed beneath her cotton apron, and her feet resting on the lowest rung of the chair; from time to time, she shivered in her damp, chill garments.