“And if this language should not be heard,” resumed Dagobert, “so much the worse for them! It will not be your son, or husband, who will be dishonored in the eyes of honest people. If they send us to the galleys, and we have courage to survive—the young and the old convict will wear their chains proudly—and the renegade marquis, the traitor priest, will bear more shame than we. So, forge without fear, my boy! There are things which the galleys themselves cannot disgrace—our good conscience and our honor! But now,” he added, “two words with my good Mother Bunch. It grows late, and time presses. On entering the garden, did you remark if the windows of the convent were far from the ground?”
“No, not very far, M. Dagobert—particularly on that side which is opposite to the madhouse, where Mdlle. de Cardoville is confined.”
“How did you manage to speak to that young lady?”
“She was on the other side of an open paling, which separates the two gardens.”
“Excellent!” said Agricola, as he continued to hammer the iron: “we can easily pass from one garden to the other. The madhouse may perhaps be the readier way out. Unfortunately, you do not know, Mdlle. de Cardoville’s chamber.”
“Yes, I do,” returned the work-girl, recollecting herself. “She is lodged in one of the wings, and there is a shade over her window, painted like canvas, with blue and white stripes.”
“Good! I shall not forget that.”
“And can you form no guess as to where are the rooms of my poor children?” said Dagobert.
After a moment’s reflection, Mother Bunch answered, “They are opposite to the chamber occupied by Mdlle. de Cardoville, for she makes signs to them from her window: and I now remember she told me, that their two rooms are on different stories, one on the ground-floor, and the other up one pair of stairs.”
“Are these windows grated?” asked the smith.
“I do not know.”
“Never mind, my good girl: with these indications we shall do very well,” said Dagobert. “For the rest, I have my plans.”
“Some water, my little sister,” said Agricola, “that I may cool my iron.” Then addressing his father: “Will this hook do?”
“Yes, my boy; as soon as it is cold we will fasten the cord.”
For some time, Frances Baudoin had remained upon her knees, praying with fervor. She implored Heaven to have pity on Agricola and Dagobert, who, in their ignorance, were about to commit a great crime; and she entreated that the celestial vengeance might fall upon her only, as she alone had been the cause of the fatal resolution of her son and husband.
Dagobert and Agricola finished their preparations in silence. They were both very pale, and solemnly grave. They felt all the danger of so desperate an enterprise.
The clock at Saint-Mery’s struck ten. The sound of the bell was faint, and almost drowned by the lashing of the wind and rain, which had not ceased for a moment.