“I will not fail to do so, sir,” said Samuel, as he went out.
The socius and Gabriel were left alone. To the adorable gentleness which usually gave to the fine features of the missionary so touching a charm, there had succeeded in this moment a remarkable expression of sadness, resolution, and severity. Rodin not having seen Gabriel for some days, was greatly struck by the change he remarked in him. He had watched him silently all the way from the Rue des Postes to the Rue Saint-Francois. The young priest wore, as usual, a long black cassock, which made still more visible the transparent paleness of his countenance. When the Jew had left the room, Gabriel said to Rodin, in a firm voice, “Will you at length inform me, sir, why, for some days past, I have been prevented from speaking to his reverence Father d’Aigrigny? Why has he chosen this house to grant me an interview?”
“It is impossible for me to answer these questions,” replied Rodin, coldly. “His reverence will soon arrive, and will listen to you. All I can tell you is, that the reverend father lays as much stress upon this meeting as you do. If he has chosen this house for the interview, it is because you have an interest to be here. You know it well—though you affected astonishment on hearing the guardian speak of a notary.”
So saying, Rodin fixed a scrutinizing, anxious look upon Gabriel, whose countenance expressed only surprise.
“I do not understand you,” said he, in reply to Rodin. “What have I to do with this house?”
“It is impossible that you should not know it,” answered Rodin, still looking at him with attention.
“I have told you, sir, that I do not know it,” replied the other, almost offended by the pertinacity of the socius.
“What, then, did your adopted mother come to tell you yesterday? Why did you presume to receive her without permission from Father d’Aigrigny, as I have heard this morning? Did she not speak with you of certain family papers, found upon you when she took you in?”
“No, sir,” said Gabriel; “those papers were delivered at the time to my adopted mother’s confessor, and they afterwards passed into Father d’Aigrigny’s hands. This is the first I hear for a long time of these papers.”
“So you affirm that Frances Baudoin did not come to speak to you on this subject?” resumed Rodin, obstinately, laying great emphasis on his words.
“This is the second time, sir, that you seem to doubt my affirmation,” said the young priest, mildly, while he repressed a movement of impatience, “I assure you that I speak the truth.”