“This donation having for its object the acknowledgment of past services, and the relief of the poor, no future occurrences can at all modify it. For the very reason that I know I could one day legally cancel the present free and deliberate act, I declare, that if ever I were to attempt such a thing, under any possible circumstances, I should deserve the contempt and horror of all honest people.
“In witness whereof I have written this paper, on the 13th of February, 1832, in Paris, immediately before the opening of the testament of one of my paternal ancestors.
“Gabriel de Rennepont.”
As he rose, the young priest delivered this document to Rodin, without uttering a word. The socius read it attentively, and, still impassible, answered, as he looked at Gabriel: “Well, it is a written oath—that is all.”
Gabriel dwelt stupefied at the audacity of Rodin, who ventured to tell him, that this document, in which he renewed his donation in so noble, generous, and spontaneous a manner, was not all sufficient. The socius was the first again to break the silence, and he said to Father d’Aigrigny, with his usual cool impudence. “One of two things must be. Either your dear son means to render his donation absolutely valuable and irrevocable,—or—”
“Sir,” exclaimed Gabriel, interrupting him, and hardly able to restrain himself, “spare yourself and me such a shameful supposition.”
“Well, then,” resumed Rodin, impassible as ever, “as you are perfectly decided to make this donation a serious reality, what objection can you have to secure it legally?”
“None, sir,” said Gabriel, bitterly, “since my written and sworn promise will not suffice you.”
“My dear son,” said Father d’Aigrigny, affectionately, “if this were a donation for my own advantage, believe me I should require no better security than your word. But here I am, as it were, the agent of the Society, or rather the trustee of the poor, who will profit by your generosity. For the sake of humanity, therefore, we cannot secure this gift by too many legal precautions, so that the unfortunate objects of our care may have certainty instead of vague hopes to depend upon. God may call you to him at any moment, and who shall say that your heirs will be so ready to keep the oath you have taken?”
“You are right, father,” said Gabriel, sadly; “I had not thought of the case of death, which is yet so probable.”
Hereupon, Samuel opened the door of the room, and said: “Gentlemen, the notary has just arrived. Shall I show him in? At ten o’clock precisely, the door of the house will be opened.”
“We are the more glad to see the notary,” said Rodin, “as we just happen to have some business with him. Pray ask him to walk in.”
“I will bring him to you instantly,” replied Samuel, as he went out.
“Here is a notary,” said Rodin to Gabriel. “If you have still the same intentions, you can legalize your donation in presence of this public officer, and thus save yourself from a great burden for the future.”