“And this ally?”
“Oh, this ally,” resumed Rodin, “who advances with slow steps, and whose terrible coming is announced by mournful presentiments—”
These words, pronounced by Rodin in an abrupt voice, made the Princess and Father d’Aigrigny grow pale and tremble. Rodin’s look was gloomy and chilling, like a spectre’s. For some moments, the silence of the tomb reigned in the saloon. Rodin was the first to break it. Still impassible, he pointed with imperious gesture to the table, where a few minutes before he had himself been humbly seated, and said in a sharp voice to Father d’Aigrigny, “Write!”
The reverend father started at first with surprise; then, remembering that from a superior he had become an inferior, he rose, bowed lowly to Rodin, as he passed before him, seated himself at the table, took the pen, and said, “I am ready.”
Rodin dictated, and the reverend Father wrote as follows: “By the mismanagement of the Reverend Father d’Aigrigny, the affair of the inheritance of the Rennepont family has been seriously compromised. The sum amounts to two hundred and twelve millions. Notwithstanding the check we have received, we believe we may safely promise to prevent these Renneponts from injuring the Society, and to restore the two hundred and twelve millions to their legitimate possessors. We only ask for the most complete and extensive powers.”
A quarter of an hour after this scene, Rodin left Saint Dizier House, brushing with his sleeve the old greasy hat, I which he had pulled off to return the salute of the porter by a very low bow.
The following scene took place on the morrow of the day in which Father d’Aigrigny had been so rudely degraded by Rodin to the subaltern position formerly occupied by the socius.
It is well known that the Rue Clovis is one of the most solitary streets in the Montagne St. Genevieve district. At the epoch of this narrative, the house No. 4, in this street, was composed of one principal building, through which ran a dark passage, leading to a little, gloomy court, at the end of which was a second building, in a singularly miserable and dilapidated condition. On the ground-floor, in front of the house, was a half-subterraneous shop, in which was sold charcoal, fagots, vegetables, and milk. Nine o’clock in the morning had just struck. The mistress of the shop, one Mother Arsene, an old woman of a mild, sickly countenance, clad in a brown stuff dress, with a red bandanna round her head, was mounted on the top step of the stairs which led down to her door, and was employed in setting out her goods—that is, on one side of her door she placed a tin milk-can, and on the other some bunches of stale vegetables, flanked with yellowed cabbages. At the bottom of the steps, in the shadowy depths of the cellar,