Agricola advanced hastily to meet him. “You here, M. Simon!” he exclaimed.
“Yes, my boy,” said the marshal’s father, cordially pressing Agricola’s hand “I have just arrived from my journey. M. Hardy was to have been here, about some matter of inheritance, as he supposed: but, as he will still be absent from Paris for some time, he has charged me—”
“He also an heir!—M. Francis Hardy!” cried Agricola, interrupting the old workman.
“But how pale and agitated you are, my boy!” said the marshal’s father, looking round with astonishment. “What is the matter?”
“What is the matter?” cried Dagobert, in despair, as he approached the foreman. “The matter is that they would rob your granddaughters, and that I have brought them from the depths of Siberia only to witness this shameful deed!”
“Eh?” cried the old workman, trying to recognize the soldiers face, “you are then—”
“You—the generous, devoted friend of my son!” cried the marshal’s father, pressing the hands of Dagobert in his own with strong emotion; “but did you not speak of Simon’s daughter?”
“Of his daughters; for he is more fortunate than he imagines,” said Dagobert. “The poor children are twins.”
“And where are they?” asked the old man.
“In a convent.”
“In a convent?”
“Yes; by the treachery of this man, who keeps them there in order to disinherit them.”
“The Marquis d’Aigrigny.”
“My son’s mortal enemy!” cried the old workman, as he threw a glance of aversion at Father d’Aigrigny, whose audacity did not fail him.
“And that is not all,” added Agricola. “M. Hardy, my worthy and excellent master, has also lost his right to this immense inheritance.”
“What?” cried Marshal Simon’s father; “but M. Hardy did not know that such important interests were concerned. He set out hastily to join one of his friends who was in want of him.”
At each of these successive revelations, Samuel felt his trouble increase: but he could only sigh over it, for the will of the testator was couched, unhappily, in precise and positive terms.
Father d’Aigrigny, impatient to end this scene, which caused him cruel embarrassment, in spite of his apparent calmness, said to the notary, in a grave and expressive voice: “It is necessary, sir, that all this should have an end. If calumny could reach me, I would answer victoriously by the facts that have just come to light. Why attribute to odious conspiracies the absence of the heirs, in whose names this soldier and his son have so uncourteously urged their demands? Why should such absence be less explicable than the young Indian’s, or than M. Hardy’s, who, as his confidential man has just told us, did not even know the importance of the interests that called him hither? Is it not probable, that the daughters of Marshal Simon,