“One moment, sir,” said Samuel, rising, and standing in his path; “I request M. Notary to examine the envelope, that has just been delivered to him. You may then go out.”
“But, sir,” said Rodin, trying to force a passage, “the question is definitively decided in favor of Father d’Aigrigny. Therefore, with your permission—”
“I tell you, sir,” answered the old man, in a loud voice, “that this casket shall not leave the house, until M. Notary has examined the envelope just delivered to him!”
These words drew the attention of all, Rodin was forced to retrace his steps. Notwithstanding the firmness of his character, the Jew shuddered at the look of implacable hate which Rodin turned upon him at this moment.
Yielding to the wish of Samuel, the notary examined the envelope with attention. “Good Heaven!” he cried suddenly; “what do I see?—Ah! so much the better!”
At this exclamation all eyes turned upon the notary. “Oh! read, read, sir!” cried Samuel, clasping his hands together. “My presentiments have not then deceived me!”
“But, sir,” said Father d’Aigrigny to the notary, for he began to share in the anxiety of Rodin, “what is this paper?”
“A codicil,” answered the notary; “a codicil, which reopens the whole question.”
“How, sir?” cried Father d’Aigrigny, in a fury, as he hastily drew nearer to the notary, “reopens the whole question! By what right?”
“It is impossible,” added Rodin. “We protest against it.
“Gabriel! father! listen,” cried Agricola, “all is not lost. There is yet hope. Do you hear, Gabriel? There is yet hope.”
“What do you say?” exclaimed the young priest, rising, and hardly believing the words of his adopted brother.
“Gentlemen,” said the notary; “I will read to you the superscription of this envelope. It changes, or rather, it adjourns, the whole of the testamentary provisions.”
“Gabriel!” cried Agricola, throwing himself on the neck of the missionary, “all is adjourned, nothing is lost!”
“Listen, gentlemen,” said the notary; and he read as follows:
“’This is a Codicil, which for reasons herein stated, adjourns and prorogues to the 1st day of June, 1832, though without any other change, all the provisions contained in the testament made by me, at one o’clock this afternoon. The house shall be reclosed, and the funds left in the hands of the same trustee, to be distributed to the rightful claimants on the 1st of June, 1832.
“`Villetaneuse, this 13th of February, 1682, eleven o’clock at night. “‘Marius de Rennepont.’”
“I protest against this codicil as a forgery!” cried Father d’Aigrigny livid with rage and despair.
“The woman who delivered it to the notary is a suspicious character,” added Rodin. “The codicil has been forged.”
“No, sir,” said the notary, severely; “I have just compared the two signatures, and they are absolutely alike. For the rest—what I said this morning, with regard to the absent heirs, is now applicable to you—the law is open; you may dispute the authenticity of this codicil. Meanwhile, everything will remain suspended—since the term for the adjustment of the inheritance is prolonged for three months and a half.”