Adrienne nodded affirmatively to Dagobert, who appeared to consult her look.
“If I did not sign the letter that I wrote to you, my good friend, it was partly from fear that my name might inspire suspicion; and if I asked you to come hither, instead of to the convent, it was that I had some dread—like this dear young lady—lest you might be recognized by the porter or by the gardener, your affair of the other night rendering such a recognition somewhat dangerous.”
“But M. Baleinier knows all; I forgot that,” said Adrienne, with uneasiness. “He threatened to denounce M. Dagobert and his son, if I made any complaint.”
“Do not be alarmed, my dear young lady; it will soon be for you to dictate conditions,” replied Rodin. “Leave that to me; and as for you, my good friend, your torments are now finished.”
“Yes,” said Adrienne, “an upright and worthy magistrate has gone to the convent, to fetch Marshal Simon’s daughters. He will bring them hither; but he thought with me, that it would be most proper for them to take up their abode in my house. I cannot, however, come to this decision without your consent, for it is to you that these orphans were entrusted by their mother.”
“You wish to take her place with regard to them, madame?” replied Dagobert. “I can only thank you with all my heart, for myself and for the children. But, as the lesson has been a sharp one, I must beg to remain at the door of their chamber, night and day. If they go out with you, I must be allowed to follow them at a little distance, so as to keep them in view, just like Spoil-sport, who has proved himself a better guardian than myself. When the marshal is once here—it will be in a day or two—my post will be relieved. Heaven grant it may be soon!”
“Yes,” replied Rodin, in a firm voice, “heaven grant he may arrive soon, for he will have to demand a terrible reckoning of the Abbe d’Aigrigny, for the persecution of his daughters; and yet the marshal does not know all.”
“And don’t you tremble for the renegade?” asked Dagobert, as he thought how the marquis would soon find himself face to face with the marshal.
“I never care for cowards and traitors,” answered Rodin; “and when Marshal Simon returns—” Then, after a pause of some seconds, he continued: “If he will do me the honor to hear me, he shall be edified as to the conduct of the Abbe d’Aigrigny. The marshal knows that his dearest friends, as well as himself, have been victims of the hatred of that dangerous man.”
“How so?” said Dagobert.
“Why, yourself, for instance,” replied Rodin; “you are an example of what I advance.”
“Do you think it was mere chance, that brought about the scene at the White Falcon Inn, near Leipsic?”
“Who told you of that scene?” said Dagobert in astonishment.
“Where you accepted the challenge of Morok,” continued the Jesuit, without answering Dagobert’s question, “and so fell into a trap, or else refused it, and were then arrested for want of papers, and thrown into prison as a vagabond, with these poor children. Now, do you know the object of this violence? It was to prevent your being here on the 13th of February.”