When Marshal Simon entered the room, his countenance was much agitated. At sight of Dagobert, a flash of joy illumined his features; he rushed towards the soldier, extending his arms, and exclaimed, “My friend! my old friend!”
Dagobert answered this affectionate salute with silent emotion. Then the marshal, disengaging himself from his arms, and fixing his moist eyes upon him, said to him in so agitated a voice that his lips trembled, “Well, didst arrive in time for the 13th of February?”
“Yes, general; but everything is postponed for four months.”
“And—my wife?—my child?” At this question Dagobert shuddered, hung down his head, and was silent.
“They are not, then, here?” asked Simon, with more surprise than uneasiness. “They told me they were not at your house, but that I should find you here—and I came immediately. Are they not with you?”
“General,” said Dagobert, becoming deadly pale; “general—” Drying the drops of cold sweat that stood upon his forehead, he was unable to articulate a word, for his voice was checked in his parched throat.
“You frighten me!” exclaimed Pierre Simon, becoming pale as the soldier, and seizing him by the arm.
At this, Adrienne advanced, with a countenance full of grief and sympathy; seeing the cruel embarrassment of Dagobert, she wished to come to his assistance, and she said to Pierre Simon, in a mild but agitated voice, “Marshal, I am Mdlle. de Cardoville—a relation of your dear children.”
Pierre Simon turned around suddenly, as much struck with the dazzling beauty of Adrienne as with the words she had just pronounced. He stammered out in his surprise, “You, madame—a relation—of my children!”
He laid a stress on the last words, and looked at Dagobert in a kind of stupor.
“Yes, marshal your children,” hastily replied Adrienne; “and the love of those charming twin sisters—”
“Twin sisters!” cried Pierre Simon, interrupting Mdlle. de Cardoville, with an outburst of joy impossible to describe. “Two daughters instead of one! Oh! what happiness for their mother! Pardon me, madame, for being so impolite,” he continued; “and so little grateful for what you tell me. But you will understand it; I have been seventeen years without seeing my wife; I come, and I find three loved beings, instead of two. Thanks, madame: would I could express all the gratitude I owe you! You are our relation; this is no doubt your house; my wife and children are with you. Is it so? You think that my sudden appearance might be prejudicial to them? I will wait—but madame, you, that I am certain are good as fair—pity my impatience—will make haste to prepare them to receive me—”