And Dagobert again began to walk with hasty steps. Suddenly, Spoil-sport pricked up his ears, turned his head in the direction of the staircase door, and growled hoarsely. A few seconds after, some one knocked at the door.
“Who is there?” said Dagobert. There was no answer, but the person knocked again. Losing patience, the soldier went hastily to open it, and saw the servant’s stupid face.
“Why don’t you answer, when I ask who knocks!” said the soldier, angrily.
“M. Dagobert, you sent me away just now, and I was afraid of making you cross, if I said I had come again.”
“What do you want? Speak then—come in, stupid!” cried the exasperated. Dagobert, as he pulled him into the room.
“M. Dagobert, don’t be angry—I’ll tell you all about it—it is a young man.”
“He wants to speak to you directly, Mr. Dagobert.”
“His name, M. Dagobert?” replied Loony, rolling about and laughing with an idiotic air.
“Yes, his name. Speak, idiot!”
“Oh, M. Dagobert! it’s all in joke that you ask me his name!”
“You are determined, fool that you are, to drive me out of my senses!” cried the soldier, seizing Loony by the collar. “The name of this young man!”
“Don’t be angry, M. Dagobert. I didn’t tell you the name because you know it.”
“Beast!” said Dagobert, shaking his fist at him.
“Yes, you do know it, M. Dagobert, for the young man is your own son. He is downstairs, and wants to speak to you directly—yes, directly.”
The stupidity was so well assumed, that Dagobert was the dupe of it. Moved to compassion rather than anger by such imbecility, he looked fixedly at the servant, shrugged his shoulders, and said, as he advanced towards the staircase, “Follow me!”
Loony obeyed; but, before closing the door, he drew a letter secretly from his pocket, and dropped it behind him without turning his head, saying all the while to Dagobert, for the purpose of occupying his attention: “Your son is in the court, M. Dagobert. He would not come up—that’s why he is still downstairs!”
Thus talking, he closed the door, believing he had left the letter on the floor of Marshal Simon’s room. But he had reckoned without Spoil-sport. Whether he thought it more prudent to bring up the rear, or, from respectful deference for a biped, the worthy dog had been the last to leave the room, and, being a famous carrier, as soon as he saw the letter dropped by Loony, he took it delicately between his teeth, and followed close on the heels of the servant, without the latter perceiving this new proof of the intelligence and sagacity of Spoil-sport.
The anonymous letters.
We will explain presently what became of the letter, which Spoil-sport held between his teeth, and why he left his master, when the latter ran to meet Agricola. Dagobert had not seen his son for some days. Embracing him cordially, he led him into one of the rooms on the ground floor, which he usually occupied. “And how is your wife?” said the soldier to his son.