A few minutes had scarcely elapsed since the departure of Dagobert, when the marshal, who, after a long and gloomy silence, had repeatedly drawn near the door of his daughters’ apartment with a mixture of hesitation and anguish, suddenly made a violent effort, wiped the cold sweat from his brow, and entered the chamber in which Rose and Blanche had taken refuge.
Dagobert was right in defending his children, as he paternally called Rose and Blanche, and yet the apprehensions of the marshal with regard to the coldness of his daughters, were unfortunately justified by appearances. As he had told his father, unable to explain the sad, and almost trembling embarrassment, which his daughters felt in his presence, he sought in vain for the cause of what he termed their indifference. Now reproaching himself bitterly for not concealing from them his grief at the death of their mother, he feared he might have given them to understand that they would be unable to console him; now supposing that he had not shown himself sufficiently tender, and that had chilled them with his military sternness; and now repeating with bitter regret, that, having always lived away from them, he must be always a stranger to them. In a word, the most unlikely suppositions presented themselves by turns to his mind, and whenever such seeds of doubt, suspicion, or fear, are blended with a warm affection, they will sooner or later develop themselves with fatal effect. Yet, notwithstanding this fancied coldness, from which he suffered so much, the affection of the marshal for his daughters was so true and deep, that the thought of again quitting them caused the hesitations which were the torment of his life, and provoked an incessant struggle between his paternal love and the duty he held most sacred.
The injurious calumnies, which had been so skillfully propagated, that men of honor, like his old brothers in arms, were found to attach some credit to them, had been spread with frightful pertinacity by the friends of the Princess de Saint-Dizier. We shall describe hereafter the meaning and object of these odious reports, which, joined with so many other fatal injuries, had filled up the measure of the marshal’s indignation. Inflamed with anger, excited almost to madness by this incessant “stabbing with pins” (as he had himself called it), and offended at some of Dagobert’s words, he had spoken harshly to him. But, after the soldier’s departure, when left to reflect in silence, the marshal remembered the warm and earnest expressions of the defender of his children, and doubt crossed his mind, as to the reality of the coldness of which he accused them. Therefore, having taken a terrible resolution in case a new trial should confirm his desponding doubts, he entered, as we before said, his, daughters’ chamber. The discussion with Dagobert had been so loud, that the sound of