Others came at his cries; but, as he had promised, Rodin had only quitted Father d’Aigrigny as the latter had breathed his last sigh.
That evening, alone in his chamber, by the glimmer of a little lamp, Rodin sat plunged in a sort of ecstatic contemplation, before the print representing Sixtus V. The great house-clock struck twelve. At the last stroke, Rodin drew himself up in all the savage majesty of his infernal triumph, and exclaimed: “This is the first of June. There are no more Renneponts!—Methinks, I hear the hour from the clock of St. Peter’s at Rome striking!”
While Rodin sat plunged in ambitious reverie, contemplating the portrait of Sixtus V., good little Father Caboccini, whose warm embraces had so much irritated the first mentioned personage, went secretly to Faringhea, to deliver to him a fragment of an ivory crucifix, and said to him with his usual air of jovial good-nature: “His Excellency Cardinal Malipieri, on my departure from Rome, charged me to give you this only on the 31st of May.”
The half-caste, who was seldom affected by anything, started abruptly, almost with an expression of pain. His face darkened, and bending upon the little father a piercing look, he said to him: “You were to add something.”
“True,” replied Father Caboccini; “the words I was to add are these: ’There is many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip.’”
“It is well,” said the other. Heaving a deep sigh, he joined the fragment of the ivory crucifix to a piece already in his possession; it fitted exactly.
Father Caboccini looked at him with curiosity, for the cardinal had only told him to deliver the ivory fragment to Faringhea, and to repeat the above words. Being somewhat mystified with all this, the reverend father said to the half-caste: “What are you going to do with that crucifix?”
“Nothing,” said Faringhea, still absorbed in painful thought.
“Nothing?” resumed the reverend father, in astonishment. “What, then, was the use of bringing it so far?”
Without satisfying his curiosity, Faringhea replied: “At what hour to morrow does Father Rodin go to the Rue Saint Francois?”
“Before leaving home, he will go to say prayers in the chapel?”
“Yes, according to the habit of our reverend fathers.”
“You sleep near him?”
“Being his socius, I occupy the room next to his.”
“It is possible,” said Faringhea, after a moment’s silence, “that the reverend father, full of the great interests which occupy his mind, might forget to go to the chapel. In that case, pray remind him of this pious duty.”
“I shall not fail.”
“Pray do not fail,” repeated Faringhea, anxiously.
“Be satisfied,” said the good little father; “I see that you take great interest in his salvation.”