“I want no gun, Nicholas,” said the other voice; “I have my sharp scythe, a true gardener’s weapon—and none the worse for that.”
Feeling an involuntary uneasiness at these words, which she had heard by mere chance, Mother Bunch approached the porter’s lodge, and asked him to open the outer gate.
“Where do you come from?” challenged the porter, leaning half way out of his lodge, with a double barrelled gun, which he was occupied in loading, in his hand, and at the same time examining the sempstress with a suspicious air.
“I come from speaking to the superior,” answered Mother Bunch timidly.
“Is that true?” said Nicholas roughly. “You look like a sanctified scarecrow. Never mind. Make haste and cut!”
The gate opened, and Mother Bunch went out. Hardly had she gone a few steps in the sweet, when, to her great surprise, she saw the dog Spoil sport run up to her, and his master, Dagobert, a little way behind him, arriving also with precipitation. She was hastening to meet the soldier, when a full, sonorous voice exclaimed from a little distance: “Oh my good sister!” which caused the girl to turn round. From the opposite side to that whence Dagobert was coming, she saw Agricola hurrying towards the spot.
At the sight of Dagobert and Agricola, Mother Bunch remained motionless with surprise, a few steps from the convent-gate. The soldier had not yet perceived the sempstress. He advanced rapidly, following the dog, who though lean, half-starved, rough-coated, and dirty, seemed to frisk with pleasure, as he turned his intelligent face towards his master, to whom he had gone back, after caressing Mother Bunch.
“Yes, yes; I understand you, old fellow!” said the soldier, with emotion. “You are more faithful than I was; you did not leave the dear children for a minute. Yes, you followed them, and watched day and night, without food, at the door of the house to which they were taken—and, at length, weary of waiting to see them come forth, ran home to fetch me. Yes; whilst I was giving way to despair, like a furious madman, you were doing what I ought to have done—discovering their retreat. What does it all prove? Why, that beasts are better than men—which is well known. Well, at length I shall see them again. When I think that tomorrow is the 13th, and that without you, my did Spoil-sport, all would be lost—it makes me shudder. But I say, shall we soon be there? What a deserted quarter! and night coming on!”
Dagobert had held this discourse to Spoil-sport, as he walked along following the good dog, who kept on at a rapid pace. Suddenly, seeing the faithful animal start aside with a bound, he raised his eyes, and perceived the dog frisking about the hunchback and Agricola, who had just met at a little distance from the convent-gate.