“Mother Bunch?” exclaimed both father and son, as they approached the young workwoman, and looked at her with extreme surprise.
“There is good hope, M. Dagobert,” said she with inexpressible joy. “Rose and Blanche are found!” Then, turning towards the smith, she added, “There is good hope, Agricola: Mdlle. de Cardoville is not mad. I have just seen her.”
“She is not mad? what happiness!” exclaimed the smith.
“The children!” cried Dagobert, trembling with emotion, as he took the work-girl’s hands in his own. “You have seen them?”
“Yes; just now—very sad—very unhappy—but I was not able to speak to them.”
“Oh!” said Dagobert, stopping as if suffocated by the news, and pressing his hands on his bosom; “I never thought that my old heart could beat so!—And yet, thanks to my dog, I almost expected what has taken place. Anyhow, I am quite dizzy with joy.”
“Well, father, it’s a good day,” said Agricola, looking gratefully at the girl.
“Kiss me, my dear child!” added the soldier, as he pressed Mother Bunch affectionately in his arms; then, full of impatience, he added: “Come, let us go and fetch the children.”
“Ah, my good sister!” said Agricola, deeply moved; “you will restore peace, perhaps life, to my father—and Mdlle. de Cardoville—but how do you know?”
“A mere chance. And how did you come here?”
“Spoil-sport stops and barks,” cried Dagobert, who had already made several steps in advance.
Indeed the dog, who was as impatient as his master to see the orphans, and far better informed as to the place of their retreat, had posted himself at the convent gate, and was beginning to bark, to attract the attention of Dagobert. Understanding his dog, the latter said to the hunchback, as he pointed in that direction with his finger: “The children are there?”
“Yes, M. Dagobert.”
“I was sure of it. Good dog!—Oh, yes! beasts are better than men—except you, my dear girl, who are better than either man or beast. But my poor children! I shall see them, I shall have them once more!”
So saying, Dagobert, in spite of his age, began to run very fast towards Spoil-sport. “Agricola,” cried Mother Bunch, “prevent thy father from knocking at that door. He would ruin all.”
In two strides, the smith had reached his father, just as the latter was raising his hand to the knocker. “Stop, father!” cried the smith, as he seized Dagobert by the arm.
“What the devil is it now?”
“Mother Bunch says that to knock would ruin all.”
“She will explain it to you.” Although not so nimble as Agricola, Mother Bunch soon came up, and said to the soldier: “M. Dagobert, do not let us remain before this gate. They might open it, and see us; and that would excite suspicion. Let us rather go away—”
“Suspicion!” cried the veteran, much surprised, but without moving from the gate; “what suspicion?”