“But the medal—the medal?” said Dagobert, impatiently; “where did you see it?”
“It is with regard to this and other things that I wished to make important communications to Mdlle. de Cardoville.”
“And what are these communications?”
“The fact is, father, I had gone to her the day of your departure, to beg her to get me bail. I was followed; and when she learned this from her waiting-woman, she concealed me in a hiding-place. It was a sort of little vaulted room, in which no light was admitted, except through a tunnel, made like a chimney; yet in a few minutes, I could see pretty clearly. Having nothing better to do, I looked all about me and saw that the walls were covered with wainscoting. The entrance to this room was composed of a sliding panel, moving by means of weights and wheels admirably contrived. As these concern my trade, I was interested in them, so I examined the springs, spite of my emotion, with curiosity, and understood the nature of their play; but there was one brass knob, of which I could not discover the use. It was in vain to pull and move it from right to left, none of the springs were touched. I said to myself: ’This knob, no doubt, belongs to another piece of mechanism’—and the idea occurred to me, instead of drawing it towards me, to push it with force. Directly after, I heard a grating sound, and perceived, just above the entrance to the hiding-place, one of the panels, about two feet square, fly open like the door of a secretary. As I had, no doubt, pushed the spring rather too hard, a bronze medal and chain fell out with a shock.”
“And you saw the address—Rue Saint-Francois?” cried Dagobert.
“Yes, father; and with this medal, a sealed letter fell to the ground. On picking it up, I saw that it was addressed, in large letters: ’For Mdlle. de Cardoville. To be opened by her the moment it is delivered.’ Under these words, I saw the initials ‘R.’ and ‘C.,’ accompanied by a flourish, and this date: ‘Paris, November the 13th, 1830.’ On the other side of the envelope I perceived two seals, with the letters ‘R.’ and ‘C.,’ surmounted by a coronet.”
“And the seals were unbroken?” asked Mother Bunch.
“No doubt, then, Mdlle. de Cardoville was ignorant of the existence of these papers,” said the sempstress.
“That was my first idea, since she was recommended to open the letter immediately, and, notwithstanding this recommendation, which bore date two years back, the seals remained untouched.”
“It is evident,” said Dagobert. “What did you do?”
“I replaced the whole where it was before, promising myself to inform Mdlle. de Cardoville of it. But, a few minutes after, they entered my hiding-place, which had been discovered, and I did not see her again. I was only able to whisper a few words of doubtful meaning to one of her waiting-women, on the subject of what I had found, hoping thereby to arouse the attention of her mistress; and, as soon as I was able to write to you, my good sister, I begged you to go and call upon Mdlle. de Cardoville.”