Whilst the masons set to work, under the inspection of the notary’s clerk, a coach stopped before the outer gate, and Rodin, accompanied by Gabriel, entered the house in the Rue Saint-Francois.
Samuel opened the door to Gabriel and Rodin.
The latter said to the Jew, “You, sir, are the keeper of this house?”
“Yes, sir,” replied Samuel.
“This is Abbe Gabriel de Rennepont,” said Rodin, as he introduced his companion, “one of the descendants of the family of the Renneponts.”
“Happy to hear it, sir,” said the Jew, almost involuntarily, struck with the angelic countenance of Gabriel—for nobleness and serenity of soul were visible in the glance of the young priest, and were written upon his pure, white brow, already crowned with the halo of martyrdom. Samuel looked at Gabriel with curiosity and benevolent interest; but feeling that this silent contemplation must cause some embarrassment to his guest, he said to him, “M. Abbe, the notary will not be here before ten o’clock.”
Gabriel looked at him in turn, with an air of surprise, and answered, “What notary, sir?”
“Father d’Aigrigny will explain all this to you,” said Rodin, hastily. Then addressing Samuel, he added, “We are a little before the time. Will you allow us to wait for the arrival of the notary?”
“Certainly,” said Samuel, “if you please to walk into my house.”
“I thank you, sir,” answered Rodin, “and accept your offer.”
“Follow me, then, gentlemen,” said the old man.
A few moments after, the young priest and the socius, preceded by Samuel, entered one of the rooms occupied by the latter, on the ground-floor of the building, looking out upon the court-yard.
“The Abbe d’Aigrigny, who has been the guardian of M. Gabriel, will soon be coming to ask for us,” added Rodin; “will you have the kindness, sir to show him into this room?”
“I will not fail to do so, sir,” said Samuel, as he went out.
The socius and Gabriel were left alone. To the adorable gentleness which usually gave to the fine features of the missionary so touching a charm, there had succeeded in this moment a remarkable expression of sadness, resolution, and severity. Rodin not having seen Gabriel for some days, was greatly struck by the change he remarked in him. He had watched him silently all the way from the Rue des Postes to the Rue Saint-Francois. The young priest wore, as usual, a long black cassock, which made still more visible the transparent paleness of his countenance. When the Jew had left the room, Gabriel said to Rodin, in a firm voice, “Will you at length inform me, sir, why, for some days past, I have been prevented from speaking to his reverence Father d’Aigrigny? Why has he chosen this house to grant me an interview?”
“It is impossible for me to answer these questions,” replied Rodin, coldly. “His reverence will soon arrive, and will listen to you. All I can tell you is, that the reverend father lays as much stress upon this meeting as you do. If he has chosen this house for the interview, it is because you have an interest to be here. You know it well—though you affected astonishment on hearing the guardian speak of a notary.”