The missionary must have been endowed with a very rare and excellent nature, or this flower of scrupulous probity would have withered beneath the deleterious and demoralizing influence of his education; but happily, as cold sometimes preserves from corruption, the icy atmosphere in which he had passed a portion of his childhood and youth had benumbed, but not vitiated, his generous qualities, which had indeed soon revived in the warm air of liberty. Father d’Aigrigny, much paler and more agitated than Gabriel, strove to excuse and explain his anxiety by attributing it to the sorrow he experienced at the rupture of his dear son with the Order. Rodin, calm, and perfectly master of himself, saw with secret rage the strong emotion of Father d’Aigrigny, which might have inspired a man less confiding than Gabriel with strange suspicions. Yet, notwithstanding his apparent indifference, the socius was perhaps still more ardently impatient than his superior for the success of this important affair. Samuel appeared quite desponding, no other heir but Gabriel having presented himself. No doubt the old man felt a lively sympathy for the young priest; but then he was a priest, and with him would finish the line of Rennepont; and this immense fortune, accumulated with so much labor, would either be again distributed, or employed otherwise than the testator had desired. The different actors in this scene were standing around the table. As they were about to seat themselves, at the invitation of the notary, Samuel pointed to the register bound in black shagreen, and said: “I was ordered, sir, to deposit here this register. It is locked. I will deliver up the key, immediately after the reading of the will.”
“This course is, in fact, directed by the note which accompanies the will,” said M. Dumesnil, “as it was deposited, in the year 1682, in the hands of Master Thomas Le Semelier, king’s counsel, and notary of the Chatelet of Paris, then living at No. 13, Place Royale.”
So saying, M. Dumesnil drew from a portfolio of red morocco a large parchment envelope, grown yellow with time; to this envelope was annexed, by a silken thread, a note also upon vellum.
“Gentlemen,” said the notary, “if you please to sit down, I will read the subjoined note, to regulate the formalities at the opening of the will.”
The notary, Rodin, Father d’Aigrigny, and Gabriel, took seats. The young priest, having his back turned to the fireplace, could not see the two portraits. In spite of the notary’s invitation, Samuel remained standing behind the chair of that functionary, who read as follows:
“’On the 13th February, 1832, my will shall be carried to No. 3, in the Rue Saint-Francois.
“’At ten o’clock precisely, the door of the Red Room shall be opened to my heirs, who will no doubt have arrived long before at Paris, in anticipation of this day, and will have had time to establish their line of descent.