“Courage, my children! you see what a brave father you have. Think only of the pleasure of greeting him, and remember always the name of the gallant youth, to whom you will owe that pleasure—for without him your father would have been killed in India.”
“Djalma! we shall never forget him,” said Rose.
“And if our guardian angel Gabriel should return,” added Blanche, “we will ask him to watch over Djalma as over ourselves.”
“Very well, my children; I am sure that you will forget nothing that concerns good feeling. But to return to the traveller, who came to visit your poor mother in Siberia, he had seen the general a month after the events of which you have read, and at a moment when he was about to enter on a new campaign against the English. It was then that your father entrusted him with the papers and medal.”
“But of what use will this medal be to us, Dagobert?”
“And what is the meaning of these words engraved upon it?” added Rose, as she drew it from her bosom.
“Why it means, my children, that on the 13th of February, 1832, we must be at No. 3, Rue Saint Francois, Paris.”
“But what are we to do there?”
“Your poor mother was seized so quickly with her last illness, that she was unable to tell me. All I know is, that this medal came to her from her parents, and that it had been a relic preserved in her family for more than a century.”
“And how did our father get it?”
“Among the articles which had been hastily thrown into the coach, when he was removed by force from Warsaw, was a dressing-case of your mother’s, in which was contained this medal. Since that time the general had been unable to send it back, having no means of communicating with us, and not even knowing where we were.”
“This medal is, then, of great importance to us?”
“Unquestionably; for never, during fifteen years, had I seen your mother so happy, as on the day the traveller brought it back to her. ‘Now,’ said she to me, in the presence of the stranger, and with tears of joy in her eyes, ’now may my children’s future be brilliant as their life has hitherto been miserable. I will entreat of the governor of Siberia permission to go to France with my daughters; it will perhaps be thought I have been sufficiently punished, by fifteen years of exile, and the confiscation of my property. Should they refuse, I will remain here; but they will at least allow me to send my children to France, and you must accompany them, Dagobert. You shall set out immediately, for much time has been already lost; and, if you were not to arrive before the 13th of next February, this cruel separation and toilsome journey would have been all in vain.’”
“Suppose we were one day after?”
“Your mother told me that if we arrived the 14th instead of the 13th, it would be too late. She also gave me a thick letter, to put into the post for France, in the first town we should pass through—which I have done.”