“How well it is all managed! And there, M. Agricola, on the other side of the grass-plot?”
“That is the wash-house, with water laid on, cold and hot; and under yonder shed is the drying-place: further on, you see the stables, and the lofts and granaries for the provender of the factory horses.”
“But M. Agricola, will you tell me the secret of all these wonders?”
“In ten minutes you shall understand it all, mademoiselle.”
Unfortunately, Angela’s curiosity was for a while disappointed. The girl was now standing with Agricola close to the iron gate, which shut in the garden from the broad avenue that separated the factory from the Common Dwelling-house. Suddenly, the wind brought from the distance the sound of trumpets and military music; then was heard the gallop of two horses, approaching rapidly, and soon after a general officer made his appearance, mounted on a fine black charger, with a long flowing tail and crimson housings; he wore cavalry boots and white breeches, after the fashion of the empire; his uniform glittered with gold embroidery, the red ribbon of the Legion of Honor was passed over his right epaulet, with its four silver stars, and his hat had a broad gold border, and was crowned with a white plume, the distinctive sign reserved for the marshals of France. No warrior could have had a more martial and chivalrous air, or have sat more proudly on his war-horse. At the moment Marshal Simon (for it was he) arrived opposite the place where Angela and Agricola were standing, he drew up his horse suddenly, sprang lightly to the ground, and threw the golden reins to a servant in livery, who followed also on horseback.
“Where shall I wait for your grace?” asked the groom.
“At the end of the avenue,” said the marshal.
And, uncovering his head respectfully, he advanced hastily with his hat in his hand, to meet a person whom Angela and Agricola had not previously perceived. This person soon appeared at a turn of the avenue; he was an old man, with an energetic, intelligent countenance. He wore a very neat blouse, and a cloth cap over his long, white hair. With his hands in his pocket, he was quietly smoking an old meerschaum pipe.
“Good-morning, father,” said the marshal, respectfully, as he affectionately embraced the old workman, who, having tenderly returned the pressure, said to him: “Put on your hat, my boy. But how gay we are!” added he, with a smile.
“I have just been to a review, father, close by; and I took the opportunity to call on you as soon as possible.”
“But shall I then not see my granddaughters to-day, as I do every Sunday?”
“They are coming in a carriage, father, and Dagobert accompanies them.”
“But what is the matter? you appear full of thought.”
“Indeed, father,” said the marshal, with a somewhat agitated air, “I have serious things to talk about.”