“But, Mr. Burgomaster,” resumed he, in an agitated voice, “you are too just not to pay attention to one thing: the wound of the brute-tamer does not prevent him from continuing his trade; the death of my horse prevents me from continuing my journey; therefore, he ought to indemnify me.”
The judge considered he had already done a good deal for Dagobert, in not making him responsible for the wound of the Prophet, who, as we have already said, exercised a certain influence over the Catholics of the country by the sale of his devotional treasures, and also from its being known that he was supported by some persons of eminence. The soldier’s pertinacity, therefore, offended the magistrate, who, reassuming his lofty air, replied, in a chilling tone: “You will make me repent my impartiality. How is this? Instead of thanking me, you ask for more.”
“But, Mr. Burgomaster, I ask only for what is just. I wish I were wounded in the hand, like the Prophet, so that I could but continue my journey.”
“We are not talking of what you wish. I have pronounced sentence—there is no more to say.”
“But, Mr. Burgomaster—”
“Enough, enough. Let us go to the next subject. Your papers?”
“Yes, we will speak about my papers; but I beg of you, Mr. Burgomaster, to have pity on those two children. Let us have the means to continue our journey, and—”
“I have done all I could for you—perhaps, more than I ought. Once again, your papers!”
“I must first explain to you—”
“No! No explanation—your papers!—Or would you like me to have you arrested as a vagabond?”
“I tell you that, if you refuse to show me your papers, it will be as if you had none. Now, those people who have no papers we take into custody till the authorities can dispose of them. Let me see your papers, and make haste!—I am in a hurry to get home.”
Dagobert’s position was the more distressing, as for a moment he had indulged in sanguine hope. The last blow was now added to all the veteran had suffered since the commencement of this scene, which was a cruel as well as dangerous trial, for a man of his character—upright, but obstinate—faithful, but rough and absolute—a man who, for a long time a soldier, and a victorious one, had acquired a certain despotic mariner of treating with civilians.
At these words—“your papers,” Dagobert became very pale; but he tried to conceal his anguish beneath an air of assurance, which he thought best calculated to gain the magistrate’s good opinion. “I will tell you all about it, Mr. Burgomaster,” said he. “Nothing can be clearer. Such a thing might happen to any one. I do not look like a beggar and a vagabond, do I? And yet—you will understand, that an honest man who travels with two young girls—”
“No more words! Your papers!”
At this juncture two powerful auxiliaries arrived to the soldier’s aid. The orphans, growing more and more uneasy, and hearing Dagobert still talking upon the landing-place, had risen and dressed themselves; so that just at the instant, when the magistrate said in a rough voice—“No more words! Your papers!”—Rose and Blanche holding each other by the hand, came forth from the chamber.