By a sympathetic movement, the sisters joined hands, as though they would meet the danger united. Their sweet faces, pale from the effect of so many painful emotions, were now expressive of simple resolve, founded on the blind faith they reposed in the devotion of the soldier.
“Be satisfied, Dagobert! we’ll not be frightened,” said Rose, in a firm voice.
“We will do what must be done,” added Blanche, in a no less resolute tone.
“I was sure of it,” cried Dagobert; “good blood is ever thicker than water. Come! you are light as feathers, the sheet is strong, it is hardly eight feet to the ground, and the pup is waiting for you.”
“It is for me to go first—I am the eldest for to-day,” cried Rose, when she had tenderly embraced Blanche; and she ran to the window, in order, if there were any danger, to expose herself to it before her sister.
Dagobert easily guessed the cause of this eagerness. “Dear children!” said he, “I understand you. But fear nothing for one another—there is no danger. I have myself fastened the sheet. Quick, my little Rose!”
As light as a bird, the young girl mounted the ledge of the window, and assisted by Dagobert, took hold of the sheet, and slid gently down according to the recommendation of the soldier, who, leaning out his whole body, encouraged her with his voice.
“Don’t be afraid, sister!” said she, as soon as she touched the ground, “it is very easy to come down this way. And Spoil-sport is here, licking my hands.” Blanche did not long keep her waiting; as courageous as her sister, she descended with the same success.
“Dear little creatures! what have they done to be so unfortunate?—Thousand thunders! there must be a curse upon the family,” cried Dagobert, as, with heavy heart, he saw the pale, sweet face of the young girl disappear amid the gloom of the dark night, which violent squalls of wind and torrents of rain rendered still more dismal.
“Dagobert, we are waiting for you; come quickly!” said the orphans in a low voice, from beneath the window. Thanks to his tall stature, the soldier rather leaped than glided to the ground.
Dagobert and the two young girls had not fled from the inn of the White Falcon more than a quarter of an hour, when a long crash resounded through the house. The door had yielded to the efforts of the burgomaster and Morok, who had made use of a heavy table as a battering ram. Guided by the light, they ran to the chamber of the orphans, now deserted. Morok saw the sheets floating from the casement, and cried: “Mr. Burgomaster, they have escaped by the window—they are on foot—in this dark and stormy night, they cannot be far.”
“No doubt, we shall catch them, the miserable tramps! Oh, I will be revenged! Quick, Morok; your honor is concerned as well as mine.”
“My honor?—Much more is concerned than that, Mr. Burgomaster,” answered the Prophet, in a tone of great irritation. Then, rapidly descending the stairs, he opened the door of the court-yard, and shouted in a voice of thunder: