Nothing makes one so gay as happiness; and, though this grotesque figure appeared at a very unseasonable moment, it was received with frank laughter from the blooming lips of Rose and Blanche. Having made the marshal’s daughters laugh, after their long sadness, Loony at once acquired a claim to the indulgence of the marshal, who said to him, good humoredly: “What do you want, my lad?”
“It’s not me, my lord duke!” answered Loony, laying his hand on his breast, as if it were taking a vow, so that his feather-brush fell down from under his arm. The laughter of the girls redoubled.
“It is not you?” said the marshal.
“Here! Spoil-sport!” Dagobert called, for the honest dog seemed to have a secret dislike for the pretended idiot, and approached him with an angry air.
“No, my lord duke, it is not me!” resumed Loony. “It is the footman who told me to tell M. Dagobert, when I brought up the wood to tell my lord duke, as I was coming up with the basket, that M. Robert wants to see him.”
The girls laughed still more at this new stupidity. But, at the name of Robert, Marshal Simon started.
M. Robert was the secret emissary of Rodin, with regard to the possible, but adventurous, enterprise of attempting the liberation of Napoleon ii.
After a moment’s silence, the marshal, whose face was still radiant with joy and happiness, said to Loony: “Beg M. Robert to wait for me a moment in my study.”
“Yes, my lord duke,” answered Loony, bowing almost to the ground.
The simpleton withdrew, and the marshal said to his daughters, in a joyous tone, “You see, that, in a moment like this, one does not leave one’s children, even for M. Robert.”
“Oh! that’s right, father!” cried Blanche, gayly; “for I was already very angry with this M. Robert.”
“Have you pen and paper at hand?” asked the marshal.
“Yes, father; there on the table,” said Rose, hastily, as she pointed to a little desk near one of the windows, towards which the marshal now advanced rapidly.
From motives of delicacy, the girls remained where they were, close to the fireplace, and caressed each other tenderly, as if to congratulate themselves in private on the unexpected happiness of this day.
The marshal seated himself at the desk, and made a sign to Dagobert to draw near.
While he wrote rapidly a few words in a firm hand, he said to the soldier with a smile, in so low a tone that it was impossible for his daughters to hear: “Do you know what I had almost resolved upon, before entering this room?”
“To blow my brains out. It is to my children that I owe my life.” And the marshal continued writing.
Dagobert started at this communication, and then replied, also in a whisper: “It would not have been with your pistols. I took off the caps.”
The marshal turned round hastily, and looked at him with an air of surprise. But the soldier only nodded his head affirmatively, and added: “Thank heaven, we have now done with all those ideas!”