“We shall then no doubt have some hold on that untamable character,” said Rodin with a meditative air; “for, till now, all has failed in that direction, and one would suppose some kinds of happiness are invulnerable,” added the Jesuit, gnawing his flat and dirty nails.
“But, to obtain the result we desire, we must exasperate my niece’s pride. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary, that I should see and talk to her,” said the Princess de Saint-Dizier, reflecting.
“Mdlle. de Cardoville will refuse this interview,” said Father d’Aigrigny.
“Perhaps,” replied the princess. “But she is so happy that her audacity must be at its height. Yes, yes—I know her—and I will write in such a manner, that she will come.”
“You think so?” asked Rodin, with a doubtful air.
“Do not fear it, father,” answered the lady, “she will come. And her pride once brought into play, we may hope a good deal from it.”
“We must then act, lady,” resumed Rodin; “yes, act promptly. The moment approaches. Hate and suspicion are awake. There is not a moment to lose.”
“As for hate,” replied the princess, “Mdlle. de Cardoville must have seen to what her lawsuit would lead, about what she called her illegal detention in a lunatic asylum, and that of the two young ladies in St. Mary’s Convent. Thank heaven, we have friends everywhere! I know from good authority, that the case will break down from want of evidence, in spite of the animosity of certain parliamentary magistrates, who shall be well remembered.”
“Under these circumstances,” replied Rodin, “the departure of the marshal gives us every latitude. We must act immediately on his daughters.”
“But how?” said the princess.
“We must see them,” resumed Rodin, “talk with them, study them. Then we shall act in consequence.”
“But the soldier will not leave them a second,” said Father d’Aigrigny.
“Then,” replied Rodin, “we must talk to them in presence of the soldier, and get him on our side.”
“That hope is idle,” cried Father d’Aigrigny. “You do not know the military honor of his character. You do not know this man.”
“Don’t I know him?” said Rodin, shrugging his shoulders. “Did not Mdlle. de Cardoville present me to him as her liberator, when I denounced you as the soul of the conspiracy? Did I not restore to him his ridiculous imperial relic—his cross of honor—when we met at Dr. Baleinier’s? Did I not bring him back the girls from the convent, and place them in the arms of their father?”
“Yes,” replied the princess; “but, since that time, my abominable niece has either guessed or discovered all. She told you so herself, father.”
“She told me, that she considered me her most mortal enemy,” said Rodin. “Be it so. But did she tell the same to the marshal? Has she ever mentioned me to him? and if she have done so, has the marshal communicated this circumstance to his soldier? It may be so; but it is by no means sure; in any case. I must ascertain the fact; if the soldier treats me as an enemy, we shall see what is next to be done—but I will first try to be received as a friend.”