“When?” asked the princess.
“To-morrow morning,” replied Rodin.
“Good heaven, my clear father!” cried the Princess de Saint-Dizier, in alarm; “if this soldier were to treat you as an enemy—beware—”
“I always beware, madame. I have had to face worse enemies than he is,” said the Jesuit showing his black teeth; “the cholera to begin with.”
“But he may refuse to see you, and in what way will you then get at Marshal Simon’s daughters?” said Father d’Aigrigny.
“I do not yet know.” answered Rodin. “But as I intend to do it, I shall find the means.”
“Father,” said the princess, suddenly, on reflection, “these girls have never seen me, and I might obtain admittance to them, without sending in my name.”
“That would be perfectly useless at present, madame, for I must first know what course to take with respect to them. I must see and converse with them, at any cost, and then, after I have fixed my plan, your assistance may be very useful. In any case, please to be ready to morrow, madame, to accompany me.”
“To what place, father?”
“To Marshal Simon’s.”
“To the marshal’s?”
“Not exactly. You will get into your carriage, and I will take a hackney-coach. I will then try to obtain an interview with the girls, and, during that time, you will wait for me at a few yards from the house. If I succeed, and require your aid, I will come and fetch you; I can give you my instructions without any appearance of concert between us.”
“I am content, reverend father; but, in truth, I tremble at the thought of your interview with that rough trooper.”
“The Lord will watch over his servant, madame!” replied Rodin. “As for you, father,” added he, addressing the Abbe d’Aigrigny, “despatch instantly to Vienna the note which is all prepared to announce the departure and speedy arrival of the marshal. Every precaution has been taken. I shall write more fully this evening.”
The next morning, about eight o’clock, the Princess de Saint-Dizier, in her carriage, and Rodin, in his hackney-coach, took the direction of Marshal Simon’s house.
Marshal Simon has been absent two days. It is eight o’clock in the morning. Dagobert, walking on tip-toe with the greatest caution, so as not to make the floor creak beneath his tread, crosses the room which leads to the bedchamber of Rose and Blanche and applies his ear to the door of the apartment. With equal caution, Spoil-sport follows exactly the movements of his master. The countenance of the soldier is uneasy and full of thought. As he approaches the door, he says to himself: “I hope the dear children heard nothing of what happened in the night! It would alarm them, and it is much better that they should not know it at present. It might afflict them sadly, poor dears! and they are so gay, so happy, since they feel sure of their father’s love for them. They bore his departure so bravely! I would not for the world that they should know of this unfortunate event.”