“If she is ill, we ought not to abandon her. She had pity on our sorrows; we ought to pity her sufferings.”
“Come, sister; come to her room,” said Blanche, advancing towards the door, where Rodin had stopped short, and stood listening with growing attention to this unexpected scene, which seemed to give him ample food for thought.
“You will not leave this room,” said the soldier, sternly, addressing the two sisters.
“Dagobert,” replied Rose, firmly, “it is a sacred duty, and it would be cowardice not to fulfil it.”
“I tell you that you shall not leave the room,” said the soldier, stamping his foot with impatience.
“Dagobert,” replied Blanche, with as resolute an air as her sister’s, and with a kind of enthusiasm which brought the blood to her fair cheek, “our father, when he left us, give us an admirable example of devotion and duty. He would not forgive us were we to forget the lesson.”
“What,” cried Dagobert, in a rage, and advancing towards the sisters to prevent their quitting the apartment; “you think that if your governess had the cholera, I would let you go to her under the pretext of duty?—Your duty is to live, to live happy, for your father’s sake—and for mine into the bargain—so not a word more of such folly!”
“We can run no danger by going to our governess in her room,” said Rose.
“And if there were danger,” added Blanche, “we ought not to hesitate. So, Dagobert, be good! and let us pass.”
Rodin, who had listened to what precedes, with sustained attention, suddenly started, as if a thought had struck him; his eye shone brightly, and an expression of fatal joy illumined his countenance.
“Dagobert, do not refuse!” said Blanche. “You would do for us what you reproach us with wishing to do for another.”
Dagobert had as it were, till now stood in the path of the Jesuit and the twins by keeping close to the door; but, after a moments reflection, he shrugged his shoulders, stepped to one side, and said calmly: “I was an old fool. Come, young ladies; if you find Madame Augustine in the house, I will allow you to remain with her.”
Surprised at these words, the girls stood motionless and irresolute.
“If our governess is not here, where is she, then?” said Rose.
“You think, perhaps, that I am going to tell you in the excitement in which you are!”
“She is dead!” cried Rose growing pale.
“No, no—be calm,” said the soldier, hastily; “I swear to you, by your father’s honor, that she is not dead. At the first appearance of the disorder, she begged to be removed from the house, fearing the contagion for those in it.”
“Good and courageous woman!” said Rose tenderly, “And you will not allow us—”
“I will not allow you to go out, even if I have to lock you up in your room,” cried the soldier, again stamping with rage; then, remembering that the blunderhead’s indiscretion was the sole cause of this unfortunate incident, he added, with concentrated fury: “Oh! I will break my stick upon that rascal’s back.”