"Yes, I do," returned the work-girl, recollecting herself. "She is lodged in one of the wings, and there is a shade over her window, painted like canvas, with blue and white stripes." "Good! I shall not forget that." "And can you form no guess as to where are the rooms of my poor children?" said Dagobert. After a moment's reflection, Mother Bunch answered, "They are opposite to the chamber occupied by Mdlle. de Cardoville, for she makes signs to them from her window: and I now remember she told me, that their two rooms are on different stories, one on the ground-floor, and the other up one pair of stairs." "Are these windows grated?" asked the smith. "I do not know." "Never mind, my good girl: with these indications we shall do very well," said Dagobert. "For the rest, I have my plans." "Some water, my little sister," said Agricola, "that I may cool my iron." Then addressing his father: "Will this hook do?" "Yes, my boy; as soon as it is cold we will fasten the cord." For some time, Frances Baudoin had remained upon her knees, praying with fervor. She implored Heaven to have pity on Agricola and Dagobert, who, in their ignorance, were about to commit a great crime; and she entreated that the celestial vengeance might fall upon her only, as she alone had been the cause of the fatal resolution of her son and husband. Dagobert and Agricola finished their preparations in silence. They were both very pale, and solemnly grave. They felt all the danger of so desperate an enterprise. The clock at Saint-Mery's struck ten. The sound of the bell was faint, and almost drowned by the lashing of the wind and rain, which had not ceased for a moment. "Ten o'clock!" said Dagobert, with a start. "There is not a minute to lose. Take the sack, Agricola." "Yes, father." As he went to fetch the sack, Agricola approached Mother Bunch, who was hardly able to sustain herself, and said to her in a rapid whisper: "If we are not here to-morrow, take care of my mother. Go to M. Hardy, who will perhaps have returned from his journey. Courage, my sister! embrace me. I leave poor mother to you." The smith, deeply affected, pressed the almost fainting girl in his arms. "Come, old Spoil-sport," said Dagobert: "you shall be our scout." Approaching his wife, who, just risen from the ground, was clasping her son's head to her bosom, and covering it with tears and kisses, he said to her, with a semblance of calmness and serenity: "Come, my dear wife, be reasonable! Make us a good fire. In two or three hours we will bring home the two poor children, and a fine young lady. Kiss me! that will bring me luck." Frances threw herself on her husband's neck, without uttering a word. This mute despair, mingled with convulsive sobs, was heart-rending. Dagobert was obliged to tear himself from his wife's arms, and striving to conceal his emotion, he said to his son, in an agitated voice: "Let us go--she unmans me. Take care of her, my good Mother Bunch. Agricola-- come!" The soldier slipped the pistols into the pocket of his great coat, and rushed towards the door, followed by Spoil-sport. "My son, let me embrace you once more--alas! it is perhaps for the last time!" cried the unfortunate mother, incapable of rising, but stretching out her arms to Agricola. "Forgive me! it is all my fault." The smith turned back, mingled his tears with those of his mother--for he also wept--and murmured, in a stifled voice: "Adieu, dear mother! Be comforted. We shall soon meet again." Then, escaping from the embrace, he joined his father upon the stairs. Frances Baudoin heaved a long sigh, and fell almost lifeless into the needlewoman's arms. Dagobert and Agricola left the Rue Brise-Miche in the height of the storm, and hastened with great strides towards the Boulevard de l'Hopital, followed by the dog. CHAPTER XIII. BURGLARY. Half-past eleven had just struck, when Dagobert and his son arrived on the Boulevard de l'Hopital. The wind blew violently, and the rain fell down in torrents, but notwithstanding the thickness of the watery clouds, it was tolerably light, thanks to the late rising of the moon. The tall, dark trees, and the white walls of the convent garden, were distinguishable in the midst of the pale glimmer. Afar off, a street lamp, acted on by the wind, with its red lights hardly visible through the mist and rain, swung backwards and forwards over the dirty causeway of the solitary boulevard. At rare intervals, they heard, at a very great distance, the rattle and rumble of a coach, returning home late; then all was again silent. Since their departure from the Rue Brise-Miche, Dagobert and his son had hardly exchanged a word. The design of these two brave men was noble and generous, and yet, resolute but pensive, they glided through the darkness like bandits, at the hour of nocturnal crimes. Agricola carried on his shoulders the sack containing the cord, the hook, and the iron bar; Dagobert leaned upon the arm of his son, and Spoil- sport followed his master. "The bench, where we sat down, must be close by," said Dagobert, stopping. "Yes," said Agricola, looking around; "here it is, father." "It is oily half-past eleven--we must wait for midnight," resumed Dagobert. "Let us be seated for an instant, to rest ourselves, and decide upon our plan." After a moment's silence, the soldier took his son's hands between his own, and thus continued: "Agricola, my child--it is yet time. Let me go alone, I entreat you. I shall know very well how to get through the business; but the nearer the moment comes, the more I fear to drag you into this dangerous enterprise." "And the nearer the moment comes, father, the more I feel I may be of some use; but, be it good or bad, I will share the fortune of your adventure. Our object is praiseworthy; it is a debt of honor that you have to pay, and I will take one half of it. Do not fancy that I will now draw back. And so, dear father, let us think of our plan of action." "Then you will come?" said Dagobert, stifling a sigh. "We must do everything," proceeded Agricola, "to secure success. You have already noticed the little garden-door, near the angle of the wall-- that is excellent." "We shall get by that way into the garden, and look immediately for the open paling." "Yes; for on one side of this paling is the wing inhabited by Mdlle. de Cardoville, and on the other that part of the convent in which the general's daughters are confined." At this moment, Spoil-sport, who was crouching at Dagobert's feet, rose suddenly, and pricked up his ears, as if to listen. "One would think that Spoil-sport heard something," said Agricola. They listened--but heard only the wind, sounding through the tall trees of the boulevard. "Now I think of it, father--when the garden-door is once open, shall we take Spoil-sport with us?" "Yes; for if there is a watch-dog, he will settle him. And then he will give us notice of the approach of those who go the rounds. Besides, he is so intelligent, so attached to Rose and Blanche, that (who knows?) he may help to discover the place where they are. Twenty times I have seen him find them in the woods, by the most extraordinary instinct." A slow and solemn knell here rose above the noise of the wind: it was the first stroke of twelve. That note seemed to echo mournfully through the souls of Agricola and his father. Mute with emotion, they shuddered, and by a spontaneous movement, each grasped the hand of the other. In spite of themselves, their hearts kept time to every stroke of the clock, as each successive vibration was prolonged through the gloomy silence of the night. At the last strobe, Dagobert said to his son, in a firm voice: "It is midnight. Shake hands, and let us forward!" The moment was decisive and solemn. "Now, father," said Agricola, "we will act with as much craft and daring as thieves going to pillage a strong box." So saying, the smith took from the sack the cord and hook; Dagobert armed himself with the iron bar, and both advanced cautiously, following the wall in the direction of the little door, situated not far from the angle formed by the street and the boulevard. They stopped from time to time, to listen attentively, trying to distinguish those noises which were not caused either by the high wind or the rain. It continued light enough for them to be able to see surrounding objects, and the smith and the soldier soon gained the little door, which appeared much decayed, and not very strong. "Good!" said Agricola to his father. "It will yield at one blow." The smith was about to apply his shoulder vigorously to the door, when Spoil-sport growled hoarsely, and made a "point." Dagobert silenced the dog with a word, and grasping his son's arm, said to him in a whisper: "Do not stir. The dog has scented some one in the garden." Agricola and his father remained for some minutes motionless, holding their breath and listening. The dog, in obedience to his master, no longer growled, but his uneasiness and agitation were displayed more and more. Yet they heard nothing. "The dog must have been deceived, father," whispered Agricola. "I am sure of the contrary. Do not move." After some seconds of expectation, Spoil-sport crouched down abruptly, and pushed his nose as far as possible under the door, snuffling up the air. "They are coming," said Dagobert hastily, to his son. "Let us draw off a little distance," replied Agricola. "No," said his father; "we must listen. It will be time to retire, if they open the door. Here, Spoil-sport! down!" The dog obeyed, and withdrawing from the door, crouched down at the feet of his master. Some seconds after, they heard a sort of splashing on the damp ground, caused by heavy footsteps in puddles of water, and then the sound of words, which carried away by the wind, did not reach distinctly the ears of the soldier and the smith. "They are the people of whom Mother Bunch told us, going their round," said Agricola to his father. "So much the better. There will be an interval before they come round again, and we shall have some two hours before us, without interruption. Our affair is all right now." By degrees, the sound of the footsteps became less and less distinct, and at last died away altogether. "Now, quick! we must not lose any time," said Dagobert to his son, after waiting about ten minutes; "they are far enough. Let us try to open the door." Agricola leaned his powerful shoulder against it, and pushed vigorously; but the door did not give way, notwithstanding its age. "Confound it!" said Agricola; "there is a bar on the inside. I am sure of it, or these old planks would not have resisted my weight." "What is to be done?" "I will scale the wall by means of the cord and hook, and open the door from the other side." So saying, Agricola took the cord, and after several attempts, succeeded in fixing the hook on the coping of the wall. "Now, father, give me a leg up; I will help myself up with the cord; once astride on the wall, I can easily turn the hook and get down into the garden." The soldier leaned against the wall, and joined his two hands, in the hollow of which his son placed one of his feet, then mounting upon the robust shoulders of his father, he was able, by help of the cord, and some irregularities in the wall, to reach the top. Unfortunately, the smith had not perceived that the coping of the wall was strewed with broken bottles, so that he wounded his knees and hands; but, for fear of alarming Dagobert, he repressed every exclamation of pain, and replacing the hook, he glided down the cord to the ground. The door was close by, and he hastened to it; a strong wooden bar had indeed secured it on the inside. This was removed, and the lock was in so bad a state, that it offered no resistance to a violent effort from Agricola. The door was opened, and Dagobert entered the garden with Spoil-sport. "Now," said the soldier to his son, "thanks to you, the worst is over. Here is a means of escape for the poor children, and Mdlle. de Cardoville. The thing is now to find them, without accident or delay. Spoil-sport will go before as a scout. Come, my good dog!" added Dagobert, "above all--fair and softly!" Immediately, the intelligent animal advanced a few steps, sniffing and listening with the care and caution of a hound searching for the game. By the half-light of the clouded moon, Dagobert and his son perceived round them a V-shaped grove of tall trees, at which several paths met. Uncertain which to choose, Agricola said to his father: "Let us take the path that runs alongside the wall. It will surely lead to some building." "Right! Let us walk on the strips of grass, instead of through the mud. It will make less noise." The father and son, preceded by the Siberian dog, kept for some time in a winding path, at no great distance from the wall. They stopped now and then to listen, or to satisfy themselves, before continuing their advance, with regard to the changing aspects of the trees and bushes, which, shaken by the wind, and faintly illumined by the pale light of the moon, often took strange and doubtful forms. Half-past twelve struck as Agricola and his father reached a large iron gate which shut in that part of the garden reserved for the Superior--the same into which Mother Bunch had intruded herself, after seeing Rose Simon converse with Adrienne de Cardoville. Through the bars of this gate, Agricola and his father perceived at a little distance an open paling, which joined a half-finished chapel, and beyond it a little square building. "That is no doubt the building occupied by Mdlle. de Cardoville," said Agricola. "And the building which contains the chambers of Rose and Blanche, but which we cannot see from here, is no doubt opposite it," said Dagobert. "Poor children! they are there, weeping tears of despair," added he, with profound emotion. "Provided the gate be but open," said Agricola. "It will probably be so--being within the walls." "Let us go on gently." The gate was only fastened by the catch of the lock. Dagobert was about to open it, when Agricola said to him: "Take care! do not make it creak on its hinges." "Shall I push it slowly or suddenly?" "Let me manage it," said Agricola; and he opened the gate so quickly, that it creaked very little; still the noise might have been plainly heard, in the silence of the night, during one of the lulls between the squalls of wind. Agricola and his father remained motionless for a moment, listening uneasily, before they ventured to pass through the gate. Nothing stirred, however; all remained calm and still. With fresh courage, they entered the reserved garden. Hardly had the dog arrived on this spot, when he exhibited tokens of extraordinary delight. Picking up his ears, wagging his tail, bounding rather than running, he had soon reached the paling where, in the morning, Rose Simon had for a moment conversed with Mdlle. de Cardoville.
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