He stopped an instant at this place, as if at fault, and turned round and round like a dog seeking the scent. Dagobert and his son, leaving Spoil-sport to his instinct, followed his least movements with intense interest, hoping everything from his intelligence and his attachment to the orphans. "It was no doubt near this paling that Rose stood when Mother Bunch saw her," said Dagobert. "Spoil-sport is on her track. Let him alone." After a few seconds, the dog turned his head towards Dagobert, and started at full trot in the direction of a door on the ground-floor of a building, opposite to that occupied by Adrienne. Arrived at this door, the dog lay down, seemingly waiting for Dagobert. "No doubt of it! the children are there!" said Dagobert, hastening to rejoin Spoil-sport; it was by this door that they took Rose into the house." "We must see if the windows are grated," said Agricola, following his father. "Well, old fellow!" whispered the soldier, as he came up to the dog and pointed to the building, "are Rose and Blanche there?" The dog lifted his head, and answered by a joyful bark. Dagobert had just time to seize the mouth of the animal with his hands. "He will ruin all!" exclaimed the smith. "They have, perhaps, heard him." "No," said Dagobert. "But there is no longer any doubt--the children are here." At this instant, the iron gate, by which the soldier and his son had entered the reserved garden, and which they had left open, fell to with a loud noise. "They've shut us in," said Agricola, hastily; "and there is no other issue." For a moment, the father and son looked in dismay at each other; but Agricola instantly resumed: "The gate has perhaps shut of itself. I will make haste to assure myself of this, and to open it again if possible." "Go quickly; I will examine the windows." Agricola flew towards the gate, whilst Dagobert, gliding along the wall, soon reached the windows on the ground floor. They were four in number, and two of them were not grated. He looked up at the first story; it was not very far from the ground, and none of the windows had bars. It would then be easy for that one of the two sisters, who inhabited this story, once informed of their presence, to let herself down by means of a sheet, as the orphans had already done to escape from the inn of the White Falcon. But the difficult thing was to know which room she occupied. Dagobert thought they might learn this from the sister on the ground floor; but then there was another difficulty--at which of the four windows should they knock? Agricola returned precipitately. "It was the wind, no doubt, which shut the gate," said he. "I have opened it again, and made it fast with a stone. But we have no time to lose." "And how shall we know the windows of the poor children?" said Dagobert, anxiously. "That is true," said Agricola, with uneasiness. "What is to be done?" "To call them at hap-hazard," continued Dagobert, "would be to give the alarm." "Oh, heavens!" cried Agricola, with increasing anguish. "To have arrived here, under their windows, and yet not to know!" "Time presses," said Dagobert, hastily, interrupting his son; "we must run all risks." "But how, father?" "I will call out loud, 'Rose and Blanche'--in their state of despair, I am sure they do not sleep. They will be stirring at my first summons. By means of a sheet, fastened to the window, she who is on the first story will in five minutes be in our arms. As for the one on the ground floor--if her window is not grated, we can have her in a second. If it is, we shall soon loosen one of the bars." "But, father--this calling out aloud?" "Will not perhaps be heard." "But if it is heard--all will be lost." "Who knows? Before they have time to call the watch, and open several doors, the children may be delivered. Once at the entrance of the boulevard, and we shall be safe." "It is a dangerous course; but I see no other." "If there are only two men, I and Spoil-sport will keep them in check, while you will have time to carry off the children." "Father, there is a better way--a surer one," cried Agricola, suddenly. "From what Mother Bunch told us, Mdlle. de Cardoville has corresponded by signs with Rose and Blanche." "Yes." "Hence she knows where they are lodged, as the poor children answered her from their windows." "You are right. There is only that course to take. But how find her room?" "Mother Bunch told me there was a shade over the window." "Quick! we have only to break through a wooden fence. Have you the iron bar?" "Here it is." "Then, quick!" In a few steps, Dagobert and his son had reached the paling. Three planks, torn away by Agricola, opened an easy passage. "Remain here, father, and keep watch," said he to Dagobert, as he entered Dr. Baleinier's garden. The indicated window was easily recognized. It was high and broad; a sort of shade surmounted it, for this window had once been a door, since walled in to the third of its height. It was protected by bars of iron, pretty far apart. Since some minutes, the rain had ceased. The moon, breaking through the clouds, shone full upon the building. Agricola, approaching the window, saw that the room was perfectly dark; but light came from a room beyond, through a door left half open. The smith, hoping that Mdlle. de Cardoville might be still awake, tapped lightly at the window. Soon after, the door in the background opened entirely, and Mdlle. de Cardoville, who had not yet gone to bed, came from the other chamber, dressed as she had been at her interview with Mother Bunch. Her charming features were visible by the light of the taper she held in her hand. Their present expression was that of surprise and anxiety. The young girl set down the candlestick on the table, and appeared to listen attentively as she approached the window. Suddenly she started and stopped abruptly. She had just discerned the face of a man, looking at her through the window. Agricola, fearing that Mdlle. de Cardoville would retire in terror to the next room, again tapped on the glass, and running the risk of being heard by others, said in a pretty loud voice: "It is Agricola Baudoin." These words reached the ears of Adrienne. Instantly remembering her interview with Mother Bunch, she thought that Agricola and Dagobert must have entered the convent for the purpose of carrying off Rose and Blanche. She ran to the window, recognized Agricola in the clear moonlight, and cautiously opened the casement. "Madame," said the smith, hastily; "there is not an instant to lose. The Count de Montbron is not in Paris. My father and myself have come to deliver you." "Thanks, thanks, M. Agricola!" said Mdlle. de Cardoville, in a tone expressive of the most touching gratitude; "but think first of the daughters of General Simon." "We do think of them, madame, I have come to ask you which are their windows." "One is on the ground floor, the last on the garden-side; the other is exactly over it, on the first story." "Then they are saved!" cried the smith. "But let me see!" resumed Adrienne, hastily; "the first story is pretty high. You will find, near the chapel they are building, some long poles belonging to the scaffolding. They may be of use to you." "They will be as good as a ladder, to reach the upstairs window. But now to think of you madame." "Think only of the dear orphans. Time presses. Provided they are delivered to-night, it makes little difference to me to remain a day or two longer in this house." "No, mademoiselle," cried the smith, "it is of the first importance that you should leave this place to-night. Interests are concerned, of which you know nothing. I am now sure of it." "What do you mean?" "I have not time to explain myself further; but I conjure you madame, to come. I can wrench out two of these bars; I will fetch a piece of iron." "It is not necessary. They are satisfied with locking the outer door of this building, which I inhabit alone. You can easily break open the lock." "And, in ten minutes, we shall be on the boulevard," said the smith. "Make yourself ready, madame; take a shawl, a bonnet, for the night is cold. I will return instantly." "M. Agricola," said Adrienne, with tears in her eyes, "I know what you risk for my sake. I shall prove to you, I hope, that I have as good a memory as you have. You and your adopted sister are noble and valiant creatures, and I am proud to be indebted to you. But do not return for me till the daughters of Marshal Simon are in safety." "Thanks to your directions, the thing will be done directly, madame. I fly to rejoin my father, and we will come together to fetch you." Following the excellent advice of Mdlle. de Cardoville, Agricola took one of the long, strong poles that rested against the wall of the chapel, and, bearing it on his robust shoulders, hastened to rejoin his father. Hardly had Agricola passed the fence, to direct his steps towards the chapel, obscured in shadow, than Mdlle. de Cardoville thought she perceived a human form issue from one of the clumps of trees in the convent-garden, cross the path hastily, and disappear behind a high hedge of box. Alarmed at the sight, Adrienne in vain called to Agricola in a low voice, to bid him beware. He could not hear her; he had already rejoined his father, who, devoured by impatience, went from window to window with ever-increasing anguish. "We are saved," whispered Agricola. "Those are the windows of the poor children--one on the ground floor, the other on the first story." "At last!" said Dagobert, with a burst of joy impossible to describe. He ran to examine the windows. "They are not grated!" he exclaimed. "Let us make sure, that one of them is there," said Agricola; "then, by placing this pole against the wall, I will climb up to the first story, which is not so very high." "Right, my boy!--once there, tap at the window, and call Rose or Blanche. When she answers, come down. We will rest the pole against the window, and the poor child will slide along it. They are bold and active. Quick, quick! to work!" "And then we will deliver Mdlle. de Cardoville." Whilst Agricola placed his pole against the wall, and prepares to mount, Dagobert tapped at the panes of the last window on the ground floor, and said aloud: "It is I--Dagobert." Rose Simon indeed occupied the chamber. The unhappy child, in despair at being separated from her sister, was a prey to a burning fever, and, unable to sleep, watered her pillow with her tears. At the sound of the tapping on the glass, she started up affrighted, then, hearing the voice of the soldier--that voice so familiar and so dear--she sat up in bed, pressed her hands across her forehead, to assure herself that she was not the plaything of a dream, and, wrapped in her long night-dress, ran to the window with a cry of joy. But suddenly--and before she could open the casement--two reports of fire-arms were heard, accompanied by loud cries of "Help! thieves! The orphan stood petrified with terror, her eyes mechanically fixed upon the window, through which she saw confusedly, by the light of the moon, several men engaged in a mortal struggle, whilst the furious barking of Spoil-sport was heard above all the incessant cries of "Help! Help! Thieves! Murder!"
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