to have been proud of his daughters." Suddenly Rose laid her hand on her sister's arm, and said to her, with anxiety: "Listen! listen! they are talking very loud in father's bedroom." "Yes," said Blanche, listening in her turn; "and I can hear him walking. That is his step." "Good heaven! how he raises his voice; he seems to be in a great passion; he will perhaps come this way." And at the thought of their father's coming--that father who really adored them--the unhappy children looked in terror at each other. The sound of a loud and angry voice became more and more distinct; and Rose, trembling through all her frame, said to her sister: "Do not let us remain here! Come into our room." "Why?" "We should hear, without designing it, the words of our father--and he does not perhaps know that we are so near." "You are right. Come, come!" answered Blanche, as she rose hastily from her seat. "Oh! I am afraid. I have never heard him speak in so angry a tone." "Oh! kind heaven!" said Blanche, growing pale, as she stopped involuntarily. "It is to Dagobert that he is talking so loud." "What can be the matter--to make our father speak to him in that way?" "Alas! some great misfortune must have happened." "Oh, sister! do not let us remain here! It pains me too much to hear Dagobert thus spoken to." The crash of some article, hurled with violence and broken to pieces in the next room, so frightened the orphans, that, pale and trembling with emotion, they rushed into their own apartment, and fastened the door. We must now explain the cause of Marshal Simon's violent anger. CHAPTER XLVIII. THE STUNG LION. This was the scene, the sound of which had so terrified Rose and Blanche. At first alone in his chamber, in a state of exasperation difficult to describe, Marshal Simon had begun to walk hastily up and down, his handsome, manly face inflamed with rage, his eyes sparkling with indignation, while on his broad forehead, crowned with short-cut hair that was now turning gray, large veins, of which you might count the pulsations, were swollen almost to bursting; and sometimes his thick, black moustache was curled with a convulsive motion, not unlike that which is seen in the visage of a raging lion. And even as the wounded lion, in its fury, harassed and tortured by a thousand invisible darts, walks up and down its den with savage wrath, so Marshal Simon paced the floor of his room, as if bounding from side to side; sometimes he stooped, as though bending beneath the weight of his anger; sometimes, on the contrary, he paused abruptly, drew himself up to his full height, crossed his arms upon his vigorous chest, and with raised brow, threatening and terrible look, seemed to defy some invisible enemy, and murmur confused exclamations. Then he stood like a man of war and battle in all his intrepid fire. And now he stamped angrily with his foot, approached the chimney-piece, and pulled the bell so violently that the bell-rope remained in his hand. A servant hastened to attend to this precipitate summons. "Did you not tell Dagobert that I wished to speak to him?" cried the marshal. "I executed your grace's orders, but M. Dagobert was accompanying his son to the door, and--" "Very well!" interrupted Marshal Simon, with an abrupt and imperious gesture. The servant went out, and his master continued to walk up and down with impatient steps, crumpling, in his rage, a letter that he held in his left hand. This letter had been innocently delivered by Spoil-sport, who, seeing him come in, had run joyously to meet him. At length the door opened, and Dagobert appeared. "I have been waiting for you a long time, sirrah!" cried the marshal, in an irritated tone. Dagobert, more pained than surprised at this burst of anger, which he rightly attributed to the constant state of excitement in which the marshal had now been for some time past, answered mildly: "I beg your pardon, general, but I was letting out my son--" "Read that, sir!" said the marshal abruptly, giving him the letter. While Dagobert was reading it, the marshal resumed, with growing anger, as he kicked over a chair that stood in his way: "Thus, even in my own house, there are wretches bribed to harass me with incredible perseverance. Well! have you read it, sir?" "It is a fresh insult to add to the others," said Dagobert, coolly, as he threw the letter into the fire. "The letter is infamous--but it speaks the truth," replied the marshal. Dagobert looked at him in amazement. "And can you tell who brought me this infamous letter" continued the marshal. "One would think the devil had a hand in it--for it was your dog!" "Spoil-sport?" said Dagobert, in the utmost surprise. "Yes," answered the marshal, bitterly; "it is no doubt a joke of your invention." "I have no heart for joking, general," answered Dagobert, more and more saddened by the irritable state of the marshal; "I cannot explain how it happened. Spoil-sport is a good carrier, and no doubt found the letter in the house--" "And who can have left it there? Am I surrounded by traitors? Do you keep no watch? You, in whom I have every confidence?" "Listen to me, general--" But the marshal proceeded, without waiting to hear him. "What! I have made war for five-and-twenty years, I have battled with armies, I have struggled victoriously through the evil times of exile and proscription, I have withstood blows from maces of iron--and now I am to be killed with pins! Pursued into my own house, harassed with impunity, worn out, tortured every minute, to gratify some unknown, miserable hate!--When I say unknown, I am wrong--it is d'Aigrigny, the renegade, who is at the bottom of all this, I am sure. I have in the world but one enemy, and he is the man. I must finish with him, for I am weary of this--it is too much." "But, general, remember he is a priest--" "What do I care for that? Have I not seen him handle the sword? I will yet make a soldier's blood rise to the forehead of the traitor!" But, general--" "I tell you, that I must be avenged on some one," cried the marshal, with an accent of the most violent exasperation; "I tell you, that I mast find a living representative of these cowardly plots, that I may at once make an end of him!--They press upon me from all sides; they make my life a hell--you know it--and you do nothing to save me from these tortures, which are killing me as by a slow fire. Can I have no one in whom to trust?" "General, I can't let you say that," replied Dagobert, in a calm, but firm voice. "And why not?" "General, I can't let you say that you have no one to trust to. You might end perhaps in believing it, and then it would be even worse for yourself, than for those who well know their devotion for you, and would go through fire and water to serve you. I am one of them--and you know it." These simple words, pronounced by Dagobert with a tone of deep conviction, recalled the marshal to himself; for although his honorable and generous character might from time to time be embittered by irritation and grief, he soon recovered his natural equanimity. So, addressing Dagobert in a less abrupt tone, he said to him, though still much agitated: "You are right. I could never doubt your fidelity. But anger deprives me of my senses. This infamous letter is enough to drive one mad. I am unjust, ungrateful--yes, ungrateful--and to you!" "Do not think of me, general. With a kind word at the end, you might blow me up all the year round. But what has happened?" The general's countenance again darkened, as he answered rapidly: "I am looked down upon, and despised!" "You?" "Yes I. After all," resumed the marshal bitterly, "why should I conceal from you this new wound? If I doubted you a moment, I owe you some compensation, and you shall know all. For some time past, I perceived that, when I meet any of my old companions in arms, they try to avoid me -" "What! was it to this that the anonymous letter alluded?" "Yes; and it spoke the truth," replied the marshal, with a sigh of grief and indignation. "But it is impossible, general--you are so loved and respected--" "Those are mere words; I speak of positive facts. When I appear, the conversation is often interrupted. Instead of treating me as an old comrade, they affect towards me a rigorously cold politeness. There are a thousand little shades, a thousand trifles, which wound the heart, but which it is impossible to notice--" "What you are now saying, general, quite confounds me," replied Dagobert. "You assure me of it, and I am forced to believe you." "Oh, it is intolerable! I was resolved to ease my heart of it; so, this morning, I went to General d'Havrincourt, who was colonel with me in the Imperial Guard; he is honor and honesty itself. I went to him with open heart. `I perceive,' said I, `the coldness that is shown me. Some calumny must be circulating to my disadvantage. Tell me all about it. Knowing the attack, I shall be able to defend myself--' "Well, general?" "D'Havrincourt remained impassible ceremoniously polite. To all my questions he answered coldly: `I am not aware, my lord duke, that any calumny has been circulated with regard to you.'--'Do not call me "my lord duke," my dear D'Havrincourt; we are old fellow-soldiers and friends, my honor is somewhat touchy, I confess, and I find that you and our comrades do not receive me so cordially, as in times past. You do not deny it; I see, I know, I feel it.' To all this D'Havrincourt answered, with the same coldness: `I have never seen any one wanting in respect towards you.'--'I am not talking of respect,' exclaimed I, as I clasped his hand affectionately, though I observed that he but feebly returned the pressure; `I speak of cordiality, confidence, which I once enjoyed, while now I am treated like a stranger. Why is it? What has occasioned this change?'--Still cold and reserved, he answered: `These distinctions are so nice, marshal, that it is impossible for me to give you any opinion on the subject.'--My heart swelled with grief and anger. What was I to do? To quarrel with D'Havrincourt would have been absurd. A sense of dignity forced me to break off the interview, but it has only confirmed my fears. Thus," added the marshal, getting more and more animated, "thus am I fallen from the esteem to which I am entitled, thus am I despised, without even knowing the cause! Is it not odious? If they would only utter a charge against me--I should at least be able to defend myself, and to find an answer. But no, no! not even a word--only the cold politeness that is worse than any insult. Oh! it is too much, too much! for all this comes but in addition to other cares. What a life is mine since the death of my father! If I did but find rest and happiness at home--but no! I come in, but to read shameful letters; and still worse," added the marshal, in a heartrending tone, and after a moment's hesitation, "to find my children grow more and more indifferent towards me-- "Yes," continued he, perceiving the amazement of Dagobert, "and yet they know how much I love them!" "Your daughters indifferent!" exclaimed Dagobert, in astonishment. "You make them such a reproach?" "Oh! I do not blame them. They have hardly had time to know me." "Not had time to know you?" returned the soldier, in a tone of remonstrance, and warming up in his turn. "Ah! of what did their mother talk to them, except you? and I too! what could I teach your children except to know and love you?" "You take their part--that is natural--they love you better than they do me," said the marshal, with growing bitterness. Dagobert felt himself so painfully affected, that he looked at the marshal without answering. "Yes!" continued the other; "yes! it may be base and ungrateful--but no matter!--Twenty times I have felt jealous of the affectionate confidence which my children display towards you, while with me they seem always to be in fear. If their melancholy faces ever grow animated for a moment, it is in talking to you, in seeing you; while for me they have nothing but cold respect--and that kills me. Sure of the affection of my children, I would have braved and surmounted every difficulty--" Then, seeing that Dagobert rushed towards the door which led to the chamber of Rose and Blanche, the marshal asked: "Where are you going?" "For your daughters, general." "What for?" "To bring them face to face with you--to tell them: `My children, your father thinks that you do not love him.'--I will only say that--and then you will see." "Dagobert! I forbid you to do it," cried the marshal, hastily. "I don't care for that--you have no right to be unjust to the poor children," said the soldier, as he again advanced towards the door. "Dagobert, I command you to remain here," cried the marshal. "Listen to me, general. I am your soldier, your inferior, your servant, if you will," said the old grenadier, roughly; "but neither rank nor station shall keep me silent, when I have to defend your daughters. All must be explained--I know but one way--and that is to bring honest people face to face." If the marshal had not seized him by the arm, Dagobert would have entered the apartment of the young girls. "Remain!" said the marshal, so imperiously that the soldier, accustomed to obedience, hung his head, and stood still. "What would you do?" resumed the marshal. "Tell my children, that I think they do not love me? induce them to affect a tenderness they do not feel--when it is not their fault, but mine?" "Oh, general!" said Dagobert, in a tone of despair, "I no longer feel anger, in hearing you speak thus of your children. It is such grief, that it breaks my heart!" Touched by the expression of the soldier's countenance, the marshal continued, less abruptly: "Come, I may be wrong; and yet I ask you, without bitterness or jealousy, are not my children more confiding, more familiar, with you than with me?" "God bless me, general!" cried Dagobert; "if you come to that, they are more familiar with Spoil-sport than with either of us. You are their father; and, however kind a father may be, he must always command some respect. Familiar with me! I should think so. A fine story! What the devil should they respect in me, who, except that I am six feet high, and wear a moustache, might pass for the old woman that nursed them?--and then I must say, that, even before the death of your worthy father, you were sad and full of thought; the children have remarked that; and what you take for coldness on their part, is, I am sure, anxiety for you. Come, general; you are not just. You complain, because they love you too much." "I complain, because I suffer," said the marshal, in an agony of excitement. "I alone know my sufferings." "They must indeed be grievous, general," said Dagobert, carried further than he would otherwise have gone by his attachment for the orphans, "since those who love you feel them so cruelly."
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