this in the depths of forests, where no one could witness your magnanimity,--none could behold you--and without other desire, after you were rescued than modestly to conceal blessed wounds under your black robe! My father is right, by Jove! can you still contend that you are not as brave as he?" "And besides, too," resumed Dagobert, "the dear boy did all that for a thankless paymaster; for it is true, Agricola, that his wounds will never change his humble black robe of a priest into the rich robe of a bishop!" "I am not so disinterested as I may seem to be," said Gabriel to Dagobert, smiling meekly. "If I am deemed worthy, a great recompense awaits me on high." "As to all that, my boy," said Dagobert, "I do not understand it; and I will not argue about it. I maintain it, that my old cross of honor would be at least as deservedly affixed to your cassock as upon my uniform." "But these recompenses are never conferred upon humble priests like Gabriel," said Agricola, "and if you did know, dear father, how much virtue and valor is among those whom the highest orders in the priesthood insolently call the inferior clergy,--the unseen merit and the blind devotedness to be found amongst worthy, but obscure, country curates, who are inhumanly treated and subjugated to a pitiless yoke by the lordly lawnsleeves! Like us, those poor priests are worthy laborers in their vocation; and for them, also, all generous hearts ought to demand enfranchisement! Sons of common people, like ourselves, and useful as we are, justice ought to be rendered both to them and to us. Do I say right, Gabriel? You will not contradict it; for you have told me, that your ambition would have been to obtain a small country curacy; because you understand the good that you could work within it." "My desire is still the same," said Gabriel sadly: "but unfortunately--" and then, as if he wished to escape from a painful thought, and to change the conversation, he, addressing himself to Dagobert, added: "Believe me: be more just than to undervalue your own courage by exalting mine. Your courage must be very great--very great; for, after a battle, the spectacle of the carnage must be truly terrible to a generous and feeling heart. We, at least, though we may be killed, do not kill." At these words of the missionary, the soldier drew himself up erect, looked upon Gabriel with astonishment, and said, "This is most surprising!" "What is?" inquired Agricola. "What Gabriel has just told us," replied Dagobert, "brings to my mind what I experienced in warfare on the battlefield in proportion as I advanced in years. Listen, my children: more than once, on the night after a general engagement, I have been mounted as a vidette,--alone, -by night,--amid the moonlight, on the field of battle which remained in our possession, and upon which lay the bodies of seven or eight thousand of the slain, amongst whom were mingled the slaughtered remains of some of my old comrades: and then this sad scene, when the profound silence has restored me to my senses from the thirst for bloodshed and the delirious whirling of my sword (intoxicated like the rest), I have said to myself, 'for what have these men been killed?--FOR WHAT--FOR WHAT?' But this feeling, well understood as it was, hindered me not, on the following morning, when the trumpets again sounded the charge, from rushing once more to the slaughter. But the same thought always recurred when my arm became weary with carnage; and after wiping my sabre upon the mane of my horse, I have said to myself, 'I have killed!--killed!!--killed !!! and, FOR WHAT!!!'" The missionary and the blacksmith exchanged looks on hearing the old soldier give utterance to this singular retrospection of the past. "Alas!" said Gabriel to him, "all generous hearts feel as you did during the solemn moments, when the intoxication of glory has subsided, and man is left alone to the influence of the good instincts planted in his bosom." "And that should prove, my brave boy," rejoined Dagobert, "that you are greatly better than I; for those noble instincts, as you call them, have never abandoned you. * * * * But how the deuce did you escape from the claws of the infuriated savages who had already crucified you?" At this question of Dagobert, Gabriel started and reddened so visibly, that the soldier said to him: "If you ought not or cannot answer my request, let us say no more about it." "I have nothing to conceal, either from you or from my brother," replied the missionary with altered voice. "Only; it will be difficult for me to make you comprehend what I cannot comprehend myself." "How is that?" asked Agricola with surprise. "Surely," said Gabriel, reddening more deeply, "I must have been deceived by a fallacy of my senses, during that abstracted moment in which I awaited death with resignation. My enfeebled mind, in spite of me, must have been cheated by an illusion; or that, which to the present hour has remained inexplicable, would have been more slowly developed; and I should have known with greater certainty that it was the strange woman--" Dagobert, while listening to the missionary, was perfectly amazed; for he also had vainly tried to account for the unexpected succor which had freed him and the two orphans from the prison at Leipsic. "Of what woman do you speak?" asked Agricola. "Of her who saved me," was the reply. "A woman saved you from the hands of the savages?" said Dagobert. "Yes," replied Gabriel, though absorbed in his reflections, "a woman, young and beautiful!" "And who was this woman?" asked Agricola. "I know not. When I asked her, she replied, 'I am the sister of the distressed!'" "And whence came she? Whither went she?" asked Dagobert, singularly interested. "`I go wheresoever there is suffering,' she replied," answered the missionary;" and she departed, going towards the north of America-- towards those desolate regions in which there is eternal snow, where the nights are without end." "As in Siberia," said Dagobert, who had become very thoughtful. "But," resumed Agricola, addressing himself to Gabriel, who seemed also to have become more and more absorbed, "in what manner or by what means did this woman come to your assistance?" The missionary was about to reply to the last question, when there was heard a gentle tap at the door of the garret apartment, which renewed the fears that Agricola had forgotten since the arrival of his adopted brother. "Agricola," said a sweet voice outside the door, "I wish to speak with you as soon as possible." The blacksmith recognized Mother Bunch's voice, and opened the door. But the young sempstress, instead of entering, drew back into the dark passage, and said, with a voice of anxiety: "Agricola, it is an hour since broad day, and you have not yet departed! How imprudent! I have been watching below, in the street, until now, and have seen nothing alarming; but they may come any instant to arrest you. Hasten, I conjure you, your departure for the abode of Miss de Cardoville. Not a minute should be lost." "Had it not been for the arrival of Gabriel, I should have been gone. But I could not resist the happiness of remaining some little time with him." "Gabriel here!" said Mother Bunch, with sweet surprise; for, as has been stated, she had been brought up with him and Agricola. "Yes," answered Agricola, "for half an hour he has been with my father and me." "What happiness I shall have in seeing him again," said the sewing-girl. "He doubtless came upstairs while I had gone for a brief space to your mother, to ask if I could be useful in any way on account of the young ladies; but they have been so fatigued that they still sleep. Your mother has requested me to give you this letter for your father. She has just received it." "Thanks." "Well," resumed Mother Bunch, "now that you have seen Gabriel, do not delay long. Think what a blow it would he for your father, if they came to arrest you in his very presence mon Dieu!" "You are right," said Agricola; "it is indispensable that I should depart--while near Gabriel in spite of my anxiety, my fears were forgotten." "Go quickly, then; and if Miss de Cardoville should grant this favor, perhaps in a couple of hours you will return, quite at ease both as to yourself and us." "True! a very few minutes more; and I'll come down." "I return to watch at the door. If I perceive anything. I'll come up again to apprise you. But pray, do not delay." "Be easy, good sister." Mother Bunch hurriedly descended the staircase, to resume her watch at the street door, and Agricola re-entered his garret. "Dear father," he said to Dagobert, "my mother has just received this letter, and she requests you to read it." "Very well; read it for me, my boy." And Agricola read as follows: MADAME.--I understand that your husband has been charged by General Simon with an affair of very great importance. Will you, as soon as your husband arrives in Paris, request him to come to my office at Chartres without a moment's delay. I am instructed to deliver to himself, and to no other person, some documents indispensable to the interests of General Simon. "DURAND, Notary at Chartres." Dagobert looked at his son with astonishment, and said to him, "Who can have told this gentleman already of my arrival in Paris?" "Perhaps, father," said Agricola, "this is the notary to whom you transmitted some papers, and whose address you have lost." "But his name was not Durand; and I distinctly recollect that his address was Paris, not Chartres. And, besides," said the soldier, thoughtfully, "if he has some important documents, why didn't he transmit them to me?" "It seems to me that you ought not to neglect going to him as soon as possible," said Agricola, secretly rejoiced that this circumstance would withdraw his father for about two days, during which time his (Agricola's) fate would be decided in one way or other. "Your counsel is good," replied his father. "This thwarts your intentions in some degree?" asked Gabriel. "Rather, my lads; for I counted upon passing the day with you. However, `duty before everything.' Having come happily from Siberia to Paris, it is not for me to fear a journey from Paris to Chartres, when it is required on an affair of importance. In twice twenty-four hours I shall be back again. But the deuce take me if I expected to leave Paris for Chartres to-day. Luckily, I leave Rose and Blanche with my good wife; and Gabriel, their angel, as they call him, will be here to keep them company." "That is, unfortunately, impossible," said the missionary, sadly. "This visit on my arrival is also a farewell visit." "A farewell visit! Now!" exclaimed Dagobert and Agricola both at once. "Alas, yes!" "You start already on another mission?" said Dagobert; "surely it is not possible?" "I must answer no question upon this subject," said Gabriel, suppressing a sigh: "but from now, for some time, I cannot, and ought not, come again into this house." "Why, my brave boy," resumed Dagobert with emotion, "there is something in thy conduct that savors of constraint, of oppression. I know something of men. He you call superior, whom I saw for some moments after the shipwreck at Cardoville Castle, has a bad look; and I am sorry to see you enrolled under such a commander." "At Cardoville Castle!" exclaimed Agricola, struck with the identity of the name with that of the young lady of the golden hair; "was it in Cardoville Castle that you were received after your shipwreck?" "Yes, my boy; why, does that astonish you?" asked Dagobert. "Nothing father; but were the owners of the castle there at the time?" "No; for the steward, when I applied to him for an opportunity to return thanks for the kind hospitality we had experienced, informed me that the person to whom the house belonged was resident at Paris." "What a singular coincidence," thought Agricola, "if the young lady should be the proprietor of the dwelling which bears her name!" This reflection having recalled to Agricola the promise which he had made to Mother Bunch, he said to Dagobert; "Dear father, excuse me; but it is already late, and I ought to be in the workshop by eight o'clock." "That is too true, my boy. Let us go. This party is adjourned till my return from Chartres. Embrace me once more, and take care of yourself." Since Dagobert had spoken of constraint and oppression to Gabriel, the latter had continued pensive. At the moment when Agricola approached him to shake hands, and to bid him adieu, the missionary said to him solemnly, with a grave voice, and in a tone of decision that astonished both the blacksmith and the soldier: "My dear brother, one word more. I have come here to say to you also that within a few days hence I shall have need of you; and of you also, my father (permit me so to call you)," added Gabriel, with emotion, as he turned round to Dagobert. "How! you speak thus to us!" exclaimed Agricola; "what is the matter?" "Yes," replied Gabriel, "I need the advice and assistance of two men of honor--of two men of resolution;--and I can reckon upon you two--can I not? At any hour, on whatever day it may be, upon a word from me, will you come?" Dagobert and his son regarded each other in silence, astonished at the accents of the missionary. Agricola felt an oppression of the heart. If he should be a prisoner when his brother should require his assistance, what could be done? "At every hour, by night or by day, my brave boy, you may depend upon us," said Dagobert, as much surprised as interested--"You have a father and a brother; make your own use of them." "Thanks, thanks," said Gabriel, "you set me quite at ease." "I'll tell you what," resumed the soldier, "were it not for your priest's robe, I should believe, from the manner in which you have spoken to us, that you are about to be engaged in a duel--in a mortal combat." "In a duel?" said Gabriel, starting. "Yes; it may be a duel--uncommon and fearful--at which it is necessary to have two witnesses such as you-- A FATHER and A BROTHER!" Some instants afterwards, Agricola, whose anxiety was continually increasing, set off in haste for the dwelling of Mademoiselle de Cardoville, to which we now beg leave to take the reader. CHAPTER XXXIII. THE PAVILION. Dizier House was one of the largest and handsomest in the Rue Babylone, in Paris. Nothing could be more severe, more imposing, or more depressing than the aspect of this old mansion. Several immense windows, filled with small squares of glass, painted a grayish white, increased the sombre effect of the massive layers of huge stones, blackened by time, of which the fabric was composed. This dwelling bore a resemblance to all the others that had been erected in the same quarter towards the middle of the last century. It was surmounted in front by a pediment; it had an elevated ground floor, which was reached from the outside by a circular flight of broad stone steps.
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