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- The Mysteries of Paris V2 - 5/113 -
"Ha! ha! I rayther think you have got enough for once!" cried Anastasia laughing loudly, and folding her arms in an attitude of triumph.
While Mrs. Pipelet was thus venting her rage upon the bailiffs, Morel, overcome with gratitude, had thrown himself at Rudolph's feet.
"Ah, sir, you have saved our lives! To whom do we owe this unlooked-for succor?"
"'_To HIM who watches over and protects honest men_,' as our immortal Beranger says."
Louise, the lapidary's daughter, was possessed of remarkable loveliness; tall and graceful, she resembled the classic Juno for regularity of features, and the huntress Diana for the finish of her tall figure. In spite of her sunburned complexion, her rough and freckled hands, beautifully formed, but hardened by domestic labor; in spite of her humble garments, this girl possessed a nobility of exterior.
We will not attempt to describe the gratitude and surprise of this family, so abruptly snatched from a fearful fate; in the first burst of happiness, even the death of the little girl was forgotten. Rudolph alone remarked the extreme paleness of Louise, and the utter abstraction with which she seemed oppressed, in spite of her father's deliverance. Wishing to completely satisfy the Morels as to apprehensions about the future, and to explain a liberality which might otherwise betray suspicions as to the character he thought proper to assume, Rudolph said to the lapidary, whom he took to the landing (while Miss Dimpleton broke to Louise the news of her sister's death):
"Yesterday morning a young lady came to see you."
"Yes, sir, and appeared much distressed at the situation in which she found us."
"It is to her you must return thanks, and not to me."
"Is it indeed true, sir? That young lady--"
"Is your benefactress. I have often waited upon her with goods from our warehouse. The day before yesterday, while I was here engaging an apartment on the fourth story, I learned from the portress your cruel position. Knowing this lady's charity, I went to her. She came, so that she might herself judge of the extent of your misfortunes, with which she was painfully moved; but as your situation might be the result of misconduct, she begged of me as soon as possible, to make some inquiries respecting you, as she was desirous of apportioning her benefits according to your deserts."
"Good and excellent lady! I had reason to say--"
"As you observed to Madeleine: 'If the rich knew,' is it not so?"
"How, sir!--you know the name of my wife! Who told you that?"
"Since six o' clock this morning," said Rudolph, interrupting Morel, "I have been concealed in the little loft which adjoins your garret."
"Yes, and I have heard all that passed, my honest man."
"Oh, sir! but why were you there?"
"I could employ no better means of getting at your real character and sentiments. I wished to see and hear all, without your knowledge. The porter had spoken to me of this little nook, and offered it to me that I might keep my wood in it. This morning I requested him to permit me to visit it; I remained there an hour, and I feel convinced that there does not exist a character more worthy, noble, and courageously resigned than yours."
"Nay, sir, indeed I cannot see much merit in my conduct; I was born honest, and cannot act otherwise than I have done."
"I know it; and for that reason I do not praise your conduct but appreciate it. I had quitted the loft to release you from the bailiffs when I heard your daughter's voice. I wished to leave her the pleasure of saving you; unhappily the rapacity of the bailiffs prevented poor Louise from enjoying so sweet a delight. I then made my appearance. Fortunately, I yesterday recovered several sums of money that were due to me, and I was able to give an advance to your benefactress by paying for you this unfortunate debt. But your misfortunes are so great, so unmerited, so nobly sustained, that the interest felt for you and deserved, will not stop here. I can, in the name of your preserving angel, assure you of future repose with happiness to you and yours."
"Is it possible? But at least tell me her name, sir--the name of this preserving angel, as you have called her."
"Yes, she is an angel; and you have still reason to say that the great and the lowly have their troubles."
"Is this lady, then, unhappy?"
"Who is there without their sorrows? But I see no cause to withhold her name. This lady is called--"
Remembering that Mrs. Pipelet knew that Lady d'Harville had come to her house to inquire for the Commander, Rudolph, hearing the indiscreet gossiping of the portress, said after a moment's reflection: "I will tell you the name of this lady on one condition--"
"Oh, pray, speak, sir!"
"It is, that you will repeat it to no one. You understand!--to no one."
"Oh, I will solemnly promise that to you. But cannot I at least offer my thanks to this savior of the unhappy?"
"I will ask Lady d'Harville, and I doubt not she will give her consent."
"Then this lady is--"
"The Marchioness d'Harville."
"Oh, I shall never forget that name! It shall be my saint, my adoration! To think that, thanks to her, my wife and children are saved! saved!--no, not all, not all, my poor little Adele, we shall never see her again. Alas! but it is necessary to remember that any day we might have lost her, for she was doomed." Here the poor lapidary brushed the tears from his eyes.
"As regards the last sad duties to be performed for this little one," said Rudolph, "trust to my advice; this is what must be done: I do not yet occupy my room, which is large, wholesome, and well aired. There is already a bed in it; we will convey thither all that is necessary for yourself and family to be established there till Lady d'Harville has arranged where to lodge you suitably. Your child's body will remain in the garret, where it shall to-night, as is customary, be attended and watched by a priest. I will go and request M. Pipelet to undertake the management of these sad duties."
"But, sir, it is not necessary to deprive you of your room. Now that we are in peace, and I no longer fear being taken to prison, our humble apartment appears to me a palace, particularly if my dear Louise remains with us, to attend to the family as formerly."
"Your Louise will not again leave you. You said not long ago it would be a luxury to have her always with you; as some recompense for your past sufferings, she shall never leave you again."
"Oh, sir, can it be possible? It surely cannot be a reality! My senses seem lulled in a sweet dream. I have never thought much of religion, but this sudden change from so much misery to so much happiness shows the hand of an overruling Providence."
"And if a father's grief could be assuaged by promises of reward or recompense," said Rudolph, "I should remind you, that although the Almighty hand has removed one of your daughters from you, He has mercifully restored another."
"True, true, sir. Henceforth we shall have our dear Louise to content us for the loss of poor little Adele."
"You will accept my chamber, will you not? If you refuse, how can you manage the mournful duties toward the poor child that is gone? Think also of your wife, whose mind is already so distracted--to leave her for four-and-twenty hours with such an afflicting spectacle before her eyes!"
"You think of everything--of all! How kind you are, sir!"
"It is your benefactress you must thank, for her goodness inspires me. I say to you as she would say, and I am sure she would approve of all; so it is agreed that you will accept the offer of my room. Now tell me, this Jacques Ferrand--"
A dark frown passed across Morel's face.
"This Jacques Ferrand," continued Rudolph, "is the same lawyer who resides in the Rue du Sentier?"
"Yes, sir; do you know him?" Then, his fears newly awakened on the subject of Louise, Morel exclaimed: "Since you have heard all that passed, sir, say, say--have I not a right to hate this man? And who knows, if my child, my Louise--"
He could not proceed; he hid his face with his hands. Rudolph understood his fears.
"The lawyer's proceedings," said he to him, "ought to reassure you, as he doubtless ordered your arrest to be revenged for the scorn of your daughter; I have good reason, too, to believe that he is a dishonest man. If he is so," resumed Rudolph, after a moment's silence, "let us believe that Providence will punish him. If the justice of Heaven
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