The Companions of Jehu
10. The Family Of Roland
The carriage which had stopped before the gate was that which brought Roland
back to his family, accompanied by Sir John.
The family was so far from expecting him that, as we have said, all the lights in
the house were extinguished, all the windows in darkness, even Amélie's. The
postilion had cracked his whip smartly for the last five hundred yards, but the
noise was insufficient to rouse these country people from their first sleep. When
the carriage had stopped, Roland opened the door, sprang out without touching
the steps, and tugged at the bell-handle. Five minutes elapsed, and, after each
peal, Roland turned to the carriage, saying: "Don't be impatient, Sir John."
At last a window opened and a childish but firm voice cried out: "Who is ringing
"Ah, is that you, little Edouard?" said Roland. "Make haste and let us in."
The child leaped back with a shout of delight and disappeared. But at the same
time his voice was heard in the corridors, crying: "Mother! wake up; it is Roland!
Sister! wake up; it is the big brother!"
Then, clad only in his night robe and his little slippers, he ran down the steps,
crying: "Don't be impatient, Roland; here I am."
An instant later the key grated in the lock, and the bolts slipped back in their
sockets. A white figure appeared in the portico, and flew rather than ran to the
gate, which an instant later turned on its hinges and swung open. The child
sprang upon Roland's neck and hung there.
"Ah, brother! Brother!" he exclaimed, embracing the young man, laughing and
crying at the same time. "Ah, big brother Roland! How happy mother will be; and
Amélie, too! Every body is well. I am the sickest--ah! except Michel, the
gardener, you know, who has sprained his leg. But why aren't you in uniform?
Oh! how ugly you are in citizen's clothes! Have you just come from Egypt? Did
you bring me the silver-mounted pistols and the beautiful curved sword? No?
Then you are not nice, and I won't kiss you any more. Oh, no, no! Don't be afraid!
I love you just the same!"
And the boy smothered the big brother with kisses while he showered questions
upon him. The Englishman, still seated in the carriage, looked smilingly through
the window at the scene.
In the midst of these fraternal embraces came the voice of a woman; the voice of
"Where is he, my Roland, my darling son?" asked Madame de Montrevel, in a
voice fraught with such violent, joyous emotion that it was almost painful. "Where
is he? Can it be true that he has returned; really true that he is not a prisoner, not
dead? Is he really living?"
The child, at her voice, slipped from his brother's arms like an eel, dropped upon
his feet on the grass, and, as if moved by a spring, bounded toward his mother.
"This way, mother; this way!" said he, dragging his mother, half dressed as she
was, toward Roland. When he saw his mother Roland could no longer contain