half of her light, silky hair; her plaid dress, of an excessively broad pattern, was open in front, and the almost transparent gauze, rather too honest in its revelations, hardly covered the charms of the form beneath. The grisette having run all the way upstairs, held in her hands the ends of her large blue shawl, which, falling from her shoulders, had slid down to her wasp-like waist, and there been stopped by the swell of the figure. If we enter into these details, it is to explain how, at the sight of this pretty creature, dressed in so impertinent and almost indecent, a fashion, Mdlle. de Cardoville, who thought she saw in her a successful rival, felt her indignation, grief, and shame redoubled. But judge of the surprise and confusion of Adrienne, when Mdlle. Rose- Pompon said to her, with the utmost freedom and pertness, "I am delighted to see you, madame. You and I must have a long talk together. Only I must begin by kissing poor Mother Bunch--with your permission, madame!" To understand the tone and manner with which this word, "madame" was pronounced, you must have been present at some stormy discussion between two Rose-Pompons, jealous of each other; then you would be able to judge how much provoking hostility may be compressed into the word "madame," under certain circumstances. Amazed at the impudence of Rose-Pompon, Mdlle. de Cardoville remained mute; whilst Agricola, entirely occupied with the interest he took in the workgirl, who had never withdrawn her eyes from him since he entered the room, and with the remembrance of the painful scene he had just quitted, whispered to Adrienne, without remarking the grisette's effrontery, "Alas, lady! it is all over. Cephyse has just breathed her last sigh, without recovering her senses." "Unfortunate girl!" said Adrienne, with emotion; and for the moment she forgot Rose-Pompon. "We must keep this sad news from Mother Bunch, and only let her know it hereafter, with great caution," resumed Agricola. "Luckily, little Rose- Pompon knows nothing about it." And he pointed to the grisette, who was now stooping down by the side of the workgirl. On hearing Agricola speak so familiarly of Rose-Pompon, Adrienne's amazement increased. It is impossible to describe what she felt; yet, strangely enough, her sufferings grew less and less, and her anxiety diminished, as she listened to the chatter of the grisette. "Oh, my good dear!" said the latter, with as much volubility as emotion, while her pretty blue eyes were filled with tears; "is it possible that you did so stupid a thing? Do not poor people help one another? Could you not apply to me? You knew that others are welcome to whatever is mine, and I would have made a raffle of Philemon's bazaar," added this singular girl, with a burst of feeling, at once sincere, touching, and grotesque; "I would have sold his three boots, pipes, boating-costume, bed, and even his great drinking-glass, and at all events you should not have been brought to such an ugly pass. Philemon would not have minded, for he is a good fellow; and if he had minded, it would have been all the same. Thank heaven! we are not married. I am only wishing to remind you that you should have thought of little Rose-Pompon." "I know you are obliging and kind, miss," said Mother Bunch: for she had heard from her sister that Rose-Pompon, like so many of her class, had a warm and generous heart. "After all," resumed the grisette, wiping with the back of her hand the tip of her little nose, down which a tear was trickling, "you may tell me that you did not know where I had taken up my quarters. It's a queer story, I can tell you. When I say queer," added Rose-Pompon, with a deep sigh, "it is quite the contrary--but no matter: I need not trouble you with that. One thing is certain; you are getting better--and you and Cephyse will not do such a thing again. She is said to be very weak. Can I not see her yet, M. Agricola? "No," said the smith, with embarrassment, for Mother Bunch kept her eyes fixed upon him; "you must have patience." "But I may see her to-day, Agricola?" exclaimed the hunchback. "We will talk about that. Only be calm, I entreat." "Agricola is right; you must be reasonable, my good dear," resumed Rose- Pompon; "we will wait patiently. I can wait too, for I have to talk presently to this lady;" and Rose-Pompon glanced at Adrienne with the expression of an angry cat. "Yes, yes; I can wait; for I long to tell Cephyse also that she may reckon upon me." Here Rose-Pompon bridled up very prettily, and thus continued, "Do not be uneasy! It is the least one can do, when one is in a good position, to share the advantages with one's friends, who are not so well off. It would be a fine thing to keep one's happiness to one's self! to stuff it with straw, and put it under a glass, and let no one touch it! When I talk of happiness, it's only to make talk; it is true in one sense; but to another, you see, my good dear--Bah! I am only seventeen--but no matter--I might go on talking till tomorrow, and you would not be any the wiser. So let me kiss you once more, and don't be down-hearted--nor Cephyse either, do you hear? for I shall be close at hand." And, stooping still lower, Rose-Pompon cordially embraced Mother Bunch. It is impossible to express what Mdlle. de Cardoville felt during this conversation, or rather during this monologue of the grisette on the subject of the attempted suicide. The eccentric jargon of Mdlle. Rose- Pompon, her liberal facility in disposing of Philemon's bazaar, to the owner of which (as she said) she was luckily not married--the goodness of her heart, which revealed itself in her offers of service--her contrasts, her impertinence, her drollery--all this was so new and inexplicable to Mdlle. de Cardoville, that she remained for some time mute and motionless with surprise. Such, then, was the creature to whom Djalma had sacrificed her! If Adrienne's first impression at sight of Rose-Pompon had been horribly painful, reflection soon awakened doubts, which were to become shortly ineffable hopes. Remembering the interview she had overheard between Rodin and Djalma, when, concealed in the conservatory, she had wished to prove the Jesuit's fidelity, Adrienne, asked herself if it was reasonable, if it was possible to believe, that the prince, whose ideas of love seemed to be so poetical, so elevated, so pure, could find any charm in the disjointed and silly chat of this young girl? Adrienne could not hesitate; she pronounced the thing impossible, from the moment she had seen her rival near, and witnessed her style both of manners and conversation, which, without detracting from the prettiness of her features, gave them a trivial and not very attractive character. Adrienne's doubts with regard to the deep love of the prince for Rose- Pompon were hence soon changed to complete incredulity. Endowed with too much sense and penetration, not to perceive that this apparent connection, so inconceivable on the part of Djalma, must conceal some mystery, Mdlle. de Cardoville felt her hopes revive. As this consoling thought arose in her mind, her heart, until now so painfully oppressed, began once more to dilate; she felt vague aspirations towards a better future; and yet, cruelly warned by the past, she feared to yield too readily to a mere illusion, for she remembered the notorious fact that the prince had really appeared in public with this girl. But now that Mdlle. de Cardoville could fully appreciate what she was, she found the conduct of the prince only the more incomprehensible. And how can we judge soundly and surely of that which is enveloped in mystery? And then a secret presentiment told her, that it would, perhaps, be beside the couch of the poor sempstress, whom she had just saved from death, that, by a providential coincidence, she would learn the secret on which depended the happiness of her life. The emotions which agitated she heart of Adrienne, became so violent, that her fine face was flushed with a bright red, her bosom heaved, and her large, black eyes, lately dimmed by sadness, once more shone with a mild radiance. She waited with inexpressible impatience for what was to follow. In the interview, with which Rose-Pompon had threatened her, and which a few minutes before Adrienne would have declined with all the dignity of legitimate indignation, she now hoped to find the explanation of a mystery, which it was of such importance for her to clear up. After once more tenderly embracing Mother Bunch, Rose-Pompon got up from the ground, and, turning towards Adrienne, eyed her from head to foot, with the utmost coolness, and said to her, in a somewhat impertinent tone: "It is now our turn, madame"--the word "madame" still pronounced with the accent before described--"we have a little matter to settle together." "I am at your order," answered Adrienne, with much mildness and simplicity. At sight of the triumphant and decisive air of Rose-Pompon, and on hearing her challenge to Mdlle. de Cardoville, the worthy Agricola, after exchanging a few words with Mother Bunch, opened his eyes and ears very wide, and remained staring in amazement at the effrontery of the grisette; then, advancing towards her, he whispered, as he plucked her by the sleeve: "I say, are you mad? Do you know to whom you speak?" "Well! what then? Is not one pretty woman worth another! I say that for the lady. She will not eat me, I suppose," replied Rose-Pompon, aloud, and with an air of defiance. "I have to talk with madame, here. I am sure, she knows why and wherefore. If not, I will tell her; it will not take me long." Adrienne, who feared some ridiculous exposure on the subject of Djalma, in the presence of Agricola, made a sign to the latter, and thus answered the grisette: "I am ready to hear you, miss, but not in this place. You will understand why." "Very well, madame, I have my key. You can come to any apartments"--the last word pronounced with an air of ostentatious importance. "Let us go then to your apartments, miss since you to me the honor to receive me there," answered Mdlle. de Cardoville, in her mild, sweet voice, and with a slight inclination of the head, so full of exquisite politeness, that Rose-Pompon was daunted, notwithstanding all her effrontery. "What, lady!" said Agricola to Adrienne; "you are good enough--" "M. Agricola," said Mdlle. de Cardoville, interrupting him, "please to remain with our poor friend: I shall soon be back." Then, approaching Mother Bunch, who shared in Agricola's astonishment she said to her: "Excuse me for leaving you a few seconds. Only regain a little strength, and, when I return, I will take you home with me, dear sister." Then, turning towards Rose-Pompon, who was more and more surprised at hearing so fine a lady call the workgirl her sister, she added: "I am ready whenever you please, mademoiselle." "Beg pardon, madame, if I go first to show you the way, but it's a regular break-neck sort of a place," answered Rose-Pompon, pressing her elbows to her sides, and screwing up her lips to prove that she was no stranger to polite manners and fine language. And the two rivals quitted the garret together, leaving Agricola alone with Mother Bunch. Luckily, the disfigured remains of the Bacchanal Queen had been carried into Mother Arsene's subterraneous shop, so that the crowd of spectators, always attracted by any fatal event, had assembled in front of the house; and Rose-Pompon, meeting no one in the little court she had to traverse with Adrienne, continued in ignorance of the tragical death of her old friend Cephyse. In a few moments the grisette and Mdlle. de Cardoville had reached Philemon's apartment. This singular abode remained in the same state of picturesque disorder in which Rose-Pompon had left it, when Ninny Moulin came to fetch her to act the heroine of a mysterious adventure. Adrienne, completely ignorant of the eccentric modes of life of students and their companions, could not, in spite of the thoughts which occupied her mind, forebear examining, with a mixture of surprise and curiosity, this strange and grotesque chaos, composed of the most dissimilar objects--disguises for masked balls, skulls with pipes in their mouths, odd boots standing on book shelves, monstrous bottles, women's clothes, ends of tobacco pipes, etc., etc. To the first astonishment of Adrienne succeeded an impression of painful repugnance. The young lady felt herself uneasy and out of place in this abode, not of poverty, but disorder; whilst, on the contrary, the sewing-girl's miserable garret had caused her no such feeling. Rose-Pompon, notwithstanding all her airs, was considerably troubled when she found herself alone with Mdlle, de Cardoville; the rare beauty of the young patrician, her fashionable look, the elegance of her manners, the style, both dignified and affable, with which she had answered the impertinent address of the grisette, began to have their effect upon the latter, who, being moreover a good-natured girl, had been touched at hearing Mdlle. de Cardoville call the hunchback "friend and sister." Without knowing exactly who Adrienne was, Rose-Pompon was not ignorant that she belonged to the richest and highest class of society; she felt already some remorse at having attacked her so cavalierly; and her intentions, at first very hostile with regard to Mdlle. de Cardoville, were gradually much modified. Yet, being very obstinate, and not wishing to appear to submit to an influence that offended her pride, Rose-Pompon endeavored to recover her assurance; and, having bolted the door, she said to Adrienne: "Pray do me the favor to sit down, madame"--still with the intention of showing that she was no stranger to refined manners and conversation. Mdlle. de Cardoville was about mechanically to take a chair, when Rose- Pompon, worthy to practise those ancient virtues of hospitality, which regarded even an enemy as sacred in the person of a guest, cried out hastily: "Don't take that chair, madame; it wants a leg." Adrienne laid her hand on another chair. "Nor that either; the back is quite loose," again exclaimed Rose-Pompon. And she spoke the truth; for the chair-back, which was made in the form of a lyre, remained in the hands of Mdlle. de Cardoville, who said, as she replaced it discreetly in its former position: "I think, miss, that we can very well talk standing." "As you please, madame," replied Rose-Pompon, steadying herself the more bravely the more uneasy she felt. And the interview of the lady and the grisette began in this fashion. CHAPTER XXXVI. THE INTERVIEW. After a minute's hesitation, Rose-Pompon said to Adrienne, whose heart was beating violently: "I will tell you directly, madame, what I have on my mind. I should not have gone out of my way to seek you, but, as I happen to fall in with you, it is very natural I should take advantage of it." "But, miss," said Adrienne, mildly, "may I at least know the subject of the conversation we are to have together?"
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