difficulty of your position, you had the courage to show yourself my only partisan." "Not at all, madame; do not go and say such things!" cried the doctor, affecting a pleasant kind of anger. "Plague on't! you would get me into a pretty scrape; so pray be silent on that subject. Vade retro Satanas!- -which means: Get thee behind me, charming little demon that you are!" "Do not be afraid," answered Adrienne, with a smile; "I will not compromise you. Only allow me to remind you, that you have often made me offers of service, and spoken to me of your devotion." "Put me to the test--and you will see if I do not keep my promises." "Well, then! give me a proof on the instant," said Adrienne, quickly. "Capital! this is how I like to be taken at my word. What can I do for you?" "Are you still very intimate with your friend the minister?" "Yes; I am just treating him for a loss of voice, which he always has, the day they put questions to him in the house. He likes it better." "I want you to obtain from him something very important for me." "For you? pray, what is it?" At this instant, the valet entered the room, delivered a letter to M. Baleinier, and said to him: "A footman has just brought this letter for you, sir; it is very pressing." The physician took the letter, and the servant went out. "This is one of the inconveniences of merit," said Adrienne, smiling; "they do not leave you a moment's rest, my poor doctor." "Do not speak of it, madame," said the physician, who could not conceal a start of amazement, as he recognized the writing of D'Aigrigny; "these patients think we are made of iron, and have monopolized the health which they so much need. They have really no mercy. With your permission, madame," added M. Baleinier, looking at Adrienne before he unsealed the letter. Mdlle. de Cardoville answered by a graceful nod. Marquis d'Aigrigny's letter was not long; the doctor read it at a single glance, and, notwithstanding his habitual prudence, he shrugged his shoulders, and said hastily: "Today! why, it's impossible. He is mad." "You speak no doubt of some poor patient, who has placed all his hopes in you--who waits and calls for you at this moment. Come, my dear M. Baleinier, do not reject his prayer. It is so sweet to justify the confidence we inspire." There was at once so much analogy, and such contradiction, between the object of this letter, written just before by Adrienne's most implacable enemy, and these words of commiseration which she spoke in a touching voice, that Dr. Baleinier himself could not help being struck with it. He looked at Mdlle. de Cardoville with an almost embarrassed air, as he replied: "I am indeed speaking of one of my patients, who counts much upon me--a great deal too much--for he asks me to do an impossibility. But why do you feel so interested in an unknown person?" "If he is unfortunate, I know enough to interest me. The person for whom I ask your assistance with the minister, was quite as little known to me; and now I take the deepest interest in him. I must tell you, that he is the son of the worthy soldier who brought Marshal Simon's daughters from the heart of Siberia." "What! he is--" "An honest workman, the support of his family; but I must tell you all about it--this is how the affair took place." The confidential communication which Adrienne was going to make to the doctor, was cut short by Madame Saint-Dizier, who, followed by M. d'Aigrigny, opened abruptly the door. An expression of infernal joy, hardly concealed beneath a semblance of extreme indignation, was visible in her countenance. M. d'Aigrigny threw rapidly, as he entered the apartment, an inquiring and anxious glance at M. Baleinier. The doctor answered by a shake of the head. The abbe bit his lips with silent rage; he had built his last hopes upon the doctor, and his projects seemed now forever annihilated, notwithstanding the new blow which the princess had in reserve for Adrienne. "Gentlemen," said Madame de Saint-Dizier, in a sharp, hurried voice, for she was nearly choking with wicked pleasure, "gentlemen, pray be seated! I have some new and curious things to tell you, on the subject of this young lady." She pointed to her niece, with a look of ineffable hatred and disdain. "My poor child, what is the matter now?" said M. Baleinier, in a soft, wheedling tone, before he left the window where he was standing with Adrienne. "Whatever happens, count upon me!"--And the physician went to seat himself between M. d'Aigrigny and M. Tripeaud. At her aunt's insolent address, Mdlle. de Cardoville had proudly lined her head. The blood rushed to her face, and irritated at the new attacks with which she was menaced, she advanced to the table where the princess was seated, and said in an agitated voice to M. Baleinier: "I shall expect you to call on me as soon as possible, my dear doctor. You know that I wish particularly to speak with you." Adrienne made one step towards the arm-chair, on which she had left her hat. The princess rose abruptly, and exclaimed: "What are you doing, madame?" "I am about to retire. Your highness has expressed to me your will, and I have told you mine. It is enough." She took her hat. Madame de Saint-Dizier, seeing her prey about to escape, hastened towards her niece, and, in defiance of all propriety, seized her violently by the arm with a convulsive grasp, and bade her, "Remain!" "Fie, madame!" exclaimed Adrienne, with an accent of painful contempt, "have we sunk so low?" "You wish to escape--you are afraid!" resumed Madame de Saint-Dizier, looking at her disdainfully from head to foot. With these words "you are afraid," you could have made Adrienne de Cardoville walk into a fiery furnace. Disengaging her arm from her aunt's grasp, with a gesture full of nobleness and pride, she threw down the hat upon the chair, and returning to the table, said imperiously to the princess: "There is something even stronger than the disgust with which all this inspires me--the fear of being accused of cowardice. Go on, madame! I am listening!" With her head raised, her color somewhat heightened, her glance half veiled by a tear of indignation, her arms folded over her bosom, which heaved in spite of herself with deep emotion, and her little foot beating convulsively on the carpet, Adrienne looked steadily at her aunt. The princess wished to infuse drop by drop, the poison with which she was swelling, and make her victim suffer as long as possible, feeling certain that she could not escape. "Gentlemen," said Madame de Saint-Dizier, in a forced voice, "this has occurred: I was told that the commissary of police wished to speak with me: I went to receive this magistrate; he excused himself, with a troubled air, for the nature of the duty he had to perform. A man, against whom a warrant was out, had been seen to enter the garden-house." Adrienne started, there could be no doubt that Agricola was meant. But she recovered her tranquillity, when she thought of the security of the hiding-place she had given him. "The magistrate," continued the princess, "asked my consent to search the hotel and extension, to discover this man. It was his right. I begged him to commence with the garden-house, and accompanied him. Notwithstanding the improper conduct of Mademoiselle, it never, I confess, entered my head for a moment, that she was in any way mixed up with this police business. I was deceived." "What do you mean, madame?" cried Adrienne. "You shall know all, madame," said the princess, with a triumphant air, "in good time. You were in rather too great a hurry just now, to show yourself so proud and satirical. Well! I accompanied the commissary in his search; we came to the summer-house; I leave you to imagine the stupor and astonishment of the magistrate, on seeing three creatures dressed up like actresses. At my request, the fact was noted in the official report; for it is well to reveal such extravagances to all whom it may concern." "The princess acted very wisely," said Tripeaud, bowing; "it is well that the authorities should be informed of such matters." Adrienne, too much interested in the fate of the workman to think of answering Tripeaud or the princess, listened in silence, and strove to conceal her uneasiness. "The magistrate," resumed Madame de Saint-Dizier, "began by a severe examination of these young girls; to learn if any man had, with their knowledge, been introduced into the house; with incredible effrontery, they answered that they had seen nobody enter." "The true-hearted, honest girls!" thought Mademoiselle de Cardoville, full of joy; "the poor workman is safe! the protection of Dr. Baleinier will do the rest." "Fortunately," continued the princess, "one of my women, Mrs. Grivois, had accompanied me. This excellent person, remembering to have seen Mademoiselle return home at eight o'clock in the morning, remarked with much simplicity to the magistrate, that the man, whom they sought, might probably have entered by the little garden gate, left open, accidentally, by Mademoiselle." "It would have been well, madame," said Tripeaud, "to have caused to be noted also in the report, that Mademoiselle had returned home at eight o'clock in the morning." "I do not see the necessity for this," said the doctor, faithful to his part: "it would have been quite foreign to the search carried on by the commissary." "But, doctor," said Tripeaud. "But, baron," resumed M. Baleinier, in a firm voice, "that is my opinion." "It was not mine, doctor," said the princess; "like M. Tripeaud, I considered it important to establish the fact by an entry in the report, and I saw, by the confused and troubled countenance of the magistrate, how painful it was to register the scandalous conduct of a young person placed in so high a position in society." "Certainly, madame," said Adrienne, losing patience, "I believe your modesty to be about equal to that of this candid commissary of police; but it seems to me, that your mutual innocence was alarmed a little too soon. You might, and ought to have reflected, that there was nothing extraordinary in my coming home at eight o'clock, if I had gone out at six." "The excuse, though somewhat tardy, is at least cunning," said the princess, spitefully. "I do not excuse myself, madame," said Adrienne; "but as M. Baleinier has been kind enough to speak a word in my favor, I give the possible interpretation of a fact, which it would not become me to explain in your presence." "The fact will stand, however, in the report," said Tripeaud, "until the explanation is given." Abbe d'Aigrigny, his forehead resting on his hand, remained as if a stranger to this scene; he was too much occupied with his fears at the consequences of the approaching interview between Mdlle. de Cardoville and Marshal Simon's daughters--for there seemed no possibility of using force to prevent Adrienne from going out that evening. Madame de Saint-Dizier went on: "The fact which so greatly scandalized the commissary is nothing compared to what I yet have to tell you, gentlemen. We had searched all parts of the pavilion without finding any one, and were just about to quit the bed-chamber, for we had taken this room the last, when Mrs. Grivois pointed out to us that one of the golden mouldings of a panel did not appear to come quite home to the wall. We drew the attention of the magistrate to this circumstance; his men examined, touched, felt--the panel flew open!--and then--can you guess what we discovered? But, no! it is too odious, too revolting; I dare not even--" "Then I dare, madame," said Adrienne, resolutely, though she saw with the utmost grief the retreat of Agricola was discovered; "I will spare your highness's candor the recital of this new scandal, and yet what I am about to say is in nowise intended as a justification." "It requires one, however," said Madame de Saint-Dizier, with a disdainful smile; "a man concealed by you in your own bedroom." "A man concealed in her bedroom!" cried the Marquis d'Aigrigny, raising his head with apparent indignation, which only covered a cruel joy. "A man! in the bedroom of Mademoiselle!" added Baron Tripeaud. "I hope this also was inserted in the report." "Yes, yes, baron," said the princess with a triumphant air. "But this man," said the doctor, in a hypocritical tone, "must have been a robber? Any other supposition would be in the highest degree improbable. This explains itself." "Your indulgence deceives you, M. Baleinier," answered the princess, dryly. "We knew the sort of thieves," said Tripeaud; "they are generally young men, handsome, and very rich." "You are wrong, sir," resumed Madame de Saint-Dizier. "Mademoiselle does not raise her views so high. She proves that a dereliction from duty may be ignoble as well as criminal. I am no longer astonished at the sympathy which was just now professed for the lower orders. It is the more touching and affecting, as the man concealed by her was dressed in a blouse." "A blouse!" cried the baron, with an air of extreme disgust; "then he is one of the common people? It really makes one's hair stand on end." "The man is a working smith--he confessed it," said the princess; "but not to be unjust--he is really a good-looking fellow. It was doubtless that singular worship which Mademoiselle pays to the beautiful--" "Enough, madame, enough!" said Adrienne suddenly, for, hitherto disdaining to answer, she had listened to her aunt with growing and painful indignation; "I was just now on the point of defending myself against one of your odious insinuations--but I will not a second time descend to any such weakness. One word only, madame; has this honest and worthy artisan been arrested?" "To be sure, he has been arrested and taken to prison, under a strong escort. Does not that pierce your heart?" sneered the princess, with a triumphant air. "Your tender pity for this interesting smith must indeed be very great, since it deprives you of your sarcastic assurance." "Yes, madame; for I have something better to do than to satirize that which is utterly odious and ridiculous," replied Adrienne, whose eyes grew dim with tears at the thought of the cruel hurt to Agricola's family. Then, putting her hat on, and tying the strings, she said to the doctor: "M. Baleinier, I asked you just now for your interest with the minister." "Yes, madame; and it will give me great pleasure to act on your behalf." "Is your carriage below?" "Yes, madame," said the doctor, much surprised. "You will be good enough to accompany me immediately to the minister's. Introduced by you, he will not refuse me the favor, or rather the act of justice, that I have to solicit." "What, mademoiselle," said the princess; "do you dare take such a course, without my orders, after what has just passed? It is really quite unheard-of." "It confounds one," added Tripeaud; "but we must not be surprised at anything."
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