So she lighted her candle in the lobby, and with a light and agile step she scaled the stairs, I following; and having found the remedies, we approached Madame’s room together.
I think, while we were still at the end of the gallery, Madame heard and divined our approach, for her door suddenly shut, and there was a fumbling at the handle. But the bolt was out of order.
Lady Knollys tapped at the door, saying—’we’ll come in, please, and see you. I’ve some remedies, which I’m sure will do you good.’
There was no answer; so she opened the door, and we both entered. Madame had rolled herself in the blue coverlet, and was lying on the bed, with her face buried in the pillow, and enveloped in the covering.
‘Perhaps she’s asleep?’ said Lady Knollys, getting round to the side of the bed, and stooping over her.
Madame lay still as a mouse. Cousin Monica set down her two little vials on the table, and, stooping again over the bed, began very gently with her fingers to lift the coverlet that covered her face. Madame uttered a slumbering moan, and turned more upon her face, clasping the coverlet faster about her.
’Madame, it is Maud and Lady Knollys. We have come to relieve your ear. Pray let me see it. She can’t be asleep, she’s holding the clothes so fast. Do, pray, allow me to see it.’
LADY KNOLLYS SEES THE FEATURES
Perhaps, if Madame had murmured, ’It is quite well—pray permit me to sleep,’ she would have escaped an awkwardness. But having adopted the role of the exhausted slumberer, she could not consistently speak at the moment; neither would it do by main force, to hold the coverlet about her face, and so her presence of mind forsook her. Cousin Monica drew it back and hardly beheld the profile of the sufferer, when her good-humoured face was lined and shadowed with a dark curiosity and a surprise by no means pleasant. She stood erect beside the bed, with her mouth firmly shut and drawn down at the corners, in a sort of recoil and perturbation, looking down upon the patient.
‘So that’s Madame de la Rougierre?’ at length exclaimed Lady Knollys, with a very stately disdain. I think I never saw anyone look more shocked.
Madame sat up, very flushed. No wonder, for she had been wrapped so close in the coverlet. She did not look quite at Lady Knollys, but straight before her, rather downward, and very luridly.
I was very much frightened and amazed, and felt on the point of bursting into tears.
’So, Mademoiselle, you have married, it seems, since I had last the honour of seeing you? I did not recognise Mademoiselle under her new name.’
’Yes—I am married, Lady Knollys; I thought everyone who knew me had heard of that. Very respectably married, for a person of my rank. I shall not need long the life of a governess. There is no harm, I hope?’