Patience, noticing that the president was again about to interrupt him, hastened to end his testimony by saying:
“As to that, gentlemen, it is for you, not for me, to judge him.”
After this important evidence the trial was suspended for a few minutes. When the judges returned Edmee was brought back into the court. Pale and weak, scarcely able to drag herself to the arm-chair which was reserved for her, she nevertheless displayed considerable mental vigour and presence of mind.
“Do you think you can answer the questions which will be put to you without unduly exciting yourself?” asked the president.
“I hope so, sir,” she replied. “It is true that I have recently been seriously ill, and that it is only within the last few days that I have recovered my memory; but I believe I have completely recovered it, and my mind feels quite clear.”
“Solange-Edmonde de Mauprat; Edmea sylvestris,” she added in an undertone.
I shuddered. As she said these unseasonable words her eyes had assumed a strange expression. I feared that her mind was going to wander still further. My counsel was also alarmed and looked at me inquiringly. No one but myself had understood these two words which Edmee had been in the habit of frequently repeating during the first and last days of her illness. Happily this was the last sign of any disturbance in her faculties. She shook her beautiful head, as if to drive out any troublesome ideas; and, the president having asked her for an explanation of these unintelligible words, she replied with sweetness and dignity:
“It is nothing, sir. Please continue my examination.”
“Your age, mademoiselle?”
“Are you related to the prisoner?”
“He is my second cousin, and my father’s grand-nephew.”
“Do you swear to speak the truth, the whole truth?”
“Raise your hand.”
Edmee turned towards Arthur with a sad smile. He took off her glove, and helped to raise her arm, which hung nerveless and powerless by her side. I felt big tears rolling down my cheeks.
With delicacy and simplicity Edmee related how she and I had lost our way in the woods; how I, under the impression that her horse had bolted, had unseated her in my eager anxiety to stop the animal; how a slight altercation had ensued, after which, with a little feminine temper, foolish enough, she had wished to mount her mare again without help; how she had even spoken unkindly to me, not meaning a word of what she said, for she loved me like a brother; how, deeply hurt by her harshness, I had moved away a few yards to obey her; and how, just as she was about to follow me, grieved herself at our childish quarrel, she had felt a violent shock in her breast, and had fallen almost without hearing any report. It was impossible for her to say in which direction she was looking, or from which side the shot had come.