“Above all, you will have the kindness, my old and worthy friend, not to be at all astonished at this new freak, and refrain from indulging in extravagant conjectures. Seriously, the choice which I have made of you in this affair,—of you, whom I esteem and most sincerely honor,—is because it is sufficient to say to you that, at the bottom of all this, there is something more than a seeming act of folly.”
In uttering these last words, the tone of Adrienne was as serious and dignified as it had been previously comic and jocose. But she quickly resumed, more gayly, dictating to Georgette.
“Adieu, my old friend. I am something like that commander of ancient days, whose heroic nose and conquering chin you have so often made me draw: I jest with the utmost freedom of spirit even in the moment of battle: yes, for within an hour I shall give battle, a pitched battle—to my dear pew-dwelling aunt. Fortunately, audacity and courage never failed me, and I burn with impatience for the engagement with my austere princess.
“A kiss, and a thousand heartfelt recollections to your excellent wife. If I speak of her here, who is so justly respected, you will please to understand, it is to make you quite at ease as to the consequences of this running away with, for my sake, a charming young prince,—for it is proper to finish well where I should have begun, by avowing to you that he is charming indeed!
“Once more, adieu!”
Then, addressing Georgette, said she, “Have you done writing, chit?”
“Oh, add this postscript.”
“P.S.—I send you draft on sight on my banker for all expenses. Spare nothing. You know I am quite a grand seigneur. I must use this masculine expression, since your sex have exclusively appropriated to yourselves (tyrants as you are) a term, so significant as it is of noble generosity.”
“Now, Georgette,” said Adrienne; “bring me an envelope, and the letter, that I may sign it.” Mademoiselle de Cardoville took the pen that Georgette presented to her, signed the letter, and enclosed in it an order upon her banker, which was expressed thus:
“Please pay M. Norval, on demand without grace, the sum of money he may require for expenses incurred on my account.
During all this scene, while Georgette wrote, Florine and Hebe had continued to busy themselves with the duties of their mistress’s toilette, who had put off her morning gown, and was now in full dress, in order to wait upon the princess, her aunt. From the sustained and immovably fixed attention with which Florine had listened to Adrienne’s dictating to Georgette her letter to M. Norval, it might easily have been seen that, as was her habit indeed, she endeavored to retain in her memory even the slightest words of her mistress.
“Now, chit,” said Adrienne to Hebe, “send this letter immediately to M. Norval.”