D’Aigrigny’s dilemma became momentarily more and more thorny. The affair of the medals was so important, that he had concealed it even from Dr. Baleinier, though he had called in his services to forward immense interests. Neither had Tripeaud been informed of it, for the princess believed that she had destroyed every vestige of those papers of Adrienne’s father, which might have put him on the scent of this discovery. The abbe, therefore was not only greatly alarmed that Mdlle. de Cardoville might be informed of this secret, but he trembled lest she should divulge it.
The princess, sharing the alarms of D’Aigrigny, interrupted her niece by exclaiming: “Madame, there are certain family affairs which ought to be kept secret, and, without exactly understanding to what you allude, I must request you to change the subject.”
“What, madame! are we not here a family party? Is that not sufficiently evident by the somewhat ungracious things that have been here said?”
“No matter, madame! when affairs of interest are concerned, which are more or less disputable, it is perfectly useless to speak of them without the documents laid before every one.”
“And of what have we been speaking this hour, madame, if not of affairs of interest? I really do not understand your surprise and embarrassment.”
“I am neither surprised nor embarrassed, madame; but for the last two hours, you have obliged me to listen to so many new and extravagant things, that a little amaze is very permissible.”
“I beg your highness’s pardon, but you are very much embarrassed,” said Adrienne, looking fixedly at her aunt, “and M. d’Aigrigny also—which confirms certain suspicions that I have not had the time to clear up. Have I then guessed rightly?” she added, after a pause. “We will see—”
“Madame, I command you to be silent,” cried the princess, no longer mistress of herself.
“Oh, madame!” said Adrienne, “for a person who has in general so much command of her feelings, you compromise yourself strangely.”
Providence (as some will have it) came to the aid of the princess and the Abbe d’Aigrigny at this critical juncture. A valet entered the room; his countenance bore such marks of fright and agitation, that the princess exclaimed as soon as she saw him: “Why, Dubois! what is the matter?”
“I have to beg pardon, your highness, for interrupting you against your express orders, but a police inspector demands to speak with you instantly. He is below stairs, and the yard is full of policemen and soldiers.”
Notwithstanding the profound surprise which this new incident occasioned her, the princess, determining to profit by the opportunity thus afforded, to concert prompt measures with D’Aigrigny on the subject of Adrienne’s threatened revelations, rose, and said to the abbe: “Will you be so obliging as to accompany me, M. d’Aigrigny, for I do not know what the presence of this commissary of police may signify.”