“M. Baleinier,” she resumed, with touching dignity, “I hardly know what I said to you just now. Terror, I think, made me wander; I have again collected myself. Hear me! I know that I am in your power; I know that nothing can deliver me from it. Are you an implacable enemy? or are you a friend? I am not able to determine. Do you really apprehend, as you assure me, that what is now eccentricity will hereafter become madness—or are you rather the accomplice in some infernal machination? You alone can answer. In spite of my boasted courage, I confess myself conquered. Whatever is required of me—you understand, whatever it may be, I will subscribe to, I give you my word and you know that I hold it sacred—you have therefore no longer any interest to keep me here. If, on the contrary, you really think my reason in danger—and I own that you have awakened in my mind vague, but frightful doubts—tell it me, and I will believe you. I am alone, at your mercy, without friends, without counsel. I trust myself blindly to you. I know not whether I address myself to a deliverer or a destroyer—but I say to you—here is my happiness—here is my life—take it—I have no strength to dispute it with you!”
These touching words, full of mournful resignation and almost hopeless reliance, gave the finishing stroke to the indecision of M. Baleinier. Already deeply moved by this scene, and without reflecting on the consequences of what he was about to do, he determined at all events to dissipate the terrible and unjust fears with which he had inspired Adrienne. Sentiments of remorse and pity, which now animated the physician, were visible in his countenance.
Alas! they were too visible. The moment he approached to take the hand of Mdlle. de Cardoville, a low but sharp voice exclaimed from behind the wicket: “M. Baleinier!”
“Rodin!” muttered the startled doctor to himself; “he’s been spying on me!”
“Who calls you?” asked the lady of the physician.
“A person that I promised to meet here this morning.” replied he, with the utmost depression, “to go with him to St. Mary’s Convent, which is close at hand.”
“And what answer have you to give me?” said Adrienne with mortal anguish.
After a moment’s solemn silence, during which he turned his face towards the wicket, the doctor replied, in a voice of deep emotion: “I am—what I have always been—a friend incapable of deceiving you.”
Adrienne became deadly pale. Then, extending her hand to M. Baleinier, she said to him in a voice that she endeavored to render calm: “Thank you—I will have courage—but will it be very long?”
“Perhaps a month. Solitude, reflection, a proper regimen, my attentive care, may do much. You will be allowed everything that is compatible with your situation. Every attention will be paid you. If this room displeases you, I will see you have another.”
“No—this or another—it is of little consequence,” answered Adrienne, with an air of the deepest dejection.