“I will—to-morrow, if you please.”
“But they will perhaps desire to make some inquiries about me.”
“The venerable Mother Sainte-Perpetue, Superior of St, Mary’s Convent, where the institution is established, will, I am sure, appreciate your good qualities without inquiry; but if otherwise, she will tell you, and you can easily satisfy her. It is then agreed—to-morrow.”
“Shall I call upon you here, mademoiselle?”
“No; as I told you before, they must not know that you came here on the part of M. Agricola, and a second visit might be discovered, and excite suspicion. I will come and fetch you in a coach; where do you live?”
“At No. 3, Rue Brise-Miche; as you are pleased to give yourself so much trouble, mademoiselle, you have only to ask the dyer, who acts as porter, to call down Mother Bunch.”
“Mother Bunch?” said Florine, with surprise.
“Yes, mademoiselle,” answered the sempstress, with a sad smile; “it is the name every one gives me. And you see,” added the hunchback, unable to restrain a tear, “it is because of my ridiculous infirmity, to which this name alludes, that I dread going out to work among strangers, because there are so many people who laugh at one, without knowing the pain they occasion. But,” continued she, drying her eyes, “I have no choice, and must make up my mind to it.”
Florine, deeply affected, took the speaker’s hand, and said to her: “Do not fear. Misfortunes like yours must inspire compassion, not ridicule. May I not inquire for you by your real name?”
“It is Magdalen Soliveau; but I repeat, mademoiselle, that you had better ask for Mother Bunch, as I am hardly known by any other name.”
“I will, then, be in the Rue Brise-Miche to-morrow, at twelve o’clock.”
“Oh, mademoiselle! How can I ever requite your goodness?”
“Don’t speak of it: I only hope my interference may be of use to you. But of this you must judge for yourself. As for M. Agricola, do not answer his letter; wait till he is out of prison, and then tell him to keep his secret till he can see my poor mistress.”
“And where is the dear young lady now?”
“I cannot tell you. I do not know where they took her, when she was attacked with this frenzy. You will expect me to-morrow?”
“Yes—to-morrow,” said Mother Bunch.
The convent whither Florine was to conduct the hunchback contained the daughters of Marshal Simon, and was next door to the lunatic asylum of Dr. Baleinier, in which Adrienne de Cardoville was confined.