Mother Bunch and Mdlle. De Cardoville.
Agitated, attentive, uneasy, leaning from one of the convent-windows, the work-girl followed with her eyes the movements of Mdlle. de Cardoville and Rose Simon, whom she so little expected to find together in such a place. The orphan, approaching close to the fence, which separated the nunnery-garden from that of Dr. Baleinier’s asylum, spoke a few words to Adrienne, whose features at once expressed astonishment, indignation, and pity. At this juncture, a nun came running, and looking right and left, as though anxiously seeking for some one; then, perceiving Rose, who timidly pressed close to the paling, she seized her by the arm, and seemed to scold her severely, and notwithstanding some energetic words addressed to her by Mdlle. de Cardoville, she hastily carried off the orphan, who with weeping eyes, turned several times to look back at Adrienne; whilst the latter, after showing the interest she took in her by expressive gestures, turned away suddenly, as if to conceal her tears.
The passage in which the witness stood, during this touching scene, was situated on the first story. The thought immediately occurred to the sempstress, to go down to the ground-floor, and try to get into the garden, so that she might have an opportunity of speaking to the fair girl with the golden hair, and ascertaining if it were really Mdlle. de Cardoville, to whom; if she found her in a lucid interval, she might say that Agricola had things of the greatest importance to communicate, but that he did not know how to inform her of them. The day was advancing, the sun was on its decline, and fearing that Florine would be tired of waiting for her, Mother Bunch made haste to act; with a light step, listening anxiously as she went, she reached the end of the passage, where three or four stairs led down to the landing-place of the press room, and then formed a spiral descent to the ground-floor. Hearing voices in the pressroom, the sempstress hastened down the stairs, and found herself in a long passage, in the centre of which was a glass door, opening on that part of the garden reserved for the superior. A path, bordered by a high box-hedge, sheltered her from the gaze of curious eyes, and she crept along it, till she reached the open paling; which, at this spot, separated the convent-garden from that of Dr. Baleinier’s asylum. She saw Mdlle. de Cardoville a few steps from her, seated, and with her arm resting upon a rustic bench. The firmness of Adrienne’s character had for a moment been shaken by fatigue, astonishment, fright, despair, on the terrible night when she had been taken to the asylum by Dr. Baleinier; and the latter, taking a diabolical advantage of her weakness and despondency, had succeeded for a moment in making her doubt of her own sanity. But the calm, which necessarily follows the most painful and violent emotions, combined with the reflection and reasoning of a clear and subtle