“I hope it may turn out well, sir,” said M. de Gernande. “However bad appearances may be, more especially when persons of your station in society are concerned, we should always wish to be convinced of their innocence.” Then, turning to Adrienne, he added: “I understand, madame, how painful this scene must be to all your feelings of delicacy and generosity; hereafter, it will depend upon yourself, either to proceed for damages against M. Baleinier, or to let the law take its course. One word more. The bold and upright man”—here the magistrate pointed to Rodin—“who has taken up your cause in so frank and disinterested a manner, expressed a belief that you would, perhaps, take charge for the present of Marshal Simon’s daughters, whose liberation I am about to demand from the convent where they also are confined by stratagem.”
“The fact is, sir,” replied Adrienne, “that, as soon as I learned the arrival of Marshal Simon’s daughters in Paris, my intention was to offer them apartments in my house. These young ladies are my near relations. It is at once a duty and a pleasure for me to treat them as sisters. I shall, therefore, be doubly grateful to you, sir, if you will trust them to my care.”
“I think that I cannot serve them better,” answered M. de Gernande. Then, addressing Baleinier, he added, “Will you consent, sir, to my bringing these two ladies hither? I will go and fetch them, while Mdlle. de Cardoville prepares for her departure. They will then be able to leave this house with their relation.”
“I entreat the lady to make use of this house as her own, until she leaves it,” replied M. Baleinier. “My carriage shall be at her orders to take her home.”
“Madame,” said the magistrate, approaching Adrienne, “without prejudging the question, which must soon be decided by, a court of law, I may at least regret that I was not called in sooner. Your situation must have been a very cruel one.”
“There will at least remain to me, sir, from this mournful time,” said Adrienne, with graceful dignity, “one precious and touching remembrance—that of the interest which you have shown me. I hope that you will one day permit me to thank you, at my own home, not for the justice you have done me, but for the benevolent and paternal manner in which you have done it. And moreover, sir,” added Mdlle. de Cardoville, with a sweet smile, “I should like to prove to you, that what they call my cure is complete.”
M. de Gernande bowed respectfully in reply. During the abort dialogue of the magistrate with Adrienne, their backs were both turned to Baleinier and Rodin. The latter, profiting by this moment’s opportunity, hastily slipped into the doctor’s hand a note just written with a pencil in the bottom of his hat. Baleinier looked at Rodin in stupefied amazement. But the latter made a peculiar sign, by raising his thumb to his forehead, and drawing it twice across his brow. Then he remained impassible. This had passed so rapidly, that when M. de Gernande turned round, Rodin was at a distance of several steps from Dr. Baleinier, and looking at Mdlle. de Cardoville with respectful interest.