This conversation was here interrupted by the nurse, who said to Adrienne as she entered: “Madame, there is a little humpback workwoman downstairs, who wishes to speak to you. As, according to the doctor’s new orders, you are to do as you like, I have come to ask, if I am to bring her up to you. She is so badly dressed, that I did not venture.”
“Bring her up, by all means,” said Adrienne, hastily, for she had recognized Mother Bunch by the nurse’s description. “Bring her up directly.”
“The doctor has also left word, that his carriage is to be at your orders, madame; are the horses to be put to?”
“Yes, in a quarter of an hour,” answered Adrienne to the nurse, who went out; then, addressing Rodin, she continued: “I do not think the magistrate can now be long, before he returns with Marshal Simon’s daughters?”
“I think not, my dear young lady; but who is this deformed workwoman?” asked Rodin, with an air of indifference.
“The adopted sister of a gallant fellow, who risked all in endeavoring to rescue me from this house. And, sir,” said Adrienne, with emotion, “this young workwoman is a rare and excellent creature. Never was a nobler mind, a more generous heart, concealed beneath an exterior less—”
But reflecting, that Rodin seemed to unite in his own person the same moral and physical contrasts as the sewing-girl, Adrienne stopped short, and then added, with inimitable grace, as she looked at the Jesuit, who was somewhat astonished at the sudden pause: “No; this noble girl is not the only person who proves how loftiness of soul, and superiority of mind, can make us indifferent to the vain advantages which belong only to the accidents of birth or fortune.” At the moment of Adrienne speaking these last words, Mother Bunch entered the room.
Mdlle. de Cardoville sprang hastily to meet the visitor, and said to her, in a voice of emotion, as she extended her arms towards her: “Come—come—there is no grating to separate us now!”
On this allusion, which reminded her how her poor, laborious hand had been respectfully kissed by the fair and rich patrician, the young workwoman felt a sentiment of gratitude, which was at once ineffable and proud. But, as she hesitated to respond to the cordial reception, Adrienne embraced her with touching affection. When Mother Bunch found herself clasped in the fair arms of Mdlle. de Cardoville, when she felt the fresh and rosy lips of the young lady fraternally pressed to her own pale and sickly cheek, she burst into tears without being able to utter a word. Rodin, retired in a corner of the chamber, locked on this scene with secret uneasiness. Informed of the refusal, so full of dignity, which Mother Bunch had opposed to the perfidious temptations of the superior of St. Mary’s Convent, and knowing the deep devotion of this generous creature for Agricola—a