Seeing Hebe in her fresh and pretty costume, bringing her a long bathing gown, hanging upon a bare and dimpled arm, Adrienne said to her: “Where is Florine, my child?”
“Madame, she went downstairs two hours ago; she was wanted for something very pressing.”
“Who wanted her?”
“The young person who serves Madame as secretary. She went out this morning very early; and, as soon as she returned, she sent for Florine, who has not come back since.”
“This absence no doubt relates to some important affair of my angelic minister of succor,” said Adrienne, smiling, and thinking of the hunchback. Then she made a sign to Hebe to approach her bed.
About two hours after rising, Adrienne, having had herself dressed, as usual, with rare elegance, dismissed her women, and sent for Mother Bunch, whom she treated with marked deference, always receiving her alone. The young sempstress entered hastily, with a pale, agitated countenance, and said, in a trembling voice: “Oh, madame! my presentiments were justified. You are betrayed.”
“Of what presentiments do you speak, my dear child!” said Adrienne, with surprise. “Who betrays me?”
“M. Rodin!” answered the workgirl.
On hearing the accusation brought against Rodin, Mdlle. de Cardoville looked at the denunciator with new astonishment. Before continuing this scene, we may say that Mother Bunch was no longer clad in her poor, old clothes, but was dressed in black, with as much simplicity as taste. The sad color seemed to indicate her renunciation of all human vanity, the eternal mourning of her heart, and the austere duties imposed upon her by her devotion to misfortune. With her black gown, she wore a large falling collar, white and neat as her little gauze cap, with its gray ribbons, which, revealing her bands of fine brown hair, set off to advantage her pale and melancholy countenance, with its soft blue eyes. Her long, delicate hands, preserved from the cold by gloves, were no longer, as formerly, of a violet hue, but of an almost transparent whiteness.