And, taking her candle, she entered the little dressing room, and put on again the poor, old clothes, which she had preserved as a sort of pious remembrance of her misfortunes. Only at this instant did her tears flow abundantly. She wept—not in sorrow at resuming the garb of misery, but in gratitude; for all the comforts around her, to which she was about to bid an eternal adieu, recalled to her mind at every step the delicacy and goodness of Mdlle. de Cardoville: therefore, yielding to an almost involuntary impulse, after she had put on her poor, old clothes, she fell on her knees in the middle of the room, and, addressing herself in thought to Mdlle. de Cardoville, she exclaimed, in a voice broken by convulsive sobs: “Adieu! oh, for ever, adieu!—You, that deigned to call me friend—and sister!”
Suddenly, she rose in alarm; she heard steps in the corridor, which led from the garden to one of the doors of her apartment, the other door opening into the parlor. It was Florine, who (alas! too late) was bringing back the manuscript. Alarmed at this noise of footsteps, and believing herself already the laughing-stock of the house. Mother Bunch rushed from the room, hastened across the parlor, gained the court-yard, and knocked at the window of the porter’s lodge. The house-door opened, and immediately closed upon her. And so the workgirl left Cardoville House.
Adrienne was thus deprived of a devoted, faithful, and vigilant guardian. Rodin was delivered from an active and sagacious antagonist, whom he had always, with good reason, feared. Having, as we have seen, guessed Mother Bunch’s love for Agricola, and knowing her to be a poet, the Jesuit supposed, logically enough that she must have written secretly some verses inspired by this fatal and concealed passion. Hence the order given to Florine, to try and discover some written evidence of this love; hence this letter, so horribly effective in its coarse ribaldry, of which, it must be observed, Florine did not know the contents, having received it after communicating a summary of the contents of the manuscript, which, the first time, she had only glanced through without taking it away. We have said, that Florine, yielding too late to a generous repentance, had reached Mother Bunch’s apartment, just as the latter quitted the house in consternation.
Perceiving a light in the dressing-room, the waiting-maid hastened thither. She saw upon a chair the black dress that Mother Bunch had just taken off, and, a few steps further, the shabby little trunk, open and empty, in which she had hitherto preserved her poor garments. Florine’s heart sank within her; she ran to the secretary; the disorder of the card-board boxes, the note for five hundred francs left by the side of the two lines written to Mdlle. de Cardoville, all proved that her obedience to Rodin’s orders had borne fatal fruit, and that Mother Bunch had quitted the house for ever. Finding the uselessness of her tardy resolution, Florine resigned herself with a sigh to the necessity of delivering the manuscript to Rodin. Then, forced by the fatality of her miserable position to console herself for evil by evil, she considered that the hunchback’s departure would at least make her treachery less dangerous.