Having performed, with indescribable grace, these charming evolutions of feminine coquetry, Adrienne turned towards Mother Bunch, whose surprise was still on the increase, and said to her, smiling: “My dear Magdalen, do not laugh at my question—but what would you say to a picture, that should represent me as I am now?”
“There you are again, with your lady-ing,” said Adrienne, in a tone of gentle reproach.
“Well, then, Adrienne,” resumed Mother Bunch, “I think it would be a charming picture, for you are dressed, as usual with perfect taste.”
“But am I not better dressed than on other days, my dear poetess? I began by telling you that I do not ask the question for my own sake,” said Adrienne, gayly.
“Well, I suppose so,” replied Mother Bunch, with a faint smile. “It is certainly impossible to imagine anything that would suit you better. The light green and the pale rose-color, with the soft lustre of the white ornaments, harmonize so well with your golden hair, that I cannot conceive, I tell you, a more graceful picture.”
The speaker felt what she said, and she was happy to be able to express it, for we know the intense admiration of that poetic soul for all that was beautiful.
“Well!” went on Adrienne, gayly, “I am glad, my dear, that you find me better dressed than usual.”
“Only,” said the hunchback, hesitating.
“Only?” repeated Adrienne, looking at her with an air of interrogation.
“Why, only,” continued the other, “if I have never seen you look more pretty, I have also never observed in your features the resolute and ironical expression which they had just now. It was like an air of impatient defiance.”
“And so it was, my dear little Magdalen,” said Adrienne, throwing her arms round the girl’s neck with joyous tenderness. “I must kiss you, for having guessed it. You see, I expect a visit from my dear aunt.”
“The Princess de Saint-Dizier?” cried Mother Bunch, in alarm. “That wicked lady, who did you so much evil?”
“The very same. She has asked for an interview, and I shall be delighted to receive her.”
“Yes—a somewhat ironical and malicious delight, it is true,” answered Adrienne, still more gayly. “You shall judge for yourself. She regrets her gallantries, her beauty, her youth—even her size afflicts the holy woman!—and she will see me young, fair, beloved—and above all thin—yes, thin,” added Mdlle. de Cardoville, laughing merrily. “And you may imagine, my dear, how much envy and despair, the sight of a young, thin woman excites in a stout one of a certain age!”