For the rest, her smile, when requisite, was still full of grace, and even of the seducing and resistless sweetness of seeming good-nature. Her large blue eyes, on fit occasions, became affectionate and caressing. But if any one dared to wound or ruffle her pride, gainsay her orders or harm her interests, her countenance, usually placid and serene, betrayed a cold but implacable malignity. Mrs. Grivois entered the cabinet, holding in her hand Florine’s report of the manner in which Adrienne de Cardoville had spent the morning.
Mrs. Grivois had been about twenty years in the service of Madame de Saint-Dizier. She knew everything that a lady’s-maid could or ought to have known of her mistress in the days of her sowing of wild (being a lady) flowers. Was it from choice that the princess had still retained about her person this so-well-informed witness of the numerous follies of her youth? The world was kept in ignorance of the motive; but one thing was evident, viz., that Mrs. Grivois enjoyed great privileges under the princess, and was treated by her rather as a companion than as a tiring woman.
“Here are Florine’s notes, madame,” said Mrs. Grivois, giving the paper to the princess.
“I will examine them presently,” said the princess; “but tell me, is my niece coming? Pending the conference at which she is to be present, you will conduct into her house a person who will soon be here, to inquire for you by my desire.”
“This man will make an exact inventory of everything contained in Adrienne’s residence. You will take care that nothing is omitted; for that is of very great importance.”
“Yes, madame. But should Georgette or Hebe make any opposition?”
“There is no fear; the man charged with taking the inventory is of such a stamp, that when they know him, they will not dare to oppose either his making the inventory, or his other steps. It will be necessary not to fail, as you go along with him, to be careful to obtain certain peculiarities destined to confirm the reports which you have spread for some time past.”
“Do not have the slightest doubt, madame. The reports have all the consistency of truth.”
“Very soon, then, this Adrienne, so insolent and so haughty, will be crushed and compelled to pray for pardon; and from me!”
An old footman opened both of the folding doors, and announced the Marquis-Abbe d’Aigrigny.