Adrienne, much moved, extended her hand cordially to the doctor, and said to him: “Rest assured, my excellent friend, that you will thank me for the step I am taking, for you will assist in a noble action.”
Tripeaud, who was not in the secret of the new plans of the doctor and the abbe in a low voice faltered to the latter, with a stupefied air, “What! will you let her go?”
“Yes, yes,” answered D’Aigrigny abruptly, making a sign that he should listen to the princess, who was about to speak. Advancing towards her niece, she said to her in a slow and measured tone, laying a peculiar emphasis on every word: “One moment more, mademoiselle—one last word in presence of these gentlemen. Answer me! Notwithstanding the heavy charges impending over you, are you still determined to resist my formal commands?”
“Notwithstanding the scandalous exposure which has just taken place, you still persist in withdrawing yourself from my authority?”
“You refuse positively to submit to the regular and decent mode of life which I would impose upon you?”
“I have already told you, madame, that I am about to quit this dwelling in order to live alone and after my own fashion.”
“Is that your final decision?”
“It is my last word.”
“Reflect! the matter is serious. Beware!”
“I have given your highness my last word, and I never speak it twice.”
“Gentlemen, you hear all this?” resumed the princess; “I have tried in vain all that was possible to conciliate. Mademoiselle will have only herself to thank for the measures to which this audacious revolt will oblige me to have recourse.”
“Be it so, madame,” replied Adrienne. Then, addressing M. Baleinier, she said quickly to him: “Come, my dear doctor; I am dying with impatience. Let us set out immediately. Every minute lost may occasion bitter tears to an honest family.”
So saying, Adrienne left the room precipitately with the physician. One of the servants called for M. Baleinier’s carriage. Assisted by the doctor, Adrienne mounted the step, without perceiving that he said something in a low whisper to the footman that opened the coach-door.
When, however, he was seated by the side of Mdlle. de Cardoville, and the door was closed upon them, he waited for about a second, and then called out in a loud voice to the coachman: “To the house of the minister, by the private entrance!” The horses started at a gallop.
A false friend.
Night had set in dark and cold. The sky, which had been clear till the sun went down, was now covered with gray and lurid clouds; a strong wind raised here and there, in circling eddies, the snow that was beginning to fall thick and fast.