“That’s it,” said the other; “hold her fast, Tommy, while I go and fetch a light. Between us, we’ll soon master her.”
“Make haste, for, in spite of her soft look, she must be a regular fury. We shall have to sit up all night with her, I suppose.”
Sad and painful contrast! That morning, Adrienne had risen free, smiling, happy, in the midst of all the wonders of luxury and art, and surrounded by the delicate attentions of the three charming girls whom she had chosen to serve her. In her generous and fantastic mood, she had prepared a magnificent and fairy-like surprise for the young Indian prince, her relation; she had also taken a noble resolution with regard to the two orphans brought home by Dagobert; in her interview with Mme. de Saint-Dizier, she had shown herself by turns proud and sensitive, melancholy and gay, ironical and serious, loyal and courageous; finally, she had come to this accursed house to plead in favor of an honest and laborious artisan.
And now, in the evening delivered over by an atrocious piece of treachery to the ignoble hands of two coarse-minded muses in a madhouse—Mdlle. de Cardoville felt her delicate limbs imprisoned in that abominable garment, which is called a strait-waistcoat.
Mdlle. de Cardoville passed a horrible night in company with the two hags. The next morning, at nine o’clock, what was the young lady’s stupor to see Dr. Baleinier enter the room, still smiling with an air at once benevolent and paternal.
“Well, my dear child?” said he, in a bland, affectionate voice; “how have we spent the night?”
The keepers, yielding to Mdlle. de Cardoville’s prayers, and, above all, to her promises of good behavior, had only left on the canvas jacket a portion of the time. Towards morning, they had allowed her to rise and dress herself, without interfering.
Adrienne was seated on the edge of her bed. The alteration in her features, her dreadful paleness, the lurid fire of fever shining in her eyes, the convulsive trembling which ever and anon shook her frame, showed already the fatal effects of this terrible night upon a susceptible and high-strung organization. At sight of Dr. Baleinier, who, with a sign, made Gervaise and her mate leave the room, Adrienne remained petrified.
She felt a kind of giddiness at the thought of the audacity of the man, who dared to present himself to her! But when the physician repeated, in the softest tone of affectionate interest: “Well, my poor child! how have we spent the night?” she pressed her hands to her burning forehead, as if in doubt whether she was awake or sleeping. Then, staring at the doctor, she half opened her lips; but they trembled so much that it was impossible for her to utter a word. Anger, indignation, contempt, and, above all, the bitter and acutely painful feeling of a generous heart, whose confidence has been basely betrayed, so overpowered Adrienne that she was unable to break the silence.