“Ask these persons to walk up,” said Dr. Baleinier, after a moment’s reflection. Then, with a still more agitated expression of countenance, he approached Adrienne with a harsh, and almost menacing air, which contrasted with the habitual placidity of his hypocritical smile, and said to her in a low voice: “Take care, madame! do not rejoice too soon.”
“I no longer fear you,” answered Mdlle. de Cardoville, with a bright, flashing eye. “M. de Montbron is no doubt returned to Paris, and has been informed in time. He accompanies the magistrate, and comes to deliver me. I pity you, sir—both you and yours,” added Adrienne, with an accent of bitter irony.
“Madame,” cried M. Baleinier, no longer able to dissemble his growing alarm, “I repeat to you, take care! Remember what I have told you. Your accusations would necessarily involve the discovery of what took place the other night. Beware! the fate of the soldier and his son is in your hands. Recollect they are in danger of the convict’s chains.”
“Oh! I am not your dupe, sir. You are holding out a covert menace. Have at least the courage to say to me, that, if I complain to the magistrates, you will denounce the soldier and his son.”
“I repeat, that, if you make any complaint, those two people are lost,” answered the doctor, ambiguously.
Startled by what was really dangerous in the doctor’s threats, Adrienne asked: “Sir, if this magistrate questions me, do you think I will tell him a falsehood?”
“You will answer what is true,” said M. Baleinier, hastily, in the hope of still attaining his end. “You will answer that you were in so excited a state of mind a few days ago, that it was thought advisable, for your own sake, to bring you hither, without your knowing it. But you are now so much better, that you acknowledge the utility of the measures taken with regard to you. I will confirm these words for, after all, it is the truth.”
“Never!” cried Mdlle. de Cardoville, with indignation, “never will I be the accomplice of so infamous a falsehood; never will I be base enough to justify the indignities that I have suffered!”
“Here is the magistrate,” said M. Baleinier, as he caught the sound of approaching footsteps. “Beware!”
The door opened, and, to the indescribable amazement of the doctor, Rodin appeared on the threshold, accompanied by a man dressed in black, with a dignified and severe countenance. In the interest of his projects, and from motives of craft and prudence that will hereafter be known, Rodin had not informed Father d’Aigrigny, and consequently the doctor, of the unexpected visit he intended to pay to the asylum, accompanied by a magistrate. On the contrary, he had only the day before given orders to M. Baleinier to confine Mdlle. de Cardoville still more strictly. Therefore, imagine the stupor of the doctor when he saw the judicial officer, whose unexpected presence and imposing aspect