Dr. Baleinier in his extreme astonishment, hoping to be understood by Rodin, made suddenly several private signals, as if to interrogate him on the cause of the magistrate’s visit. But this was only productive of fresh amazement to M. Baleinier; for Rodin did not appear to recognize him, or to understand his expressive pantomime, and looked at him with affected bewilderment. At length, as the doctor, growing impatient, redoubled his mute questionings, Rodin advanced with a stride, stretched forward his crooked neck, and said, in a loud voice: “What is your pleasure, doctor?”
These words, which completely disconcerted Baleinier, broke the silence which had reigned for some seconds, and the magistrate turned round. Rodin added, with imperturbable coolness: “Since our arrival, the doctor has been making all sorts of mysterious signs to me. I suppose he has something private to communicate, but, as I have no secrets, I must beg him to speak out loud.”
This reply, so embarrassing for M. Baleinier, uttered in a tone of aggression, and with an air of icy coldness, plunged the doctor into such new and deep amazement, that he remained for some moments without answering. No doubt the magistrate was struck with this incident, and with the silence which followed it, for he cast a look of great severity on the doctor. Mdlle. de Cardoville, who had expected to have seen M. de Montbron, was also singularly surprised.
Baleinier, disconcerted for a moment by the unexpected presence of a magistrate, and by Rodin’s inexplicable attitude, soon recovered his presence of mind, and addressing his colleague of the longer robe, said to him: “If I make signs to you, sir, it was that, while I wished to respect the silence which this gentleman”—glancing at the magistrate—“has preserved since his entrance, I desired to express my surprise at the unexpected honor of this visit.”
“It is to the lady that I will explain the reason for my silence, and beg her to excuse it,” replied the magistrate, as he made a half-bow to Adrienne, whom he thus continued to address: “I have just received so serious a declaration with regard to you, madame, that I could not forbear looking at you for a moment in silence, to see if I could read in your countenance or in your attitude, the truth or falsehood of the accusation that has been placed in my hands; and I have every reason to believe that it is but too well founded.”