“But, sir, it is I that would be the obliged party, if you deigned to accept what I offer.”
“Oh, my dear young lady,” said Rodin, with a smile: “I know that your generosity would always know how to make gratitude light and easy; but, once more, I cannot accept anything from you. One day, perhaps, you will know why.”
“It is impossible for me to tell you more. And then, supposing I were under an obligation to you, how could I tell you all that was good and beautiful in your actions? Hereafter, if you are somewhat indebted to me for my advice, so much the better; I shall be the more ready to blame you, if I find anything to blame.”
“In this way, sir, you would forbid me to be grateful to you.”
“No, no,” said Rodin, with apparent emotion. “Oh, believe me! there will come a solemn moment, in which you may repay all, in a manner worthy of yourself and me.”
This conversation was here interrupted by the nurse, who said to Adrienne as she entered: “Madame, there is a little humpback workwoman downstairs, who wishes to speak to you. As, according to the doctor’s new orders, you are to do as you like, I have come to ask, if I am to bring her up to you. She is so badly dressed, that I did not venture.”
“Bring her up, by all means,” said Adrienne, hastily, for she had recognized Mother Bunch by the nurse’s description. “Bring her up directly.”
“The doctor has also left word, that his carriage is to be at your orders, madame; are the horses to be put to?”
“Yes, in a quarter of an hour,” answered Adrienne to the nurse, who went out; then, addressing Rodin, she continued: “I do not think the magistrate can now be long, before he returns with Marshal Simon’s daughters?”
“I think not, my dear young lady; but who is this deformed workwoman?” asked Rodin, with an air of indifference.
“The adopted sister of a gallant fellow, who risked all in endeavoring to rescue me from this house. And, sir,” said Adrienne, with emotion, “this young workwoman is a rare and excellent creature. Never was a nobler mind, a more generous heart, concealed beneath an exterior less—”
But reflecting, that Rodin seemed to unite in his own person the same moral and physical contrasts as the sewing-girl, Adrienne stopped short, and then added, with inimitable grace, as she looked at the Jesuit, who was somewhat astonished at the sudden pause: “No; this noble girl is not the only person who proves how loftiness of soul, and superiority of mind, can make us indifferent to the vain advantages which belong only to the accidents of birth or fortune.” At the moment of Adrienne speaking these last words, Mother Bunch entered the room.
Mdlle. de Cardoville sprang hastily to meet the visitor, and said to her, in a voice of emotion, as she extended her arms towards her: “Come—come—there is no grating to separate us now!”