“This greenhouse, which I had arranged according to your orders, has only one issue—by a door leading into a little lane. The gardener gets in that way every morning, so as not to have to pass through the apartments. Having finished his work, he does not return thither during the day.”
“What do you mean? what is your project?” said Adrienne, looking at Florine with growing surprise.
“The plants are so disposed, that, I think, if even the shade were not there, which screens the glass that separates the saloon from the greenhouse, one might get near enough to hear what was passing in the room, without being seen. When I was superintending the arrangements, I always entered by this greenhouse door. The gardener had one key, and I another. Luckily, I have not yet parted with mine. Within an hour, you may know how far to trust M. Rodin. If he betrays the prince, he betrays you also.”
“What say you?” cried Mdlle. de Cardoville.
“Set out instantly with me; we reach the side door; I enter alone, for precaution sake—if all is right, I return—”
“You would have me turn spy?” said Mdlle. de Cardoville, haughtily, interrupting Florine. “You cannot think it.
“I beg your pardon, madame,” said the girl, casting down her eyes, with confused and sorrowful air; “you had suspicions, and me seems ’tis the only way to confirm or destroy them.”
“Stoop to listen to a conversation—never!” replied Adrienne.
“Madame,” said Mother Bunch, suddenly, after same moments’ thought, “permit me to tell you that Mdlle. Florine is right. The plan proposed is a painful one, but it is the only way in which you can clear up, perhaps, for ever, your doubts as to M. Rodin. Notwithstanding the evidence of facts, in spite of the almost certainty of my presentiments, appearances may deceive us. I was the first who accused M. Rodin to you. I should not forgive myself all the rest of my life, did I accuse him wrongfully. Beyond doubt, it is painful, as you say, madame, to listen to a conversation—” Then, with a violent effort to console herself, she added, as she strove to repress her tears, “Yet, as your safety is at stake, madame—for, if this be treachery, the future prospect is dreadful—I will go in your place—to—”
“Not a word more, I entreat you,” cried Mdlle. de Cardoville, interrupting. “Let you, my poor friend, do for me what I thought degrading to do myself? Never!”
Then, turning to Florine, she added, “Tell M. de Bonneville to have the carriage got ready on the instant.”
“You consent, then!” cried Florine, clasping her hands, and not seeking to conceal her joy; and her eyes also became full of tears.