“He loves me then?” cried the young girl, with an accent impossible to describe.
“He loves you to madness, I tell you; I have seen it.”
Adrienne seemed overcome with amazement. From pale, she became crimson; as the redness disappeared, her lips grew white, and trembled. Her emotion was so strong, that she remained for some moments unable to speak, and pressed her hand to her heart, as if to moderate its pulsations.
M. de Montbron, almost frightened at the sudden change in Adrienne’s countenance, hastily approached her, exclaiming: “Good heaven, my poor child! what is the matter?”
Instead of answering, Adrienne waved her hand to him, in sign that he should not be alarmed; and, in fact, the count was speedily tranquillized, for the beautiful face, which had so lately been contracted with pain, irony, and scorn, seemed now expressive of the sweetest and most ineffable emotions; Adrienne appeared to luxuriate in delight, and to fear losing the least particle of it; then, as reflection told her, that she was, perhaps, the dupe of illusion or falsehood, she exclaimed suddenly, with anguish, addressing herself to M. de Montbron: “But is what you tell me true?”
“What I tell you!”
“Yes—that Prince Djalma—”
“Loves you to madness?—Alas! it is only too true.”
“No, no,” cried Adrienne, with a charming expression of simplicity; “that could never be too true.”
“What do you say?” cried the count.
“But that woman?” asked Adrienne, as if the word scorched her lips.
“She who has been the cause of all these painful struggles.”
“That woman—why, who should it be but you?”
“What, I? Oh! tell me, was it I?”
“On my word of honor. I trust my experience. I have never seen so ardent and sincere a passion.”
“Oh! is it really so? Has he never had any other love?”
“Yet I was told so.”
“Had fallen violently in love, two days after I saw him.”
“M. Rodin told you that!” cried M. de Montbron, as if struck with a sudden idea. “Why, it is he who told Djalma that you were in love with some one else.”
“And this it was which occasioned the poor youth’s dreadful despair.”
“It was this which occasioned my despair.”
“You love him, then, just as he loves you!” exclaimed M. de Montbron, transported with joy.
“Love him!” said Mdlle. de Cardoville. A discreet knock at the door interrupted Adrienne.
“One of your servants, no doubt. Be calm,” said the count.
“Come in,” said Adrienne, in an agitated voice.
“What is it?” said Mdlle. de Cardoville. Florine entered the room.
“M. Rodin has just been here. Fearing to disturb mademoiselle, he would not come in; but he will return in half an hour. Will mademoiselle receive him?”