The count opened the fire; still glancing over his shoulder, he said to Rodin: ’Ah! you are here, my benevolent gentleman!”
“Pray, sir, draw a little nearer,” said Adrienne, with a mocking smile. “Best of friends and model of philosophers—as well as declared enemy of all fraud and falsehood—I have to pay you a thousand compliments.”
“I accent anything from you, my dear young lady, even though undeserved,” said the Jesuit, trying to smile, and thus exposing his vile yellow teeth; “but may I be informed how I have earned these compliments?”
“Your penetration, sir, which is rare—” replied Adrienne.
“And your veracity, sir,” said the count, “which is perhaps no less rare—”
“In what have I exhibited my penetration, my dear young lady?” said Rodin, coldly. “In what my veracity?” added he, turning towards M. de Montbron.
“In what, sir?” said Adrienne. “Why, you have guessed a secret surrounded by difficulties and mystery. In a word, you have known how to read the depths of a woman’s heart.”
“I, my dear young lady?”
“You, sir! rejoice at it, for your penetration has had the most fortunate results.”
“And your veracity has worked wonders,” added the count.
“It is pleasant to do good, even without knowing it,” said Rodin, still acting on the defensive, and throwing side glances by turns on the count and Adrienne; “but will you inform me what it is that deserves this praise—”
“Gratitude obliges me to inform you of it,” said Adrienne, maliciously; “you have discovered, and told Prince Djalma, that I was passionately in love. Well! I admire your penetration; it was true.”