Placed directly opposite the box in which Faringhea, Djalma, and Rose Pompon had just taken their seats, Lady Morinval soon perceived the arrival of these two personages, and particularly the eccentric coquetries of Rose-Pompon. Immediately, the young marchioness, leaning over towards Mdlle. de Cardoville, who was still absorbed in memories ineffable, said to her, laughing: “My dear, the most amusing part of the performance is not upon the stage. Look just opposite.”
“Just opposite?” repeated Adrienne, mechanically: and, turning towards Lady Morinval with an air of surprise, she glanced in the direction pointed out.
She looked—what did she see?—Djalma seated by the side of a young woman, who was familiarly offering to his sense of smell the perfume of her bouquet. Amazed, struck almost literally to the heart, as by an electric shock, swift, sharp, and painful, Adrienne became deadly pale. From instinct, she shut her eyes for a second, in order not to see—as men try to ward off the dagger, which, having once dealt the blow, threatens to strike again. Then suddenly, to this feeling of grief succeeded a reflection, terrible both to her love and to her wounded pride.
“Djalma is present with this woman, though he must have received my letter,” she said to herself,—“wherein he was informed of the happiness that awaited him.”
At the idea of so cruel an insult, a blush of shame and indignation displaced Adrienne’s paleness, who overwhelmed by this sad reality, said to herself: “Rodin did not deceive me.”
We abandon all idea of picturing the lightning-like rapidity of certain emotions which in a moment may torture—may kill you in the space of a minute. Thus Adrienne was precipitated from the most radiant happiness to the lowest depths of an abyss of the most heart-rending grief, in less than a second; for a second had hardly elapsed before she replied to Lady Morinval: “What is there, then, so curious, opposite to us, my dear Julia?”
This evasive question gave Adrienne time to recover her self-possession. Fortunately, thanks to the thick folds of hair which almost entirely concealed her cheeks, the rapid and sudden changes from pallor to blush escaped the notice of Lady Morinval, who gayly replied: “What, my dear, do you not perceive those East Indians, who have just entered the box immediately opposite to ours? There, just before us!”
“Yes, I see them; but what then?” replied Adrienne, in a firm tone.
“And don’t you observe anything remarkable?” said the marchioness.
“Don’t be too hard, ladies,” laughingly interposed the marquis; “we ought to allow the poor foreigners some little indulgence. They are ignorant of our manners and customs; were it not for that, they would never appear in the face of all Paris in such dubious company.”
“Indeed,” said Adrienne, with a bitter smile, “their simplicity is touching; we must pity them.”