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The Wandering Jew — Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,533 pages of information about The Wandering Jew Complete.

“Really,” said the princess, with a sort of incensed amazement, “I scarcely know if I wake or sleep.”

“Dear me!” said Adrienne, in apparent alarm; “this doubt as to the state of your faculties is very shocking, madame.  I see that the blood flies to your head, for your face sufficiently shows it; you seem oppressed, confined, uncomfortable—­perhaps (we women may say so between ourselves), perhaps you are laced a little too tightly, madame?”

These words, pronounced by Adrienne with an air of warm interest and perfect simplicity, almost choked the princess with rage.  She became crimson, seated herself abruptly, and exclaimed:  “Be it so, madame!  I prefer this reception to any other.  It puts me at my ease, as you say.”

“Does it indeed, madame?” said Adrienne, with a smile.  “You may now at least speak frankly all that you feel, which must for you have the charm of novelty!  Confess that you are obliged to me for enabling you, even for a moment, to lay aside that mask of piety, amiability, and goodness, which must be so troublesome to you.”

As she listened to the sarcasms of Adrienne (an innocent and excusable revenge, if we consider all the wrongs she had suffered), Mother Bunch felt her heart sink within her; for she dreaded the malignity of the princess, who replied, with the utmost calmness:  “A thousand thanks, madame, for your excellent intentions and sentiments.  I appreciate them as I ought, and I hope in a short time to prove it to you.”

“Well, madame,” said Adrienne, playfully, “let us have it all at once.  I am full of impatient curiosity.”

“And yet,” said the princess, feigning in her turn a bitter and ironical delight, “you are far from having the least notion of what I am about to announce to you.”

“Indeed!  I fear that your highness’s candor and modesty deceive you,” replied Adrienne, with the same mocking affability; “for there are very few things on your part that can surprise me, madame.  You must be aware that from your highness, I am prepared for anything.”

“Perhaps, madame,” said the princess, laying great stress on her words, “if, for instance, I were to tell you that within twenty-four hours—­suppose between this and to-morrow-thou will be reduced to poverty—­”

This was so unexpected, that Mdlle. de Cardoville started in spite of herself, and Mother Bunch shuddered.

“Ah, madame!” said the princess, with triumphant joy and cruel mildness, as she watched the growing surprise of her niece, “confess that I have astonished you a little.  You were right in giving to our interview the turn it has taken.  I should have needed all sorts of circumlocution to say to you, ’Niece, to-morrow you will be as poor as you are rich to day.’  But now I can tell you the fact quite plainly and simply.”

Recovering from her first amazement, Adrienne replied, with a calm smile, which checked the joy of the princess:  “Well, I confess frankly, madame, that you have surprised me; I expected from you one of those black pieces of malignity, one of those well-laid plots, in which you are known to excel, and I did not think you would make all this fuss about such a trifle.”

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