The instructions that Mademoiselle de Vermont gave to the two men must have been easy to execute, for neither the notary nor the banker seemed to raise the least objection. The conversation was finished, and both gentlemen saluted her, preparing to take leave, when she said to M. Durand:
“You understand that the meeting is for tomorrow?”
“At five o’clock,” he replied.
“Very well. I will stop for you at your door at a quarter of an hour before that time.”
The fourth act had begun, that scene in which Adrienne accomplishes her generous sacrifice in furnishing herself the ransom which must deliver her unfaithful lover. The rapt attention that Zibeline paid to this scene, and the slight movements of her head, showed her approval of this disinterested act. Very touching in her invocation to her “old Corneille,” Mademoiselle Gontier was superb at the moment when the comedienne, knowing at last who is her rival, quotes from Racine that passage in ‘Phedre’ which she throws, so to speak, in the face of the patrician woman:
. . . . Je sais ses perfidies, OEnone! et ne suis point de ces femmes hardies Qui, goutant dans la crime une honteuse paix, Ont su se faire un front qui ne rougit jamais.
From the place she was to obliged to take in the arrangement of the scene, the apostrophe and the gestures of the actress appeared to be unconsciously directed toward Mademoiselle de Vermont, who could not restrain a startled movement.
“Look! One would think that Zibeline took that allusion for herself,” said Madame Desvanneaux, whom nothing escaped.
On reentering the greenroom, after two well-deserved recalls, Eugenie Gontier was soon surrounded by a throng of admirers who had come to congratulate her upon her success.
“Were you pleased, Henri?” she said in a low tone to the General.
“Enthusiastically!” he replied.
“Ah, then I can die happy!” she said, laughingly.
As she traversed the ranks of her admirers to go to change her costume for the last act, she found herself face to face with Zibeline, who, having quickly recovered from her emotion, was advancing on the arm of the Chevalier de Sainte-Foy.
“My dear child,” said the old nobleman to the actress, “I bring to you Mademoiselle de Vermont, who wishes to say to you herself—”
“That Mademoiselle must be very tired of listening to our praises,” interrupted Zibeline. “But if the tribute of a foreigner can prove to her that her prestige is universal, I beg that she will accept these flowers which I dared not throw to her from my box.”
“Really, Mademoiselle, you embarrass me!” Eugenie replied, somewhat surprised.
“Oh, you need not fear to take them—they are not poisoned!” added Zibeline, smiling.
And, after a gracious inclination of her head, to which the actress responded with a deep courtesy, Zibeline took again the arm of her escort in order to seek her carriage, without waiting for the end of the play.