She would go! She had made up her mind. Only how should she dress herself? She had nothing at hand but a muslin dressing-gown, little high-heeled slippers, and blue satin shoes. She might wake her maid. Oh, never would she dare to do that, and time pressed; a quarter to five! the regiment would start at five o’clock.
She might, perhaps, manage with the muslin dressing-gown, and the satin shoes; in the hall, she might find her hat, her little sabots which she wore in the garden, and the large tartan cloak for driving in wet weather. She half-opened her door with infinite precautions. Everything slept in the house; she crept along the corridor, she descended the staircase.
If only the little sabots are there in their place; that is her great anxiety. There they are! She slips them on over her satin shoes, she wraps herself in her great mantle.
She hears that the rain has redoubled in violence. She notices one of those large umbrellas which the footmen use on the box in wet weather; she seizes it; she is ready; but when she is ready to go, she sees that the hall-door is fastened by a great iron bar. She tries to raise it; but the bolt holds fast, resists all her efforts, and the great clock in the hall slowly strikes five. He is starting at that moment.
She will see him! she will see him! Her will is excited by these obstacles. She makes a great effort; the bar yields, slips back in the groove. But Bettina has made a long scratch on her hand, from which issues a slender stream of blood. Bettina twists her handkerchief round her hand, takes her great umbrella, turns the key in the lock; and opens the door.
At last she is out of the house!
The weather is frightful. The wind and the rain rage together. It takes five or six minutes to reach the terrace which looks over the road. Bettina darts forward courageously; her head bent, hidden under her immense umbrella, she has taken a few steps. All at once, furious, mad, blinding, a sudden squall bursts upon Bettina, buries her in her mantle, drives her along, lifts her almost from the ground, turns the umbrella violently inside out; that is nothing, the disaster is not yet complete.
Bettina has lost one of her little sabots; they were not practical sabots; they were only pretty little things for fine weather, and at this moment, when Bettina struggles against the tempest with her blue satin shoe half buried in the wet gravel, at this moment the wind bears to her the distant echo of a blast of trumpets. It is the regiment starting!
Bettina makes a desperate effort, abandons her umbrella, finds her little sabot, fastens it on as well as she can, and starts off running, with a deluge descending on her head.
At last, she is in the wood, the trees protect her a little. Another blast, nearer this time. Bettina fancies she hears the rolling of the gun-carriages. She makes a last effort, there is the terrace, she is there just in time.