Jeanne turned her head, but she did not respond in the least to the Princess’ softened tone. There was a note of finality about her words, too. She spoke as one who had weighed this matter and made up her mind.
“If there was no other man in the world,” she said, “or no other way of avoiding starvation, I would not marry the Count de Brensault.”
The Princess rose slowly to her feet.
“Very well,” she said, “that ends the matter, of course. I hope you will always remember that it is you who are responsible for anything that may happen now. You had better,” she continued, “leave off writing letters which will certainly never be posted, and get your clothes together. We shall go abroad at the latest to-morrow afternoon.”
“Abroad?” Jeanne repeated.
“Yes!” the Princess answered. “I suppose you have sense enough to see that we cannot stay on here for you to make your interesting confessions. I should probably have some of these tradespeople trying to put me in prison.”
“I will tell Saunders at once,” Jeanne said. “I am quite ready to do anything you think best.”
The Princess laughed hardly.
“You will have to manage without Saunders,” she answered. “Paupers like us can’t afford maids. I am going to discharge every one this afternoon. Have your boxes packed, please, to-night. Your dinner will be sent up to you.”
The Princess left the room, and Jeanne heard the key turn in the lock.
Jeanne’s packing was after all a very small matter. She ignored the cupboards full of gowns, nor did she open one of the drawers of her wardrobe. She simply filled her dressing-case with a few necessaries and hid it under the table. At eight o’clock one of the servants brought her dinner on a tray. Jeanne saw with relief that it was one of the younger parlour maids, and not the Princess’ own maid.
“Mary,” Jeanne said, taking a gold bracelet from her wrist and holding it out to her, “I am going to give you this bracelet if you will do just a very simple thing for me.”
The girl looked at Jeanne and looked at the bracelet. She was too amazed for speech.
“I want you,” Jeanne said, “when you go out to leave the door unlocked. That is all. It will not make any difference to you so far as your position here is concerned, because your mistress is sending you all away in a few days.”
The girl looked at the bracelet and did not hesitate for a moment.
“I would do it for you without anything, Miss Jeanne,” she said. “The bracelet is too good for me.”
Jeanne laughed, and pushed it across the table to her.
“Run along,” she said. “If you want to do something else, open the back door for me. I am coming downstairs.”
The girl looked a little perplexed. The bracelet which she was holding still engrossed most of her thoughts.