The gloomy and mysterious air scattered over the group which presented itself to our eyes filled us with desponding thoughts. There appeared throughout the party a kind of concentrated grief and silent despair which struck us with terror. We remained motionless in the same spot without any persons quitting their fixed attitude to offer us a seat. After some minutes of a deep silence, which I durst not interrupt any more than comte Jean, whose accustomed hardihood seemed effectually checked, the suffering girl raised herself in her bed, and in a hollow voice exclaimed,
"Comtesse du Barry, what brings you here?"
The sound of her hoarse and grating voice made me start, spite of myself.
"My poor child," answered I, tenderly, "I come to see you at your request."
"Yes, yes," replied she, bursting into a frightful fit of laughter, "I wished to see you to thank you for my dishonour, and for the perdition into which you have involved me."
"My daughter," said the priest, approaching her, "is this what you promised me?"
"And what did I promise to God when I vowed to hold myself chaste and spotless? Perjured wretch that I am, I have sold my honour for paltry gold; wheedled by the deceitful flattery of that man who stands before me, I joined his infamous companion in the path of guilt and shame. But the just vengeance of heaven has overtaken me, and I am rightly punished."
Whether this language was the result of a previously studied lesson I know not, but it was ill-calculated to raise my failing spirits.
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