O F : T H E
A corner is turned after breakfast the next day when Peter, the much-ridiculed domestic, secures an interview with Adeline and finally dispells the illusion of La Motte's protection against the predations of her father. " 'Your father,' interrupted Peter; 'Lord bless you, that is all fudge, to frighten you; your father, nor nobody else has ever sent after you.' " In the course of his service to La Motte, his conversations with the Marquis's staff, and listening at keyholes generally Peter has gleaned several other things of crucial importance to Adeline. First of these is that La Motte has agreed to hand custody of Adeline over to the Marquis, in fulfillment of his old scandal-shrouded debt or ransom: " 'They said a great deal, which I could make nothing of; but, at last, I heard the Marquis say, You know the terms; on these terms only will I consent to bury the past in ob--ob--oblivion--that was the word.' " The ugliness of the contract stands out in full relief upon Peter's revelation that the Marquis (who at one point offered Adeline his title) has in fact a living spouse, the Marchioness--and that everyone but Adeline has known this all along, including Madame La Motte. Finally it turns out that the appointed time for the Marquis to claim his prize has already come: " 'Monsieur La Motte then told the Marquis, if he would return to the abbey upon such a night, meaning this very night, Ma'amselle, every thing should be prepared according to his wishes; Adeline shall then be yours, my Lord, said he,--you are already acquainted with her chamber.' "

And so with Peter's help Adeline plans her escape. A delicate matter, as he points out: " 'If they miss us both at the same time, they'll guess how it is and set off directly. Could you not contrive to go first and wait for me till the hurly-burly's over? Then, while they're searching in the place under ground for you, I can slip away, and we should both be out of their reach, before they thought of pursuing us.'

"Adeline agreed to the truth of this, and was somewhat surprized at Peter's sagacity. She inquired if he knew of any place in the neighborhood of the abbey, where she could remain concealed until he came with a horse. 'Why yes, Madam, there is a place, now I think of it, where you may be safe enough, for nobody goes near: but they say it's haunted, and, perhaps, you would not like to go there.... It is an old tomb that stands in the thickest part of the forest about a quarter mile off the nearest way, and almost a mile the other. When my master used to hide himself so much in the forest, I have followed him somewhere hereabouts, but I did not find the tomb till t'other day.' " Now if you're like me at this point you're like "Hold up--'used to'? What sort of affrightment has La Motte suffered, which could part him from his solitary habits? As if the idea of concealing Adeline in his obscure recess weren't creepy enough!"


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