Page:Marquis de Sade - Adelaide of Brunswick.djvu/61

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meantime, as you will need a little distraction, come see what has been granted you."

And Schinders led his prisoners into a little garden level with the room in which they were going to be prisoners and showing them some spades leaning against an old cypress tree:

"You will each dig here your tomb," he said to them, "and you will try to arrange it in such a fashion that you finish both jobs at the same time. Come, work, Miladies, every month you will receive a visit from me, and I will come when it is time to shorten your lives, whose length you are going to curse while you are busy working to shorten them."

At these words, Schinders went out and the door closed with such a bang that the old tower trembled.

"Do you believe, my dear Bathilda," said Adelaide to her faithful companion, "that there can be two more unfortunate women than we?"

"I do not lose courage, Milady," answered the daughter of the major, "those who have escaped from Torgau can escape from here."

"That is impossible, my dear."

"Let's not give up, Milady. Let's work at the rope. Instead of shortening our days, it may prolong them."

From that time on, the trembling and delicate hands of the Princess of Saxony worked on the most sinister task that it was possible to imagine since the slowness doubled the torments of their lives and the speed hastened the end.

"Alas," said the princess, "isn't this the punishment of all people? The work and pleasure in which they spend their lives bring closer the instant of their death."

Every evening at seven o'clock, a large loaf of coarse bread, some water, and some badly prepared vegetables were brought and once consumed, the unfortunate ones threw themselves on two piles of straw placed in one corner of the dirty and damp room. Nevertheless, they slept; they had reached such an unfortunate situation that it was not possible to have the little torments which trouble rest.

Each morning when Bathilda awoke, she went to help the princess get dressed as she had done ever since she had been in her service. These little attentions helped the princess, since