The Clique of Gold
Twenty-four hours after Daniel had thus left Count Ville-Handry's palace, pale and
staggering, he had not yet entirely recovered from this last blow. He had made a mortal
enemy of the man whom it was his greatest interest to manage; and this man, who of his
own accord would have parted with him only regretfully, had now turned him
disgracefully out of his house.
He could hardly account to himself for the way in which this had come about. Nay, more;
retracing step by step, his conduct during the last few days, it appeared to him pitiful,
absurd. And then all that had happened seemed to have turned against him.
He accused Fate, that blind goddess, who is always blamed by those who have not the
courage to blame themselves. He was in this state of mind when there came to him, to his
great surprise, a letter from Henrietta. Thus it was she who anticipated him, and who,
sure that he would be desperate, had the feminine delicacy to write to him almost
"Immediately after your departure, my dear Daniel, father ordered me up stairs, and
decided that I should stay there till I should become more reasonable. I know I shall stay
here a long time."
She concluded thus,--
"What we want most of all, oh, my only friend! is courage. Will you have as much as
"Oh, certainly, certainly! I shall have all that is needed," exclaimed Daniel, moved to
And he vowed to himself that he would devote himself, heart and soul, to his work, and
there find, if not forgetfulness, at least peace. He found, however, that to swear was easier
than to do. In spite of all his efforts, he could not fix his thoughts upon any thing else but
his misfortunes. The studies which he had formerly pursued with delight now filled him
with disgust. The balance of his whole life was so completely destroyed, that he was not
able to restore it.
The existence which he now led was that of a desperate man. As soon as he had risen, he
hurried to M. de Brevan, and remained in his company as long as he could. Left alone, he
wandered at haphazard along the Boulevards, or up the Champs Elysees. He dined early,
hurried home again, and, putting on a rough overcoat which he had worn on board ship,
he went to roam around the palace of his beloved.
There, behind those heavy, beautifully carved gates, which were open to all comers but to
him, lived she who was more to him than his life. If he had struck the flagstones of the
sidewalk with the heel of his boots, she would have heard the sound. He could hear the
music of her piano; and yet the will of one man placed an abyss between them.