The Clique of Gold
During the last visits which Daniel had paid to Henrietta, he had not concealed from her
the fact that Maxime de Brevan had formerly been quite intimate with Sarah Brandon and
her friends. But still, in explaining his reasons for trying to renew these relations, M. de
Brevan had acted with his usual diplomacy.
But for this, she might have conceived some vague suspicions when she saw him, soon
after he had left her, enter into a long conversation with the countess, then speak with Sir
Thorn, and finally chat most confidentially with austere Mrs. Brian. But now, if she
noticed it all, she was not surprised. Her mind was, in fact, thousands of miles away. She
thought only of that letter which she had in her pocket, and which was burning her
fingers, so to say. She could think of nothing else.
What would she not have given for the right to run away and read it at once? But
adversity was teaching her gradually circumspection; and she felt it would be unwise to
leave the room before the last guests had departed. Thus it was past two o'clock in the
morning before she could open the precious letter, after having dismissed her faithful
Alas! she did not find what she had hoped for,--advice, or, better than that, directions
how she should conduct herself. The fact is, that in his terrible distress, Daniel no longer
was sufficiently master of himself to look calmly at the future, and to weigh the
probabilities. In his despair he had filled three pages with assurances of his love, with
promises that his last thoughts would be for her, and with prayers that she would not
forget him. There were hardly twenty lines left for recommendations, which ought to
have contained the most precise and minute details.
All his suggestions, moreover, amounted to this,--arm yourself with patience and
resignation till my return. Do not leave your father's house unless in the last extremity, in
case of pressing danger, and under no circumstances without first consulting Maxime.
And to fill up the measure, from excessive delicacy, and fearing to wound his friend's
oversensitive feelings, Daniel had omitted to inform Henrietta of certain most important
circumstances. Thus he only told her, that, if flight became her only means of escape
from actual danger, she need not hesitate from pecuniary considerations; that he had
foreseen every thing, and made the needful preparations.
How could she guess from this, that the unlucky man, carried away and blinded by
passion, had intrusted fifty or sixty thousand dollars, his entire fortune, to his friend
Maxime? Still the two friends agreed too fully on the same opinion to allow her to
hesitate. Thus, when she fell asleep, she had formed a decision. She had vowed to herself
that she would meet all the torments they might inflict upon her, with the stoicism of the
Indian who is bound to the stake, and to be, among her enemies, like a dead person,
whom no insult can galvanize into the semblance of life.