The Clique of Gold
At last, then, the truth had come out!
Overcome with horror, her hair standing at an end, and shaken by nervous spasms, poor
Henrietta was trying to measure the depth of the abyss into which she had thrown herself.
Voluntarily, and with the simplicity of a child, she had walked into the pit which had
been dug for her. But who, in her place, would not have trusted? Who could have
conceived such an idea? Who could have suspected such monstrous rascality?
Ah! Now she understood but too well all the mysterious movements that had so puzzled
her in M. de Brevan. She saw how profound had been his calculations when he
recommended her so urgently not to take her jewels with her while escaping from her
father's house, nor any object of value; for, if she had had her jewelry, she would have
been in possession of a small fortune; she would have been independent, and above want,
at least for a couple of years.
But M. de Brevan wanted her to have nothing. He knew, the coward! with what crushing
contempt she would reject his first proposals; but he flattered himself with the hope that
isolation, fear, destitution would at last reduce her to submission, and enable him--
"It is too horrible," repeated the poor girl,--"too horrible!"
And this man had been Daniel's friend! And it was he to whom Daniel, at the moment of
sailing, had intrusted his betrothed! What atrocious deception! M. Thomas Elgin was no
doubt a formidable bandit, faithless and unscrupulous; but he was known as such: he was
known to be capable of any thing, and thus people were on their guard. But this man!--ah,
a thousand times meaner and viler!--he had watched for a whole year, with smiling face,
for the hour of treachery; he had prepared a hideous crime under the veil of the noblest
Henrietta thought she could divine what was the traitor's final aim. In obtaining
possession of her, he no doubt thought he would secure to himself a large portion of
Count Ville-Handry's immense fortune.
And hence, she continued in her meditations, hence the hatred between Sir Thorn and M.
de Brevan. They both coveted the same thing; and each one trembled lest the other should
first get hold of the treasure which he wanted to secure. The idea that the new countess
was in complicity with M. de Brevan did not enter Henrietta's mind. On the contrary, she
thought they were enemies, and divided from each other by separate and opposite
"Ah!" she said to herself, "they have one feeling, at all events, in common; and that is
hatred against me."