The Clique of Gold
It was exactly two years since Daniel and Henrietta had been parted by the foulest
treachery,--two years since that fatal evening when the stupidly ironical voice of Count
Ville-Handry had suddenly made itself heard near them under the old trees of the garden
of the palace.
What had not happened since then? What unheard-of, most improbable events; what
trials, what tribulations, what sufferings! They had endured all that the human heart can
endure. There was not a day, so to say, in these two years, that had not brought them its
share of grief and sorrow. How often both of them had despaired of the future! How
many times they had sighed for death!
And yet, after all these storms, here they were reunited once more, in unspeakable
happiness, forgetting every thing,--their enemies and the whole world, the anxieties of the
past, and the uncertainty of the future.
They remained thus for a long time, holding each other closely, overcome with
happiness, unable, as yet, to believe in the reality for which they had sighed so long,
unable to utter a word, laughing and weeping in one breath.
Now and then they would move apart a little, throwing back the head in order the better
to look at each other; then swiftly they would fold each other again closely in their arms,
as if they were afraid they might be separated anew.
"How they love each other!" whispered Mrs. Bertolle in her brother's ear,--"the poor
And big tears rolled down her cheeks, while the old dealer, not less touched, but showing
his emotion differently, closed his hands fiercely, and said,--
"All right, all right! They will have to pay for everything."
Daniel, in the meantime, was recovering himself gradually; and reason once more got the
better of his feelings. He led Henrietta to an arm- chair at the corner of the fireplace, and
sitting down in front of her, after having taken her hands in his own, he asked her to give
him a faithful account of the two terrible years that had just come to an end.
She had to tell him everything,--her humiliations in her father's house, the insults she had
endured, the wicked slanders by which her honor had been tainted, the incomprehensible
blindness of the count, the surly provocations of her step-mother, the horrible attentions
of Sir Thorn; in fine, the whole abominable plot which had been formed, as she found out
too late, for the purpose of driving her to seek safety in flight, and to give herself up to
Maxime de Brevan.
Trembling with rage, livid, his eyes bloodshot, Daniel suddenly let go Henrietta's hands,
and exclaimed in a half-smothered voice,--