The Clique of Gold
Daniel looked up. In the box which Maxime had pointed out to him he saw a girl of such
rare and dazzling beauty, that he could hardly retain a cry of admiration. She was leaning
forward, resting on the velvet cushion of her box, in order to hear better.
Her hair, perfectly overwhelming in its richness, was so carelessly arranged, that no one
could doubt it was all her own; it was almost golden, but with such a bright sheen, that at
every motion sparks seemed to start from its dark masses. Her large, soft eyes were
overshadowed by long lashes; and as she now opened them wide, and now half closed
them again, they changed from the darkest to the lightest blue.
Her lips smiled in all the freshness and innocence of merry youth, displaying now and
then two rows of teeth, matchless in their beauty and regularity.
"Can that be," said Daniel to himself, "the wretched creature whose portrait Maxime has
just given me?"
A little behind her, and half-hid in the shade of the box, appeared a large bony head,
adorned with an absurd bunch of feathers. Her eyes flashed indignation; and her narrow
lips seemed to say perpetually, "Shocking!" That was Mrs. Brian.
Still farther back, barely discernible after long examination, arose a tall, stiff figure, a
bald, shining head, two dark, deep-sunk eyes, a hooked nose, and a pair of immense
streaming whiskers. That was the Hon. Thomas Elgin, commonly known as Sir Thorn.
As Daniel was persistently examining the box, with the smiling girl, the stern old woman,
and the placid old man in the background, he felt doubts of all kinds creeping into his
Might not Maxime be mistaken? Did he not merely repeat the atrocious slanders of the
These thoughts troubled Daniel; and he would have mentioned his doubts to Maxime; but
his neighbors were enthusiasts about music, and, as soon as he bent over to whisper into
his friend's ear, they growled, and, if he ventured to utter a word, they forced him to be
silent. At last the curtain fell. Many left the house; others simply rose to look around; but
Maxime and Daniel remained in their seats. Their whole attention was concentrated upon
Miss Brandon's box, when they saw the door open, and a gentleman enter, who, at the
distance at which they sat, looked like a very young man. His complexion was brilliantly
fair, his beard jet black, and his curly hair most carefully arranged. He had his opera-hat
under his arm, a camellia in his button-hole; and his light-yellow kid gloves were so tight,
that it looked as if they must inevitably burst the instant he used his hands.
"Count Ville-Handry!" said Daniel to himself.