The Clique of Gold
The count must have risen early that day. Although it was not yet ten o'clock, he was
already brilliant, rouged, dyed, and frizzed. Of course all these results had not been the
work of an hour. As he entered, he drew a long breath, and said,--
"Ah! You live pretty high up, my dear Daniel."
Poor fellow! He forgot that he was playing the young man. But he recalled himself at
once, and added, full of vivacity,--
"Not that I complain of it; oh, no! A few stories to climb--what is that to me?"
At the same time he stretched out his leg, and caressed his calf, as if to exhibit its vigor
and its suppleness. In the meantime, Daniel, full of respect for his future father-in-law,
had drawn forward his easiest arm-chair. The count took it, and in an airy manner, which
contrasted ill with his evident embarrassment, he said,--
"I am sure, my dear Daniel, you must be very much surprised and puzzled to see me here;
are you not?"
"I confess, sir, I am. If you wished to speak to me, you had only to drop me a line, and I
should have waited upon you at once."
"I am sure you would! But that is not necessary. In fact, I have nothing to say to you. I
should not have come to see you, if I had not missed an appointment. I was to meet one
of my fellow members of the assembly, and he did not come to the place where we were
to meet. On my return home, I happened to pass your house; and I said to myself, 'Why
not go up and see my sailor friend? I might ask him what he thinks of a certain young
lady to whom he had, last night, the honor of being presented.'"
Now or never was the favorable moment for following Maxime's advice; hence Daniel,
instead of replying, simply smiled as pleasantly as he could.
But that did not satisfy the count; so he repeated the question more directly, and said,--
"Come, tell us frankly, what do you think of Miss Brandon?"
"She is one of the greatest beauties I have ever seen in my life."
Count Ville-Handry's eyes beamed with delight and with pride as he heard these words.
"Say she is the greatest beauty, the most marvellous and transcendent beauty, you ever
saw. And that, M. Daniel Champcey, is her smallest attraction. When she opens her lips,