The Clique of Gold HTML version

Chapter 20
Thus a few minutes longer, and all was really over. Count Ville- Handry's daughter was
dying! Count Ville-Handry's daughter was dead!
But at that very hour the tenant of the fourth story, Papa Ravinet, the second-hand dealer,
was going to his dinner. If he had gone down as usually, by the front staircase, no noise
would have reached him. But Providence was awake. That evening he went down the
back stairs, and heard the death-rattle of the poor dying girl. In our beautiful egotistical
days, many a man, in the place of this old man, would not have gone out of his way. He,
on the contrary, hurried down to inform the concierge. Many a man, again, would have
been quieted by the apparent calmness of the Chevassat couple, and would have been
satisfied with their assurance that Henrietta was not at home. He, however, insisted, and,
in spite of the evident reluctance of the concierge and his wife, compelled them to go up,
and brought out, by his words first, and then by his example, one tenant after another.
It was he likewise, who, while the concierge and the other people were deliberating,
directed what was to be done for the dying girl, and who hastened to fetch from his
magazine a mattress, sheets, blankets, wood to make a fire, in fact, every thing that was
needed in that bare chamber.
A few moments later Henrietta opened her eyes. Her first sensation was a very strange
In the first place she was utterly amazed at feeling that she was in a warm bed,--she who
had, for so many days, endured all the tortures of bitter cold. Then, looking around, she
was dazzled by the candles that were burning on her table, and the beautiful, bright fire in
her fireplace. And then she looked with perfect stupor at all the women whom she did not
know, and who were bending over her, watching her movements.
Had her father at last come to her assistance?
No, for he would have been there; and she looked in vain for him among all these strange
Then, understanding from some words which were spoken close by her, that it was to
chance alone she owed her rescue from death, she was filled with indescribable grief.
"To have suffered all that can be suffered in dying," she said to herself, "and then not to
die after all!"
She almost had a feeling of hatred against all these people who were busying themselves
around her. Now that they had brought her back to life, would they enable her to live?