The Clique of Gold HTML version

Chapter 26
Never would a stranger who should have suddenly come into Daniel's chamber, upon
seeing Crochard's attitude, have imagined that the wretch was accused of a capital crime,
and was standing there before a magistrate, in presence of the man whom he had tried
three times to assassinate.
Quite at home in the law, as far as it was studied at the galleys, he had instantly
recognized that his situation was by no means so desperate as he had at first supposed;
that, if the jury rendered a verdict of guilty of death, it would be against the instigator of
the crime, and that he would probably get off with a few years' penal servitude.
Hence he had made up his mind about his situation with that almost bestial indifference
which characterizes people who are ready for everything, and prepared for everything. He
had recovered from that stupor which the discovery of his crime had produced in him,
and from the rage in which he had been thrown by the loss of his bank-notes. Now there
appeared, under the odious personage of the murderer, the pretentious and ridiculous
orator of the streets and prisons, who is accustomed to make himself heard, and displays
his eloquence with great pride.
He assumed a studied position; and it was evident that he was preparing himself for his
speech, although, afterwards, a good many words escaped him which are found in no
dictionary, but belong to the jargon of the lowest classes, and serve to express the vilest
"It was," he began, "a Friday, an unlucky day,--a week, about, before 'The Conquest'
sailed. It might have been two o'clock. I had eaten nothing; I had not a cent in my pockets
and I was walking along the boulevards, loafing, and thinking how I could procure some
"I had crossed several streets, when a carriage stopped close to me; and I saw a very fine
gentleman step out, a cigar in his mouth, a gold chain across his waistcoat, and a flower
in his buttonhole. He entered a glove-shop.
"At once I said to myself, 'Curious! I have seen that head somewhere.'
"Thereupon, I go to work, and remain fixed to the front of the shop, a little at the side,
though, you know, at a place where, without being seen myself, I could very well watch
my individual, who laughed and talked, showing his white teeth, while a pretty girl was
trying on a pair of gloves. The more I looked at him, the more I thought, 'Positively,
Bagnolet, although that sweet soul don't look as if he were a member of your society, you
know him.'
"However, as I could not put a name to that figure, I was going on my way, when
suddenly my memory came back to me, and I said, 'Cretonne, it is an old comrade. I shall
get my dinner.'