“Why don’t you go, coward? Why don’t you go, wretched man? Must I call?”
He was frightened, backed to the door, and half opened it; then he said,—
“You refuse me to-day; but, before the month is over, you will beg me to come to you. You are ruined; and I alone can rescue you.”
At last, then, the truth had come out!
Overcome with horror, her hair standing at an end, and shaken by nervous spasms, poor Henrietta was trying to measure the depth of the abyss into which she had thrown herself.
Voluntarily, and with the simplicity of a child, she had walked into the pit which had been dug for her. But who, in her place, would not have trusted? Who could have conceived such an idea? Who could have suspected such monstrous rascality?
Ah! Now she understood but too well all the mysterious movements that had so puzzled her in M. de Brevan. She saw how profound had been his calculations when he recommended her so urgently not to take her jewels with her while escaping from her father’s house, nor any object of value; for, if she had had her jewelry, she would have been in possession of a small fortune; she would have been independent, and above want, at least for a couple of years.
But M. de Brevan wanted her to have nothing. He knew, the coward! with what crushing contempt she would reject his first proposals; but he flattered himself with the hope that isolation, fear, destitution would at last reduce her to submission, and enable him—
“It is too horrible,” repeated the poor girl,—“too horrible!”
And this man had been Daniel’s friend! And it was he to whom Daniel, at the moment of sailing, had intrusted his betrothed! What atrocious deception! M. Thomas Elgin was no doubt a formidable bandit, faithless and unscrupulous; but he was known as such: he was known to be capable of any thing, and thus people were on their guard. But this man!—ah, a thousand times meaner and viler!—he had watched for a whole year, with smiling face, for the hour of treachery; he had prepared a hideous crime under the veil of the noblest friendship!
Henrietta thought she could divine what was the traitor’s final aim. In obtaining possession of her, he no doubt thought he would secure to himself a large portion of Count Ville-Handry’s immense fortune.
And hence, she continued in her meditations, hence the hatred between Sir Thorn and M. de Brevan. They both coveted the same thing; and each one trembled lest the other should first get hold of the treasure which he wanted to secure. The idea that the new countess was in complicity with M. de Brevan did not enter Henrietta’s mind. On the contrary, she thought they were enemies, and divided from each other by separate and opposite interests.
“Ah!” she said to herself, “they have one feeling, at all events, in common; and that is hatred against me.”