He uttered a cry, and went forward. But as quickly she bounded to meet him, casting both arms around his neck, and leaning upon his bosom, sobbing and stammering,—
“Daniel, Daniel! At last!”
It was exactly two years since Daniel and Henrietta had been parted by the foulest treachery,—two years since that fatal evening when the stupidly ironical voice of Count Ville-Handry had suddenly made itself heard near them under the old trees of the garden of the palace.
What had not happened since then? What unheard-of, most improbable events; what trials, what tribulations, what sufferings! They had endured all that the human heart can endure. There was not a day, so to say, in these two years, that had not brought them its share of grief and sorrow. How often both of them had despaired of the future! How many times they had sighed for death!
And yet, after all these storms, here they were reunited once more, in unspeakable happiness, forgetting every thing,—their enemies and the whole world, the anxieties of the past, and the uncertainty of the future.
They remained thus for a long time, holding each other closely, overcome with happiness, unable, as yet, to believe in the reality for which they had sighed so long, unable to utter a word, laughing and weeping in one breath.
Now and then they would move apart a little, throwing back the head in order the better to look at each other; then swiftly they would fold each other again closely in their arms, as if they were afraid they might be separated anew.
“How they love each other!” whispered Mrs. Bertolle in her brother’s ear,—“the poor young people!”
And big tears rolled down her cheeks, while the old dealer, not less touched, but showing his emotion differently, closed his hands fiercely, and said,—
“All right, all right! They will have to pay for everything.”
Daniel, in the meantime, was recovering himself gradually; and reason once more got the better of his feelings. He led Henrietta to an arm-chair at the corner of the fireplace, and sitting down in front of her, after having taken her hands in his own, he asked her to give him a faithful account of the two terrible years that had just come to an end.
She had to tell him everything,—her humiliations in her father’s house, the insults she had endured, the wicked slanders by which her honor had been tainted, the incomprehensible blindness of the count, the surly provocations of her step-mother, the horrible attentions of Sir Thorn; in fine, the whole abominable plot which had been formed, as she found out too late, for the purpose of driving her to seek safety in flight, and to give herself up to Maxime de Brevan.
Trembling with rage, livid, his eyes bloodshot, Daniel suddenly let go Henrietta’s hands, and exclaimed in a half-smothered voice,—