Part 19 out of 31
now my turn to ask you some questions."
"Ah, true. Well; I shall rent a room in some respectable
house, wear a decent coat, shave every day, and go and read
the papers in a cafe. Then, in the evening, I shall go to
the theatre; I shall look like some retired baker. That is
what I want."
"Come, if you will only put this scheme into execution, and
be steady, nothing could be better."
"Do you think so, M. Bossuet? And you -- what will you
become? A peer of France?"
"Ah," said Andrea, "who knows?"
"Major Cavalcanti is already one, perhaps; but then,
hereditary rank is abolished."
"No politics, Caderousse. And now that you have all you
want, and that we understand each other, jump down from the
tilbury and disappear."
"Not at all, my good friend."
"How? Not at all?"
"Why, just think for a moment; with this red handkerchief on
my head, with scarcely any shoes, no papers, and ten gold
napoleons in my pocket, without reckoning what was there
before -- making in all about two hundred francs, -- why, I
should certainly be arrested at the barriers. Then, to
justify myself, I should say that you gave me the money;
this would cause inquiries, it would be found that I left
Toulon without giving due notice, and I should then be
escorted back to the shores of the Mediterranean. Then I
should become simply No. 106, and good-by to my dream of
resembling the retired baker! No, no, my boy; I prefer
remaining honorably in the capital." Andrea scowled.
Certainly, as he had himself owned, the reputed son of Major
Cavalcanti was a wilful fellow. He drew up for a minute,
threw a rapid glance around him, and then his hand fell
instantly into his pocket, where it began playing with a
pistol. But, meanwhile, Caderousse, who had never taken his
eyes off his companion, passed his hand behind his back, and
opened a long Spanish knife, which he always carried with
him, to be ready in case of need. The two friends, as we
see, were worthy of and understood one another. Andrea's
hand left his pocket inoffensively, and was carried up to
the red mustache, which it played with for some time. "Good
Caderousse," he said, "how happy you will be."
"I will do my best," said the inn-keeper of the Pont du
Gard, shutting up his knife.
"Well, then, we will go into Paris. But how will you pass
through the barrier without exciting suspicion? It seems to
me that you are in more danger riding than on foot."
"Wait," said Caderousse, "we shall see." He then took the
great-coat with the large collar, which the groom had left
behind in the tilbury, and put it on his back; then he took
off Cavalcanti's hat, which he placed upon his own head, and
finally he assumed the careless attitude of a servant whose
master drives himself.
"But, tell me," said Andrea, "am I to remain bareheaded?"
"Pooh," said Caderousse; "it is so windy that your hat can
easily appear to have blown off."
"Come, come; enough of this," said Cavalcanti.
"What are you waiting for?" said Caderousse. "I hope I am
not the cause."
"Hush," said Andrea. They passed the barrier without
accident. At the first cross street Andrea stopped his
horse, and Caderousse leaped out.
"Well!" said Andrea, -- "my servant's coat and my hat?"
"Ah," said Caderousse, "you would not like me to risk taking
"But what am I to do?"
"You? Oh, you are young while I am beginning to get old. Au
revoir, Benedetto;" and running into a court, he
disappeared. "Alas," said Andrea, sighing, "one cannot be
completely happy in this world!"
A Conjugal Scene.
At the Place Louis XV. the three young people separated --
that is to say, Morrel went to the Boulevards,
Chateau-Renaud to the Pont de la Revolution, and Debray to
the Quai. Most probably Morrel and Chateau-Renaud returned
to their "domestic hearths," as they say in the gallery of
the Chamber in well-turned speeches, and in the theatre of
the Rue Richelieu in well-written pieces; but it was not the
case with Debray. When he reached the wicket of the Louvre,
he turned to the left, galloped across the Carrousel, passed
through the Rue Saint-Roch, and, issuing from the Rue de la
Michodiere, he arrived at M. Danglars' door just at the same
time that Villefort's landau, after having deposited him and
his wife at the Faubourg St. Honore, stopped to leave the
baroness at her own house. Debray, with the air of a man
familiar with the house, entered first into the court, threw
his bridle into the hands of a footman, and returned to the
door to receive Madame Danglars, to whom he offered his arm,
to conduct her to her apartments. The gate once closed, and
Debray and the baroness alone in the court, he asked, --
"What was the matter with you, Hermine? and why were you so
affected at that story, or rather fable, which the count
"Because I have been in such shocking spirits all the
evening, my friend," said the baroness.
"No, Hermine," replied Debray; "you cannot make me believe
that; on the contrary, you were in excellent spirits when
you arrived at the count's. M. Danglars was disagreeable,
certainly, but I know how much you care for his ill-humor.
Some one has vexed you; I will allow no one to annoy you."
"You are deceived, Lucien, I assure you," replied Madame
Danglars; "and what I have told you is really the case,
added to the ill-humor you remarked, but which I did not
think it worth while to allude to." It was evident that
Madame Danglars was suffering from that nervous irritability
which women frequently cannot account for even to
themselves; or that, as Debray had guessed, she had
experienced some secret agitation that she would not
acknowledge to any one. Being a man who knew that the former
of these symptoms was one of the inherent penalties of
womanhood, he did not then press his inquiries, but waited
for a more appropriate opportunity when he should again
interrogate her, or receive an avowal proprio motu. At the
door of her apartment the baroness met Mademoiselle
Cornelie, her confidential maid. "What is my daughter
doing?" asked Madame Danglars.
"She practiced all the evening, and then went to bed,"
replied Mademoiselle Cornelie.
"Yet I think I hear her piano."
"It is Mademoiselle Louise d'Armilly, who is playing while
Mademoiselle Danglars is in bed."
"Well," said Madame Danglars, "come and undress me." They
entered the bedroom. Debray stretched himself upon a large
couch, and Madame Danglars passed into her dressing-room
with Mademoiselle Cornelie. "My dear M. Lucien," said Madame
Danglars through the door, "you are always complaining that
Eugenie will not address a word to you."
"Madame," said Lucien, playing with a little dog, who,
recognizing him as a friend of the house, expected to be
caressed, "I am not the only one who makes similar
complaints, I think I heard Morcerf say that he could not
extract a word from his betrothed."
"True," said Madame Danglars; "yet I think this will all
pass off, and that you will one day see her enter your
"At least that of the minister."
"To ask for an engagement at the Opera. Really, I never saw
such an infatuation for music; it is quite ridiculous for a
young lady of fashion." Debray smiled. "Well," said he, "let
her come, with your consent and that of the baron, and we
will try and give her an engagement, though we are very poor
to pay such talent as hers."
"Go, Cornelie," said Madame Danglars, "I do not require you
Cornelie obeyed, and the next minute Madame Danglars left
her room in a charming loose dress, and came and sat down
close to Debray. Then she began thoughtfully to caress the
little spaniel. Lucien looked at her for a moment in
silence. "Come, Hermine," he said, after a short time,
"answer candidly, -- something vexes you -- is it not so?"
"Nothing," answered the baroness.
And yet, as she could scarcely breathe, she rose and went
towards a looking-glass. "I am frightful to-night," she
said. Debray rose, smiling, and was about to contradict the
baroness upon this latter point, when the door opened
suddenly. M. Danglars appeared; Debray reseated himself. At
the noise of the door Madame Danglars turned round, and
looked upon her husband with an astonishment she took no
trouble to conceal. "Good-evening, madame," said the banker;
"good-evening, M. Debray."
Probably the baroness thought this unexpected visit
signified a desire to make up for the sharp words he had
uttered during the day. Assuming a dignified air, she turned
round to Debray, without answering her husband. "Read me
something, M. Debray," she said. Debray, who was slightly
disturbed at this visit, recovered himself when he saw the
calmness of the baroness, and took up a book marked by a
mother-of-pearl knife inlaid with gold. "Excuse me," said
the banker, "but you will tire yourself, baroness, by such
late hours, and M. Debray lives some distance from here."
Debray was petrified, not only to hear Danglars speak so
calmly and politely, but because it was apparent that
beneath outward politeness there really lurked a determined
spirit of opposition to anything his wife might wish to do.
The baroness was also surprised, and showed her astonishment
by a look which would doubtless have had some effect upon
her husband if he had not been intently occupied with the
paper, where he was looking to see the closing stock
quotations. The result was, that the proud look entirely
failed of its purpose.
"M. Lucien," said the baroness, "I assure you I have no
desire to sleep, and that I have a thousand things to tell
you this evening, which you must listen to, even though you
slept while hearing me."
"I am at your service, madame," replied Lucien coldly.
"My dear M. Debray," said the banker, "do not kill yourself
to-night listening to the follies of Madame Danglars, for
you can hear them as well to-morrow; but I claim to-night
and will devote it, if you will allow me, to talk over some
serious matters with my wife." This time the blow was so
well aimed, and hit so directly, that Lucien and the
baroness were staggered, and they interrogated each other
with their eyes, as if to seek help against this aggression,
but the irresistible will of the master of the house
prevailed, and the husband was victorious.
"Do not think I wish to turn you out, my dear Debray,"
continued Danglars; "oh, no, not at all. An unexpected
occurrence forces me to ask my wife to have a little
conversation with me; it is so rarely I make such a request,
I am sure you cannot grudge it to me." Debray muttered
something, bowed and went out, knocking himself against the
edge of the door, like Nathan in "Athalie."
"It is extraordinary," he said, when the door was closed
behind him, "how easily these husbands, whom we ridicule,
gain an advantage over us."
Lucien having left, Danglars took his place on the sofa,
closed the open book, and placing himself in a dreadfully
dictatorial attitude, he began playing with the dog; but the
animal, not liking him as well as Debray, and attempting to
bite him, Danglars seized him by the skin of his neck and
threw him upon a couch on the other side of the room. The
animal uttered a cry during the transit, but, arrived at its
destination, it crouched behind the cushions, and stupefied
at such unusual treatment remained silent and motionless.
"Do you know, sir," asked the baroness, "that you are
improving? Generally you are only rude, but to-night you are
"It is because I am in a worse humor than usual," replied
Danglars. Hermine looked at the banker with supreme disdain.
These glances frequently exasperated the pride of Danglars,
but this evening he took no notice of them.
"And what have I to do with your ill-humor?" said the
baroness, irritated at the impassibility of her husband; "do
these things concern me? Keep your ill-humor at home in your
money boxes, or, since you have clerks whom you pay, vent it
"Not so," replied Danglars; "your advice is wrong, so I
shall not follow it. My money boxes are my Pactolus, as, I
think, M. Demoustier says, and I will not retard its course,
or disturb its calm. My clerks are honest men, who earn my
fortune, whom I pay much below their deserts, if I may value
them according to what they bring in; therefore I shall not
get into a passion with them; those with whom I will be in a
passion are those who eat my dinners, mount my horses, and
exhaust my fortune."
"And pray who are the persons who exhaust your fortune?
Explain yourself more clearly, I beg, sir."
"Oh, make yourself easy! -- I am not speaking riddles, and
you will soon know what I mean. The people who exhaust my
fortune are those who draw out 700,000 francs in the course
of an hour."
"I do not understand you, sir," said the baroness, trying to
disguise the agitation of her voice and the flush of her
face. "You understand me perfectly, on the contrary," said
Danglars: "but, if you will persist, I will tell you that I
have just lost 700,000 francs upon the Spanish loan."
"And pray," asked the baroness, "am I responsible for this
"Is it my fault you have lost 700,000 francs?"
"Certainly it is not mine."
"Once for all, sir," replied the baroness sharply, "I tell
you I will not hear cash named; it is a style of language I
never heard in the house of my parents or in that of my
"Oh, I can well believe that, for neither of them was worth
"The better reason for my not being conversant with the
slang of the bank, which is here dinning in my ears from
morning to night; that noise of jingling crowns, which are
constantly being counted and re-counted, is odious to me. I
only know one thing I dislike more, which is the sound of
"Really?" said Danglars. "Well, this surprises me, for I
thought you took the liveliest interest in all my affairs!"
"I? What could put such an idea into your head?"
"Ah? -- what next?"
"I should like to know upon what occasion?"
"Oh, mon Dieu, that is very easily done. Last February you
were the first who told me of the Haitian funds. You had
dreamed that a ship had entered the harbor at Havre, that
this ship brought news that a payment we had looked upon as
lost was going to be made. I know how clear-sighted your
dreams are; I therefore purchased immediately as many shares
as I could of the Haitian debt, and I gained 400,000 francs
by it, of which 100,000 have been honestly paid to you. You
spent it as you pleased; that was your business. In March
there was a question about a grant to a railway. Three
companies presented themselves, each offering equal
securities. You told me that your instinct, -- and although
you pretend to know nothing about speculations, I think on
the contrary, that your comprehension is very clear upon
certain affairs, -- well, you told me that your instinct led
you to believe the grant would be given to the company
called the Southern. I bought two thirds of the shares of
that company; as you had foreseen, the shares trebled in
value, and I picked up a million, from which 250,000 francs
were paid to you for pin-money. How have you spent this
250,000 francs? -- it is no business of mine."
"When are you coming to the point?" cried the baroness,
shivering with anger and impatience.
"Patience, madame, I am coming to it."
"In April you went to dine at the minister's. You heard a
private conversation respecting Spanish affairs -- on the
expulsion of Don Carlos. I bought some Spanish shares. The
expulsion took place and I pocketed 600,000 francs the day
Charles V. repassed the Bidassoa. Of these 600,000 francs
you took 50,000 crowns. They were yours, you disposed of
them according to your fancy, and I asked no questions; but
it is not the less true that you have this year received
"Well, sir, and what then?"
"Ah, yes, it was just after this that you spoiled
"Really, your manner of speaking" --
"It expresses my meaning, and that is all I want. Well,
three days after that you talked politics with M. Debray,
and you fancied from his words that Don Carlos had returned
to Spain. Well, I sold my shares, the news got out, and I no
longer sold -- I gave them away, next day I find the news
was false, and by this false report I have lost 700,000
"Well, since I gave you a fourth of my gains, I think you
owe me a fourth of my losses; the fourth of 700,000 francs
is 175,000 francs."
"What you say is absurd, and I cannot see why M. Debray's
name is mixed up in this affair."
"Because if you do not possess the 175,000 francs I reclaim,
you must have lent them to your friends, and M. Debray is
one of your friends."
"For shame!" exclaimed the baroness.
"Oh, let us have no gestures, no screams, no modern drama,
or you will oblige me to tell you that I see Debray leave
here, pocketing the whole of the 500,000 livres you have
handed over to him this year, while he smiles to himself,
saying that he has found what the most skilful players have
never discovered -- that is, a roulette where he wins
without playing, and is no loser when he loses." The
baroness became enraged. "Wretch!" she cried, "will you dare
to tell me you did not know what you now reproach me with?"
"I do not say that I did know it, and I do not say that I
did not know it. I merely tell you to look into my conduct
during the last four years that we have ceased to be husband
and wife, and see whether it has not always been consistent.
Some time after our rupture, you wished to study music,
under the celebrated baritone who made such a successful
appearance at the Theatre Italien; at the same time I felt
inclined to learn dancing of the danseuse who acquired such
a reputation in London. This cost me, on your account and
mine, 100,000 francs. I said nothing, for we must have peace
in the house; and 100,000 francs for a lady and gentleman to
be properly instructed in music and dancing are not too
much. Well, you soon become tired of singing, and you take a
fancy to study diplomacy with the minister's secretary. You
understand, it signifies nothing to me so long as you pay
for your lessons out of your own cashbox. But to-day I find
you are drawing on mine, and that your apprenticeship may
cost me 700,000 francs per month. Stop there, madame, for
this cannot last. Either the diplomatist must give his
lessons gratis, and I will tolerate him, or he must never
set his foot again in my house; -- do you understand,
"Oh, this is too much," cried Hermine, choking, "you are
worse than despicable."
"But," continued Danglars, "I find you did not even pause
"You are right; let us leave these facts alone, and reason
coolly. I have never interfered in your affairs excepting
for your good; treat me in the same way. You say you have
nothing to do with my cash-box. Be it so. Do as you like
with your own, but do not fill or empty mine. Besides, how
do I know that this was not a political trick, that the
minister enraged at seeing me in the opposition, and jealous
of the popular sympathy I excite, has not concerted with M.
Debray to ruin me?"
"A probable thing!"
"Why not? Who ever heard of such an occurrence as this? -- a
false telegraphic despatch -- it is almost impossible for
wrong signals to be made as they were in the last two
telegrams. It was done on purpose for me -- I am sure of
"Sir," said the baroness humbly, "are you not aware that the
man employed there was dismissed, that they talked of going
to law with him, that orders were issued to arrest him and
that this order would have been put into execution if he had
not escaped by flight, which proves that he was either mad
or guilty? It was a mistake."
"Yes, which made fools laugh, which caused the minister to
have a sleepless night, which has caused the minister's
secretaries to blacken several sheets of paper, but which
has cost me 700,000 francs."
"But, sir," said Hermine suddenly, "if all this is, as you
say, caused by M. Debray, why, instead of going direct to
him, do you come and tell me of it? Why, to accuse the man,
do you address the woman?"
"Do I know M. Debray? -- do I wish to know him? -- do I wish
to know that he gives advice? -- do I wish to follow it? --
do I speculate? No; you do all this, not I."
"Still it seems to me, that as you profit by it -- "
Danglars shrugged his shoulders. "Foolish creature," he
exclaimed. "Women fancy they have talent because they have
managed two or three intrigues without being the talk of
Paris! But know that if you had even hidden your
irregularities from your husband, who has but the
commencement of the art -- for generally husbands will not
see -- you would then have been but a faint imitation of
most of your friends among the women of the world. But it
has not been so with me, -- I see, and always have seen,
during the last sixteen years. You may, perhaps, have hidden
a thought; but not a step, not an action, not a fault, has
escaped me, while you flattered yourself upon your address,
and firmly believed you had deceived me. What has been the
result? -- that, thanks to my pretended ignorance, there is
none of your friends, from M. de Villefort to M. Debray, who
has not trembled before me. There is not one who has not
treated me as the master of the house, -- the only title I
desire with respect to you; there is not one, in fact, who
would have dared to speak of me as I have spoken of them
this day. I will allow you to make me hateful, but I will
prevent your rendering me ridiculous, and, above all, I
forbid you to ruin me."
The baroness had been tolerably composed until the name of
Villefort had been pronounced; but then she became pale,
and, rising, as if touched by a spring, she stretched out
her hands as though conjuring an apparition; she then took
two or three steps towards her husband, as though to tear
the secret from him, of which he was ignorant, or which he
withheld from some odious calculation, -- odious, as all his
calculations were. "M. de Villefort! -- What do you mean?"
"I mean that M. de Nargonne, your first husband, being
neither a philosopher nor a banker, or perhaps being both,
and seeing there was nothing to be got out of a king's
attorney, died of grief or anger at finding, after an
absence of nine months, that you had been enceinte six. I am
brutal, -- I not only allow it, but boast of it; it is one
of the reasons of my success in commercial business. Why did
he kill himself instead of you? Because he had no cash to
save. My life belongs to my cash. M. Debray has made me lose
700,000 francs; let him bear his share of the loss, and we
will go on as before; if not, let him become bankrupt for
the 250,000 livres, and do as all bankrupts do -- disappear.
He is a charming fellow, I allow, when his news is correct;
but when it is not, there are fifty others in the world who
would do better than he."
Madame Danglars was rooted to the spot; she made a violent
effort to reply to this last attack, but she fell upon a
chair thinking of Villefort, of the dinner scene, of the
strange series of misfortunes which had taken place in her
house during the last few days, and changed the usual calm
of her establishment to a scene of scandalous debate.
Danglars did not even look at her, though she did her best
to faint. He shut the bedroom door after him, without adding
another word, and returned to his apartments; and when
Madame Danglars recovered from her half-fainting condition,
she could almost believe that she had had a disagreeable
The day following this scene, at the hour the banker usually
chose to pay a visit to Madame Danglars on his way to his
office, his coupe did not appear. At this time, that is,
about half-past twelve, Madame Danglars ordered her
carriage, and went out. Danglars, hidden behind a curtain,
watched the departure he had been waiting for. He gave
orders that he should be informed as soon as Madame Danglars
appeared; but at two o'clock she had not returned. He then
called for his horses, drove to the Chamber, and inscribed
his name to speak against the budget. From twelve to two
o'clock Danglars had remained in his study, unsealing his
dispatches, and becoming more and more sad every minute,
heaping figure upon figure, and receiving, among other
visits, one from Major Cavalcanti, who, as stiff and exact
as ever, presented himself precisely at the hour named the
night before, to terminate his business with the banker. On
leaving the Chamber, Danglars, who had shown violent marks
of agitation during the sitting, and been more bitter than
ever against the ministry, re-entered his carriage, and told
the coachman to drive to the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, No.
Monte Cristo was at home; only he was engaged with some one
and begged Danglars to wait for a moment in the
drawing-room. While the banker was waiting in the anteroom,
the door opened, and a man dressed as an abbe and doubtless
more familiar with the house than he was, came in and
instead of waiting, merely bowed, passed on to the farther
apartments, and disappeared. A minute after the door by
which the priest had entered reopened, and Monte Cristo
appeared. "Pardon me," said he, "my dear baron, but one of
my friends, the Abbe Busoni, whom you perhaps saw pass by,
has just arrived in Paris; not having seen him for a long
time, I could not make up my mind to leave him sooner, so I
hope this will be sufficient reason for my having made you
"Nay," said Danglars, "it is my fault; I have chosen my
visit at a wrong time, and will retire."
"Not at all; on the contrary, be seated; but what is the
matter with you? You look careworn; really, you alarm me.
Melancholy in a capitalist, like the appearance of a comet,
presages some misfortune to the world."
"I have been in ill-luck for several days," said Danglars,
"and I have heard nothing but bad news."
"Ah, indeed?" said Monte Cristo. "Have you had another fall
at the Bourse?"
"No; I am safe for a few days at least. I am only annoyed
about a bankrupt of Trieste."
"Really? Does it happen to be Jacopo Manfredi?"
"Exactly so. Imagine a man who has transacted business with
me for I don't know how long, to the amount of 800,000 or
900,000 francs during the year. Never a mistake or delay --
a fellow who paid like a prince. Well, I was a million in
advance with him, and now my fine Jacopo Manfredi suspends
"It is an unheard-of fatality. I draw upon him for 600,000
francs, my bills are returned unpaid, and, more than that, I
hold bills of exchange signed by him to the value of 400,000
francs, payable at his correspondent's in Paris at the end
of this month. To-day is the 30th. I present them; but my
correspondent has disappeared. This, with my Spanish
affairs, made a pretty end to the month."
"Then you really lost by that affair in Spain?"
"Yes; only 700,000 francs out of my cash-box -- nothing
"Why, how could you make such a mistake -- such an old
"Oh, it is all my wife's fault. She dreamed Don Carlos had
returned to Spain; she believes in dreams. It is magnetism,
she says, and when she dreams a thing it is sure to happen,
she assures me. On this conviction I allow her to speculate,
she having her bank and her stockbroker; she speculated and
lost. It is true she speculates with her own money, not
mine; nevertheless, you can understand that when 700,000
francs leave the wife's pocket, the husband always finds it
out. But do you mean to say you have not heard of this? Why,
the thing has made a tremendous noise."
"Yes, I heard it spoken of, but I did not know the details,
and then no one can be more ignorant than I am of the
affairs in the Bourse."
"Then you do not speculate?"
"I? -- How could I speculate when I already have so much
trouble in regulating my income? I should be obliged,
besides my steward, to keep a clerk and a boy. But touching
these Spanish affairs, I think that the baroness did not
dream the whole of the Don Carlos matter. The papers said
something about it, did they not?"
"Then you believe the papers?"
"I? -- not the least in the world; only I fancied that the
honest Messager was an exception to the rule, and that it
only announced telegraphic despatches."
"Well, that's what puzzles me," replied Danglars; "the news
of the return of Don Carlos was brought by telegraph."
"So that," said Monte Cristo, "you have lost nearly
1,700,000 francs this month."
"Not nearly, indeed; that is exactly my loss."
"Diable," said Monte Cristo compassionately, "it is a hard
blow for a third-rate fortune."
"Third-rate," said Danglars, rather humble, "what do you
mean by that?"
"Certainly," continued Monte Cristo, "I make three
assortments in fortune -- first-rate, second-rate, and
third-rate fortunes. I call those first-rate which are
composed of treasures one possesses under one's hand, such
as mines, lands, and funded property, in such states as
France, Austria, and England, provided these treasures and
property form a total of about a hundred millions; I call
those second-rate fortunes, that are gained by manufacturing
enterprises, joint-stock companies, viceroyalties, and
principalities, not drawing more than 1,500,000 francs, the
whole forming a capital of about fifty millions; finally, I
call those third-rate fortunes, which are composed of a
fluctuating capital, dependent upon the will of others, or
upon chances which a bankruptcy involves or a false telegram
shakes, such as banks, speculations of the day -- in fact,
all operations under the influence of greater or less
mischances, the whole bringing in a real or fictitious
capital of about fifteen millions. I think this is about
your position, is it not?"
"Confound it, yes!" replied Danglars.
"The result, then, of six more such months as this would be
to reduce the third-rate house to despair."
"Oh," said Danglars, becoming very pale, how you are running
"Let us imagine seven such months," continued Monte Cristo,
in the same tone. "Tell me, have you ever thought that seven
times 1,700,000 francs make nearly twelve millions? No, you
have not; -- well, you are right, for if you indulged in
such reflections, you would never risk your principal, which
is to the speculator what the skin is to civilized man. We
have our clothes, some more splendid than others, -- this is
our credit; but when a man dies he has only his skin; in the
same way, on retiring from business, you have nothing but
your real principal of about five or six millions, at the
most; for third-rate fortunes are never more than a fourth
of what they appear to be, like the locomotive on a railway,
the size of which is magnified by the smoke and steam
surrounding it. Well, out of the five or six millions which
form your real capital, you have just lost nearly two
millions, which must, of course, in the same degree diminish
your credit and fictitious fortune; to follow out my simile,
your skin has been opened by bleeding, and this if repeated
three or four times will cause death -- so pay attention to
it, my dear Monsieur Danglars. Do you want money? Do you
wish me to lend you some?"
"What a bad calculator you are!" exclaimed Danglars, calling
to his assistance all his philosophy and dissimulation. "I
have made money at the same time by speculations which have
succeeded. I have made up the loss of blood by nutrition. I
lost a battle in Spain, I have been defeated in Trieste, but
my naval army in India will have taken some galleons, and my
Mexican pioneers will have discovered some mine."
"Very good, very good! But the wound remains and will reopen
at the first loss."
"No, for I am only embarked in certainties," replied
Danglars, with the air of a mountebank sounding his own
praises; "to involve me, three governments must crumble to
"Well, such things have been."
"That there should be a famine!"
"Recollect the seven fat and the seven lean kine."
"Or, that the sea should become dry, as in the days of
Pharaoh, and even then my vessels would become caravans."
"So much the better. I congratulate you, my dear M.
Danglars," said Monte Cristo; "I see I was deceived, and
that you belong to the class of second-rate fortunes."
"I think I may aspire to that honor," said Danglars with a
smile, which reminded Monte Cristo of the sickly moons which
bad artists are so fond of daubing into their pictures of
ruins. "But, while we are speaking of business," Danglars
added, pleased to find an opportunity of changing the
subject, "tell me what I am to do for M. Cavalcanti."
"Give him money, if he is recommended to you, and the
recommendation seems good."
"Excellent; he presented himself this morning with a bond of
40,000 francs, payable at sight, on you, signed by Busoni,
and returned by you to me, with your indorsement -- of
course, I immediately counted him over the forty
Monte Cristo nodded his head in token of assent. "But that
is not all," continued Danglars; "he has opened an account
with my house for his son."
"May I ask how much he allows the young man?"
"Five thousand francs per month."
"Sixty thousand francs per year. I thought I was right in
believing that Cavalcanti to be a stingy fellow. How can a
young man live upon 5,000 francs a month?"
"But you understand that if the young man should want a few
thousands more" --
"Do not advance it; the father will never repay it. You do
not know these ultramontane millionaires; they are regular
misers. And by whom were they recommended to you?"
"Oh, by the house of Fenzi, one of the best in Florence."
"I do not mean to say you will lose, but, nevertheless, mind
you hold to the terms of the agreement."
"Would you not trust the Cavalcanti?"
"I? oh, I would advance six millions on his signature. I was
only speaking in reference to the second-rate fortunes we
were mentioning just now."
"And with all this, how unassuming he is! I should never
have taken him for anything more than a mere major."
"And you would have flattered him, for certainly, as you
say, he has no manner. The first time I saw him he appeared
to me like an old lieutenant who had grown mouldy under his
epaulets. But all the Italians are the same; they are like
old Jews when they are not glittering in Oriental splendor."
"The young man is better," said Danglars.
"Yes; a little nervous, perhaps, but, upon the whole, he
appeared tolerable. I was uneasy about him."
"Because you met him at my house, just after his
introduction into the world, as they told me. He has been
travelling with a very severe tutor, and had never been to
"Ah, I believe noblemen marry amongst themselves, do they
not?" asked Danglars carelessly; "they like to unite their
"It is usual, certainly; but Cavalcanti is an original who
does nothing like other people. I cannot help thinking that
he has brought his son to France to choose a wife."
"Do you think so?"
"I am sure of it."
"And you have heard his fortune mentioned?"
"Nothing else was talked of; only some said he was worth
millions, and others that he did not possess a farthing."
"And what is your opinion?"
"I ought not to influence you, because it is only my own
"Well, and it is that" --
"My opinion is, that all these old podestas, these ancient
condottieri, -- for the Cavalcanti have commanded armies and
governed provinces, -- my opinion, I say, is, that they have
buried their millions in corners, the secret of which they
have transmitted only to their eldest sons, who have done
the same from generation to generation; and the proof of
this is seen in their yellow and dry appearance, like the
florins of the republic, which, from being constantly gazed
upon, have become reflected in them."
"Certainly," said Danglars, "and this is further supported
by the fact of their not possessing an inch of land."
"Very little, at least; I know of none which Cavalcanti
possesses, excepting his palace in Lucca."
"Ah, he has a palace?" said Danglars, laughing; "come, that
"Yes; and more than that, he lets it to the Minister of
Finance while he lives in a simple house. Oh, as I told you
before, I think the old fellow is very close."
"Come, you do not flatter him."
"I scarcely know him; I think I have seen him three times in
my life; all I know relating to him is through Busoni and
himself. He was telling me this morning that, tired of
letting his property lie dormant in Italy, which is a dead
nation, he wished to find a method, either in France or
England, of multiplying his millions, but remember, that
though I place great confidence in Busoni, I am not
responsible for this."
"Never mind; accept my thanks for the client you have sent
me. It is a fine name to inscribe on my ledgers, and my
cashier was quite proud of it when I explained to him who
the Cavalcanti were. By the way, this is merely a simple
question, when this sort of people marry their sons, do they
give them any fortune?"
"Oh, that depends upon circumstances. I know an Italian
prince, rich as a gold mine, one of the noblest families in
Tuscany, who, when his sons married according to his wish,
gave them millions; and when they married against his
consent, merely allowed them thirty crowns a month. Should
Andrea marry according to his father's views, he will,
perhaps, give him one, two, or three millions. For example,
supposing it were the daughter of a banker, he might take an
interest in the house of the father-in-law of his son; then
again, if he disliked his choice, the major takes the key,
double-locks his coffer, and Master Andrea would be obliged
to live like the sons of a Parisian family, by shuffling
cards or rattling the dice."
"Ah, that boy will find out some Bavarian or Peruvian
princess; he will want a crown and an immense fortune."
"No; these grand lords on the other side of the Alps
frequently marry into plain families; like Jupiter, they
like to cross the race. But do you wish to marry Andrea, my
dear M. Danglars, that you are asking so many questions?"
"Ma foi," said Danglars, "it would not be a bad speculation,
I fancy, and you know I am a speculator."
"You are not thinking of Mademoiselle Danglars, I hope; you
would not like poor Andrea to have his throat cut by
"Albert," repeated Danglars, shrugging his shoulders; "ah,
well; he would care very little about it, I think."
"But he is betrothed to your daughter, I believe?"
"Well, M. de Morcerf and I have talked about this marriage,
but Madame de Morcerf and Albert" --
"You do not mean to say that it would not be a good match?"
"Indeed, I imagine that Mademoiselle Danglars is as good as
M. de Morcerf."
"Mademoiselle Danglars' fortune will be great, no doubt,
especially if the telegraph should not make any more
"Oh, I do not mean her fortune only; but tell me" --
"Why did you not invite M. and Madame de Morcerf to your
"I did so, but he excused himself on account of Madame de
Morcerf being obliged to go to Dieppe for the benefit of sea
"Yes, yes," said Danglars, laughing, "it would do her a
great deal of good."
"Because it is the air she always breathed in her youth."
Monte Cristo took no notice of this ill-natured remark.
"But still, if Albert be not so rich as Mademoiselle
Danglars," said the count, "you must allow that he has a
"So he has; but I like mine as well."
"Certainly; your name is popular, and does honor to the
title they have adorned it with; but you are too intelligent
not to know that according to a prejudice, too firmly rooted
to be exterminated, a nobility which dates back five
centuries is worth more than one that can only reckon twenty
"And for this very reason," said Danglars with a smile,
which he tried to make sardonic, "I prefer M. Andrea
Cavalcanti to M. Albert de Morcerf."
"Still, I should not think the Morcerfs would yield to the
"The Morcerfs! -- Stay, my dear count," said Danglars; "you
are a man of the world, are you not?"
"I think so."
"And you understand heraldry?"
"Well, look at my coat-of-arms, it is worth more than
"Because, though I am not a baron by birth, my real name is,
at least, Danglars."
"Well, what then?"
"While his name is not Morcerf."
"How? -- not Morcerf?"
"Not the least in the world."
"I have been made a baron, so that I actually am one; he
made himself a count, so that he is not one at all."
"Listen my dear count; M. de Morcerf has been my friend, or
rather my acquaintance, during the last thirty years. You
know I have made the most of my arms, though I never forgot
"A proof of great humility or great pride," said Monte
"Well, when I was a clerk, Morcerf was a mere fisherman."
"And then he was called" --
"You are sure?"
"Pardieu, I have bought enough fish of him to know his
"Then, why did you think of giving your daughter to him?"
"Because Fernand and Danglars, being both parvenus, both
having become noble, both rich, are about equal in worth,
excepting that there have been certain things mentioned of
him that were never said of me."
"Ah, yes; what you tell me recalls to mind something about
the name of Fernand Mondego. I have heard that name in
"In conjunction with the affairs of Ali Pasha?"
"This is the mystery," said Danglars. "I acknowledge I would
have given anything to find it out."
"It would be very easy if you much wished it?"
"Probably you have some correspondent in Greece?"
"I should think so."
"Well, write to your correspondent in Yanina, and ask him
what part was played by a Frenchman named Fernand Mondego in
the catastrophe of Ali Tepelini."
"You are right," exclaimed Danglars, rising quickly, "I will
"And if you should hear of anything very scandalous" --
"I will communicate it to you."
"You will oblige me." Danglars rushed out of the room, and
made but one leap into his coupe.
At the Office of the King's Attorney.
Let us leave the banker driving his horses at their fullest
speed, and follow Madame Danglars in her morning excursion.
We have said that at half-past twelve o'clock Madame
Danglars had ordered her horses, and had left home in the
carriage. She directed her course towards the Faubourg Saint
Germain, went down the Rue Mazarine, and stopped at the
Passage du Pont-Neuf. She descended, and went through the
passage. She was very plainly dressed, as would be the case
with a woman of taste walking in the morning. At the Rue
Guenegaud she called a cab, and directed the driver to go to
the Rue de Harlay. As soon as she was seated in the vehicle,
she drew from her pocket a very thick black veil, which she
tied on to her straw bonnet. She then replaced the bonnet,
and saw with pleasure, in a little pocket-mirror, that her
white complexion and brilliant eyes were alone visible. The
cab crossed the Pont-Neuf and entered the Rue de Harlay by
the Place Dauphine; the driver was paid as the door opened,
and stepping lightly up the stairs Madame Danglars soon
reached the Salle des Pas-Perdus.
There was a great deal going on that morning, and many
business-like persons at the Palais; business-like persons
pay very little attention to women, and Madame Danglars
crossed the hall without exciting any more attention than
any other woman calling upon her lawyer. There was a great
press of people in M. de Villefort's ante-chamber, but
Madame Danglars had no occasion even to pronounce her name.
The instant she appeared the door-keeper rose, came to her,
and asked her whether she was not the person with whom the
procureur had made an appointment; and on her affirmative
answer being given, he conducted her by a private passage to
M. de Villefort's office. The magistrate was seated in an
arm-chair, writing, with his back towards the door; he did
not move as he heard it open, and the door-keeper pronounce
the words, "Walk in, madame," and then reclose it; but no
sooner had the man's footsteps ceased, than he started up,
drew the bolts, closed the curtains, and examined every
corner of the room. Then, when he had assured himself that
he could neither be seen nor heard, and was consequently
relieved of doubts, he said, -- "Thanks, madame, -- thanks
for your punctuality;" and he offered a chair to Madame
Danglars, which she accepted, for her heart beat so
violently that she felt nearly suffocated.
"It is a long time, madame," said the procureur, describing
a half-circle with his chair, so as to place himself exactly
opposite to Madame Danglars, -- "it is a long time since I
had the pleasure of speaking alone with you, and I regret
that we have only now met to enter upon a painful
"Nevertheless, sir, you see I have answered your first
appeal, although certainly the conversation must be much
more painful for me than for you." Villefort smiled
"It is true, then," he said, rather uttering his thoughts
aloud than addressing his companion, -- "it is true, then,
that all our actions leave their traces -- some sad, others
bright -- on our paths; it is true that every step in our
lives is like the course of an insect on the sands; -- it
leaves its track! Alas, to many the path is traced by
"Sir," said Madame Danglars, "you can feel for my emotion,
can you not? Spare me, then, I beseech you. When I look at
this room, -- whence so many guilty creatures have departed,
trembling and ashamed, when I look at that chair before
which I now sit trembling and ashamed, -- oh, it requires
all my reason to convince me that I am not a very guilty
woman and you a menacing judge." Villefort dropped his head
and sighed. "And I," he said, "I feel that my place is not
in the judge's seat, but on the prisoner's stool."
"You?" said Madame Danglars.
"I think, sir, you exaggerate your situation," said Madame
Danglars, whose beautiful eyes sparkled for a moment. "The
paths of which you were just speaking have been traced by
all young men of ardent imaginations. Besides the pleasure,
there is always remorse from the indulgence of our passions,
and, after all, what have you men to fear from all this? the
world excuses, and notoriety ennobles you."
"Madame," replied Villefort, "you know that I am no
hypocrite, or, at least, that I never deceive without a
reason. If my brow be severe, it is because many misfortunes
have clouded it; if my heart be petrified, it is that it
might sustain the blows it has received. I was not so in my
youth, I was not so on the night of the betrothal, when we
were all seated around a table in the Rue du Cours at
Marseilles. But since then everything has changed in and
about me; I am accustomed to brave difficulties, and, in the
conflict to crush those who, by their own free will, or by
chance, voluntarily or involuntarily, interfere with me in
my career. It is generally the case that what we most
ardently desire is as ardently withheld from us by those who
wish to obtain it, or from whom we attempt to snatch it.
Thus, the greater number of a man's errors come before him
disguised under the specious form of necessity; then, after
error has been committed in a moment of excitement, of
delirium, or of fear, we see that we might have avoided and
escaped it. The means we might have used, which we in our
blindness could not see, then seem simple and easy, and we
say, `Why did I not do this, instead of that?' Women, on the
contrary, are rarely tormented with remorse; for the
decision does not come from you, -- your misfortunes are
generally imposed upon you, and your faults the results of
"In any case, sir, you will allow," replied Madame Danglars,
"that, even if the fault were alone mine, I last night
received a severe punishment for it."
"Poor thing," said Villefort, pressing her hand, "it was too
severe for your strength, for you were twice overwhelmed,
and yet" --
"Well, I must tell you. Collect all your courage, for you
have not yet heard all."
"Ah," exclaimed Madame Danglars, alarmed, "what is there
more to hear?"
"You only look back to the past, and it is, indeed, bad
enough. Well, picture to yourself a future more gloomy still
-- certainly frightful, perhaps sanguinary." The baroness
knew how calm Villefort naturally was, and his present
excitement frightened her so much that she opened her mouth
to scream, but the sound died in her throat. "How has this
terrible past been recalled?" cried Villefort; "how is it
that it has escaped from the depths of the tomb and the
recesses of our hearts, where it was buried, to visit us
now, like a phantom, whitening our cheeks and flushing our
brows with shame?"
"Alas," said Hermine, "doubtless it is chance."
"Chance?" replied Villefort; "No, no, madame, there is no
such thing as chance."
"Oh, yes; has not a fatal chance revealed all this? Was it
not by chance the Count of Monte Cristo bought that house?
Was it not by chance he caused the earth to be dug up? Is it
not by chance that the unfortunate child was disinterred
under the trees? -- that poor innocent offspring of mine,
which I never even kissed, but for whom I wept many, many
tears. Ah, my heart clung to the count when he mentioned the
dear spoil found beneath the flowers."
"Well, no, madame, -- this is the terrible news I have to
tell you," said Villefort in a hollow voice -- "no, nothing
was found beneath the flowers; there was no child
disinterred -- no. You must not weep, no, you must not
groan, you must tremble!"
"What can you mean?" asked Madame Danglars, shuddering.
"I mean that M. de Monte Cristo, digging underneath these
trees, found neither skeleton nor chest, because neither of
them was there!"
"Neither of them there?" repeated Madame Danglars, her
staring, wide-open eyes expressing her alarm.
"Neither of them there!" she again said, as though striving
to impress herself with the meaning of the words which
"No," said Villefort, burying his face in his hands, "no, a
hundred times no!"
"Then you did not bury the poor child there, sir? Why did
you deceive me? Where did you place it? tell me -- where?"
"There! But listen to me -- listen -- and you will pity me
who has for twenty years alone borne the heavy burden of
grief I am about to reveal, without casting the least
portion upon you."
"Oh, you frighten me! But speak; I will listen."
"You recollect that sad night, when you were half-expiring
on that bed in the red damask room, while I, scarcely less
agitated than you, awaited your delivery. The child was
born, was given to me -- motionless, breathless, voiceless;
we thought it dead." Madame Danglars moved rapidly, as
though she would spring from her chair, but Villefort
stopped, and clasped his hands as if to implore her
attention. "We thought it dead," he repeated; "I placed it
in the chest, which was to take the place of a coffin; I
descended to the garden, I dug a hole, and then flung it
down in haste. Scarcely had I covered it with earth, when
the arm of the Corsican was stretched towards me; I saw a
shadow rise, and, at the same time, a flash of light. I felt
pain; I wished to cry out, but an icy shiver ran through my
veins and stifled my voice; I fell lifeless, and fancied
myself killed. Never shall I forget your sublime courage,
when, having returned to consciousness, I dragged myself to
the foot of the stairs, and you, almost dying yourself, came
to meet me. We were obliged to keep silent upon the dreadful
catastrophe. You had the fortitude to regain the house,
assisted by your nurse. A duel was the pretext for my wound.
Though we scarcely expected it, our secret remained in our
own keeping alone. I was taken to Versailles; for three
months I struggled with death; at last, as I seemed to cling
to life, I was ordered to the South. Four men carried me
from Paris to Chalons, walking six leagues a day; Madame de
Villefort followed the litter in her carriage. At Chalons I
was put upon the Saone, thence I passed on to the Rhone,
whence I descended, merely with the current, to Arles; at
Arles I was again placed on my litter, and continued my
journey to Marseilles. My recovery lasted six months. I
never heard you mentioned, and I did not dare inquire for
you. When I returned to Paris, I learned that you, the widow
of M. de Nargonne, had married M. Danglars.
"What was the subject of my thoughts from the time
consciousness returned to me? Always the same -- always the
child's corpse, coming every night in my dreams, rising from
the earth, and hovering over the grave with menacing look
and gesture. I inquired immediately on my return to Paris;
the house had not been inhabited since we left it, but it
had just been let for nine years. I found the tenant. I
pretended that I disliked the idea that a house belonging to
my wife's father and mother should pass into the hands of
strangers. I offered to pay them for cancelling the lease;
they demanded 6,000 francs. I would have given 10,000 -- I
would have given 20,000. I had the money with me; I made the
tenant sign the deed of resilition, and when I had obtained
what I so much wanted, I galloped to Auteuil.
"No one had entered the house since I had left it. It was
five o'clock in the afternoon; I ascended into the red room,
and waited for night. There all the thoughts which had
disturbed me during my year of constant agony came back with
double force. The Corsican, who had declared the vendetta
against me, who had followed me from Nimes to Paris, who had
hid himself in the garden, who had struck me, had seen me
dig the grave, had seen me inter the child, -- he might
become acquainted with your person, -- nay, he might even
then have known it. Would he not one day make you pay for
keeping this terrible secret? Would it not be a sweet
revenge for him when he found that I had not died from the
blow of his dagger? It was therefore necessary, before
everything else, and at all risks, that I should cause all
traces of the past to disappear -- that I should destroy
every material vestige; too much reality would always remain
in my recollection. It was for this I had annulled the lease
-- it was for this I had come -- it was for this I was
waiting. Night arrived; I allowed it to become quite dark. I
was without a light in that room; when the wind shook all
the doors, behind which I continually expected to see some
spy concealed, I trembled. I seemed everywhere to hear your
moans behind me in the bed, and I dared not turn around. My
heart beat so violently that I feared my wound would open.
At length, one by one, all the noises in the neighborhood
ceased. I understood that I had nothing to fear, that I
should neither be seen nor heard, so I decided upon
descending to the garden.
"Listen, Hermine; I consider myself as brave as most men,
but when I drew from my breast the little key of the
staircase, which I had found in my coat -- that little key
we both used to cherish so much, which you wished to have
fastened to a golden ring -- when I opened the door, and saw
the pale moon shedding a long stream of white light on the
spiral staircase like a spectre, I leaned against the wall,
and nearly shrieked. I seemed to be going mad. At last I
mastered my agitation. I descended the staircase step by
step; the only thing I could not conquer was a strange
trembling in my knees. I grasped the railings; if I had
relaxed my hold for a moment, I should have fallen. I
reached the lower door. Outside this door a spade was placed
against the wall; I took it, and advanced towards the
thicket. I had provided myself with a dark lantern. In the
middle of the lawn I stopped to light it, then I continued
"It was the end of November, all the verdure of the garden
had disappeared, the trees were nothing more than skeletons
with their long bony arms, and the dead leaves sounded on
the gravel under my feet. My terror overcame me to such a
degree as I approached the thicket, that I took a pistol
from my pocket and armed myself. I fancied continually that
I saw the figure of the Corsican between the branches. I
examined the thicket with my dark lantern; it was empty. I
looked carefully around; I was indeed alone, -- no noise
disturbed the silence but the owl, whose piercing cry seemed
to be calling up the phantoms of the night. I tied my
lantern to a forked branch I had noticed a year before at
the precise spot where I stopped to dig the hole.
"The grass had grown very thickly there during the summer,
and when autumn arrived no one had been there to mow it.
Still one place where the grass was thin attracted my
attention; it evidently was there I had turned up the
ground. I went to work. The hour, then, for which I had been
waiting during the last year had at length arrived. How I
worked, how I hoped, how I struck every piece of turf,
thinking to find some resistance to my spade! But no, I
found nothing, though I had made a hole twice as large as
the first. I thought I had been deceived -- had mistaken the
spot. I turned around, I looked at the trees, I tried to
recall the details which had struck me at the time. A cold,
sharp wind whistled through the leafless branches, and yet
the drops fell from my forehead. I recollected that I was
stabbed just as I was trampling the ground to fill up the
hole; while doing so I had leaned against a laburnum; behind
me was an artificial rockery, intended to serve as a
resting-place for persons walking in the garden; in falling,
my hand, relaxing its hold of the laburnum, felt the
coldness of the stone. On my right I saw the tree, behind me
the rock. I stood in the same attitude, and threw myself
down. I rose, and again began digging and enlarging the
hole; still I found nothing, nothing -- the chest was no
"The chest no longer there?" murmured Madame Danglars,
choking with fear.
"Think not I contented myself with this one effort,"
continued Villefort. "No; I searched the whole thicket. I
thought the assassin, having discovered the chest, and
supposing it to be a treasure, had intended carrying it off,
but, perceiving his error, had dug another hole, and
deposited it there; but I could find nothing. Then the idea
struck me that he had not taken these precautions, and had
simply thrown it in a corner. In the last case I must wait
for daylight to renew my search. I remained the room and
When daylight dawned I went down again. My first visit was
to the thicket. I hoped to find some traces which had
escaped me in the darkness. I had turned up the earth over a
surface of more than twenty feet square, and a depth of two
feet. A laborer would not have done in a day what occupied
me an hour. But I could find nothing -- absolutely nothing.
Then I renewed the search. Supposing it had been thrown
aside, it would probably be on the path which led to the
little gate; but this examination was as useless as the
first, and with a bursting heart I returned to the thicket,
which now contained no hope for me."
"Oh," cried Madame Danglars, "it was enough to drive you
"I hoped for a moment that it might," said Villefort; "but
that happiness was denied me. However, recovering my
strength and my ideas, `Why,' said I, `should that man have
carried away the corpse?'"
"But you said," replied Madame Danglars, "he would require
it as a proof."
"Ah, no, madame, that could not be. Dead bodies are not kept
a year; they are shown to a magistrate, and the evidence is
taken. Now, nothing of the kind has happened."
"What then?" asked Hermine, trembling violently.
"Something more terrible, more fatal, more alarming for us
-- the child was, perhaps, alive, and the assassin may have
Madame Danglars uttered a piercing cry, and, seizing
Villefort's hands, exclaimed, "My child was alive?" said
she; "you buried my child alive? You were not certain my
child was dead, and you buried it? Ah" --
Madame Danglars had risen, and stood before the procureur,
whose hands she wrung in her feeble grasp. "I know not; I
merely suppose so, as I might suppose anything else,"
replied Villefort with a look so fixed, it indicated that
his powerful mind was on the verge of despair and madness.
"Ah, my child, my poor child!" cried the baroness, falling
on her chair, and stifling her sobs in her handkerchief.
Villefort, becoming somewhat reassured, perceived that to
avert the maternal storm gathering over his head, he must
inspire Madame Danglars with the terror he felt. "You
understand, then, that if it were so," said he, rising in
his turn, and approaching the baroness, to speak to her in a
lower tone, "we are lost. This child lives, and some one
knows it lives -- some one is in possession of our secret;
and since Monte Cristo speaks before us of a child
disinterred, when that child could not be found, it is he
who is in possession of our secret."
"Just God, avenging God!" murmured Madame Danglars.
Villefort's only answer was a stifled groan.
"But the child -- the child, sir?" repeated the agitated
"How I have searched for him," replied Villefort, wringing
his hands; "how I have called him in my long sleepless
nights; how I have longed for royal wealth to purchase a
million of secrets from a million of men, and to find mine
among them! At last, one day, when for the hundredth time I
took up my spade, I asked myself again and again what the
Corsican could have done with the child. A child encumbers a
fugitive; perhaps, on perceiving it was still alive, he had
thrown it into the river."
"Impossible!" cried Madame Danglars: "a man may murder
another out of revenge, but he would not deliberately drown
"Perhaps," continued Villefort, "he had put it in the
"Oh, yes, yes," cried the baroness; "my child is there!"
"I ran to the hospital, and learned that the same night --
the night of the 20th of September -- a child had been
brought there, wrapped in part of a fine linen napkin,
purposely torn in half. This portion of the napkin was
marked with half a baron's crown, and the letter H."
"Truly, truly," said Madame Danglars, "all my linen is
marked thus; Monsieur de Nargonne was a baronet, and my name
is Hermine. Thank God, my child was not then dead!"
"No, it was not dead."
"And you can tell me so without fearing to make me die of
joy? Where is the child?" Villefort shrugged his shoulders.
"Do I know?" said he; "and do you believe that if I knew I
would relate to you all its trials and all its adventures as
would a dramatist or a novel writer? Alas, no, I know not. A
woman, about six months after, came to claim it with the
other half of the napkin. This woman gave all the requisite
particulars, and it was intrusted to her."
"But you should have inquired for the woman; you should have
"And what do you think I did? I feigned a criminal process,
and employed all the most acute bloodhounds and skilful
agents in search of her. They traced her to Chalons, and
there they lost her."
"They lost her?"
"Yes, forever." Madame Danglars had listened to this recital
with a sigh, a tear, or a shriek for every detail. "And this
is all?" said she; "and you stopped there?"
"Oh, no," said Villefort; "I never ceased to search and to
inquire. However, the last two or three years I had allowed
myself some respite. But now I will begin with more
perseverance and fury than ever, since fear urges me, not my
"But," replied Madame Danglars, "the Count of Monte Cristo
can know nothing, or he would not seek our society as he
"Oh, the wickedness of man is very great," said Villefort,
"since it surpasses the goodness of God. Did you observe
that man's eyes while he was speaking to us?"
"But have you ever watched him carefully?"
"Doubtless he is capricious, but that is all; one thing
alone struck me, -- of all the exquisite things he placed
before us, he touched nothing. I might have suspected he was
"And you see you would have been deceived."
"But believe me, that man has other projects. For that
reason I wished to see you, to speak to you, to warn you
against every one, but especially against him. Tell me,"
cried Villefort, fixing his eyes more steadfastly on her
than he had ever done before, "did you ever reveal to any
one our connection?"
"Never, to any one."
"You understand me," replied Villefort, affectionately;
"when I say any one, -- pardon my urgency, -- to any one
living I mean?"
"Yes, yes, I understand very well," ejaculated the baroness;
"never, I swear to you."
"Were you ever in the habit of writing in the evening what
had transpired in the morning? Do you keep a journal?"
"No, my life has been passed in frivolity; I wish to forget
"Do you talk in your sleep?"
"I sleep soundly, like a child; do you not remember?" The
color mounted to the baroness's face, and Villefort turned
"It is true," said he, in so low a tone that he could hardly
"Well?" said the baroness.
"Well, I understand what I now have to do," replied
Villefort. "In less than one week from this time I will
ascertain who this M. de Monte Cristo is, whence he comes,
where he goes, and why he speaks in our presence of children
that have been disinterred in a garden." Villefort
pronounced these words with an accent which would have made
the count shudder had he heard him. Then he pressed the hand
the baroness reluctantly gave him, and led her respectfully
back to the door. Madame Danglars returned in another cab to
the passage, on the other side of which she found her
carriage, and her coachman sleeping peacefully on his box
while waiting for her.
A Summer Ball.
The same day during the interview between Madame Danglars
and the procureur, a travelling-carriage entered the Rue du
Helder, passed through the gateway of No. 27, and stopped in
the yard. In a moment the door was opened, and Madame de
Morcerf alighted, leaning on her son's arm. Albert soon left
her, ordered his horses, and having arranged his toilet,
drove to the Champs Elysees, to the house of Monte Cristo.
The count received him with his habitual smile. It was a
strange thing that no one ever appeared to advance a step in
that man's favor. Those who would, as it were, force a
passage to his heart, found an impassable barrier. Morcerf,
who ran towards him with open arms, was chilled as he drew
near, in spite of the friendly smile, and simply held out
his hand. Monte Cristo shook it coldly, according to his
invariable practice. "Here I am, dear count."
"Welcome home again."
"I arrived an hour since."
"No, from Treport."
"And I have come at once to see you."
"That is extremely kind of you," said Monte Cristo with a
tone of perfect indifference.
"And what is the news?"
"You should not ask a stranger, a foreigner, for news."
"I know it, but in asking for news, I mean, have you done
anything for me?"
"Had you commissioned me?" said Monte Cristo, feigning
"Come, come," said Albert, "do not assume so much
indifference. It is said, sympathy travels rapidly, and when
at Treport, I felt the electric shock; you have either been
working for me or thinking of me."
"Possibly," said Monte Cristo, "I have indeed thought of
you, but the magnetic wire I was guiding acted, indeed,
without my knowledge."
"Indeed? Pray tell me how it happened?"
"Willingly. M. Danglars dined with me."
"I know it; to avoid meeting him, my mother and I left
"But he met here M. Andrea Cavalcanti."
"Your Italian prince?"
"Not so fast; M. Andrea only calls himself count."
"Calls himself, do you say?"
"Yes, calls himself."
"Is he not a count?"
"What can I know of him? He calls himself so. I, of course,
give him the same title, and every one else does likewise."
"What a strange man you are! What next? You say M. Danglars
"Yes, with Count Cavalcanti, the marquis his father, Madame
Danglars, M. and Madame de Villefort, -- charming people, --
M. Debray, Maximilian Morrel, and M. de Chateau-Renaud."
"Did they speak of me?"
"Not a word."
"So much the worse."
"Why so? I thought you wished them to forget you?"
"If they did not speak of me, I am sure they thought about
me, and I am in despair."
"How will that affect you, since Mademoiselle Danglars was
not among the number here who thought of you? Truly, she
might have thought of you at home."
"I have no fear of that; or, if she did, it was only in the
same way in which I think of her."
"Touching sympathy! So you hate each other?" said the count.
"Listen," said Morcerf -- "if Mademoiselle Danglars were
disposed to take pity on my supposed martyrdom on her
account, and would dispense with all matrimonial formalities
between our two families, I am ready to agree to the
arrangement. In a word, Mademoiselle Danglars would make a
charming mistress -- but a wife -- diable!"
"And this," said Monte Cristo, "is your opinion of your
"Yes; it is rather unkind, I acknowledge, but it is true.
But as this dream cannot be realized, since Mademoiselle
Danglars must become my lawful wife, live perpetually with
me, sing to me, compose verses and music within ten paces of
me, and that for my whole life, it frightens me. One may
forsake a mistress, but a wife, -- good heavens! There she
must always be; and to marry Mademoiselle Danglars would be
"You are difficult to please, viscount."
"Yes, for I often wish for what is impossible."
"What is that?"
"To find such a wife as my father found." Monte Cristo
turned pale, and looked at Albert, while playing with some
"Your father was fortunate, then?" said he.
"You know my opinion of my mother, count; look at her, --
still beautiful, witty, more charming than ever. For any
other son to have stayed with his mother for four days at
Treport, it would have been a condescension or a martyrdom,
while I return, more contented, more peaceful -- shall I say
more poetic! -- than if I had taken Queen Mab or Titania as
"That is an overwhelming demonstration, and you would make
every one vow to live a single life."
"Such are my reasons for not liking to marry Mademoiselle
Danglars. Have you ever noticed how much a thing is
heightened in value when we obtain possession of it? The
diamond which glittered in the window at Marle's or Fossin's
shines with more splendor when it is our own; but if we are
compelled to acknowledge the superiority of another, and
still must retain the one that is inferior, do you not know
what we have to endure?"
"Worldling," murmured the count.
"Thus I shall rejoice when Mademoiselle Eugenie perceives I
am but a pitiful atom, with scarcely as many hundred
thousand francs as she has millions." Monte Cristo smiled.
"One plan occurred to me," continued Albert; "Franz likes
all that is eccentric; I tried to make him fall in love with
Mademoiselle Danglars; but in spite of four letters, written
in the most alluring style, he invariably answered: `My
eccentricity may be great, but it will not make me break my
"That is what I call devoted friendship, to recommend to
another one whom you would not marry yourself." Albert
smiled. -- "Apropos," continued he, "Franz is coming soon,
but it will not interest you; you dislike him, I think?"
"I?" said Monte Cristo; "my dear Viscount, how have you
discovered that I did not like M. Franz! I like every one."
"And you include me in the expression every one -- many
"Let us not mistake," said Monte Cristo; "I love every one
as God commands us to love our neighbor, as Christians; but
I thoroughly hate but a few. Let us return to M. Franz
d'Epinay. Did you say he was coming?"
"Yes; summoned by M. de Villefort, who is apparently as
anxious to get Mademoiselle Valentine married as M. Danglars
is to see Mademoiselle Eugenie settled. It must be a very
irksome office to be the father of a grown-up daughter; it
seems to make one feverish, and to raise one's pulse to
ninety beats a minute until the deed is done."
"But M. d'Epinay, unlike you, bears his misfortune
"Still more, he talks seriously about the matter, puts on a
white tie, and speaks of his family. He entertains a very
high opinion of M. and Madame de Villefort."
"Which they deserve, do they not?"
"I believe they do. M. de Villefort has always passed for a
severe but a just man."
"There is, then, one," said Monte Cristo, "whom you do not
condemn like poor Danglars?"
"Because I am not compelled to marry his daughter perhaps,"
replied Albert, laughing.
"Indeed, my dear sir," said Monte Cristo, "you are
"I foppish? how do you mean?"
"Yes; pray take a cigar, and cease to defend yourself, and
to struggle to escape marrying Mademoiselle Danglars. Let
things take their course; perhaps you may not have to
"Bah," said Albert, staring.
"Doubtless, my dear viscount, you will not be taken by
force; and seriously, do you wish to break off your
"I would give a hundred thousand francs to be able to do
"Then make yourself quite easy. M. Danglars would give
double that sum to attain the same end."
"Am I, indeed, so happy?" said Albert, who still could not
prevent an almost imperceptible cloud passing across his
brow. "But, my dear count, has M. Danglars any reason?"
"Ah, there is your proud and selfish nature. You would
expose the self-love of another with a hatchet, but you
shrink if your own is attacked with a needle."
"But yet M. Danglars appeared" --
"Delighted with you, was he not? Well, he is a man of bad
taste, and is still more enchanted with another. I know not
whom; look and judge for yourself."
"Thank you, I understand. But my mother -- no, not my
mother; I mistake -- my father intends giving a ball."
"A ball at this season?"
"Summer balls are fashionable."
"If they were not, the countess has only to wish it, and
they would become so."
"You are right; You know they are select affairs; those who
remain in Paris in July must be true Parisians. Will you
take charge of our invitation to Messieurs Cavalcanti?"
"When will it take place?"
"M. Cavalcanti's father will be gone."
"But the son will be here; will you invite young M.
"I do not know him, viscount."
"You do not know him?"
"No, I never saw him until a few days since, and am not
responsible for him."
"But you receive him at your house?"
"That is another thing: he was recommended to me by a good
abbe, who may be deceived. Give him a direct invitation, but
do not ask me to present him. If he were afterwards to marry
Mademoiselle Danglars, you would accuse me of intrigue, and
would be challenging me, -- besides, I may not be there
"At your ball."
"Why should you not be there?"
"Because you have not yet invited me."
"But I come expressly for that purpose."
"You are very kind, but I may be prevented."
"If I tell you one thing, you will be so amiable as to set
aside all impediments."
"Tell me what it is."
"My mother begs you to come."
"The Comtesse de Morcerf?" said Monte Cristo, starting.
"Ah, count," said Albert, "I assure you Madame de Morcerf
speaks freely to me, and if you have not felt those
sympathetic fibres of which I spoke just now thrill within
you, you must be entirely devoid of them, for during the
last four days we have spoken of no one else."
"You have talked of me?"
"Yes, that is the penalty of being a living puzzle!"
"Then I am also a puzzle to your mother? I should have
thought her too reasonable to be led by imagination."
"A problem, my dear count, for every one -- for my mother as
well as others; much studied, but not solved, you still
remain an enigma, do not fear. My mother is only astonished
that you remain so long unsolved. I believe, while the
Countess G---- takes you for Lord Ruthven, my mother
imagines you to be Cagliostro or the Count Saint-Germain.
The first opportunity you have, confirm her in her opinion;
it will be easy for you, as you have the philosophy of the
one and the wit of the other."
"I thank you for the warning," said the count; "I shall
endeavor to be prepared for all suppositions."
"You will, then, come on Saturday?"
"Yes, since Madame de Morcerf invites me."
"You are very kind."
"Will M. Danglars be there?"
"He has already been invited by my father. We shall try to
persuade the great d'Aguesseau,* M. de Villefort, to come,
but have not much hope of seeing him."
"`Never despair of anything,' says the proverb."
* Magistrate and orator of great eloquence -- chancellor of
France under Louis XV.
"Do you dance, count?"
"Yes, you; it would not be astonishing."
"That is very well before one is over forty. No, I do not
dance, but I like to see others do so. Does Madame de
"Never; you can talk to her, she so delights in your
"Yes, truly; and I assure you. You are the only man of whom
I have heard her speak with interest." Albert rose and took
his hat; the count conducted him to the door. "I have one
thing to reproach myself with," said he, stopping Albert on
the steps. "What is it?"
"I have spoken to you indiscreetly about Danglars."
"On the contrary, speak to me always in the same strain
"I am glad to be reassured on that point. Apropos, when do
you aspect M. d'Epinay?"
"Five or six days hence at the latest."
"And when is he to be married?"