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    Chapter 53

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    Chapter 53
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    CHAPTER 53
    Robert le Diable.

    The pretext of an opera engagement was so much the more
    feasible, as there chanced to be on that very night a more
    than ordinary attraction at the Academie Royale. Levasseur,
    who had been suffering under severe illness, made his
    reappearance in the character of Bertrand, and, as usual,
    the announcement of the most admired production of the
    favorite composer of the day had attracteda brilliant and
    fashionable audience. Morcerf, like most other young men of
    rank and fortune, had his orchestra stall, with the
    certainty of always finding a seat in at least a dozen of
    the principal boxes occupied by persons of his acquaintance;
    he had, moreover, his right of entry into the omnibus box.
    Chateau-Renaud rented a stall beside his own, while
    Beauchamp, as a journalist, had unlimited range all over the
    theatre. It happened that on this particular night the
    minister's box was placed at the disposal of Lucien Debray,
    who offered it to the Comte de Morcerf, who again, upon his
    mother's rejection of it, sent it to Danglars, with an
    intimation that he should probably do himself the honor of
    joining the baroness and her daughter during the evening, in
    the event of their accepting the box in question. The ladies
    received the offer with too much pleasure to dream of a
    refusal. To no class of persons is the presentation of a
    gratuitous opera-box more acceptable than to the wealthy
    millionaire, who still hugs economy while boasting of
    carrying a king's ransom in his waistcoat pocket.

    Danglars had, however, protested against showing himself in
    a ministerial box, declaring that his political principles,
    and his parliamentary position as member of the opposition
    party would not permit him so to commit himself; the
    baroness had, therefore, despatched a note to Lucien Debray,
    bidding him call for them, it being wholly impossible for
    her to go alone with Eugenie to the opera. There is no
    gainsaying the fact that a very unfavorable construction
    would have been put upon the circumstance if the two women
    had gone without escort, while the addition of a third, in
    the person of her mother's admitted lover, enabled
    Mademoiselle Danglars to defy malice and ill-nature. One
    must take the world as one finds it.

    The curtain rose, as usual, to an almost empty house, it
    being one of the absurdities of Parisian fashion never to
    appear at the opera until after the beginning of the
    performance, so that the first act is generally played
    without the slightest attention being paid to it, that part
    of the audience already assembled being too much occupied in
    observing the fresh arrivals, while nothing is heard but the
    noise of opening and shutting doors, and the buzz of
    conversation. "Surely," said Albert, as the door of a box on
    the first circle opened, "that must be the Countess G----
    ."

    "And who is the Countess G---- ?" inquired Chateau-Renaud.

    "What a question! Now, do you know, baron, I have a great
    mind to pick a quarrel with you for asking it; as if all the
    world did not know who the Countess G---- was."

    "Ah, to be sure," replied Chateau-Renaud; "the lovely
    Venetian, is it not?"

    "Herself." At this moment the countess perceived Albert, and
    returned his salutation with a smile. "You know her, it
    seems?" said Chateau-Renaud.

    "Franz introduced me to her at Rome," replied Albert.

    "Well, then, will you do as much for me in Paris as Franz
    did for you in Rome?"

    "With pleasure."

    There was a cry of "Shut up!" from the audience. This
    manifestation on the part of the spectators of their wish to
    be allowed to hear the music, produced not the slightest
    effect on the two young men, who continued their
    conversation. "The countess was present at the races in the
    Champ-de-Mars," said Chateau-Renaud.

    "To-day?"

    "Yes."

    "Bless me, I quite forgot the races. Did you bet?"

    "Oh, merely a paltry fifty louis."

    "And who was the winner?"

    "Nautilus. I staked on him."

    "But there were three races, were there not?"

    "Yes; there was the prize given by the Jockey Club -- a gold
    cup, you know -- and a very singular circumstance occurred
    about that race."

    "What was it?"

    "Oh, shut up!" again interposed some of the audience.

    "Why, it was won by a horse and rider utterly unknown on the
    course."

    "Is that possible?"

    "True as day. The fact was, nobody had observed a horse
    entered by the name of Vampa, or that of a jockey styled
    Job, when, at the last moment, a splendid roan, mounted by a
    jockey about as big as your fist, presented themselves at
    the starting-post. They were obliged to stuff at least
    twenty pounds weight of shot in the small rider's pockets,
    to make him weight; but with all that he outstripped Ariel
    and Barbare, against whom he ran, by at least three whole
    lengths."

    "And was it not found out at last to whom the horse and
    jockey belonged?"

    "No."

    "You say that the horse was entered under the name of
    Vampa?"

    "Exactly; that was the title."

    "Then," answered Albert, "I am better informed than you are,
    and know who the owner of that horse was."

    "Shut up, there!" cried the pit in chorus. And this time the
    tone and manner in which the command was given, betokened
    such growing hostility that the two young men perceived, for
    the first time, that the mandate was addressed to them.
    Leisurely turning round, they calmly scrutinized the various
    countenances around them, as though demanding some one
    person who would take upon himself the responsibility of
    what they deemed excessive impertinence; but as no one
    responded to the challenge, the friends turned again to the
    front of the theatre, and affected to busy themselves with
    the stage. At this moment the door of the minister's box
    opened, and Madame Danglars, accompanied by her daughter,
    entered, escorted by Lucien Debray, who assiduously
    conducted them to their seats.

    "Ha, ha," said Chateau-Renaud, "here comes some friends of
    yours, viscount! What are you looking at there? don't you
    see they are trying to catch your eye?" Albert turned round,
    just in time to receive a gracious wave of the fan from the
    baroness; as for Mademoiselle Eugenie, she scarcely
    vouchsafed to waste the glances of her large black eyes even
    upon the business of the stage. "I tell you what, my dear
    fellow," said Chateau-Renaud, "I cannot imagine what
    objection you can possibly have to Mademoiselle Danglars --
    that is, setting aside her want of ancestry and somewhat
    inferior rank, which by the way I don't think you care very
    much about. Now, barring all that, I mean to say she is a
    deuced fine girl!"

    "Handsome, certainly," replied Albert, "but not to my taste,
    which I confess, inclines to something softer, gentler, and
    more feminine."

    "Ah, well," exclaimed Chateau-Renaud, who because he had
    seen his thirtieth summer fancied himself duly warranted in
    assuming a sort of paternal air with his more youthful
    friend, "you young people are never satisfied; why, what
    would you have more? your parents have chosen you a bride
    built on the model of Diana, the huntress, and yet you are
    not content."

    "No, for that very resemblance affrights me; I should have
    liked something more in the manner of the Venus of Milo or
    Capua; but this chase-loving Diana continually surrounded by
    her nymphs gives me a sort of alarm lest she should some day
    bring on me the fate of Actaeon."

    And, indeed, it required but one glance at Mademoiselle
    Danglars to comprehend the justness of Morcerf's remark --
    she was beautiful, but her beauty was of too marked and
    decided a character to please a fastidious taste; her hair
    was raven black, but its natural waves seemed somewhat
    rebellious; her eyes, of the same color as her hair, were
    surmounted by well-arched brows, whose great defect,
    however, consisted in an almost habitual frown, while her
    whole physiognomy wore that expression of firmness and
    decision so little in accordance with the gentler attributes
    of her sex -- her nose was precisely what a sculptor would
    have chosen for a chiselled Juno. Her mouth, which might
    have been found fault with as too large, displayed teeth of
    pearly whiteness, rendered still more conspicuous by the
    brilliant carmine of her lips, contrasting vividly with her
    naturally pale complexion. But that which completed the
    almost masculine look Morcerf found so little to his taste,
    was a dark mole, of much larger dimensions than these freaks
    of nature generally are, placed just at the corner of her
    mouth; and the effect tended to increase the expression of
    self-dependence that characterized her countenance. The rest
    of Mademoiselle Eugenie's person was in perfect keeping with
    the head just described; she, indeed, reminded one of Diana,
    as Chateau-Renaud observed, but her bearing was more haughty
    and resolute. As regarded her attainments, the only fault to
    be found with them was the same that a fastidious
    connoisseur might have found with her beauty, that they were
    somewhat too erudite and masculine for so young a person.
    She was a perfect linguist, a first-rate artist, wrote
    poetry, and composed music; to the study of the latter she
    professed to be entirely devoted, following it with an
    indefatigable perseverance, assisted by a schoolfellow, -- a
    young woman without fortune whose talent promised to develop
    into remarkable powers as a singer. It was rumored that she
    was an object of almost paternal interest to one of the
    principal composers of the day, who excited her to spare no
    pains in the cultivation of her voice, which might hereafter
    prove a source of wealth and independence. But this counsel
    effectually decided Mademoiselle Danglars never to commit
    herself by being seen in public with one destined for a
    theatrical life; and acting upon this principle, the
    banker's daughter, though perfectly willing to allow
    Mademoiselle Louise d'Armilly (that was the name of the
    young virtuosa) to practice with her through the day, took
    especial care not to be seen in her company. Still, though
    not actually received at the Hotel Danglars in the light of
    an acknowledged friend, Louise was treated with far more
    kindness and consideration than is usually bestowed on a
    governess.

    The curtain fell almost immediately after the entrance of
    Madame Danglars into her box, the band quitted the orchestra
    for the accustomed half-hour's interval allowed between the
    acts, and the audience were left at liberty to promenade the
    salon or lobbies, or to pay and receive visits in their
    respective boxes. Morcerf and Chateau-Renaud were amongst
    the first to avail themselves of this permission. For an
    instant the idea struck Madame Danglars that this eagerness
    on the part of the young viscount arose from his impatience
    to join her party, and she whispered her expectations to her
    daughter, that Albert was hurrying to pay his respects to
    them. Mademoiselle Eugenie, however, merely returned a
    dissenting movement of the head, while, with a cold smile,
    she directed the attention of her mother to an opposite box
    on the first circle, in which sat the Countess G---- , and
    where Morcerf had just made his appearance. "So we meet
    again, my travelling friend, do we?" cried the countess,
    extending her hand to him with all the warmth and cordiality
    of an old acquaintance; "it was really very good of you to
    recognize me so quickly, and still more so to bestow your
    first visit on me."

    "Be assured," replied Albert, "that if I had been aware of
    your arrival in Paris, and had known your address, I should
    have paid my respects to you before this. Allow me to
    introduce my friend, Baron de Chateau-Renaud, one of the few
    true gentlemen now to be found in France, and from whom I
    have just learned that you were a spectator of the races in
    the Champ-de-Mars, yesterday." Chateau-Renaud bowed to the
    countess.

    "So you were at the races, baron?" inquired the countess
    eagerly.

    "Yes, madame."

    "Well, then," pursued Madame G---- with considerable
    animation, "you can probably tell me who won the Jockey Club
    stakes?"

    "I am sorry to say I cannot," replied the baron; "and I was
    just asking the same question of Albert."

    "Are you very anxious to know, countess?" asked Albert.

    "To know what?"

    "The name of the owner of the winning horse?"

    "Excessively; only imagine -- but do tell me, viscount,
    whether you really are acquainted with it or no?"

    "I beg your pardon, madame, but you were about to relate
    some story, were you not? You said, 'only imagine,' -- and
    then paused. Pray continue."

    "Well, then, listen. You must know I felt so interested in
    the splendid roan horse, with his elegant little rider, so
    tastefully dressed in a pink satin jacket and cap, that I
    could not help praying for their success with as much
    earnestness as though the half of my fortune were at stake;
    and when I saw them outstrip all the others, and come to the
    winning-post in such gallant style, I actually clapped my
    hands with joy. Imagine my surprise, when, upon returning
    home, the first object I met on the staircase was the
    identical jockey in the pink jacket! I concluded that, by
    some singular chance, the owner of the winning horse must
    live in the same hotel as myself; but, as I entered my
    apartments, I beheld the very gold cup awarded as a prize to
    the unknown horse and rider. Inside the cup was a small
    piece of paper, on which were written these words -- 'From
    Lord Ruthven to Countess G---- .'"

    "Precisely; I was sure of it," said Morcerf.

    "Sure of what?"

    "That the owner of the horse was Lord Ruthven himself."

    "What Lord Ruthven do you mean?"

    "Why, our Lord Ruthven -- the Vampire of the Salle
    Argentino!"

    "Is it possible?" exclaimed the countess; "is he here in
    Paris?"

    "To be sure, -- why not?"

    "And you visit him? -- meet him at your own house and
    elsewhere?"

    "I assure you he is my most intimate friend, and M. de
    Chateau-Renaud has also the honor of his acquaintance."

    "But why are you so sure of his being the winner of the
    Jockey Club prize?"

    "Was not the winning horse entered by the name of Vampa?"

    "What of that?"

    "Why, do you not recollect the name of the celebrated bandit
    by whom I was made prisoner?"

    "Oh, yes."

    "And from whose hands the count extricated me in so
    wonderful a manner?"

    "To be sure, I remember it all now."

    "He called himself Vampa. You see. it's evident where the
    count got the name."

    "But what could have been his motive for sending the cup to
    me?"

    "In the first place, because I had spoken much of you to
    him, as you may believe; and in the second, because he
    delighted to see a countrywoman take so lively an interest
    in his success."

    "I trust and hope you never repeated to the count all the
    foolish remarks we used to make about him?"

    "I should not like to affirm upon oath that I have not.
    Besides, his presenting you the cup under the name of Lord
    Ruthven" --

    "Oh, but that is dreadful! Why, the man must owe me a
    fearful grudge."

    "Does his action appear like that of an enemy?"

    "No; certainly not."

    "Well, then" --

    "And so he is in Paris?"

    "Yes."

    "And what effect does he produce?"

    "Why," said Albert, "he was talked about for a week; then
    the coronation of the queen of England took place, followed
    by the theft of Mademoiselle Mars's diamonds; and so people
    talked of something else."

    "My good fellow," said Chateau-Renaud, "the count is your
    friend and you treat him accordingly. Do not believe what
    Albert is telling you, countess; so far from the sensation
    excited in the Parisian circles by the appearance of the
    Count of Monte Cristo having abated, I take upon myself to
    declare that it is as strong as ever. His first astounding
    act upon coming amongst us was to present a pair of horses,
    worth 32,000 francs, to Madame Danglars; his second, the
    almost miraculous preservation of Madame de Villefort's
    life; now it seems that he has carried off the prize awarded
    by the Jockey Club. I therefore maintain, in spite of
    Morcerf, that not only is the count the object of interest
    at this present moment, but also that he will continue to be
    so for a month longer if he pleases to exhibit an
    eccentricity of conduct which, after all, may be his
    ordinary mode of existence."

    "Perhaps you are right," said Morcerf; "meanwhile, who is in
    the Russian ambassador's box?"

    "Which box do you mean?" asked the countess.

    "The one between the pillars on the first tier -- it seems
    to have been fitted up entirely afresh."

    "Did you observe any one during the first act?" asked
    Chateau-Renaud.

    "Where?"

    "In that box."

    "No," replied the countess, "it was certainly empty during
    the first act;" then, resuming the subject of their previous
    conversation, she said, "And so you really believe it was
    your mysterious Count of Monte Cristo that gained the
    prize?"

    "I am sure of it."

    "And who afterwards sent the cup to me?"

    "Undoubtedly."

    "But I don't know him," said the countess; "I have a great
    mind to return it."

    "Do no such thing, I beg of you; he would only send you
    another, formed of a magnificent sapphire, or hollowed out
    of a gigantic ruby. It is his way, and you must take him as
    you find him." At this moment the bell rang to announce the
    drawing up of the curtain for the second act. Albert rose to
    return to his place. "Shall I see you again?" asked the
    countess. "At the end of the next act, with your permission,
    I will come and inquire whether there is anything I can do
    for you in Paris?"

    "Pray take notice," said the countess, "that my present
    residence is 22 Rue de Rivoli, and that I am at home to my
    friends every Saturday evening. So now, you are both
    forewarned." The young men bowed, and quitted the box. Upon
    reaching their stalls, they found the whole of the audience
    in the parterre standing up and directing their gaze towards
    the box formerly possessed by the Russian ambassador. A man
    of from thirty-five to forty years of age, dressed in deep
    black, had just entered, accompanied by a young woman
    dressed after the Eastern style. The lady was surpassingly
    beautiful, while the rich magnificence of her attire drew
    all eyes upon her. "Hullo," said Albert; "it is Monte Cristo
    and his Greek!"

    The strangers were, indeed, no other than the count and
    Haidee. In a few moments the young girl had attracted the
    attention of the whole house, and even the occupants of the
    boxes leaned forward to scrutinize her magnificent diamonds.
    The second act passed away during one continued buzz of
    voices -- one deep whisper -- intimating that some great and
    universally interesting event had occurred; all eyes, all
    thoughts, were occupied with the young and beautiful woman,
    whose gorgeous apparel and splendid jewels made a most
    extraordinary spectacle. Upon this occasion an unmistakable
    sign from Madame Danglars intimated her desire to see Albert
    in her box directly the curtain fell on the second act, and
    neither the politeness nor good taste of Morcerf would
    permit his neglecting an invitation so unequivocally given.
    At the close of the act he therefore went to the baroness.
    Having bowed to the two ladies, he extended his hand to
    Debray. By the baroness he was most graciously welcomed,
    while Eugenie received him with her accustomed coldness.

    "My dear fellow," said Debray, "you have come in the nick of
    time. There is madame overwhelming me with questions
    respecting the count; she insists upon it that I can tell
    her his birth, education, and parentage, where he came from,
    and whither he is going. Being no disciple of Cagliostro, I
    was wholly unable to do this; so, by way of getting out of
    the scrape, I said, 'Ask Morcerf; he has got the whole
    history of his beloved Monte Cristo at his fingers' ends;'
    whereupon the baroness signified her desire to see you."

    "Is it not almost incredible," said Madame Danglars, "that a
    person having at least half a million of secret-service
    money at his command, should possess so little information?"

    "Let me assure you, madame," said Lucien, "that had I really
    the sum you mention at my disposal, I would employ it more
    profitably than in troubling myself to obtain particulars
    respecting the Count of Monte Cristo, whose only merit in my
    eyes consists in his being twice as rich as a nabob.
    However, I have turned the business over to Morcerf, so pray
    settle it with him as may be most agreeable to you; for my
    own part, I care nothing about the count or his mysterious
    doings."

    "I am very sure no nabob would have sent me a pair of horses
    worth 32,000 francs, wearing on their heads four diamonds
    valued at 5,000 francs each."

    "He seems to have a mania for diamonds," said Morcerf,
    smiling, "and I verily believe that, like Potemkin, he keeps
    his pockets filled, for the sake of strewing them along the
    road, as Tom Thumb did his flint stones."

    "Perhaps he has discovered some mine," said Madame Danglars.
    "I suppose you know he has an order for unlimited credit on
    the baron's banking establishment?"

    "I was not aware of it," replied Albert, "but I can readily
    believe it."

    "And, further, that he stated to M. Danglars his intention
    of only staying a year in Paris, during which time he
    proposed to spend six millions.

    "He must be the Shah of Persia, travelling incog."

    "Have you noticed the remarkable beauty of the young woman,
    M. Lucien?" inquired Eugenie.

    "I really never met with one woman so ready to do justice to
    the charms of another as yourself," responded Lucien,
    raising his lorgnette to his eye. "A most lovely creature,
    upon my soul!" was his verdict.

    "Who is this young person, M. de Morcerf?" inquired Eugenie;
    "does anybody know?"

    "Mademoiselle," said Albert, replying to this direct appeal,
    "I can give you very exact information on that subject, as
    well as on most points relative to the mysterious person of
    whom we are now conversing -- the young woman is a Greek."

    "So I should suppose by her dress; if you know no more than
    that, every one here is as well-informed as yourself."

    "I am extremely sorry you find me so ignorant a cicerone,"
    replied Morcerf, "but I am reluctantly obliged to confess, I
    have nothing further to communicate -- yes, stay, I do know
    one thing more, namely, that she is a musician, for one day
    when I chanced to be breakfasting with the count, I heard
    the sound of a guzla -- it is impossible that it could have
    been touched by any other finger than her own."

    "Then your count entertains visitors, does he?" asked Madame
    Danglars.

    "Indeed he does, and in a most lavish manner, I can assure
    you."

    "I must try and persuade M. Danglars to invite him to a ball
    or dinner, or something of the sort, that he may be
    compelled to ask us in return."

    "What," said Debray, laughing; "do you really mean you would
    go to his house?"

    "Why not? my husband could accompany me."

    "But do you know this mysterious count is a bachelor?"

    "You have ample proof to the contrary, if you look
    opposite," said the baroness, as she laughingly pointed to
    the beautiful Greek.

    "No, no!" exclaimed Debray; "that girl is not his wife: he
    told us himself she was his slave. Do you not recollect,
    Morcerf, his telling us so at your breakfast?"

    "Well, then," said the baroness, "if slave she be, she has
    all the air and manner of a princess."

    "Of the 'Arabian Nights'?"

    "If you like; but tell me, my dear Lucien, what it is that
    constitutes a princess. Why, diamonds -- and she is covered
    with them."

    "To me she seems overloaded," observed Eugenie; "she would
    look far better if she wore fewer, and we should then be
    able to see her finely formed throat and wrists."

    "See how the artist peeps out!" exclaimed Madame Danglars.
    "My poor Eugenie, you must conceal your passion for the fine
    arts."

    "I admire all that is beautiful," returned the young lady.

    "What do you think of the count?" inquired Debray; "he is
    not much amiss, according to my ideas of good looks."

    "The count," repeated Eugenie, as though it had not occurred
    to her to observe him sooner; "the count? -- oh, he is so
    dreadfully pale."

    "I quite agree with you," said Morcerf; "and the secret of
    that very pallor is what we want to find out. The Countess
    G---- insists upon it that he is a vampire."

    "Then the Countess G---- has returned to Paris, has she?"
    inquired the baroness.

    "Is that she, mamma?" asked Eugenie; "almost opposite to us,
    with that profusion of beautiful light hair?"

    "Yes," said Madame Danglars, "that is she. Shall I tell you
    what you ought to do, Morcerf?"

    "Command me, madame."

    "Well, then, you should go and bring your Count of Monte
    Cristo to us."

    "What for?" asked Eugenie.

    "What for? Why, to converse with him, of course. Have you
    really no desire to meet him?"

    "None whatever," replied Eugenie.

    "Strange child," murmured the baroness.

    "He will very probably come of his own accord," said
    Morcerf. "There; do you see, madame, he recognizes you, and
    bows." The baroness returned the salute in the most smiling
    and graceful manner.

    "Well," said Morcerf, "I may as well be magnanimous, and
    tear myself away to forward your wishes. Adieu; I will go
    and try if there are any means of speaking to him."

    "Go straight to his box; that will be the simplest plan."

    "But I have never been presented."

    "Presented to whom?"

    "To the beautiful Greek."

    "You say she is only a slave?"

    "While you assert that she is a queen, or at least a
    princess. No; I hope that when he sees me leave you, he will
    come out."

    "That is possible -- go."

    "I am going," said Albert, as he made his parting bow. Just
    as he was passing the count's box, the door opened, and
    Monte Cristo came forth. After giving some directions to
    Ali, who stood in the lobby, the count took Albert's arm.
    Carefully closing the box door, Ali placed himself before
    it, while a crowd of spectators assembled round the Nubian.

    "Upon my word," said Monte Cristo, "Paris is a strange city,
    and the Parisians a very singular people. See that cluster
    of persons collected around poor Ali, who is as much
    astonished as themselves; really one might suppose he was
    the only Nubian they had ever beheld. Now I can promise you,
    that a Frenchman might show himself in public, either in
    Tunis, Constantinople, Bagdad, or Cairo, without being
    treated in that way."

    "That shows that the Eastern nations have too much good
    sense to waste their time and attention on objects
    undeserving of either. However, as far as Ali is concerned,
    I can assure you, the interest he excites is merely from the
    circumstance of his being your attendant -- you, who are at
    this moment the most celebrated and fashionable person in
    Paris."

    "Really? and what has procured me so fluttering a
    distinction?"

    "What? why, yourself, to be sure! You give away horses worth
    a thousand louis; you save the lives of ladies of high rank
    and beauty; under the name of Major Brack you run
    thoroughbreds ridden by tiny urchins not larger than
    marmots; then, when you have carried off the golden trophy
    of victory, instead of setting any value on it, you give it
    to the first handsome woman you think of!"

    "And who has filled your head with all this nonsense?"

    "Why, in the first place, I heard it from Madame Danglars,
    who, by the by, is dying to see you in her box, or to have
    you seen there by others; secondly, I learned it from
    Beauchamp's journal; and thirdly, from my own imagination.
    Why, if you sought concealment, did you call your horse
    Vampa?"

    "That was an oversight, certainly," replied the count; "but
    tell me, does the Count of Morcerf never visit the Opera? I
    have been looking for him, but without success."

    "He will be here to-night."

    "In what part of the house?"

    "In the baroness's box, I believe."

    "That charming young woman with her is her daughter?"

    "Yes."

    "I congratulate you." Morcerf smiled. "We will discuss that
    subject at length some future time," said he. "But what do
    you think of the music?"

    "What music?"

    "Why, the music you have been listening to."

    "Oh, it is well enough as the production of a human
    composer, sung by featherless bipeds, to quote the late
    Diogenes."

    "From which it would seem, my dear count, that you can at
    pleasure enjoy the seraphic strains that proceed from the
    seven choirs of paradise?"

    "You are right, in some degree; when I wish to listen to
    sounds more exquisitely attuned to melody than mortal ear
    ever yet listened to, I go to sleep."

    "Then sleep here, my dear count. The conditions are
    favorable; what else was opera invented for?"

    "No, thank you. Your orchestra is too noisy. To sleep after
    the manner I speak of, absolute calm and silence are
    necessary, and then a certain preparation" --

    "I know -- the famous hashish!"

    "Precisely. So, my dear viscount, whenever you wish to be
    regaled with music come and sup with me."

    "I have already enjoyed that treat when breakfasting with
    you," said Morcerf.

    "Do you mean at Rome?"

    "I do."

    "Ah, then, I suppose you heard Haidee's guzla; the poor
    exile frequently beguiles a weary hour in playing over to me
    the airs of her native land." Morcerf did not pursue the
    subject, and Monte Cristo himself fell into a silent
    reverie. The bell rang at this moment for the rising of the
    curtain. "You will excuse my leaving you," said the count,
    turning in the direction of his box.

    "What? Are you going?"

    "Pray, say everything that is kind to Countess G---- on the
    part of her friend the Vampire."

    "And what message shall I convey to the baroness!"

    "That, with her permission, I shall do myself the honor of
    paying my respects in the course of the evening."

    The third act had begun; and during its progress the Count
    of Morcerf, according to his promise, made his appearance in
    the box of Madame Danglars. The Count of Morcerf was not a
    person to excite either interest or curiosity in a place of
    public amusement; his presence, therefore, was wholly
    unnoticed, save by the occupants of the box in which he had
    just seated himself. The quick eye of Monte Cristo however,
    marked his coming; and a slight though meaning smile passed
    over his lips. Haidee, whose soul seemed centred in the
    business of the stage, like all unsophisticated natures,
    delighted in whatever addressed itself to the eye or ear.

    The third act passed off as usual. Mesdemoiselles Noblet,
    Julie, and Leroux executed the customary pirouettes; Robert
    duly challenged the Prince of Granada; and the royal father
    of the princess Isabella, taking his daughter by the hand,
    swept round the stage with majestic strides, the better to
    display the rich folds of his velvet robe and mantle. After
    which the curtain again fell, and the spectators poured
    forth from the theatre into the lobbies and salon. The count
    left his box, and a moment later was saluting the Baronne
    Danglars, who could not restrain a cry of mingled pleasure
    and surprise. "You are welcome, count!" she exclaimed, as he
    entered. "I have been most anxious to see you, that I might
    repeat orally the thanks writing can so ill express."

    "Surely so trifling a circumstance cannot deserve a place in
    your remembrance. Believe me, madame, I had entirely
    forgotten it."

    "But it is not so easy to forget, monsieur, that the very
    next day after your princely gift you saved the life of my
    dear friend, Madame de Villefort, which was endangered by
    the very animals your generosity restored to me."

    "This time, at least, I do not deserve your thanks. It was
    Ali, my Nubian slave, who rendered this service to Madame de
    Villefort."

    "Was it Ali," asked the Count of Morcerf, "who rescued my
    son from the hands of bandits?"

    "No, count," replied Monte Cristo taking the hand held out
    to him by the general; "in this instance I may fairly and
    freely accept your thanks; but you have already tendered
    them, and fully discharged your debt -- if indeed there
    existed one -- and I feel almost mortified to find you still
    reverting to the subject. May I beg of you, baroness, to
    honor me with an introduction to your daughter?"

    "Oh, you are no stranger -- at least not by name," replied
    Madame Danglars, "and the last two or three days we have
    really talked of nothing but you. Eugenie," continued the
    baroness, turning towards her daughter, "this is the Count
    of Monte Cristo." The Count bowed, while Mademoiselle
    Danglars bent her head slightly. "You have a charming young
    person with you to-night, count," said Eugenie. "Is she your
    daughter?"

    "No, mademoiselle," said Monte Cristo, astonished at the
    coolness and freedom of the question. "She is a poor
    unfortunate Greek left under my care."

    "And what is her name?"

    "Haidee," replied Monte Cristo.

    "A Greek?" murmured the Count of Morcerf.

    "Yes, indeed, count," said Madame Danglars; "and tell me,
    did you ever see at the court of Ali Tepelini, whom you so
    gloriously and valiantly served, a more exquisite beauty or
    richer costume?"

    "Did I hear rightly, monsieur," said Monte Cristo "that you
    served at Yanina?"

    "I was inspector-general of the pasha's troops," replied
    Morcerf; "and it is no secret that I owe my fortune, such as
    it is, to the liberality of the illustrious Albanese chief."

    "But look!" exclaimed Madame Danglars.

    "Where?" stammered Morcerf.

    "There," said Monte Cristo placing his arms around the
    count, and leaning with him over the front of the box, just
    as Haidee, whose eyes were occupied in examining the theatre
    in search of her guardian, perceived his pale features close
    to Morcerf's face. It was as if the young girl beheld the
    head of Medusa. She bent forwards as though to assure
    herself of the reality of what she saw, then, uttering a
    faint cry, threw herself back in her seat. The sound was
    heard by the people about Ali, who instantly opened the
    box-door. "Why, count," exclaimed Eugenie, "what has
    happened to your ward? she seems to have been taken suddenly
    ill."

    "Very probably," answered the count. "But do not be alarmed
    on her account. Haidee's nervous system is delicately
    organized, and she is peculiarly susceptible to the odors
    even of flowers -- nay, there are some which cause her to
    faint if brought into her presence. However," continued
    Monte Cristo, drawing a small phial from his pocket, "I have
    an infallible remedy." So saying, he bowed to the baroness
    and her daughter, exchanged a parting shake of the hand with
    Debray and the count, and left Madame Danglars' box. Upon
    his return to Haidee he found her still very pale. As soon
    as she saw him she seized his hand; her own hands were moist
    and icy cold. "Who was it you were talking with over there?"
    she asked.

    "With the Count of Morcerf," answered Monte Cristo. "He
    tells me he served your illustrious father, and that he owes
    his fortune to him."

    "Wretch!" exclaimed Haidee, her eyes flashing with rage; "he
    sold my father to the Turks, and the fortune he boasts of
    was the price of his treachery! Did not you know that, my
    dear lord?"

    "Something of this I heard in Epirus," said Monte Cristo;
    "but the particulars are still unknown to me. You shall
    relate them to me, my child. They are, no doubt, both
    curious and interesting."

    "Yes, yes; but let us go. I feel as though it would kill me
    to remain long near that dreadful man." So saying, Haidee
    arose, and wrapping herself in her burnoose of white
    cashmire embroidered with pearls and coral, she hastily
    quitted the box at the moment when the curtain was rising
    upon the fourth act.

    "Do you observe," said the Countess G---- to Albert, who
    had returned to her side, "that man does nothing like other
    people; he listens most devoutly to the third act of 'Robert
    le Diable,' and when the fourth begins, takes his
    departure."
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