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    Chapter 54

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    Chapter 54
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    CHAPTER 54
    A Flurry in Stocks.

    Some days after this meeting, Albert de Morcerf visited the
    Count of Monte Cristo at his house in the Champs Elysees,
    which had already assumed that palace-like appearance which
    the count's princely fortune enabled him to give even to his
    most temporary residences. He came to renew the thanks of
    Madame Danglars which had been already conveyed to the count
    through the medium of a letter, signed "Baronne Danglars,
    nee Hermine de Servieux." Albert was accompanied by Lucien
    Debray, who, joining in his friend's conversation, added
    some passing compliments, the source of which the count's
    talent for finesse easily enabled him to guess. He was
    convinced that Lucien's visit was due to a double feeling of
    curiosity, the larger half of which sentiment emanated from
    the Rue de la Chaussee d'Antin. In short, Madame Danglars,
    not being able personally to examine in detail the domestic
    economy and household arrangements of a man who gave away
    horses worth 30,000 francs and who went to the opera with a
    Greek slave wearing diamonds to the amount of a million of
    money, had deputed those eyes, by which she was accustomed
    to see, to give her a faithful account of the mode of life
    of this incomprehensible person. But the count did not
    appear to suspect that there could be the slightest
    connection between Lucien's visit and the curiosity of the

    "You are in constant communication with the Baron Danglars?"
    the count inquired of Albert de Morcerf.

    "Yes, count, you know what I told you?"

    "All remains the same, then, in that quarter?"

    "It is more than ever a settled thing," said Lucien, -- and,
    considering that this remark was all that he was at that
    time called upon to make, he adjusted the glass to his eye,
    and biting the top of his gold headed cane, began to make
    the tour of the apartment, examining the arms and the

    "Ah," said Monte Cristo "I did not expect that the affair
    would be so promptly concluded."

    "Oh, things take their course without our assistance. While
    we are forgetting them, they are falling into their
    appointed order; and when, again, our attention is directed
    to them, we are surprised at the progress they have made
    towards the proposed end. My father and M. Danglars served
    together in Spain, my father in the army and M. Danglars in
    the commissariat department. It was there that my father,
    ruined by the revolution, and M. Danglars, who never had
    possessed any patrimony, both laid the foundations of their
    different fortunes."

    "Yes," said Monte Cristo "I think M. Danglars mentioned that
    in a visit which I paid him; and," continued he, casting a
    side-glance at Lucien, who was turning over the leaves of an
    album, "Mademoiselle Eugenie is pretty -- I think I remember
    that to be her name."

    "Very pretty, or rather, very beautiful," replied Albert,
    "but of that style of beauty which I do not appreciate; I am
    an ungrateful fellow."

    "You speak as if you were already her husband."

    "Ah," returned Albert, in his turn looking around to see
    what Lucien was doing.

    "Really," said Monte Cristo, lowering his voice, "you do not
    appear to me to be very enthusiastic on the subject of this

    "Mademoiselle Danglars is too rich for me," replied Morcerf,
    "and that frightens me."

    "Bah," exclaimed Monte Cristo, "that's a fine reason to
    give. Are you not rich yourself?"

    "My father's income is about 50,000 francs per annum; and he
    will give me, perhaps, ten or twelve thousand when I marry."

    "That, perhaps, might not be considered a large sum, in
    Paris especially," said the count; "but everything does not
    depend on wealth, and it is a fine thing to have a good
    name, and to occupy a high station in society. Your name is
    celebrated, your position magnificent; and then the Comte de
    Morcerf is a soldier, and it is pleasing to see the
    integrity of a Bayard united to the poverty of a Duguesclin;
    disinterestedness is the brightest ray in which a noble
    sword can shine. As for me, I consider the union with
    Mademoiselle Danglars a most suitable one; she will enrich
    you, and you will ennoble her." Albert shook his head, and
    looked thoughtful. "There is still something else," said he.

    "I confess," observed Monte Cristo, "that I have some
    difficulty in comprehending your objection to a young lady
    who is both rich and beautiful."

    "Oh," said Morcerf, "this repugnance, if repugnance it may
    be called, is not all on my side."

    "Whence can it arise, then? for you told me your father
    desired the marriage."

    "It is my mother who dissents; she has a clear and
    penetrating judgment, and does not smile on the proposed
    union. I cannot account for it, but she seems to entertain
    some prejudice against the Danglars."

    "Ah," said the count, in a somewhat forced tone, "that may
    be easily explained; the Comtesse de Morcerf, who is
    aristocracy and refinement itself, does not relish the idea
    of being allied by your marriage with one of ignoble birth;
    that is natural enough."

    "I do not know if that is her reason," said Albert, "but one
    thing I do know, that if this marriage be consummated, it
    will render her quite miserable. There was to have been a
    meeting six weeks ago in order to talk over and settle the
    affair; but I had such a sudden attack of indisposition" --

    "Real?" interrupted the count, smiling.

    "Oh, real enough, from anxiety doubtless, -- at any rate
    they postponed the matter for two months. There is no hurry,
    you know. I am not yet twenty-one, and Eugenie is only
    seventeen; but the two months expire next week. It must be
    done. My dear count, you cannot imagine now my mind is
    harassed. How happy you are in being exempt from all this!"

    "Well, and why should not you be free, too? What prevents
    you from being so?"

    "Oh, it will be too great a disappointment to my father if I
    do not marry Mademoiselle Danglars."

    "Marry her then," said the count, with a significant shrug
    of the shoulders.

    "Yes," replied Morcerf, "but that will plunge my mother into
    positive grief."

    "Then do not marry her," said the count.

    "Well, I shall see. I will try and think over what is the
    best thing to be done; you will give me your advice, will
    you not, and if possible extricate me from my unpleasant
    position? I think, rather than give pain to my dear mother,
    I would run the risk of offending the count." Monte Cristo
    turned away; he seemed moved by this last remark. "Ah," said
    he to Debray, who had thrown himself into an easy-chair at
    the farthest extremity of the salon, and who held a pencil
    in his right hand and an account book in his left, "what are
    you doing there? Are you making a sketch after Poussin?"

    "Oh, no," was the tranquil response; "I am too fond of art
    to attempt anything of that sort. I am doing a little sum in

    "In arithmetic?"

    "Yes; I am calculating -- by the way, Morcerf, that
    indirectly concerns you -- I am calculating what the house
    of Danglars must have gained by the last rise in Haiti
    bonds; from 206 they have risen to 409 in three days, and
    the prudent banker had purchased at 206; therefore he must
    have made 300,000 livres."

    "That is not his biggest scoop," said Morcerf; "did he not
    make a million in Spaniards this last year?"

    "My dear fellow," said Lucien, "here is the Count of Monte
    Cristo, who will say to you, as the Italians do, --

    "'Danaro e santita,
    Meta della meta.'*

    * "Money and sanctity,
    Each in a moiety.

    "When they tell me such things, I only shrug my shoulders
    and say nothing."

    "But you were speaking of Haitians?" said Monte Cristo.

    "Ah, Haitians, -- that is quite another thing! Haitians are
    the ecarte of French stock-jobbing. We may like bouillotte,
    delight in whist, be enraptured with boston, and yet grow
    tired of them all; but we always come back to ecarte -- it
    is not only a game, it is a hors-d'oeuvre! M. Danglars sold
    yesterday at 405, and pockets 300,000 francs. Had he but
    waited till to-day, the price would have fallen to 205, and
    instead of gaining 300,000 francs, he would have lost 20 or

    "And what has caused the sudden fall from 409 to 206?" asked
    Monte Cristo. "I am profoundly ignorant of all these
    stock-jobbing intrigues."

    "Because," said Albert, laughing, "one piece of news follows
    another, and there is often great dissimilarity between

    "Ah," said the count, "I see that M. Danglars is accustomed
    to play at gaining or losing 300,000 francs in a day; he
    must be enormously rich."

    "It is not he who plays!" exclaimed Lucien; "it is Madame
    Danglars: she is indeed daring."

    "But you who are a reasonable being, Lucien, and who know
    how little dependence is to be placed on the news, since you
    are at the fountain-head, surely you ought to prevent it,"
    said Morcerf, with a smile.

    "How can I, if her husband fails in controlling her?" asked
    Lucien; "you know the character of the baroness -- no one
    has any influence with her, and she does precisely what she

    "Ah, if I were in your place" -- said Albert.


    "I would reform her; it would be rendering a service to her
    future son-in-law."

    "How would you set about it?"

    "Ah, that would be easy enough -- I would give her a

    "A lesson?"

    "Yes. Your position as secretary to the minister renders
    your authority great on the subject of political news; you
    never open your mouth but the stockbrokers immediately
    stenograph your words. Cause her to lose a hundred thousand
    francs, and that would teach her prudence."

    "I do not understand," stammered Lucien.

    "It is very clear, notwithstanding," replied the young man,
    with an artlessness wholly free from affectation; "tell her
    some fine morning an unheard-of piece of intelligence --
    some telegraphic despatch, of which you alone are in
    possession; for instance, that Henri IV. was seen yesterday
    at Gabrielle's. That would boom the market; she will buy
    heavily, and she will certainly lose when Beauchamp
    announces the following day, in his gazette, 'The report
    circulated by some usually well-informed persons that the
    king was seen yesterday at Gabrielle's house, is totally
    without foundation. We can positively assert that his
    majesty did not quit the Pont-Neuf.'" Lucien half smiled.
    Monte Cristo, although apparently indifferent, had not lost
    one word of this conversation, and his penetrating eye had
    even read a hidden secret in the embarrassed manner of the
    secretary. This embarrassment had completely escaped Albert,
    but it caused Lucien to shorten his visit; he was evidently
    ill at ease. The count, in taking leave of him, said
    something in a low voice, to which he answered, "Willingly,
    count; I accept." The count returned to young Morcerf.

    "Do you not think, on reflection," said he to him, "that you
    have done wrong in thus speaking of your mother-in-law in
    the presence of M. Debray?"

    "My dear count," said Morcerf, "I beg of you not to apply
    that title so prematurely."

    "Now, speaking without any exaggeration, is your mother
    really so very much averse to this marriage?"

    "So much so that the baroness very rarely comes to the
    house, and my mother, has not, I think, visited Madame
    Danglars twice in her whole life."

    "Then," said the count, "I am emboldened to speak openly to
    you. M. Danglars is my banker; M. de Villefort has
    overwhelmed me with politeness in return for a service which
    a casual piece of good fortune enabled me to render him. I
    predict from all this an avalanche of dinners and routs.
    Now, in order not to presume on this, and also to be
    beforehand with them, I have, if agreeable to you, thought
    of inviting M. and Madame Danglars, and M. and Madame de
    Villefort, to my country-house at Auteuil. If I were to
    invite you and the Count and Countess of Morcerf to this
    dinner, I should give it the appearance of being a
    matrimonial meeting, or at least Madame de Morcerf would
    look upon the affair in that light, especially if Baron
    Danglars did me the honor to bring his daughter. In that
    case your mother would hold me in aversion, and I do not at
    all wish that; on the contrary, I desire to stand high in
    her esteem."

    "Indeed, count," said Morcerf, "I thank you sincerely for
    having used so much candor towards me, and I gratefully
    accept the exclusion which you propose. You say you desire
    my mother's good opinion; I assure you it is already yours
    to a very unusual extent."

    "Do you think so?" said Monte Cristo, with interest.

    "Oh, I am sure of it; we talked of you an hour after you
    left us the other day. But to return to what we were saying.
    If my mother could know of this attention on your part --
    and I will venture to tell her -- I am sure that she will be
    most grateful to you; it is true that my father will be
    equally angry." The count laughed. "Well," said he to
    Morcerf, "but I think your father will not be the only angry
    one; M. and Madame Danglars will think me a very
    ill-mannered person. They know that I am intimate with you
    -- that you are, in fact; one of the oldest of my Parisian
    acquaintances -- and they will not find you at my house;
    they will certainly ask me why I did not invite you. Be sure
    to provide yourself with some previous engagement which
    shall have a semblance of probability, and communicate the
    fact to me by a line in writing. You know that with bankers
    nothing but a written document will be valid."

    "I will do better than that," said Albert; "my mother is
    wishing to go to the sea-side -- what day is fixed for your


    "This is Tuesday -- well, to-morrow evening we leave, and
    the day after we shall be at Treport. Really, count, you
    have a delightful way of setting people at their ease."

    "Indeed, you give me more credit than I deserve; I only wish
    to do what will be agreeable to you, that is all."

    "When shall you send your invitations?"

    "This very day."

    "Well, I will immediately call on M. Danglars, and tell him
    that my mother and myself must leave Paris to-morrow. I have
    not seen you, consequently I know nothing of your dinner."

    "How foolish you are! Have you forgotten that M. Debray has
    just seen you at my house?"

    "Ah, true,"

    "Fix it this way. I have seen you, and invited you without
    any ceremony, when you instantly answered that it would be
    impossible for you to accept, as you were going to Treport."

    "Well, then, that is settled; but you will come and call on
    my mother before to-morrow?"

    "Before to-morrow? -- that will be a difficult matter to
    arrange, besides, I shall just be in the way of all the
    preparations for departure."

    "Well, you can do better. You were only a charming man
    before, but, if you accede to my proposal, you will be

    "What must I do to attain such sublimity?"

    "You are to-day free as air -- come and dine with me; we
    shall be a small party -- only yourself, my mother, and I.
    You have scarcely seen my mother; you shall have an
    opportunity of observing her more closely. She is a
    remarkable woman, and I only regret that there does not
    exist another like her, about twenty years younger; in that
    case, I assure you, there would very soon be a Countess and
    Viscountess of Morcerf. As to my father, you will not see
    him; he is officially engaged, and dines with the chief
    referendary. We will talk over our travels; and you, who
    have seen the whole world, will relate your adventures --
    you shall tell us the history of the beautiful Greek who was
    with you the other night at the Opera, and whom you call
    your slave, and yet treat like a princess. We will talk
    Italian and Spanish. Come, accept my invitation, and my
    mother will thank you."

    "A thousand thanks," said the count, "your invitation is
    most gracious, and I regret exceedingly that it is not in my
    power to accept it. I am not so much at liberty as you
    suppose; on the contrary, I have a most important

    "Ah, take care, you were teaching me just now how, in case
    of an invitation to dinner, one might creditably make an
    excuse. I require the proof of a pre-engagement. I am not a
    banker, like M. Danglars, but I am quite as incredulous as
    he is."

    "I am going to give you a proof," replied the count, and he
    rang the bell.

    "Humph," said Morcerf, "this is the second time you have
    refused to dine with my mother; it is evident that you wish
    to avoid her." Monte Cristo started. "Oh, you do not mean
    that," said he; "besides, here comes the confirmation of my
    assertion." Baptistin entered, and remained standing at the
    door. "I had no previous knowledge of your visit, had I?"

    "Indeed, you are such an extraordinary person, that I would
    not answer for it."

    "At all events, I could not guess that you would invite me
    to dinner."

    "Probably not."

    "Well, listen, Baptistin, what did I tell you this morning
    when I called you into my laboratory?"

    "To close the door against visitors as soon as the clock
    struck five," replied the valet.

    "What then?"

    "Ah, my dear count," said Albert.

    "No, no, I wish to do away with that mysterious reputation
    that you have given me, my dear viscount; it is tiresome to
    be always acting Manfred. I wish my life to be free and
    open. Go on, Baptistin."

    "Then to admit no one except Major Bartolomeo Cavalcanti and
    his son."

    "You hear -- Major Bartolomeo Cavalcanti -- a man who ranks
    amongst the most ancient nobility of Italy, whose name Dante
    has celebrated in the tenth canto of 'The Inferno,' you
    remember it, do you not? Then there is his son, Andrea, a
    charming young man, about your own age, viscount, bearing
    the same title as yourself, and who is making his entry into
    the Parisian world, aided by his father's millions. The
    major will bring his son with him this evening, the contino,
    as we say in Italy; he confides him to my care. If he proves
    himself worthy of it, I will do what I can to advance his
    interests. You will assist me in the work, will you not?"

    "Most undoubtedly. This Major Cavalcanti is an old friend of
    yours, then?"

    "By no means. He is a perfect nobleman, very polite, modest,
    and agreeable, such as may be found constantly in Italy,
    descendants of very ancient families. I have met him several
    times at Florence, Bologna and Lucca, and he has now
    communicated to me the fact of his arrival in Paris. The
    acquaintances one makes in travelling have a sort of claim
    on one; they everywhere expect to receive the same attention
    which you once paid them by chance, as though the civilities
    of a passing hour were likely to awaken any lasting interest
    in favor of the man in whose society you may happen to be
    thrown in the course of your journey. This good Major
    Cavalcanti is come to take a second view of Paris, which he
    only saw in passing through in the time of the Empire, when
    he was on his way to Moscow. I shall give him a good dinner,
    he will confide his son to my care, I will promise to watch
    over him, I shall let him follow in whatever path his folly
    may lead him, and then I shall have done my part."

    "Certainly; I see you are a model Mentor," said Albert
    "Good-by, we shall return on Sunday. By the way, I have
    received news of Franz."

    "Have you? Is he still amusing himself in Italy?"

    "I believe so; however, he regrets your absence extremely .
    He says you were the sun of Rome, and that without you all
    appears dark and cloudy; I do not know if he does not even
    go so far as to say that it rains."

    "His opinion of me is altered for the better, then?"

    "No, he still persists in looking upon you as the most
    incomprehensible and mysterious of beings."

    "He is a charming young man," said Monte Cristo "and I felt
    a lively interest in him the very first evening of my
    introduction, when I met him in search of a supper, and
    prevailed upon him to accept a portion of mine. He is, I
    think, the son of General d'Epinay?"

    "He is."

    "The same who was so shamefully assassinated in 1815?"

    "By the Bonapartists."

    "Yes. Really I like him extremely; is there not also a
    matrimonial engagement contemplated for him?"

    "Yes, he is to marry Mademoiselle de Villefort."


    "And you know I am to marry Mademoiselle Danglars," said
    Albert, laughing.

    "You smile."


    "Why do you do so?"

    "I smile because there appears to me to be about as much
    inclination for the consummation of the engagement in
    question as there is for my own. But really, my dear count,
    we are talking as much of women as they do of us; it is
    unpardonable." Albert rose.

    "Are you going?"

    "Really, that is a good idea! -- two hours have I been
    boring you to death with my company, and then you, with the
    greatest politeness, ask me if I am going. Indeed, count,
    you are the most polished man in the world. And your
    servants, too, how very well behaved they are; there is
    quite a style about them. Monsieur Baptistin especially; I
    could never get such a man as that. My servants seem to
    imitate those you sometimes see in a play, who, because they
    have only a word or two to say, aquit themselves in the most
    awkward manner possible. Therefore, if you part with M.
    Baptistin, give me the refusal of him."

    "By all means."

    "That is not all; give my compliments to your illustrious
    Luccanese, Cavalcante of the Cavalcanti; and if by any
    chance he should be wishing to establish his son, find him a
    wife very rich, very noble on her mother's side at least,
    and a baroness in right of her father, I will help you in
    the search."

    "Ah, ha; you will do as much as that, will you?"


    "Well, really, nothing is certain in this world."

    "Oh, count, what a service you might render me! I should
    like you a hundred times better if, by your intervention, I
    could manage to remain a bachelor, even were it only for ten

    "Nothing is impossible," gravely replied Monte Cristo; and
    taking leave of Albert, he returned into the house, and
    struck the gong three times. Bertuccio appeared. "Monsieur
    Bertuccio, you understand that I intend entertaining company
    on Saturday at Auteuil." Bertuccio slightly started. "I
    shall require your services to see that all be properly
    arranged. It is a beautiful house, or at all events may be
    made so."

    "There must be a good deal done before it can deserve that
    title, your excellency, for the tapestried hangings are very

    "Let them all be taken away and changed, then, with the
    exception of the sleeping-chamber which is hung with red
    damask; you will leave that exactly as it is." Bertuccio
    bowed. "You will not touch the garden either; as to the
    yard, you may do what you please with it; I should prefer
    that being altered beyond all recognition."

    "I will do everything in my power to carry out your wishes,
    your excellency. I should be glad, however, to receive your
    excellency's commands concerning the dinner."

    "Really, my dear M. Bertuccio," said the count, "since you
    have been in Paris, you have become quite nervous, and
    apparently out of your element; you no longer seem to
    understand me."

    "But surely your excellency will be so good as to inform me
    whom you are expecting to receive?"

    "I do not yet know myself, neither is it necessary that you
    should do so. 'Lucullus dines with Lucullus,' that is quite
    sufficient." Bertuccio bowed, and left the room.
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