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    Chapter 62

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    Chapter 62
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    CHAPTER 62
    Ghosts.

    At first sight the exterior of the house at Auteuil gave no
    indications of splendor, nothing one would expect from the
    destined residence of the magnificent Count of Monte Cristo;
    but this simplicity was according to the will of its master,
    who positively ordered nothing to be altered outside. The
    splendor was within. Indeed, almost before the door opened,
    the scene changed. M. Bertuccio had outdone himself in the
    taste displayed in furnishing, and in the rapidity with
    which it was executed. It is told that the Duc d'Antin
    removed in a single night a whole avenue of trees that
    annoyed Louis XIV.; in three days M. Bertuccio planted an
    entirely bare court with poplars, large spreading sycamores
    to shade the different parts of the house, and in the
    foreground, instead of the usual paving-stones, half hidden
    by the grass, there extended a lawn but that morning laid
    down, and upon which the water was yet glistening. For the
    rest, the orders had been issued by the count; he himself
    had given a plan to Bertuccio, marking the spot where each
    tree was to be planted, and the shape and extent of the lawn
    which was to take the place of the paving-stones. Thus the
    house had become unrecognizable, and Bertuccio himself
    declared that he scarcely knew it, encircled as it was by a
    framework of trees. The overseer would not have objected,
    while he was about it, to have made some improvements in the
    garden, but the count had positively forbidden it to be
    touched. Bertuccio made amends, however, by loading the
    ante-chambers, staircases, and mantle-pieces with flowers.

    What, above all, manifested the shrewdness of the steward,
    and the profound science of the master, the one in carrying
    out the ideas of the other, was that this house which
    appeared only the night before so sad and gloomy,
    impregnated with that sickly smell one can almost fancy to
    be the smell of time, had in a single day acquired the
    aspect of life, was scented with its master's favorite
    perfumes, and had the very light regulated according to his
    wish. When the count arrived, he had under his touch his
    books and arms, his eyes rested upon his favorite pictures;
    his dogs, whose caresses he loved, welcomed him in the
    ante-chamber; the birds, whose songs delighted him, cheered
    him with their music; and the house, awakened from it's long
    sleep, like the sleeping beauty in the wood, lived, sang,
    and bloomed like the houses we have long cherished, and in
    which, when we are forced to leave them, we leave a part of
    our souls. The servants passed gayly along the fine
    court-yard; some, belonging to the kitchens, gliding down
    the stairs, restored but the previous day, as if they had
    always inhabited the house; others filling the coach-houses,
    where the equipages, encased and numbered, appeared to have
    been installed for the last fifty years; and in the stables
    the horses replied with neighs to the grooms, who spoke to
    them with much more respect than many servants pay their
    masters.

    The library was divided into two parts on either side of the
    wall, and contained upwards of two thousand volumes; one
    division was entirely devoted to novels, and even the volume
    which had been published but the day before was to be seen
    in its place in all the dignity of its red and gold binding.
    On the other side of the house, to match with the library,
    was the conservatory, ornamented with rare flowers, that
    bloomed in china jars; and in the midst of the greenhouse,
    marvellous alike to sight and smell, was a billiard-table
    which looked as if it had been abandoned during the past
    hour by players who had left the balls on the cloth. One
    chamber alone had been respected by the magnificent
    Bertuccio. Before this room, to which you could ascend by
    the grand, and go out by the back staircase, the servants
    passed with curiosity, and Bertuccio with terror. At five
    o'clock precisely, the count arrived before the house at
    Auteuil, followed by Ali. Bertuccio was awaiting this
    arrival with impatience, mingled with uneasiness; he hoped
    for some compliments, while, at the same time, he feared to
    have frowns. Monte Cristo descended into the courtyard,
    walked all over the house, without giving any sign of
    approbation or pleasure, until he entered his bedroom,
    situated on the opposite side to the closed room; then he
    approached a little piece of furniture, made of rosewood,
    which he had noticed at a previous visit. "That can only be
    to hold gloves," he said.

    "Will your excellency deign to open it?" said the delighted
    Bertuccio, "and you will find gloves in it." Elsewhere the
    count found everything he required -- smelling-bottles,
    cigars, knick-knacks.

    "Good," he said; and M. Bertuccio left enraptured, so great,
    so powerful, and real was the influence exercised by this
    man over all who surrounded him. At precisely six o'clock
    the clatter of horses' hoofs was heard at the entrance door;
    it was our captain of Spahis, who had arrived on Medeah. "I
    am sure I am the first," cried Morrel; "I did it on purpose
    to have you a minute to myself, before every one came. Julie
    and Emmanuel have a thousand things to tell you. Ah, really
    this is magnificent! But tell me, count, will your people
    take care of my horse?"

    "Do not alarm yourself, my dear Maximilian -- they
    understand."

    "I mean, because he wants petting. If you had seen at what a
    pace he came -- like the wind!"

    "I should think so, -- a horse that cost 5,000 francs!" said
    Monte Cristo, in the tone which a father would use towards a
    son.

    "Do you regret them?" asked Morrel, with his open laugh.

    "I? Certainly not," replied the count. "No; I should only
    regret if the horse had not proved good."

    "It is so good, that I have distanced M. de Chateau-Renaud,
    one of the best riders in France, and M. Debray, who both
    mount the minister's Arabians; and close on their heels are
    the horses of Madame Danglars, who always go at six leagues
    an hour."

    "Then they follow you?" asked Monte Cristo.

    "See, they are here." And at the same minute a carriage with
    smoking horses, accompanied by two mounted gentlemen,
    arrived at the gate, which opened before them. The carriage
    drove round, and stopped at the steps, followed by the
    horsemen. The instant Debray had touched the ground, he was
    at the carriage-door. He offered his hand to the baroness,
    who, descending, took it with a peculiarity of manner
    imperceptible to every one but Monte Cristo. But nothing
    escaped the count's notice, and he observed a little note,
    passed with the facility that indicates frequent practice,
    from the hand of Madame Danglars to that of the minister's
    secretary. After his wife the banker descended, as pale as
    though he had issued from his tomb instead of his carriage.
    Madame Danglars threw a rapid and inquiring glance which
    could only be interpreted by Monte Cristo, around the
    court-yard, over the peristyle, and across the front of the
    house, then, repressing a slight emotion, which must have
    been seen on her countenance if she had not kept her color,
    she ascended the steps, saying to Morrel, "Sir, if you were
    a friend of mine, I should ask you if you would sell your
    horse."

    Morrel smiled with an expression very like a grimace, and
    then turned round to Monte Cristo, as if to ask him to
    extricate him from his embarrassment. The count understood
    him. "Ah, madame," he said, "why did you not make that
    request of me?"

    "With you, sir," replied the baroness, "one can wish for
    nothing, one is so sure to obtain it. If it were so with M.
    Morrel" --

    "Unfortunately," replied the count, "I am witness that M.
    Morrel cannot give up his horse, his honor being engaged in
    keeping it."

    "How so?"

    "He laid a wager he would tame Medeah in the space of six
    months. You understand now that if he were to get rid of the
    animal before the time named, he would not only lose his
    bet, but people would say he was afraid; and a brave captain
    of Spahis cannot risk this, even to gratify a pretty woman,
    which is, in my opinion, one of the most sacred obligations
    in the world."

    "You see my position, madame," said Morrel, bestowing a
    grateful smile on Monte Cristo.

    "It seems to me," said Danglars, in his coarse tone,
    ill-concealed by a forced smile, "that you have already got
    horses enough." Madame Danglars seldom allowed remarks of
    this kind to pass unnoticed, but, to the surprise of the
    young people, she pretended not to hear it, and said
    nothing. Monte Cristo smiled at her unusual humility, and
    showed her two immense porcelain jars, over which wound
    marine plants, of a size and delicacy that nature alone
    could produce. The baroness was astonished. "Why," said she,
    "you could plant one of the chestnut-trees in the Tuileries
    inside! How can such enormous jars have been manufactured?"

    "Ah, madame," replied Monte Cristo, "you must not ask of us,
    the manufacturers of fine porcelain, such a question. It is
    the work of another age, constructed by the genii of earth
    and water."

    "How so? -- at what period can that have been?"

    "I do not know; I have only heard that an emperor of China
    had an oven built expressly, and that in this oven twelve
    jars like this were successively baked. Two broke, from the
    heat of the fire; the other ten were sunk three hundred
    fathoms deep into the sea. The sea, knowing what was
    required of her, threw over them her weeds, encircled them
    with coral, and encrusted them with shells; the whole was
    cemented by two hundred years beneath these almost
    impervious depths, for a revolution carried away the emperor
    who wished to make the trial, and only left the documents
    proving the manufacture of the jars and their descent into
    the sea. At the end of two hundred years the documents were
    found, and they thought of bringing up the jars. Divers
    descended in machines, made expressly on the discovery, into
    the bay where they were thrown; but of ten three only
    remained, the rest having been broken by the waves. I am
    fond of these jars, upon which, perhaps, misshapen,
    frightful monsters have fixed their cold, dull eyes, and in
    which myriads of small fish have slept, seeking a refuge
    from the pursuit of their enemies." Meanwhile, Danglars, who
    had cared little for curiosities, was mechanically tearing
    off the blossoms of a splendid orange-tree, one after
    another. When he had finished with the orange-tree, he began
    at the cactus; but this, not being so easily plucked as the
    orange-tree, pricked him dreadfully. He shuddered, and
    rubbed his eyes as though awaking from a dream.

    "Sir," said Monte Cristo to him, "I do not recommend my
    pictures to you, who possess such splendid paintings; but,
    nevertheless, here are two by Hobbema, a Paul Potter, a
    Mieris, two by Gerard Douw, a Raphael, a Vandyke, a
    Zurbaran, and two or three by Murillo, worth looking at."

    "Stay," said Debray; "I recognize this Hobbema."

    "Ah, indeed!"

    "Yes; it was proposed for the Museum."

    "Which, I believe, does not contain one?" said Monte Cristo.

    "No; and yet they refused to buy it."

    "Why?" said Chateau-Renaud.

    "You pretend not to know, -- because government was not rich
    enough."

    "Ah, pardon me," said Chateau-Renaud; "I have heard of these
    things every day during the last eight years, and I cannot
    understand them yet."

    "You will, by and by," said Debray.

    "I think not," replied Chateau-Renaud.

    "Major Bartolomeo Cavalcanti and Count Andrea Cavalcanti,"
    announced Baptistin. A black satin stock, fresh from the
    maker's hands, gray moustaches, a bold eye, a major's
    uniform, ornamented with three medals and five crosses -- in
    fact, the thorough bearing of an old soldier -- such was the
    appearance of Major Bartolomeo Cavalcanti, that tender
    father with whom we are already acquainted. Close to him,
    dressed in entirely new clothes, advanced smilingly Count
    Andrea Cavalcanti, the dutiful son, whom we also know. The
    three young people were talking together. On the entrance of
    the new comers, their eyes glanced from father to son, and
    then, naturally enough, rested on the latter, whom they
    began criticising. "Cavalcanti!" said Debray. "A fine name,"
    said Morrel.

    "Yes," said Chateau-Renaud, "these Italians are well named
    and badly dressed."

    "You are fastidious, Chateau-Renaud," replied Debray; "those
    clothes are well cut and quite new."

    "That is just what I find fault with. That gentleman appears
    to be well dressed for the first time in his life."

    "Who are those gentlemen?" asked Danglars of Monte Cristo.

    "You heard -- Cavalcanti."

    "That tells me their name, and nothing else."

    "Ah, true. You do not know the Italian nobility; the
    Cavalcanti are all descended from princes."

    "Have they any fortune?"

    "An enormous one."

    "What do they do?"

    "Try to spend it all. They have some business with you, I
    think, from what they told me the day before yesterday. I,
    indeed, invited them here to-day on your account. I will
    introduce you to them."

    "But they appear to speak French with a very pure accent,"
    said Danglars.

    "The son has been educated in a college in the south; I
    believe near Marseilles. You will find him quite
    enthusiastic."

    "Upon what subject?" asked Madame Danglars.

    "The French ladies, madame. He has made up his mind to take
    a wife from Paris."

    "A fine idea that of his," said Danglars, shrugging his
    shoulders. Madame Danglars looked at her husband with an
    expression which, at any other time, would have indicated a
    storm, but for the second time she controlled herself. "The
    baron appears thoughtful to-day," said Monte Cristo to her;
    "are they going to put him in the ministry?"

    "Not yet, I think. More likely he has been speculating on
    the Bourse, and has lost money."

    "M. and Madame de Villefort," cried Baptistin. They entered.
    M. de Villefort, notwithstanding his self-control, was
    visibly affected, and when Monte Cristo touched his hand, he
    felt it tremble. "Certainly, women alone know how to
    dissimulate," said Monte Cristo to himself, glancing at
    Madame Danglars, who was smiling on the procureur, and
    embracing his wife. After a short time, the count saw
    Bertuccio, who, until then, had been occupied on the other
    side of the house, glide into an adjoining room. He went to
    him. "What do you want, M. Bertuccio?" said he.

    "Your excellency his not stated the number of guests."

    "Ah, true."

    "How many covers?"

    "Count for yourself."

    "Is every one here, your excellency?"

    "Yes."

    Bertuccio glanced through the door, which was ajar. The
    count watched him. "Good heavens!" he exclaimed.

    "What is the matter?" said the count.

    "That woman -- that woman!"

    "Which?"

    "The one with a white dress and so many diamonds -- the fair
    one."

    "Madame Danglars?"

    "I do not know her name; but it is she, sir, it is she!"

    "Whom do you mean?"

    "The woman of the garden! -- she that was enciente -- she
    who was walking while she waited for" -- Bertuccio stood at
    the open door, with his eyes starting and his hair on end.

    "Waiting for whom?" Bertuccio, without answering, pointed to
    Villefort with something of the gesture Macbeth uses to
    point out Banquo. "Oh, oh," he at length muttered, "do you
    see?"

    "What? Who?"

    "Him!"

    "Him! -- M. de Villefort, the king's attorney? Certainly I
    see him."

    "Then I did not kill him?"

    "Really, I think you are going mad, good Bertuccio," said
    the count.

    "Then he is not dead?"

    "No; you see plainly he is not dead. Instead of striking
    between the sixth and seventh left ribs, as your countrymen
    do, you must have struck higher or lower, and life is very
    tenacious in these lawyers, or rather there is no truth in
    anything you have told me -- it was a fright of the
    imagination, a dream of your fancy. You went to sleep full
    of thoughts of vengeance; they weighed heavily upon your
    stomach; you had the nightmare -- that's all. Come, calm
    yourself, and reckon them up -- M. and Madame de Villefort,
    two; M. and Madame Danglars, four; M. de Chateau-Renaud, M.
    Debray, M. Morrel, seven; Major Bartolomeo Cavalcanti,
    eight."

    "Eight!" repeated Bertuccio.

    "Stop! You are in a shocking hurry to be off -- you forget
    one of my guests. Lean a little to the left. Stay! look at
    M. Andrea Cavalcanti, the young man in a black coat, looking
    at Murillo's Madonna; now he is turning." This time
    Bertuccio would have uttered an exclamation, had not a look
    from Monte Cristo silenced him. "Benedetto?" he muttered;
    "fatality!"

    "Half-past six o'clock has just struck, M. Bertuccio," said
    the count severely; "I ordered dinner at that hour, and I do
    not like to wait;" and he returned to his guests, while
    Bertuccio, leaning against the wall, succeeded in reaching
    the dining-room. Five minutes afterwards the doors of the.
    drawing-room were thrown open, and Bertuccio appearing said,
    with a violent effort, "The dinner waits."

    The Count of Monte Cristo offered his arm to Madame de
    Villefort. "M. de Villefort," he said, "will you conduct the
    Baroness Danglars?"

    Villefort complied, and they passed on to the dining-room.
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