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    Chapter 76

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    Chapter 76
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    CHAPTER 76
    Progress of Cavalcanti the Younger.

    Meanwhile M. Cavalcanti the elder had returned to his
    service, not in the army of his majesty the Emperor of
    Austria, but at the gaming-table of the baths of Lucca, of
    which he was one of the most assiduous courtiers. He had
    spent every farthing that had been allowed for his journey
    as a reward for the majestic and solemn manner in which he
    had maintained his assumed character of father. M. Andrea at
    his departure inherited all the papers which proved that he
    had indeed the honor of being the son of the Marquis
    Bartolomeo and the Marchioness Oliva Corsinari. He was now
    fairly launched in that Parisian society which gives such
    ready access to foreigners, and treats them, not as they
    really are, but as they wish to be considered. Besides, what
    is required of a young man in Paris? To speak its language
    tolerably, to make a good appearance, to be a good gamester,
    and to pay in cash. They are certainly less particular with
    a foreigner than with a Frenchman. Andrea had, then, in a
    fortnight, attained a very fair position. He was called
    count, he was said to possess 50,000 livres per annum; and
    his father's immense riches, buried in the quarries of
    Saravezza, were a constant theme. A learned man, before whom
    the last circumstance was mentioned as a fact, declared he
    had seen the quarries in question, which gave great weight
    to assertions hitherto somewhat doubtful, but which now
    assumed the garb of reality.

    Such was the state of society in Paris at the period we
    bring before our readers, when Monte Cristo went one evening
    to pay M. Danglars a visit. M. Danglars was out, but the
    count was asked to go and see the baroness, and he accepted
    the invitation. It was never without a nervous shudder,
    since the dinner at Auteuil, and the events which followed
    it, that Madame Danglars heard Monte Cristo's name
    announced. If he did not come, the painful sensation became
    most intense; if, on the contrary, he appeared, his noble
    countenance, his brilliant eyes, his amiability, his polite
    attention even towards Madame Danglars, soon dispelled every
    impression of fear. It appeared impossible to the baroness
    that a man of such delightfully pleasing manners should
    entertain evil designs against her; besides, the most
    corrupt minds only suspect evil when it would answer some
    interested end -- useless injury is repugnant to every mind.
    When Monte Cristo entered the boudoir, -- to which we have
    already once introduced our readers, and where the baroness
    was examining some drawings, which her daughter passed to
    her after having looked at them with M. Cavalcanti, -- his
    presence soon produced its usual effect, and it was with
    smiles that the baroness received the count, although she
    had been a little disconcerted at the announcement of his
    name. The latter took in the whole scene at a glance.

    The baroness was partially reclining on a sofa, Eugenie sat
    near her, and Cavalcanti was standing. Cavalcanti, dressed
    in black, like one of Goethe's heroes, with varnished shoes
    and white silk open-worked stockings, passed a white and
    tolerably nice-looking hand through his light hair, and so
    displayed a sparkling diamond, that in spite of Monte
    Cristo's advice the vain young man had been unable to resist
    putting on his little finger. This movement was accompanied
    by killing glances at Mademoiselle Danglars, and by sighs
    launched in the same direction. Mademoiselle Danglars was
    still the same -- cold, beautiful, and satirical. Not one of
    these glances, nor one sigh, was lost on her; they might
    have been said to fall on the shield of Minerva, which some
    philosophers assert protected sometimes the breast of
    Sappho. Eugenie bowed coldly to the count, and availed
    herself of the first moment when the conversation became
    earnest to escape to her study, whence very soon two
    cheerful and noisy voices being heard in connection with
    occasional notes of the piano assured Monte Cristo that
    Mademoiselle Danglars preferred to his society and to that
    of M. Cavalcanti the company of Mademoiselle Louise
    d'Armilly, her singing teacher.

    It was then, especially while conversing with Madame
    Danglars, and apparently absorbed by the charm of the
    conversation, that the count noticed M. Andrea Cavalcanti's
    solicitude, his manner of listening to the music at the door
    he dared not pass, and of manifesting his admiration. The
    banker soon returned. His first look was certainly directed
    towards Monte Cristo, but the second was for Andrea. As for
    his wife, he bowed to her, as some husbands do to their
    wives, but in a way that bachelors will never comprehend,
    until a very extensive code is published on conjugal life.

    "Have not the ladies invited you to join them at the piano?"
    said Danglars to Andrea. "Alas, no, sir," replied Andrea
    with a sigh, still more remarkable than the former ones.
    Danglars immediately advanced towards the door and opened
    it.

    The two young ladies were seen seated on the same chair, at
    the piano, accompanying themselves, each with one hand, a
    fancy to which they had accustomed themselves, and performed
    admirably. Mademoiselle d'Armilly, whom they then perceived
    through the open doorway, formed with Eugenie one of the
    tableaux vivants of which the Germans are so fond. She was
    somewhat beautiful, and exquisitely formed -- a little
    fairy-like figure, with large curls falling on her neck,
    which was rather too long, as Perugino sometimes makes his
    Virgins, and her eyes dull from fatigue. She was said to
    have a weak chest, and like Antonia in the "Cremona Violin,"
    she would die one day while singing. Monte Cristo cast one
    rapid and curious glance round this sanctum; it was the
    first time he had ever seen Mademoiselle d'Armilly, of whom
    he had heard much. "Well," said the banker to his daughter,
    "are we then all to be excluded?" He then led the young man
    into the study, and either by chance or manoeuvre the door
    was partially closed after Andrea, so that from the place
    where they sat neither the Count nor the baroness could see
    anything; but as the banker had accompanied Andrea, Madame
    Danglars appeared to take no notice of it.

    The count soon heard Andrea's voice, singing a Corsican
    song, accompanied by the piano. While the count smiled at
    hearing this song, which made him lose sight of Andrea in
    the recollection of Benedetto, Madame Danglars was boasting
    to Monte Cristo of her husband's strength of mind, who that
    very morning had lost three or four hundred thousand francs
    by a failure at Milan. The praise was well deserved, for had
    not the count heard it from the baroness, or by one of those
    means by which he knew everything, the baron's countenance
    would not have led him to suspect it. "Hem," thought Monte
    Cristo, "he begins to conceal his losses; a month since he
    boasted of them." Then aloud, -- "Oh, madame, M. Danglars is
    so skilful, he will soon regain at the Bourse what he loses
    elsewhere."

    "I see that you participate in a prevalent error," said
    Madame Danglars. "What is it?" said Monte Cristo.

    "That M. Danglars speculates, whereas he never does."

    "Truly, madame, I recollect M. Debray told me -- apropos,
    what is become of him? I have seen nothing of him the last
    three or four days."

    "Nor I," said Madame Danglars; "but you began a sentence,
    sir, and did not finish."

    "Which?"

    "M. Debray had told you" --

    "Ah, yes; he told me it was you who sacrificed to the demon
    of speculation."

    "I was once very fond of it, but I do not indulge now."

    "Then you are wrong, madame. Fortune is precarious; and if I
    were a woman and fate had made me a banker's wife, whatever
    might be my confidence in my husband's good fortune, still
    in speculation you know there is great risk. Well, I would
    secure for myself a fortune independent of him, even if I
    acquired it by placing my interests in hands unknown to
    him." Madame Danglars blushed, in spite of all her efforts.
    "Stay," said Monte Cristo, as though he had not observed her
    confusion, "I have heard of a lucky hit that was made
    yesterday on the Neapolitan bonds."

    "I have none -- nor have I ever possessed any; but really we
    have talked long enough of money, count, we are like two
    stockbrokers; have you heard how fate is persecuting the
    poor Villeforts?"

    "What has happened?" said the count, simulating total
    ignorance.

    "You know the Marquis of Saint-Meran died a few days after
    he had set out on his journey to Paris, and the marchioness
    a few days after her arrival?"

    "Yes," said Monte Cristo, "I have heard that; but, as
    Claudius said to Hamlet, 'it is a law of nature; their
    fathers died before them, and they mourned their loss; they
    will die before their children, who will, in their turn,
    grieve for them.'"

    "But that is not all."

    "Not all!"

    "No; they were going to marry their daughter" --

    "To M. Franz d'Epinay. Is it broken off?"

    "Yesterday morning, it appears, Franz declined the honor."

    "Indeed? And is the reason known?"

    "No."

    "How extraordinary! And how does M. de Villefort bear it?"

    "As usual. Like a philosopher." Danglars returned at this
    moment alone. "Well," said the baroness, "do you leave M.
    Cavalcanti with your daughter?"

    "And Mademoiselle d'Armilly," said the banker; "do you
    consider her no one?" Then, turning to Monte Cristo, he
    said, "Prince Cavalcanti is a charming young man, is he not?
    But is he really a prince?"

    "I will not answer for it," said Monte Cristo. "His father
    was introduced to me as a marquis, so he ought to be a
    count; but I do not think he has much claim to that title."

    "Why?" said the banker. "If he is a prince, he is wrong not
    to maintain his rank; I do not like any one to deny his
    origin."

    "Oh, you are a thorough democrat," said Monte Cristo,
    smiling.

    "But do you see to what you are exposing yourself?" said the
    baroness. "If, perchance, M. de Morcerf came, he would find
    M. Cavalcanti in that room, where he, the betrothed of
    Eugenie, has never been admitted."

    "You may well say, perchance," replied the banker; "for he
    comes so seldom, it would seem only chance that brings him."

    "But should he come and find that young man with your
    daughter, he might be displeased."

    "He? You are mistaken. M. Albert would not do us the honor
    to be jealous; he does not like Eugenie sufficiently.
    Besides, I care not for his displeasure."

    "Still, situated as we are" --

    "Yes, do you know how we are situated? At his mother's ball
    he danced once with Eugenie, and M. Cavalcanti three times,
    and he took no notice of it." The valet announced the
    Vicomte Albert de Morcerf. The baroness rose hastily, and
    was going into the study, when Danglars stopped her. "Let
    her alone," said he. She looked at him in amazement. Monte
    Cristo appeared to be unconscious of what passed. Albert
    entered, looking very handsome and in high spirits. He bowed
    politely to the baroness, familiarly to Danglars, and
    affectionately to Monte Cristo. Then turning to the
    baroness: "May I ask how Mademoiselle Danglars is?" said he.

    "She is quite well," replied Danglars quickly; "she is at
    the piano with M. Cavalcanti." Albert retained his calm and
    indifferent manner; he might feel perhaps annoyed, but he
    knew Monte Cristo's eye was on him. "M. Cavalcanti has a
    fine tenor voice," said he, "and Mademoiselle Eugenie a
    splendid soprano, and then she plays the piano like
    Thalberg. The concert must be a delightful one."

    "They suit each other remarkably well," said Danglars.
    Albert appeared not to notice this remark, which was,
    however, so rude that Madame Danglars blushed.

    "I, too," said the young man, "am a musician -- at least, my
    masters used to tell me so; but it is strange that my voice
    never would suit any other, and a soprano less than any."
    Danglars smiled, and seemed to say, "It is of no
    consequence." Then, hoping doubtless to effect his purpose,
    he said, -- "The prince and my daughter were universally
    admired yesterday. You were not of the party, M. de
    Morcerf?"

    "What prince?" asked Albert. "Prince Cavalcanti," said
    Danglars, who persisted in giving the young man that title.

    "Pardon me," said Albert, "I was not aware that he was a
    prince. And Prince Cavalcanti sang with Mademoiselle Eugenie
    yesterday? It must have been charming, indeed. I regret not
    having heard them. But I was unable to accept your
    invitation, having promised to accompany my mother to a
    German concert given by the Baroness of Chateau-Renaud."
    This was followed by rather an awkward silence. "May I also
    be allowed," said Morcerf, "to pay my respects to
    Mademoiselle Danglars?" "Wait a moment," said the banker,
    stopping the young man; "do you hear that delightful
    cavatina? Ta, ta, ta, ti, ta, ti, ta, ta; it is charming,
    let them finish -- one moment. Bravo, bravi, brava!" The
    banker was enthusiastic in his applause.

    "Indeed," said Albert, "it is exquisite; it is impossible to
    understand the music of his country better than Prince
    Cavalcanti does. You said prince, did you not? But he can
    easily become one, if he is not already; it is no uncommon
    thing in Italy. But to return to the charming musicians --
    you should give us a treat, Danglars, without telling them
    there is a stranger. Ask them to sing one more song; it is
    so delightful to hear music in the distance, when the
    musicians are unrestrained by observation."

    Danglars was quite annoyed by the young man's indifference.
    He took Monte Cristo aside. "What do you think of our
    lover?" said he.

    "He appears cool. But, then your word is given."

    "Yes, doubtless I have promised to give my daughter to a man
    who loves her, but not to one who does not. See him there,
    cold as marble and proud like his father. If he were rich,
    if he had Cavalcanti's fortune, that might be pardoned. Ma
    foi, I haven't consulted my daughter; but if she has good
    taste" --

    "Oh," said Monte Cristo, "my fondness may blind me, but I
    assure you I consider Morcerf a charming young man who will
    render your daughter happy and will sooner or later attain a
    certain amount of distinction, and his father's position is
    good."

    "Hem," said Danglars.

    "Why do you doubt?"

    "The past -- that obscurity on the past."

    "But that does not affect the son."

    "Very true."

    "Now, I beg of you, don't go off your head. It's a month now
    that you have been thinking of this marriage, and you must
    see that it throws some responsibility on me, for it was at
    my house you met this young Cavalcanti, whom I do not really
    know at all."

    "But I do."

    "Have you made inquiry?"

    "Is there any need of that! Does not his appearance speak
    for him? And he is very rich."

    "I am not so sure of that."

    "And yet you said he had money."

    "Fifty thousand livres -- a mere trifle."

    "He is well educated."

    "Hem," said Monte Cristo in his turn.

    "He is a musician."

    "So are all Italians."

    "Come, count, you do not do that young man justice."

    "Well, I acknowledge it annoys me, knowing your connection
    with the Morcerf family, to see him throw himself in the
    way." Danglars burst out laughing. "What a Puritan you are!"
    said he; "that happens every day."

    "But you cannot break it off in this way; the Morcerfs are
    depending on this union."

    "Indeed."

    "Positively."

    "Then let them explain themselves; you should give the
    father a hint, you are so intimate with the family."

    "I? -- where the devil did you find out that?"

    "At their ball; it was apparent enough. Why, did not the
    countess, the proud Mercedes, the disdainful Catalane, who
    will scarcely open her lips to her oldest acquaintances,
    take your arm, lead you into the garden, into the private
    walks, and remain there for half an hour?"

    "Ah, baron, baron," said Albert, "you are not listening --
    what barbarism in a melomaniac like you!"

    "Oh, don't worry about me, Sir Mocker," said Danglars; then
    turning to the count he said, "but will you undertake to
    speak to the father?"

    "Willingly, if you wish it."

    "But let it be done explicitly and positively. If he demands
    my daughter let him fix the day -- declare his conditions;
    in short, let us either understand each other, or quarrel.
    You understand -- no more delay."

    "Yes. sir, I will give my attention to the subject."

    "I do not say that I await with pleasure his decision, but I
    do await it. A banker must, you know, be a slave to his
    promise." And Danglars sighed as M. Cavalcanti had done half
    an hour before. "Bravi, bravo, brava!" cried Morcerf,
    parodying the banker, as the selection came to an end.
    Danglars began to look suspiciously at Morcerf, when some
    one came and whispered a few words to him. "I shall soon
    return," said the banker to Monte Cristo; "wait for me. I
    shall, perhaps, have something to say to you." And he went
    out.

    The baroness took advantage of her husband's absence to push
    open the door of her daughter's study, and M. Andrea, who
    was sitting before the piano with Mademoiselle Eugenie,
    started up like a jack-in-the-box. Albert bowed with a smile
    to Mademoiselle Danglars, who did not appear in the least
    disturbed, and returned his bow with her usual coolness.
    Cavalcanti was evidently embarrassed; he bowed to Morcerf,
    who replied with the most impertinent look possible. Then
    Albert launched out in praise of Mademoiselle Danglars'
    voice, and on his regret, after what he had just heard, that
    he had been unable to be present the previous evening.
    Cavalcanti, being left alone, turned to Monte Cristo.

    "Come," said Madame Danglars, "leave music and compliments,
    and let us go and take tea."

    "Come, Louise," said Mademoiselle Danglars to her friend.
    They passed into the next drawing-room, where tea was
    prepared. Just as they were beginning, in the English
    fashion, to leave the spoons in their cups, the door again
    opened and Danglars entered, visibly agitated. Monte Cristo
    observed it particularly, and by a look asked the banker for
    an explanation. "I have just received my courier from
    Greece," said Danglars.

    "Ah, yes," said the count; "that was the reason of your
    running away from us."

    "Yes."

    "How is King Otho getting on?" asked Albert in the most
    sprightly tone. Danglars cast another suspicious look
    towards him without answering, and Monte Cristo turned away
    to conceal the expression of pity which passed over his
    features, but which was gone in a moment. "We shall go
    together, shall we not?" said Albert to the count.

    "If you like," replied the latter. Albert could not
    understand the banker's look, and turning to Monte Cristo,
    who understood it perfectly, -- "Did you see," said he, "how
    he looked at me?"

    "Yes," said the count; "but did you think there was anything
    particular in his look?"

    "Indeed, I did; and what does he mean by his news from
    Greece?"

    "How can I tell you?"

    "Because I imagine you have correspondents in that country."
    Monte Cristo smiled significantly.

    "Stop," said Albert, "here he comes. I shall compliment
    Mademoiselle Danglars on her cameo, while the father talks
    to you."

    "If you compliment her at all, let it be on her voice, at
    least," said Monte Cristo.

    "No, every one would do that."

    "My dear viscount, you are dreadfully impertinent." Albert
    advanced towards Eugenie, smiling. Meanwhile, Danglars,
    stooping to Monte Cristo's ear, "Your advice was excellent,"
    said he; "there is a whole history connected with the names
    Fernand and Yanina."

    "Indeed?" said Monte Cristo.

    "Yes, I will tell you all; but take away the young man; I
    cannot endure his presence."

    "He is going with me. Shall I send the father to you?"

    "Immediately."

    "Very well." The count made a sign to Albert and they bowed
    to the ladies, and took their leave, Albert perfectly
    indifferent to Mademoiselle Danglars' contempt, Monte Cristo
    reiterating his advice to Madame Danglars on the prudence a
    banker's wife should exercise in providing for the future.
    M. Cavalcanti remained master of the field.
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