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    Chapter 87

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    Chapter 87
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    CHAPTER 87
    The Challenge.

    "Then," continued Beauchamp, "I took advantage of the
    silence and the darkness to leave the house without being
    seen. The usher who had introduced me was waiting for me at
    the door, and he conducted me through the corridors to a
    private entrance opening into the Rue de Vaugirard. I left
    with mingled feelings of sorrow and delight. Excuse me,
    Albert, -- sorrow on your account, and delight with that
    noble girl, thus pursuing paternal vengeance. Yes, Albert,
    from whatever source the blow may have proceeded -- it may
    be from an enemy, but that enemy is only the agent of
    providence." Albert held his head between his hands; he
    raised his face, red with shame and bathed in tears, and
    seizing Beauchamp's arm, "My friend," said he, "my life is
    ended. I cannot calmly say with you, 'Providence has struck
    the blow;' but I must discover who pursues me with this
    hatred, and when I have found him I shall kill him, or he
    will kill me. I rely on your friendship to assist me,
    Beauchamp, if contempt has not banished it from your heart."

    "Contempt, my friend? How does this misfortune affect you?
    No, happily that unjust prejudice is forgotten which made
    the son responsible for the father's actions. Review your
    life, Albert; although it is only just beginning, did a
    lovely summer's day ever dawn with greater purity than has
    marked the commencement of your career? No, Albert, take my
    advice. You are young and rich -- leave Paris -- all is soon
    forgotten in this great Babylon of excitement and changing
    tastes. You will return after three or four years with a
    Russian princess for a bride, and no one will think more of
    what occurred yesterday than if it had happened sixteen
    years ago."

    "Thank you, my dear Beauchamp, thank you for the excellent
    feeling which prompts your advice; but it cannot be. I have
    told you my wish, or rather my determination. You understand
    that, interested as I am in this affair, I cannot see it in
    the same light as you do. What appears to you to emanate
    from a celestial source, seems to me to proceed from one far
    less pure. Providence appears to me to have no share in this
    affair; and happily so, for instead of the invisible,
    impalpable agent of celestial rewards and punishments, I
    shall find one both palpable and visible, on whom I shall
    revenge myself, I assure you, for all I have suffered during
    the last month. Now, I repeat, Beauchamp, I wish to return
    to human and material existence, and if you are still the
    friend you profess to be, help me to discover the hand that
    struck the blow."

    "Be it so," said Beauchamp; "if you must have me descend to
    earth, I submit; and if you will seek your enemy, I will
    assist you, and I will engage to find him, my honor being
    almost as deeply interested as yours."

    "Well, then, you understand, Beauchamp, that we begin our
    search immediately. Each moment's delay is an eternity for
    me. The calumniator is not yet punished, and he may hope
    that he will not be; but, on my honor, it he thinks so, he
    deceives himself."

    "Well, listen, Morcerf."

    "Ah, Beauchamp, I see you know something already; you will
    restore me to life."

    "I do not say there is any truth in what I am going to tell
    you, but it is, at least, a ray of light in a dark night; by
    following it we may, perhaps, discover something more
    certain."

    "Tell me; satisfy my impatience."

    "Well, I will tell you what I did not like to mention on my
    return from Yanina."

    "Say on."

    "I went, of course, to the chief banker of the town to make
    inquiries. At the first word, before I had even mentioned
    your father's name" --

    "'Ah,' said he. 'I guess what brings you here.'

    "'How, and why?'

    "'Because a fortnight since I was questioned on the same
    subject.'

    "'By whom?' -- 'By a Paris banker, my correspondent.'

    "'Whose name is' --

    "'Danglars.'"

    "He!" cried Albert; "yes, it is indeed he who has so long
    pursued my father with jealous hatred. He, the man who would
    be popular, cannot forgive the Count of Morcerf for being
    created a peer; and this marriage broken off without a
    reason being assigned -- yes, it is all from the same
    cause."

    "Make inquiries, Albert, but do not be angry without reason;
    make inquiries, and if it be true" --

    "Oh, yes, if it be true," cried the young man, "he shall pay
    me all I have suffered."

    "Beware, Morcerf, he is already an old man."

    "I will respect his age as he has respected the honor of my
    family; if my father had offended him, why did he not attack
    him personally? Oh, no, he was afraid to encounter him face
    to face."

    "I do not condemn you, Albert; I only restrain you. Act
    prudently."

    "Oh, do not fear; besides, you will accompany me. Beauchamp,
    solemn transactions should be sanctioned by a witness.
    Before this day closes, if M. Danglars is guilty, he shall
    cease to live, or I shall die. Pardieu, Beauchamp, mine
    shall be a splendid funeral!"

    "When such resolutions are made, Albert, they should be
    promptly executed. Do you wish to go to M. Danglars? Let us
    go immediately." They sent for a cabriolet. On entering the
    banker's mansion, they perceived the phaeton and servant of
    M. Andrea Cavalcanti. "Ah, parbleu, that's good," said
    Albert, with a gloomy tone. "If M. Danglars will not fight
    with me, I will kill his son-in-law; Cavalcanti will
    certainly fight." The servant announced the young man; but
    the banker, recollecting what had transpired the day before,
    did not wish him admitted. It was, however, too late; Albert
    had followed the footman, and, hearing the order given,
    forced the door open, and followed by Beauchamp found
    himself in the banker's study. "Sir," cried the latter, "am
    I no longer at liberty to receive whom I choose in my house?
    You appear to forget yourself sadly."

    "No, sir," said Albert, coldly; "there are circumstances in
    which one cannot, except through cowardice, -- I offer you
    that refuge, -- refuse to admit certain persons at least."

    "What is your errand, then, with me, sir?"

    "I mean," said Albert, drawing near, and without apparently
    noticing Cavalcanti, who stood with his back towards the
    fireplace -- "I mean to propose a meeting in some retired
    corner where no one will interrupt us for ten minutes; that
    will be sufficient -- where two men having met, one of them
    will remain on the ground." Danglars turned pale; Cavalcanti
    moved a step forward, and Albert turned towards him. "And
    you, too," said he, "come, if you like, monsieur; you have a
    claim, being almost one of the family, and I will give as
    many rendezvous of that kind as I can find persons willing
    to accept them." Cavalcanti looked at Danglars with a
    stupefied air, and the latter, making an effort, arose and
    stepped between the two young men. Albert's attack on Andrea
    had placed him on a different footing, and he hoped this
    visit had another cause than that he had at first supposed.

    "Indeed, sir," said he to Albert, "if you are come to
    quarrel with this gentleman because I have preferred him to
    you, I shall resign the case to the king's attorney."

    "You mistake, sir," said Morcerf with a gloomy smile; "I am
    not referring in the least to matrimony, and I only
    addressed myself to M. Cavalcanti because he appeared
    disposed to interfere between us. In one respect you are
    right, for I am ready to quarrel with every one to-day; but
    you have the first claim, M. Danglars."

    "Sir," replied Danglars, pale with anger and fear, "I warn
    you, when I have the misfortune to meet with a mad dog, I
    kill it; and far from thinking myself guilty of a crime, I
    believe I do society a kindness. Now, if you are mad and try
    to bite me, I will kill you without pity. Is it my fault
    that your father has dishonored himself?"

    "Yes, miserable wretch!" cried Morcerf, "it is your fault."
    Danglars retreated a few steps. "My fault?" said he; "you
    must be mad! What do I know of the Grecian affair? Have I
    travelled in that country? Did I advise your father to sell
    the castle of Yanina -- to betray" --

    "Silence!" said Albert, with a thundering voice. "No; it is
    not you who have directly made this exposure and brought
    this sorrow on us, but you hypocritically provoked it."

    "I?"

    "Yes; you! How came it known?"

    "I suppose you read it in the paper in the account from
    Yanina?"

    "Who wrote to Yanina?"

    "To Yanina?"

    "Yes. Who wrote for particulars concerning my father?"

    "I imagine any one may write to Yanina."

    "But one person only wrote!"

    "One only?"

    "Yes; and that was you!"

    "I, doubtless, wrote. It appears to me that when about to
    marry your daughter to a young man, it is right to make some
    inquiries respecting his family; it is not only a right, but
    a duty."

    "You wrote, sir, knowing what answer you would receive."

    "I, indeed? I assure you," cried Danglars, with a confidence
    and security proceeding less from fear than from the
    interest he really felt for the young man, "I solemnly
    declare to you, that I should never have thought of writing
    to Yanina, did I know anything of Ali Pasha's misfortunes."

    "Who, then, urged you to write? Tell me."

    "Pardieu, it was the most simple thing in the world. I was
    speaking of your father's past history. I said the origin of
    his fortune remained obscure. The person to whom I addressed
    my scruples asked me where your father had acquired his
    property? I answered, 'In Greece.' -- 'Then,' said he,
    'write to Yanina.'"

    "And who thus advised you?"

    "No other than your friend, Monte Cristo."

    "The Count of Monte Cristo told you to write to Yanina?"

    "Yes; and I wrote, and will show you my correspondence, if
    you like." Albert and Beauchamp looked at each other. "Sir,"
    said Beauchamp, who had not yet spoken, "you appear to
    accuse the count, who is absent from Paris at this moment,
    and cannot justify himself."

    "I accuse no one, sir," said Danglars; "I relate, and I will
    repeat before the count what I have said to you."

    "Does the count know what answer you received?"

    "Yes; I showed it to him."

    "Did he know my father's Christian name was Fernand, and his
    family name Mondego?"

    "Yes, I had told him that long since, and I did only what
    any other would have done in my circumstances, and perhaps
    less. When, the day after the arrival of this answer, your
    father came by the advice of Monte Cristo to ask my
    daughter's hand for you, I decidedly refused him, but
    without any explanation or exposure. In short, why should I
    have any more to do with the affair? How did the honor or
    disgrace of M. de Morcerf affect me? It neither increased
    nor decreased my income."

    Albert felt the blood mounting to his brow; there was no
    doubt upon the subject. Danglars defended himself with the
    baseness, but at the same time with the assurance, of a man
    who speaks the truth, at least in part, if not wholly -- not
    for conscience' sake, but through fear. Besides, what was
    Morcerf seeking? It was not whether Danglars or Monte Cristo
    was more or less guilty; it was a man who would answer for
    the offence, whether trifling or serious; it was a man who
    would fight, and it was evident Danglars's would not fight.
    And, in addition to this, everything forgotten or
    unperceived before presented itself now to his recollection.
    Monte Cristo knew everything, as he had bought the daughter
    of Ali Pasha; and, knowing everything, he had advised
    Danglars to write to Yanina. The answer known, he had
    yielded to Albert's wish to be introduced to Haidee, and
    allowed the conversation to turn on the death of Ali, and
    had not opposed Haidee's recital (but having, doubtless,
    warned the young girl, in the few Romaic words he spoke to
    her, not to implicate Morcerf's father). Besides, had he not
    begged of Morcerf not to mention his father's name before
    Haidee? Lastly, he had taken Albert to Normandy when he knew
    the final blow was near. There could be no doubt that all
    had been calculated and previously arranged; Monte Cristo
    then was in league with his father's enemies. Albert took
    Beauchamp aside, and communicated these ideas to him.

    "You are right," said the latter; "M. Danglars has only been
    a secondary agent in this sad affair, and it is of M. de
    Monte Cristo that you must demand an explanation." Albert
    turned. "Sir," said he to Danglars, "understand that I do
    not take a final leave of you; I must ascertain if your
    insinuations are just, and am going now to inquire of the
    Count of Monte Cristo." He bowed to the banker, and went out
    with Beauchamp, without appearing to notice Cavalcanti.
    Danglars accompanied him to the door, where he again assured
    Albert that no motive of personal hatred had influenced him
    against the Count of Morcerf.
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