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    Chapter 93

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    Chapter 93
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    CHAPTER 93
    Valentine.

    We may easily conceive where Morrel's appointment was. On
    leaving Monte Cristo he walked slowly towards Villefort's;
    we say slowly, for Morrel had more than half an hour to
    spare to go five hundred steps, but he had hastened to take
    leave of Monte Cristo because he wished to be alone with his
    thoughts. He knew his time well -- the hour when Valentine
    was giving Noirtier his breakfast, and was sure not to be
    disturbed in the performance of this pious duty. Noirtier
    and Valentine had given him leave to go twice a week, and he
    was now availing himself of that permission. He had arrived;
    Valentine was expecting him. Uneasy and almost crazed, she
    seized his hand and led him to her grandfather. This
    uneasiness, amounting almost to frenzy, arose from the
    report Morcerf's adventure had made in the world, for the
    affair at the opera was generally known. No one at
    Villefort's doubted that a duel would ensue from it.
    Valentine, with her woman's instinct, guessed that Morrel
    would be Monte Cristo's second, and from the young man's
    well-known courage and his great affection for the count,
    she feared that he would not content himself with the
    passive part assigned to him. We may easily understand how
    eagerly the particulars were asked for, given, and received;
    and Morrel could read an indescribable joy in the eyes of
    his beloved, when she knew that the termination of this
    affair was as happy as it was unexpected.

    "Now," said Valentine, motioning to Morrel to sit down near
    her grandfather, while she took her seat on his footstool,
    -- "now let us talk about our own affairs. You know,
    Maximilian, grandpapa once thought of leaving this house,
    and taking an apartment away from M. de Villefort's."

    "Yes," said Maximilian, "I recollect the project, of which I
    highly approved."

    "Well," said Valentine, "you may approve again, for
    grandpapa is again thinking of it."

    "Bravo," said Maximilian.

    "And do you know," said Valentine, "what reason grandpapa
    gives for leaving this house." Noirtier looked at Valentine
    to impose silence, but she did not notice him; her looks,
    her eyes, her smile, were all for Morrel.

    "Oh, whatever may be M. Noirtier's reason," answered Morrel,
    "I can readily believe it to be a good one."

    "An excellent one," said Valentine. "He pretends the air of
    the Faubourg St. Honore is not good for me."

    "Indeed?" said Morrel; "in that M. Noirtier may be right;
    you have not seemed to be well for the last fortnight."

    "Not very," said Valentine. "And grandpapa has become my
    physician, and I have the greatest confidence in him,
    because he knows everything."

    "Do you then really suffer?" asked Morrel quickly.

    "Oh, it must not be called suffering; I feel a general
    uneasiness, that is all. I have lost my appetite, and my
    stomach feels as if it were struggling to get accustomed to
    something." Noirtier did not lose a word of what Valentine
    said. "And what treatment do you adopt for this singular
    complaint?"

    "A very simple one," said Valentine. "I swallow every
    morning a spoonful of the mixture prepared for my
    grandfather. When I say one spoonful, I began by one -- now
    I take four. Grandpapa says it is a panacea." Valentine
    smiled, but it was evident that she suffered.

    Maximilian, in his devotedness, gazed silently at her. She
    was very beautiful, but her usual pallor had increased; her
    eyes were more brilliant than ever, and her hands, which
    were generally white like mother-of-pearl, now more
    resembled wax, to which time was adding a yellowish hue.
    From Valentine the young man looked towards Noirtier. The
    latter watched with strange and deep interest the young
    girl, absorbed by her affection, and he also, like Morrel,
    followed those traces of inward suffering which was so
    little perceptible to a common observer that they escaped
    the notice of every one but the grandfather and the lover.

    "But," said Morrel, "I thought this mixture, of which you
    now take four spoonfuls, was prepared for M. Noirtier?"

    "I know it is very bitter," said Valentine; "so bitter, that
    all I drink afterwards appears to have the same taste."
    Noirtier looked inquiringly at his granddaughter. "Yes,
    grandpapa," said Valentine; "it is so. Just now, before I
    came down to you, I drank a glass of sugared water; I left
    half, because it seemed so bitter." Noirtier turned pale,
    and made a sign that he wished to speak. Valentine rose to
    fetch the dictionary. Noirtier watched her with evident
    anguish. In fact, the blood was rushing to the young girl's
    head already, her cheeks were becoming red. "Oh," cried she,
    without losing any of her cheerfulness, "this is singular! I
    can't see! Did the sun shine in my eyes?" And she leaned
    against the window.

    "The sun is not shining," said Morrel, more alarmed by
    Noirtier's expression than by Valentine's indisposition. He
    ran towards her. The young girl smiled. "Cheer up," said she
    to Noirtier. "Do not be alarmed, Maximilian; it is nothing,
    and has already passed away. But listen! Do I not hear a
    carriage in the court-yard?" She opened Noirtier's door, ran
    to a window in the passage, and returned hastily. "Yes,"
    said she, "it is Madame Danglars and her daughter, who have
    come to call on us. Good-by; -- I must run away, for they
    would send here for me, or, rather, farewell till I see you
    again. Stay with grandpapa, Maximilian; I promise you not to
    persuade them to stay."

    Morrel watched her as she left the room; he heard her ascend
    the little staircase which led both to Madame de Villefort's
    apartments and to hers. As soon as she was gone, Noirtier
    made a sign to Morrel to take the dictionary. Morrel obeyed;
    guided by Valentine, he had learned how to understand the
    old man quickly. Accustomed, however, as he was to the work,
    he had to repeat most of the letters of the alphabet and to
    find every word in the dictionary, so that it was ten
    minutes before the thought of the old man was translated by
    these words, "Fetch the glass of water and the decanter from
    Valentine's room."

    Morrel rang immediately for the servant who had taken
    Barrois's situation, and in Noirtier's name gave that order.
    The servant soon returned. The decanter and the glass were
    completely empty. Noirtier made a sign that he wished to
    speak. "Why are the glass and decanter empty?" asked he;
    "Valentine said she only drank half the glassful." The
    translation of this new question occupied another five
    minutes. "I do not know," said the servant, "but the
    housemaid is in Mademoiselle Valentine's room: perhaps she
    has emptied them."

    "Ask her," said Morrel, translating Noirtier's thought this
    time by his look. The servant went out, but returned almost
    immediately. "Mademoiselle Valentine passed through the room
    to go to Madame de Villefort's," said he; "and in passing,
    as she was thirsty, she drank what remained in the glass; as
    for the decanter, Master Edward had emptied that to make a
    pond for his ducks." Noirtier raised his eyes to heaven, as
    a gambler does who stakes his all on one stroke. From that
    moment the old man's eyes were fixed on the door, and did
    not quit it.

    It was indeed Madame Danglars and her daughter whom
    Valentine had seen; they had been ushered into Madame de
    Villefort's room, who had said she would receive them there.
    That is why Valentine passed through her room, which was on
    a level with Valentine's, and only separated from it by
    Edward's. The two ladies entered the drawing-room with that
    sort of official stiffness which preludes a formal
    communication. Among worldly people manner is contagious.
    Madame de Villefort received them with equal solemnity.
    Valentine entered at this moment, and the formalities were
    resumed. "My dear friend," said the baroness, while the two
    young people were shaking hands, "I and Eugenie are come to
    be the first to announce to you the approaching marriage of
    my daughter with Prince Cavalcanti." Danglars kept up the
    title of prince. The popular banker found that it answered
    better than count. "Allow me to present you my sincere
    congratulations," replied Madame de Villefort. "Prince
    Cavalcanti appears to be a young man of rare qualities."

    "Listen," said the baroness, smiling; "speaking to you as a
    friend I can say that the prince does not yet appear all he
    will be. He has about him a little of that foreign manner by
    which French persons recognize, at first sight, the Italian
    or German nobleman. Besides, he gives evidence of great
    kindness of disposition, much keenness of wit, and as to
    suitability, M. Danglars assures me that his fortune is
    majestic -- that is his word."

    "And then," said Eugenie, while turning over the leaves of
    Madame de Villefort's album, "add that you have taken a
    great fancy to the young man."

    "And," said Madame de Villefort, "I need not ask you if you
    share that fancy."

    "I?" replied Eugenie with her usual candor. "Oh, not the
    least in the world, madame! My wish was not to confine
    myself to domestic cares, or the caprices of any man, but to
    be an artist, and consequently free in heart, in person, and
    in thought." Eugenie pronounced these words with so firm a
    tone that the color mounted to Valentine's cheeks. The timid
    girl could not understand that vigorous nature which
    appeared to have none of the timidities of woman.

    "At any rate," said she, "since I am to be married whether I
    will or not, I ought to be thankful to providence for having
    released me from my engagement with M. Albert de Morcerf, or
    I should this day have been the wife of a dishonored man."

    "It is true," said the baroness, with that strange
    simplicity sometimes met with among fashionable ladies, and
    of which plebeian intercourse can never entirely deprive
    them, -- "it is very true that had not the Morcerfs
    hesitated, my daughter would have married Monsieur Albert.
    The general depended much on it; he even came to force M.
    Danglars. We have had a narrow escape."

    "But," said Valentine, timidly, "does all the father's shame
    revert upon the son? Monsieur Albert appears to me quite
    innocent of the treason charged against the general."

    "Excuse me," said the implacable young girl, "Monsieur
    Albert claims and well deserves his share. It appears that
    after having challenged M. de Monte Cristo at the Opera
    yesterday, he apologized on the ground to-day."

    "Impossible," said Madame de Villefort.

    "Ah, my dear friend," said Madame Danglars, with the same
    simplicity we before noticed, "it is a fact. I heard it from
    M. Debray, who was present at the explanation." Valentine
    also knew the truth, but she did not answer. A single word
    had reminded her that Morrel was expecting her in M.
    Noirtier's room. Deeply engaged with a sort of inward
    contemplation, Valentine had ceased for a moment to join in
    the conversation. She would, indeed, have found it
    impossible to repeat what had been said the last few
    minutes, when suddenly Madame Danglars' hand, pressed on her
    arm, aroused her from her lethargy.

    "What is it?" said she, starting at Madame Danglars, touch
    as she would have done from an electric shock. "It is, my
    dear Valentine," said the baroness, "that you are,
    doubtless, suffering."

    "I?" said the young girl, passing her hand across her
    burning forehead.

    "Yes, look at yourself in that glass; you have turned pale
    and then red successively, three or four times in one
    minute."

    "Indeed," cried Eugenie, "you are very pale!"

    "Oh, do not be alarmed; I have been so for many days."
    Artless as she was, the young girl knew that this was an
    opportunity to leave, and besides, Madame de Villefort came
    to her assistance. "Retire, Valentine," said she; "you are
    really suffering, and these ladies will excuse you; drink a
    glass of pure water, it will restore you." Valentine kissed
    Eugenie, bowed to Madame Danglars, who had already risen to
    take her leave, and went out. "That poor child," said Madame
    de Villefort when Valentine was gone, "she makes me very
    uneasy, and I should not be astonished if she had some
    serious illness."

    Meanwhile, Valentine, in a sort of excitement which she
    could not quite understand, had crossed Edward's room
    without noticing some trick of the child, and through her
    own had reached the little staircase. She was within three
    steps of the bottom; she already heard Morrel's voice, when
    suddenly a cloud passed over her eyes, her stiffened foot
    missed the step, her hands had no power to hold the
    baluster, and falling against the wall she lost her balance
    wholly and toppled to the floor. Morrel bounded to the door,
    opened it, and found Valentine stretched out at the bottom
    of the stairs. Quick as a flash, he raised her in his arms
    and placed her in a chair. Valentine opened her eyes.

    "Oh, what a clumsy thing I am," said she with feverish
    volubility; "I don't know my way. I forgot there were three
    more steps before the landing."

    "You have hurt yourself, perhaps," said Morrel. "What can I
    do for you, Valentine?" Valentine looked around her; she saw
    the deepest terror depicted in Noirtier's eyes. "Don't
    worry, dear grandpapa," said she, endeavoring to smile; "it
    is nothing -- it is nothing; I was giddy, that is all."

    "Another attack of giddiness," said Morrel, clasping his
    hands. "Oh, attend to it, Valentine, I entreat you."

    "But no," said Valentine, -- "no, I tell you it is all past,
    and it was nothing. Now, let me tell you some news; Eugenie
    is to be married in a week, and in three days there is to be
    a grand feast, a betrothal festival. We are all invited, my
    father, Madame de Villefort, and I -- at least, I understood
    it so."

    "When will it be our turn to think of these things? Oh,
    Valentine, you who have so much influence over your
    grandpapa, try to make him answer -- Soon."

    "And do you," said Valentine, "depend on me to stimulate the
    tardiness and arouse the memory of grandpapa?"

    "Yes," cried Morrel, "make haste. So long as you are not
    mine, Valentine, I shall always think I may lose you."

    "Oh," replied Valentine with a convulsive movement, "oh,
    indeed, Maximilian, you are too timid for an officer, for a
    soldier who, they say, never knows fear. Ah, ha, ha!" she
    burst into a forced and melancholy laugh, her arms stiffened
    and twisted, her head fell back on her chair, and she
    remained motionless. The cry of terror which was stopped on
    Noirtier's lips, seemed to start from his eyes. Morrel
    understood it; he knew he must call assistance. The young
    man rang the bell violently; the housemaid who had been in
    Mademoiselle Valentine's room, and the servant who had
    replaced Barrois, ran in at the same moment. Valentine was
    so pale, so cold, so inanimate that without listening to
    what was said to them they were seized with the fear which
    pervaded that house, and they flew into the passage crying
    for help. Madame Danglars and Eugenie were going out at that
    moment; they heard the cause of the disturbance. "I told you
    so!" exclaimed Madame de Villefort. "Poor child!"
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