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    Chapter 95

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    Chapter 95
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    CHAPTER 95
    Father and Daughter.

    We saw in a preceding chapter how Madame Danglars went
    formally to announce to Madame de Villefort the approaching
    marriage of Eugenie Danglars and M. Andrea Cavalcanti. This
    announcement, which implied or appeared to imply, the
    approval of all the persons concerned in this momentous
    affair, had been preceded by a scene to which our readers
    must be admitted. We beg them to take one step backward, and
    to transport themselves, the morning of that day of great
    catastrophes, into the showy, gilded salon we have before
    shown them, and which was the pride of its owner, Baron
    Danglars. In this room, at about ten o'clock in the morning,
    the banker himself had been walking to and fro for some
    minutes thoughtfully and in evident uneasiness, watching
    both doors, and listening to every sound. When his patience
    was exhausted, he called his valet. "Etienne," said he, "see
    why Mademoiselle Eugenie has asked me to meet her in the
    drawing-room, and why she makes me wait so long."

    Having given this vent to his ill-humor, the baron became
    more calm; Mademoiselle Danglars had that morning requested
    an interview with her father, and had fixed on the gilded
    drawing-room as the spot. The singularity of this step, and
    above all its formality, had not a little surprised the
    banker, who had immediately obeyed his daughter by repairing
    first to the drawing-room. Etienne soon returned from his
    errand. "Mademoiselle's lady's maid says, sir, that
    mademoiselle is finishing her toilette, and will be here
    shortly."

    Danglars nodded, to signify that he was satisfied. To the
    world and to his servants Danglars assumed the character of
    the good-natured man and the indulgent father. This was one
    of his parts in the popular comedy he was performing, -- a
    make-up he had adopted and which suited him about as well as
    the masks worn on the classic stage by paternal actors, who
    seen from one side, were the image of geniality, and from
    the other showed lips drawn down in chronic ill-temper. Let
    us hasten to say that in private the genial side descended
    to the level of the other, so that generally the indulgent
    man disappeared to give place to the brutal husband and
    domineering father. "Why the devil does that foolish girl,
    who pretends to wish to speak to me, not come into my study?
    and why on earth does she want to speak to me at all?"

    He was turning this thought over in his brain for the
    twentieth time, when the door opened and Eugenie appeared,
    attired in a figured black satin dress, her hair dressed and
    gloves on, as if she were going to the Italian Opera. "Well,
    Eugenie, what is it you want with me? and why in this solemn
    drawing-room when the study is so comfortable?"

    "I quite understand why you ask, sir," said Eugenie, making
    a sign that her father might be seated, "and in fact your
    two questions suggest fully the theme of our conversation. I
    will answer them both, and contrary to the usual method, the
    last first, because it is the least difficult. I have chosen
    the drawing-room, sir, as our place of meeting, in order to
    avoid the disagreeable impressions and influences of a
    banker's study. Those gilded cashbooks, drawers locked like
    gates of fortresses, heaps of bank-bills, come from I know
    not where, and the quantities of letters from England,
    Holland, Spain, India, China, and Peru, have generally a
    strange influence on a father's mind, and make him forget
    that there is in the world an interest greater and more
    sacred than the good opinion of his correspondents. I have,
    therefore, chosen this drawing-room, where you see, smiling
    and happy in their magnificent frames, your portrait, mine,
    my mother's, and all sorts of rural landscapes and touching
    pastorals. I rely much on external impressions; perhaps,
    with regard to you, they are immaterial, but I should be no
    artist if I had not some fancies."

    "Very well," replied M. Danglars, who had listened to all
    this preamble with imperturbable coolness, but without
    understanding a word, since like every man burdened with
    thoughts of the past, he was occupied with seeking the
    thread of his own ideas in those of the speaker.

    "There is, then, the second point cleared up, or nearly so,"
    said Eugenie, without the least confusion, and with that
    masculine pointedness which distinguished her gesture and
    her language; "and you appear satisfied with the
    explanation. Now, let us return to the first. You ask me why
    I have requested this interview; I will tell you in two
    words, sir; I will not marry count Andrea Cavalcanti."

    Danglars leaped from his chair and raised his eyes and arms
    towards heaven.

    "Yes, indeed, sir," continued Eugenie, still quite calm;
    "you are astonished, I see; for since this little affair
    began, I have not manifested the slightest opposition, and
    yet I am always sure, when the opportunity arrives, to
    oppose a determined and absolute will to people who have not
    consulted me, and things which displease me. However, this
    time, my tranquillity, or passiveness as philosophers say,
    proceeded from another source; it proceeded from a wish,
    like a submissive and devoted daughter" (a slight smile was
    observable on the purple lips of the young girl), "to
    practice obedience."

    "Well?" asked Danglars.

    "Well, sir," replied Eugenie, "I have tried to the very last
    and now that the moment has come, I feel in spite of all my
    efforts that it is impossible."

    "But," said Danglars, whose weak mind was at first quite
    overwhelmed with the weight of this pitiless logic, marking
    evident premeditation and force of will, "what is your
    reason for this refusal, Eugenie? what reason do you
    assign?"

    "My reason?" replied the young girl. "Well, it is not that
    the man is more ugly, more foolish, or more disagreeable
    than any other; no, M. Andrea Cavalcanti may appear to those
    who look at men's faces and figures as a very good specimen
    of his kind. It is not, either, that my heart is less
    touched by him than any other; that would be a schoolgirl's
    reason, which I consider quite beneath me. I actually love
    no one, sir; you know it, do you not? I do not then see why,
    without real necessity, I should encumber my life with a
    perpetual companion. Has not some sage said, 'Nothing too
    much'? and another, 'I carry all my effects with me'? I have
    been taught these two aphorisms in Latin and in Greek; one
    is, I believe, from Phaedrus, and the other from Bias. Well,
    my dear father, in the shipwreck of life -- for life is an
    eternal shipwreck of our hopes -- I cast into the sea my
    useless encumbrance, that is all, and I remain with my own
    will, disposed to live perfectly alone, and consequently
    perfectly free."

    "Unhappy girl, unhappy girl!" murmured Danglars, turning
    pale, for he knew from long experience the solidity of the
    obstacle he had so suddenly encountered.

    "Unhappy girl," replied Eugenie, "unhappy girl, do you say,
    sir? No, indeed; the exclamation appears quite theatrical
    and affected. Happy, on the contrary, for what am I in want
    of! The world calls me beautiful. It is something to be well
    received. I like a favorable reception; it expands the
    countenance, and those around me do not then appear so ugly.
    I possess a share of wit, and a certain relative
    sensibility, which enables me to draw from life in general,
    for the support of mine, all I meet with that is good, like
    the monkey who cracks the nut to get at its contents. I am
    rich, for you have one of the first fortunes in France. I am
    your only daughter, and you are not so exacting as the
    fathers of the Porte Saint-Martin and Gaiete, who disinherit
    their daughters for not giving them grandchildren. Besides,
    the provident law has deprived you of the power to
    disinherit me, at least entirely, as it has also of the
    power to compel me to marry Monsieur This or Monsieur That.
    And so -- being, beautiful, witty, somewhat talented, as the
    comic operas say, and rich -- and that is happiness, sir --
    why do you call me unhappy?"

    Danglars, seeing his daughter smiling, and proud even to
    insolence, could not entirely repress his brutal feelings,
    but they betrayed themselves only by an exclamation. Under
    the fixed and inquiring gaze levelled at him from under
    those beautiful black eyebrows, he prudently turned away,
    and calmed himself immediately, daunted by the power of a
    resolute mind. "Truly, my daughter," replied he with a
    smile, "you are all you boast of being, excepting one thing;
    I will not too hastily tell you which, but would rather
    leave you to guess it." Eugenie looked at Danglars, much
    surprised that one flower of her crown of pride, with which
    she had so superbly decked herself, should be disputed. "My
    daughter," continued the banker, "you have perfectly
    explained to me the sentiments which influence a girl like
    you, who is determined she will not marry; now it remains
    for me to tell you the motives of a father like me, who has
    decided that his daughter shall marry." Eugenie bowed, not
    as a submissive daughter, but as an adversary prepared for a
    discussion.

    "My daughter," continued Danglars, "when a father asks his
    daughter to choose a husband, he has always some reason for
    wishing her to marry. Some are affected with the mania of
    which you spoke just now, that of living again in their
    grandchildren. This is not my weakness, I tell you at once;
    family joys have no charm for me. I may acknowledge this to
    a daughter whom I know to be philosophical enough to
    understand my indifference, and not to impute it to me as a
    crime."

    "This is not to the purpose," said Eugenie; "let us speak
    candidly, sir; I admire candor."

    "Oh," said Danglars, "I can, when circumstances render it
    desirable, adopt your system, although it may not be my
    general practice. I will therefore proceed. I have proposed
    to you to marry, not for your sake, for indeed I did not
    think of you in the least at the moment (you admire candor,
    and will now be satisfied, I hope); but because it suited me
    to marry you as soon as possible, on account of certain
    commercial speculations I am desirous of entering into."
    Eugenie became uneasy.

    "It is just as I tell you, I assure you, and you must not be
    angry with me, for you have sought this disclosure. I do not
    willingly enter into arithmetical explanations with an
    artist like you, who fears to enter my study lest she should
    imbibe disagreeable or anti-poetic impressions and
    sensations. But in that same banker's study, where you very
    willingly presented yourself yesterday to ask for the
    thousand francs I give you monthly for pocket-money, you
    must know, my dear young lady, that many things may be
    learned, useful even to a girl who will not marry. There one
    may learn, for instance, what, out of regard to your nervous
    susceptibility, I will inform you of in the drawing-room,
    namely, that the credit of a banker is his physical and
    moral life; that credit sustains him as breath animates the
    body; and M. de Monte Cristo once gave me a lecture on that
    subject, which I have never forgotten. There we may learn
    that as credit sinks, the body becomes a corpse, and this is
    what must happen very soon to the banker who is proud to own
    so good a logician as you for his daughter." But Eugenie,
    instead of stooping, drew herself up under the blow.
    "Ruined?" said she.

    "Exactly, my daughter; that is precisely what I mean," said
    Danglars, almost digging his nails into his breast, while he
    preserved on his harsh features the smile of the heartless
    though clever man; "ruined -- yes, that is it."

    "Ah!" said Eugenie.

    "Yes, ruined! Now it is revealed, this secret so full of
    horror, as the tragic poet says. Now, my daughter, learn
    from my lips how you may alleviate this misfortune, so far
    as it will affect you."

    "Oh," cried Eugenie, "you are a bad physiognomist, if you
    imagine I deplore on my own account the catastrophe of which
    you warn me. I ruined? and what will that signify to me?
    Have I not my talent left? Can I not, like Pasta, Malibran,
    Grisi, acquire for myself what you would never have given
    me, whatever might have been your fortune, a hundred or a
    hundred and fifty thousand livres per annum, for which I
    shall be indebted to no one but myself; and which, instead
    of being given as you gave me those poor twelve thousand
    francs, with sour looks and reproaches for my prodigality,
    will be accompanied with acclamations, with bravos, and with
    flowers? And if I do not possess that talent, which your
    smiles prove to me you doubt, should I not still have that
    ardent love of independence, which will be a substitute for
    wealth, and which in my mind supersedes even the instinct of
    self-preservation? No, I grieve not on my own account, I
    shall always find a resource; my books, my pencils, my
    piano, all the things which cost but little, and which I
    shall be able to procure, will remain my own.

    "Do you think that I sorrow for Madame Danglars? Undeceive
    yourself again; either I am greatly mistaken, or she has
    provided against the catastrophe which threatens you, and,
    which will pass over without affecting her. She has taken
    care for herself, -- at least I hope so, -- for her
    attention has not been diverted from her projects by
    watching over me. She has fostered my independence by
    professedly indulging my love for liberty. Oh, no, sir; from
    my childhood I have seen too much, and understood too much,
    of what has passed around me, for misfortune to have an
    undue power over me. From my earliest recollections, I have
    been beloved by no one -- so much the worse; that has
    naturally led me to love no one -- so much the better -- now
    you have my profession of faith."

    "Then," said Danglars, pale with anger, which was not at all
    due to offended paternal love, -- "then, mademoiselle, you
    persist in your determination to accelerate my ruin?"

    "Your ruin? I accelerate your ruin? What do you mean? I do
    not understand you."

    "So much the better, I have a ray of hope left; listen."

    "I am all attention," said Eugenie, looking so earnestly at
    her father that it was an effort for the latter to endure
    her unrelenting gaze.

    "M. Cavalcanti," continued Danglars, "is about to marry you,
    and will place in my hands his fortune, amounting to three
    million livres."

    "That is admirable!" said Eugenie with sovereign contempt,
    smoothing her gloves out one upon the other.

    "You think I shall deprive you of those three millions,"
    said Danglars; "but do not fear it. They are destined to
    produce at least ten. I and a brother banker have obtained a
    grant of a railway, the only industrial enterprise which in
    these days promises to make good the fabulous prospects that
    Law once held out to the eternally deluded Parisians, in the
    fantastic Mississippi scheme. As I look at it, a millionth
    part of a railway is worth fully as much as an acre of waste
    land on the banks of the Ohio. We make in our case a
    deposit, on a mortgage, which is an advance, as you see,
    since we gain at least ten, fifteen, twenty, or a hundred
    livres' worth of iron in exchange for our money. Well,
    within a week I am to deposit four millions for my share;
    the four millions, I promise you, will produce ten or
    twelve."

    "But during my visit to you the day before yesterday, sir,
    which you appear to recollect so well," replied Eugenie, "I
    saw you arranging a deposit -- is not that the term? -- of
    five millions and a half; you even pointed it out to me in
    two drafts on the treasury, and you were astonished that so
    valuable a paper did not dazzle my eyes like lightning."

    "Yes, but those five millions and a half are not mine, and
    are only a proof of the great confidence placed in me; my
    title of popular banker has gained me the confidence of
    charitable institutions, and the five millions and a half
    belong to them; at any other time I should not have
    hesitated to make use of them, but the great losses I have
    recently sustained are well known, and, as I told you, my
    credit is rather shaken. That deposit may be at any moment
    withdrawn, and if I had employed it for another purpose, I
    should bring on me a disgraceful bankruptcy. I do not
    despise bankruptcies, believe me, but they must be those
    which enrich, not those which ruin. Now, if you marry M.
    Cavalcanti, and I get the three millions, or even if it is
    thought I am going to get them, my credit will be restored,
    and my fortune, which for the last month or two has been
    swallowed up in gulfs which have been opened in my path by
    an inconceivable fatality, will revive. Do you understand
    me?"

    "Perfectly; you pledge me for three millions, do you not?"

    "The greater the amount, the more flattering it is to you;
    it gives you an idea of your value."

    "Thank you. One word more, sir; do you promise me to make
    what use you can of the report of the fortune M. Cavalcanti
    will bring without touching the money? This is no act of
    selfishness, but of delicacy. I am willing to help rebuild
    your fortune, but I will not be an accomplice in the ruin of
    others."

    "But since I tell you," cried Danglars, "that with these
    three million" --

    "Do you expect to recover your position, sir, without
    touching those three million?"

    "I hope so, if the marriage should take place and confirm my
    credit."

    "Shall you be able to pay M. Cavalcanti the five hundred
    thousand francs you promise for my dowry?"

    "He shall receive then on returning from the mayor's."*

    * The performance of the civil marriage.

    "Very well!"

    "What next? what more do you want?"

    "I wish to know if, in demanding my signature, you leave me
    entirely free in my person?"

    "Absolutely."

    "Then, as I said before, sir, -- very well; I am ready to
    marry M. Cavalcanti."

    "But what are you up to?"

    "Ah, that is my affair. What advantage should I have over
    you, if knowing your secret I were to tell you mine?"
    Danglars bit his lips. "Then," said he, "you are ready to
    pay the official visits, which are absolutely
    indispensable?"

    "Yes," replied Eugenie.

    "And to sign the contract in three days?"

    "Yes."

    "Then, in my turn, I also say, very well!" Danglars pressed
    his daughter's hand in his. But, extraordinary to relate,
    the father did not say, "Thank you, my child," nor did the
    daughter smile at her father. "Is the conference ended?"
    asked Eugenie, rising. Danglars motioned that he had nothing
    more to say. Five minutes afterwards the piano resounded to
    the touch of Mademoiselle d'Armilly's fingers, and
    Mademoiselle Danglars was singing Brabantio's malediction on
    Desdemona. At the end of the piece Etienne entered, and
    announced to Eugenie that the horses were in the carriage,
    and that the baroness was waiting for her to pay her visits.
    We have seen them at Villefort's; they proceeded then on
    their course.
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    Chapter 95
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