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    Chapter 97

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    Chapter 97
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    CHAPTER 97
    The Departure for Belgium.

    A few minutes after the scene of confusion produced in the
    salons of M. Danglars by the unexpected appearance of the
    brigade of soldiers, and by the disclosure which had
    followed, the mansion was deserted with as much rapidity as
    if a case of plague or of cholera morbus had broken out
    among the guests. In a few minutes, through all the doors,
    down all the staircases, by every exit, every one hastened
    to retire, or rather to fly; for it was a situation where
    the ordinary condolences, -- which even the best friends are
    so eager to offer in great catastrophes, -- were seen to be
    utterly futile. There remained in the banker's house only
    Danglars, closeted in his study, and making his statement to
    the officer of gendarmes; Madame Danglars, terrified, in the
    boudoir with which we are acquainted; and Eugenie, who with
    haughty air and disdainful lip had retired to her room with
    her inseparable companion, Mademoiselle Louise d'Armilly. As
    for the numerous servants (more numerous that evening than
    usual, for their number was augmented by cooks and butlers
    from the Cafe de Paris), venting on their employers their
    anger at what they termed the insult to which they had been
    subjected, they collected in groups in the hall, in the
    kitchens, or in their rooms, thinking very little of their
    duty, which was thus naturally interrupted. Of all this
    household, only two persons deserve our notice; these are
    Mademoiselle Eugenie Danglars and Mademoiselle Louise
    d'Armilly.

    The betrothed had retired, as we said, with haughty air,
    disdainful lip, and the demeanor of an outraged queen,
    followed by her companion, who was paler and more disturbed
    than herself. On reaching her room Eugenie locked her door,
    while Louise fell on a chair. "Ah, what a dreadful thing,"
    said the young musician; "who would have suspected it? M.
    Andrea Cavalcanti a murderer -- a galley-slave escaped -- a
    convict!" An ironical smile curled the lip of Eugenie. "In
    truth I was fated," said she. "I escaped the Morcerf only to
    fall into the Cavalcanti."

    "Oh, do not confound the two, Eugenie."

    "Hold your tongue! The men are all infamous, and I am happy
    to be able now to do more than detest them -- I despise
    them."

    "What shall we do?" asked Louise.

    "What shall we do?"

    "Yes."

    "Why, the same we had intended doing three days since -- set
    off."

    "What? -- although you are not now going to be married, you
    intend still" --

    "Listen, Louise. I hate this life of the fashionable world,
    always ordered, measured, ruled, like our music-paper. What
    I have always wished for, desired, and coveted, is the life
    of an artist, free and independent, relying only on my own
    resources, and accountable only to myself. Remain here? What
    for? -- that they may try, a month hence, to marry me again;
    and to whom? -- M. Debray, perhaps, as it was once proposed.
    No, Louise, no! This evening's adventure will serve for my
    excuse. I did not seek one, I did not ask for one. God sends
    me this, and I hail it joyfully!"

    "How strong and courageous you are!" said the fair, frail
    girl to her brunette companion.

    "Did you not yet know me? Come, Louise, let us talk of our
    affairs. The post-chaise" --

    "Was happily bought three days since."

    "Have you had it sent where we are to go for it?"

    "Yes."

    "Our passport?"

    "Here it is."

    And Eugenie, with her usual precision, opened a printed
    paper, and read, --

    "M. Leon d'Armilly, twenty years of age; profession, artist;
    hair black, eyes black; travelling with his sister."

    "Capital! How did you get this passport?"

    "When I went to ask M. de Monte Cristo for letters to the
    directors of the theatres at Rome and Naples, I expressed my
    fears of travelling as a woman; he perfectly understood
    them, and undertook to procure for me a man's passport, and
    two days after I received this, to which I have added with
    my own hand, 'travelling with his sister.'"

    "Well," said Eugenie cheerfully, "we have then only to pack
    up our trunks; we shall start the evening of the signing of
    the contract, instead of the evening of the wedding -- that
    is all."

    "But consider the matter seriously, Eugenie!"

    "Oh, I am done with considering! I am tired of hearing only
    of market reports, of the end of the month, of the rise and
    fall of Spanish funds, of Haitian bonds. Instead of that,
    Louise -- do you understand? -- air, liberty, melody of
    birds, plains of Lombardy, Venetian canals, Roman palaces,
    the Bay of Naples. How much have we, Louise?" The young girl
    to whom this question was addressed drew from an inlaid
    secretary a small portfolio with a lock, in which she
    counted twenty-three bank-notes.

    "Twenty-three thousand francs," I said she.

    "And as much, at least, in pearls, diamonds, and jewels,"
    said Eugenie. "We are rich. With forty-five thousand francs
    we can live like princesses for two years, and comfortably
    for four; but before six months -- you with your music, and
    I with my voice -- we shall double our capital. Come, you
    shall take charge of the money, I of the jewel-box; so that
    if one of us had the misfortune to lose her treasure, the
    other would still have hers left. Now, the portmanteau --
    let us make haste -- the portmanteau!"

    "Stop!" said Louise, going to listen at Madame Danglars'
    door.

    "What do you fear?"

    "That we may be discovered."

    "The door is locked."

    "They may tell us to open it."

    "They may if they like, but we will not."

    "You are a perfect Amazon, Eugenie!" And the two young girls
    began to heap into a trunk all the things they thought they
    should require. "There now," said Eugenie, "while I change
    my costume do you lock the portmanteau." Louise pressed with
    all the strength of her little hands on the top of the
    portmanteau. "But I cannot," said she; "I am not strong
    enough; do you shut it."

    "Ah, you do well to ask," said Eugenie, laughing; "I forgot
    that I was Hercules, and you only the pale Omphale!" And the
    young girl, kneeling on the top, pressed the two parts of
    the portmanteau together, and Mademoiselle d'Armilly passed
    the bolt of the padlock through. When this was done, Eugenie
    opened a drawer, of which she kept the key, and took from it
    a wadded violet silk travelling cloak. "Here," said she,
    "you see I have thought of everything; with this cloak you
    will not be cold."

    "But you?"

    "Oh, I am never cold, you know! Besides, with these men's
    clothes" --

    "Will you dress here?"

    "Certainly."

    "Shall you have time?"

    "Do not be uneasy, you little coward! All our servants are
    busy, discussing the grand affair. Besides, what is there
    astonishing, when you think of the grief I ought to be in,
    that I shut myself up? -- tell me!"

    "No, truly -- you comfort me."

    "Come and help me."

    From the same drawer she took a man's complete costume, from
    the boots to the coat, and a provision of linen, where there
    was nothing superfluous, but every requisite. Then, with a
    promptitude which indicated that this was not the first time
    she had amused herself by adopting the garb of the opposite
    sex, Eugenie drew on the boots and pantaloons, tied her
    cravat, buttoned her waistcoat up to the throat, and put on
    a coat which admirably fitted her beautiful figure. "Oh,
    that is very good -- indeed, it is very good!" said Louise,
    looking at her with admiration; "but that beautiful black
    hair, those magnificent braids, which made all the ladies
    sigh with envy, -- will they go under a man's hat like the
    one I see down there?"

    "You shall see," said Eugenie. And with her left hand
    seizing the thick mass, which her long fingers could
    scarcely grasp, she took in her right hand a pair of long
    scissors, and soon the steel met through the rich and
    splendid hair, which fell in a cluster at her feet as she
    leaned back to keep it from her coat. Then she grasped the
    front hair, which she also cut off, without expressing the
    least regret; on the contrary, her eyes sparkled with
    greater pleasure than usual under her ebony eyebrows. "Oh,
    the magnificent hair!" said Louise, with regret.

    "And am I not a hundred times better thus?" cried Eugenie,
    smoothing the scattered curls of her hair, which had now
    quite a masculine appearance; "and do you not think me
    handsomer so?"

    "Oh, you are beautiful -- always beautiful!" cried Louise.
    "Now, where are you going?"

    "To Brussels, if you like; it is the nearest frontier. We
    can go to Brussels, Liege, Aix-la-Chapelle; then up the
    Rhine to Strasburg. We will cross Switzerland, and go down
    into Italy by the Saint-Gothard. Will that do?"

    "Yes."

    "What are you looking at?"

    "I am looking at you; indeed you are adorable like that! One
    would say you were carrying me off."

    "And they would be right, pardieu!"

    "Oh, I think you swore, Eugenie." And the two young girls,
    whom every one might have thought plunged in grief, the one
    on her own account, the other from interest in her friend,
    burst out laughing, as they cleared away every visible trace
    of the disorder which had naturally accompanied the
    preparations for their escape. Then, having blown out the
    lights, the two fugitives, looking and listening eagerly,
    with outstretched necks, opened the door of a dressing-room
    which led by a side staircase down to the yard, -- Eugenie
    going first, and holding with one arm the portmanteau, which
    by the opposite handle Mademoiselle d'Armilly scarcely
    raised with both hands. The yard was empty; the clock was
    striking twelve. The porter was not yet gone to bed. Eugenie
    approached softly, and saw the old man sleeping soundly in
    an arm-chair in his lodge. She returned to Louise, took up
    the portmanteau, which she had placed for a moment on the
    ground, and they reached the archway under the shadow of the
    wall.

    Eugenie concealed Louise in an angle of the gateway, so that
    if the porter chanced to awake he might see but one person.
    Then placing herself in the full light of the lamp which lit
    the yard, -- "Gate!" cried she, with her finest contralto
    voice, and rapping at the window.

    The porter got up as Eugenie expected, and even advanced
    some steps to recognize the person who was going out, but
    seeing a young man striking his boot impatiently with his
    riding-whip, he opened it immediately. Louise slid through
    the half-open gate like a snake, and bounded lightly
    forward. Eugenie, apparently calm, although in all
    probability her heart beat somewhat faster than usual, went
    out in her turn. A porter was passing and they gave him the
    portmanteau; then the two young girls, having told him to
    take it to No. 36, Rue de la Victoire, walked behind this
    man, whose presence comforted Louise. As for Eugenie, she
    was as strong as a Judith or a Delilah. They arrived at the
    appointed spot. Eugenie ordered the porter to put down the
    portmanteau, gave him some pieces of money, and having
    rapped at the shutter sent him away. The shutter where
    Eugenie had rapped was that of a little laundress, who had
    been previously warned, and was not yet gone to bed. She
    opened the door.

    "Mademoiselle," said Eugenie, "let the porter get the
    post-chaise from the coach-house, and fetch some post-horses
    from the hotel. Here are five francs for his trouble."

    "Indeed," said Louise, "I admire you, and I could almost say
    respect you." The laundress looked on in astonishment, but
    as she had been promised twenty louis, she made no remark.

    In a quarter of an hour the porter returned with a post-boy
    and horses, which were harnessed, and put in the post-chaise
    in a minute, while the porter fastened the portmanteau on
    with the assistance of a cord and strap. "Here is the
    passport," said the postilion, "which way are we going,
    young gentleman?"

    "To Fontainebleau," replied Eugenie with an almost masculine
    voice.

    "What do you say?" said Louise.

    "I am giving them the slip," said Eugenie; "this woman to
    whom we have given twenty louis may betray us for forty; we
    will soon alter our direction." And the young girl jumped
    into the britzska, which was admirably arranged for sleeping
    in, without scarcely touching the step. "You are always
    right," said the music teacher, seating herself by the side
    of her friend.

    A quarter of an hour afterwards the postilion, having been
    put in the right road, passed with a crack of his whip
    through the gateway of the Barriere Saint-Martin. "Ah," said
    Louise, breathing freely, "here we are out of Paris."

    "Yes, my dear, the abduction is an accomplished fact,"
    replied Eugenie. "Yes, and without violence," said Louise.

    "I shall bring that forward as an extenuating circumstance,"
    replied Eugenie. These words were lost in the noise which
    the carriage made in rolling over the pavement of La
    Villette. M. Danglars no longer had a daughter.
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