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    Chapter 104

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    Chapter 104
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    CHAPTER 104
    Danglars Signature.

    The next morning dawned dull and cloudy. During the night
    the undertakers had executed their melancholy office, and
    wrapped the corpse in the winding-sheet, which, whatever may
    be said about the equality of death, is at least a last
    proof of the luxury so pleasing in life. This winding-sheet
    was nothing more than a beautiful piece of cambric, which
    the young girl had bought a fortnight before. During the
    evening two men, engaged for the purpose, had carried
    Noirtier from Valentine's room into his own, and contrary to
    all expectation there was no difficulty in withdrawing him
    from his child. The Abbe Busoni had watched till daylight,
    and then left without calling any one. D'Avrigny returned
    about eight o'clock in the morning; he met Villefort on his
    way to Noirtier's room, and accompanied him to see how the
    old man had slept. They found him in the large arm-chair,
    which served him for a bed, enjoying a calm, nay, almost a
    smiling sleep. They both stood in amazement at the door.

    "See," said d'Avrigny to Villefort, "nature knows how to
    alleviate the deepest sorrow. No one can say that M.
    Noirtier did not love his child, and yet he sleeps."

    "Yes, you are right," replied Villefort, surprised; "he
    sleeps, indeed! And this is the more strange, since the
    least contradiction keeps him awake all night."

    "Grief has stunned him," replied d'Avrigny; and they both
    returned thoughtfully to the procureur's study.

    "See, I have not slept," said Villefort, showing his
    undisturbed bed; "grief does not stun me. I have not been in
    bed for two nights; but then look at my desk; see what I
    have written during these two days and nights. I have filled
    those papers, and have made out the accusation against the
    assassin Benedetto. Oh, work, work, -- my passion, my joy,
    my delight, -- it is for thee to alleviate my sorrows!" and
    he convulsively grasped the hand of d'Avrigny.

    "Do you require my services now?" asked d'Avrigny.

    "No," said Villefort; "only return again at eleven o'clock;
    at twelve the -- the -- oh, heavens, my poor, poor child!"
    and the procureur again becoming a man, lifted up his eyes
    and groaned.

    "Shall you be present in the reception room?"

    "No; I have a cousin who has undertaken this sad office. I
    shall work, doctor -- when I work I forget everything." And,
    indeed, no sooner had the doctor left the room, than he was
    again absorbed in study. On the doorsteps d'Avrigny met the
    cousin whom Villefort had mentioned, a personage as
    insignificant in our story as in the world he occupied --
    one of those beings designed from their birth to make
    themselves useful to others. He was punctual, dressed in
    black, with crape around his hat, and presented himself at
    his cousin's with a face made up for the occasion, and which
    he could alter as might be required. At twelve o'clock the
    mourning-coaches rolled into the paved court, and the Rue du
    Faubourg Saint-Honore was filled with a crowd of idlers,
    equally pleased to witness the festivities or the mourning
    of the rich, and who rush with the same avidity to a funeral
    procession as to the marriage of a duchess.

    Gradually the reception-room filled, and some of our old
    friends made their appearance -- we mean Debray,
    Chateau-Renaud, and Beauchamp, accompanied by all the
    leading men of the day at the bar, in literature, or the
    army, for M. de Villefort moved in the first Parisian
    circles, less owing to his social position than to his
    personal merit. The cousin standing at the door ushered in
    the guests, and it was rather a relief to the indifferent to
    see a person as unmoved as themselves, and who did not exact
    a mournful face or force tears, as would have been the case
    with a father, a brother, or a lover. Those who were
    acquainted soon formed into little groups. One of them was
    made of Debray, Chateau-Renaud, and Beauchamp.

    "Poor girl," said Debray, like the rest, paying an
    involuntary tribute to the sad event, -- "poor girl, so
    young, so rich, so beautiful! Could you have imagined this
    scene, Chateau-Renaud, when we saw her, at the most three
    weeks ago, about to sign that contract?"

    "Indeed, no," said Chateau-Renaud -- "Did you know her?"

    "I spoke to her once or twice at Madame de Morcerf's, among
    the rest; she appeared to me charming, though rather
    melancholy. Where is her stepmother? Do you know?"

    "She is spending the day with the wife of the worthy
    gentleman who is receiving us."

    "Who is he?"

    "Whom do you mean?"

    "The gentleman who receives us? Is he a deputy?"

    "Oh, no. I am condemned to witness those gentlemen every
    day," said Beauchamp; "but he is perfectly unknown to me."

    "Have you mentioned this death in your paper?"

    "It has been mentioned, but the article is not mine; indeed,
    I doubt if it will please M. Villefort, for it says that if
    four successive deaths had happened anywhere else than in
    the house of the king's attorney, he would have interested
    himself somewhat more about it."

    "Still," said Chateau-Renaud, "Dr. d'Avrigny, who attends my
    mother, declares he is in despair about it. But whom are you
    seeking, Debray?"

    "I am seeking the Count of Monte Cristo" said the young man.

    "I met him on the boulevard, on my way here," said
    Beauchamp. "I think he is about to leave Paris; he was going
    to his banker."

    "His banker? Danglars is his banker, is he not?" asked
    Chateau-Renaud of Debray.

    "I believe so," replied the secretary with slight
    uneasiness. "But Monte Cristo is not the only one I miss
    here; I do not see Morrel."

    "Morrel? Do they know him?" asked Chateau-Renaud. "I think
    he has only been introduced to Madame de Villefort."

    "Still, he ought to have been here," said Debray; "I wonder
    what will be talked about to-night; this funeral is the news
    of the day. But hush, here comes our minister of justice; he
    will feel obliged to make some little speech to the cousin,"
    and the three young men drew near to listen. Beauchamp told
    the truth when he said that on his way to the funeral he had
    met Monte Cristo, who was directing his steps towards the
    Rue de la Chausse d'Antin, to M. Danglars'.

    The banker saw the carriage of the count enter the court
    yard, and advanced to meet him with a sad, though affable
    smile. "Well," said he, extending his hand to Monte Cristo,
    "I suppose you have come to sympathize with me, for indeed
    misfortune has taken possession of my house. When I
    perceived you, I was just asking myself whether I had not
    wished harm towards those poor Morcerfs, which would have
    justified the proverb of 'He who wishes misfortunes to
    happen to others experiences them himself.' Well, on my word
    of honor, I answered, 'No!' I wished no ill to Morcerf; he
    was a little proud, perhaps, for a man who like myself has
    risen from nothing; but we all have our faults. Do you know,
    count, that persons of our time of life -- not that you
    belong to the class, you are still a young man, -- but as I
    was saying, persons of our time of life have been very
    unfortunate this year. For example, look at the puritanical
    procureur, who has just lost his daughter, and in fact
    nearly all his family, in so singular a manner; Morcerf
    dishonored and dead; and then myself covered with ridicule
    through the villany of Benedetto; besides" --

    "Besides what?" asked the Count.

    "Alas, do you not know?"

    "What new calamity?"

    "My daughter" --

    "Mademoiselle Danglars?"

    "Eugenie has left us!"

    "Good heavens, what are you telling me?"

    "The truth, my dear count. Oh, how happy you must be in not
    having either wife or children!"

    "Do you think so?"

    "Indeed I do."

    "And so Mademoiselle Danglars" --

    "She could not endure the insult offered to us by that
    wretch, so she asked permission to travel."

    "And is she gone?"

    "The other night she left."

    "With Madame Danglars?"

    "No, with a relation. But still, we have quite lost our dear
    Eugenie; for I doubt whether her pride will ever allow her
    to return to France."

    "Still, baron," said Monte Cristo, "family griefs, or indeed
    any other affliction which would crush a man whose child was
    his only treasure, are endurable to a millionaire.
    Philosophers may well say, and practical men will always
    support the opinion, that money mitigates many trials; and
    if you admit the efficacy of this sovereign balm, you ought
    to be very easily consoled -- you, the king of finance, the
    focus of immeasurable power."

    Danglars looked at him askance, as though to ascertain
    whether he spoke seriously. "Yes," he answered, "if a
    fortune brings consolation, I ought to be consoled; I am
    rich."

    "So rich, dear sir, that your fortune resembles the
    pyramids; if you wished to demolish them you could not, and
    if it were possible, you would not dare!" Danglars smiled at
    the good-natured pleasantry of the count. "That reminds me,"
    he said, "that when you entered I was on the point of
    signing five little bonds; I have already signed two: will
    you allow me to do the same to the others?"

    "Pray do so."

    There was a moment's silence, during which the noise of the
    banker's pen was alone heard, while Monte Cristo examined
    the gilt mouldings on the ceiling. "Are they Spanish,
    Haitian, or Neapolitan bonds?" said Monte Cristo. "No," said
    Danglars, smiling, "they are bonds on the bank of France,
    payable to bearer. Stay, count," he added, "you, who may he
    called the emperor, if I claim the title of king of finance,
    have you many pieces of paper of this size, each worth a
    million?" The count took into his hands the papers, which
    Danglars had so proudly presented to him, and read: --

    "To the Governor of the Bank. Please pay to my order, from
    the fund deposited by me, the sum of a million, and charge
    the same to my account.

    "Baron Danglars."

    "One, two, three, four, five," said Monte Cristo; "five
    millions -- why what a Croesus you are!"

    "This is how I transact business," said Danglars.

    "It is really wonderful," said the count; "above all, if, as
    I suppose, it is payable at sight."

    "It is, indeed, said Danglars.

    "It is a fine thing to have such credit; really, it is only
    in France these things are done. Five millions on five
    little scraps of paper! -- it must be seen to be believed."

    "You do not doubt it?"

    "No!"

    "You say so with an accent -- stay, you shall be convinced;
    take my clerk to the bank, and you will see him leave it
    with an order on the Treasury for the same sum."

    "No," said Monte Cristo folding the five notes, "most
    decidedly not; the thing is so curious, I will make the
    experiment myself. I am credited on you for six millions. I
    have drawn nine hundred thousand francs, you therefore still
    owe me five millions and a hundred thousand francs. I will
    take the five scraps of paper that I now hold as bonds, with
    your signature alone, and here is a receipt in full for the
    six millions between us. I had prepared it beforehand, for I
    am much in want of money to-day." And Monte Cristo placed
    the bonds in his pocket with one hand, while with the other
    he held out the receipt to Danglars. If a thunderbolt had
    fallen at the banker's feet, he could not have experienced
    greater terror.

    "What," he stammered, "do you mean to keep that money?
    Excuse me, excuse me, but I owe this money to the charity
    fund, -- a deposit which I promised to pay this morning."

    "Oh, well, then," said Monte Cristo, "I am not particular
    about these five notes, pay me in a different form; I
    wished, from curiosity, to take these, that I might be able
    to say that without any advice or preparation the house of
    Danglars had paid me five millions without a minute's delay;
    it would have been remarkable. But here are your bonds; pay
    me differently;" and he held the bonds towards Danglars, who
    seized them like a vulture extending its claws to withhold
    the food that is being wrested from its grasp. Suddenly he
    rallied, made a violent effort to restrain himself, and then
    a smile gradually widened the features of his disturbed
    countenance.

    "Certainly," he said, "your receipt is money."

    "Oh dear, yes; and if you were at Rome, the house of Thomson
    & French would make no more difficulty about paying the
    money on my receipt than you have just done."

    "Pardon me, count, pardon me."

    "Then I may keep this money?"

    "Yes," said Danglars, while the perspiration started from
    the roots of his hair. "Yes, keep it -- keep it."

    Monte Cristo replaced the notes in his pocket with that
    indescribable expression which seemed to say, "Come,
    reflect; if you repent there is till time."

    "No," said Danglars, "no, decidedly no; keep my signatures.
    But you know none are so formal as bankers in transacting
    business; I intended this money for the charity fund, and I
    seemed to be robbing them if I did not pay them with these
    precise bonds. How absurd -- as if one crown were not as
    good as another. Excuse me;" and he began to laugh loudly,
    but nervously.

    "Certainly, I excuse you," said Monte Cristo graciously,
    "and pocket them." And he placed the bonds in his
    pocket-book.

    "But," said Danglars, "there is still a sum of one hundred
    thousand francs?"

    "Oh, a mere nothing," said Monte Cristo. "The balance would
    come to about that sum; but keep it, and we shall be quits."

    "Count." said Danglars, "are you speaking seriously?"

    "I never joke with bankers," said Monte Cristo in a freezing
    manner, which repelled impertinence; and he turned to the
    door, just as the valet de chambre announced, -- "M. de
    Boville, receiver-general of the charities."

    "Ma foi," said Monte Cristo; "I think I arrived just in time
    to obtain your signatures, or they would have been disputed
    with me."

    Danglars again became pale, and hastened to conduct the
    count out. Monte Cristo exchanged a ceremonious bow with M.
    de Boville, who was standing in the waiting-room, and who
    was introduced into Danglars' room as soon as the count had
    left. The count's sad face was illumined by a faint smile,
    as he noticed the portfolio which the receiver-general held
    in his hand. At the door he found his carriage, and was
    immediately driven to the bank. Meanwhile Danglars,
    repressing all emotion, advanced to meet the
    receiver-general. We need not say that a smile of
    condescension was stamped upon his lips. "Good-morning,
    creditor," said he; "for I wager anything it is the creditor
    who visits me."

    "You are right, baron," answered M. de Boville; "the
    charities present themselves to you through me: the widows
    and orphans depute me to receive alms to the amount of five
    millions from you."

    "And yet they say orphans are to be pitied," said Danglars,
    wishing to prolong the jest. "Poor things!"

    "Here I am in their name," said M. de Boville; "but did you
    receive my letter yesterday?"

    "Yes."

    "I have brought my receipt."

    "My dear M. de Boville, your widows and orphans must oblige
    me by waiting twenty-four hours, since M. de Monte Cristo
    whom you just saw leaving here -- you did see him, I think?"

    "Yes; well?"

    "Well, M. de Monte Cristo has just carried off their five
    millions."

    "How so?"

    "The count has an unlimited credit upon me; a credit opened
    by Thomson & French, of Rome; he came to demand five
    millions at once, which I paid him with checks on the bank.
    My funds are deposited there, and you can understand that if
    I draw out ten millions on the same day it will appear
    rather strange to the governor. Two days will be a different
    thing," said Danglars, smiling.

    "Come," said Boville, with a tone of entire incredulity,
    "five millions to that gentleman who just left, and who
    bowed to me as though he knew me?"

    "Perhaps he knows you, though you do not know him; M. de
    Monte Cristo knows everybody."

    "Five millions!"

    "Here is his receipt. Believe your own eyes." M. de Boville
    took the paper Danglars presented him, and read: --

    "Received of Baron Danglars the sum of five million one
    hundred thousand francs, to be repaid on demand by the house
    of Thomson & French of Rome."

    "It is really true," said M. de Boville.

    "Do you know the house of Thomson & French?"

    "Yes, I once had business to transact with it to the amount
    of 200,000 francs; but since then I have not heard it
    mentioned."

    "It is one of the best houses in Europe," said Danglars,
    carelessly throwing down the receipt on his desk.

    "And he had five millions in your hands alone! Why, this
    Count of Monte Cristo must be a nabob?"

    "Indeed I do not know what he is; he has three unlimited
    credits -- one on me, one on Rothschild, one on Lafitte;
    and, you see," he added carelessly, "he has given me the
    preference, by leaving a balance of 100,000 francs." M. de
    Boville manifested signs of extraordinary admiration. "I
    must visit him," he said, "and obtain some pious grant from
    him."

    "Oh, you may make sure of him; his charities alone amount to
    20,000 francs a month."

    "It is magnificent! I will set before him the example of
    Madame de Morcerf and her son."

    "What example?"

    "They gave all their fortune to the hospitals."

    "What fortune?"

    "Their own -- M. de Morcerf's, who is deceased."

    "For what reason?"

    "Because they would not spend money so guiltily acquired."

    "And what are they to live upon?"

    "The mother retires into the country, and the son enters the
    army."

    "Well, I must confess, these are scruples."

    "I registered their deed of gift yesterday."

    "And how much did they possess?"

    "Oh, not much -- from twelve to thirteen hundred thousand
    francs. But to return to our millions."

    "Certainly," said Danglars, in the most natural tone in the
    world. "Are you then pressed for this money?"

    "Yes; for the examination of our cash takes place
    to-morrow."

    "To-morrow? Why did you not tell me so before? Why, it is as
    good as a century! At what hour does the examination take
    place?"

    "At two o'clock."

    "Send at twelve," said Danglars, smiling. M. de Boville said
    nothing, but nodded his head, and took up the portfolio.
    "Now I think of it, you can do better," said Danglars.

    "How do you mean?"

    "The receipt of M. de Monte Cristo is as good as money; take
    it to Rothschild's or Lafitte's, and they will take it off
    your hands at once."

    "What, though payable at Rome?"

    "Certainly; it will only cost you a discount of 5,000 or
    6,000 francs." The receiver started back. "Ma foi," he said,
    "I prefer waiting till to-morrow. What a proposition!"

    "I thought, perhaps," said Danglars with supreme
    impertinence, "that you had a deficiency to make up?"

    "Indeed," said the receiver.

    "And if that were the case it would be worth while to make
    some sacrifice."

    "Thank you, no, sir "

    "Then it will be to-morrow."

    "Yes; but without fail."

    "Ah, you are laughing at me; send to-morrow at twelve, and
    the bank shall be notified."

    "I will come myself."

    "Better still, since it will afford me the pleasure of
    seeing you." They shook hands. "By the way," said M. de
    Boville, "are you not going to the funeral of poor
    Mademoiselle de Villefort, which I met on my road here?"

    "No," said the banker; "I have appeared rather ridiculous
    since that affair of Benedetto, so I remain in the
    background."

    "Bah, you are wrong. How were you to blame in that affair?"

    "Listen -- when one bears an irreproachable name, as I do,
    one is rather sensitive."

    "Everybody pities you, sir; and, above all, Mademoiselle
    Danglars!"

    "Poor Eugenie!" said Danglars; "do you know she is going to
    embrace a religious life?"

    "No."

    "Alas, it is unhappily but too true. The day after the
    event, she decided on leaving Paris with a nun of her
    acquaintance; they are gone to seek a very strict convent in
    Italy or Spain."

    "Oh, it is terrible!" and M. de Boville retired with this
    exclamation, after expressing acute sympathy with the
    father. But he had scarcely left before Danglars, with an
    energy of action those can alone understand who have seen
    Robert Macaire represented by Frederic,* exclaimed, --
    "Fool!" Then enclosing Monte Cristo's receipt in a little
    pocket-book, he added: -- "Yes, come at twelve o'clock; I
    shall then be far away." Then he double-locked his door,
    emptied all his drawers, collected about fifty thousand
    francs in bank-notes, burned several papers, left others
    exposed to view, and then commenced writing a letter which
    he addressed:

    "To Madame la Baronne Danglars."

    * Frederic Lemaitre -- French actor (1800-1876). Robert
    Macaire is the hero of two favorite melodramas -- "Chien de
    Montargis" and "Chien d'Aubry" -- and the name is applied to
    bold criminals as a term of derision.

    "I will place it on her table myself to-night," he murmured.
    Then taking a passport from his drawer he said, -- "Good, it
    is available for two months longer."
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