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    Chapter 106

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    Chapter 106
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    CHAPTER 106
    Dividing the Proceeds.

    The apartment on the second floor of the house in the Rue
    Saint-Germain-des-Pres, where Albert de Morcerf had selected
    a home for his mother, was let to a very mysterious person.
    This was a man whose face the concierge himself had never
    seen, for in the winter his chin was buried in one of the
    large red handkerchiefs worn by gentlemen's coachmen on a
    cold night, and in the summer he made a point of always
    blowing his nose just as he approached the door. Contrary to
    custom, this gentleman had not been watched, for as the
    report ran that he was a person of high rank, and one who
    would allow no impertinent interference, his incognito was
    strictly respected.

    His visits were tolerably regular, though occasionally he
    appeared a little before or after his time, but generally,
    both in summer and winter, he took possession of his
    apartment about four o'clock, though he never spent the
    night there. At half-past three in the winter the fire was
    lighted by the discreet servant, who had the superintendence
    of the little apartment, and in the summer ices were placed
    on the table at the same hour. At four o'clock, as we have
    already stated, the mysterious personage arrived. Twenty
    minutes afterwards a carriage stopped at the house, a lady
    alighted in a black or dark blue dress, and always thickly
    veiled; she passed like a shadow through the lodge, and ran
    up-stairs without a sound escaping under the touch of her
    light foot. No one ever asked her where she was going. Her
    face, therefore, like that of the gentleman, was perfectly
    unknown to the two concierges, who were perhaps unequalled
    throughout the capital for discretion. We need not say she
    stopped at the second floor. Then she tapped in a peculiar
    manner at a door, which after being opened to admit her was
    again fastened, and curiosity penetrated no farther. They
    used the same precautions in leaving as in entering the
    house. The lady always left first, and as soon as she had
    stepped into her carriage, it drove away, sometimes towards
    the right hand, sometimes to the left; then about twenty
    minutes afterwards the gentleman would also leave, buried in
    his cravat or concealed by his handkerchief.

    The day after Monte Cristo had called upon Danglars, the
    mysterious lodger entered at ten o'clock in the morning
    instead of four in the afternoon. Almost directly
    afterwards, without the usual interval of time, a cab
    arrived, and the veiled lady ran hastily up-stairs. The door
    opened, but before it could be closed, the lady exclaimed:
    "Oh, Lucien -- oh, my friend!" The concierge therefore heard
    for the first time that the lodger's name was Lucien; still,
    as he was the very perfection of a door-keeper, he made up
    his mind not to tell his wife. "Well, what is the matter, my
    dear?" asked the gentleman whose name the lady's agitation
    revealed; "tell me what is the matter."

    "Oh, Lucien, can I confide in you?"

    "Of course, you know you can do so. But what can be the
    matter? Your note of this morning has completely bewildered
    me. This precipitation -- this unusual appointment. Come,
    ease me of my anxiety, or else frighten me at once."

    "Lucien, a great event has happened!" said the lady,
    glancing inquiringly at Lucien, -- "M. Danglars left last

    "Left? -- M. Danglars left? Where has he gone?"

    "I do not know."

    "What do you mean? Has he gone intending not to return?"

    "Undoubtedly; -- at ten o'clock at night his horses took him
    to the barrier of Charenton; there a post-chaise was waiting
    for him -- he entered it with his valet de chambre, saying
    that he was going to Fontainebleau."

    "Then what did you mean" --

    "Stay -- he left a letter for me."

    "A letter?"

    "Yes; read it." And the baroness took from her pocket a
    letter which she gave to Debray. Debray paused a moment
    before reading, as if trying to guess its contents, or
    perhaps while making up his mind how to act, whatever it
    might contain. No doubt his ideas were arranged in a few
    minutes, for he began reading the letter which caused so
    much uneasiness in the heart of the baroness, and which ran
    as follows: --

    "Madame and most faithful wife."

    Debray mechanically stopped and looked at the baroness,
    whose face became covered with blushes. "Read," she said.

    Debray continued: --

    "When you receive this, you will no longer have a husband.
    Oh, you need not be alarmed, you will only have lost him as
    you have lost your daughter; I mean that I shall be
    travelling on one of the thirty or forty roads leading out
    of France. I owe you some explanations for my conduct, and
    as you are a woman that can perfectly understand me, I will
    give them. Listen, then. I received this morning five
    millions which I paid away; almost directly afterwards
    another demand for the same sum was presented to me; I put
    this creditor off till to-morrow and I intend leaving
    to-day, to escape that to-morrow, which would be rather too
    unpleasant for me to endure. You understand this, do you
    not, my most precious wife? I say you understand this,
    because you are as conversant with my affairs as I am;
    indeed, I think you understand them better, since I am
    ignorant of what has become of a considerable portion of my
    fortune, once very tolerable, while I am sure, madame, that
    you know perfectly well. For women have infallible
    instincts; they can even explain the marvellous by an
    algebraic calculation they have invented; but I, who only
    understand my own figures, know nothing more than that one
    day these figures deceived me. Have you admired the rapidity
    of my fall? Have you been slightly dazzled at the sudden
    fusion of my ingots? I confess I have seen nothing but the
    fire; let us hope you have found some gold among the ashes.
    With this consoling idea, I leave you, madame, and most
    prudent wife, without any conscientious reproach for
    abandoning you; you have friends left, and the ashes I have
    already mentioned, and above all the liberty I hasten to
    restore to you. And here, madame, I must add another word of
    explanation. So long as I hoped you were working for the
    good of our house and for the fortune of our daughter, I
    philosophically closed my eyes; but as you have transformed
    that house into a vast ruin I will not be the foundation of
    another man's fortune. You were rich when I married you, but
    little respected. Excuse me for speaking so very candidly,
    but as this is intended only for ourselves, I do not see why
    I should weigh my words. I have augmented our fortune, and
    it has continued to increase during the last fifteen years,
    till extraordinary and unexpected catastrophes have suddenly
    overturned it, -- without any fault of mine, I can honestly
    declare. You, madame, have only sought to increase your own,
    and I am convinced that you have succeeded. I leave you,
    therefore, as I took you, -- rich, but little respected.
    Adieu! I also intend from this time to work on my own
    account. Accept my acknowledgments for the example you have
    set me, and which I intend following.

    "Your very devoted husband,

    "Baron Danglars."

    The baroness had watched Debray while he read this long and
    painful letter, and saw him, notwithstanding his
    self-control, change color once or twice. When he had ended
    the perusal, he folded the letter and resumed his pensive
    attitude. "Well?" asked Madame Danglars, with an anxiety
    easy to be understood.

    "Well, madame?" unhesitatingly repeated Debray.

    "With what ideas does that letter inspire you?"

    "Oh, it is simple enough, madame; it inspires me with the
    idea that M. Danglars has left suspiciously."

    "Certainly; but is this all you have to say to me?"

    "I do not understand you," said Debray with freezing

    "He is gone! Gone, never to return!"

    "Oh, madame, do not think that!"

    "I tell you he will never return. I know his character; he
    is inflexible in any resolutions formed for his own
    interests. If he could have made any use of me, he would
    have taken me with him; he leaves me in Paris, as our
    separation will conduce to his benefit; -- therefore he has
    gone, and I am free forever," added Madame Danglars, in the
    same supplicating tone. Debray, instead of answering,
    allowed her to remain in an attitude of nervous inquiry.
    "Well?" she said at length, "do you not answer me?"

    "I have but one question to ask you, -- what do you intend
    to do?"

    "I was going to ask you," replied the baroness with a
    beating heart.

    "Ah, then, you wish to ask advice of me?"

    "Yes; I do wish to ask your advice," said Madame Danglars
    with anxious expectation.

    "Then if you wish to take my advice," said the young man
    coldly, "I would recommend you to travel."

    "To travel!" she murmured.

    "Certainly; as M. Danglars says, you are rich, and perfectly
    free. In my opinion, a withdrawal from Paris is absolutely
    necessary after the double catastrophe of Mademoiselle
    Danglars' broken contract and M. Danglars' disappearance.
    The world will think you abandoned and poor, for the wife of
    a bankrupt would never be forgiven, were she to keep up an
    appearance of opulence. You have only to remain in Paris for
    about a fortnight, telling the world you are abandoned, and
    relating the details of this desertion to your best friends,
    who will soon spread the report. Then you can quit your
    house, leaving your jewels and giving up your jointure, and
    every one's mouth will be filled with praises of your
    disinterestedness. They will know you are deserted, and
    think you also poor, for I alone know your real financial
    position, and am quite ready to give up my accounts as an
    honest partner." The dread with which the pale and
    motionless baroness listened to this, was equalled by the
    calm indifference with which Debray had spoken. "Deserted?"
    she repeated; "ah, yes, I am, indeed, deserted! You are
    right, sir, and no one can doubt my position." These were
    the only words that this proud and violently enamoured woman
    could utter in response to Debray.

    "But then you are rich, -- very rich, indeed," continued
    Debray, taking out some papers from his pocket-book, which
    he spread upon the table. Madame Danglars did not see them;
    she was engaged in stilling the beatings of her heart, and
    restraining the tears which were ready to gush forth. At
    length a sense of dignity prevailed, and if she did not
    entirely master her agitation, she at least succeeded in
    preventing the fall of a single tear. "Madame," said Debray,
    "it is nearly six months since we have been associated. You
    furnished a principal of 100,000 francs. Our partnership
    began in the month of April. In May we commenced operations,
    and in the course of the month gained 450,000 francs. In
    June the profit amounted to 900,000. In July we added
    1,700,000 francs, -- it was, you know, the month of the
    Spanish bonds. In August we lost 300,000 francs at the
    beginning of the month, but on the 13th we made up for it,
    and we now find that our accounts, reckoning from the first
    day of partnership up to yesterday, when I closed them,
    showed a capital of 2,400,000 francs, that is, 1,200,000 for
    each of us. Now, madame," said Debray, delivering up his
    accounts in the methodical manner of a stockbroker, "there
    are still 80,000 francs, the interest of this money, in my

    "But," said the baroness, "I thought you never put the money
    out to interest."

    "Excuse me, madame," said Debray coldly, "I had your
    permission to do so, and I have made use of it. There are,
    then, 40,000 francs for your share, besides the 100,000 you
    furnished me to begin with, making in all 1,340,000 francs
    for your portion. Now, madame, I took the precaution of
    drawing out your money the day before yesterday; it is not
    long ago, you see, and I was in continual expectation of
    being called on to deliver up my accounts. There is your
    money, -- half in bank-notes, the other half in checks
    payable to bearer. I say there, for as I did not consider my
    house safe enough, or lawyers sufficiently discreet, and as
    landed property carries evidence with it, and moreover since
    you have no right to possess anything independent of your
    husband, I have kept this sum, now your whole fortune, in a
    chest concealed under that closet, and for greater security
    I myself concealed it there.

    "Now, madame," continued Debray, first opening the closet,
    then the chest; -- "now, madame, here are 800 notes of 1,000
    francs each, resembling, as you see, a large book bound in
    iron; to this I add a certificate in the funds of 25,000
    francs; then, for the odd cash, making I think about 110,000
    francs, here is a check upon my banker, who, not being M.
    Danglars, will pay you the amount, you may rest assured."
    Madame Danglars mechanically took the check, the bond, and
    the heap of bank-notes. This enormous fortune made no great
    appearance on the table. Madame Danglars, with tearless
    eyes, but with her breast heaving with concealed emotion,
    placed the bank-notes in her bag, put the certificate and
    check into her pocket-book, and then, standing pale and
    mute, awaited one kind word of consolation. But she waited
    in vain.

    "Now, madame," said Debray, "you have a splendid fortune, an
    income of about 60,000 livres a year, which is enormous for
    a woman who cannot keep an establishment here for a year, at
    least. You will be able to indulge all your fancies;
    besides, should you find your income insufficient, you can,
    for the sake of the past, madame, make use of mine; and I am
    ready to offer you all I possess, on loan."

    "Thank you, sir -- thank you," replied the baroness; "you
    forget that what you have just paid me is much more than a
    poor woman requires, who intends for some time, at least, to
    retire from the world."

    Debray was, for a moment, surprised, but immediately
    recovering himself, he bowed with an air which seemed to
    say, "As you please, madame."

    Madame Danglars had until then, perhaps, hoped for
    something; but when she saw the careless bow of Debray, and
    the glance by which it was accompanied, together with his
    significant silence, she raised her head, and without
    passion or violence or even hesitation, ran down-stairs,
    disdaining to address a last farewell to one who could thus
    part from her. "Bah," said Debray, when she had left, "these
    are fine projects! She will remain at home, read novels, and
    speculate at cards, since she can no longer do so on the
    Bourse." Then taking up his account book, he cancelled with
    the greatest care all the entries of the amounts he had just
    paid away. "I have 1,060,000 francs remaining," he said.
    "What a pity Mademoiselle de Villefort is dead! She suited
    me in every respect, and I would have married her." And he
    calmly waited until the twenty minutes had elapsed after
    Madame Danglars' departure before he left the house. During
    this time he occupied himself in making figures, with his
    watch by his side.

    Asmodeus -- that diabolical personage, who would have been
    created by every fertile imagination if Le Sage had not
    acquired the priority in his great masterpiece -- would have
    enjoyed a singular spectacle, if he had lifted up the roof
    of the little house in the Rue Saint-Germain-des-Pres, while
    Debray was casting up his figures. Above the room in which
    Debray had been dividing two millions and a half with Madame
    Danglars was another, inhabited by persons who have played
    too prominent a part in the incidents we have related for
    their appearance not to create some interest. Mercedes and
    Albert were in that room. Mercedes was much changed within
    the last few days; not that even in her days of fortune she
    had ever dressed with the magnificent display which makes us
    no longer able to recognize a woman when she appears in a
    plain and simple attire; nor indeed, had she fallen into
    that state of depression where it is impossible to conceal
    the garb of misery; no, the change in Mercedes was that her
    eye no longer sparkled, her lips no longer smiled, and there
    was now a hesitation in uttering the words which formerly
    sprang so fluently from her ready wit.

    It was not poverty which had broken her spirit; it was not a
    want of courage which rendered her poverty burdensome.
    Mercedes, although deposed from the exalted position she had
    occupied, lost in the sphere she had now chosen, like a
    person passing from a room splendidly lighted into utter
    darkness, appeared like a queen, fallen from her palace to a
    hovel, and who, reduced to strict necessity, could neither
    become reconciled to the earthen vessels she was herself
    forced to place upon the table, nor to the humble pallet
    which had become her bed. The beautiful Catalane and noble
    countess had lost both her proud glance and charming smile,
    because she saw nothing but misery around her; the walls
    were hung with one of the gray papers which economical
    landlords choose as not likely to show the dirt; the floor
    was uncarpeted; the furniture attracted the attention to the
    poor attempt at luxury; indeed, everything offended eyes
    accustomed to refinement and elegance.

    Madame de Morcerf had lived there since leaving her house;
    the continual silence of the spot oppressed her; still,
    seeing that Albert continually watched her countenance to
    judge the state of her feelings, she constrained herself to
    assume a monotonous smile of the lips alone, which,
    contrasted with the sweet and beaming expression that
    usually shone from her eyes, seemed like "moonlight on a
    statue," -- yielding light without warmth. Albert, too, was
    ill at ease; the remains of luxury prevented him from
    sinking into his actual position. If he wished to go out
    without gloves, his hands appeared too white; if he wished
    to walk through the town, his boots seemed too highly
    polished. Yet these two noble and intelligent creatures,
    united by the indissoluble ties of maternal and filial love,
    had succeeded in tacitly understanding one another, and
    economizing their stores, and Albert had been able to tell
    his mother without extorting a change of countenance, --
    "Mother, we have no more money."

    Mercedes had never known misery; she had often, in her
    youth, spoken of poverty, but between want and necessity,
    those synonymous words, there is a wide difference. Amongst
    the Catalans, Mercedes wished for a thousand things, but
    still she never really wanted any. So long as the nets were
    good, they caught fish; and so long as they sold their fish,
    they were able to buy twine for new nets. And then, shut out
    from friendship, having but one affection, which could not
    be mixed up with her ordinary pursuits, she thought of
    herself -- of no one but herself. Upon the little she earned
    she lived as well as she could; now there were two to be
    supported, and nothing to live upon.

    Winter approached. Mercedes had no fire in that cold and
    naked room -- she, who was accustomed to stoves which heated
    the house from the hall to the boudoir; she had not even one
    little flower -- she whose apartment had been a conservatory
    of costly exotics. But she had her son. Hitherto the
    excitement of fulfilling a duty had sustained them.
    Excitement, like enthusiasm, sometimes renders us
    unconscious to the things of earth. But the excitement had
    calmed down, and they felt themselves obliged to descend
    from dreams to reality; after having exhausted the ideal,
    they found they must talk of the actual.

    "Mother," exclaimed Albert, just as Madame Danglars was
    descending the stairs, "let us reckon our riches, if you
    please; I want capital to build my plans upon."

    "Capital -- nothing!" replied Mercedes with a mournful

    "No, mother, -- capital 3,000 francs. And I have an idea of
    our leading a delightful life upon this 3,000 francs."

    "Child!" sighed Mercedes.

    "Alas, dear mother," said the young man, "I have unhappily
    spent too much of your money not to know the value of it.
    These 3,000 francs are enormous, and I intend building upon
    this foundation a miraculous certainty for the future."

    "You say this, my dear boy; but do you think we ought to
    accept these 3,000 francs?" said Mercedes, coloring.

    "I think so," answered Albert in a firm tone. "We will
    accept them the more readily, since we have them not here;
    you know they are buried in the garden of the little house
    in the Allees de Meillan, at Marseilles. With 200 francs we
    can reach Marseilles."

    "With 200 francs? -- are you sure, Albert?"

    "Oh, as for that, I have made inquiries respecting the
    diligences and steamboats, and my calculations are made. You
    will take your place in the coupe to Chalons. You see,
    mother, I treat you handsomely for thirty-five francs."
    Albert then took a pen, and wrote: --

    Coupe, thirty-five francs ............................ 35
    From Chalons to Lyons you will go on by the steamboat
    -- six francs ......................................... 6
    From Lyons to Avignon (still by steamboat),
    sixteen francs ....................................... 16
    From Avignon to Marseilles, seven franc................ 7
    Expenses on the road, about fifty francs ............. 50
    Total................................................ 114 frs.

    "Let us put down 120," added Albert, smiling. "You see I am
    generous, am I not, mother?"

    "But you, my poor child?"

    "I? do you not see that I reserve eighty francs for myself?
    A young man does not require luxuries; besides, I know what
    travelling is."

    "With a post-chaise and valet de chambre?"

    "Any way, mother."

    "Well, be it so. But these 200 francs?"

    "Here they are, and 200 more besides. See, I have sold my
    watch for 100 francs, and the guard and seals for 300. How
    fortunate that the ornaments were worth more than the watch.
    Still the same story of superfluities! Now I think we are
    rich, since instead of the 114 francs we require for the
    journey we find ourselves in possession of 250."

    "But we owe something in this house?"

    "Thirty francs; but I pay that out of my 150 francs, -- that
    is understood, -- and as I require only eighty francs for my
    journey, you see I am overwhelmed with luxury. But that is
    not all. What do you say to this, mother?"

    And Albert took out of a little pocket-book with golden
    clasps, a remnant of his old fancies, or perhaps a tender
    souvenir from one of the mysterious and veiled ladies who
    used to knock at his little door, -- Albert took out of this
    pocket-book a note of 1,000 francs.

    "What is this?" asked Mercedes.

    "A thousand francs."

    "But whence have you obtained them?"

    "Listen to me, mother, and do not yield too much to
    agitation." And Albert, rising, kissed his mother on both
    cheeks, then stood looking at her. "You cannot imagine,
    mother, how beautiful I think you!" said the young man,
    impressed with a profound feeling of filial love. "You are,
    indeed, the most beautiful and most noble woman I ever saw!"

    "Dear child!" said Mercedes, endeavoring in vain to restrain
    a tear which glistened in the corner of her eye. "Indeed,
    you only wanted misfortune to change my love for you to
    admiration. I am not unhappy while I possess my son!"

    "Ah, just so," said Albert; "here begins the trial. Do you
    know the decision we have come to, mother?"

    "Have we come to any?"

    "Yes; it is decided that you are to live at Marseilles, and
    that I am to leave for Africa, where I will earn for myself
    the right to use the name I now bear, instead of the one I
    have thrown aside." Mercedes sighed. "Well, mother, I
    yesterday engaged myself as substitute in the Spahis,"*
    added the young man, lowering his eyes with a certain
    feeling of shame, for even he was unconscious of the
    sublimity of his self-abasement. "I thought my body was my
    own, and that I might sell it. I yesterday took the place of
    another. I sold myself for more than I thought I was worth,"
    he added, attempting to smile; "I fetched 2,000 francs."

    * The Spahis are French cavalry reserved for service in

    "Then these 1,000 francs" -- said Mercedes, shuddering --

    "Are the half of the sum, mother; the other will be paid in
    a year."

    Mercedes raised her eyes to heaven with an expression it
    would be impossible to describe, and tears, which had
    hitherto been restrained, now yielded to her emotion, and
    ran down her cheeks.

    "The price of his blood!" she murmured.

    "Yes, if I am killed," said Albert, laughing. "But I assure
    you, mother, I have a strong intention of defending my
    person, and I never felt half so strong an inclination to
    live as I do now."

    "Merciful heavens!"

    "Besides, mother, why should you make up your mind that I am
    to be killed? Has Lamoriciere, that Ney of the South, been
    killed? Has Changarnier been killed? Has Bedeau been killed?
    Has Morrel, whom we know, been killed? Think of your joy,
    mother, when you see me return with an embroidered uniform!
    I declare, I expect to look magnificent in it, and chose
    that regiment only from vanity." Mercedes sighed while
    endeavoring to smile; the devoted mother felt that she ought
    not to allow the whole weight of the sacrifice to fall upon
    her son. "Well, now you understand, mother!" continued
    Albert; "here are more than 4,000 francs settled on you;
    upon these you can live at least two years."

    "Do you think so?" said Mercedes. These words were uttered
    in so mournful a tone that their real meaning did not escape
    Albert; he felt his heart beat, and taking his mother's hand
    within his own he said, tenderly, --

    "Yes, you will live!"

    "I shall live! -- then you will not leave me, Albert?"

    "Mother, I must go," said Albert in a firm, calm voice; "you
    love me too well to wish me to remain useless and idle with
    you; besides, I have signed."

    "You will obey your own wish and the will of heaven!"

    "Not my own wish, mother, but reason -- necessity. Are we
    not two despairing creatures? What is life to you? --
    Nothing. What is life to me? -- Very little without you,
    mother; for believe me, but for you I should have ceased to
    live on the day I doubted my father and renounced his name.
    Well, I will live, if you promise me still to hope; and if
    you grant me the care of your future prospects, you will
    redouble my strength. Then I will go to the governor of
    Algeria; he has a royal heart, and is essentially a soldier;
    I will tell him my gloomy story. I will beg him to turn his
    eyes now and then towards me, and if he keep his word and
    interest himself for me, in six months I shall be an
    officer, or dead. If I am an officer, your fortune is
    certain, for I shall have money enough for both, and,
    moreover, a name we shall both be proud of, since it will be
    our own. If I am killed -- well then mother, you can also
    die, and there will be an end of our misfortunes."

    "It is well," replied Mercedes, with her eloquent glance;
    "you are right, my love; let us prove to those who are
    watching our actions that we are worthy of compassion."

    "But let us not yield to gloomy apprehensions," said the
    young man; "I assure you we are, or rather we shall be, very
    happy. You are a woman at once full of spirit and
    resignation; I have become simple in my tastes, and am
    without passion, I hope. Once in service, I shall be rich --
    once in M. Dantes' house, you will be at rest. Let us
    strive, I beseech you, -- let us strive to be cheerful."

    "Yes, let us strive, for you ought to live, and to be happy,

    "And so our division is made, mother," said the young man,
    affecting ease of mind. "We can now part; come, I shall
    engage your passage."

    "And you, my dear boy?"

    "I shall stay here for a few days longer; we must accustom
    ourselves to parting. I want recommendations and some
    information relative to Africa. I will join you again at

    "Well, be it so -- let us part," said Mercedes, folding
    around her shoulders the only shawl she had taken away, and
    which accidentally happened to be a valuable black cashmere.
    Albert gathered up his papers hastily, rang the bell to pay
    the thirty francs he owed to the landlord, and offering his
    arm to his mother, they descended the stairs. Some one was
    walking down before them, and this person, hearing the
    rustling of a silk dress, turned around. "Debray!" muttered

    "You, Morcerf?" replied the secretary, resting on the
    stairs. Curiosity had vanquished the desire of preserving
    his incognito, and he was recognized. It was, indeed,
    strange in this unknown spot to find the young man whose
    misfortunes had made so much noise in Paris.

    "Morcerf!" repeated Debray. Then noticing in the dim light
    the still youthful and veiled figure of Madame de Morcerf:
    -- "Pardon me," he added with a smile, "I leave you,
    Albert." Albert understood his thoughts. "Mother," he said,
    turning towards Mercedes, "this is M. Debray, secretary of
    the minister for the interior, once a friend of mine."

    "How once?" stammered Debray; "what do you mean?"

    "I say so, M. Debray, because I have no friends now, and I
    ought not to have any. I thank you for having recognized me,
    sir." Debray stepped forward, and cordially pressed the hand
    of his interlocutor. "Believe me, dear Albert," he said,
    with all the emotion he was capable of feeling, -- "believe
    me, I feel deeply for your misfortunes, and if in any way I
    can serve you, I am yours."

    "Thank you, sir," said Albert, smiling. "In the midst of our
    misfortunes, we are still rich enough not to require
    assistance from any one. We are leaving Paris, and when our
    journey is paid, we shall have 5,000 francs left." The blood
    mounted to the temples of Debray, who held a million in his
    pocket-book, and unimaginative as he was he could not help
    reflecting that the same house had contained two women, one
    of whom, justly dishonored, had left it poor with 1,500,000
    francs under her cloak, while the other, unjustly stricken,
    but sublime in her misfortune, was yet rich with a few
    deniers. This parallel disturbed his usual politeness, the
    philosophy he witnessed appalled him, he muttered a few
    words of general civility and ran down-stairs.

    That day the minister's clerks and the subordinates had a
    great deal to put up with from his ill-humor. But that same
    night, he found himself the possessor of a fine house,
    situated on the Boulevard de la Madeleine, and an income of
    50,000 livres. The next day, just as Debray was signing the
    deed, that is about five o'clock in the afternoon, Madame de
    Morcerf, after having affectionately embraced her son,
    entered the coupe of the diligence, which closed upon her. A
    man was hidden in Lafitte's banking-house, behind one of the
    little arched windows which are placed above each desk; he
    saw Mercedes enter the diligence, and he also saw Albert
    withdraw. Then he passed his hand across his forehead, which
    was clouded with doubt. "Alas," he exclaimed, "how can I
    restore the happiness I have taken away from these poor
    innocent creatures? God help me!"
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