Chapter 47 The Dappled Grays
BARON, followed by the count, traversed a long series of apartments, in
which the prevailing characteristics were heavy magnificence and the
gaudiness of ostentatious wealth, until he reached the boudoir of Madame
Danglars--a small octagonal-shaped room, hung with pink satin, covered
with white Indian muslin. The chairs were of ancient workmanship and
materials; over the doors were painted sketches of shepherds and
shepherdesses, after the style and manner of Boucher; and at each side
pretty medallions in crayons, harmonizing well with the furnishings of
this charming apartment, the only one throughout the great mansion in
which any distinctive taste prevailed. The truth was, it had been entirely
overlooked in the plan arranged and followed out by M. Danglars and his
architect, who had been selected to aid the baron in the great work of
improvement solely because he was the most fashionable and celebrated
decorator of the day. The decorations of the boudoir had then been left
entirely to Madame Danglars and Lucien Debray. M. Danglars, however, while
possessing a great admiration for the antique, as it was understood during
the time of the Directory, entertained the most sovereign contempt for the
simple elegance of his wife's favorite sitting-room, where, by the way, he
was never permitted to intrude, unless, indeed, he excused his own
appearance by ushering in some more agreeable visitor than himself; and
even then he had rather the air and manner of a person who was himself
introduced, than that of being the presenter of another, his reception
being cordial or frigid, in proportion as the person who accompanied him
chanced to please or displease the baroness.
Danglars (who, although past the first bloom of youth, was still
strikingly handsome) was now seated at the piano, a most elaborate piece
of cabinet and inlaid work, while Lucien Debray, standing before a small
work-table, was turning over the pages of an album. Lucien had found time,
preparatory to the count's arrival, to relate many particulars respecting
him to Madame Danglars. It will be remembered that Monte Cristo had made a
lively impression on the minds of all the party assembled at the breakfast
given by Albert de Morcerf; and although Debray was not in the habit of
yielding to such feelings, he had never been able to shake off the
powerful influence excited in his mind by the impressive look and manner
of the count, consequently the description given by Lucien to the baroness
bore the highly-colored tinge of his own heated imagination. Already
excited by the wonderful stories related of the count by De Morcerf, it is
no wonder that Madame Danglars eagerly listened to, and fully credited,
all the additional circumstances detailed by Debray. This posing at the
piano and over the album was only a little ruse adopted by way of
precaution. A most gracious welcome and unusual smile were bestowed on M.
Danglars; the count, in return for his gentlemanly bow, received a formal
though graceful courtesy, while Lucien exchanged with the count a sort of
distant recognition, and with Danglars a free and easy nod.
said Danglars, "give me leave to present to you the Count of Monte
Cristo, who has been most warmly recommended to me by my correspondents at
Rome. I need but mention one fact to make all the ladies in Paris court
his notice, and that is, that he has come to take up his abode in Paris
for a year, during which brief period he proposes to spend six millions of
money. That means balls, dinners, and lawn parties without end, in all of
which I trust the count will remember us, as he may depend upon it we
shall him, in our own humble entertainments." In spite of the gross
flattery and coarseness of this address, Madame Danglars could not forbear
gazing with considerable interest on a man capable of expending six
millions in twelve months, and who had selected Paris for the scene of his
princely extravagance. "And when did you arrive here?" inquired
as usual, I presume, from the extreme end of the globe? Pardon me--at
least, such I have heard is your custom."
madame. This time I have merely come from Cadiz."
have selected a most unfavorable moment for your first visit. Paris is a
horrible place in summer. Balls, parties, and fetes are over; the Italian
opera is in London; the French opera everywhere except in Paris. As for
the Theatre Fran?ais, you know, of course, that it is nowhere. The only
amusements left us are the indifferent races at the Champ de Mars and
Satory. Do you propose entering any horses at either of these races,
shall do whatever they do at Paris, madame, if I have the good fortune to
find some one who will initiate me into the prevalent ideas of
you fond of horses, count?"
have passed a considerable part of my life in the East, madame, and you
are doubtless aware that the Orientals value only two things--the fine
breeding of their horses and the beauty of their women."
count," said the baroness, "it would have been somewhat more
gallant to have placed the ladies first."
see, madame, how rightly I spoke when I said I required a preceptor to
guide me in all my sayings and doings here." At this instant the
favorite attendant of Madame Danglars entered the boudoir; approaching her
mistress, she spoke some words in an undertone. Madame Danglars turned
very pale, then exclaimed,--"I cannot believe it; the thing is
assure you, madame," replied the woman, "it is as I have
said." Turning impatiently towards her husband, Madame Danglars
demanded, "Is this true?"
what true, madame?" inquired Danglars, visibly agitated.
my maid tells me."
what does she tell you?"
when my coachman was about to harness the horses to my carriage, he
discovered that they had been removed from the stables without his
knowledge. I desire to know what is the meaning of this?"
kind enough, madame, to listen to me," said Danglars.
yes; I will listen, monsieur, for I am most curious to hear what
explanation you will give. These two gentlemen shall decide between us;
but, first, I will state the case to them. Gentlemen," continued the
baroness, "among the ten horses in the stables of Baron Danglars, are
two that belong exclusively to me--a pair of the handsomest and most
spirited creatures to be found in Paris. But to you, at least, M. Debray,
I need not give a further description, because to you my beautiful pair of
dappled grays were well known. Well, I had promised Madame de Villefort
the loan of my carriage to drive to-morrow to the Bois; but when my
coachman goes to fetch the grays from the stables they are
gone--positively gone. No doubt M. Danglars has sacrificed them to the
selfish consideration of gaining some thousands of paltry francs. Oh, what
a detestable crew they are, these mercenary speculators!"
replied Danglars, "the horses were not sufficiently quiet for you;
they were scarcely four years old, and they made me extremely uneasy on
retorted the baroness; "you could not have entertained any alarm on
the subject, because you are perfectly well aware that I have had for a
month in my service the very best coachman in Paris. But, perhaps, you
have disposed of the coachman as well as the horses?"
dear love, pray do not say any more about them, and I promise you another
pair exactly like them in appearance, only more quiet and steady."
The baroness shrugged her shoulders with an air of ineffable contempt,
while her husband, affecting not to observe this unconjugal gesture,
turned towards Monte Cristo and said,--"Upon my word, count, I am
quite sorry not to have met you sooner. You are setting up an
establishment, of course?"
yes," replied the count.
should have liked to have made you the offer of these horses. I have
almost given them away, as it is; but, as I before said, I was anxious to
get rid of them upon any terms. They were only fit for a young man."
am much obliged by your kind intentions towards me," said Monte
Cristo; "but this morning I purchased a very excellent pair of
carriage-horses, and I do not think they were dear. There they are. Come,
M. Debray, you are a connoisseur, I believe, let me have your opinion upon
them." As Debray walked towards the window, Danglars approached his
wife. "I could not tell you before others," said he in a low
tone, "the reason of my parting with the horses; but a most enormous
price was offered me this morning for them. Some madman or fool, bent upon
ruining himself as fast as he can, actually sent his steward to me to
purchase them at any cost; and the fact is, I have gained 16,000 francs by
the sale of them. Come, don't look so angry, and you shall have 4,000
francs of the money to do what you like with, and Eugénie shall have 2,000. There, what
do you think now of the affair? Wasn't I right to part with the
horses?" Madame Danglars surveyed her husband with a look of
heavens?" suddenly exclaimed Debray.
is it?" asked the baroness.
cannot be mistaken; there are your horses! The very animals we were
speaking of, harnessed to the count's carriage!"
dappled grays?" demanded the baroness, springing to the window.
"'Tis indeed they!" said she. Danglars looked absolutely
stupefied. "How very singular," cried Monte Cristo with
cannot believe it," murmured the banker. Madame Danglars whispered a
few words in the ear of Debray, who approached Monte Cristo, saying,
"The baroness wishes to know what you paid her husband for the
scarcely know," replied the count; "it was a little surprise
prepared for me by my steward, and cost me--well, somewhere about 30,000
francs." Debray conveyed the count's reply to the baroness. Poor
Danglars looked so crest-fallen and discomfited that Monte Cristo assumed
a pitying air towards him. "See," said the count, "how very
ungrateful women are. Your kind attention, in providing for the safety of
the baroness by disposing of the horses, does not seem to have made the
least impression on her. But so it is; a woman will often, from mere
wilfulness, prefer that which is dangerous to that which is safe.
Therefore, in my opinion, my dear baron, the best and easiest way is to
leave them to their fancies, and allow them to act as they please, and
then, if any mischief follows, why, at least, they have no one to blame
but themselves." Danglars made no reply; he was occupied in
anticipations of the coming scene between himself and the baroness, whose
frowning brow, like that of Olympic Jove, predicted a storm. Debray, who
perceived the gathering clouds, and felt no desire to witness the
explosion of Madame Danglars' rage, suddenly recollected an appointment,
which compelled him to take his leave; while Monte Cristo, unwilling by
prolonging his stay to destroy the advantages he hoped to obtain, made a
farewell bow and departed, leaving Danglars to endure the angry reproaches
of his wife.
murmured Monte Cristo to himself, as he came away. "All his gone
according to my wishes. The domestic peace of this family is henceforth in
my hands. Now, then, to play another master-stroke, by which I shall gain
the heart of both husband and wife--delightful! Still," added he,
"amid all this, I have not yet been presented to Mademoiselle Eugénie Danglars, whose acquaintance I should have been
glad to make. But," he went on with his peculiar smile, "I am
here in Paris, and have plenty of time before me--by and by will do for
that." With these reflections he entered his carriage and returned
home. Two hours afterwards, Madame Danglars received a most flattering
epistle from the count, in which he entreated her to receive back her
favorite "dappled grays," protesting that he could not endure
the idea of making his entry into the Parisian world of fashion with the
knowledge that his splendid equipage had been obtained at the price of a
lovely woman's regrets. The horses were sent back wearing the same harness
she had seen on them in the morning; only, by the count's orders, in the
centre of each rosette that adorned either side of their heads, had been
fastened a large diamond.
Danglars Monte Cristo also wrote, requesting him to excuse the whimsical
gift of a capricious millionaire, and to beg the baroness to pardon the
Eastern fashion adopted in the return of the horses.
the evening, Monte Cristo quitted Paris for Auteuil, accompanied by Ali.
The following day, about three o'clock, a single blow struck on the gong
summoned Ali to the presence of the count. "Ali," observed his
master, as the Nubian entered the chamber, "you have frequently
explained to me how more than commonly skilful you are in throwing the
lasso, have you not?" Ali drew himself up proudly, and then returned
a sign in the affirmative. "I thought I did not mistake. With your
lasso you could stop an ox?" Again Ali repeated his affirmative
gesture. "Or a tiger?" Ali bowed his head in token of assent.
"A lion even?" Ali sprung forwards, imitating the action of one
throwing the lasso, then of a strangled lion.
understand," said Monte Cristo; "you wish to tell me you have
hunted the lion?" Ali smiled with triumphant pride as he signified
that he had indeed both chased and captured many lions. "But do you
believe you could arrest the progress of two horses rushing forwards with
ungovernable fury?" The Nubian smiled. "It is well," said
Monte Cristo. "Then listen to me. Ere long a carriage will dash past
here, drawn by the pair of dappled gray horses you saw me with yesterday;
now, at the risk of your own life, you must manage to stop those horses
before my door."
descended to the street, and marked a straight line on the pavement
immediately at the entrance of the house, and then pointed out the line he
had traced to the count, who was watching him. The count patted him gently
on the shoulder, his usual mode of praising Ali, who, pleased and
gratified with the commission assigned him, walked calmly towards a
projecting stone forming the angle of the street and house, and, seating
himself thereon, began to smoke his chibouque, while Monte Cristo
re-entered his dwelling, perfectly assured of the success of his plan.
Still, as five o'clock approached, and the carriage was momentarily
expected by the count, the indication of more than common impatience and
uneasiness might be observed in his manner. He stationed himself in a room
commanding a view of the street, pacing the chamber with restless steps,
stopping merely to listen from time to time for the sound of approaching
wheels, then to cast an anxious glance on Ali; but the regularity with
which the Nubian puffed forth the smoke of his chibouque proved that he at
least was wholly absorbed in the enjoyment of his favorite occupation.
Suddenly a distant sound of rapidly advancing wheels was heard, and almost
immediately a carriage appeared, drawn by a pair of wild, ungovernable
horses, while the terrified coachman strove in vain to restrain their
the vehicle was a young woman and a child of about seven or eight clasped
in each other's arms. Terror seemed to have deprived them even of the
power of uttering a cry. The carriage creaked and rattled as it flew over
the rough stones, and the slightest obstacle under the wheels would have
caused disaster; but it kept on in the middle of the road, and those who
saw it pass uttered cries of terror.
suddenly cast aside his chibouque, drew the lasso from his pocket, threw
it so skilfully as to catch the forelegs of the near horse in its triple
fold, and suffered himself to be dragged on for a few steps by the
violence of the shock, then the animal fell over on the pole, which
snapped, and therefore prevented the other horse from pursuing its way.
Gladly availing himself of this opportunity, the coachman leaped from his
box; but Ali had promptly seized the nostrils of the second horse, and
held them in his iron grasp, till the beast, snorting with pain, sunk
beside his companion. All this was achieved in much less time than is
occupied in the recital. The brief space had, however, been sufficient for
a man, followed by a number of servants, to rush from the house before
which the accident had occurred, and, as the coachman opened the door of
the carriage, to take from it a lady who was convulsively grasping the
cushions with one hand, while with the other she pressed to her bosom the
young boy, who had lost consciousness.
Cristo carried them both to the salon, and deposited them on a sofa.
"Compose yourself, madame," said he; "all danger is
over." The woman looked up at these words, and, with a glance far
more expressive than any entreaties could have been, pointed to her child,
who still continued insensible. "I understand the nature of your
alarms, madame," said the count, carefully examining the child,
"but I assure you there is not the slightest occasion for uneasiness;
your little charge has not received the least injury; his insensibility is
merely the effects of terror, and will soon pass."
you quite sure you do not say so to tranquillize my fears? See how deadly
pale he is! My child, my darling Edward; speak to your mother--open your
dear eyes and look on me once again! Oh, sir, in pity send for a
physician; my whole fortune shall not be thought too much for the recovery
of my boy."
a calm smile and a gentle wave of the hand, Monte Cristo signed to the
distracted mother to lay aside her apprehensions; then, opening a casket
that stood near, he drew forth a phial of Bohemian glass incrusted with
gold, containing a liquid of the color of blood, of which he let fall a
single drop on the child's lips. Scarcely had it reached them, ere the
boy, though still pale as marble, opened his eyes, and eagerly gazed
around him. At this, the delight of the mother was almost frantic.
"Where am I?" exclaimed she; "and to whom am I indebted for
so happy a termination to my late dreadful alarm?"
answered the count, "you are under the roof of one who esteems
himself most fortunate in having been able to save you from a further
continuance of your sufferings."
wretched curiosity has brought all this about," pursued the lady.
"All Paris rung with the praises of Madame Danglars' beautiful
horses, and I had the folly to desire to know whether they really merited
the high praise given to them."
it possible," exclaimed the count with well-feigned astonishment,
"that these horses belong to the baroness?"
do, indeed. May I inquire if you are acquainted with Madame Danglars?"
have that honor; and my happiness at your escape from the danger that
threatened you is redoubled by the consciousness that I have been the
unwilling and the unintentional cause of all the peril you have incurred.
I yesterday purchased these horses of the baron; but as the baroness
evidently regretted parting with them, I ventured to send them back to
her, with a request that she would gratify me by accepting them from my
are, then, doubtless, the Count of Monte Cristo, of whom Hermine has
talked to me so much?"
have rightly guessed, madame," replied the count.
I am Madame Hélo?se
de Villefort." The count bowed with the air of a person who hears a
name for the first time. "How grateful will M. de Villefort be for
all your goodness; how thankfully will he acknowledge that to you alone he
owes the existence of his wife and child! Most certainly, but for the
prompt assistance of your intrepid servant, this dear child and myself
must both have perished."
I still shudder at the fearful danger you were placed in."
trust you will allow me to recompense worthily the devotion of your
beseech you, madame," replied Monte Cristo "not to spoil Ali,
either by too great praise or rewards. I cannot allow him to acquire the
habit of expecting to be recompensed for every trifling service he may
render. Ali is my slave, and in saving your life he was but discharging
his duty to me."
interposed Madame de Villefort, on whom the authoritative style adopted by
the count made a deep impression, "nay, but consider that to preserve
my life he has risked his own."
life, madame, belongs not to him; it is mine, in return for my having
myself saved him from death." Madame de Villefort made no further
reply; her mind was utterly absorbed in the contemplation of the person
who, from the first instant she saw him, had made so powerful an
impression on her. During the evident preoccupation of Madame de Villefort,
Monte Cristo scrutinized the features and appearance of the boy she kept
folded in her arms, lavishing on him the most tender endearments. The
child was small for his age, and unnaturally pale. A mass of straight
black hair, defying all attempts to train or curl it, fell over his
projecting forehead, and hung down to his shoulders, giving increased
vivacity to eyes already sparkling with a youthful love of mischief and
fondness for every forbidden enjoyment. His mouth was large, and the lips,
which had not yet regained their color, were particularly thin; in fact,
the deep and crafty look, giving a predominant expression to the child's
face, belonged rather to a boy of twelve or fourteen than to one so young.
His first movement was to free himself by a violent push from the
encircling arms of his mother, and to rush forward to the casket from
whence the count had taken the phial of elixir; then, without asking
permission of any one, he proceeded, in all the wilfulness of a spoiled
child unaccustomed to restrain either whims or caprices, to pull the corks
out of all the bottles.
nothing, my little friend," cried the count eagerly; "some of
those liquids are not only dangerous to taste, but even to inhale."
de Villefort became very pale, and, seizing her son's arm, drew him
anxiously toward her; but, once satisfied of his safety, she also cast a
brief but expressive glance on the casket, which was not lost upon the
count. At this moment Ali entered. At sight of him Madame de Villefort
uttered an expression of pleasure, and, holding the child still closer
towards her, she said, "Edward, dearest, do you see that good man? He
has shown very great courage and resolution, for he exposed his own life
to stop the horses that were running away with us, and would certainly
have dashed the carriage to pieces. Thank him, then, my child, in your
very best manner; for, had he not come to our aid, neither you nor I would
have been alive to speak our thanks." The child stuck out his lips
and turned away his head in a disdainful manner, saying, "He's too
count smiled as if the child bade fair to realize his hopes, while Madame
de Villefort reprimanded her son with a gentleness and moderation very far
from conveying the least idea of a fault having been committed. "This
lady," said the Count, speaking to Ali in the Arabic language,
"is desirous that her son should thank you for saving both their
lives; but the boy refuses, saying you are too ugly." Ali turned his
intelligent countenance towards the boy, on whom he gazed without any
apparent emotion; but the spasmodic working of the nostrils showed to the
practiced eye of Monte Cristo that the Arab had been wounded to the heart.
you permit me to inquire," said Madame de Villefort, as she arose to
take her leave, "whether you usually reside here?"
I do not," replied Monte Cristo; "it is a small place I have
purchased quite lately. My place of abode is No. 30, Avenue des Champs
Elysées; but I see you have quite
recovered from your fright, and are, no doubt, desirous of returning home.
Anticipating your wishes, I have desired the same horses you came with to
be put to one of my carriages, and Ali, he whom you think so very
ugly," continued he, addressing the boy with a smiling air,
"will have the honor of driving you home, while your coachman remains
here to attend to the necessary repairs of your calash. As soon as that
important business is concluded, I will have a pair of my own horses
harnessed to convey it direct to Madame Danglars."
dare not return with those dreadful horses," said Madame de
will see," replied Monte Cristo, "that they will be as different
as possible in the hands of Ali. With him they will be gentle and docile
as lambs." Ali had, indeed, given proof of this; for, approaching the
animals, who had been got upon their legs with considerable difficulty, he
rubbed their foreheads and nostrils with a sponge soaked in aromatic
vinegar, and wiped off the sweat and foam that covered their mouths. Then,
commencing a loud whistling noise, he rubbed them well all over their
bodies for several minutes; then, undisturbed by the noisy crowd collected
round the broken carriage, Ali quietly harnessed the pacified animals to
the count's chariot, took the reins in his hands, and mounted the box,
when to the utter astonishment of those who had witnessed the ungovernable
spirit and maddened speed of the same horses, he was actually compelled to
apply his whip in no very gentle manner before he could induce them to
start; and even then all that could be obtained from the celebrated
"dappled grays," now changed into a couple of dull, sluggish,
stupid brutes, was a slow, pottering pace, kept up with so much difficulty
that Madame de Villefort was more than two hours returning to her
residence in the Faubourg St. Honoré.
had the first congratulations upon her marvellous escape been gone through
when she wrote the following letter to Madame Danglars:--
HERMINE,--I have just had a wonderful escape from the most imminent
danger, and I owe my safety to the very Count of Monte Cristo we were
talking about yesterday, but whom I little expected to see to-day. I
remember how unmercifully I laughed at what I considered your eulogistic
and exaggerated praises of him; but I have now ample cause to admit that
your enthusiastic description of this wonderful man fell far short of his
merits. Your horses got as far as Ranelagh, when they darted forward like
mad things, and galloped away at so fearful a rate, that there seemed no
other prospect for myself and my poor Edward but that of being dashed to
pieces against the first object that impeded their progress, when a
strange-looking man,--an Arab, a negro, or a Nubian, at least a black of
some nation or other--at a signal from the count, whose domestic he is,
suddenly seized and stopped the infuriated animals, even at the risk of
being trampled to death himself; and certainly he must have had a most
wonderful escape. The count then hastened to us, and took us into his
house, where he speedily recalled my poor Edward to life. He sent us home
in his own carriage. Yours will be returned to you to-morrow. You will
find your horses in bad condition, from the results of this accident; they
seem thoroughly stupefied, as if sulky and vexed at having been conquered
by man. The count, however, his commissioned me to assure you that two or
three days' rest, with plenty of barley for their sole food during that
time, will bring them back to as fine, that is as terrifying, a condition
as they were in yesterday. Adieu! I cannot return you many thanks for the
drive of yesterday; but, after all, I ought not to blame you for the
misconduct of your horses, more especially as it procured me the pleasure
of an introduction to the Count of Monte Cristo,--and certainly that
illustrious personage, apart from the millions he is said to be so very
anxious to dispose of, seemed to me one of those curiously interesting
problems I, for one, delight in solving at any risk, even if it were to
necessitate another drive to the Bois behind your horses. Edward endured
the accident with miraculous courage--he did not utter a single cry, but
fell lifeless into my arms; nor did a tear fall from his eyes after it was
over. I doubt not you will consider these praises the result of blind
maternal affection, but there is a soul of iron in that delicate, fragile
body. Valentine sends many affectionate remembrances to your dear Eugénie. I embrace you with all my
HéLO?SE DE VILLEFORT.
pray contrive some means for me to meet the Count of Monte Cristo at your
house. I must and will see him again. I have just made M. de Villefort
promise to call on him, and I hope the visit will be returned.
night the adventure at Auteuil was talked of everywhere. Albert related it
to his mother; Chateau-Renaud recounted it at the Jockey Club, and Debray
detailed it at length in the salons of the minister; even Beauchamp
accorded twenty lines in his journal to the relation of the count's
courage and gallantry, thereby celebrating him as the greatest hero of the
day in the eyes of all the feminine members of the aristocracy. Vast was
the crowd of visitors and inquiring friends who left their names at the
residence of Madame de Villefort, with the design of renewing their visit
at the right moment, of hearing from her lips all the interesting
circumstances of this most romantic adventure. As for M. de Villefort, he
fulfilled the predictions of Hélo?se to the letter,--donned his
dress suit, drew on a pair of white gloves, ordered the servants to attend
the carriage dressed in their full livery, and drove that same night to
No. 30 in the Avenue des Champs-Elysées.