Chapter 54 A Flurry in Stocks
DAYS after this meeting, Albert de Morcerf visited the Count of Monte
Cristo at his house in the Champs Elysées,
which had already assumed that palace-like appearance which the count's
princely fortune enabled him to give even to his most temporary
residences. He came to renew the thanks of Madame Danglars which had been
already conveyed to the count through the medium of a letter, signed
"Baronne Danglars, nee Hermine de Servieux." Albert was
accompanied by Lucien Debray, who, joining in his friend's conversation,
added some passing compliments, the source of which the count's talent for
finesse easily enabled him to guess. He was convinced that Lucien's visit
was due to a double feeling of curiosity, the larger half of which
sentiment emanated from the Rue de la Chaussée d'Antin. In short, Madame
Danglars, not being able personally to examine in detail the domestic
economy and household arrangements of a man who gave away horses worth
30,000 francs and who went to the opera with a Greek slave wearing
diamonds to the amount of a million of money, had deputed those eyes, by
which she was accustomed to see, to give her a faithful account of the
mode of life of this incomprehensible person. But the count did not appear
to suspect that there could be the slightest connection between Lucien's
visit and the curiosity of the baroness.
are in constant communication with the Baron Danglars?" the count
inquired of Albert de Morcerf.
count, you know what I told you?"
remains the same, then, in that quarter?"
is more than ever a settled thing," said Lucien,--and, considering
that this remark was all that he was at that time called upon to make, he
adjusted the glass to his eye, and biting the top of his gold headed cane,
began to make the tour of the apartment, examining the arms and the
said Monte Cristo "I did not expect that the affair would be so
things take their course without our assistance. While we are forgetting
them, they are falling into their appointed order; and when, again, our
attention is directed to them, we are surprised at the progress they have
made towards the proposed end. My father and M. Danglars served together
in Spain, my father in the army and M. Danglars in the commissariat
department. It was there that my father, ruined by the revolution, and M.
Danglars, who never had possessed any patrimony, both laid the foundations
of their different fortunes."
said Monte Cristo "I think M. Danglars mentioned that in a visit
which I paid him; and," continued he, casting a side-glance at
Lucien, who was turning over the leaves of an album, "Mademoiselle
Eugénie is pretty--I think I remember
that to be her name."
pretty, or rather, very beautiful," replied Albert, "but of that
style of beauty which I do not appreciate; I am an ungrateful
speak as if you were already her husband."
returned Albert, in his turn looking around to see what Lucien was doing.
said Monte Cristo, lowering his voice, "you do not appear to me to be
very enthusiastic on the subject of this marriage."
Danglars is too rich for me," replied Morcerf, "and that
exclaimed Monte Cristo, "that's a fine reason to give. Are you not
father's income is about 50,000 francs per annum; and he will give me,
perhaps, ten or twelve thousand when I marry."
perhaps, might not be considered a large sum, in Paris especially,"
said the count; "but everything does not depend on wealth, and it is
a fine thing to have a good name, and to occupy a high station in society.
Your name is celebrated, your position magnificent; and then the Comte de
Morcerf is a soldier, and it is pleasing to see the integrity of a Bayard
united to the poverty of a Duguesclin; disinterestedness is the brightest
ray in which a noble sword can shine. As for me, I consider the union with
Mademoiselle Danglars a most suitable one; she will enrich you, and you
will ennoble her." Albert shook his head, and looked thoughtful.
"There is still something else," said he.
confess," observed Monte Cristo, "that I have some difficulty in
comprehending your objection to a young lady who is both rich and
said Morcerf, "this repugnance, if repugnance it may be called, is
not all on my side."
can it arise, then? for you told me your father desired the
is my mother who dissents; she has a clear and penetrating judgment, and
does not smile on the proposed union. I cannot account for it, but she
seems to entertain some prejudice against the Danglars."
said the count, in a somewhat forced tone, "that may be easily
explained; the Comtesse de Morcerf, who is aristocracy and refinement
itself, does not relish the idea of being allied by your marriage with one
of ignoble birth; that is natural enough."
do not know if that is her reason," said Albert, "but one thing
I do know, that if this marriage be consummated, it will render her quite
miserable. There was to have been a meeting six weeks ago in order to talk
over and settle the affair; but I had such a sudden attack of
interrupted the count, smiling.
real enough, from anxiety doubtless,--at any rate they postponed the
matter for two months. There is no hurry, you know. I am not yet
twenty-one, and Eugénie is only seventeen; but the
two months expire next week. It must be done. My dear count, you cannot
imagine now my mind is harassed. How happy you are in being exempt from
and why should not you be free, too? What prevents you from being
it will be too great a disappointment to my father if I do not marry
her then," said the count, with a significant shrug of the shoulders.
replied Morcerf, "but that will plunge my mother into positive
do not marry her," said the count.
I shall see. I will try and think over what is the best thing to be done;
you will give me your advice, will you not, and if possible extricate me
from my unpleasant position? I think, rather than give pain to my dear
mother, I would run the risk of offending the count." Monte Cristo
turned away; he seemed moved by this last remark. "Ah," said he
to Debray, who had thrown himself into an easy-chair at the farthest
extremity of the salon, and who held a pencil in his right hand and an
account book in his left, "what are you doing there? Are you making a
sketch after Poussin?"
no," was the tranquil response; "I am too fond of art to attempt
anything of that sort. I am doing a little sum in arithmetic."
I am calculating--by the way, Morcerf, that indirectly concerns you--I am
calculating what the house of Danglars must have gained by the last rise
in Haiti bonds; from 206 they have risen to 409 in three days, and the
prudent banker had purchased at 206; therefore he must have made 300,000
is not his biggest scoop," said Morcerf; "did he not make a
million in Spaniards this last year?"
dear fellow," said Lucien, "here is the Count of Monte Cristo,
who will say to you, as the Italians do,--
Metà della metà. 
they tell me such things, I only shrug my shoulders and say nothing."
you were speaking of Haitians?" said Monte Cristo.
Haitians,--that is quite another thing! Haitians are the écarté of French stock-jobbing. We may
like bouillotte, delight in whist, be enraptured with boston, and yet grow
tired of them all; but we always come back to écarté--it is not only a game, it is a hors-d'oeuvre! M.
Danglars sold yesterday at 405, and pockets 300,000 francs. Had he but
waited till to-day, the price would have fallen to 205, and instead of
gaining 300,000 francs, he would have lost 20 or 25,000."
what has caused the sudden fall from 409 to 206?" asked Monte Cristo.
"I am profoundly ignorant of all these stock-jobbing intrigues."
said Albert, laughing, "one piece of news follows another, and there
is often great dissimilarity between them."
said the count, "I see that M. Danglars is accustomed to play at
gaining or losing 300,000 francs in a day; he must be enormously
is not he who plays!" exclaimed Lucien; "it is Madame Danglars:
she is indeed daring."
you who are a reasonable being, Lucien, and who know how little dependence
is to be placed on the news, since you are at the fountain-head, surely
you ought to prevent it," said Morcerf, with a smile.
can I, if her husband fails in controlling her?" asked Lucien;
"you know the character of the baroness--no one has any influence
with her, and she does precisely what she pleases."
if I were in your place"--said Albert.
would reform her; it would be rendering a service to her future
would you set about it?"
that would be easy enough--I would give her a lesson."
Your position as secretary to the minister renders your authority great on
the subject of political news; you never open your mouth but the
stockbrokers immediately stenograph your words. Cause her to lose a
hundred thousand francs, and that would teach her prudence."
do not understand," stammered Lucien.
is very clear, notwithstanding," replied the young man, with an
artlessness wholly free from affectation; "tell her some fine morning
an unheard-of piece of intelligence--some telegraphic despatch, of which
you alone are in possession; for instance, that Henri IV was seen
yesterday at Gabrielle's. That would boom the market; she will buy
heavily, and she will certainly lose when Beauchamp announces the
following day, in his gazette, 'The report circulated by some usually
well-informed persons that the king was seen yesterday at Gabrielle's
house, is totally without foundation. We can positively assert that his
majesty did not quit the Pont-Neuf.'" Lucien half smiled. Monte
Cristo, although apparently indifferent, had not lost one word of this
conversation, and his penetrating eye had even read a hidden secret in the
embarrassed manner of the secretary. This embarrassment had completely
escaped Albert, but it caused Lucien to shorten his visit; he was
evidently ill at ease. The count, in taking leave of him, said something
in a low voice, to which he answered, "Willingly, count; I
accept." The count returned to young Morcerf.
you not think, on reflection," said he to him, "that you have
done wrong in thus speaking of your mother-in-law in the presence of M.
dear count," said Morcerf, "I beg of you not to apply that title
speaking without any exaggeration, is your mother really so very much
averse to this marriage?"
much so that the baroness very rarely comes to the house, and my mother,
has not, I think, visited Madame Danglars twice in her whole life."
said the count, "I am emboldened to speak openly to you. M. Danglars
is my banker; M. de Villefort has overwhelmed me with politeness in return
for a service which a casual piece of good fortune enabled me to render
him. I predict from all this an avalanche of dinners and routs. Now, in
order not to presume on this, and also to be beforehand with them, I have,
if agreeable to you, thought of inviting M. and Madame Danglars, and M.
and Madame de Villefort, to my country-house at Auteuil. If I were to
invite you and the Count and Countess of Morcerf to this dinner, I should
give it the appearance of being a matrimonial meeting, or at least Madame
de Morcerf would look upon the affair in that light, especially if Baron
Danglars did me the honor to bring his daughter. In that case your mother
would hold me in aversion, and I do not at all wish that; on the contrary,
I desire to stand high in her esteem."
count," said Morcerf, "I thank you sincerely for having used so
much candor towards me, and I gratefully accept the exclusion which you
propose. You say you desire my mother's good opinion; I assure you it is
already yours to a very unusual extent."
you think so?" said Monte Cristo, with interest.
I am sure of it; we talked of you an hour after you left us the other day.
But to return to what we were saying. If my mother could know of this
attention on your part--and I will venture to tell her--I am sure that she
will be most grateful to you; it is true that my father will be equally
angry." The count laughed. "Well," said he to Morcerf,
"but I think your father will not be the only angry one; M. and
Madame Danglars will think me a very ill-mannered person. They know that I
am intimate with you--that you are, in fact; one of the oldest of my
Parisian acquaintances--and they will not find you at my house; they will
certainly ask me why I did not invite you. Be sure to provide yourself
with some previous engagement which shall have a semblance of probability,
and communicate the fact to me by a line in writing. You know that with
bankers nothing but a written document will be valid."
will do better than that," said Albert; "my mother is wishing to
go to the sea-side--what day is fixed for your dinner?"
is Tuesday--well, to-morrow evening we leave, and the day after we shall
be at Tréport.
Really, count, you have a delightful way of setting people at their
you give me more credit than I deserve; I only wish to do what will be
agreeable to you, that is all."
shall you send your invitations?"
I will immediately call on M. Danglars, and tell him that my mother and
myself must leave Paris to-morrow. I have not seen you, consequently I
know nothing of your dinner."
foolish you are! Have you forgotten that M. Debray has just seen you at my
it this way. I have seen you, and invited you without any ceremony, when
you instantly answered that it would be impossible for you to accept, as
you were going to Tréport."
then, that is settled; but you will come and call on my mother before
to-morrow?--that will be a difficult matter to arrange, besides, I shall
just be in the way of all the preparations for departure."
you can do better. You were only a charming man before, but, if you accede
to my proposal, you will be adorable."
must I do to attain such sublimity?"
are to-day free as air--come and dine with me; we shall be a small
party--only yourself, my mother, and I. You have scarcely seen my mother;
you shall have an opportunity of observing her more closely. She is a
remarkable woman, and I only regret that there does not exist another like
her, about twenty years younger; in that case, I assure you, there would
very soon be a Countess and Viscountess of Morcerf. As to my father, you
will not see him; he is officially engaged, and dines with the chief
referendary. We will talk over our travels; and you, who have seen the
whole world, will relate your adventures--you shall tell us the history of
the beautiful Greek who was with you the other night at the Opera, and
whom you call your slave, and yet treat like a princess. We will talk
Italian and Spanish. Come, accept my invitation, and my mother will thank
thousand thanks," said the count, "your invitation is most
gracious, and I regret exceedingly that it is not in my power to accept
it. I am not so much at liberty as you suppose; on the contrary, I have a
most important engagement."
take care, you were teaching me just now how, in case of an invitation to
dinner, one might creditably make an excuse. I require the proof of a
pre-engagement. I am not a banker, like M. Danglars, but I am quite as
incredulous as he is."
am going to give you a proof," replied the count, and he rang the
said Morcerf, "this is the second time you have refused to dine with
my mother; it is evident that you wish to avoid her." Monte Cristo
started. "Oh, you do not mean that," said he; "besides,
here comes the confirmation of my assertion." Baptistin entered, and
remained standing at the door. "I had no previous knowledge of your
visit, had I?"
you are such an extraordinary person, that I would not answer for
all events, I could not guess that you would invite me to dinner."
listen, Baptistin, what did I tell you this morning when I called you into
close the door against visitors as soon as the clock struck five,"
replied the valet.
my dear count," said Albert.
no, I wish to do away with that mysterious reputation that you have given
me, my dear viscount; it is tiresome to be always acting Manfred. I wish
my life to be free and open. Go on, Baptistin."
to admit no one except Major Bartolomeo Cavalcanti and his son."
hear--Major Bartolomeo Cavalcanti--a man who ranks amongst the most
ancient nobility of Italy, whose name Dante has celebrated in the tenth
canto of The Inferno, you remember it, do you not? Then there is his son,
Andrea, a charming young man, about your own age, viscount, bearing the
same title as yourself, and who is making his entry into the Parisian
world, aided by his father's millions. The major will bring his son with
him this evening, the contino, as we say in Italy; he confides him to my
care. If he proves himself worthy of it, I will do what I can to advance
his interests. You will assist me in the work, will you not?"
undoubtedly. This Major Cavalcanti is an old friend of yours, then?"
no means. He is a perfect nobleman, very polite, modest, and agreeable,
such as may be found constantly in Italy, descendants of very ancient
families. I have met him several times at Florence, Bologna and Lucca, and
he has now communicated to me the fact of his arrival in Paris. The
acquaintances one makes in travelling have a sort of claim on one; they
everywhere expect to receive the same attention which you once paid them
by chance, as though the civilities of a passing hour were likely to
awaken any lasting interest in favor of the man in whose society you may
happen to be thrown in the course of your journey. This good Major
Cavalcanti is come to take a second view of Paris, which he only saw in
passing through in the time of the Empire, when he was on his way to
Moscow. I shall give him a good dinner, he will confide his son to my
care, I will promise to watch over him, I shall let him follow in whatever
path his folly may lead him, and then I shall have done my part."
I see you are a model Mentor," said Albert "Good-by, we shall
return on Sunday. By the way, I have received news of Franz."
you? Is he still amusing himself in Italy?"
believe so; however, he regrets your absence extremely . He says you were
the sun of Rome, and that without you all appears dark and cloudy; I do
not know if he does not even go so far as to say that it rains."
opinion of me is altered for the better, then?"
he still persists in looking upon you as the most incomprehensible and
mysterious of beings."
is a charming young man," said Monte Cristo "and I felt a lively
interest in him the very first evening of my introduction, when I met him
in search of a supper, and prevailed upon him to accept a portion of mine.
He is, I think, the son of General d'Epinay?"
same who was so shamefully assassinated in 1815?"
Really I like him extremely; is there not also a matrimonial engagement
contemplated for him?"
he is to marry Mademoiselle de Villefort."
you know I am to marry Mademoiselle Danglars," said Albert, laughing.
do you do so?"
smile because there appears to me to be about as much inclination for the
consummation of the engagement in question as there is for my own. But
really, my dear count, we are talking as much of women as they do of us;
it is unpardonable." Albert rose.
that is a good idea!--two hours have I been boring you to death with my
company, and then you, with the greatest politeness, ask me if I am going.
Indeed, count, you are the most polished man in the world. And your
servants, too, how very well behaved they are; there is quite a style
about them. Monsieur Baptistin especially; I could never get such a man as
that. My servants seem to imitate those you sometimes see in a play, who,
because they have only a word or two to say, aquit themselves in the most
awkward manner possible. Therefore, if you part with M. Baptistin, give me
the refusal of him."
is not all; give my compliments to your illustrious Luccanese, Cavalcante
of the Cavalcanti; and if by any chance he should be wishing to establish
his son, find him a wife very rich, very noble on her mother's side at
least, and a baroness in right of her father, I will help you in the
ha; you will do as much as that, will you?"
really, nothing is certain in this world."
count, what a service you might render me! I should like you a hundred
times better if, by your intervention, I could manage to remain a
bachelor, even were it only for ten years."
is impossible," gravely replied Monte Cristo; and taking leave of
Albert, he returned into the house, and struck the gong three times.
Bertuccio appeared. "Monsieur Bertuccio, you understand that I intend
entertaining company on Saturday at Auteuil." Bertuccio slightly
started. "I shall require your services to see that all be properly
arranged. It is a beautiful house, or at all events may be made so."
must be a good deal done before it can deserve that title, your
excellency, for the tapestried hangings are very old."
them all be taken away and changed, then, with the exception of the
sleeping-chamber which is hung with red damask; you will leave that
exactly as it is." Bertuccio bowed. "You will not touch the
garden either; as to the yard, you may do what you please with it; I
should prefer that being altered beyond all recognition."
will do everything in my power to carry out your wishes, your excellency.
I should be glad, however, to receive your excellency's commands
concerning the dinner."
my dear M. Bertuccio," said the count, "since you have been in
Paris, you have become quite nervous, and apparently out of your element;
you no longer seem to understand me."
surely your excellency will be so good as to inform me whom you are
expecting to receive?"
do not yet know myself, neither is it necessary that you should do so. 'Lucullus
dines with Lucullus,' that is quite sufficient." Bertuccio bowed, and
left the room.