Chapter 66 Matrimonial Projects
DAY following this scene, at the hour the banker usually chose to pay a
visit to Madame Danglars on his way to his office, his coupé did not appear. At this time,
that is, about half-past twelve, Madame Danglars ordered her carriage, and
went out. Danglars, hidden behind a curtain, watched the departure he had
been waiting for. He gave orders that he should be informed as soon as
Madame Danglars appeared; but at two o'clock she had not returned. He then
called for his horses, drove to the Chamber, and inscribed his name to
speak against the budget. From twelve to two o'clock Danglars had remained
in his study, unsealing his dispatches, and becoming more and more sad
every minute, heaping figure upon figure, and receiving, among other
visits, one from Major Cavalcanti, who, as stiff and exact as ever,
presented himself precisely at the hour named the night before, to
terminate his business with the banker. On leaving the Chamber, Danglars,
who had shown violent marks of agitation during the sitting, and been more
bitter than ever against the ministry, re-entered his carriage, and told
the coachman to drive to the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, No. 30.
Cristo was at home; only he was engaged with some one and begged Danglars
to wait for a moment in the drawing-room. While the banker was waiting in
the anteroom, the door opened, and a man dressed as an abbé and doubtless more familiar with
the house than he was, came in and instead of waiting, merely bowed,
passed on to the farther apartments, and disappeared. A minute after the
door by which the priest had entered reopened, and Monte Cristo appeared.
"Pardon me," said he, "my dear baron, but one of my
friends, the Abbé
Busoni, whom you perhaps saw pass by, has just arrived in Paris; not
having seen him for a long time, I could not make up my mind to leave him
sooner, so I hope this will be sufficient reason for my having made you
said Danglars, "it is my fault; I have chosen my visit at a wrong
time, and will retire."
at all; on the contrary, be seated; but what is the matter with you? You
look careworn; really, you alarm me. Melancholy in a capitalist, like the
appearance of a comet, presages some misfortune to the world."
have been in ill-luck for several days," said Danglars, "and I
have heard nothing but bad news."
indeed?" said Monte Cristo. "Have you had another fall at the
I am safe for a few days at least. I am only annoyed about a bankrupt of
Does it happen to be Jacopo Manfredi?"
so. Imagine a man who has transacted business with me for I don't know how
long, to the amount of 800,000 or 900,000 francs during the year. Never a
mistake or delay--a fellow who paid like a prince. Well, I was a million
in advance with him, and now my fine Jacopo Manfredi suspends
is an unheard-of fatality. I draw upon him for 600,000 francs, my bills
are returned unpaid, and, more than that, I hold bills of exchange signed
by him to the value of 400,000 francs, payable at his correspondent's in
Paris at the end of this month. To-day is the 30th. I present them; but my
correspondent has disappeared. This, with my Spanish affairs, made a
pretty end to the month."
you really lost by that affair in Spain?"
only 700,000 francs out of my cash-box--nothing more!"
how could you make such a mistake--such an old stager?"
it is all my wife's fault. She dreamed Don Carlos had returned to Spain;
she believes in dreams. It is magnetism, she says, and when she dreams a
thing it is sure to happen, she assures me. On this conviction I allow her
to speculate, she having her bank and her stockbroker; she speculated and
lost. It is true she speculates with her own money, not mine;
nevertheless, you can understand that when 700,000 francs leave the wife's
pocket, the husband always finds it out. But do you mean to say you have
not heard of this? Why, the thing has made a tremendous noise."
I heard it spoken of, but I did not know the details, and then no one can
be more ignorant than I am of the affairs in the Bourse."
you do not speculate?"
could I speculate when I already have so much trouble in regulating my
income? I should be obliged, besides my steward, to keep a clerk and a
boy. But touching these Spanish affairs, I think that the baroness did not
dream the whole of the Don Carlos matter. The papers said something about
it, did they not?"
you believe the papers?"
the least in the world; only I fancied that the honest Messager was an
exception to the rule, and that it only announced telegraphic despatches."
that's what puzzles me," replied Danglars; "the news of the
return of Don Carlos was brought by telegraph."
that," said Monte Cristo, "you have lost nearly 1,700,000 francs
nearly, indeed; that is exactly my loss."
said Monte Cristo compassionately, "it is a hard blow for a
said Danglars, rather humble, "what do you mean by that?"
continued Monte Cristo, "I make three assortments in
fortune--first-rate, second-rate, and third-rate fortunes. I call those
first-rate which are composed of treasures one possesses under one's hand,
such as mines, lands, and funded property, in such states as France,
Austria, and England, provided these treasures and property form a total
of about a hundred millions; I call those second-rate fortunes, that are
gained by manufacturing enterprises, joint-stock companies, viceroyalties,
and principalities, not drawing more than 1,500,000 francs, the whole
forming a capital of about fifty millions; finally, I call those
third-rate fortunes, which are composed of a fluctuating capital,
dependent upon the will of others, or upon chances which a bankruptcy
involves or a false telegram shakes, such as banks, speculations of the
day--in fact, all operations under the influence of greater or less
mischances, the whole bringing in a real or fictitious capital of about
fifteen millions. I think this is about your position, is it not?"
it, yes!" replied Danglars.
result, then, of six more such months as this would be to reduce the
third-rate house to despair."
said Danglars, becoming very pale, how you are running on!"
us imagine seven such months," continued Monte Cristo, in the same
tone. "Tell me, have you ever thought that seven times 1,700,000
francs make nearly twelve millions? No, you have not;--well, you are
right, for if you indulged in such reflections, you would never risk your
principal, which is to the speculator what the skin is to civilized man.
We have our clothes, some more splendid than others,--this is our credit;
but when a man dies he has only his skin; in the same way, on retiring
from business, you have nothing but your real principal of about five or
six millions, at the most; for third-rate fortunes are never more than a
fourth of what they appear to be, like the locomotive on a railway, the
size of which is magnified by the smoke and steam surrounding it. Well,
out of the five or six millions which form your real capital, you have
just lost nearly two millions, which must, of course, in the same degree
diminish your credit and fictitious fortune; to follow out my simile, your
skin has been opened by bleeding, and this if repeated three or four times
will cause death--so pay attention to it, my dear Monsieur Danglars. Do
you want money? Do you wish me to lend you some?"
a bad calculator you are!" exclaimed Danglars, calling to his
assistance all his philosophy and dissimulation. "I have made money
at the same time by speculations which have succeeded. I have made up the
loss of blood by nutrition. I lost a battle in Spain, I have been defeated
in Trieste, but my naval army in India will have taken some galleons, and
my Mexican pioneers will have discovered some mine."
good, very good! But the wound remains and will reopen at the first
for I am only embarked in certainties," replied Danglars, with the
air of a mountebank sounding his own praises; "to involve me, three
governments must crumble to dust."
such things have been."
there should be a famine!"
the seven fat and the seven lean kine."
that the sea should become dry, as in the days of Pharaoh, and even then
my vessels would become caravans."
much the better. I congratulate you, my dear M. Danglars," said Monte
Cristo; "I see I was deceived, and that you belong to the class of
think I may aspire to that honor," said Danglars with a smile, which
reminded Monte Cristo of the sickly moons which bad artists are so fond of
daubing into their pictures of ruins. "But, while we are speaking of
business," Danglars added, pleased to find an opportunity of changing
the subject, "tell me what I am to do for M. Cavalcanti."
him money, if he is recommended to you, and the recommendation seems
he presented himself this morning with a bond of 40,000 francs, payable at
sight, on you, signed by Busoni, and returned by you to me, with your
indorsement--of course, I immediately counted him over the forty
Cristo nodded his head in token of assent. "But that is not
all," continued Danglars; "he has opened an account with my
house for his son."
I ask how much he allows the young man?"
thousand francs per month."
thousand francs per year. I thought I was right in believing that
Cavalcanti to be a stingy fellow. How can a young man live upon 5,000
francs a month?"
you understand that if the young man should want a few thousands
not advance it; the father will never repay it. You do not know these
ultramontane millionaires; they are regular misers. And by whom were they
recommended to you?"
by the house of Fenzi, one of the best in Florence."
do not mean to say you will lose, but, nevertheless, mind you hold to the
terms of the agreement."
you not trust the Cavalcanti?"
oh, I would advance six millions on his signature. I was only speaking in
reference to the second-rate fortunes we were mentioning just now."
with all this, how unassuming he is! I should never have taken him for
anything more than a mere major."
you would have flattered him, for certainly, as you say, he has no manner.
The first time I saw him he appeared to me like an old lieutenant who had
grown mouldy under his epaulets. But all the Italians are the same; they
are like old Jews when they are not glittering in Oriental splendor."
young man is better," said Danglars.
a little nervous, perhaps, but, upon the whole, he appeared tolerable. I
was uneasy about him."
you met him at my house, just after his introduction into the world, as
they told me. He has been travelling with a very severe tutor, and had
never been to Paris before."
I believe noblemen marry amongst themselves, do they not?" asked
Danglars carelessly; they like to unite their fortunes."
is usual, certainly; but Cavalcanti is an original who does nothing like
other people. I cannot help thinking that he has brought his son to France
to choose a wife."
you think so?"
am sure of it."
you have heard his fortune mentioned?"
else was talked of; only some said he was worth millions, and others that
he did not possess a farthing."
what is your opinion?"
ought not to influence you, because it is only my own personal
and it is that"--
opinion is, that all these old podestas, these ancient condottieri,--for
the Cavalcanti have commanded armies and governed provinces,--my opinion,
I say, is, that they have buried their millions in corners, the secret of
which they have transmitted only to their eldest sons, who have done the
same from generation to generation; and the proof of this is seen in their
yellow and dry appearance, like the florins of the republic, which, from
being constantly gazed upon, have become reflected in them."
said Danglars, "and this is further supported by the fact of their
not possessing an inch of land."
little, at least; I know of none which Cavalcanti possesses, excepting his
palace in Lucca."
he has a palace?" said Danglars, laughing; "come, that is
and more than that, he lets it to the Minister of Finance while he lives
in a simple house. Oh, as I told you before, I think the old fellow is
you do not flatter him."
scarcely know him; I think I have seen him three times in my life; all I
know relating to him is through Busoni and himself. He was telling me this
morning that, tired of letting his property lie dormant in Italy, which is
a dead nation, he wished to find a method, either in France or England, of
multiplying his millions, but remember, that though I place great
confidence in Busoni, I am not responsible for this."
mind; accept my thanks for the client you have sent me. It is a fine name
to inscribe on my ledgers, and my cashier was quite proud of it when I
explained to him who the Cavalcanti were. By the way, this is merely a
simple question, when this sort of people marry their sons, do they give
them any fortune?"
that depends upon circumstances. I know an Italian prince, rich as a gold
mine, one of the noblest families in Tuscany, who, when his sons married
according to his wish, gave them millions; and when they married against
his consent, merely allowed them thirty crowns a month. Should Andrea
marry according to his father's views, he will, perhaps, give him one,
two, or three millions. For example, supposing it were the daughter of a
banker, he might take an interest in the house of the father-in-law of his
son; then again, if he disliked his choice, the major takes the key,
double-locks his coffer, and Master Andrea would be obliged to live like
the sons of a Parisian family, by shuffling cards or rattling the
that boy will find out some Bavarian or Peruvian princess; he will want a
crown and an immense fortune."
these grand lords on the other side of the Alps frequently marry into
plain families; like Jupiter, they like to cross the race. But do you wish
to marry Andrea, my dear M. Danglars, that you are asking so many
foi!" said Danglars, "it would not be a bad speculation, I
fancy, and you know I am a speculator."
are not thinking of Mademoiselle Danglars, I hope; you would not like poor
Andrea to have his throat cut by Albert?"
repeated Danglars, shrugging his shoulders; "ah, well; he would care
very little about it, I think."
he is betrothed to your daughter, I believe?"
M. de Morcerf and I have talked about this marriage, but Madame de Morcerf
do not mean to say that it would not be a good match?"
I imagine that Mademoiselle Danglars is as good as M. de Morcerf."
Danglars' fortune will be great, no doubt, especially it the telegraph
should not make any more mistakes."
I do not mean her fortune only; but tell me"--
did you not invite M. and Madame de Morcerf to your dinner?"
did so, but he excused himself on account of Madame de Morcerf being
obliged to go to Dieppe for the benefit of sea air."
yes," said Danglars, laughing, "it would do her a great deal of
it is the air she always breathed in her youth." Monte Cristo took no
notice of this ill-natured remark.
still, if Albert be not so rich as Mademoiselle Danglars," said the
count, "you must allow that he has a fine name?"
he has; but I like mine as well."
your name is popular, and does honor to the title they have adorned it
with; but you are too intelligent not to know that according to a
prejudice, too firmly rooted to be exterminated, a nobility which dates
back five centuries is worth more than one that can only reckon twenty
for this very reason," said Danglars with a smile, which he tried to
make sardonic, "I prefer M. Andrea Cavalcanti to M. Albert de
I should not think the Morcerfs would yield to the Cavalcanti?"
Morcerfs!--Stay, my dear count," said Danglars; "you are a man
of the world, are you not?"
you understand heraldry?"
look at my coat-of-arms, it is worth more than Morcerf's."
though I am not a baron by birth, my real name is, at least,
his name is not Morcerf."
the least in the world."
have been made a baron, so that I actually am one; he made himself a
count, so that he is not one at all."
my dear count; M. de Morcerf has been my friend, or rather my
acquaintance, during the last thirty years. You know I have made the most
of my arms, though I never forgot my origin."
proof of great humility or great pride," said Monte Cristo.
when I was a clerk, Morcerf was a mere fisherman."
then he was called"--
I have bought enough fish of him to know his name."
why did you think of giving your daughter to him?"
Fernand and Danglars, being both parvenus, both having become noble, both
rich, are about equal in worth, excepting that there have been certain
things mentioned of him that were never said of me."
yes; what you tell me recalls to mind something about the name of Fernand
Mondego. I have heard that name in Greece."
conjunction with the affairs of Ali Pasha?"
is the mystery," said Danglars. "I acknowledge I would have
given anything to find it out."
would be very easy if you much wished it?"
you have some correspondent in Greece?"
should think so."
write to your correspondent in Yanina, and ask him what part was played by
a Frenchman named Fernand Mondego in the catastrophe of Ali
are right," exclaimed Danglars, rising quickly, "I will write
if you should hear of anything very scandalous"--
will communicate it to you."
will oblige me." Danglars rushed out of the room, and made but one
leap into his coupé.