The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 145 of 400

“Connected by marriage, you mean,” said Franz, laughingly.

“Well, never mind how it is,” answered Albert, “it comes to the same thing in the end. Perhaps by the time you return to Paris, I shall be quite a sober, staid father of a family! A most edifying representative I shall make of all the domestic virtues—don’t you think so? But as regards your wish to visit our fine city, my dear count, I can only say that you may command me and mine to any extent you please.”

“Then it is settled,” said the count, “and I give you my solemn assurance that I only waited an opportunity like the present to realize plans that I have long meditated.” Franz did not doubt that these plans were the same concerning which the count had dropped a few words in the grotto of Monte Cristo, and while the Count was speaking the young man watched him closely, hoping to read something of his purpose in his face, but his countenance was inscrutable especially when, as in the present case, it was veiled in a sphinx-like smile. “But tell me now, count,” exclaimed Albert, delighted at the idea of having to chaperon so distinguished a person as Monte Cristo; “tell me truly whether you are in earnest, or if this project of visiting Paris is merely one of the chimerical and uncertain air castles of which we make so many in the course of our lives, but which, like a house built on the sand, is liable to be blown over by the first puff of wind?”

“I pledge you my honor,” returned the count, “that I mean to do as I have said; both inclination and positive necessity compel me to visit Paris.”

“When do you propose going thither?”

“Have you made up your mind when you shall be there yourself?”

“Certainly I have; in a fortnight or three weeks’ time, that is to say, as fast as I can get there!”

“Nay,” said the Count; “I will give you three months ere I join you; you see I make an ample allowance for all delays and difficulties.

“And in three months’ time,” said Albert, “you will be at my house?”

“Shall we make a positive appointment for a particular day and hour?” inquired the count; “only let me warn you that I am proverbial for my punctilious exactitude in keeping my engagements.”

“Day for day, hour for hour,” said Albert; “that will suit me to a dot.”

“So be it, then,” replied the count, and extending his hand towards a calendar, suspended near the chimney-piece, he said, “to-day is the 21st of February;” and drawing out his watch, added, “it is exactly half-past ten o’clock. Now promise me to remember this, and expect me the 21st of May at the same hour in the forenoon.”

“Capital,” exclaimed Albert; “your breakfast shall be waiting.”

“Where do you live?”

“No. 27, Rue du Helder.”

“Have you bachelor’s apartments there? I hope my coming will not put you to any inconvenience.”

“I reside in my father’s house, but occupy a pavilion at the farther side of the court-yard, entirely separated from the main building.”

“Quite sufficient,” replied the count, as, taking out his tablets, he wrote down “No. 27, Rue du Helder, 21st May, half-past ten in the morning.”

“Now then,” said the count, returning his tablets to his pocket, “make yourself perfectly easy; the hand of your time-piece will not be more accurate in marking the time than myself.”

“Shall I see you again ere my departure?” asked Albert.

“That depends; when do you leave?”

“To-morrow evening, at five o’clock.”

“In that case I must say adieu to you, as I am compelled to go to Naples, and shall not return hither before Saturday evening or Sunday morning. And you, baron,” pursued the count, addressing Franz, “do you also depart to-morrow?”


“For France?”

“No, for Venice; I shall remain in Italy for another year or two.”

“Then we shall not meet in Paris?”

“I fear I shall not have that honor.”

“Well, since we must part,” said the count, holding out a hand to each of the young men, “allow me to wish you both a safe and pleasant journey.” It was the first time the hand of Franz had come in contact with that of the mysterious individual before him, and unconsciously he shuddered at its touch, for it felt cold and icy as that of a corpse. “Let us understand each other,” said Albert; “it is agreed—is it not?—that you are to be at No. 27, in the Rue du Helder, on the 21st of May, at half-past ten in the morning, and your word of honor passed for your punctuality?”

“The 21st of May, at half-past ten in the morning, Rue du Helder, No. 27,” replied the Count. The young men then rose, and bowing to the count, quitted the room. “What is the matter?” asked Albert of Franz, when they had returned to their own apartments; “you seem more than commonly thoughtful.”

“I will confess to you, Albert,” replied Franz, “the count is a very singular person, and the appointment you have made to meet him in Paris fills me with a thousand apprehensions.”

“My dear fellow,” exclaimed Albert, “what can there possibly be in that to excite uneasiness? Why, you must have lost your senses.”

“Whether I am in my senses or not,” answered Franz, “that is the way I feel.”

“Listen to me, Franz,” said Albert; “I am glad that the occasion has presented itself for saying this to you, for I have noticed how cold you are in your bearing towards the count, while he, on the other hand, has always been courtesy itself to us. Have you anything particular against him?”

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