The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 149 of 400

“I only await one thing before following your advice; that is, a minister who will hold office for six months. My dear Albert, one word, for I must give poor Lucien a respite. Do we breakfast or dine? I must go to the Chamber, for our life is not an idle one.”

“You only breakfast; I await two persons, and the instant they arrive we shall sit down to table.”

Chapter 40. The Breakfast.

“And what sort of persons do you expect to breakfast?” said Beauchamp.

“A gentleman, and a diplomatist.”

“Then we shall have to wait two hours for the gentleman, and three for the diplomatist. I shall come back to dessert; keep me some strawberries, coffee, and cigars. I shall take a cutlet on my way to the Chamber.”

“Do not do anything of the sort; for were the gentleman a Montmorency, and the diplomatist a Metternich, we will breakfast at eleven; in the meantime, follow Debray’s example, and take a glass of sherry and a biscuit.”

“Be it so; I will stay; I must do something to distract my thoughts.”

“You are like Debray, and yet it seems to me that when the minister is out of spirits, the opposition ought to be joyous.”

“Ah, you do not know with what I am threatened. I shall hear this morning that M. Danglars make a speech at the Chamber of Deputies, and at his wife’s this evening I shall hear the tragedy of a peer of France. The devil take the constitutional government, and since we had our choice, as they say, at least, how could we choose that?”

“I understand; you must lay in a stock of hilarity.”

“Do not run down M. Danglars’ speeches,” said Debray; “he votes for you, for he belongs to the opposition.”

“Pardieu, that is exactly the worst of all. I am waiting until you send him to speak at the Luxembourg, to laugh at my ease.”

“My dear friend,” said Albert to Beauchamp, “it is plain that the affairs of Spain are settled, for you are most desperately out of humor this morning. Recollect that Parisian gossip has spoken of a marriage between myself and Mlle. Eugenie Danglars; I cannot in conscience, therefore, let you run down the speeches of a man who will one day say to me, ‘Vicomte, you know I give my daughter two millions.'”

“Ah, this marriage will never take place,” said Beauchamp. “The king has made him a baron, and can make him a peer, but he cannot make him a gentleman, and the Count of Morcerf is too aristocratic to consent, for the paltry sum of two million francs, to a mesalliance. The Viscount of Morcerf can only wed a marchioness.”

“But two million francs make a nice little sum,” replied Morcerf.

“It is the social capital of a theatre on the boulevard, or a railroad from the Jardin des Plantes to La Rapee.”

“Never mind what he says, Morcerf,” said Debray, “do you marry her. You marry a money-bag label, it is true; well, but what does that matter? It is better to have a blazon less and a figure more on it. You have seven martlets on your arms; give three to your wife, and you will still have four; that is one more than M. de Guise had, who so nearly became King of France, and whose cousin was Emperor of Germany.”

“On my word, I think you are right, Lucien,” said Albert absently.

“To be sure; besides, every millionaire is as noble as a bastard—that is, he can be.”

“Do not say that, Debray,” returned Beauchamp, laughing, “for here is Chateau-Renaud, who, to cure you of your mania for paradoxes, will pass the sword of Renaud de Montauban, his ancestor, through your body.”

“He will sully it then,” returned Lucien; “for I am low—very low.”

“Oh, heavens,” cried Beauchamp, “the minister quotes Beranger, what shall we come to next?”

“M. de Chateau-Renaud—M. Maximilian Morrel,” said the servant, announcing two fresh guests.

“Now, then, to breakfast,” said Beauchamp; “for, if I remember, you told me you only expected two persons, Albert.”

“Morrel,” muttered Albert—“Morrel—who is he?” But before he had finished, M. de Chateau-Renaud, a handsome young man of thirty, gentleman all over,—that is, with the figure of a Guiche and the wit of a Mortemart,—took Albert’s hand. “My dear Albert,” said he, “let me introduce to you M. Maximilian Morrel, captain of Spahis, my friend; and what is more—however the man speaks for himself—my preserver. Salute my hero, viscount.” And he stepped on one side to give place to a young man of refined and dignified bearing, with large and open brow, piercing eyes, and black mustache, whom our readers have already seen at Marseilles, under circumstances sufficiently dramatic not to be forgotten. A rich uniform, half French, half Oriental, set off his graceful and stalwart figure, and his broad chest was decorated with the order of the Legion of Honor. The young officer bowed with easy and elegant politeness. “Monsieur,” said Albert with affectionate courtesy, “the count of Chateau-Renaud knew how much pleasure this introduction would give me; you are his friend, be ours also.”

“Well said,” interrupted Chateau-Renaud; “and pray that, if you should ever be in a similar predicament, he may do as much for you as he did for me.”

“What has he done?” asked Albert.

“Oh, nothing worth speaking of,” said Morrel; “M. de Chateau-Renaud exaggerates.”

“Not worth speaking of?” cried Chateau-Renaud; “life is not worth speaking of!—that is rather too philosophical, on my word, Morrel. It is very well for you, who risk your life every day, but for me, who only did so once”—

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