The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 174 of 400

Having delivered himself of this pompous address, uttered with a degree of energy that left the baron almost out of breath, he bowed to the assembled party and withdrew to his drawing-room, whose sumptuous furnishings of white and gold had caused a great sensation in the Chaussee d’Antin. It was to this apartment he had desired his guest to be shown, with the purpose of overwhelming him at the sight of so much luxury. He found the count standing before some copies of Albano and Fattore that had been passed off to the banker as originals; but which, mere copies as they were, seemed to feel their degradation in being brought into juxtaposition with the gaudy colors that covered the ceiling. The count turned round as he heard the entrance of Danglars into the room. With a slight inclination of the head, Danglars signed to the count to be seated, pointing significantly to a gilded arm-chair, covered with white satin embroidered with gold. The count sat down. “I have the honor, I presume, of addressing M. de Monte Cristo.”

The count bowed. “And I of speaking to Baron Danglars, chevalier of the Legion of Honor, and member of the Chamber of Deputies?”

Monte Cristo repeated all the titles he had read on the baron’s card.

Danglars felt the irony and compressed his lips. “You will, I trust, excuse me, monsieur, for not calling you by your title when I first addressed you,” he said, “but you are aware that we are living under a popular form of government, and that I am myself a representative of the liberties of the people.”

“So much so,” replied Monte Cristo, “that while you call yourself baron you are not willing to call anybody else count.”

“Upon my word, monsieur,” said Danglars with affected carelessness, “I attach no sort of value to such empty distinctions; but the fact is, I was made baron, and also chevalier of the Legion of Honor, in return for services rendered, but”—

“But you have discarded your titles after the example set you by Messrs. de Montmorency and Lafayette? That was a noble example to follow, monsieur.”

“Why,” replied Danglars, “not entirely so; with the servants,—you understand.”

“I see; to your domestics you are ‘my lord,’ the journalists style you ‘monsieur,’ while your constituents call you ‘citizen.’ These are distinctions very suitable under a constitutional government. I understand perfectly.” Again Danglars bit his lips; he saw that he was no match for Monte Cristo in an argument of this sort, and he therefore hastened to turn to subjects more congenial.

“Permit me to inform you, Count,” said he, bowing, “that I have received a letter of advice from Thomson & French, of Rome.”

“I am glad to hear it, baron,—for I must claim the privilege of addressing you after the manner of your servants. I have acquired the bad habit of calling persons by their titles from living in a country where barons are still barons by right of birth. But as regards the letter of advice, I am charmed to find that it has reached you; that will spare me the troublesome and disagreeable task of coming to you for money myself. You have received a regular letter of advice?”

“Yes,” said Danglars, “but I confess I didn’t quite comprehend its meaning.”


“And for that reason I did myself the honor of calling upon you, in order to beg for an explanation.”

“Go on, monsieur. Here I am, ready to give you any explanation you desire.”

“Why,” said Danglers, “in the letter—I believe I have it about me”—here he felt in his breast-pocket—“yes, here it is. Well, this letter gives the Count of Monte Cristo unlimited credit on our house.”

“Well, baron, what is there difficult to understand about that?”

“Merely the term unlimited—nothing else, certainly.”

“Is not that word known in France? The people who wrote are Anglo-Germans, you know.”

“Oh, as for the composition of the letter, there is nothing to be said; but as regards the competency of the document, I certainly have doubts.”

“Is it possible?” asked the count, assuming all air and tone of the utmost simplicity and candor. “Is it possible that Thomson & French are not looked upon as safe and solvent bankers? Pray tell me what you think, baron, for I feel uneasy, I can assure you, having some considerable property in their hands.”

“Thomson & French are perfectly solvent,” replied Danglars, with an almost mocking smile: “but the word unlimited, in financial affairs, is so extremely vague.”

“Is, in fact, unlimited,” said Monte Cristo.

“Precisely what I was about to say,” cried Danglars. “Now what is vague is doubtful; and it was a wise man who said, ‘when in doubt, keep out.'”

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. (To tell the truth I don't even really care if you give me your email or not.)