The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 175 of 400

“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.'”

“Meaning to say,” rejoined Monte Cristo, “that however Thomson & French may be inclined to commit acts of imprudence and folly, the Baron Danglars is not disposed to follow their example.”

“Not at all.”

“Plainly enough. Messrs. Thomson & French set no bounds to their engagements while those of M. Danglars have their limits; he is a wise man, according to his own showing.”

“Monsieur,” replied the banker, drawing himself up with a haughty air, “the extent of my resources has never yet been questioned.”

“It seems, then, reserved for me,” said Monte Cristo coldly, “to be the first to do so.”

“By what right, sir?”

“By right of the objections you have raised, and the explanations you have demanded, which certainly must have some motive.”

Once more Danglars bit his lips. It was the second time he had been worsted, and this time on his own ground. His forced politeness sat awkwardly upon him, and approached almost to impertinence. Monte Cristo on the contrary, preserved a graceful suavity of demeanor, aided by a certain degree of simplicity he could assume at pleasure, and thus possessed the advantage.

“Well, sir,” resumed Danglars, after a brief silence, “I will endeavor to make myself understood, by requesting you to inform me for what sum you propose to draw upon me?”

“Why, truly,” replied Monte Cristo, determined not to lose an inch of the ground he had gained, “my reason for desiring an ‘unlimited’ credit was precisely because I did not know how much money I might need.”

The banker thought the time had come for him to take the upper hand. So throwing himself back in his arm-chair, he said, with an arrogant and purse-proud air,—“Let me beg of you not to hesitate in naming your wishes; you will then be convinced that the resources of the house of Danglars, however limited, are still equal to meeting the largest demands; and were you even to require a million”—

“I beg your pardon,” interposed Monte Cristo.

“I said a million,” replied Danglars, with the confidence of ignorance.

“But could I do with a million?” retorted the count. “My dear sir, if a trifle like that could suffice me, I should never have given myself the trouble of opening an account. A million? Excuse my smiling when you speak of a sum I am in the habit of carrying in my pocket-book or dressing-case.” And with these words Monte Cristo took from his pocket a small case containing his visiting-cards, and drew forth two orders on the treasury for 500,000 francs each, payable at sight to the bearer. A man like Danglars was wholly inaccessible to any gentler method of correction. The effect of the present revelation was stunning; he trembled and was on the verge of apoplexy. The pupils of his eyes, as he gazed at Monte Cristo dilated horribly.

“Come, come,” said Monte Cristo, “confess honestly that you have not perfect confidence in Thomson & French. I understand, and foreseeing that such might be the case, I took, in spite of my ignorance of affairs, certain precautions. See, here are two similar letters to that you have yourself received; one from the house of Arstein & Eskeles of Vienna, to Baron Rothschild, the other drawn by Baring of London, upon M. Laffitte. Now, sir, you have but to say the word, and I will spare you all uneasiness by presenting my letter of credit to one or other of these two firms.” The blow had struck home, and Danglars was entirely vanquished; with a trembling hand he took the two letters from the count, who held them carelessly between finger and thumb, and proceeded to scrutinize the signatures, with a minuteness that the count might have regarded as insulting, had it not suited his present purpose to mislead the banker. “Oh, sir,” said Danglars, after he had convinced himself of the authenticity of the documents he held, and rising as if to salute the power of gold personified in the man before him,—“three letters of unlimited credit! I can be no longer mistrustful, but you must pardon me, my dear count, for confessing to some degree of astonishment.”

“Nay,” answered Monte Cristo, with the most gentlemanly air, “’tis not for such trifling sums as these that your banking house is to be incommoded. Then, you can let me have some money, can you not?”

“Whatever you say, my dear count; I am at your orders.”

“Why,” replied Monte Cristo, “since we mutually understand each other—for such I presume is the case?” Danglars bowed assentingly. “You are quite sure that not a lurking doubt or suspicion lingers in your mind?”

“Oh, my dear count,” exclaimed Danglars, “I never for an instant entertained such a feeling towards you.”

“No, you merely wished to be convinced, nothing more; but now that we have come to so clear an understanding, and that all distrust and suspicion are laid at rest, we may as well fix a sum as the probable expenditure of the first year, suppose we say six millions to”—

“Six millions!” gasped Danglars—“so be it.”

“Then, if I should require more,” continued Monte Cristo in a careless manner, “why, of course, I should draw upon you; but my present intention is not to remain in France more than a year, and during that period I scarcely think I shall exceed the sum I mentioned. However, we shall see. Be kind enough, then, to send me 500,000 francs to-morrow. I shall be at home till midday, or if not, I will leave a receipt with my steward.”

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