The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 176 of 400

“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.”

“The money you desire shall be at your house by ten o’clock to-morrow morning, my dear count,” replied Danglars. “How would you like to have it? in gold, silver, or notes?”

“Half in gold, and the other half in bank-notes, if you please,” said the count, rising from his seat.

“I must confess to you, count,” said Danglars, “that I have hitherto imagined myself acquainted with the degree of all the great fortunes of Europe, and still wealth such as yours has been wholly unknown to me. May I presume to ask whether you have long possessed it?”

“It has been in the family a very long while,” returned Monte Cristo, “a sort of treasure expressly forbidden to be touched for a certain period of years, during which the accumulated interest has doubled the capital. The period appointed by the testator for the disposal of these riches occurred only a short time ago, and they have only been employed by me within the last few years. Your ignorance on the subject, therefore, is easily accounted for. However, you will be better informed as to me and my possessions ere long.” And the count, while pronouncing these latter words, accompanied them with one of those ghastly smiles that used to strike terror into poor Franz d’Epinay.

“With your tastes, and means of gratifying them,” continued Danglars, “you will exhibit a splendor that must effectually put us poor miserable millionaires quite in the shade. If I mistake not you are an admirer of paintings, at least I judged so from the attention you appeared to be bestowing on mine when I entered the room. If you will permit me, I shall be happy to show you my picture gallery, composed entirely of works by the ancient masters—warranted as such. Not a modern picture among them. I cannot endure the modern school of painting.”

“You are perfectly right in objecting to them, for this one great fault—that they have not yet had time to become old.”

“Or will you allow me to show you several fine statues by Thorwaldsen, Bartoloni, and Canova?—all foreign artists, for, as you may perceive, I think but very indifferently of our French sculptors.”

“You have a right to be unjust to them, monsieur; they are your compatriots.”

“But all this may come later, when we shall be better known to each other. For the present, I will confine myself (if perfectly agreeable to you) to introducing you to the Baroness Danglars—excuse my impatience, my dear count, but a client like you is almost like a member of the family.” Monte Cristo bowed, in sign that he accepted the proffered honor; Danglars rang and was answered by a servant in a showy livery. “Is the baroness at home?” inquired Danglars.

“Yes, my lord,” answered the man.

“And alone?”

“No, my lord, madame has visitors.”

“Have you any objection to meet any persons who may be with madame, or do you desire to preserve a strict incognito?”

“No, indeed,” replied Monte Cristo with a smile, “I do not arrogate to myself the right of so doing.”

“And who is with madame?—M. Debray?” inquired Danglars, with an air of indulgence and good-nature that made Monte Cristo smile, acquainted as he was with the secrets of the banker’s domestic life.

“Yes, my lord,” replied the servant, “M. Debray is with madame.” Danglars nodded his head; then, turning to Monte Cristo, said, “M. Lucien Debray is an old friend of ours, and private secretary to the Minister of the Interior. As for my wife, I must tell you, she lowered herself by marrying me, for she belongs to one of the most ancient families in France. Her maiden name was De Servieres, and her first husband was Colonel the Marquis of Nargonne.”

“I have not the honor of knowing Madame Danglars; but I have already met M. Lucien Debray.”

“Ah, indeed?” said Danglars; “and where was that?”

“At the house of M. de Morcerf.”

“Ah, ha, you are acquainted with the young viscount, are you?”

“We were together a good deal during the Carnival at Rome.”

“True, true,” cried Danglars. “Let me see; have I not heard talk of some strange adventure with bandits or thieves hid in ruins, and of his having had a miraculous escape? I forget how, but I know he used to amuse my wife and daughter by telling them about it after his return from Italy.”

“Her ladyship is waiting to receive you, gentlemen,” said the servant, who had gone to inquire the pleasure of his mistress. “With your permission,” said Danglars, bowing, “I will precede you, to show you the way.”

“By all means,” replied Monte Cristo; “I follow you.”

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