The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 199 of 400

“Ha, ha,” said Chateau-Renaud, “here comes some friends of yours, viscount! What are you looking at there? don’t you see they are trying to catch your eye?” Albert turned round, just in time to receive a gracious wave of the fan from the baroness; as for Mademoiselle Eugenie, she scarcely vouchsafed to waste the glances of her large black eyes even upon the business of the stage. “I tell you what, my dear fellow,” said Chateau-Renaud, “I cannot imagine what objection you can possibly have to Mademoiselle Danglars—that is, setting aside her want of ancestry and somewhat inferior rank, which by the way I don’t think you care very much about. Now, barring all that, I mean to say she is a deuced fine girl!”

“Handsome, certainly,” replied Albert, “but not to my taste, which I confess, inclines to something softer, gentler, and more feminine.”

“Ah, well,” exclaimed Chateau-Renaud, who because he had seen his thirtieth summer fancied himself duly warranted in assuming a sort of paternal air with his more youthful friend, “you young people are never satisfied; why, what would you have more? your parents have chosen you a bride built on the model of Diana, the huntress, and yet you are not content.”

“No, for that very resemblance affrights me; I should have liked something more in the manner of the Venus of Milo or Capua; but this chase-loving Diana continually surrounded by her nymphs gives me a sort of alarm lest she should some day bring on me the fate of Actaeon.”

And, indeed, it required but one glance at Mademoiselle Danglars to comprehend the justness of Morcerf’s remark—she was beautiful, but her beauty was of too marked and decided a character to please a fastidious taste; her hair was raven black, but its natural waves seemed somewhat rebellious; her eyes, of the same color as her hair, were surmounted by well-arched brows, whose great defect, however, consisted in an almost habitual frown, while her whole physiognomy wore that expression of firmness and decision so little in accordance with the gentler attributes of her sex—her nose was precisely what a sculptor would have chosen for a chiselled Juno. Her mouth, which might have been found fault with as too large, displayed teeth of pearly whiteness, rendered still more conspicuous by the brilliant carmine of her lips, contrasting vividly with her naturally pale complexion. But that which completed the almost masculine look Morcerf found so little to his taste, was a dark mole, of much larger dimensions than these freaks of nature generally are, placed just at the corner of her mouth; and the effect tended to increase the expression of self-dependence that characterized her countenance. The rest of Mademoiselle Eugenie’s person was in perfect keeping with the head just described; she, indeed, reminded one of Diana, as Chateau-Renaud observed, but her bearing was more haughty and resolute. As regarded her attainments, the only fault to be found with them was the same that a fastidious connoisseur might have found with her beauty, that they were somewhat too erudite and masculine for so young a person. She was a perfect linguist, a first-rate artist, wrote poetry, and composed music; to the study of the latter she professed to be entirely devoted, following it with an indefatigable perseverance, assisted by a schoolfellow,—a young woman without fortune whose talent promised to develop into remarkable powers as a singer. It was rumored that she was an object of almost paternal interest to one of the principal composers of the day, who excited her to spare no pains in the cultivation of her voice, which might hereafter prove a source of wealth and independence. But this counsel effectually decided Mademoiselle Danglars never to commit herself by being seen in public with one destined for a theatrical life; and acting upon this principle, the banker’s daughter, though perfectly willing to allow Mademoiselle Louise d’Armilly (that was the name of the young virtuosa) to practice with her through the day, took especial care not to be seen in her company. Still, though not actually received at the Hotel Danglars in the light of an acknowledged friend, Louise was treated with far more kindness and consideration than is usually bestowed on a governess.

The curtain fell almost immediately after the entrance of Madame Danglars into her box, the band quitted the orchestra for the accustomed half-hour’s interval allowed between the acts, and the audience were left at liberty to promenade the salon or lobbies, or to pay and receive visits in their respective boxes. Morcerf and Chateau-Renaud were amongst the first to avail themselves of this permission. For an instant the idea struck Madame Danglars that this eagerness on the part of the young viscount arose from his impatience to join her party, and she whispered her expectations to her daughter, that Albert was hurrying to pay his respects to them. Mademoiselle Eugenie, however, merely returned a dissenting movement of the head, while, with a cold smile, she directed the attention of her mother to an opposite box on the first circle, in which sat the Countess G——, and where Morcerf had just made his appearance. “So we meet again, my travelling friend, do we?” cried the countess, extending her hand to him with all the warmth and cordiality of an old acquaintance; “it was really very good of you to recognize me so quickly, and still more so to bestow your first visit on me.”

“Be assured,” replied Albert, “that if I had been aware of your arrival in Paris, and had known your address, I should have paid my respects to you before this. Allow me to introduce my friend, Baron de Chateau-Renaud, one of the few true gentlemen now to be found in France, and from whom I have just learned that you were a spectator of the races in the Champ-de-Mars, yesterday.” Chateau-Renaud bowed to the countess.

“So you were at the races, baron?” inquired the countess eagerly.

“Yes, madame.”

“Well, then,” pursued Madame G—— with considerable animation, “you can probably tell me who won the Jockey Club stakes?”

“I am sorry to say I cannot,” replied the baron; “and I was just asking the same question of Albert.”

“Are you very anxious to know, countess?” asked Albert.

“To know what?”

“The name of the owner of the winning horse?”

“Excessively; only imagine—but do tell me, viscount, whether you really are acquainted with it or no?”

“I beg your pardon, madame, but you were about to relate some story, were you not? You said, ‘only imagine,’—and then paused. Pray continue.”

“Well, then, listen. You must know I felt so interested in the splendid roan horse, with his elegant little rider, so tastefully dressed in a pink satin jacket and cap, that I could not help praying for their success with as much earnestness as though the half of my fortune were at stake; and when I saw them outstrip all the others, and come to the winning-post in such gallant style, I actually clapped my hands with joy. Imagine my surprise, when, upon returning home, the first object I met on the staircase was the identical jockey in the pink jacket! I concluded that, by some singular chance, the owner of the winning horse must live in the same hotel as myself; but, as I entered my apartments, I beheld the very gold cup awarded as a prize to the unknown horse and rider. Inside the cup was a small piece of paper, on which were written these words—‘From Lord Ruthven to Countess G——.'”

“Precisely; I was sure of it,” said Morcerf.

“Sure of what?”

“That the owner of the horse was Lord Ruthven himself.”

“What Lord Ruthven do you mean?”

“Why, our Lord Ruthven—the Vampire of the Salle Argentino!”

“Is it possible?” exclaimed the countess; “is he here in Paris?”

“To be sure,—why not?”

“And you visit him?—meet him at your own house and elsewhere?”

“I assure you he is my most intimate friend, and M. de Chateau-Renaud has also the honor of his acquaintance.”

“But why are you so sure of his being the winner of the Jockey Club prize?”

“Was not the winning horse entered by the name of Vampa?”

“What of that?”

“Why, do you not recollect the name of the celebrated bandit by whom I was made prisoner?”

“Oh, yes.”

“And from whose hands the count extricated me in so wonderful a manner?”

“To be sure, I remember it all now.”

“He called himself Vampa. You see, it’s evident where the count got the name.”

“But what could have been his motive for sending the cup to me?”

“In the first place, because I had spoken much of you to him, as you may believe; and in the second, because he delighted to see a countrywoman take so lively an interest in his success.”

“I trust and hope you never repeated to the count all the foolish remarks we used to make about him?”

“I should not like to affirm upon oath that I have not. Besides, his presenting you the cup under the name of Lord Ruthven”—

“Oh, but that is dreadful! Why, the man must owe me a fearful grudge.”

“Does his action appear like that of an enemy?”

“No; certainly not.”

“Well, then”—

“And so he is in Paris?”


“And what effect does he produce?”

“Why,” said Albert, “he was talked about for a week; then the coronation of the queen of England took place, followed by the theft of Mademoiselle Mars’s diamonds; and so people talked of something else.”

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