The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 202 of 400

“Then the Countess G—— has returned to Paris, has she?” inquired the baroness.

“Is that she, mamma?” asked Eugenie; “almost opposite to us, with that profusion of beautiful light hair?”

“Yes,” said Madame Danglars, “that is she. Shall I tell you what you ought to do, Morcerf?”

“Command me, madame.”

“Well, then, you should go and bring your Count of Monte Cristo to us.”

“What for?” asked Eugenie.

“What for? Why, to converse with him, of course. Have you really no desire to meet him?”

“None whatever,” replied Eugenie.

“Strange child,” murmured the baroness.

“He will very probably come of his own accord,” said Morcerf. “There; do you see, madame, he recognizes you, and bows.” The baroness returned the salute in the most smiling and graceful manner.

“Well,” said Morcerf, “I may as well be magnanimous, and tear myself away to forward your wishes. Adieu; I will go and try if there are any means of speaking to him.”

“Go straight to his box; that will be the simplest plan.”

“But I have never been presented.”

“Presented to whom?”

“To the beautiful Greek.”

“You say she is only a slave?”

“While you assert that she is a queen, or at least a princess. No; I hope that when he sees me leave you, he will come out.”

“That is possible—go.”

“I am going,” said Albert, as he made his parting bow. Just as he was passing the count’s box, the door opened, and Monte Cristo came forth. After giving some directions to Ali, who stood in the lobby, the count took Albert’s arm. Carefully closing the box door, Ali placed himself before it, while a crowd of spectators assembled round the Nubian.

“Upon my word,” said Monte Cristo, “Paris is a strange city, and the Parisians a very singular people. See that cluster of persons collected around poor Ali, who is as much astonished as themselves; really one might suppose he was the only Nubian they had ever beheld. Now I can promise you, that a Frenchman might show himself in public, either in Tunis, Constantinople, Bagdad, or Cairo, without being treated in that way.”

“That shows that the Eastern nations have too much good sense to waste their time and attention on objects undeserving of either. However, as far as Ali is concerned, I can assure you, the interest he excites is merely from the circumstance of his being your attendant—you, who are at this moment the most celebrated and fashionable person in Paris.”

“Really? and what has procured me so fluttering a distinction?”

“What? why, yourself, to be sure! You give away horses worth a thousand louis; you save the lives of ladies of high rank and beauty; under the name of Major Brack you run thoroughbreds ridden by tiny urchins not larger than marmots; then, when you have carried off the golden trophy of victory, instead of setting any value on it, you give it to the first handsome woman you think of!”

“And who has filled your head with all this nonsense?”

“Why, in the first place, I heard it from Madame Danglars, who, by the by, is dying to see you in her box, or to have you seen there by others; secondly, I learned it from Beauchamp’s journal; and thirdly, from my own imagination. Why, if you sought concealment, did you call your horse Vampa?”

“That was an oversight, certainly,” replied the count; “but tell me, does the Count of Morcerf never visit the Opera? I have been looking for him, but without success.”

“He will be here to-night.”

“In what part of the house?”

“In the baroness’s box, I believe.”

“That charming young woman with her is her daughter?”


“I congratulate you.” Morcerf smiled. “We will discuss that subject at length some future time,” said he. “But what do you think of the music?”

“What music?”

“Why, the music you have been listening to.”

“Oh, it is well enough as the production of a human composer, sung by featherless bipeds, to quote the late Diogenes.”

“From which it would seem, my dear count, that you can at pleasure enjoy the seraphic strains that proceed from the seven choirs of paradise?”

“You are right, in some degree; when I wish to listen to sounds more exquisitely attuned to melody than mortal ear ever yet listened to, I go to sleep.”

“Then sleep here, my dear count. The conditions are favorable; what else was opera invented for?”

“No, thank you. Your orchestra is too noisy. To sleep after the manner I speak of, absolute calm and silence are necessary, and then a certain preparation”—

“I know—the famous hashish!”

“Precisely. So, my dear viscount, whenever you wish to be regaled with music come and sup with me.”

“I have already enjoyed that treat when breakfasting with you,” said Morcerf.

“Do you mean at Rome?”

“I do.”

“Ah, then, I suppose you heard Haidee’s guzla; the poor exile frequently beguiles a weary hour in playing over to me the airs of her native land.” Morcerf did not pursue the subject, and Monte Cristo himself fell into a silent reverie. The bell rang at this moment for the rising of the curtain. “You will excuse my leaving you,” said the count, turning in the direction of his box.

“What? Are you going?”

“Pray, say everything that is kind to Countess G—— on the part of her friend the Vampire.”

“And what message shall I convey to the baroness!”

“That, with her permission, I shall do myself the honor of paying my respects in the course of the evening.”

The third act had begun; and during its progress the Count of Morcerf, according to his promise, made his appearance in the box of Madame Danglars. The Count of Morcerf was not a person to excite either interest or curiosity in a place of public amusement; his presence, therefore, was wholly unnoticed, save by the occupants of the box in which he had just seated himself. The quick eye of Monte Cristo however, marked his coming; and a slight though meaning smile passed over his lips. Haidee, whose soul seemed centred in the business of the stage, like all unsophisticated natures, delighted in whatever addressed itself to the eye or ear.

The third act passed off as usual. Mesdemoiselles Noblet, Julie, and Leroux executed the customary pirouettes; Robert duly challenged the Prince of Granada; and the royal father of the princess Isabella, taking his daughter by the hand, swept round the stage with majestic strides, the better to display the rich folds of his velvet robe and mantle. After which the curtain again fell, and the spectators poured forth from the theatre into the lobbies and salon. The count left his box, and a moment later was saluting the Baronne Danglars, who could not restrain a cry of mingled pleasure and surprise. “You are welcome, count!” she exclaimed, as he entered. “I have been most anxious to see you, that I might repeat orally the thanks writing can so ill express.”

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