The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 273 of 400

“Yes,” said Monte Cristo, “I have heard that; but, as Claudius said to Hamlet, ‘it is a law of nature; their fathers died before them, and they mourned their loss; they will die before their children, who will, in their turn, grieve for them.'”

“But that is not all.”

“Not all!”

“No; they were going to marry their daughter”—

“To M. Franz d’Epinay. Is it broken off?”

“Yesterday morning, it appears, Franz declined the honor.”

“Indeed? And is the reason known?”


“How extraordinary! And how does M. de Villefort bear it?”

“As usual. Like a philosopher.” Danglars returned at this moment alone. “Well,” said the baroness, “do you leave M. Cavalcanti with your daughter?”

“And Mademoiselle d’Armilly,” said the banker; “do you consider her no one?” Then, turning to Monte Cristo, he said, “Prince Cavalcanti is a charming young man, is he not? But is he really a prince?”

“I will not answer for it,” said Monte Cristo. “His father was introduced to me as a marquis, so he ought to be a count; but I do not think he has much claim to that title.”

“Why?” said the banker. “If he is a prince, he is wrong not to maintain his rank; I do not like any one to deny his origin.”

“Oh, you are a thorough democrat,” said Monte Cristo, smiling.

“But do you see to what you are exposing yourself?” said the baroness. “If, perchance, M. de Morcerf came, he would find M. Cavalcanti in that room, where he, the betrothed of Eugenie, has never been admitted.”

“You may well say, perchance,” replied the banker; “for he comes so seldom, it would seem only chance that brings him.”

“But should he come and find that young man with your daughter, he might be displeased.”

“He? You are mistaken. M. Albert would not do us the honor to be jealous; he does not like Eugenie sufficiently. Besides, I care not for his displeasure.”

“Still, situated as we are”—

“Yes, do you know how we are situated? At his mother’s ball he danced once with Eugenie, and M. Cavalcanti three times, and he took no notice of it.” The valet announced the Vicomte Albert de Morcerf. The baroness rose hastily, and was going into the study, when Danglars stopped her. “Let her alone,” said he. She looked at him in amazement. Monte Cristo appeared to be unconscious of what passed. Albert entered, looking very handsome and in high spirits. He bowed politely to the baroness, familiarly to Danglars, and affectionately to Monte Cristo. Then turning to the baroness: “May I ask how Mademoiselle Danglars is?” said he.

“She is quite well,” replied Danglars quickly; “she is at the piano with M. Cavalcanti.” Albert retained his calm and indifferent manner; he might feel perhaps annoyed, but he knew Monte Cristo’s eye was on him. “M. Cavalcanti has a fine tenor voice,” said he, “and Mademoiselle Eugenie a splendid soprano, and then she plays the piano like Thalberg. The concert must be a delightful one.”

“They suit each other remarkably well,” said Danglars. Albert appeared not to notice this remark, which was, however, so rude that Madame Danglars blushed.

“I, too,” said the young man, “am a musician—at least, my masters used to tell me so; but it is strange that my voice never would suit any other, and a soprano less than any.” Danglars smiled, and seemed to say, “It is of no consequence.” Then, hoping doubtless to effect his purpose, he said,—“The prince and my daughter were universally admired yesterday. You were not of the party, M. de Morcerf?”

“What prince?” asked Albert. “Prince Cavalcanti,” said Danglars, who persisted in giving the young man that title.

“Pardon me,” said Albert, “I was not aware that he was a prince. And Prince Cavalcanti sang with Mademoiselle Eugenie yesterday? It must have been charming, indeed. I regret not having heard them. But I was unable to accept your invitation, having promised to accompany my mother to a German concert given by the Baroness of Chateau-Renaud.” This was followed by rather an awkward silence. “May I also be allowed,” said Morcerf, “to pay my respects to Mademoiselle Danglars?” “Wait a moment,” said the banker, stopping the young man; “do you hear that delightful cavatina? Ta, ta, ta, ti, ta, ti, ta, ta; it is charming, let them finish—one moment. Bravo, bravi, brava!” The banker was enthusiastic in his applause.

“Indeed,” said Albert, “it is exquisite; it is impossible to understand the music of his country better than Prince Cavalcanti does. You said prince, did you not? But he can easily become one, if he is not already; it is no uncommon thing in Italy. But to return to the charming musicians—you should give us a treat, Danglars, without telling them there is a stranger. Ask them to sing one more song; it is so delightful to hear music in the distance, when the musicians are unrestrained by observation.”

Danglars was quite annoyed by the young man’s indifference. He took Monte Cristo aside. “What do you think of our lover?” said he.

“He appears cool. But, then your word is given.”

“Yes, doubtless I have promised to give my daughter to a man who loves her, but not to one who does not. See him there, cold as marble and proud like his father. If he were rich, if he had Cavalcanti’s fortune, that might be pardoned. Ma foi, I haven’t consulted my daughter; but if she has good taste”—

“Oh,” said Monte Cristo, “my fondness may blind me, but I assure you I consider Morcerf a charming young man who will render your daughter happy and will sooner or later attain a certain amount of distinction, and his father’s position is good.”

“Hem,” said Danglars.

“Why do you doubt?”

“The past—that obscurity on the past.”

“But that does not affect the son.”

“Very true.”

“Now, I beg of you, don’t go off your head. It’s a month now that you have been thinking of this marriage, and you must see that it throws some responsibility on me, for it was at my house you met this young Cavalcanti, whom I do not really know at all.”

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