The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 341 of 400

“No,” said Andrea,—“no; it is useless for you to say so, count. I maintain that the position of a man like you has done more than my name, my social position, and my merit.”

“You are completely mistaken, sir,” said Monte Cristo coldly, who felt the perfidious manoeuvre of the young man, and understood the bearing of his words; “you only acquired my protection after the influence and fortune of your father had been ascertained; for, after all, who procured for me, who had never seen either you or your illustrious father, the pleasure of your acquaintance?—two of my good friends, Lord Wilmore and the Abbe Busoni. What encouraged me not to become your surety, but to patronize you?—your father’s name, so well known in Italy and so highly honored. Personally, I do not know you.” This calm tone and perfect ease made Andrea feel that he was, for the moment, restrained by a more muscular hand than his own, and that the restraint could not be easily broken through.

“Oh, then my father has really a very large fortune, count?”

“It appears so, sir,” replied Monte Cristo.

“Do you know if the marriage settlement he promised me has come?”

“I have been advised of it.”

“But the three millions?”

“The three millions are probably on the road.”

“Then I shall really have them?”

“Oh, well,” said the count, “I do not think you have yet known the want of money.” Andrea was so surprised that he pondered the matter for a moment. Then, arousing from his revery,—“Now, sir, I have one request to make to you, which you will understand, even if it should be disagreeable to you.”

“Proceed,” said Monte Cristo.

“I have formed an acquaintance, thanks to my good fortune, with many noted persons, and have, at least for the moment, a crowd of friends. But marrying, as I am about to do, before all Paris, I ought to be supported by an illustrious name, and in the absence of the paternal hand some powerful one ought to lead me to the altar; now, my father is not coming to Paris, is he? He is old, covered with wounds, and suffers dreadfully, he says, in travelling.”


“Well, I am come to ask a favor of you.”

“Of me?”

“Yes, of you.”

“And pray what may it be?”

“Well, to take his part.”

“Ah, my dear sir! What?—after the varied relations I have had the happiness to sustain towards you, can it be that you know me so little as to ask such a thing? Ask me to lend you half a million and, although such a loan is somewhat rare, on my honor, you would annoy me less! Know, then, what I thought I had already told you, that in participation in this world’s affairs, more especially in their moral aspects, the Count of Monte Cristo has never ceased to entertain the scruples and even the superstitions of the East. I, who have a seraglio at Cairo, one at Smyrna, and one at Constantinople, preside at a wedding?—never!”

“Then you refuse me?”

“Decidedly; and were you my son or my brother I would refuse you in the same way.”

“But what must be done?” said Andrea, disappointed.

“You said just now that you had a hundred friends.”

“Very true, but you introduced me at M. Danglars’.”

“Not at all! Let us recall the exact facts. You met him at a dinner party at my house, and you introduced yourself at his house; that is a totally different affair.”

“Yes, but, by my marriage, you have forwarded that.”

“I?—not in the least, I beg you to believe. Recollect what I told you when you asked me to propose you. ‘Oh, I never make matches, my dear prince, it is my settled principle.'” Andrea bit his lips.

“But, at least, you will be there?”

“Will all Paris be there?”

“Oh, certainly.”

“Well, like all Paris, I shall be there too,” said the count.

“And will you sign the contract?”

“I see no objection to that; my scruples do not go thus far.”

“Well, since you will grant me no more, I must be content with what you give me. But one word more, count.”

“What is it?”


“Be careful; advice is worse than a service.”

“Oh, you can give me this without compromising yourself.”

“Tell me what it is.”

“Is my wife’s fortune five hundred thousand livres?”

“That is the sum M. Danglars himself announced.”

“Must I receive it, or leave it in the hands of the notary?”

“This is the way such affairs are generally arranged when it is wished to do them stylishly: Your two solicitors appoint a meeting, when the contract is signed, for the next or the following day; then they exchange the two portions, for which they each give a receipt; then, when the marriage is celebrated, they place the amount at your disposal as the chief member of the alliance.”

“Because,” said Andrea, with a certain ill-concealed uneasiness, “I thought I heard my father-in-law say that he intended embarking our property in that famous railway affair of which you spoke just now.”

“Well,” replied Monte Cristo, “it will be the way, everybody says, of trebling your fortune in twelve months. Baron Danglars is a good father, and knows how to calculate.”

“In that case,” said Andrea, “everything is all right, excepting your refusal, which quite grieves me.”

“You must attribute it only to natural scruples under similar circumstances.”

“Well,” said Andrea, “let it be as you wish. This evening, then, at nine o’clock.”

“Adieu till then.” Notwithstanding a slight resistance on the part of Monte Cristo, whose lips turned pale, but who preserved his ceremonious smile, Andrea seized the count’s hand, pressed it, jumped into his phaeton, and disappeared.

The four or five remaining hours before nine o’clock arrived, Andrea employed in riding, paying visits,—designed to induce those of whom he had spoken to appear at the banker’s in their gayest equipages,—dazzling them by promises of shares in schemes which have since turned every brain, and in which Danglars was just taking the initiative. In fact, at half-past eight in the evening the grand salon, the gallery adjoining, and the three other drawing-rooms on the same floor, were filled with a perfumed crowd, who sympathized but little in the event, but who all participated in that love of being present wherever there is anything fresh to be seen. An Academician would say that the entertainments of the fashionable world are collections of flowers which attract inconstant butterflies, famished bees, and buzzing drones.

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