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Chapter 46
Unlimited Credit.

About two o'clock the following day a calash, drawn by a
pair of magnificent English horses, stopped at the door of
Monte Cristo and a person, dressed in a blue coat, with
buttons of a similar color, a white waistcoat, over which
was displayed a massive gold chain, brown trousers, and a
quantity of black hair descending so low over his eyebrows
as to leave it doubtful whether it were not artificial so
little did its jetty glossiness assimilate with the deep
wrinkles stamped on his features -- a person, in a word,
who, although evidently past fifty, desired to be taken for
not more than forty, bent forwards from the carriage door,
on the panels of which were emblazoned the armorial bearings
of a baron, and directed his groom to inquire at the
porter's lodge whether the Count of Monte Cristo resided
there, and if he were within. While waiting, the occupant of
the carriage surveyed the house, the garden as far as he
could distinguish it, and the livery of servants who passed
to and fro, with an attention so close as to be somewhat
impertinent. His glance was keen but showed cunning rather
than intelligence; his lips were straight, and so thin that,
as they closed, they were drawn in over the teeth; his
cheek-bones were broad and projecting, a never-failing proof
of audacity and craftiness; while the flatness of his
forehead, and the enlargement of the back of his skull,
which rose much higher than his large and coarsely shaped
ears, combined to form a physiognomy anything but
prepossessing, save in the eyes of such as considered that
the owner of so splendid an equipage must needs be all that
was admirable and enviable, more especially when they gazed
on the enormous diamond that glittered in his shirt, and the
red ribbon that depended from his button-hole.

The groom, in obedience to his orders, tapped at the window
of the porter's lodge, saying, "Pray, does not the Count of
Monte Cristo live here?"

"His excellency does reside here," replied the concierge;
"but" -- added he, glancing an inquiring look at Ali. Ali
returned a sign in the negative. "But what?" asked the

"His excellency does not receive visitors to-day."

"Then here is my master's card, -- the Baron Danglars. You
will take it to the count, and say that, although in haste
to attend the Chamber, my master came out of his way to have
the honor of calling upon him."

"I never speak to his excellency," replied the concierge;
"the valet de chambre will carry your message." The groom
returned to the carriage. "Well?" asked Danglars. The man,
somewhat crest-fallen by the rebuke he had received,
repeated what the concierge had said. "Bless me," murmured
Baron Danglars, "this must surely be a prince instead of a
count by their styling him `excellency,' and only venturing
to address him by the medium of his valet de chambre.
However, it does not signify; he has a letter of credit on
me, so I must see him when he requires his money."

Then, throwing himself back in his carriage, Danglars called
out to his coachman, in a voice that might be heard across
the road, "To the Chamber of Deputies."

Apprised in time of the visit paid him, Monte Cristo had,
from behind the blinds of his pavilion, as minutely observed
the baron, by means of an excellent lorgnette, as Danglars
himself had scrutinized the house, garden, and servants.
"That fellow has a decidedly bad countenance," said the
count in a tone of disgust, as he shut up his glass into its
ivory case. "How comes it that all do not retreat in
aversion at sight of that flat, receding, serpent-like
forehead, round, vulture-shaped head, and sharp-hooked nose,
like the beak of a buzzard? Ali," cried he, striking at the
same time on the brazen gong. Ali appeared. "Summon
Bertuccio," said the count. Almost immediately Bertuccio
entered the apartment. "Did your excellency desire to see
me?" inquired he. "I did," replied the count. "You no doubt
observed the horses standing a few minutes since at the

"Certainly, your excellency. I noticed them for their
remarkable beauty."

"Then how comes it," said Monte Cristo with a frown, "that,
when I desired you to purchase for me the finest pair of
horses to be found in Paris, there is another pair, fully as
fine as mine, not in my stables?" At the look of
displeasure, added to the angry tone in which the count
spoke, Ali turned pale and held down his head. "It is not
your fault, my good Ali," said the count in the Arabic
language, and with a gentleness none would have thought him
capable of showing, either in voice or face -- "it is not
your fault. You do not understand the points of English
horses." The countenance of poor Ali recovered its serenity.
"Permit me to assure your excellency," said Bertuccio, "that
the horses you speak of were not to be sold when I purchased
yours." Monte Cristo shrugged his shoulders. "It seems, sir
steward," said he, "that you have yet to learn that all
things are to be sold to such as care to pay the price."

"His excellency is not, perhaps, aware that M. Danglars gave
16,000 francs for his horses?"

"Very well. Then offer him double that sum; a banker never
loses an opportunity of doubling his capital."

"Is your excellency really in earnest?" inquired the
steward. Monte Cristo regarded the person who durst presume
to doubt his words with the look of one equally surprised
and displeased. "I have to pay a visit this evening,"
replied he. "I desire that these horses, with completely new
harness, may be at the door with my carriage." Bertuccio
bowed, and was about to retire; but when he reached the
door, he paused, and then said, "At what o'clock does your
excellency wish the carriage and horses to be ready?"

"At five o'clock," replied the count.

"I beg your excellency's pardon," interposed the steward in
a deprecating manner, "for venturing to observe that it is
already two o'clock."

"I am perfectly aware of that fact," answered Monte Cristo
calmly. Then, turning towards Ali, he said, "Let all the
horses in my stables be led before the windows of your young
lady, that she may select those she prefers for her
carriage. Request her also to oblige me by saying whether it
is her pleasure to dine with me; if so, let dinner be served
in her apartments. Now, leave me, and desire my valet de
chambre to come hither." Scarcely had Ali disappeared when
the valet entered the chamber. "Monsieur Baptistin," said
the count, "you have been in my service one year, the time I
generally give myself to judge of the merits or demerits of
those about me. You suit me very well." Baptistin bowed low.
"It only remains for me to know whether I also suit you?"

"Oh, your excellency!" exclaimed Baptistin eagerly.

"Listen, if you please, till I have finished speaking,"
replied Monte Cristo. "You receive 1,500 francs per annum
for your services here -- more than many a brave subaltern,
who continually risks his life for his country, obtains. You
live in a manner far superior to many clerks who work ten
times harder than you do for their money. Then, though
yourself a servant, you have other servants to wait upon
you, take care of your clothes, and see that your linen is
duly prepared for you. Again, you make a profit upon each
article you purchase for my toilet, amounting in the course
of a year to a sum equalling your wages."

"Nay, indeed, your excellency."

"I am not condemning you for this, Monsieur Baptistin; but
let your profits end here. It would be long indeed ere you
would find so lucrative a post as that you have how the good
fortune to fill. I neither ill-use nor ill-treat my servants
by word or action. An error I readily forgive, but wilful
negligence or forgetfulness, never. My commands are
ordinarily short, clear, and precise; and I would rather be
obliged to repeat my words twice, or even three times, than
they should be misunderstood. I am rich enough to know
whatever I desire to know, and I can promise you I am not
wanting in curiosity. If, then, I should learn that you had
taken upon yourself to speak of me to any one favorably or
unfavorably, to comment on my actions, or watch my conduct,
that very instant you would quit my service. You may now
retire. I never caution my servants a second time --
remember that." Baptistin bowed, and was proceeding towards
the door. "I forgot to mention to you," said the count,
"that I lay yearly aside a certain sum for each servant in
my establishment; those whom I am compelled to dismiss lose
(as a matter of course) all participation in this money,
while their portion goes to the fund accumulating for those
domestics who remain with me, and among whom it will be
divided at my death. You have been in my service a year,
your fund has already begun to accumulate -- let it continue
to do so."

This address, delivered in the presence of Ali, who, not
understanding one word of the language in which it was
spoken, stood wholly unmoved, produced an effect on M.
Baptistin only to be conceived by such as have occasion to
study the character and disposition of French domestics. "I
assure your excellency," said he, "that at least it shall be
my study to merit your approbation in all things, and I will
take M. Ali as my model."

"By no means," replied the count in the most frigid tones;
"Ali has many faults mixed with most excellent qualities. He
cannot possibly serve you as a pattern for your conduct, not
being, as you are, a paid servant, but a mere slave -- a
dog, who, should he fail in his duty towards me, I should
not discharge from my service, but kill." Baptistin opened
his eyes with astonishment.

"You seen incredulous," said Monte Cristo who repeated to
Ali in the Arabic language what he had just been saying to
Baptistin in French. The Nubian smiled assentingly to his
master's words, then, kneeling on one knee, respectfully
kissed the hand of the count. This corroboration of the
lesson he had just received put the finishing stroke to the
wonder and stupefaction of M. Baptistin. The count then
motioned the valet de chambre to retire, and to Ali to
follow to his study, where they conversed long and earnestly
together. As the hand of the clock pointed to five the count
struck thrice upon his gong. When Ali was wanted one stroke
was given, two summoned Baptistin, and three Bertuccio. The
steward entered. "My horses," said Monte Cristo.

"They are at the door harnessed to the carriage as your
excellency desired. Does your excellency wish me to
accompany him?"

"No, the coachman, Ali, and Baptistin will go." The count
descended to the door of his mansion, and beheld his
carriage drawn by the very pair of horses he had so much
admired in the morning as the property of Danglars. As he
passed them he said -- "They are extremely handsome
certainly, and you have done well to purchase them, although
you were somewhat remiss not to have procured them sooner."

"Indeed, your excellency, I had very considerable difficulty
in obtaining them, and, as it is, they have cost an enormous

"Does the sum you gave for them make the animals less
beautiful," inquired the count, shrugging his shoulders.

"Nay, if your excellency is satisfied, it is all that I
could wish. Whither does your excellency desire to be

"To the residence of Baron Danglars, Rue de la Chaussee
d'Antin." This conversation had passed as they stood upon
the terrace, from which a flight of stone steps led to the
carriage-drive. As Bertuccio, with a respectful bow, was
moving away, the count called him back. "I have another
commission for you, M. Bertuccio," said he; "I am desirous
of having an estate by the seaside in Normandy -- for
instance, between Havre and Boulogne. You see I give you a
wide range. It will be absolutely necessary that the place
you may select have a small harbor, creek, or bay, into
which my corvette can enter and remain at anchor. She draws
only fifteen feet. She must be kept in constant readiness to
sail immediately I think proper to give the signal. Make the
requisite inquiries for a place of this description, and
when you have met with an eligible spot, visit it, and if it
possess the advantages desired, purchase it at once in your
own name. The corvette must now, I think, be on her way to
Fecamp, must she not?"

"Certainly, your excellency; I saw her put to sea the same
evening we quitted Marseilles."

"And the yacht."

"Was ordered to remain at Martigues."

"'Tis well. I wish you to write from time to time to the
captains in charge of the two vessels so as to keep them on
the alert."

"And the steamboat?"

"She is at Chalons?"


"The same orders for her as for the two sailing vessels."

"Very good."

"When you have purchased the estate I desire, I want
constant relays of horses at ten leagues apart along the
northern and southern road."

"Your excellency may depend upon me." The Count made a
gesture of satisfaction, descended the terrace steps, and
sprang into his carriage, which was whirled along swiftly to
the banker's house. Danglars was engaged at that moment,
presiding over a railroad committee. But the meeting was
nearly concluded when the name of his visitor was announced.
As the count's title sounded on his ear he rose, and
addressing his colleagues, who were members of one or the
other Chamber, he said, -- "Gentlemen, pardon me for leaving
you so abruptly; but a most ridiculous circumstance has
occurred, which is this, -- Thomson & French, the Roman
bankers, have sent to me a certain person calling himself
the Count of Monte Cristo, and have given him an unlimited
credit with me. I confess this is the drollest thing I have
ever met with in the course of my extensive foreign
transactions, and you may readily suppose it has greatly
roused my curiosity. I took the trouble this morning to call
on the pretended count -- if he were a real count he
wouldn't be so rich. But, would you believe it, `He was not
receiving.' So the master of Monte Cristo gives himself airs
befitting a great millionaire or a capricious beauty. I made
inquiries, and found that the house in the Champs Elysees is
his own property, and certainly it was very decently kept
up. But," pursued Danglars with one of his sinister smiles,
"an order for unlimited credit calls for something like
caution on the part of the banker to whom that order is
given. I am very anxious to see this man. I suspect a hoax
is intended, but the instigators of it little knew whom they
had to deal with. `They laugh best who laugh last!'"

Having delivered himself of this pompous address, uttered
with a degree of energy that left the baron almost out of
breath, he bowed to the assembled party and withdrew to his
drawing-room, whose sumptuous furnishings of white and gold
had caused a great sensation in the Chaussee d'Antin. It was
to this apartment he had desired his guest to be shown, with
the purpose of overwhelming him at the sight of so much
luxury. He found the count standing before some copies of
Albano and Fattore that had been passed off to the banker as
originals; but which, mere copies as they were, seemed to
feel their degradation in being brought into juxtaposition
with the gaudy colors that covered the ceiling. The count
turned round as he heard the entrance of Danglars into the
room. With a slight inclination of the head, Danglars signed
to the count to be seated, pointing significantly to a
gilded arm-chair, covered with white satin embroidered with
gold. The count sat down. "I have the honor, I presume, of
addressing M. de Monte Cristo."

The count bowed. "And I of speaking to Baron Danglars,
chevalier of the Legion of Honor, and member of the Chamber
of Deputies?"

Monte Cristo repeated all the titles he had read on the
baron's card.

Danglars felt the irony and compressed his lips. "You will,
I trust, excuse me, monsieur, for not calling you by your
title when I first addressed you," he said, "but you are
aware that we are living under a popular form of government,
and that I am myself a representative of the liberties of
the people."

"So much so," replied Monte Cristo, "that while you call
yourself baron you are not willing to call anybody else

"Upon my word, monsieur," said Danglars with affected
carelessness, "I attach no sort of value to such empty
distinctions; but the fact is, I was made baron, and also
chevalier of the Legion of Honor, in return for services
rendered, but" --

"But you have discarded your titles after the example set
you by Messrs. de Montmorency and Lafayette? That was a
noble example to follow, monsieur."

"Why," replied Danglars, "not entirely so; with the
servants, -- you understand."

"I see; to your domestics you are `my lord,' the journalists
style you `monsieur,' while your constituents call you
`citizen.' These are distinctions very suitable under a
constitutional government. I understand perfectly." Again
Danglars bit his lips; he saw that he was no match for Monte
Cristo in an argument of this sort, and he therefore
hastened to turn to subjects more congenial.

"Permit me to inform you, Count," said he, bowing, "that I
have received a letter of advice from Thomson & French, of

"I am glad to hear it, baron, -- for I must claim the
privilege of addressing you after the manner of your
servants. I have acquired the bad habit of calling persons
by their titles from living in a country where barons are
still barons by right of birth. But as regards the letter of
advice, I am charmed to find that it has reached you; that
will spare me the troublesome and disagreeable task of
coming to you for money myself. You have received a regular
letter of advice?"

"Yes," said Danglars, "but I confess I didn't quite
comprehend its meaning."


"And for that reason I did myself the honor of calling upon
you, in order to beg for an explanation."

"Go on, monsieur. Here I am, ready to give you any
explanation you desire."

"Why," said Danglers, "in the letter -- I believe I have it
about me" -- here he felt in his breast-pocket -- "yes, here
it is. Well, this letter gives the Count of Monte Cristo
unlimited credit on our house."

"Well, baron, what is there difficult to understand about

"Merely the term unlimited -- nothing else, certainly."

"Is not that word known in France? The people who wrote are
Anglo-Germans, you know."

"Oh, as for the composition of the letter, there is nothing
to be said; but as regards the competency of the document, I
certainly have doubts."

"Is it possible?" asked the count, assuming all air and tone
of the utmost simplicity and candor. "Is it possible that
Thomson & French are not looked upon as safe and solvent
bankers? Pray tell me what you think, baron, for I feel
uneasy, I can assure you, having some considerable property
in their hands."

"Thomson & French are perfectly solvent," replied Danglars,
with an almost mocking smile: "but the word unlimited, in
financial affairs, is so extremely vague."

"Is, in fact, unlimited," said Monte Cristo.

"Precisely what I was about to say," cried Danglars. "Now
what is vague is doubtful; and it was a wise man who said,
`when in doubt, keep out.'"

"Meaning to say," rejoined Monte Cristo, "that however
Thomson & French may be inclined to commit acts of
imprudence and folly, the Baron Danglars is not disposed to
follow their example."

"Not at all."

"Plainly enough. Messrs. Thomson & French set no bounds to
their engagements while those of M. Danglars have their
limits; he is a wise man, according to his own showing."

"Monsieur," replied the banker, drawing himself up with a
haughty air, "the extent of my resources has never yet been

"It seems, then, reserved for me," said Monte Cristo coldly,
"to be the first to do so."

"By what right, sir?"

"By right of the objections you have raised, and the
explanations you have demanded, which certainly must have
some motive."

Once more Danglars bit his lips. It was the second time he
had been worsted, and this time on his own ground. His
forced politeness sat awkwardly upon him, and approached
almost to impertinence. Monte Cristo on the contrary,
preserved a graceful suavity of demeanor, aided by a certain
degree of simplicity he could assume at pleasure, and thus
possessed the advantage.

"Well, sir," resumed Danglars, after a brief silence, "I
will endeavor to make myself understood, by requesting you
to inform me for what sum you propose to draw upon me?"

"Why, truly," replied Monte Cristo, determined not to lose
an inch of the ground he had gained, "my reason for desiring
an `unlimited' credit was precisely because I did not know
how much money I might need."

The banker thought the time had come for him to take the
upper hand. So throwing himself back in his arm-chair, he
said, with an arrogant and purse-proud air, -- "Let me beg
of you not to hesitate in naming your wishes; you will then
be convinced that the resources of the house of Danglars,
however limited, are still equal to meeting the largest
demands; and were you even to require a million" --

"I beg your pardon," interposed Monte Cristo.

"I said a million," replied Danglars, with the confidence of

"But could I do with a million?" retorted the count. "My
dear sir, if a trifle like that could suffice me, I should
never have given myself the trouble of opening an account. A
million? Excuse my smiling when you speak of a sum I am in
the habit of carrying in my pocket-book or dressing-case."
And with these words Monte Cristo took from his pocket a
small case containing his visiting-cards, and drew forth two
orders on the treasury for 500,000 francs each, payable at
sight to the bearer. A man like Danglars was wholly
inaccessible to any gentler method of correction. The effect
of the present revelation was stunning; he trembled and was
on the verge of apoplexy. The pupils of his eyes, as he
gazed at Monte Cristo dilated horribly.

"Come, come," said Monte Cristo, "confess honestly that you
have not perfect confidence in Thomson & French. I
understand, and foreseeing that such might be the case, I
took, in spite of my ignorance of affairs, certain
precautions. See, here are two similar letters to that you
have yourself received; one from the house of Arstein &
Eskeles of Vienna, to Baron Rothschild, the other drawn by
Baring of London, upon M. Laffitte. Now, sir, you have but
to say the word, and I will spare you all uneasiness by
presenting my letter of credit to one or other of these two
firms." The blow had struck home, and Danglars was entirely
vanquished; with a trembling hand he took the two letters
from the count, who held them carelessly between finger and
thumb, and proceeded to scrutinize the signatures, with a
minuteness that the count might have regarded as insulting,
had it not suited his present purpose to mislead the banker.
"Oh, sir," said Danglars, after he had convinced himself of
the authenticity of the documents he held, and rising as if
to salute the power of gold personified in the man before
him, -- "three letters of unlimited credit! I can be no
longer mistrustful, but you must pardon me, my dear count,
for confessing to some degree of astonishment."

"Nay," answered Monte Cristo, with the most gentlemanly air,
"'tis not for such trifling sums as these that your banking
house is to be incommoded. Then, you can let me have some
money, can you not?"

"Whatever you say, my dear count; I am at your orders."

"Why," replied Monte Cristo, "since we mutually understand
each other -- for such I presume is the case?" Danglars
bowed assentingly. "You are quite sure that not a lurking
doubt or suspicion lingers in your mind?"

"Oh, my dear count," exclaimed Danglars, "I never for an
instant entertained such a feeling towards you."

"No, you merely wished to be convinced, nothing more; but
now that we have come to so clear an understanding, and that
all distrust and suspicion are laid at rest, we may as well
fix a sum as the probable expenditure of the first year,
suppose we say six millions to" --

"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

"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

"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

"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."

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
General Fiction
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