The Dappled Grays.
The baron, followed by the count, traversed a long series of
apartments, in which the prevailing characteristics were
heavy magnificence and the gaudiness of ostentatious wealth,
until he reached the boudoir of Madame Danglars -- a small
octagonal-shaped room, hung with pink satin, covered with
white Indian muslin. The chairs were of ancient workmanship
and materials; over the doors were painted sketches of
shepherds and shepherdesses, after the style and manner of
Boucher; and at each side pretty medallions in crayons,
harmonizing well with the furnishings of this charming
apartment, the only one throughout the great mansion in
which any distinctive taste prevailed. The truth was, it had
been entirely overlooked in the plan arranged and followed
out by M. Danglars and his architect, who had been selected
to aid the baron in the great work of improvement solely
because he was the most fashionable and celebrated decorator
of the day. The decorations of the boudoir had then been
left entirely to Madame Danglars and Lucien Debray. M.
Danglars, however, while possessing a great admiration for
the antique, as it was understood during the time of the
Directory, entertained the most sovereign contempt for the
simple elegance of his wife's favorite sitting-room, where,
by the way, he was never permitted to intrude, unless,
indeed, he excused his own appearance by ushering in some
more agreeable visitor than himself; and even then he had
rather the air and manner of a person who was himself
introduced, than that of being the presenter of another, his
reception being cordial or frigid, in proportion as the
person who accompanied him chanced to please or displease
Madame Danglars (who, although past the first bloom of
youth, was still strikingly handsome) was now seated at the
piano, a most elaborate piece of cabinet and inlaid work,
while Lucien Debray, standing before a small work-table, was
turning over the pages of an album. Lucien had found time,
preparatory to the count's arrival, to relate many
particulars respecting him to Madame Danglars. It will be
remembered that Monte Cristo had made a lively impression on
the minds of all the party assembled at the breakfast given
by Albert de Morcerf; and although Debray was not in the
habit of yielding to such feelings, he had never been able
to shake off the powerful influence excited in his mind by
the impressive look and manner of the count, consequently
the description given by Lucien to the baroness bore the
highly-colored tinge of his own heated imagination. Already
excited by the wonderful stories related of the count by De
Morcerf, it is no wonder that Madame Danglars eagerly
listened to, and fully credited, all the additional
circumstances detailed by Debray. This posing at the piano
and over the album was only a little ruse adopted by way of
precaution. A most gracious welcome and unusual smile were
bestowed on M. Danglars; the count, in return for his
gentlemanly bow, received a formal though graceful courtesy,
while Lucien exchanged with the count a sort of distant
recognition, and with Danglars a free and easy nod.
"Baroness," said Danglars, "give me leave to present to you
the Count of Monte Cristo, who has been most warmly
recommended to me by my correspondents at Rome. I need but
mention one fact to make all the ladies in Paris court his
notice, and that is, that he has come to take up his abode
in Paris for a year, during which brief period he proposes
to spend six millions of money. That means balls, dinners,
and lawn parties without end, in all of which I trust the
count will remember us, as he may depend upon it we shall
him, in our own humble entertainments." In spite of the
gross flattery and coarseness of this address, Madame
Danglars could not forbear gazing with considerable interest
on a man capable of expending six millions in twelve months,
and who had selected Paris for the scene of his princely
extravagance. "And when did you arrive here?" inquired she.
"Yesterday morning, madame."
"Coming, as usual, I presume, from the extreme end of the
globe? Pardon me -- at least, such I have heard is your
"Nay, madame. This time I have merely come from Cadiz."
"You have selected a most unfavorable moment for your first
visit. Paris is a horrible place in summer. Balls, parties,
and fetes are over; the Italian opera is in London; the
French opera everywhere except in Paris. As for the Theatre
Francais, you know, of course, that it is nowhere. The only
amusements left us are the indifferent races at the Champ de
Mars and Satory. Do you propose entering any horses at
either of these races, count?"
"I shall do whatever they do at Paris, madame, if I have the
good fortune to find some one who will initiate me into the
prevalent ideas of amusement."
"Are you fond of horses, count?"
"I have passed a considerable part of my life in the East,
madame, and you are doubtless aware that the Orientals value
only two things -- the fine breeding of their horses and the
beauty of their women."
"Nay, count," said the baroness, "it would have been
somewhat more gallant to have placed the ladies first."
"You see, madame, how rightly I spoke when I said I required
a preceptor to guide me in all my sayings and doings here."
At this instant the favorite attendant of Madame Danglars
entered the boudoir; approaching her mistress, she spoke
some words in an undertone. Madame Danglars turned very
pale, then exclaimed, -- "I cannot believe it; the thing is
"I assure you, madame," replied the woman, "it is as I have
said." Turning impatiently towards her husband, Madame
Danglars demanded, "Is this true?"
"Is what true, madame?" inquired Danglars, visibly agitated.
"What my maid tells me."
"But what does she tell you?"
"That when my coachman was about to harness the horses to my
carriage, he discovered that they had been removed from the
stables without his knowledge. I desire to know what is the
meaning of this?"
"Be kind enough, madame, to listen to me," said Danglars.
"Oh, yes; I will listen, monsieur, for I am most curious to
hear what explanation you will give. These two gentlemen
shall decide between us; but, first, I will state the case
to them. Gentlemen," continued the baroness, "among the ten
horses in the stables of Baron Danglars, are two that belong
exclusively to me -- a pair of the handsomest and most
spirited creatures to be found in Paris. But to you, at
least, M. Debray, I need not give a further description,
because to you my beautiful pair of dappled grays were well
known. Well, I had promised Madame de Villefort the loan of
my carriage to drive to-morrow to the Bois; but when my
coachman goes to fetch the grays from the stables they are
gone -- positively gone. No doubt M. Danglars has sacrificed
them to the selfish consideration of gaining some thousands
of paltry francs. Oh, what a detestable crew they are, these
"Madame," replied Danglars, "the horses were not
sufficiently quiet for you; they were scarcely four years
old, and they made me extremely uneasy on your account."
"Nonsense," retorted the baroness; "you could not have
entertained any alarm on the subject, because you are
perfectly well aware that I have had for a month in my
service the very best coachman in Paris. But, perhaps, you
have disposed of the coachman as well as the horses?"
"My dear love, pray do not say any more about them, and I
promise you another pair exactly like them in appearance,
only more quiet and steady." The baroness shrugged her
shoulders with an air of ineffable contempt, while her
husband, affecting not to observe this unconjugal gesture,
turned towards Monte Cristo and said, -- "Upon my word,
count, I am quite sorry not to have met you sooner. You are
setting up an establishment, of course?"
"Why, yes," replied the count.
"I should have liked to have made you the offer of these
horses. I have almost given them away, as it is; but, as I
before said, I was anxious to get rid of them upon any
terms. They were only fit for a young man."
"I am much obliged by your kind intentions towards me," said
Monte Cristo; "but this morning I purchased a very excellent
pair of carriage-horses, and I do not think they were dear.
There they are. Come, M. Debray, you are a connoisseur, I
believe, let me have your opinion upon them." As Debray
walked towards the window, Danglars approached his wife. "I
could not tell you before others," said he in a low tone,
"the reason of my parting with the horses; but a most
enormous price was offered me this morning for them. Some
madman or fool, bent upon ruining himself as fast as he can,
actually sent his steward to me to purchase them at any
cost; and the fact is, I have gained 16,000 francs by the
sale of them. Come, don't look so angry, and you shall have
4,000 francs of the money to do what you like with, and
Eugenie shall have 2,000. There, what do you think now of
the affair? Wasn't I right to part with the horses?" Madame
Danglars surveyed her husband with a look of withering
"Great heavens?" suddenly exclaimed Debray.
"What is it?" asked the baroness.
"I cannot be mistaken; there are your horses! The very
animals we were speaking of, harnessed to the count's
"My dappled grays?" demanded the baroness, springing to the
window. "'Tis indeed they!" said she. Danglars looked
absolutely stupefied. "How very singular," cried Monte
Cristo with well-feigned astonishment.
"I cannot believe it," murmured the banker. Madame Danglars
whispered a few words in the ear of Debray, who approached
Monte Cristo, saying, "The baroness wishes to know what you
paid her husband for the horses."
"I scarcely know," replied the count; "it was a little
surprise prepared for me by my steward, and cost me -- well,
somewhere about 30,000 francs." Debray conveyed the count's
reply to the baroness. Poor Danglars looked so crest-fallen
and discomfited that Monte Cristo assumed a pitying air
towards him. "See," said the count, "how very ungrateful
women are. Your kind attention, in providing for the safety
of the baroness by disposing of the horses, does not seem to
have made the least impression on her. But so it is; a woman
will often, from mere wilfulness, prefer that which is
dangerous to that which is safe. Therefore, in my opinion,
my dear baron, the best and easiest way is to leave them to
their fancies, and allow them to act as they please, and
then, if any mischief follows, why, at least, they have no
one to blame but themselves." Danglars made no reply; he was
occupied in anticipations of the coming scene between
himself and the baroness, whose frowning brow, like that of
Olympic Jove, predicted a storm. Debray, who perceived the
gathering clouds, and felt no desire to witness the
explosion of Madame Danglars' rage, suddenly recollected an
appointment, which compelled him to take his leave; while
Monte Cristo, unwilling by prolonging his stay to destroy
the advantages he hoped to obtain, made a farewell bow and
departed, leaving Danglars to endure the angry reproaches of
"Excellent," murmured Monte Cristo to himself, as he came
away. "All his gone according to my wishes. The domestic
peace of this family is henceforth in my hands. Now, then,
to play another master-stroke, by which I shall gain the
heart of both husband and wife -- delightful! Still," added
he, "amid all this, I have not yet been presented to
Mademoiselle Eugenie Danglars, whose acquaintance I should
have been glad to make. But," he went on with his peculiar
smile, "I am here in Paris, and have plenty of time before
me -- by and by will do for that." With these reflections he
entered his carriage and returned home. Two hours
afterwards, Madame Danglars received a most flattering
epistle from the count, in which he entreated her to receive
back her favorite "dappled grays," protesting that he could
not endure the idea of making his entry into the Parisian
world of fashion with the knowledge that his splendid
equipage had been obtained at the price of a lovely woman's
regrets. The horses were sent back wearing the same harness
she had seen on them in the morning; only, by the count's
orders, in the centre of each rosette that adorned either
side of their heads, had been fastened a large diamond.
To Danglars Monte Cristo also wrote, requesting him to
excuse the whimsical gift of a capricious millionaire, and
to beg the baroness to pardon the Eastern fashion adopted in
the return of the horses.
During the evening, Monte Cristo quitted Paris for Auteuil,
accompanied by Ali. The following day, about three o'clock,
a single blow struck on the gong summoned Ali to the
presence of the count. "Ali," observed his master, as the
Nubian entered the chamber, "you have frequently explained
to me how more than commonly skilful you are in throwing the
lasso, have you not?" Ali drew himself up proudly, and then
returned a sign in the affirmative. "I thought I did not
mistake. With your lasso you could stop an ox?" Again Ali
repeated his affirmative gesture. "Or a tiger?" Ali bowed
his head in token of assent. "A lion even?" Ali sprung
forwards, imitating the action of one throwing the lasso,
then of a strangled lion.
"I understand," said Monte Cristo; "you wish to tell me you
have hunted the lion?" Ali smiled with triumphant pride as
he signified that he had indeed both chased and captured
many lions. "But do you believe you could arrest the
progress of two horses rushing forwards with ungovernable
fury?" The Nubian smiled. "It is well," said Monte Cristo.
"Then listen to me. Ere long a carriage will dash past here,
drawn by the pair of dappled gray horses you saw me with
yesterday; now, at the risk of your own life, you must
manage to stop those horses before my door."
Ali descended to the street, and marked a straight line on
the pavement immediately at the entrance of the house, and
then pointed out the line he had traced to the count, who
was watching him. The count patted him gently on the
shoulder, his usual mode of praising Ali, who, pleased and
gratified with the commission assigned him, walked calmly
towards a projecting stone forming the angle of the street
and house, and, seating himself thereon, began to smoke his
chibouque, while Monte Cristo re-entered his dwelling,
perfectly assured of the success of his plan. Still, as five
o'clock approached, and the carriage was momentarily
expected by the count, the indication of more than common
impatience and uneasiness might be observed in his manner.
He stationed himself in a room commanding a view of the
street, pacing the chamber with restless steps, stopping
merely to listen from time to time for the sound of
approaching wheels, then to cast an anxious glance on Ali;
but the regularity with which the Nubian puffed forth the
smoke of his chibouque proved that he at least was wholly
absorbed in the enjoyment of his favorite occupation.
Suddenly a distant sound of rapidly advancing wheels was
heard, and almost immediately a carriage appeared, drawn by
a pair of wild, ungovernable horses, while the terrified
coachman strove in vain to restrain their furious speed.
In the vehicle was a young woman and a child of about seven
or eight clasped in each other's arms. Terror seemed to have
deprived them even of the power of uttering a cry. The
carriage creaked and rattled as it flew over the rough
stones, and the slightest obstacle under the wheels would
have caused disaster; but it kept on in the middle of the
road, and those who saw it pass uttered cries of terror.
Ali suddenly cast aside his chibouque, drew the lasso from
his pocket, threw it so skilfully as to catch the forelegs
of the near horse in its triple fold, and suffered himself
to be dragged on for a few steps by the violence of the
shock, then the animal fell over on the pole, which snapped,
and therefore prevented the other horse from pursuing its
way. Gladly availing himself of this opportunity, the
coachman leaped from his box; but Ali had promptly seized
the nostrils of the second horse, and held them in his iron
grasp, till the beast, snorting with pain, sunk beside his
companion. All this was achieved in much less time than is
occupied in the recital. The brief space had, however, been
sufficient for a man, followed by a number of servants, to
rush from the house before which the accident had occurred,
and, as the coachman opened the door of the carriage, to
take from it a lady who was convulsively grasping the
cushions with one hand, while with the other she pressed to
her bosom the young boy, who had lost consciousness.
Monte Cristo carried them both to the salon, and deposited
them on a sofa. "Compose yourself, madame," said he; "all
danger is over." The woman looked up at these words, and,
with a glance far more expressive than any entreaties could
have been, pointed to her child, who still continued
insensible. "I understand the nature of your alarms,
madame," said the count, carefully examining the child, "but
I assure you there is not the slightest occasion for
uneasiness; your little charge has not received the least
injury; his insensibility is merely the effects of terror,
and will soon pass."
"Are you quite sure you do not say so to tranquillize my
fears? See how deadly pale he is! My child, my darling
Edward; speak to your mother -- open your dear eyes and look
on me once again! Oh, sir, in pity send for a physician; my
whole fortune shall not be thought too much for the recovery
of my boy."
With a calm smile and a gentle wave of the hand, Monte
Cristo signed to the distracted mother to lay aside her
apprehensions; then, opening a casket that stood near, he
drew forth a phial of Bohemian glass incrusted with gold,
containing a liquid of the color of blood, of which he let
fall a single drop on the child's lips. Scarcely had it
reached them, ere the boy, though still pale as marble,
opened his eyes, and eagerly gazed around him. At this, the
delight of the mother was almost frantic. "Where am I?"
exclaimed she; "and to whom am I indebted for so happy a
termination to my late dreadful alarm?"
"Madame," answered the count, "you are under the roof of one
who esteems himself most fortunate in having been able to
save you from a further continuance of your sufferings."
"My wretched curiosity has brought all this about," pursued
the lady. "All Paris rung with the praises of Madame
Danglars' beautiful horses, and I had the folly to desire to
know whether they really merited the high praise given to
"Is it possible," exclaimed the count with well-feigned
astonishment, "that these horses belong to the baroness?"
"They do, indeed. May I inquire if you are acquainted with
"I have that honor; and my happiness at your escape from the
danger that threatened you is redoubled by the consciousness
that I have been the unwilling and the unintentional cause
of all the peril you have incurred. I yesterday purchased
these horses of the baron; but as the baroness evidently
regretted parting with them, I ventured to send them back to
her, with a request that she would gratify me by accepting
them from my hands."
"You are, then, doubtless, the Count of Monte Cristo, of
whom Hermine has talked to me so much?"
"You have rightly guessed, madame," replied the count.
"And I am Madame Heloise de Villefort." The count bowed with
the air of a person who hears a name for the first time.
"How grateful will M. de Villefort be for all your goodness;
how thankfully will he acknowledge that to you alone he owes
the existence of his wife and child! Most certainly, but for
the prompt assistance of your intrepid servant, this dear
child and myself must both have perished."
"Indeed, I still shudder at the fearful danger you were
"I trust you will allow me to recompense worthily the
devotion of your man."
"I beseech you, madame," replied Monte Cristo "not to spoil
Ali, either by too great praise or rewards. I cannot allow
him to acquire the habit of expecting to be recompensed for
every trifling service he may render. Ali is my slave, and
in saving your life he was but discharging his duty to me."
"Nay," interposed Madame de Villefort, on whom the
authoritative style adopted by the count made a deep
impression, "nay, but consider that to preserve my life he
has risked his own."
"His life, madame, belongs not to him; it is mine, in return
for my having myself saved him from death." Madame de
Villefort made no further reply; her mind was utterly
absorbed in the contemplation of the person who, from the
first instant she saw him, had made so powerful an
impression on her. During the evident preoccupation of
Madame de Villefort, Monte Cristo scrutinized the features
and appearance of the boy she kept folded in her arms,
lavishing on him the most tender endearments. The child was
small for his age, and unnaturally pale. A mass of straight
black hair, defying all attempts to train or curl it, fell
over his projecting forehead, and hung down to his
shoulders, giving increased vivacity to eyes already
sparkling with a youthful love of mischief and fondness for
every forbidden enjoyment. His mouth was large, and the
lips, which had not yet regained their color, were
particularly thin; in fact, the deep and crafty look, giving
a predominant expression to the child's face, belonged
rather to a boy of twelve or fourteen than to one so young.
His first movement was to free himself by a violent push
from the encircling arms of his mother, and to rush forward
to the casket from whence the count had taken the phial of
elixir; then, without asking permission of any one, he
proceeded, in all the wilfulness of a spoiled child
unaccustomed to restrain either whims or caprices, to pull
the corks out of all the bottles.
"Touch nothing, my little friend," cried the count eagerly;
"some of those liquids are not only dangerous to taste, but
even to inhale."
Madame de Villefort became very pale, and, seizing her son's
arm, drew him anxiously toward her; but, once satisfied of
his safety, she also cast a brief but expressive glance on
the casket, which was not lost upon the count. At this
moment Ali entered. At sight of him Madame de Villefort
uttered an expression of pleasure, and, holding the child
still closer towards her, she said, "Edward, dearest, do you
see that good man? He has shown very great courage and
resolution, for he exposed his own life to stop the horses
that were running away with us, and would certainly have
dashed the carriage to pieces. Thank him, then, my child, in
your very best manner; for, had he not come to our aid,
neither you nor I would have been alive to speak our
thanks." The child stuck out his lips and turned away his
head in a disdainful manner, saying, "He's too ugly."
The count smiled as if the child bade fair to realize his
hopes, while Madame de Villefort reprimanded her son with a
gentleness and moderation very far from conveying the least
idea of a fault having been committed. "This lady," said the
Count, speaking to Ali in the Arabic language, "is desirous
that her son should thank you for saving both their lives;
but the boy refuses, saying you are too ugly." Ali turned
his intelligent countenance towards the boy, on whom he
gazed without any apparent emotion; but the spasmodic
working of the nostrils showed to the practiced eye of Monte
Cristo that the Arab had been wounded to the heart.
"Will you permit me to inquire," said Madame de Villefort,
as she arose to take her leave, "whether you usually reside
"No, I do not," replied Monte Cristo; "it is a small place I
have purchased quite lately. My place of abode is No. 30,
Avenue des Champs Elysees; but I see you have quite
recovered from your fright, and are, no doubt, desirous of
returning home. Anticipating your wishes, I have desired the
same horses you came with to be put to one of my carriages,
and Ali, he whom you think so very ugly," continued he,
addressing the boy with a smiling air, "will have the honor
of driving you home, while your coachman remains here to
attend to the necessary repairs of your calash. As soon as
that important business is concluded, I will have a pair of
my own horses harnessed to convey it direct to Madame
"I dare not return with those dreadful horses," said Madame
"You will see," replied Monte Cristo, "that they will be as
different as possible in the hands of Ali. With him they
will be gentle and docile as lambs." Ali had, indeed, given
proof of this; for, approaching the animals, who had been
got upon their legs with considerable difficulty, he rubbed
their foreheads and nostrils with a sponge soaked in
aromatic vinegar, and wiped off the sweat and foam that
covered their mouths. Then, commencing a loud whistling
noise, he rubbed them well all over their bodies for several
minutes; then, undisturbed by the noisy crowd collected
round the broken carriage, Ali quietly harnessed the
pacified animals to the count's chariot, took the reins in
his hands, and mounted the box, when to the utter
astonishment of those who had witnessed the ungovernable
spirit and maddened speed of the same horses, he was
actually compelled to apply his whip in no very gentle
manner before he could induce them to start; and even then
all that could be obtained from the celebrated "dappled
grays," now changed into a couple of dull, sluggish, stupid
brutes, was a slow, pottering pace, kept up with so much
difficulty that Madame de Villefort was more than two hours
returning to her residence in the Faubourg St. Honore.
Scarcely had the first congratulations upon her marvellous
escape been gone through when she wrote the following letter
to Madame Danglars: --
Dear Hermine, -- I have just had a wonderful escape from the
most imminent danger, and I owe my safety to the very Count
of Monte Cristo we were talking about yesterday, but whom I
little expected to see to-day. I remember how unmercifully I
laughed at what I considered your eulogistic and exaggerated
praises of him; but I have now ample cause to admit that
your enthusiastic description of this wonderful man fell far
short of his merits. Your horses got as far as Ranelagh,
when they darted forward like mad things, and galloped away
at so fearful a rate, that there seemed no other prospect
for myself and my poor Edward but that of being dashed to
pieces against the first object that impeded their progress,
when a strange-looking man, -- an Arab, a negro, or a
Nubian, at least a black of some nation or other -- at a
signal from the count, whose domestic he is, suddenly seized
and stopped the infuriated animals, even at the risk of
being trampled to death himself; and certainly he must have
had a most wonderful escape. The count then hastened to us,
and took us into his house, where he speedily recalled my
poor Edward to life. He sent us home in his own carriage.
Yours will be returned to you to-morrow. You will find your
horses in bad condition, from the results of this accident;
they seem thoroughly stupefied, as if sulky and vexed at
having been conquered by man. The count, however, his
commissioned me to assure you that two or three days' rest,
with plenty of barley for their sole food during that time,
will bring them back to as fine, that is as terrifying, a
condition as they were in yesterday. Adieu! I cannot return
you many thanks for the drive of yesterday; but, after all,
I ought not to blame you for the misconduct of your horses,
more especially as it procured me the pleasure of an
introduction to the Count of Monte Cristo, -- and certainly
that illustrious personage, apart from the millions he is
said to be so very anxious to dispose of, seemed to me one
of those curiously interesting problems I, for one, delight
in solving at any risk, even if it were to necessitate
another drive to the Bois behind your horses. Edward endured
the accident with miraculous courage -- he did not utter a
single cry, but fell lifeless into my arms; nor did a tear
fall from his eyes after it was over. I doubt not you will
consider these praises the result of blind maternal
affection, but there is a soul of iron in that delicate,
fragile body. Valentine sends many affectionate remembrances
to your dear Eugenie. I embrace you with all my heart.
Heloise de Villefort.
P.S. -- Do pray contrive some means for me to meet the Count
of Monte Cristo at your house. I must and will see him
again. I have just made M. de Villefort promise to call on
him, and I hope the visit will be returned.
That night the adventure at Auteuil was talked of
everywhere. Albert related it to his mother; Chateau-Renaud
recounted it at the Jockey Club, and Debray detailed it at
length in the salons of the minister; even Beauchamp
accorded twenty lines in his journal to the relation of the
count's courage and gallantry, thereby celebrating him as
the greatest hero of the day in the eyes of all the feminine
members of the aristocracy. Vast was the crowd of visitors
and inquiring friends who left their names at the residence
of Madame de Villefort, with the design of renewing their
visit at the right moment, of hearing from her lips all the
interesting circumstances of this most romantic adventure.
As for M. de Villefort, he fulfilled the predictions of
Heloise to the letter, -- donned his dress suit, drew on a
pair of white gloves, ordered the servants to attend the
carriage dressed in their full livery, and drove that same
night to No. 30 in the Avenue des Champs-Elysees.