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Chapter 53
Robert le Diable.

The pretext of an opera engagement was so much the more
feasible, as there chanced to be on that very night a more
than ordinary attraction at the Academie Royale. Levasseur,
who had been suffering under severe illness, made his
reappearance in the character of Bertrand, and, as usual,
the announcement of the most admired production of the
favorite composer of the day had attracted a brilliant and
fashionable audience. Morcerf, like most other young men of
rank and fortune, had his orchestra stall, with the
certainty of always finding a seat in at least a dozen of
the principal boxes occupied by persons of his acquaintance;
he had, moreover, his right of entry into the omnibus box.
Chateau-Renaud rented a stall beside his own, while
Beauchamp, as a journalist, had unlimited range all over the
theatre. It happened that on this particular night the
minister's box was placed at the disposal of Lucien Debray,
who offered it to the Comte de Morcerf, who again, upon his
mother's rejection of it, sent it to Danglars, with an
intimation that he should probably do himself the honor of
joining the baroness and her daughter during the evening, in
the event of their accepting the box in question. The ladies
received the offer with too much pleasure to dream of a
refusal. To no class of persons is the presentation of a
gratuitous opera-box more acceptable than to the wealthy
millionaire, who still hugs economy while boasting of
carrying a king's ransom in his waistcoat pocket.

Danglars had, however, protested against showing himself in
a ministerial box, declaring that his political principles,
and his parliamentary position as member of the opposition
party would not permit him so to commit himself; the
baroness had, therefore, despatched a note to Lucien Debray,
bidding him call for them, it being wholly impossible for
her to go alone with Eugenie to the opera. There is no
gainsaying the fact that a very unfavorable construction
would have been put upon the circumstance if the two women
had gone without escort, while the addition of a third, in
the person of her mother's admitted lover, enabled
Mademoiselle Danglars to defy malice and ill-nature. One
must take the world as one finds it.

The curtain rose, as usual, to an almost empty house, it
being one of the absurdities of Parisian fashion never to
appear at the opera until after the beginning of the
performance, so that the first act is generally played
without the slightest attention being paid to it, that part
of the audience already assembled being too much occupied in
observing the fresh arrivals, while nothing is heard but the
noise of opening and shutting doors, and the buzz of
conversation. "Surely," said Albert, as the door of a box on
the first circle opened, "that must be the Countess G----

"And who is the Countess G---- ?" inquired Chateau-Renaud.

"What a question! Now, do you know, baron, I have a great
mind to pick a quarrel with you for asking it; as if all the
world did not know who the Countess G---- was."

"Ah, to be sure," replied Chateau-Renaud; "the lovely
Venetian, is it not?"

"Herself." At this moment the countess perceived Albert, and
returned his salutation with a smile. "You know her, it
seems?" said Chateau-Renaud.

"Franz introduced me to her at Rome," replied Albert.

"Well, then, will you do as much for me in Paris as Franz
did for you in Rome?"

"With pleasure."

There was a cry of "Shut up!" from the audience. This
manifestation on the part of the spectators of their wish to
be allowed to hear the music, produced not the slightest
effect on the two young men, who continued their
conversation. "The countess was present at the races in the
Champ-de-Mars," said Chateau-Renaud.



"Bless me, I quite forgot the races. Did you bet?"

"Oh, merely a paltry fifty louis."

"And who was the winner?"

"Nautilus. I staked on him."

"But there were three races, were there not?"

"Yes; there was the prize given by the Jockey Club -- a gold
cup, you know -- and a very singular circumstance occurred
about that race."

"What was it?"

"Oh, shut up!" again interposed some of the audience.

"Why, it was won by a horse and rider utterly unknown on the

"Is that possible?"

"True as day. The fact was, nobody had observed a horse
entered by the name of Vampa, or that of a jockey styled
Job, when, at the last moment, a splendid roan, mounted by a
jockey about as big as your fist, presented themselves at
the starting-post. They were obliged to stuff at least
twenty pounds weight of shot in the small rider's pockets,
to make him weight; but with all that he outstripped Ariel
and Barbare, against whom he ran, by at least three whole

"And was it not found out at last to whom the horse and
jockey belonged?"


"You say that the horse was entered under the name of

"Exactly; that was the title."

"Then," answered Albert, "I am better informed than you are,
and know who the owner of that horse was."

"Shut up, there!" cried the pit in chorus. And this time the
tone and manner in which the command was given, betokened
such growing hostility that the two young men perceived, for
the first time, that the mandate was addressed to them.
Leisurely turning round, they calmly scrutinized the various
countenances around them, as though demanding some one
person who would take upon himself the responsibility of
what they deemed excessive impertinence; but as no one
responded to the challenge, the friends turned again to the
front of the theatre, and affected to busy themselves with
the stage. At this moment the door of the minister's box
opened, and Madame Danglars, accompanied by her daughter,
entered, escorted by Lucien Debray, who assiduously
conducted them to their seats.

"Ha, ha," said Chateau-Renaud, "here comes some friends of
yours, viscount! What are you looking at there? don't you
see they are trying to catch your eye?" Albert turned round,
just in time to receive a gracious wave of the fan from the
baroness; as for Mademoiselle Eugenie, she scarcely
vouchsafed to waste the glances of her large black eyes even
upon the business of the stage. "I tell you what, my dear
fellow," said Chateau-Renaud, "I cannot imagine what
objection you can possibly have to Mademoiselle Danglars --
that is, setting aside her want of ancestry and somewhat
inferior rank, which by the way I don't think you care very
much about. Now, barring all that, I mean to say she is a
deuced fine girl!"

"Handsome, certainly," replied Albert, "but not to my taste,
which I confess, inclines to something softer, gentler, and
more feminine."

"Ah, well," exclaimed Chateau-Renaud, who because he had
seen his thirtieth summer fancied himself duly warranted in
assuming a sort of paternal air with his more youthful
friend, "you young people are never satisfied; why, what
would you have more? your parents have chosen you a bride
built on the model of Diana, the huntress, and yet you are
not content."

"No, for that very resemblance affrights me; I should have
liked something more in the manner of the Venus of Milo or
Capua; but this chase-loving Diana continually surrounded by
her nymphs gives me a sort of alarm lest she should some day
bring on me the fate of Actaeon."

And, indeed, it required but one glance at Mademoiselle
Danglars to comprehend the justness of Morcerf's remark --
she was beautiful, but her beauty was of too marked and
decided a character to please a fastidious taste; her hair
was raven black, but its natural waves seemed somewhat
rebellious; her eyes, of the same color as her hair, were
surmounted by well-arched brows, whose great defect,
however, consisted in an almost habitual frown, while her
whole physiognomy wore that expression of firmness and
decision so little in accordance with the gentler attributes
of her sex -- her nose was precisely what a sculptor would
have chosen for a chiselled Juno. Her mouth, which might
have been found fault with as too large, displayed teeth of
pearly whiteness, rendered still more conspicuous by the
brilliant carmine of her lips, contrasting vividly with her
naturally pale complexion. But that which completed the
almost masculine look Morcerf found so little to his taste,
was a dark mole, of much larger dimensions than these freaks
of nature generally are, placed just at the corner of her
mouth; and the effect tended to increase the expression of
self-dependence that characterized her countenance. The rest
of Mademoiselle Eugenie's person was in perfect keeping with
the head just described; she, indeed, reminded one of Diana,
as Chateau-Renaud observed, but her bearing was more haughty
and resolute. As regarded her attainments, the only fault to
be found with them was the same that a fastidious
connoisseur might have found with her beauty, that they were
somewhat too erudite and masculine for so young a person.
She was a perfect linguist, a first-rate artist, wrote
poetry, and composed music; to the study of the latter she
professed to be entirely devoted, following it with an
indefatigable perseverance, assisted by a schoolfellow, -- a
young woman without fortune whose talent promised to develop
into remarkable powers as a singer. It was rumored that she
was an object of almost paternal interest to one of the
principal composers of the day, who excited her to spare no
pains in the cultivation of her voice, which might hereafter
prove a source of wealth and independence. But this counsel
effectually decided Mademoiselle Danglars never to commit
herself by being seen in public with one destined for a
theatrical life; and acting upon this principle, the
banker's daughter, though perfectly willing to allow
Mademoiselle Louise d'Armilly (that was the name of the
young virtuosa) to practice with her through the day, took
especial care not to be seen in her company. Still, though
not actually received at the Hotel Danglars in the light of
an acknowledged friend, Louise was treated with far more
kindness and consideration than is usually bestowed on a

The curtain fell almost immediately after the entrance of
Madame Danglars into her box, the band quitted the orchestra
for the accustomed half-hour's interval allowed between the
acts, and the audience were left at liberty to promenade the
salon or lobbies, or to pay and receive visits in their
respective boxes. Morcerf and Chateau-Renaud were amongst
the first to avail themselves of this permission. For an
instant the idea struck Madame Danglars that this eagerness
on the part of the young viscount arose from his impatience
to join her party, and she whispered her expectations to her
daughter, that Albert was hurrying to pay his respects to
them. Mademoiselle Eugenie, however, merely returned a
dissenting movement of the head, while, with a cold smile,
she directed the attention of her mother to an opposite box
on the first circle, in which sat the Countess G---- , and
where Morcerf had just made his appearance. "So we meet
again, my travelling friend, do we?" cried the countess,
extending her hand to him with all the warmth and cordiality
of an old acquaintance; "it was really very good of you to
recognize me so quickly, and still more so to bestow your
first visit on me."

"Be assured," replied Albert, "that if I had been aware of
your arrival in Paris, and had known your address, I should
have paid my respects to you before this. Allow me to
introduce my friend, Baron de Chateau-Renaud, one of the few
true gentlemen now to be found in France, and from whom I
have just learned that you were a spectator of the races in
the Champ-de-Mars, yesterday." Chateau-Renaud bowed to the

"So you were at the races, baron?" inquired the countess

"Yes, madame."

"Well, then," pursued Madame G---- with considerable
animation, "you can probably tell me who won the Jockey Club

"I am sorry to say I cannot," replied the baron; "and I was
just asking the same question of Albert."

"Are you very anxious to know, countess?" asked Albert.

"To know what?"

"The name of the owner of the winning horse?"

"Excessively; only imagine -- but do tell me, viscount,
whether you really are acquainted with it or no?"

"I beg your pardon, madame, but you were about to relate
some story, were you not? You said, `only imagine,' -- and
then paused. Pray continue."

"Well, then, listen. You must know I felt so interested in
the splendid roan horse, with his elegant little rider, so
tastefully dressed in a pink satin jacket and cap, that I
could not help praying for their success with as much
earnestness as though the half of my fortune were at stake;
and when I saw them outstrip all the others, and come to the
winning-post in such gallant style, I actually clapped my
hands with joy. Imagine my surprise, when, upon returning
home, the first object I met on the staircase was the
identical jockey in the pink jacket! I concluded that, by
some singular chance, the owner of the winning horse must
live in the same hotel as myself; but, as I entered my
apartments, I beheld the very gold cup awarded as a prize to
the unknown horse and rider. Inside the cup was a small
piece of paper, on which were written these words -- `From
Lord Ruthven to Countess G---- .'"

"Precisely; I was sure of it," said Morcerf.

"Sure of what?"

"That the owner of the horse was Lord Ruthven himself."

"What Lord Ruthven do you mean?"

"Why, our Lord Ruthven -- the Vampire of the Salle

"Is it possible?" exclaimed the countess; "is he here in

"To be sure, -- why not?"

"And you visit him? -- meet him at your own house and

"I assure you he is my most intimate friend, and M. de
Chateau-Renaud has also the honor of his acquaintance."

"But why are you so sure of his being the winner of the
Jockey Club prize?"

"Was not the winning horse entered by the name of Vampa?"

"What of that?"

"Why, do you not recollect the name of the celebrated bandit
by whom I was made prisoner?"

"Oh, yes."

"And from whose hands the count extricated me in so
wonderful a manner?"

"To be sure, I remember it all now."

"He called himself Vampa. You see. it's evident where the
count got the name."

"But what could have been his motive for sending the cup to

"In the first place, because I had spoken much of you to
him, as you may believe; and in the second, because he
delighted to see a countrywoman take so lively an interest
in his success."

"I trust and hope you never repeated to the count all the
foolish remarks we used to make about him?"

"I should not like to affirm upon oath that I have not.
Besides, his presenting you the cup under the name of Lord
Ruthven" --

"Oh, but that is dreadful! Why, the man must owe me a
fearful grudge."

"Does his action appear like that of an enemy?"

"No; certainly not."

"Well, then" --

"And so he is in Paris?"


"And what effect does he produce?"

"Why," said Albert, "he was talked about for a week; then
the coronation of the queen of England took place, followed
by the theft of Mademoiselle Mars's diamonds; and so people
talked of something else."

"My good fellow," said Chateau-Renaud, "the count is your
friend and you treat him accordingly. Do not believe what
Albert is telling you, countess; so far from the sensation
excited in the Parisian circles by the appearance of the
Count of Monte Cristo having abated, I take upon myself to
declare that it is as strong as ever. His first astounding
act upon coming amongst us was to present a pair of horses,
worth 32,000 francs, to Madame Danglars; his second, the
almost miraculous preservation of Madame de Villefort's
life; now it seems that he has carried off the prize awarded
by the Jockey Club. I therefore maintain, in spite of
Morcerf, that not only is the count the object of interest
at this present moment, but also that he will continue to be
so for a month longer if he pleases to exhibit an
eccentricity of conduct which, after all, may be his
ordinary mode of existence."

"Perhaps you are right," said Morcerf; "meanwhile, who is in
the Russian ambassador's box?"

"Which box do you mean?" asked the countess.

"The one between the pillars on the first tier -- it seems
to have been fitted up entirely afresh."

"Did you observe any one during the first act?" asked


"In that box."

"No," replied the countess, "it was certainly empty during
the first act;" then, resuming the subject of their previous
conversation, she said, "And so you really believe it was
your mysterious Count of Monte Cristo that gained the

"I am sure of it."

"And who afterwards sent the cup to me?"


"But I don't know him," said the countess; "I have a great
mind to return it."

"Do no such thing, I beg of you; he would only send you
another, formed of a magnificent sapphire, or hollowed out
of a gigantic ruby. It is his way, and you must take him as
you find him." At this moment the bell rang to announce the
drawing up of the curtain for the second act. Albert rose to
return to his place. "Shall I see you again?" asked the
countess. "At the end of the next act, with your permission,
I will come and inquire whether there is anything I can do
for you in Paris?"

"Pray take notice," said the countess, "that my present
residence is 22 Rue de Rivoli, and that I am at home to my
friends every Saturday evening. So now, you are both
forewarned." The young men bowed, and quitted the box. Upon
reaching their stalls, they found the whole of the audience
in the parterre standing up and directing their gaze towards
the box formerly possessed by the Russian ambassador. A man
of from thirty-five to forty years of age, dressed in deep
black, had just entered, accompanied by a young woman
dressed after the Eastern style. The lady was surpassingly
beautiful, while the rich magnificence of her attire drew
all eyes upon her. "Hullo," said Albert; "it is Monte Cristo
and his Greek!"

The strangers were, indeed, no other than the count and
Haidee. In a few moments the young girl had attracted the
attention of the whole house, and even the occupants of the
boxes leaned forward to scrutinize her magnificent diamonds.
The second act passed away during one continued buzz of
voices -- one deep whisper -- intimating that some great and
universally interesting event had occurred; all eyes, all
thoughts, were occupied with the young and beautiful woman,
whose gorgeous apparel and splendid jewels made a most
extraordinary spectacle. Upon this occasion an unmistakable
sign from Madame Danglars intimated her desire to see Albert
in her box directly the curtain fell on the second act, and
neither the politeness nor good taste of Morcerf would
permit his neglecting an invitation so unequivocally given.
At the close of the act he therefore went to the baroness.
Having bowed to the two ladies, he extended his hand to
Debray. By the baroness he was most graciously welcomed,
while Eugenie received him with her accustomed coldness.

"My dear fellow," said Debray, "you have come in the nick of
time. There is madame overwhelming me with questions
respecting the count; she insists upon it that I can tell
her his birth, education, and parentage, where he came from,
and whither he is going. Being no disciple of Cagliostro, I
was wholly unable to do this; so, by way of getting out of
the scrape, I said, `Ask Morcerf; he has got the whole
history of his beloved Monte Cristo at his fingers' ends;'
whereupon the baroness signified her desire to see you."

"Is it not almost incredible," said Madame Danglars, "that a
person having at least half a million of secret-service
money at his command, should possess so little information?"

"Let me assure you, madame," said Lucien, "that had I really
the sum you mention at my disposal, I would employ it more
profitably than in troubling myself to obtain particulars
respecting the Count of Monte Cristo, whose only merit in my
eyes consists in his being twice as rich as a nabob.
However, I have turned the business over to Morcerf, so pray
settle it with him as may be most agreeable to you; for my
own part, I care nothing about the count or his mysterious

"I am very sure no nabob would have sent me a pair of horses
worth 32,000 francs, wearing on their heads four diamonds
valued at 5,000 francs each."

"He seems to have a mania for diamonds," said Morcerf,
smiling, "and I verily believe that, like Potemkin, he keeps
his pockets filled, for the sake of strewing them along the
road, as Tom Thumb did his flint stones."

"Perhaps he has discovered some mine," said Madame Danglars.
"I suppose you know he has an order for unlimited credit on
the baron's banking establishment?"

"I was not aware of it," replied Albert, "but I can readily
believe it."

"And, further, that he stated to M. Danglars his intention
of only staying a year in Paris, during which time he
proposed to spend six millions.

"He must be the Shah of Persia, travelling incog."

"Have you noticed the remarkable beauty of the young woman,
M. Lucien?" inquired Eugenie.

"I really never met with one woman so ready to do justice to
the charms of another as yourself," responded Lucien,
raising his lorgnette to his eye. "A most lovely creature,
upon my soul!" was his verdict.

"Who is this young person, M. de Morcerf?" inquired Eugenie;
"does anybody know?"

"Mademoiselle," said Albert, replying to this direct appeal,
"I can give you very exact information on that subject, as
well as on most points relative to the mysterious person of
whom we are now conversing -- the young woman is a Greek."

"So I should suppose by her dress; if you know no more than
that, every one here is as well-informed as yourself."

"I am extremely sorry you find me so ignorant a cicerone,"
replied Morcerf, "but I am reluctantly obliged to confess, I
have nothing further to communicate -- yes, stay, I do know
one thing more, namely, that she is a musician, for one day
when I chanced to be breakfasting with the count, I heard
the sound of a guzla -- it is impossible that it could have
been touched by any other finger than her own."

"Then your count entertains visitors, does he?" asked Madame

"Indeed he does, and in a most lavish manner, I can assure

"I must try and persuade M. Danglars to invite him to a ball
or dinner, or something of the sort, that he may be
compelled to ask us in return."

"What," said Debray, laughing; "do you really mean you would
go to his house?"

"Why not? my husband could accompany me."

"But do you know this mysterious count is a bachelor?"

"You have ample proof to the contrary, if you look
opposite," said the baroness, as she laughingly pointed to
the beautiful Greek.

"No, no!" exclaimed Debray; "that girl is not his wife: he
told us himself she was his slave. Do you not recollect,
Morcerf, his telling us so at your breakfast?"

"Well, then," said the baroness, "if slave she be, she has
all the air and manner of a princess."

"Of the `Arabian Nights'?"

"If you like; but tell me, my dear Lucien, what it is that
constitutes a princess. Why, diamonds -- and she is covered
with them."

"To me she seems overloaded," observed Eugenie; "she would
look far better if she wore fewer, and we should then be
able to see her finely formed throat and wrists."

"See how the artist peeps out!" exclaimed Madame Danglars.
"My poor Eugenie, you must conceal your passion for the fine

"I admire all that is beautiful," returned the young lady.

"What do you think of the count?" inquired Debray; "he is
not much amiss, according to my ideas of good looks."

"The count," repeated Eugenie, as though it had not occurred
to her to observe him sooner; "the count? -- oh, he is so
dreadfully pale."

"I quite agree with you," said Morcerf; "and the secret of
that very pallor is what we want to find out. The Countess
G---- insists upon it that he is a vampire."

"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

"Really? and what has procured me so fluttering a

"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

"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

"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."

"Surely so trifling a circumstance cannot deserve a place in
your remembrance. Believe me, madame, I had entirely
forgotten it."

"But it is not so easy to forget, monsieur, that the very
next day after your princely gift you saved the life of my
dear friend, Madame de Villefort, which was endangered by
the very animals your generosity restored to me."

"This time, at least, I do not deserve your thanks. It was
Ali, my Nubian slave, who rendered this service to Madame de

"Was it Ali," asked the Count of Morcerf, "who rescued my
son from the hands of bandits?"

"No, count," replied Monte Cristo taking the hand held out
to him by the general; "in this instance I may fairly and
freely accept your thanks; but you have already tendered
them, and fully discharged your debt -- if indeed there
existed one -- and I feel almost mortified to find you still
reverting to the subject. May I beg of you, baroness, to
honor me with an introduction to your daughter?"

"Oh, you are no stranger -- at least not by name," replied
Madame Danglars, "and the last two or three days we have
really talked of nothing but you. Eugenie," continued the
baroness, turning towards her daughter, "this is the Count
of Monte Cristo." The Count bowed, while Mademoiselle
Danglars bent her head slightly. "You have a charming young
person with you to-night, count," said Eugenie. "Is she your

"No, mademoiselle," said Monte Cristo, astonished at the
coolness and freedom of the question. "She is a poor
unfortunate Greek left under my care."

"And what is her name?"

"Haidee," replied Monte Cristo.

"A Greek?" murmured the Count of Morcerf.

"Yes, indeed, count," said Madame Danglars; "and tell me,
did you ever see at the court of Ali Tepelini, whom you so
gloriously and valiantly served, a more exquisite beauty or
richer costume?"

"Did I hear rightly, monsieur," said Monte Cristo "that you
served at Yanina?"

"I was inspector-general of the pasha's troops," replied
Morcerf; "and it is no secret that I owe my fortune, such as
it is, to the liberality of the illustrious Albanese chief."

"But look!" exclaimed Madame Danglars.

"Where?" stammered Morcerf.

"There," said Monte Cristo placing his arms around the
count, and leaning with him over the front of the box, just
as Haidee, whose eyes were occupied in examining the theatre
in search of her guardian, perceived his pale features close
to Morcerf's face. It was as if the young girl beheld the
head of Medusa. She bent forwards as though to assure
herself of the reality of what she saw, then, uttering a
faint cry, threw herself back in her seat. The sound was
heard by the people about Ali, who instantly opened the
box-door. "Why, count," exclaimed Eugenie, "what has
happened to your ward? she seems to have been taken suddenly

"Very probably," answered the count. "But do not be alarmed
on her account. Haidee's nervous system is delicately
organized, and she is peculiarly susceptible to the odors
even of flowers -- nay, there are some which cause her to
faint if brought into her presence. However," continued
Monte Cristo, drawing a small phial from his pocket, "I have
an infallible remedy." So saying, he bowed to the baroness
and her daughter, exchanged a parting shake of the hand with
Debray and the count, and left Madame Danglars' box. Upon
his return to Haidee he found her still very pale. As soon
as she saw him she seized his hand; her own hands were moist
and icy cold. "Who was it you were talking with over there?"
she asked.

"With the Count of Morcerf," answered Monte Cristo. "He
tells me he served your illustrious father, and that he owes
his fortune to him."

"Wretch!" exclaimed Haidee, her eyes flashing with rage; "he
sold my father to the Turks, and the fortune he boasts of
was the price of his treachery! Did not you know that, my
dear lord?"

"Something of this I heard in Epirus," said Monte Cristo;
"but the particulars are still unknown to me. You shall
relate them to me, my child. They are, no doubt, both
curious and interesting."

"Yes, yes; but let us go. I feel as though it would kill me
to remain long near that dreadful man." So saying, Haidee
arose, and wrapping herself in her burnoose of white
cashmire embroidered with pearls and coral, she hastily
quitted the box at the moment when the curtain was rising
upon the fourth act.

"Do you observe," said the Countess G---- to Albert, who
had returned to her side, "that man does nothing like other
people; he listens most devoutly to the third act of `Robert
le Diable,' and when the fourth begins, takes his

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
General Fiction
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