At first sight the exterior of the house at Auteuil gave no
indications of splendor, nothing one would expect from the
destined residence of the magnificent Count of Monte Cristo;
but this simplicity was according to the will of its master,
who positively ordered nothing to be altered outside. The
splendor was within. Indeed, almost before the door opened,
the scene changed. M. Bertuccio had outdone himself in the
taste displayed in furnishing, and in the rapidity with
which it was executed. It is told that the Duc d'Antin
removed in a single night a whole avenue of trees that
annoyed Louis XIV.; in three days M. Bertuccio planted an
entirely bare court with poplars, large spreading sycamores
to shade the different parts of the house, and in the
foreground, instead of the usual paving-stones, half hidden
by the grass, there extended a lawn but that morning laid
down, and upon which the water was yet glistening. For the
rest, the orders had been issued by the count; he himself
had given a plan to Bertuccio, marking the spot where each
tree was to be planted, and the shape and extent of the lawn
which was to take the place of the paving-stones. Thus the
house had become unrecognizable, and Bertuccio himself
declared that he scarcely knew it, encircled as it was by a
framework of trees. The overseer would not have objected,
while he was about it, to have made some improvements in the
garden, but the count had positively forbidden it to be
touched. Bertuccio made amends, however, by loading the
ante-chambers, staircases, and mantle-pieces with flowers.
What, above all, manifested the shrewdness of the steward,
and the profound science of the master, the one in carrying
out the ideas of the other, was that this house which
appeared only the night before so sad and gloomy,
impregnated with that sickly smell one can almost fancy to
be the smell of time, had in a single day acquired the
aspect of life, was scented with its master's favorite
perfumes, and had the very light regulated according to his
wish. When the count arrived, he had under his touch his
books and arms, his eyes rested upon his favorite pictures;
his dogs, whose caresses he loved, welcomed him in the
ante-chamber; the birds, whose songs delighted him, cheered
him with their music; and the house, awakened from it's long
sleep, like the sleeping beauty in the wood, lived, sang,
and bloomed like the houses we have long cherished, and in
which, when we are forced to leave them, we leave a part of
our souls. The servants passed gayly along the fine
court-yard; some, belonging to the kitchens, gliding down
the stairs, restored but the previous day, as if they had
always inhabited the house; others filling the coach-houses,
where the equipages, encased and numbered, appeared to have
been installed for the last fifty years; and in the stables
the horses replied with neighs to the grooms, who spoke to
them with much more respect than many servants pay their
The library was divided into two parts on either side of the
wall, and contained upwards of two thousand volumes; one
division was entirely devoted to novels, and even the volume
which had been published but the day before was to be seen
in its place in all the dignity of its red and gold binding.
On the other side of the house, to match with the library,
was the conservatory, ornamented with rare flowers, that
bloomed in china jars; and in the midst of the greenhouse,
marvellous alike to sight and smell, was a billiard-table
which looked as if it had been abandoned during the past
hour by players who had left the balls on the cloth. One
chamber alone had been respected by the magnificent
Bertuccio. Before this room, to which you could ascend by
the grand, and go out by the back staircase, the servants
passed with curiosity, and Bertuccio with terror. At five
o'clock precisely, the count arrived before the house at
Auteuil, followed by Ali. Bertuccio was awaiting this
arrival with impatience, mingled with uneasiness; he hoped
for some compliments, while, at the same time, he feared to
have frowns. Monte Cristo descended into the courtyard,
walked all over the house, without giving any sign of
approbation or pleasure, until he entered his bedroom,
situated on the opposite side to the closed room; then he
approached a little piece of furniture, made of rosewood,
which he had noticed at a previous visit. "That can only be
to hold gloves," he said.
"Will your excellency deign to open it?" said the delighted
Bertuccio, "and you will find gloves in it." Elsewhere the
count found everything he required -- smelling-bottles,
"Good," he said; and M. Bertuccio left enraptured, so great,
so powerful, and real was the influence exercised by this
man over all who surrounded him. At precisely six o'clock
the clatter of horses' hoofs was heard at the entrance door;
it was our captain of Spahis, who had arrived on Medeah. "I
am sure I am the first," cried Morrel; "I did it on purpose
to have you a minute to myself, before every one came. Julie
and Emmanuel have a thousand things to tell you. Ah, really
this is magnificent! But tell me, count, will your people
take care of my horse?"
"Do not alarm yourself, my dear Maximilian -- they
"I mean, because he wants petting. If you had seen at what a
pace he came -- like the wind!"
"I should think so, -- a horse that cost 5,000 francs!" said
Monte Cristo, in the tone which a father would use towards a
"Do you regret them?" asked Morrel, with his open laugh.
"I? Certainly not," replied the count. "No; I should only
regret if the horse had not proved good."
"It is so good, that I have distanced M. de Chateau-Renaud,
one of the best riders in France, and M. Debray, who both
mount the minister's Arabians; and close on their heels are
the horses of Madame Danglars, who always go at six leagues
"Then they follow you?" asked Monte Cristo.
"See, they are here." And at the same minute a carriage with
smoking horses, accompanied by two mounted gentlemen,
arrived at the gate, which opened before them. The carriage
drove round, and stopped at the steps, followed by the
horsemen. The instant Debray had touched the ground, he was
at the carriage-door. He offered his hand to the baroness,
who, descending, took it with a peculiarity of manner
imperceptible to every one but Monte Cristo. But nothing
escaped the count's notice, and he observed a little note,
passed with the facility that indicates frequent practice,
from the hand of Madame Danglars to that of the minister's
secretary. After his wife the banker descended, as pale as
though he had issued from his tomb instead of his carriage.
Madame Danglars threw a rapid and inquiring glance which
could only be interpreted by Monte Cristo, around the
court-yard, over the peristyle, and across the front of the
house, then, repressing a slight emotion, which must have
been seen on her countenance if she had not kept her color,
she ascended the steps, saying to Morrel, "Sir, if you were
a friend of mine, I should ask you if you would sell your
Morrel smiled with an expression very like a grimace, and
then turned round to Monte Cristo, as if to ask him to
extricate him from his embarrassment. The count understood
him. "Ah, madame," he said, "why did you not make that
request of me?"
"With you, sir," replied the baroness, "one can wish for
nothing, one is so sure to obtain it. If it were so with M.
"Unfortunately," replied the count, "I am witness that M.
Morrel cannot give up his horse, his honor being engaged in
"He laid a wager he would tame Medeah in the space of six
months. You understand now that if he were to get rid of the
animal before the time named, he would not only lose his
bet, but people would say he was afraid; and a brave captain
of Spahis cannot risk this, even to gratify a pretty woman,
which is, in my opinion, one of the most sacred obligations
in the world."
"You see my position, madame," said Morrel, bestowing a
grateful smile on Monte Cristo.
"It seems to me," said Danglars, in his coarse tone,
ill-concealed by a forced smile, "that you have already got
horses enough." Madame Danglars seldom allowed remarks of
this kind to pass unnoticed, but, to the surprise of the
young people, she pretended not to hear it, and said
nothing. Monte Cristo smiled at her unusual humility, and
showed her two immense porcelain jars, over which wound
marine plants, of a size and delicacy that nature alone
could produce. The baroness was astonished. "Why," said she,
"you could plant one of the chestnut-trees in the Tuileries
inside! How can such enormous jars have been manufactured?"
"Ah, madame," replied Monte Cristo, "you must not ask of us,
the manufacturers of fine porcelain, such a question. It is
the work of another age, constructed by the genii of earth
"How so? -- at what period can that have been?"
"I do not know; I have only heard that an emperor of China
had an oven built expressly, and that in this oven twelve
jars like this were successively baked. Two broke, from the
heat of the fire; the other ten were sunk three hundred
fathoms deep into the sea. The sea, knowing what was
required of her, threw over them her weeds, encircled them
with coral, and encrusted them with shells; the whole was
cemented by two hundred years beneath these almost
impervious depths, for a revolution carried away the emperor
who wished to make the trial, and only left the documents
proving the manufacture of the jars and their descent into
the sea. At the end of two hundred years the documents were
found, and they thought of bringing up the jars. Divers
descended in machines, made expressly on the discovery, into
the bay where they were thrown; but of ten three only
remained, the rest having been broken by the waves. I am
fond of these jars, upon which, perhaps, misshapen,
frightful monsters have fixed their cold, dull eyes, and in
which myriads of small fish have slept, seeking a refuge
from the pursuit of their enemies." Meanwhile, Danglars, who
had cared little for curiosities, was mechanically tearing
off the blossoms of a splendid orange-tree, one after
another. When he had finished with the orange-tree, he began
at the cactus; but this, not being so easily plucked as the
orange-tree, pricked him dreadfully. He shuddered, and
rubbed his eyes as though awaking from a dream.
"Sir," said Monte Cristo to him, "I do not recommend my
pictures to you, who possess such splendid paintings; but,
nevertheless, here are two by Hobbema, a Paul Potter, a
Mieris, two by Gerard Douw, a Raphael, a Vandyke, a
Zurbaran, and two or three by Murillo, worth looking at."
"Stay," said Debray; "I recognize this Hobbema."
"Yes; it was proposed for the Museum."
"Which, I believe, does not contain one?" said Monte Cristo.
"No; and yet they refused to buy it."
"Why?" said Chateau-Renaud.
"You pretend not to know, -- because government was not rich
"Ah, pardon me," said Chateau-Renaud; "I have heard of these
things every day during the last eight years, and I cannot
understand them yet."
"You will, by and by," said Debray.
"I think not," replied Chateau-Renaud.
"Major Bartolomeo Cavalcanti and Count Andrea Cavalcanti,"
announced Baptistin. A black satin stock, fresh from the
maker's hands, gray moustaches, a bold eye, a major's
uniform, ornamented with three medals and five crosses -- in
fact, the thorough bearing of an old soldier -- such was the
appearance of Major Bartolomeo Cavalcanti, that tender
father with whom we are already acquainted. Close to him,
dressed in entirely new clothes, advanced smilingly Count
Andrea Cavalcanti, the dutiful son, whom we also know. The
three young people were talking together. On the entrance of
the new comers, their eyes glanced from father to son, and
then, naturally enough, rested on the latter, whom they
began criticising. "Cavalcanti!" said Debray. "A fine name,"
"Yes," said Chateau-Renaud, "these Italians are well named
and badly dressed."
"You are fastidious, Chateau-Renaud," replied Debray; "those
clothes are well cut and quite new."
"That is just what I find fault with. That gentleman appears
to be well dressed for the first time in his life."
"Who are those gentlemen?" asked Danglars of Monte Cristo.
"You heard -- Cavalcanti."
"That tells me their name, and nothing else."
"Ah, true. You do not know the Italian nobility; the
Cavalcanti are all descended from princes."
"Have they any fortune?"
"An enormous one."
"What do they do?"
"Try to spend it all. They have some business with you, I
think, from what they told me the day before yesterday. I,
indeed, invited them here to-day on your account. I will
introduce you to them."
"But they appear to speak French with a very pure accent,"
"The son has been educated in a college in the south; I
believe near Marseilles. You will find him quite
"Upon what subject?" asked Madame Danglars.
"The French ladies, madame. He has made up his mind to take
a wife from Paris."
"A fine idea that of his," said Danglars, shrugging his
shoulders. Madame Danglars looked at her husband with an
expression which, at any other time, would have indicated a
storm, but for the second time she controlled herself. "The
baron appears thoughtful to-day," said Monte Cristo to her;
"are they going to put him in the ministry?"
"Not yet, I think. More likely he has been speculating on
the Bourse, and has lost money."
"M. and Madame de Villefort," cried Baptistin. They entered.
M. de Villefort, notwithstanding his self-control, was
visibly affected, and when Monte Cristo touched his hand, he
felt it tremble. "Certainly, women alone know how to
dissimulate," said Monte Cristo to himself, glancing at
Madame Danglars, who was smiling on the procureur, and
embracing his wife. After a short time, the count saw
Bertuccio, who, until then, had been occupied on the other
side of the house, glide into an adjoining room. He went to
him. "What do you want, M. Bertuccio?" said he.
"Your excellency has not stated the number of guests."
"How many covers?"
"Count for yourself."
"Is every one here, your excellency?"
Bertuccio glanced through the door, which was ajar. The
count watched him. "Good heavens!" he exclaimed.
"What is the matter?" said the count.
"That woman -- that woman!"
"The one with a white dress and so many diamonds -- the fair
"I do not know her name; but it is she, sir, it is she!"
"Whom do you mean?"
"The woman of the garden! -- she that was enciente -- she
who was walking while she waited for" -- Bertuccio stood at
the open door, with his eyes starting and his hair on end.
"Waiting for whom?" Bertuccio, without answering, pointed to
Villefort with something of the gesture Macbeth uses to
point out Banquo. "Oh, oh," he at length muttered, "do you
"Him! -- M. de Villefort, the king's attorney? Certainly I
"Then I did not kill him?"
"Really, I think you are going mad, good Bertuccio," said
"Then he is not dead?"
"No; you see plainly he is not dead. Instead of striking
between the sixth and seventh left ribs, as your countrymen
do, you must have struck higher or lower, and life is very
tenacious in these lawyers, or rather there is no truth in
anything you have told me -- it was a fright of the
imagination, a dream of your fancy. You went to sleep full
of thoughts of vengeance; they weighed heavily upon your
stomach; you had the nightmare -- that's all. Come, calm
yourself, and reckon them up -- M. and Madame de Villefort,
two; M. and Madame Danglars, four; M. de Chateau-Renaud, M.
Debray, M. Morrel, seven; Major Bartolomeo Cavalcanti,
"Eight!" repeated Bertuccio.
"Stop! You are in a shocking hurry to be off -- you forget
one of my guests. Lean a little to the left. Stay! look at
M. Andrea Cavalcanti, the young man in a black coat, looking
at Murillo's Madonna; now he is turning." This time
Bertuccio would have uttered an exclamation, had not a look
from Monte Cristo silenced him. "Benedetto?" he muttered;
"Half-past six o'clock has just struck, M. Bertuccio," said
the count severely; "I ordered dinner at that hour, and I do
not like to wait;" and he returned to his guests, while
Bertuccio, leaning against the wall, succeeded in reaching
the dining-room. Five minutes afterwards the doors of the
drawing-room were thrown open, and Bertuccio appearing said,
with a violent effort, "The dinner waits."
The Count of Monte Cristo offered his arm to Madame de
Villefort. "M. de Villefort," he said, "will you conduct the
Villefort complied, and they passed on to the dining-room.