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Chapter 87
The Challenge.

"Then," continued Beauchamp, "I took advantage of the
silence and the darkness to leave the house without being
seen. The usher who had introduced me was waiting for me at
the door, and he conducted me through the corridors to a
private entrance opening into the Rue de Vaugirard. I left
with mingled feelings of sorrow and delight. Excuse me,
Albert, -- sorrow on your account, and delight with that
noble girl, thus pursuing paternal vengeance. Yes, Albert,
from whatever source the blow may have proceeded -- it may
be from an enemy, but that enemy is only the agent of
providence." Albert held his head between his hands; he
raised his face, red with shame and bathed in tears, and
seizing Beauchamp's arm, "My friend," said he, "my life is
ended. I cannot calmly say with you, `Providence has struck
the blow;' but I must discover who pursues me with this
hatred, and when I have found him I shall kill him, or he
will kill me. I rely on your friendship to assist me,
Beauchamp, if contempt has not banished it from your heart."

"Contempt, my friend? How does this misfortune affect you?
No, happily that unjust prejudice is forgotten which made
the son responsible for the father's actions. Review your
life, Albert; although it is only just beginning, did a
lovely summer's day ever dawn with greater purity than has
marked the commencement of your career? No, Albert, take my
advice. You are young and rich -- leave Paris -- all is soon
forgotten in this great Babylon of excitement and changing
tastes. You will return after three or four years with a
Russian princess for a bride, and no one will think more of
what occurred yesterday than if it had happened sixteen
years ago."

"Thank you, my dear Beauchamp, thank you for the excellent
feeling which prompts your advice; but it cannot be. I have
told you my wish, or rather my determination. You understand
that, interested as I am in this affair, I cannot see it in
the same light as you do. What appears to you to emanate
from a celestial source, seems to me to proceed from one far
less pure. Providence appears to me to have no share in this
affair; and happily so, for instead of the invisible,
impalpable agent of celestial rewards and punishments, I
shall find one both palpable and visible, on whom I shall
revenge myself, I assure you, for all I have suffered during
the last month. Now, I repeat, Beauchamp, I wish to return
to human and material existence, and if you are still the
friend you profess to be, help me to discover the hand that
struck the blow."

"Be it so," said Beauchamp; "if you must have me descend to
earth, I submit; and if you will seek your enemy, I will
assist you, and I will engage to find him, my honor being
almost as deeply interested as yours."

"Well, then, you understand, Beauchamp, that we begin our
search immediately. Each moment's delay is an eternity for
me. The calumniator is not yet punished, and he may hope
that he will not be; but, on my honor, it he thinks so, he
deceives himself."

"Well, listen, Morcerf."

"Ah, Beauchamp, I see you know something already; you will
restore me to life."

"I do not say there is any truth in what I am going to tell
you, but it is, at least, a ray of light in a dark night; by
following it we may, perhaps, discover something more

"Tell me; satisfy my impatience."

"Well, I will tell you what I did not like to mention on my
return from Yanina."

"Say on."

"I went, of course, to the chief banker of the town to make
inquiries. At the first word, before I had even mentioned
your father's name" --

"`Ah,' said he. `I guess what brings you here.'

"`How, and why?'

"`Because a fortnight since I was questioned on the same

"`By whom?' -- `By a Paris banker, my correspondent.'

"`Whose name is' --


"He!" cried Albert; "yes, it is indeed he who has so long
pursued my father with jealous hatred. He, the man who would
be popular, cannot forgive the Count of Morcerf for being
created a peer; and this marriage broken off without a
reason being assigned -- yes, it is all from the same

"Make inquiries, Albert, but do not be angry without reason;
make inquiries, and if it be true" --

"Oh, yes, if it be true," cried the young man, "he shall pay
me all I have suffered."

"Beware, Morcerf, he is already an old man."

"I will respect his age as he has respected the honor of my
family; if my father had offended him, why did he not attack
him personally? Oh, no, he was afraid to encounter him face
to face."

"I do not condemn you, Albert; I only restrain you. Act

"Oh, do not fear; besides, you will accompany me. Beauchamp,
solemn transactions should be sanctioned by a witness.
Before this day closes, if M. Danglars is guilty, he shall
cease to live, or I shall die. Pardieu, Beauchamp, mine
shall be a splendid funeral!"

"When such resolutions are made, Albert, they should be
promptly executed. Do you wish to go to M. Danglars? Let us
go immediately." They sent for a cabriolet. On entering the
banker's mansion, they perceived the phaeton and servant of
M. Andrea Cavalcanti. "Ah, parbleu, that's good," said
Albert, with a gloomy tone. "If M. Danglars will not fight
with me, I will kill his son-in-law; Cavalcanti will
certainly fight." The servant announced the young man; but
the banker, recollecting what had transpired the day before,
did not wish him admitted. It was, however, too late; Albert
had followed the footman, and, hearing the order given,
forced the door open, and followed by Beauchamp found
himself in the banker's study. "Sir," cried the latter, "am
I no longer at liberty to receive whom I choose in my house?
You appear to forget yourself sadly."

"No, sir," said Albert, coldly; "there are circumstances in
which one cannot, except through cowardice, -- I offer you
that refuge, -- refuse to admit certain persons at least."

"What is your errand, then, with me, sir?"

"I mean," said Albert, drawing near, and without apparently
noticing Cavalcanti, who stood with his back towards the
fireplace -- "I mean to propose a meeting in some retired
corner where no one will interrupt us for ten minutes; that
will be sufficient -- where two men having met, one of them
will remain on the ground." Danglars turned pale; Cavalcanti
moved a step forward, and Albert turned towards him. "And
you, too," said he, "come, if you like, monsieur; you have a
claim, being almost one of the family, and I will give as
many rendezvous of that kind as I can find persons willing
to accept them." Cavalcanti looked at Danglars with a
stupefied air, and the latter, making an effort, arose and
stepped between the two young men. Albert's attack on Andrea
had placed him on a different footing, and he hoped this
visit had another cause than that he had at first supposed.

"Indeed, sir," said he to Albert, "if you are come to
quarrel with this gentleman because I have preferred him to
you, I shall resign the case to the king's attorney."

"You mistake, sir," said Morcerf with a gloomy smile; "I am
not referring in the least to matrimony, and I only
addressed myself to M. Cavalcanti because he appeared
disposed to interfere between us. In one respect you are
right, for I am ready to quarrel with every one to-day; but
you have the first claim, M. Danglars."

"Sir," replied Danglars, pale with anger and fear, "I warn
you, when I have the misfortune to meet with a mad dog, I
kill it; and far from thinking myself guilty of a crime, I
believe I do society a kindness. Now, if you are mad and try
to bite me, I will kill you without pity. Is it my fault
that your father has dishonored himself?"

"Yes, miserable wretch!" cried Morcerf, "it is your fault."
Danglars retreated a few steps. "My fault?" said he; "you
must be mad! What do I know of the Grecian affair? Have I
travelled in that country? Did I advise your father to sell
the castle of Yanina -- to betray" --

"Silence!" said Albert, with a thundering voice. "No; it is
not you who have directly made this exposure and brought
this sorrow on us, but you hypocritically provoked it."


"Yes; you! How came it known?"

"I suppose you read it in the paper in the account from

"Who wrote to Yanina?"

"To Yanina?"

"Yes. Who wrote for particulars concerning my father?"

"I imagine any one may write to Yanina."

"But one person only wrote!"

"One only?"

"Yes; and that was you!"

"I, doubtless, wrote. It appears to me that when about to
marry your daughter to a young man, it is right to make some
inquiries respecting his family; it is not only a right, but
a duty."

"You wrote, sir, knowing what answer you would receive."

"I, indeed? I assure you," cried Danglars, with a confidence
and security proceeding less from fear than from the
interest he really felt for the young man, "I solemnly
declare to you, that I should never have thought of writing
to Yanina, did I know anything of Ali Pasha's misfortunes."

"Who, then, urged you to write? Tell me."

"Pardieu, it was the most simple thing in the world. I was
speaking of your father's past history. I said the origin of
his fortune remained obscure. The person to whom I addressed
my scruples asked me where your father had acquired his
property? I answered, `In Greece.' -- `Then,' said he,
`write to Yanina.'"

"And who thus advised you?"

"No other than your friend, Monte Cristo."

"The Count of Monte Cristo told you to write to Yanina?"

"Yes; and I wrote, and will show you my correspondence, if
you like." Albert and Beauchamp looked at each other. "Sir,"
said Beauchamp, who had not yet spoken, "you appear to
accuse the count, who is absent from Paris at this moment,
and cannot justify himself."

"I accuse no one, sir," said Danglars; "I relate, and I will
repeat before the count what I have said to you."

"Does the count know what answer you received?"

"Yes; I showed it to him."

"Did he know my father's Christian name was Fernand, and his
family name Mondego?"

"Yes, I had told him that long since, and I did only what
any other would have done in my circumstances, and perhaps
less. When, the day after the arrival of this answer, your
father came by the advice of Monte Cristo to ask my
daughter's hand for you, I decidedly refused him, but
without any explanation or exposure. In short, why should I
have any more to do with the affair? How did the honor or
disgrace of M. de Morcerf affect me? It neither increased
nor decreased my income."

Albert felt the blood mounting to his brow; there was no
doubt upon the subject. Danglars defended himself with the
baseness, but at the same time with the assurance, of a man
who speaks the truth, at least in part, if not wholly -- not
for conscience' sake, but through fear. Besides, what was
Morcerf seeking? It was not whether Danglars or Monte Cristo
was more or less guilty; it was a man who would answer for
the offence, whether trifling or serious; it was a man who
would fight, and it was evident Danglars's would not fight.
And, in addition to this, everything forgotten or
unperceived before presented itself now to his recollection.
Monte Cristo knew everything, as he had bought the daughter
of Ali Pasha; and, knowing everything, he had advised
Danglars to write to Yanina. The answer known, he had
yielded to Albert's wish to be introduced to Haidee, and
allowed the conversation to turn on the death of Ali, and
had not opposed Haidee's recital (but having, doubtless,
warned the young girl, in the few Romaic words he spoke to
her, not to implicate Morcerf's father). Besides, had he not
begged of Morcerf not to mention his father's name before
Haidee? Lastly, he had taken Albert to Normandy when he knew
the final blow was near. There could be no doubt that all
had been calculated and previously arranged; Monte Cristo
then was in league with his father's enemies. Albert took
Beauchamp aside, and communicated these ideas to him.

"You are right," said the latter; "M. Danglars has only been
a secondary agent in this sad affair, and it is of M. de
Monte Cristo that you must demand an explanation." Albert
turned. "Sir," said he to Danglars, "understand that I do
not take a final leave of you; I must ascertain if your
insinuations are just, and am going now to inquire of the
Count of Monte Cristo." He bowed to the banker, and went out
with Beauchamp, without appearing to notice Cavalcanti.
Danglars accompanied him to the door, where he again assured
Albert that no motive of personal hatred had influenced him
against the Count of Morcerf.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
General Fiction
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