At the Place Louis XV. the three young people separated — that is to say, Morrel went to the Boulevards, Chateau-Renaud to the Pont de la Revolution, and Debray to the Quai. Most probably Morrel and Chateau-Renaud returned t_heir "domestic hearths," as they say in the gallery of the Chamber in well- turned speeches, and in the theatre of the Rue Richelieu in well-writte_ieces; but it was not the case with Debray. When he reached the wicket of th_ouvre, he turned to the left, galloped across the Carrousel, passed throug_he Rue Saint-Roch, and, issuing from the Rue de la Michodiere, he arrived a_. Danglars' door just at the same time that Villefort's landau, after havin_eposited him and his wife at the Faubourg St. Honore, stopped to leave th_aroness at her own house. Debray, with the air of a man familiar with th_ouse, entered first into the court, threw his bridle into the hands of _ootman, and returned to the door to receive Madame Danglars, to whom h_ffered his arm, to conduct her to her apartments. The gate once closed, an_ebray and the baroness alone in the court, he asked, — "What was the matte_ith you, Hermine? and why were you so affected at that story, or rathe_able, which the count related?"
"Because I have been in such shocking spirits all the evening, my friend,"
said the baroness.
"No, Hermine," replied Debray; "you cannot make me believe that; on th_ontrary, you were in excellent spirits when you arrived at the count's. M.
Danglars was disagreeable, certainly, but I know how much you care for hi_ll-humor. Some one has vexed you; I will allow no one to annoy you."
"You are deceived, Lucien, I assure you," replied Madame Danglars; "and what _ave told you is really the case, added to the ill-humor you remarked, bu_hich I did not think it worth while to allude to." It was evident that Madam_anglars was suffering from that nervous irritability which women frequentl_annot account for even to themselves; or that, as Debray had guessed, she ha_xperienced some secret agitation that she would not acknowledge to any one.
Being a man who knew that the former of these symptoms was one of the inheren_enalties of womanhood, he did not then press his inquiries, but waited for _ore appropriate opportunity when he should again interrogate her, or receiv_n avowal proprio motu. At the door of her apartment the baroness me_ademoiselle Cornelie, her confidential maid. "What is my daughter doing?"
asked Madame Danglars.
"She practiced all the evening, and then went to bed," replied Mademoisell_ornelie.
"Yet I think I hear her piano."
"It is Mademoiselle Louise d'Armilly, who is playing while Mademoisell_anglars is in bed."
"Well," said Madame Danglars, "come and undress me." They entered the bedroom.
Debray stretched himself upon a large couch, and Madame Danglars passed int_er dressing-room with Mademoiselle Cornelie. "My dear M. Lucien," said Madam_anglars through the door, "you are always complaining that Eugenie will no_ddress a word to you."
"Madame," said Lucien, playing with a little dog, who, recognizing him as _riend of the house, expected to be caressed, "I am not the only one who make_imilar complaints, I think I heard Morcerf say that he could not extract _ord from his betrothed."
"True," said Madame Danglars; "yet I think this will all pass off, and tha_ou will one day see her enter your study."
"At least that of the minister."
"To ask for an engagement at the Opera. Really, I never saw such a_nfatuation for music; it is quite ridiculous for a young lady of fashion."
Debray smiled. "Well," said he, "let her come, with your consent and that o_he baron, and we will try and give her an engagement, though we are very poo_o pay such talent as hers."
"Go, Cornelie," said Madame Danglars, "I do not require you any longer."
Cornelie obeyed, and the next minute Madame Danglars left her room in _harming loose dress, and came and sat down close to Debray. Then she bega_houghtfully to caress the little spaniel. Lucien looked at her for a momen_n silence. "Come, Hermine," he said, after a short time, "answer candidly, — something vexes you — is it not so?"
"Nothing," answered the baroness.
And yet, as she could scarcely breathe, she rose and went towards a looking- glass. "I am frightful to-night," she said. Debray rose, smiling, and wa_bout to contradict the baroness upon this latter point, when the door opene_uddenly. M. Danglars appeared; Debray reseated himself. At the noise of th_oor Madame Danglars turned round, and looked upon her husband with a_stonishment she took no trouble to conceal. "Good-evening, madame," said th_anker; "good-evening, M. Debray."
Probably the baroness thought this unexpected visit signified a desire to mak_p for the sharp words he had uttered during the day. Assuming a dignifie_ir, she turned round to Debray, without answering her husband. "Read m_omething, M. Debray," she said. Debray, who was slightly disturbed at thi_isit, recovered himself when he saw the calmness of the baroness, and took u_ book marked by a mother-of-pearl knife inlaid with gold. "Excuse me," sai_he banker, "but you will tire yourself, baroness, by such late hours, and M.
Debray lives some distance from here."
Debray was petrified, not only to hear Danglars speak so calmly and politely, but because it was apparent that beneath outward politeness there reall_urked a determined spirit of opposition to anything his wife might wish t_o. The baroness was also surprised, and showed her astonishment by a loo_hich would doubtless have had some effect upon her husband if he had not bee_ntently occupied with the paper, where he was looking to see the closin_tock quotations. The result was, that the proud look entirely failed of it_urpose.
"M. Lucien," said the baroness, "I assure you I have no desire to sleep, an_hat I have a thousand things to tell you this evening, which you must liste_o, even though you slept while hearing me."
"I am at your service, madame," replied Lucien coldly.
"My dear M. Debray," said the banker, "do not kill yourself to-night listenin_o the follies of Madame Danglars, for you can hear them as well to-morrow; but I claim to-night and will devote it, if you will allow me, to talk ove_ome serious matters with my wife." This time the blow was so well aimed, an_it so directly, that Lucien and the baroness were staggered, and the_nterrogated each other with their eyes, as if to seek help against thi_ggression, but the irresistible will of the master of the house prevailed, and the husband was victorious.
"Do not think I wish to turn you out, my dear Debray," continued Danglars;
"oh, no, not at all. An unexpected occurrence forces me to ask my wife to hav_ little conversation with me; it is so rarely I make such a request, I a_ure you cannot grudge it to me." Debray muttered something, bowed and wen_ut, knocking himself against the edge of the door, like Nathan in "Athalie."
"It is extraordinary," he said, when the door was closed behind him, "ho_asily these husbands, whom we ridicule, gain an advantage over us."
Lucien having left, Danglars took his place on the sofa, closed the open book, and placing himself in a dreadfully dictatorial attitude, he began playin_ith the dog; but the animal, not liking him as well as Debray, and attemptin_o bite him, Danglars seized him by the skin of his neck and threw him upon _ouch on the other side of the room. The animal uttered a cry during th_ransit, but, arrived at its destination, it crouched behind the cushions, an_tupefied at such unusual treatment remained silent and motionless. "Do yo_now, sir," asked the baroness, "that you are improving? Generally you ar_nly rude, but to-night you are brutal."
"It is because I am in a worse humor than usual," replied Danglars. Hermin_ooked at the banker with supreme disdain. These glances frequentl_xasperated the pride of Danglars, but this evening he took no notice of them.
"And what have I to do with your ill-humor?" said the baroness, irritated a_he impassibility of her husband; "do these things concern me? Keep your ill- humor at home in your money boxes, or, since you have clerks whom you pay, vent it upon them."
"Not so," replied Danglars; "your advice is wrong, so I shall not follow it.
My money boxes are my Pactolus, as, I think, M. Demoustier says, and I wil_ot retard its course, or disturb its calm. My clerks are honest men, who ear_y fortune, whom I pay much below their deserts, if I may value them accordin_o what they bring in; therefore I shall not get into a passion with them; those with whom I will be in a passion are those who eat my dinners, mount m_orses, and exhaust my fortune."
"And pray who are the persons who exhaust your fortune? Explain yourself mor_learly, I beg, sir."
"Oh, make yourself easy! — I am not speaking riddles, and you will soon kno_hat I mean. The people who exhaust my fortune are those who draw out 700,00_rancs in the course of an hour."
"I do not understand you, sir," said the baroness, trying to disguise th_gitation of her voice and the flush of her face. "You understand m_erfectly, on the contrary," said Danglars: "but, if you will persist, I wil_ell you that I have just lost 700,000 francs upon the Spanish loan."
"And pray," asked the baroness, "am I responsible for this loss?"
"Is it my fault you have lost 700,000 francs?"
"Certainly it is not mine."
"Once for all, sir," replied the baroness sharply, "I tell you I will not hea_ash named; it is a style of language I never heard in the house of my parent_r in that of my first husband."
"Oh, I can well believe that, for neither of them was worth a penny."
"The better reason for my not being conversant with the slang of the bank, which is here dinning in my ears from morning to night; that noise of jinglin_rowns, which are constantly being counted and re-counted, is odious to me. _nly know one thing I dislike more, which is the sound of your voice."
"Really?" said Danglars. "Well, this surprises me, for I thought you took th_iveliest interest in all my affairs!"
"I? What could put such an idea into your head?"
"Ah? — what next?"
"I should like to know upon what occasion?"
"Oh, mon Dieu, that is very easily done. Last February you were the first wh_old me of the Haitian funds. You had dreamed that a ship had entered th_arbor at Havre, that this ship brought news that a payment we had looked upo_s lost was going to be made. I know how clear-sighted your dreams are; _herefore purchased immediately as many shares as I could of the Haitian debt, and I gained 400,000 francs by it, of which 100,000 have been honestly paid t_ou. You spent it as you pleased; that was your business. In March there was _uestion about a grant to a railway. Three companies presented themselves, each offering equal securities. You told me that your instinct, — and althoug_ou pretend to know nothing about speculations, I think on the contrary, tha_our comprehension is very clear upon certain affairs, — well, you told m_hat your instinct led you to believe the grant would be given to the compan_alled the Southern. I bought two thirds of the shares of that company; as yo_ad foreseen, the shares trebled in value, and I picked up a million, fro_hich 250,000 francs were paid to you for pin-money. How have you spent thi_50,000 francs? — it is no business of mine."
"When are you coming to the point?" cried the baroness, shivering with ange_nd impatience.
"Patience, madame, I am coming to it."
"In April you went to dine at the minister's. You heard a private conversatio_especting Spanish affairs — on the expulsion of Don Carlos. I bought som_panish shares. The expulsion took place and I pocketed 600,000 francs the da_harles V. repassed the Bidassoa. Of these 600,000 francs you took 50,00_rowns. They were yours, you disposed of them according to your fancy, and _sked no questions; but it is not the less true that you have this yea_eceived 500,000 livres."
"Well, sir, and what then?"
"Ah, yes, it was just after this that you spoiled everything."
"Really, your manner of speaking" —
"It expresses my meaning, and that is all I want. Well, three days after tha_ou talked politics with M. Debray, and you fancied from his words that Do_arlos had returned to Spain. Well, I sold my shares, the news got out, and _o longer sold — I gave them away, next day I find the news was false, and b_his false report I have lost 700,000 francs."
"Well, since I gave you a fourth of my gains, I think you owe me a fourth o_y losses; the fourth of 700,000 francs is 175,000 francs."
"What you say is absurd, and I cannot see why M. Debray's name is mixed up i_his affair."
"Because if you do not possess the 175,000 francs I reclaim, you must hav_ent them to your friends, and M. Debray is one of your friends."
"For shame!" exclaimed the baroness.
"Oh, let us have no gestures, no screams, no modern drama, or you will oblig_e to tell you that I see Debray leave here, pocketing the whole of th_00,000 livres you have handed over to him this year, while he smiles t_imself, saying that he has found what the most skilful players have neve_iscovered — that is, a roulette where he wins without playing, and is n_oser when he loses." The baroness became enraged. "Wretch!" she cried, "wil_ou dare to tell me you did not know what you now reproach me with?"
"I do not say that I did know it, and I do not say that I did not know it. _erely tell you to look into my conduct during the last four years that w_ave ceased to be husband and wife, and see whether it has not always bee_onsistent. Some time after our rupture, you wished to study music, under th_elebrated baritone who made such a successful appearance at the Theatr_talien; at the same time I felt inclined to learn dancing of the danseuse wh_cquired such a reputation in London. This cost me, on your account and mine, 100,000 francs. I said nothing, for we must have peace in the house; an_00,000 francs for a lady and gentleman to be properly instructed in music an_ancing are not too much. Well, you soon become tired of singing, and you tak_ fancy to study diplomacy with the minister's secretary. You understand, i_ignifies nothing to me so long as you pay for your lessons out of your ow_ashbox. But to-day I find you are drawing on mine, and that you_pprenticeship may cost me 700,000 francs per month. Stop there, madame, fo_his cannot last. Either the diplomatist must give his lessons gratis, and _ill tolerate him, or he must never set his foot again in my house; — do yo_nderstand, madame?"
"Oh, this is too much," cried Hermine, choking, "you are worse tha_espicable."
"But," continued Danglars, "I find you did not even pause there" —
"You are right; let us leave these facts alone, and reason coolly. I hav_ever interfered in your affairs excepting for your good; treat me in the sam_ay. You say you have nothing to do with my cash-box. Be it so. Do as you lik_ith your own, but do not fill or empty mine. Besides, how do I know that thi_as not a political trick, that the minister enraged at seeing me in th_pposition, and jealous of the popular sympathy I excite, has not concerte_ith M. Debray to ruin me?"
"A probable thing!"
"Why not? Who ever heard of such an occurrence as this? — a false telegraphi_espatch — it is almost impossible for wrong signals to be made as they wer_n the last two telegrams. It was done on purpose for me — I am sure of it."
"Sir," said the baroness humbly, "are you not aware that the man employe_here was dismissed, that they talked of going to law with him, that order_ere issued to arrest him and that this order would have been put int_xecution if he had not escaped by flight, which proves that he was either ma_r guilty? It was a mistake."
"Yes, which made fools laugh, which caused the minister to have a sleeples_ight, which has caused the minister's secretaries to blacken several sheet_f paper, but which has cost me 700,000 francs."
"But, sir," said Hermine suddenly, "if all this is, as you say, caused by M.
Debray, why, instead of going direct to him, do you come and tell me of it?
Why, to accuse the man, do you address the woman?"
"Do I know M. Debray? — do I wish to know him? — do I wish to know that h_ives advice? — do I wish to follow it? — do I speculate? No; you do all this, not I."
"Still it seems to me, that as you profit by it — "
Danglars shrugged his shoulders. "Foolish creature," he exclaimed. "Wome_ancy they have talent because they have managed two or three intrigue_ithout being the talk of Paris! But know that if you had even hidden you_rregularities from your husband, who has but the commencement of the art — for generally husbands will not see — you would then have been but a fain_mitation of most of your friends among the women of the world. But it has no_een so with me, — I see, and always have seen, during the last sixteen years.
You may, perhaps, have hidden a thought; but not a step, not an action, not _ault, has escaped me, while you flattered yourself upon your address, an_irmly believed you had deceived me. What has been the result? — that, thank_o my pretended ignorance, there is none of your friends, from M. de Villefor_o M. Debray, who has not trembled before me. There is not one who has no_reated me as the master of the house, — the only title I desire with respec_o you; there is not one, in fact, who would have dared to speak of me as _ave spoken of them this day. I will allow you to make me hateful, but I wil_revent your rendering me ridiculous, and, above all, I forbid you to rui_e."
The baroness had been tolerably composed until the name of Villefort had bee_ronounced; but then she became pale, and, rising, as if touched by a spring, she stretched out her hands as though conjuring an apparition; she then too_wo or three steps towards her husband, as though to tear the secret from him, of which he was ignorant, or which he withheld from some odious calculation, — odious, as all his calculations were. "M. de Villefort! — What do you mean?"
"I mean that M. de Nargonne, your first husband, being neither a philosophe_or a banker, or perhaps being both, and seeing there was nothing to be go_ut of a king's attorney, died of grief or anger at finding, after an absenc_f nine months, that you had been enceinte six. I am brutal, — I not onl_llow it, but boast of it; it is one of the reasons of my success i_ommercial business. Why did he kill himself instead of you? Because he had n_ash to save. My life belongs to my cash. M. Debray has made me lose 700,00_rancs; let him bear his share of the loss, and we will go on as before; i_ot, let him become bankrupt for the 250,000 livres, and do as all bankrupt_o — disappear. He is a charming fellow, I allow, when his news is correct; but when it is not, there are fifty others in the world who would do bette_han he."
Madame Danglars was rooted to the spot; she made a violent effort to reply t_his last attack, but she fell upon a chair thinking of Villefort, of th_inner scene, of the strange series of misfortunes which had taken place i_er house during the last few days, and changed the usual calm of he_stablishment to a scene of scandalous debate. Danglars did not even look a_er, though she did her best to faint. He shut the bedroom door after him, without adding another word, and returned to his apartments; and when Madam_anglars recovered from her half-fainting condition, she could almost believ_hat she had had a disagreeable dream.