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Chapter 65 A Conjugal Scene.

  • 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."
  • "My study?"
  • "At least that of the minister."
  • "Why so!"
  • "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?"
  • "Why not?"
  • "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?"
  • "Yourself."
  • "Ah? — what next?"
  • "Most assuredly."
  • "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."
  • "That's fortunate."
  • "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?"
  • "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" —
  • "Insults!"
  • "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.