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Chapter 93 Valentine.

  • We may easily conceive where Morrel's appointment was. On leaving Monte Crist_e walked slowly towards Villefort's; we say slowly, for Morrel had more tha_alf an hour to spare to go five hundred steps, but he had hastened to tak_eave of Monte Cristo because he wished to be alone with his thoughts. He kne_is time well — the hour when Valentine was giving Noirtier his breakfast, an_as sure not to be disturbed in the performance of this pious duty. Noirtie_nd Valentine had given him leave to go twice a week, and he was now availin_imself of that permission. He had arrived; Valentine was expecting him.
  • Uneasy and almost crazed, she seized his hand and led him to her grandfather.
  • This uneasiness, amounting almost to frenzy, arose from the report Morcerf'_dventure had made in the world, for the affair at the opera was generall_nown. No one at Villefort's doubted that a duel would ensue from it.
  • Valentine, with her woman's instinct, guessed that Morrel would be Mont_risto's second, and from the young man's well-known courage and his grea_ffection for the count, she feared that he would not content himself with th_assive part assigned to him. We may easily understand how eagerly th_articulars were asked for, given, and received; and Morrel could read a_ndescribable joy in the eyes of his beloved, when she knew that th_ermination of this affair was as happy as it was unexpected.
  • "Now," said Valentine, motioning to Morrel to sit down near her grandfather, while she took her seat on his footstool, — "now let us talk about our ow_ffairs. You know, Maximilian, grandpapa once thought of leaving this house, and taking an apartment away from M. de Villefort's."
  • "Yes," said Maximilian, "I recollect the project, of which I highly approved."
  • "Well," said Valentine, "you may approve again, for grandpapa is agai_hinking of it."
  • "Bravo," said Maximilian.
  • "And do you know," said Valentine, "what reason grandpapa gives for leavin_his house." Noirtier looked at Valentine to impose silence, but she did no_otice him; her looks, her eyes, her smile, were all for Morrel.
  • "Oh, whatever may be M. Noirtier's reason," answered Morrel, "I can readil_elieve it to be a good one."
  • "An excellent one," said Valentine. "He pretends the air of the Faubourg St.
  • Honore is not good for me."
  • "Indeed?" said Morrel; "in that M. Noirtier may be right; you have not seeme_o be well for the last fortnight."
  • "Not very," said Valentine. "And grandpapa has become my physician, and I hav_he greatest confidence in him, because he knows everything."
  • "Do you then really suffer?" asked Morrel quickly.
  • "Oh, it must not be called suffering; I feel a general uneasiness, that i_ll. I have lost my appetite, and my stomach feels as if it were struggling t_et accustomed to something." Noirtier did not lose a word of what Valentin_aid. "And what treatment do you adopt for this singular complaint?"
  • "A very simple one," said Valentine. "I swallow every morning a spoonful o_he mixture prepared for my grandfather. When I say one spoonful, I began b_ne — now I take four. Grandpapa says it is a panacea." Valentine smiled, bu_t was evident that she suffered.
  • Maximilian, in his devotedness, gazed silently at her. She was very beautiful, but her usual pallor had increased; her eyes were more brilliant than ever, and her hands, which were generally white like mother-of-pearl, now mor_esembled wax, to which time was adding a yellowish hue. From Valentine th_oung man looked towards Noirtier. The latter watched with strange and dee_nterest the young girl, absorbed by her affection, and he also, like Morrel, followed those traces of inward suffering which was so little perceptible to _ommon observer that they escaped the notice of every one but the grandfathe_nd the lover.
  • "But," said Morrel, "I thought this mixture, of which you now take fou_poonfuls, was prepared for M. Noirtier?"
  • "I know it is very bitter," said Valentine; "so bitter, that all I drin_fterwards appears to have the same taste." Noirtier looked inquiringly at hi_randdaughter. "Yes, grandpapa," said Valentine; "it is so. Just now, before _ame down to you, I drank a glass of sugared water; I left half, because i_eemed so bitter." Noirtier turned pale, and made a sign that he wished t_peak. Valentine rose to fetch the dictionary. Noirtier watched her wit_vident anguish. In fact, the blood was rushing to the young girl's hea_lready, her cheeks were becoming red. "Oh," cried she, without losing any o_er cheerfulness, "this is singular! I can't see! Did the sun shine in m_yes?" And she leaned against the window.
  • "The sun is not shining," said Morrel, more alarmed by Noirtier's expressio_han by Valentine's indisposition. He ran towards her. The young girl smiled.
  • "Cheer up," said she to Noirtier. "Do not be alarmed, Maximilian; it i_othing, and has already passed away. But listen! Do I not hear a carriage i_he court-yard?" She opened Noirtier's door, ran to a window in the passage, and returned hastily. "Yes," said she, "it is Madame Danglars and he_aughter, who have come to call on us. Good-by; — I must run away, for the_ould send here for me, or, rather, farewell till I see you again. Stay wit_randpapa, Maximilian; I promise you not to persuade them to stay."
  • Morrel watched her as she left the room; he heard her ascend the littl_taircase which led both to Madame de Villefort's apartments and to hers. A_oon as she was gone, Noirtier made a sign to Morrel to take the dictionary.
  • Morrel obeyed; guided by Valentine, he had learned how to understand the ol_an quickly. Accustomed, however, as he was to the work, he had to repeat mos_f the letters of the alphabet and to find every word in the dictionary, s_hat it was ten minutes before the thought of the old man was translated b_hese words, "Fetch the glass of water and the decanter from Valentine'_oom."
  • Morrel rang immediately for the servant who had taken Barrois's situation, an_n Noirtier's name gave that order. The servant soon returned. The decante_nd the glass were completely empty. Noirtier made a sign that he wished t_peak. "Why are the glass and decanter empty?" asked he; "Valentine said sh_nly drank half the glassful." The translation of this new question occupie_nother five minutes. "I do not know," said the servant, "but the housemaid i_n Mademoiselle Valentine's room: perhaps she has emptied them."
  • "Ask her," said Morrel, translating Noirtier's thought this time by his look.
  • The servant went out, but returned almost immediately. "Mademoiselle Valentin_assed through the room to go to Madame de Villefort's," said he; "and i_assing, as she was thirsty, she drank what remained in the glass; as for th_ecanter, Master Edward had emptied that to make a pond for his ducks."
  • Noirtier raised his eyes to heaven, as a gambler does who stakes his all o_ne stroke. From that moment the old man's eyes were fixed on the door, an_id not quit it.
  • It was indeed Madame Danglars and her daughter whom Valentine had seen; the_ad been ushered into Madame de Villefort's room, who had said she woul_eceive them there. That is why Valentine passed through her room, which wa_n a level with Valentine's, and only separated from it by Edward's. The tw_adies entered the drawing-room with that sort of official stiffness whic_reludes a formal communication. Among worldly people manner is contagious.
  • Madame de Villefort received them with equal solemnity. Valentine entered a_his moment, and the formalities were resumed. "My dear friend," said th_aroness, while the two young people were shaking hands, "I and Eugenie ar_ome to be the first to announce to you the approaching marriage of m_aughter with Prince Cavalcanti." Danglars kept up the title of prince. Th_opular banker found that it answered better than count. "Allow me to presen_ou my sincere congratulations," replied Madame de Villefort. "Princ_avalcanti appears to be a young man of rare qualities."
  • "Listen," said the baroness, smiling; "speaking to you as a friend I can sa_hat the prince does not yet appear all he will be. He has about him a littl_f that foreign manner by which French persons recognize, at first sight, th_talian or German nobleman. Besides, he gives evidence of great kindness o_isposition, much keenness of wit, and as to suitability, M. Danglars assure_e that his fortune is majestic — that is his word."
  • "And then," said Eugenie, while turning over the leaves of Madame d_illefort's album, "add that you have taken a great fancy to the young man."
  • "And," said Madame de Villefort, "I need not ask you if you share that fancy."
  • "I?" replied Eugenie with her usual candor. "Oh, not the least in the world, madame! My wish was not to confine myself to domestic cares, or the caprice_f any man, but to be an artist, and consequently free in heart, in person, and in thought." Eugenie pronounced these words with so firm a tone that th_olor mounted to Valentine's cheeks. The timid girl could not understand tha_igorous nature which appeared to have none of the timidities of woman.
  • "At any rate," said she, "since I am to be married whether I will or not, _ught to be thankful to providence for having released me from my engagemen_ith M. Albert de Morcerf, or I should this day have been the wife of _ishonored man."
  • "It is true," said the baroness, with that strange simplicity sometimes me_ith among fashionable ladies, and of which plebeian intercourse can neve_ntirely deprive them, — "it is very true that had not the Morcerfs hesitated, my daughter would have married Monsieur Albert. The general depended much o_t; he even came to force M. Danglars. We have had a narrow escape."
  • "But," said Valentine, timidly, "does all the father's shame revert upon th_on? Monsieur Albert appears to me quite innocent of the treason charge_gainst the general."
  • "Excuse me," said the implacable young girl, "Monsieur Albert claims and wel_eserves his share. It appears that after having challenged M. de Monte Crist_t the Opera yesterday, he apologized on the ground to-day."
  • "Impossible," said Madame de Villefort.
  • "Ah, my dear friend," said Madame Danglars, with the same simplicity we befor_oticed, "it is a fact. I heard it from M. Debray, who was present at th_xplanation." Valentine also knew the truth, but she did not answer. A singl_ord had reminded her that Morrel was expecting her in M. Noirtier's room.
  • Deeply engaged with a sort of inward contemplation, Valentine had ceased for _oment to join in the conversation. She would, indeed, have found i_mpossible to repeat what had been said the last few minutes, when suddenl_adame Danglars' hand, pressed on her arm, aroused her from her lethargy.
  • "What is it?" said she, starting at Madame Danglars' touch as she would hav_one from an electric shock. "It is, my dear Valentine," said the baroness,
  • "that you are, doubtless, suffering."
  • "I?" said the young girl, passing her hand across her burning forehead.
  • "Yes, look at yourself in that glass; you have turned pale and then re_uccessively, three or four times in one minute."
  • "Indeed," cried Eugenie, "you are very pale!"
  • "Oh, do not be alarmed; I have been so for many days." Artless as she was, th_oung girl knew that this was an opportunity to leave, and besides, Madame d_illefort came to her assistance. "Retire, Valentine," said she; "you ar_eally suffering, and these ladies will excuse you; drink a glass of pur_ater, it will restore you." Valentine kissed Eugenie, bowed to Madam_anglars, who had already risen to take her leave, and went out. "That poo_hild," said Madame de Villefort when Valentine was gone, "she makes me ver_neasy, and I should not be astonished if she had some serious illness."
  • Meanwhile, Valentine, in a sort of excitement which she could not quit_nderstand, had crossed Edward's room without noticing some trick of th_hild, and through her own had reached the little staircase. She was withi_hree steps of the bottom; she already heard Morrel's voice, when suddenly _loud passed over her eyes, her stiffened foot missed the step, her hands ha_o power to hold the baluster, and falling against the wall she lost he_alance wholly and toppled to the floor. Morrel bounded to the door, opene_t, and found Valentine stretched out at the bottom of the stairs. Quick as _lash, he raised her in his arms and placed her in a chair. Valentine opene_er eyes.
  • "Oh, what a clumsy thing I am," said she with feverish volubility; "I don'_now my way. I forgot there were three more steps before the landing."
  • "You have hurt yourself, perhaps," said Morrel. "What can I do for you, Valentine?" Valentine looked around her; she saw the deepest terror depicte_n Noirtier's eyes. "Don't worry, dear grandpapa," said she, endeavoring t_mile; "it is nothing — it is nothing; I was giddy, that is all."
  • "Another attack of giddiness," said Morrel, clasping his hands. "Oh, attend t_t, Valentine, I entreat you."
  • "But no," said Valentine, — "no, I tell you it is all past, and it wa_othing. Now, let me tell you some news; Eugenie is to be married in a week, and in three days there is to be a grand feast, a betrothal festival. We ar_ll invited, my father, Madame de Villefort, and I — at least, I understood i_o."
  • "When will it be our turn to think of these things? Oh, Valentine, you wh_ave so much influence over your grandpapa, try to make him answer — Soon."
  • "And do you," said Valentine, "depend on me to stimulate the tardiness an_rouse the memory of grandpapa?"
  • "Yes," cried Morrel, "make haste. So long as you are not mine, Valentine, _hall always think I may lose you."
  • "Oh," replied Valentine with a convulsive movement, "oh, indeed, Maximilian, you are too timid for an officer, for a soldier who, they say, never know_ear. Ah, ha, ha!" she burst into a forced and melancholy laugh, her arm_tiffened and twisted, her head fell back on her chair, and she remaine_otionless. The cry of terror which was stopped on Noirtier's lips, seemed t_tart from his eyes. Morrel understood it; he knew he must call assistance.
  • The young man rang the bell violently; the housemaid who had been i_ademoiselle Valentine's room, and the servant who had replaced Barrois, ra_n at the same moment. Valentine was so pale, so cold, so inanimate tha_ithout listening to what was said to them they were seized with the fea_hich pervaded that house, and they flew into the passage crying for help.
  • Madame Danglars and Eugenie were going out at that moment; they heard th_ause of the disturbance. "I told you so!" exclaimed Madame de Villefort.
  • "Poor child!"