We saw in a preceding chapter how Madame Danglars went
formally to announce to Madame de Villefort the approaching
marriage of Eugenie Danglars and M. Andrea Cavalcanti. This
announcement, which implied or appeared to imply, the
approval of all the persons concerned in this momentous
affair, had been preceded by a scene to which our readers
must be admitted. We beg them to take one step backward, and
to transport themselves, the morning of that day of great
catastrophes, into the showy, gilded salon we have before
shown them, and which was the pride of its owner, Baron
Danglars. In this room, at about ten o'clock in the morning,
the banker himself had been walking to and fro for some
minutes thoughtfully and in evident uneasiness, watching
both doors, and listening to every sound. When his patience
was exhausted, he called his valet. "Etienne," said he, "see
why Mademoiselle Eugenie has asked me to meet her in the
drawing-room, and why she makes me wait so long."
Having given this vent to his ill-humor, the baron became
more calm; Mademoiselle Danglars had that morning requested
an interview with her father, and had fixed on the gilded
drawing-room as the spot. The singularity of this step, and
above all its formality, had not a little surprised the
banker, who had immediately obeyed his daughter by repairing
first to the drawing-room. Etienne soon returned from his
errand. "Mademoiselle's lady's maid says, sir, that
mademoiselle is finishing her toilette, and will be here
Danglars nodded, to signify that he was satisfied. To the
world and to his servants Danglars assumed the character of
the good-natured man and the indulgent father. This was one
of his parts in the popular comedy he was performing, -- a
make-up he had adopted and which suited him about as well as
the masks worn on the classic stage by paternal actors, who
seen from one side, were the image of geniality, and from
the other showed lips drawn down in chronic ill-temper. Let
us hasten to say that in private the genial side descended
to the level of the other, so that generally the indulgent
man disappeared to give place to the brutal husband and
domineering father. "Why the devil does that foolish girl,
who pretends to wish to speak to me, not come into my study?
and why on earth does she want to speak to me at all?"
He was turning this thought over in his brain for the
twentieth time, when the door opened and Eugenie appeared,
attired in a figured black satin dress, her hair dressed and
gloves on, as if she were going to the Italian Opera. "Well,
Eugenie, what is it you want with me? and why in this solemn
drawing-room when the study is so comfortable?"
"I quite understand why you ask, sir," said Eugenie, making
a sign that her father might be seated, "and in fact your
two questions suggest fully the theme of our conversation. I
will answer them both, and contrary to the usual method, the
last first, because it is the least difficult. I have chosen
the drawing-room, sir, as our place of meeting, in order to
avoid the disagreeable impressions and influences of a
banker's study. Those gilded cashbooks, drawers locked like
gates of fortresses, heaps of bank-bills, come from I know
not where, and the quantities of letters from England,
Holland, Spain, India, China, and Peru, have generally a
strange influence on a father's mind, and make him forget
that there is in the world an interest greater and more
sacred than the good opinion of his correspondents. I have,
therefore, chosen this drawing-room, where you see, smiling
and happy in their magnificent frames, your portrait, mine,
my mother's, and all sorts of rural landscapes and touching
pastorals. I rely much on external impressions; perhaps,
with regard to you, they are immaterial, but I should be no
artist if I had not some fancies."
"Very well," replied M. Danglars, who had listened to all
this preamble with imperturbable coolness, but without
understanding a word, since like every man burdened with
thoughts of the past, he was occupied with seeking the
thread of his own ideas in those of the speaker.
"There is, then, the second point cleared up, or nearly so,"
said Eugenie, without the least confusion, and with that
masculine pointedness which distinguished her gesture and
her language; "and you appear satisfied with the
explanation. Now, let us return to the first. You ask me why
I have requested this interview; I will tell you in two
words, sir; I will not marry count Andrea Cavalcanti."
Danglars leaped from his chair and raised his eyes and arms
"Yes, indeed, sir," continued Eugenie, still quite calm;
"you are astonished, I see; for since this little affair
began, I have not manifested the slightest opposition, and
yet I am always sure, when the opportunity arrives, to
oppose a determined and absolute will to people who have not
consulted me, and things which displease me. However, this
time, my tranquillity, or passiveness as philosophers say,
proceeded from another source; it proceeded from a wish,
like a submissive and devoted daughter" (a slight smile was
observable on the purple lips of the young girl), "to
"Well?" asked Danglars.
"Well, sir," replied Eugenie, "I have tried to the very last
and now that the moment has come, I feel in spite of all my
efforts that it is impossible."
"But," said Danglars, whose weak mind was at first quite
overwhelmed with the weight of this pitiless logic, marking
evident premeditation and force of will, "what is your
reason for this refusal, Eugenie? what reason do you
"My reason?" replied the young girl. "Well, it is not that
the man is more ugly, more foolish, or more disagreeable
than any other; no, M. Andrea Cavalcanti may appear to those
who look at men's faces and figures as a very good specimen
of his kind. It is not, either, that my heart is less
touched by him than any other; that would be a schoolgirl's
reason, which I consider quite beneath me. I actually love
no one, sir; you know it, do you not? I do not then see why,
without real necessity, I should encumber my life with a
perpetual companion. Has not some sage said, `Nothing too
much'? and another, `I carry all my effects with me'? I have
been taught these two aphorisms in Latin and in Greek; one
is, I believe, from Phaedrus, and the other from Bias. Well,
my dear father, in the shipwreck of life -- for life is an
eternal shipwreck of our hopes -- I cast into the sea my
useless encumbrance, that is all, and I remain with my own
will, disposed to live perfectly alone, and consequently
"Unhappy girl, unhappy girl!" murmured Danglars, turning
pale, for he knew from long experience the solidity of the
obstacle he had so suddenly encountered.
"Unhappy girl," replied Eugenie, "unhappy girl, do you say,
sir? No, indeed; the exclamation appears quite theatrical
and affected. Happy, on the contrary, for what am I in want
of! The world calls me beautiful. It is something to be well
received. I like a favorable reception; it expands the
countenance, and those around me do not then appear so ugly.
I possess a share of wit, and a certain relative
sensibility, which enables me to draw from life in general,
for the support of mine, all I meet with that is good, like
the monkey who cracks the nut to get at its contents. I am
rich, for you have one of the first fortunes in France. I am
your only daughter, and you are not so exacting as the
fathers of the Porte Saint-Martin and Gaiete, who disinherit
their daughters for not giving them grandchildren. Besides,
the provident law has deprived you of the power to
disinherit me, at least entirely, as it has also of the
power to compel me to marry Monsieur This or Monsieur That.
And so -- being, beautiful, witty, somewhat talented, as the
comic operas say, and rich -- and that is happiness, sir --
why do you call me unhappy?"
Danglars, seeing his daughter smiling, and proud even to
insolence, could not entirely repress his brutal feelings,
but they betrayed themselves only by an exclamation. Under
the fixed and inquiring gaze levelled at him from under
those beautiful black eyebrows, he prudently turned away,
and calmed himself immediately, daunted by the power of a
resolute mind. "Truly, my daughter," replied he with a
smile, "you are all you boast of being, excepting one thing;
I will not too hastily tell you which, but would rather
leave you to guess it." Eugenie looked at Danglars, much
surprised that one flower of her crown of pride, with which
she had so superbly decked herself, should be disputed. "My
daughter," continued the banker, "you have perfectly
explained to me the sentiments which influence a girl like
you, who is determined she will not marry; now it remains
for me to tell you the motives of a father like me, who has
decided that his daughter shall marry." Eugenie bowed, not
as a submissive daughter, but as an adversary prepared for a
"My daughter," continued Danglars, "when a father asks his
daughter to choose a husband, he has always some reason for
wishing her to marry. Some are affected with the mania of
which you spoke just now, that of living again in their
grandchildren. This is not my weakness, I tell you at once;
family joys have no charm for me. I may acknowledge this to
a daughter whom I know to be philosophical enough to
understand my indifference, and not to impute it to me as a
"This is not to the purpose," said Eugenie; "let us speak
candidly, sir; I admire candor."
"Oh," said Danglars, "I can, when circumstances render it
desirable, adopt your system, although it may not be my
general practice. I will therefore proceed. I have proposed
to you to marry, not for your sake, for indeed I did not
think of you in the least at the moment (you admire candor,
and will now be satisfied, I hope); but because it suited me
to marry you as soon as possible, on account of certain
commercial speculations I am desirous of entering into."
Eugenie became uneasy.
"It is just as I tell you, I assure you, and you must not be
angry with me, for you have sought this disclosure. I do not
willingly enter into arithmetical explanations with an
artist like you, who fears to enter my study lest she should
imbibe disagreeable or anti-poetic impressions and
sensations. But in that same banker's study, where you very
willingly presented yourself yesterday to ask for the
thousand francs I give you monthly for pocket-money, you
must know, my dear young lady, that many things may be
learned, useful even to a girl who will not marry. There one
may learn, for instance, what, out of regard to your nervous
susceptibility, I will inform you of in the drawing-room,
namely, that the credit of a banker is his physical and
moral life; that credit sustains him as breath animates the
body; and M. de Monte Cristo once gave me a lecture on that
subject, which I have never forgotten. There we may learn
that as credit sinks, the body becomes a corpse, and this is
what must happen very soon to the banker who is proud to own
so good a logician as you for his daughter." But Eugenie,
instead of stooping, drew herself up under the blow.
"Ruined?" said she.
"Exactly, my daughter; that is precisely what I mean," said
Danglars, almost digging his nails into his breast, while he
preserved on his harsh features the smile of the heartless
though clever man; "ruined -- yes, that is it."
"Ah!" said Eugenie.
"Yes, ruined! Now it is revealed, this secret so full of
horror, as the tragic poet says. Now, my daughter, learn
from my lips how you may alleviate this misfortune, so far
as it will affect you."
"Oh," cried Eugenie, "you are a bad physiognomist, if you
imagine I deplore on my own account the catastrophe of which
you warn me. I ruined? and what will that signify to me?
Have I not my talent left? Can I not, like Pasta, Malibran,
Grisi, acquire for myself what you would never have given
me, whatever might have been your fortune, a hundred or a
hundred and fifty thousand livres per annum, for which I
shall be indebted to no one but myself; and which, instead
of being given as you gave me those poor twelve thousand
francs, with sour looks and reproaches for my prodigality,
will be accompanied with acclamations, with bravos, and with
flowers? And if I do not possess that talent, which your
smiles prove to me you doubt, should I not still have that
ardent love of independence, which will be a substitute for
wealth, and which in my mind supersedes even the instinct of
self-preservation? No, I grieve not on my own account, I
shall always find a resource; my books, my pencils, my
piano, all the things which cost but little, and which I
shall be able to procure, will remain my own.
"Do you think that I sorrow for Madame Danglars? Undeceive
yourself again; either I am greatly mistaken, or she has
provided against the catastrophe which threatens you, and,
which will pass over without affecting her. She has taken
care for herself, -- at least I hope so, -- for her
attention has not been diverted from her projects by
watching over me. She has fostered my independence by
professedly indulging my love for liberty. Oh, no, sir; from
my childhood I have seen too much, and understood too much,
of what has passed around me, for misfortune to have an
undue power over me. From my earliest recollections, I have
been beloved by no one -- so much the worse; that has
naturally led me to love no one -- so much the better -- now
you have my profession of faith."
"Then," said Danglars, pale with anger, which was not at all
due to offended paternal love, -- "then, mademoiselle, you
persist in your determination to accelerate my ruin?"
"Your ruin? I accelerate your ruin? What do you mean? I do
not understand you."
"So much the better, I have a ray of hope left; listen."
"I am all attention," said Eugenie, looking so earnestly at
her father that it was an effort for the latter to endure
her unrelenting gaze.
"M. Cavalcanti," continued Danglars, "is about to marry you,
and will place in my hands his fortune, amounting to three
"That is admirable!" said Eugenie with sovereign contempt,
smoothing her gloves out one upon the other.
"You think I shall deprive you of those three millions,"
said Danglars; "but do not fear it. They are destined to
produce at least ten. I and a brother banker have obtained a
grant of a railway, the only industrial enterprise which in
these days promises to make good the fabulous prospects that
Law once held out to the eternally deluded Parisians, in the
fantastic Mississippi scheme. As I look at it, a millionth
part of a railway is worth fully as much as an acre of waste
land on the banks of the Ohio. We make in our case a
deposit, on a mortgage, which is an advance, as you see,
since we gain at least ten, fifteen, twenty, or a hundred
livres' worth of iron in exchange for our money. Well,
within a week I am to deposit four millions for my share;
the four millions, I promise you, will produce ten or
"But during my visit to you the day before yesterday, sir,
which you appear to recollect so well," replied Eugenie, "I
saw you arranging a deposit -- is not that the term? -- of
five millions and a half; you even pointed it out to me in
two drafts on the treasury, and you were astonished that so
valuable a paper did not dazzle my eyes like lightning."
"Yes, but those five millions and a half are not mine, and
are only a proof of the great confidence placed in me; my
title of popular banker has gained me the confidence of
charitable institutions, and the five millions and a half
belong to them; at any other time I should not have
hesitated to make use of them, but the great losses I have
recently sustained are well known, and, as I told you, my
credit is rather shaken. That deposit may be at any moment
withdrawn, and if I had employed it for another purpose, I
should bring on me a disgraceful bankruptcy. I do not
despise bankruptcies, believe me, but they must be those
which enrich, not those which ruin. Now, if you marry M.
Cavalcanti, and I get the three millions, or even if it is
thought I am going to get them, my credit will be restored,
and my fortune, which for the last month or two has been
swallowed up in gulfs which have been opened in my path by
an inconceivable fatality, will revive. Do you understand
"Perfectly; you pledge me for three millions, do you not?"
"The greater the amount, the more flattering it is to you;
it gives you an idea of your value."
"Thank you. One word more, sir; do you promise me to make
what use you can of the report of the fortune M. Cavalcanti
will bring without touching the money? This is no act of
selfishness, but of delicacy. I am willing to help rebuild
your fortune, but I will not be an accomplice in the ruin of
"But since I tell you," cried Danglars, "that with these
three million" --
"Do you expect to recover your position, sir, without
touching those three million?"
"I hope so, if the marriage should take place and confirm my
"Shall you be able to pay M. Cavalcanti the five hundred
thousand francs you promise for my dowry?"
"He shall receive them on returning from the mayor's."*
* The performance of the civil marriage.
"What next? what more do you want?"
"I wish to know if, in demanding my signature, you leave me
entirely free in my person?"
"Then, as I said before, sir, -- very well; I am ready to
marry M. Cavalcanti."
"But what are you up to?"
"Ah, that is my affair. What advantage should I have over
you, if knowing your secret I were to tell you mine?"
Danglars bit his lips. "Then," said he, "you are ready to
pay the official visits, which are absolutely
"Yes," replied Eugenie.
"And to sign the contract in three days?"
"Then, in my turn, I also say, very well!" Danglars pressed
his daughter's hand in his. But, extraordinary to relate,
the father did not say, "Thank you, my child," nor did the
daughter smile at her father. "Is the conference ended?"
asked Eugenie, rising. Danglars motioned that he had nothing
more to say. Five minutes afterwards the piano resounded to
the touch of Mademoiselle d'Armilly's fingers, and
Mademoiselle Danglars was singing Brabantio's malediction on
Desdemona. At the end of the piece Etienne entered, and
announced to Eugenie that the horses were in the carriage,
and that the baroness was waiting for her to pay her visits.
We have seen them at Villefort's; they proceeded then on