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第25节 夫妇间的一幕 【
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本文地址:http://www.yeidj.com.cn/book/story.php?id=619
文章摘要:夫妇间的一幕 ,开创了浙商可在,茵席之臣同仇敌慨斥之为。

三个青年人在路易十五广场分了手。莫雷尔顺林荫大道走,重庆时时彩五星定胆:夏多·勒诺走革命路,而德布雷则向码头那个方面走去。

莫雷尔和夏多·勒诺很可能是到“炉边叙天伦之乐”去了,就如同他们在议院演讲台上措辞华丽的演说词中或黎希留路戏院里编写的工整的剧本中所说的那样;德布雷则不然。他到了罗浮门以后,就向左转,疾步穿越卡罗莎尔广场,穿过录克街,转入了密可德里路,这样就和维尔福先生乘坐的那辆马车同时到达了腾格拉尔先生的门前。男爵夫人所乘的马车因为要先送维尔福先生夫妇到圣·奥诺路然后才能送她回家,所以并不比他到得早。德布雷显出很熟悉这里的一切的样子先走进了那座房子的前庭,把缰绳扔给了一个仆人,然后回到车门旁边来接腾格拉尔夫人,伸手引她到了她的房间里去。等大门关上了,前庭里只剩下德布雷和男爵夫人两个人的时候,他问道:“你怎么啦,爱米娜?伯爵是讲了一个故事,说得更确切些,是个离奇故事,你为什么竟会那么激动呢?”

“因为我今天晚上的情绪本来就不好,我的朋友。”男爵夫人说道。

“不,爱米娜,”德布雷回答,“你这么说无法使我相信。因为你刚到伯爵家的时候情绪很好。当然罗,腾格拉尔先生是有点令人不太愉快,但我知道你一向是不大理会他的坏脾气的。一定有人冒犯了你。告诉我吧,你知道得很清楚,我是不会让任何人来冒犯你的。”

“你搞错了,吕西安,我向你保证,”腾格拉尔夫人回答,“我说的都是实话,他今天的确脾气很坏,但我根本没把他当回事。”

腾格拉尔夫人显然是在经受着一种女人们常常自己都解释不清的神经刺激,不然,就如德布雷所猜测到的,在她那种激动的情绪背后一定有某种不愿意向任何人透露的秘密。

他很了解女人们情绪反复无常的特点,所以也就不再追问,只等待一个更适当的机会,或是再问她,或是听她主动加以解释。男爵夫人在她的房间门口遇到了她的心腹侍女康尼丽姑娘。“小姐在干什么?”她问。

“她练习了一晚上,后来上床睡觉去了。”康尼丽姑娘回答。

“可是我好象听到她在弹钢琴的声音。”

“那是罗茜·亚密莱小姐,小姐上床以后她还在弹琴。”

“嗯,”腾格拉尔夫人说,“来给我卸妆。”

她们走进了卧室。德布雷正躺在一张大睡椅上,腾格拉尔夫人带着康尼丽姑娘走进了她的更衣室。

“我亲爱的德布雷先生,”腾格拉尔夫人在门帘后面说,“您老是抱怨,说欧热妮一句话都不跟您谈。”

“夫人,”吕西安说到,他正在玩弄着一条小狗,这条狗认得他,正在享受他的爱抚,“讲这种抱怨话的可不仅仅我一个人。我好象记得听到马尔塞夫也说过,他简直无法从他未婚妻的嘴里引出一个字来。”

“真的,”腾格拉尔夫人说,“但我想,总有一天,这一切都会改变的,您会看到她走进您的办公室来。”

“我的办公室?”

“我的意思是指部长的。”

“来干什么?”

“来请求国立剧院给她一张聘书。真的,我从没看见过谁象她那样迷恋音乐。一个上流社会的小姐成了个这样子真是太荒唐了。”

德布雷笑了笑。“嗯,”他说,“假如您和男爵同意的话,让她来好了,我们可以设法给她一张聘书,只是象她那样的天才,我们所给予的这点报酬真是太可怜的。”

“你去吧,康尼丽,”腾格拉尔夫人说,“我这儿不需要你了。”

康尼丽遵命走了出去。一会儿,腾格拉尔夫人穿着一件色彩艳丽、宽松肥大的睡衣走了出来,坐到德布雷的身边。然后,她带着若有所思的神情,开始抚弄起那只长毛大耳朵的小狗来。吕西安默默地望她了一会儿。“来,爱米娜,”过了一会儿之后,他说道,“坦白地告诉我吧,你心里正为一件事而烦恼,对不对?”

“没什么,”男爵夫人回答。但她给憋得简直有点透不过气来了,她站起身来,走到一面大镜子面前。“我今天晚上的样子很可怕是吗?”她说。

德布雷带笑站起身来,正要用行动来回答这句话时,门突然开了。出现的是腾格拉尔先生,德布雷急忙又坐了下来。

听到开门的声音,腾格拉尔夫人转过头来,带着一种她根本不掩饰的惊愕的神情望着她的丈夫。

“晚安,夫人!”那银行家说,“晚安,德布雷先生!”

男爵夫人还以为他丈夫是为白天他所说的那些刻薄的话道歉的。于是便故作一副严肃不高兴的样子,并不搭理他,却转向德布雷。“谈点儿东西给我听,德布雷先生。”她说。

德布雷对于这次来访本来就略微感到有点不安,但看到男爵夫人如此镇定自若他也就恢复了常态,拿起了一本中间夹着一把云母嵌金的小刀的书来。

“请原谅,”银行家说,“这样你会很疲劳的,夫人。时间也不早了,已经十一点钟了,德布雷先生住的地方离这儿也挺远的。”

德布雷怔住了。这倒并非因为腾格拉尔说话时的语气有什么惊人之处,他的声音很平静温和,但在那种平静和温和之中,却显示出某种不同寻常的坚决,象是表明今晚上一定要违背一下他妻子的意思似的。男爵夫人也感到很惊奇,并从目光中流露了出来,这种目光本来肯定会在她丈夫身上发生作用的,但腾格拉尔却故意装作全神贯注地在晚报上寻找公债的收盘价格,所以这次射到他身上的那种目光对他毫不起作用。

“吕西安先生,”男爵夫人说,“我向您保证,我一点睡意都没有。今天晚上我有许许多多的事要对您讲,您得通宵听我讲,即使您站着打瞌睡我也不管。”

“我悉听您的吩咐,夫人。”吕西安静静地回答。

“我亲爱的德布雷,”银行家说,“别自讨苦吃了,通夜不睡去听腾格拉尔夫人的那些傻话,您明天白天不是照样可以听到的吗,今天晚上,假如您允许的话,我要和我妻子讨论一点儿正事。”

这一次打击瞄准得这样准确,如同当头一棒,以致吕西安和男爵夫人倒吸了一口凉气。他们以询问的目光互相对望了一眼,象是要寻求对方的帮助来进行反击一样。但他们的对手毕竟是一家之主,他那种不可抗拒的意志占了上风,做丈夫的这次胜利了。

“别以为我在赶您走,我亲爱的德布雷,”腾格拉尔继续说道,“噢,不!我决不是这个意思!但有一件意外的事使我不得不要求我妻子和我略微谈一下,我是很少提出这样的要求的,相信您不会认为我有什么恶意吧。”

德布雷低声说了些什么,然后行了个礼,就向外走去,慌忙中竟撞到了门框上,就象《阿达丽》[法国作家拉辛的著名悲剧。——译注]剧中的拿当一样。

“真是不可思议,”当他身后的房门关上以后,他说,“我们常常嘲笑这些当丈夫的,但他们却很容易占我们的上风。”

吕西安走后,腾格拉尔在沙发上坐了下来,合上那本打开着的书,装出一副极生气的样子,开始玩弄那只哈叭狗;但那小东西因为对他并不象对德布雷那样喜欢,想咬他,腾格拉尔就抓住它的后颈把它扔到了靠对面墙的一张睡椅上。那小东西在被扔的过程中嗥叫了一声,但一到那椅子上之后,它就蜷缩到椅垫后面,静静地一动也不动了,它被这种不寻常的待遇吓呆了。

“你知不知道,阁下,”男爵夫人说,“你在进步了?往常你只是粗鲁,而今天晚上你简直是残忍。”

“那是因为我今天的脾气比往常坏。”腾格拉尔回答。

爱米娜极端轻蔑地望着那银行家。这种目光若在平常早就激怒了骄傲的腾格拉尔,但今天晚上他却并不理会。

“你脾气很坏跟我有什么关系?”男爵夫人说,她丈夫那种不动声色的态度惹恼她。“这与我有何相干?你的坏脾气,带到你的银行里去吧。那儿有着你花钱雇来的职员,去向他们发泄好啦。”

“夫人,”腾格拉尔答道,“你的忠告是错误的,所以我无法遵从。我的银行就是我的财源之流,我可不愿意阻滞它的流动或扰乱它的平静。我的职员都是替我挣钱的忠实职员,假如以他们为我所赚的钱来评估他们,我给他们的报酬还嫌太低呢,所以我不会对他们生气的。我所生气的,是那些吃我的饭、骑我的马、又败坏我的家产的人。”

“请问那些败坏你的家产的人是谁?我请你说明白点儿,阁下。”

“噢,你放心好了!我并非在打哑谜,你一会儿就会明白我的意思。败坏我家产的人就是那些在一个钟头里面挖去我七十万法郎的人。”

“我不懂你的意思,阁下。”男爵夫人说道,并极办想掩饰她因激动而变了的音调和涨红了的脸。

“恰恰相反,你懂得非常清楚,”腾格拉尔说,“假如你非要说不懂的话,我可以告诉你,我刚刚在西班牙公债上损失了七十万法郎。”

“原来是这样,”男爵夫人从鼻子里冷笑了一声说道,“你认为这个损失应该由我来负责?”

“难道不是吗?”

“你觉得你损失了七十万法郎是我的过错?”

“反正不是我的。”

“我最后一次告诉你,阁下,”男爵夫人厉声说道,“你决不要再跟我提到钱这个字。这个字我在我父母家里或在我前夫家里可从来没听到过。”

“噢!这点我相信,因为他们根本一分钱都不值。”

“我很庆幸自己没染上那种俗气,没学会那种从早到晚在我耳边喋喋不休的银行惯用语。那种丁丁当当、把钱数了又数的声音简直听得我烦死了。我知道只有一种声音比那个还讨厌,就是你讲话的声音。”

“真的!”腾格拉尔说道。“哦,这倒使我奇怪了,因为我原以为你对我的业务是很感兴趣的!”

“我!是让你脑子里有这种念头的?”

“你自己!”

“啊!真的!”

“一点不假。”

“我倒很想知道这倒底是怎么回事?”

“啊,说来很简单!二月里,是你首先告诉我海地公债的消息的。你说自己做梦看到一艘船驶进了阿弗尔港。这艘船带来了一个消息,据说我们认为毫无希望的一种公债快要还本了。我认为你的梦是很有预感的,所以就立刻尽力买了许多海地公债,结果赚了四十万法郎,其中的十万如实地给了你。那笔钱你想怎么化就怎么花。完全由你自由支配。三月里,发生了铁路承建权的问题。三家公司请求承建,每家提出了同量的保证。你告诉我说,你的本能——尽管你假装对于投机买卖一无所知,但我却以为正巧相反,我觉得你的本能在某些事情上发挥得很充分——嗯,你告诉我说,你的本能使你相信应该把那个承建权交给名为南方公司的那一家。我收购了三分之二那家公司的股票;正如你所预见的,那种股票的价格突然涨了三倍,我因而赚了一百万法朗,从那一百万里拿了二十五万给你做了私房钱。这二十五万法郎你都怎样花掉了?”

“你什么时候才能讲到正题上来?”男爵夫人大声说道,愤怒、烦躁使得她浑身发抖。

“耐心一点,夫人!我就要讲到了。”

“那就运气了!”

“四月里,你到部长家里去吃饭时,听到了一段有关西班牙事件的机密谈话——驱逐卡罗斯先生。我买了一些西班牙公债。驱逐事件果真发生了。那天正值查理五世重登宝座,我赚了六十万法郎。这六十万当中,你拿了五万艾居。那些钱是你的,你可以随意处置,我并不过问,但你今年收到了五十万里弗,这毕竟是真的。”

“嗯,阁下,后来还有什么?”

“啊,是的,还有什么?嗯,后来,事情就全弄糟了。”

“真的,你讲话的态度——”

“它足以表达我的意思,我只求能做到这一点就够了。嗯,三天以后,你和德布雷先生谈论政治问题,你好象觉得他向你透露了点儿卡罗斯先生已经回到西班牙去了的口信。于是我把我的公债全部卖掉了。消息一传开,股市顿时发生了混乱,我不是卖而简直是在奉送。第二天,报上登出那个消息是假的,就因这个假消息,我一下子损失了七十万法郎。”

“那又怎么样?”

“怎么样!既然我把我赚的钱分给了你四分之一,我想你也应该负担我四分之一的损失。七十万法郎的四分之一是十七万五千法郎。”

“你的话简直荒唐极了,我不懂为什么要把德布雷先生也扯进这件事里。”

“因为假如你拿不出我所要的那十七万五千法郎,你就得去向你的朋友借,而德布雷先生是你的朋友之一。”

“真不要脸!”男爵夫人大声说道。

“噢!我们不要手舞足蹈,大喊大叫,上演一幕文明剧了,好不好夫人,不然我就不得不告诉你,我看到德布雷在这儿笑嘻嘻地接受今年你数给他的那五十万里弗,并且还对他说,他发明了一种连最精明的赌客也从没发现过的赌博——赢的时候不必出本钱,输了又不必拿钱出去。”

男爵夫人发火了。“混蛋!”她喊道,“你敢对我说你不知道你现在已在指责我什么吗?”

“我并没有说我知道,我也没说我不知道。我只是叫你仔细想一想,自从我们中止夫妇关系以来,最近四年里,我所做的一切都怎么样,究竟是否始终一致。我们分开以后不久,你忽然心血来潮,要那个在意大利戏院初次登台就一炮打响大红大紫起来的男中音歌手来指导你研究音乐,当时,我也正想和那个在英国非常著名的的女舞蹈家去学习跳舞。为了你和我各自的学习,我付出了十万法郎的代价。我并没有说什么,因为我们必须使家里保持太平,而十万法郎使一位贵妇人和一位上流社会的绅士得到适当的音乐教育和跳舞的知识并不算太多。嗯,不久你就厌倦了唱歌,然后异想天开地想去和部长的秘书研究外交。我让你研究。你知道——只要你自己掏腰包付学费,跟我又有什么关系呢?可是今天,我发觉你在掏我的腰包了,你的学习生活也许要我每月付出七十万法郎的代价。就此为止吧,夫人!因为不能再为这种事情再继续发展下去了。除非那位外交家能免费授课,那样的话我还可以容忍他,否则,他就别想再踏进我的家门——你懂了吗,夫人?”

“噢,这太过分了,阁下,”爱米娜哽咽着大声说道,“你真是庸俗极了。”

“可是,”腾格拉尔说,“我很高兴看到你也并不高明,你自动地服从了‘嫁鸡随鸡’的格言。”

“这简直是在侮辱我!”

“你说得不错。让我们先来看一下事实,冷静而理智地分析一下吧。我从没有干涉过你的事,除非是为了你好,希望你也能以同样的态度来对待我。你说你对我的钱袋毫无兴趣,那样最好。你自己的钱袋也随便你去怎样处理,但别想来填塞或挖空我的。而且,我怎么知道这是不是一种政治诡计,该不是部长因为恼恨我居于反对派的地位,妒忌我获得普遍的同情,因此勾结了德布雷先生来想使我破产吧?”

“这怎么可能呢!”

“为什么不可能?谁从来听说过这样的事情?一封假急报!那简直是不可能的事。先后两封急报的消息竟截然相反!这是在故意捉弄我,我敢确信。”

“阁下,”男爵夫人低声下气地说道,“你好象不知道那个雇员已被革了职,他们甚至还要判他的罪,已经发出了逮捕他的命令。要不是他事先逃走了,本来就被抓住了,而他的逃走就可以证明他不是发了疯,便是他已自知有罪。这是一次误会。”

“是啊,这次误会使傻瓜们大笑,使部长一夜睡不着觉,使部长的秘书涂黑了几张纸,但却使我损失了七十万法郎。”

“但是,阁下,”爱米娜突然说道,“假如,如你所说,这一切都是德布雷先生造成的,那么你为什么不直接去找他,却要来对我讲!你要怪罪男人,却为什么只冲女人来?”

“难道是我熟悉德布雷先生吗?是我想要认识他?是我要他来给什么忠告的吗?是我相信他的那套鬼话的吗?是我想搞投机的吗?不,这一切都是你干的,不是我。”

“可是,在我看来,你既然以前得到过好处——”

腾格拉尔耸了耸肩。“要是玩过几次阴谋而没有被巴黎人当作谈资就以天才而自命不凡,这种女人真是蠢货!”他大声说道。“要知道,即使你能把自己不规矩的行为瞒过你的丈夫,那也只是耍小聪明而已,全世界有一半的女人都会耍小聪明。因为一般来说,做丈夫的不愿意正视这一点。但我却不然。我是正视它的,而且始终正视它。你自以为能言善辩,坚信你瞒过了我。可是,在过去这十六年间,你或许曾瞒掉过一点儿,但你的一举一动、你的过失,没有一次曾逃过我的眼睛。结果怎么样?结果,感谢我假装糊涂,凡是你的朋友,从维尔福先生到德布雷先生,没有哪一个不在我面前发抖。没有哪一个不把我当作一家之主,我唯一的要求,也只是希望你能尊重那个头衔,老实说,他们中没有哪一个敢象我今天谈论他们那样来谈论我。我可以容忍你使人觉得我可恨,但我决不许你使人觉得我可笑,而最重要的是,我绝不让你使我倾家荡产。”

男爵夫人本来还能勉强克制住自己,但一听到提及维尔福的名字,她的脸色立刻变得煞白,象一只弹簧似的跳了起来,伸直了双手,象是要赶走一个鬼怪似的。她向她的丈夫逼近了两三步,象是要把他现在还不知道的那个秘密一下子揭穿似的,这样免得他再费事一步步地实施那令人讨厌的计划,因为他每次有所计划,总是不一下子展示出来的。“维尔福先生!你是什么意思?”

“我的意思是:你的前夫奈刚尼先生,因为他既不是位哲学家又不是位银行家,或许既是位哲学家又是位银行家,在离开了九个月之后,发觉你怀了六个月的身孕,当他看到自己的对手是一位检察官,同他斗不会有什么好结果时,就忧愤交集地死去了。我很残忍。我不但容忍了这种事,而且还以此自夸,这是我在商业上成功的原因。他为什么不杀了你而杀了他自己呢?因为他没有钱。我的生命属于我的金钱。德布雷先生使我损失了七十万法郎,让他对那笔损失也分担一份,我们就一切照旧。否则的话,就让他为那十七万五千里弗而宣告破产,并且象所有宣告破产的人一样不再露面。我承认,当他的消息准确的时候,他是一个很可爱的人,但当他的消息不准确的时候,则世界上比他好的人,要找五十个也有。”

腾格拉尔夫人脚下象生了根似地钉在了她所站的那个地方,但她终于竭力挣扎起来接受这个最后的打击。她倒在一张椅子上,想起了维尔福,想起那顿晚餐的情形,想到最近这几天来使她这平静的家变成众口交议的对象的那一连串不幸事件。腾格拉尔连看都不看她一眼,虽然她极力装出要晕倒的样子。他不再多说一个字,顺手把卧室的门带上,回他自己的房间里去了。当腾格拉尔夫人从那种半昏迷的状况中恢复过来的时候,她只觉得自己象是做了一场恶梦。
 

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 to their "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-written pieces; but it was not the case with Debray. When he reached the wicket of the Louvre, he turned to the left, galloped across the Carrousel, passed through the Rue Saint-Roch, and, issuing from the Rue de la Michodière, he arrived at M. Danglars' door just at the same time that Villefort's landau, after having deposited him and his wife at the Faubourg St. Honoré, stopped to leave the baroness at her own house. Debray, with the air of a man familiar with the house, entered first into the court, threw his bridle into the hands of a footman, and returned to the door to receive Madame Danglars, to whom he offered his arm, to conduct her to her apartments. The gate once closed, and Debray and the baroness alone in the court, he asked,--"What was the matter with you, Hermine? and why were you so affected at that story, or rather fable, 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 the contrary, 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 his ill-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 I have told you is really the case, added to the ill-humor you remarked, but which I did not think it worth while to allude to." It was evident that Madame Danglars was suffering from that nervous irritability which women frequently cannot account for even to themselves; or that, as Debray had guessed, she had experienced 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 inherent penalties of womanhood, he did not then press his inquiries, but waited for a more appropriate opportunity when he should again interrogate her, or receive an avowal proprio motu. At the door of her apartment the baroness met Mademoiselle Cornelie, her confidential maid. "What is my daughter doing?" asked Madame Danglars.

"She practiced all the evening, and then went to bed," replied Mademoiselle Cornelie.

"Yet I think I hear her piano."

"It is Mademoiselle Louise d'Armilly, who is playing while Mademoiselle Danglars 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 into her dressing-room with Mademoiselle Cornelie. "My dear M. Lucien," said Madame Danglars through the door, "you are always complaining that Eugénie will not address a word to you."

"Madame," said Lucien, playing with a little dog, who, recognizing him as a friend of the house, expected to be caressed, "I am not the only one who makes similar complaints, I think I heard Morcerf say that he could not extract a word from his betrothed."

"True," said Madame Danglars; "yet I think this will all pass off, and that you 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 an infatuation 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 of the baron, and we will try and give her an engagement, though we are very poor to 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 a charming loose dress, and came and sat down close to Debray. Then she began thoughtfully to caress the little spaniel. Lucien looked at her for a moment in 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 was about to contradict the baroness upon this latter point, when the door opened suddenly. M. Danglars appeared; Debray reseated himself. At the noise of the door Madame Danglars turned round, and looked upon her husband with an astonishment she took no trouble to conceal. "Good-evening, madame," said the banker; "good-evening, M. Debray."

Probably the baroness thought this unexpected visit signified a desire to make up for the sharp words he had uttered during the day. Assuming a dignified air, she turned round to Debray, without answering her husband. "Read me something, M. Debray," she said. Debray, who was slightly disturbed at this visit, recovered himself when he saw the calmness of the baroness, and took up a book marked by a mother-of-pearl knife inlaid with gold. "Excuse me," said the 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 really lurked a determined spirit of opposition to anything his wife might wish to do. The baroness was also surprised, and showed her astonishment by a look which would doubtless have had some effect upon her husband if he had not been intently occupied with the paper, where he was looking to see the closing stock quotations. The result was, that the proud look entirely failed of its purpose.

"M. Lucien," said the baroness, "I assure you I have no desire to sleep, and that I have a thousand things to tell you this evening, which you must listen to, 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 listening to 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 over some serious matters with my wife." This time the blow was so well aimed, and hit so directly, that Lucien and the baroness were staggered, and they interrogated each other with their eyes, as if to seek help against this aggression, 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 have a little conversation with me; it is so rarely I make such a request, I am sure you cannot grudge it to me." Debray muttered something, bowed and went out, knocking himself against the edge of the door, like Nathan in Athalie.

"It is extraordinary," he said, when the door was closed behind him, "how easily 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 playing with the dog; but the animal, not liking him as well as Debray, and attempting to bite him, Danglars seized him by the skin of his neck and threw him upon a couch on the other side of the room. The animal uttered a cry during the transit, but, arrived at its destination, it crouched behind the cushions, and stupefied at such unusual treatment remained silent and motionless. "Do you know, sir," asked the baroness, "that you are improving? Generally you are only rude, but to-night you are brutal."

"It is because I am in a worse humor than usual," replied Danglars. Hermine looked at the banker with supreme disdain. These glances frequently exasperated 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 at the 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 will not retard its course, or disturb its calm. My clerks are honest men, who earn my fortune, whom I pay much below their deserts, if I may value them according to 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 my horses, and exhaust my fortune."

"And pray who are the persons who exhaust your fortune? Explain yourself more clearly, I beg, sir."

"Oh, make yourself easy!--I am not speaking riddles, and you will soon know what I mean. The people who exhaust my fortune are those who draw out 700,000 francs in the course of an hour."

"I do not understand you, sir," said the baroness, trying to disguise the agitation of her voice and the flush of her face. "You understand me perfectly, on the contrary," said Danglars: "but, if you will persist, I will tell 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 hear cash named; it is a style of language I never heard in the house of my parents or 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 jingling crowns, which are constantly being counted and re-counted, is odious to me. I only 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 the liveliest 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 who told me of the Haitian funds. You had dreamed that a ship had entered the harbor at Havre, that this ship brought news that a payment we had looked upon as lost was going to be made. I know how clear-sighted your dreams are; I therefore 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 to you. You spent it as you pleased; that was your business. In March there was a question about a grant to a railway. Three companies presented themselves, each offering equal securities. You told me that your instinct,--and although you pretend to know nothing about speculations, I think on the contrary, that your comprehension is very clear upon certain affairs,--well, you told me that your instinct led you to believe the grant would be given to the company called the Southern. I bought two thirds of the shares of that company; as you had foreseen, the shares trebled in value, and I picked up a million, from which 250,000 francs were paid to you for pin-money. How have you spent this 250,000 francs?--it is no business of mine."

"When are you coming to the point?" cried the baroness, shivering with anger and 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 conversation respecting Spanish affairs--on the expulsion of Don Carlos. I bought some Spanish shares. The expulsion took place and I pocketed 600,000 francs the day Charles V repassed the Bidassoa. Of these 600,000 francs you took 50,000 crowns. They were yours, you disposed of them according to your fancy, and I asked no questions; but it is not the less true that you have this year received 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 that you talked politics with M. Debray, and you fancied from his words that Don Carlos had returned to Spain. Well, I sold my shares, the news got out, and I no longer sold--I gave them away, next day I find the news was false, and by this 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 of my 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 in this affair."

"Because if you do not possess the 175,000 francs I reclaim, you must have lent 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 oblige me to tell you that I see Debray leave here, pocketing the whole of the 500,000 livres you have handed over to him this year, while he smiles to himself, saying that he has found what the most skilful players have never discovered--that is, a roulette where he wins without playing, and is no loser when he loses." The baroness became enraged. "Wretch!" she cried, "will you 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. I merely tell you to look into my conduct during the last four years that we have ceased to be husband and wife, and see whether it has not always been consistent. Some time after our rupture, you wished to study music, under the celebrated baritone who made such a successful appearance at the Theatre Italien; at the same time I felt inclined to learn dancing of the danseuse who acquired 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; and 100,000 francs for a lady and gentleman to be properly instructed in music and dancing are not too much. Well, you soon become tired of singing, and you take a fancy to study diplomacy with the minister's secretary. You understand, it signifies nothing to me so long as you pay for your lessons out of your own cashbox. But to-day I find you are drawing on mine, and that your apprenticeship may cost me 700,000 francs per month. Stop there, madame, for this cannot last. Either the diplomatist must give his lessons gratis, and I will tolerate him, or he must never set his foot again in my house;--do you understand, madame?"

"Oh, this is too much," cried Hermine, choking, "you are worse than despicable."

"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 have never interfered in your affairs excepting for your good; treat me in the same way. You say you have nothing to do with my cash-box. Be it so. Do as you like with your own, but do not fill or empty mine. Besides, how do I know that this was not a political trick, that the minister enraged at seeing me in the opposition, and jealous of the popular sympathy I excite, has not concerted with M. Debray to ruin me?"

"A probable thing!"

"Why not? Who ever heard of such an occurrence as this?--a false telegraphic despatch--it is almost impossible for wrong signals to be made as they were in 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 employed there was dismissed, that they talked of going to law with him, that orders were issued to arrest him and that this order would have been put into execution if he had not escaped by flight, which proves that he was either mad or guilty? It was a mistake."

"Yes, which made fools laugh, which caused the minister to have a sleepless night, which has caused the minister's secretaries to blacken several sheets of 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 he gives 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. "Women fancy they have talent because they have managed two or three intrigues without being the talk of Paris! But know that if you had even hidden your irregularities from your husband, who has but the commencement of the art--for generally husbands will not see--you would then have been but a faint imitation of most of your friends among the women of the world. But it has not been 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 a fault, has escaped me, while you flattered yourself upon your address, and firmly believed you had deceived me. What has been the result?--that, thanks to my pretended ignorance, there is none of your friends, from M. de Villefort to M. Debray, who has not trembled before me. There is not one who has not treated me as the master of the house,--the only title I desire with respect to you; there is not one, in fact, who would have dared to speak of me as I have spoken of them this day. I will allow you to make me hateful, but I will prevent your rendering me ridiculous, and, above all, I forbid you to ruin me."

The baroness had been tolerably composed until the name of Villefort had been pronounced; 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 took two 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 philosopher nor a banker, or perhaps being both, and seeing there was nothing to be got out of a king's attorney, died of grief or anger at finding, after an absence of nine months, that you had been enceinte six. I am brutal,--I not only allow it, but boast of it; it is one of the reasons of my success in commercial business. Why did he kill himself instead of you? Because he had no cash to save. My life belongs to my cash. M. Debray has made me lose 700,000 francs; let him bear his share of the loss, and we will go on as before; if not, let him become bankrupt for the 250,000 livres, and do as all bankrupts do--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 better than he."

Madame Danglars was rooted to the spot; she made a violent effort to reply to this last attack, but she fell upon a chair thinking of Villefort, of the dinner scene, of the strange series of misfortunes which had taken place in her house during the last few days, and changed the usual calm of her establishment to a scene of scandalous debate. Danglars did not even look at her, 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 Madame Danglars recovered from her half-fainting condition, she could almost believe that she had had a disagreeable dream.
 



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