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= ROOT|Alexandre_Dumas|The_Count_of_Monte_Cristo-99.txt =

page 13 of 618



like a rejected lover;" and he burst into a hoarse laugh.

"Bah!" said Danglars, "a lad of his make was not born to be
unhappy in love. You are laughing at him, Caderousse."

"No," he replied, "only hark how he sighs! Come, come,
Fernand," said Caderousse, "hold up your head, and answer
us. It's not polite not to reply to friends who ask news of
your health."

"My health is well enough," said Fernand, clinching his
hands without raising his head.

"Ah, you see, Danglars," said Caderousse, winking at his
friend, "this is how it is; Fernand, whom you see here, is a
good and brave Catalan, one of the best fishermen in
Marseilles, and he is in love with a very fine girl, named
Mercedes; but it appears, unfortunately, that the fine girl
is in love with the mate of the Pharaon; and as the Pharaon
arrived to-day -- why, you understand!"

"No; I do not understand," said Danglars.

"Poor Fernand has been dismissed," continued Caderousse.

"Well, and what then?" said Fernand, lifting up his head,
and looking at Caderousse like a man who looks for some one
on whom to vent his anger; "Mercedes is not accountable to
any person, is she? Is she not free to love whomsoever she
will?"

"Oh, if you take it in that sense," said Caderousse, "it is
another thing. But I thought you were a Catalan, and they
told me the Catalans were not men to allow themselves to be
supplanted by a rival. It was even told me that Fernand,
especially, was terrible in his vengeance."

Fernand smiled piteously. "A lover is never terrible," he
said.

"Poor fellow!" remarked Danglars, affecting to pity the
young man from the bottom of his heart. "Why, you see, he
did not expect to see Dantes return so suddenly -- he
thought he was dead, perhaps; or perchance faithless! These
things always come on us more severely when they come
suddenly."

"Ah, ma foi, under any circumstances," said Caderousse, who
drank as he spoke, and on whom the fumes of the wine began
to take effect, -- "under any circumstances Fernand is not
the only person put out by the fortunate arrival of Dantes;
is he, Danglars?"

"No, you are right -- and I should say that would bring him
ill-luck."

"Well, never mind," answered Caderousse, pouring out a glass
of wine for Fernand, and filling his own for the eighth or
ninth time, while Danglars had merely sipped his. "Never
mind -- in the meantime he marries Mercedes -- the lovely
Mercedes -- at least he returns to do that."

During this time Danglars fixed his piercing glance on the
young man, on whose heart Caderousse's words fell like
molten lead.

"And when is the wedding to be?" he asked.

"Oh, it is not yet fixed!" murmured Fernand.

"No, but it will be," said Caderousse, "as surely as Dantes
will be captain of the Pharaon -- eh, Danglars?"

Danglars shuddered at this unexpected attack, and turned to
Caderousse, whose countenance he scrutinized, to try and
detect whether the blow was premeditated; but he read
nothing but envy in a countenance already rendered brutal
and stupid by drunkenness.

"Well," said he, filling the glasses, "let us drink to
Captain Edmond Dantes, husband of the beautiful Catalane!"

Caderousse raised his glass to his mouth with unsteady hand,
and swallowed the contents at a gulp. Fernand dashed his on
the ground.

"Eh, eh, eh!" stammered Caderousse. "What do I see down
there by the wall, in the direction of the Catalans? Look,
Fernand, your eyes are better than mine. I believe I see
double. You know wine is a deceiver; but I should say it was
two lovers walking side by side, and hand in hand. Heaven
forgive me, they do not know that we can see them, and they
are actually embracing!"

Danglars did not lose one pang that Fernand endured.

"Do you know them, Fernand?" he said.

"Yes," was the reply, in a low voice. "It is Edmond and
Mercedes!"
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