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= ROOT|Alexandre_Dumas|The_Count_of_Monte_Cristo-99.txt =

page 14 of 618




"Ah, see there, now!" said Caderousse; "and I did not
recognize them! Hallo, Dantes! hello, lovely damsel! Come
this way, and let us know when the wedding is to be, for
Fernand here is so obstinate he will not tell us."

"Hold your tongue, will you?" said Danglars, pretending to
restrain Caderousse, who, with the tenacity of drunkards,
leaned out of the arbor. "Try to stand upright, and let the
lovers make love without interruption. See, look at Fernand,
and follow his example; he is well-behaved!"

Fernand, probably excited beyond bearing, pricked by
Danglars, as the bull is by the bandilleros, was about to
rush out; for he had risen from his seat, and seemed to be
collecting himself to dash headlong upon his rival, when
Mercedes, smiling and graceful, lifted up her lovely head,
and looked at them with her clear and bright eyes. At this
Fernand recollected her threat of dying if Edmond died, and
dropped again heavily on his seat. Danglars looked at the
two men, one after the other, the one brutalized by liquor,
the other overwhelmed with love.

"I shall get nothing from these fools," he muttered; "and I
am very much afraid of being here between a drunkard and a
coward. Here's an envious fellow making himself boozy on
wine when he ought to be nursing his wrath, and here is a
fool who sees the woman he loves stolen from under his nose
and takes on like a big baby. Yet this Catalan has eyes that
glisten like those of the vengeful Spaniards, Sicilians, and
Calabrians, and the other has fists big enough to crush an
ox at one blow. Unquestionably, Edmond's star is in the
ascendant, and he will marry the splendid girl -- he will be
captain, too, and laugh at us all, unless" -- a sinister
smile passed over Danglars' lips -- "unless I take a hand in
the affair," he added.

"Hallo!" continued Caderousse, half-rising, and with his
fist on the table, "hallo, Edmond! do you not see your
friends, or are you too proud to speak to them?"

"No, my dear fellow!" replied Dantes, "I am not proud, but I
am happy, and happiness blinds, I think, more than pride."

"Ah, very well, that's an explanation!" said Caderousse.
"How do you do, Madame Dantes?"

Mercedes courtesied gravely, and said -- "That is not my
name, and in my country it bodes ill fortune, they say, to
call a young girl by the name of her betrothed before he
becomes her husband. So call me Mercedes, if you please."

"We must excuse our worthy neighbor, Caderousse," said
Dantes, "he is so easily mistaken."

"So, then, the wedding is to take place immediately, M.
Dantes," said Danglars, bowing to the young couple.

"As soon as possible, M. Danglars; to-day all preliminaries
will be arranged at my father's, and to-morrow, or next day
at latest, the wedding festival here at La Reserve. My
friends will be there, I hope; that is to say, you are
invited, M. Danglars, and you, Caderousse."

"And Fernand," said Caderousse with a chuckle; "Fernand,
too, is invited!"

"My wife's brother is my brother," said Edmond; "and we,
Mercedes and I, should be very sorry if he were absent at
such a time."

Fernand opened his mouth to reply, but his voice died on his
lips, and he could not utter a word.

"To-day the preliminaries, to-morrow or next day the
ceremony! You are in a hurry, captain!"

"Danglars," said Edmond, smiling, "I will say to you as
Mercedes said just now to Caderousse, `Do not give me a
title which does not belong to me'; that may bring me bad
luck."

"Your pardon," replied Danglars, "I merely said you seemed
in a hurry, and we have lots of time; the Pharaon cannot be
under weigh again in less than three months."

"We are always in a hurry to be happy, M. Danglars; for when
we have suffered a long time, we have great difficulty in
believing in good fortune. But it is not selfishness alone
that makes me thus in haste; I must go to Paris."

"Ah, really? -- to Paris! and will it be the first time you
have ever been there, Dantes?"

"Yes."

"Have you business there?"

"Not of my own; the last commission of poor Captain Leclere;
you know to what I allude, Danglars -- it is sacred.
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