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The bride of Monte-Cristo
Extrait du chapitre 1 "Renewed acquaintance"
what is the meaning of this?"
The speaker was a man of probably something over thirty, with light hair and clear gray eyes. His name was Lucien Debray, known to the readers of "The Count of Monte-Cristo" as the sec-retary of the Minister of the interior. Nearly three years had passed since the night when he dissolved partnership with Hermine, the wife of Baron Danglars, and purchased the house in the Rue de Madeleine. There had been many political changes since then, but Debray had managed to keep his place in the diplomatic service, though he had not succeeded in gaining a step on the ladder of promotion.
The place was the editorial room of the Impartial, a journal of which Beauchamp had charge.
The journalist looked up from the article he was writing and asked:
"What is the meaning of what?"
Debray pointed to an item in the morning edition of the paper he held in his hand.
"Of this paragraph," he answered. "If is here stated that the Countess of Monte-Cristo has arrived in the city and taken up her residence on the Avenue de Champs Elysées."
Beauchamp laid down his pen.
"You know as much about it as I do," he said. "There is a woman calling herself the Countess of Monte-Cristo who has taken up her residence at 35 Avenue de Champs Elysées."
"When that remarkable person, the count himself, was in Paris, he lived at 30, did he not?"
"Do you suppose this woman really is his wife, or an impostor? "
"I am not qualified to give any opinion as yet. In a few hours from now I will be able to do so."
"You are going to call on her?"
"Such is my intention."
"I would like to accompany you."
"Then do so. If she really is Monte-Cristo's wife, the beautiful Greek, she will not object to our paying our respects together."
"When do you start?"
"As soon as I have finished this article. Say in an hour."
"Then in an hour I will call for you."
Speaking thus, the diplomatist took his leave while Beauchamp resumed his writing.
Meanwhile, in the reception-room of the house on the Avenue de Champs Elysées, sat the Countess of Monte-Cristo.
She was indeed none other than Haydee.
The years that had passed since the time when she and the count had sailed away together from the island, from which they took their title, had only increased her beauty.
She no longer wore her native costume, but was attired like any other fashionable Parisian lady.
She was not alone. Near her another lady was seated. This was Valentine de Villefort, now Mme. Morrel.
The first greetings over, Valentine asked in a hesitating way:
"But the count, our benefactor, how did he die? When we last heard from you a year ago he was well."
Haydee's face flushed as she answered earnestly:
"Question me not. Neither think me heartless because I do not wear the weeds of woe. It is by his command that I appear gay. He would not have me grieve. Dear friend, I but obey his wishes."
Valentine made no reply, and the countess said, vivaciously:
"Tell me all about yourself. Maximilian is well?"
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