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Chapter 42


CHAPTER 42
Monsieur Bertuccio.

Meanwhile the count had arrived at his house; it had taken
him six minutes to perform the distance, but these six
minutes were sufficient to induce twenty young men who knew
the price of the equipage they had been unable to purchase
themselves, to put their horses in a gallop in order to see
the rich foreigner who could afford to give 20,000 francs
apiece for his horses. The house Ali had chosen, and which
was to serve as a town residence to Monte Cristo, was
situated on the right hand as you ascend the Champs Elysees.
A thick clump of trees and shrubs rose in the centre, and
masked a portion of the front; around this shrubbery two
alleys, like two arms, extended right and left, and formed a
carriage-drive from the iron gates to a double portico, on
every step of which stood a porcelain vase. filled with
flowers. This house, isolated from the rest, had, besides
the main entrance, another in the Rue Ponthieu. Even before
the coachman had hailed the concierge, the massy gates
rolled on their hinges -- they had seen the Count coming,
and at Paris, as everywhere else, he was served with the
rapidity of lightning. The coachman entered and traversed
the half-circle without slackening his speed, and the gates
were closed ere the wheels had ceased to sound on the
gravel. The carriage stopped at the left side of the
portico, two men presented themselves at the
carriage-window; the one was Ali, who, smiling with an
expression of the most sincere joy, seemed amply repaid by a
mere look from Monte Cristo. The other bowed respectfully,
and offered his arm to assist the count in descending.
"Thanks, M. Bertuccio," said the count, springing lightly up
the three steps of the portico; "and the notary?"

"He is in the small salon, excellency," returned Bertuccio.

"And the cards I ordered to be engraved as soon as you knew
the number of the house?"

"Your excellency, it is done already. I have been myself to
the best engraver of the Palais Royal, who did the plate in
my presence. The first card struck off was taken, according
to your orders, to the Baron Danglars, Rue de la Chaussee
d'Antin, No. 7; the others are on the mantle-piece of your
excellency's bedroom."

"Good; what o'clock is it?"

"Four o'clock." Monte Cristo gave his hat, cane, and gloves
to the same French footman who had called his carriage at
the Count of Morcerf's, and then he passed into the small
salon, preceded by Bertuccio, who showed him the way. "These
are but indifferent marbles in this ante-chamber," said
Monte Cristo. "I trust all this will soon be taken away."
Bertuccio bowed. As the steward had said, the notary awaited
him in the small salon. He was a simple-looking lawyer's
clerk, elevated to the extraordinary dignity of a provincial
scrivener. "You are the notary empowered to sell the country
house that I wish to purchase, monsieur?" asked Monte
Cristo.

"Yes, count," returned the notary.

"Is the deed of sale ready?"

"Yes, count."

"Have you brought it?"

"Here it is."

"Very well; and where is this house that I purchase?" asked
the count carelessly, addressing himself half to Bertuccio,
half to the notary. The steward made a gesture that
signified, "I do not know." The notary looked at the count
with astonishment. "What!" said he, "does not the count know
where the house he purchases is situated?"

"No," returned the count.

"The count does not know?"

"How should I know? I have arrived from Cadiz this morning.
I have never before been at Paris, and it is the first time
I have ever even set my foot in France."

"Ah, that is different; the house you purchase is at
Auteuil." At these words Bertuccio turned pale. "And where
is Auteuil?" asked the count.

"Close by here, monsieur," replied the notary -- "a little
beyond Passy; a charming situation, in the heart of the Bois
de Boulogne."

"So near as that?" said the Count; "but that is not in the
country. What made you choose a house at the gates of Paris,
M. Bertuccio?"

"I," cried the steward with a strange expression. "His
excellency did not charge me to purchase this house. If his
excellency will recollect -- if he will think" --

"Ah, true," observed Monte Cristo; "I recollect now. I read
the advertisement in one of the papers, and was tempted by
the false title, `a country house.'"

"It is not yet too late," cried Bertuccio, eagerly; "and if
your excellency will intrust me with the commission, I will
find you a better at Enghien, at Fontenay-aux-Roses, or at
Bellevue."

"Oh, no," returned Monte Cristo negligently; "since I have
this, I will keep it."

"And you are quite right," said the notary, who feared to
lose his fee. "It is a charming place, well supplied with
spring-water and fine trees; a comfortable habitation,
although abandoned for a long time, without reckoning the
furniture, which, although old, is yet valuable, now that
old things are so much sought after. I suppose the count has
the tastes of the day?"

"To be sure," returned Monte Cristo; "it is very convenient,
then?"

"It is more -- it is magnificent."

"Peste, let us not lose such an opportunity," returned Monte
Cristo. "The deed, if you please, Mr. Notary." And he signed
it rapidly, after having first run his eye over that part of
the deed in which were specified the situation of the house
and the names of the proprietors. "Bertuccio," said he,
"give fifty-five thousand francs to monsieur." The steward
left the room with a faltering step, and returned with a
bundle of bank-notes, which the notary counted like a man
who never gives a receipt for money until after he is sure
it is all there. "And now," demanded the count, "are all the
forms complied with?"

"All, sir."

"Have you the keys?"

"They are in the hands of the concierge, who takes care of
the house, but here is the order I have given him to install
the count in his new possessions."

"Very well;" and Monte Cristo made a sign with his hand to
the notary, which said, "I have no further need of you; you
may go."

"But," observed the honest notary, "the count is, I think,
mistaken; it is only fifty thousand francs, everything
included."

"And your fee?"

"Is included in this sum."

"But have you not come from Auteuil here?"

"Yes, certainly."

"Well, then, it is but fair that you should be paid for your
loss of time and trouble," said the count; and he made a
gesture of polite dismissal. The notary left the room
backwards, and bowing down to the ground; it was the first
time he had ever met a similar client. "See this gentleman
out," said the count to Bertuccio. And the steward followed
the notary out of the room. Scarcely was the count alone,
when he drew from his pocket a book closed with a lock, and
opened it with a key which he wore round his neck, and which
never left him. After having sought for a few minutes, he
stopped at a leaf which had several notes, and compared them
with the deed of sale, which lay on the table. "`Auteuil,
Rue de la Fontaine, No. 28;' it is indeed the same," said
he; "and now, am I to rely upon an avowal extorted by
religious or physical terror? However, in an hour I shall
know all. Bertuccio!" cried he, striking a light hammer with
a pliant handle on a small gong. "Bertuccio!" The steward
appeared at the door. "Monsieur Bertuccio," said the count,
"did you never tell me that you had travelled in France?"

"In some parts of France -- yes, excellency."

"You know the environs of Paris, then?"

"No, excellency, no," returned the steward, with a sort of
nervous trembling, which Monte Cristo, a connoisseur in all
emotions, rightly attributed to great disquietude.

"It is unfortunate," returned he, "that you have never
visited the environs, for I wish to see my new property this
evening, and had you gone with me, you could have given me
some useful information."

"To Auteuil!" cried Bertuccio, whose copper complexion
became livid -- "I go to Auteuil?"

"Well, what is there surprising in that? When I live at
Auteuil, you must come there, as you belong to my service."
Bertuccio hung down his head before the imperious look of
his master, and remained motionless, without making any
answer. "Why, what has happened to you? -- are you going to
make me ring a second time for the carriage?" asked Monte
Cristo, in the same tone that Louis XIV. pronounced the
famous, "I have been almost obliged to wait." Bertuccio made
but one bound to the ante-chamber, and cried in a hoarse
voice -- "His excellency's horses!" Monte Cristo wrote two
or three notes, and, as he sealed the last, the steward
appeared. "Your excellency's carriage is at the door," said
he.

"Well, take your hat and gloves," returned Monte Cristo.

"Am I to accompany you, your excellency?" cried Bertuccio.

"Certainly, you must give the orders, for I intend residing
at the house." It was unexampled for a servant of the
count's to dare to dispute an order of his, so the steward,
without saying a word, followed his master, who got into the
carriage, and signed to him to follow, which he did, taking
his place respectfully on the front seat.


Alexandre Dumas pere