Alexandre Dumas: The Count of Monte Cristo

Chapter 66: Matrimonial Projects. (continued)

"Yes, I heard it spoken of, but I did not know the details, and then no one can be more ignorant than I am of the affairs in the Bourse."

"Then you do not speculate?"

"I? -- How could I speculate when I already have so much trouble in regulating my income? I should be obliged, besides my steward, to keep a clerk and a boy. But touching these Spanish affairs, I think that the baroness did not dream the whole of the Don Carlos matter. The papers said something about it, did they not?"

"Then you believe the papers?"

"I? -- not the least in the world; only I fancied that the honest Messager was an exception to the rule, and that it only announced telegraphic despatches."

"Well, that's what puzzles me," replied Danglars; "the news of the return of Don Carlos was brought by telegraph."

"So that," said Monte Cristo, "you have lost nearly 1,700,000 francs this month."

"Not nearly, indeed; that is exactly my loss."

"Diable," said Monte Cristo compassionately, "it is a hard blow for a third-rate fortune."

"Third-rate," said Danglars, rather humble, "what do you mean by that?"

"Certainly," continued Monte Cristo, "I make three assortments in fortune -- first-rate, second-rate, and third-rate fortunes. I call those first-rate which are composed of treasures one possesses under one's hand, such as mines, lands, and funded property, in such states as France, Austria, and England, provided these treasures and property form a total of about a hundred millions; I call those second-rate fortunes, that are gained by manufacturing enterprises, joint-stock companies, viceroyalties, and principalities, not drawing more than 1,500,000 francs, the whole forming a capital of about fifty millions; finally, I call those third-rate fortunes, which are composed of a fluctuating capital, dependent upon the will of others, or upon chances which a bankruptcy involves or a false telegram shakes, such as banks, speculations of the day -- in fact, all operations under the influence of greater or less mischances, the whole bringing in a real or fictitious capital of about fifteen millions. I think this is about your position, is it not?"

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