So I've read it. And it's really terrific; it sprawls all over the place, but it's a great time, and the ending isn't anywhere near what I expected it would be. If you haven't read it, I'm going to blow it for you. Edmond Dantes, a young sailor about to get married, is imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit due to the actions of several people, each of whom have their own degrees of involvement and reasons for acting. Dantes is sent to a hellhole of an island prison, the Chateau D'if. He is there for fourteen years. While there, he befriends an older prisoner, who is thought mad because he keeps offering millions in gold if he will only be released. Except the old man isn't mad: he knows where a huge frigging treasure is hidden on the rocky, worthless island of Monte Cristo. Dantes escapes from prison, recovers the treasure, buys a title in Italy, and proceeds to reinvent himself as the insanely wealthy Count of Monte Cristo, who gets back into society and proceeds to set in motion a glorious revenge, for which his desires are further fueled when he discovers that, while Dantes was in prison, his father died horribly and his fiancee married, and bore the son of, one of the guys responsible for sending Dantes up the river.
I'd known that much going in, but didn't know how it all played out. And it didn't have anywhere near the ending I thought it would. The thing you expect is that Dantes and his true love will be reunited, have the happy ever after ending. But that's not how it works out; they're reunited, sure, but they don't get back together. As Dantes moves through his revenge -- and, in the process, helps get revenge for a number of supporting characters -- the man changes. He doesn't just want what he's always wanted -- he learns how to move on with his life, afterwards. And that's really cool.
But that's not what I'm here to talk about! I am here to talk about nubile lesbian runaways, and how surprised I am that no cheap paperback edition has capitalized on their presence by trumpeting it in large letters on the cover. One of the minor characters in the book is Eugenie Danglars, the daughter of one of the bad guys. Her engagement factors in the plot. But Eugenie doesn't want to be engaged, or married, ever; she wants to run off and be an artist. When her engagement is torpedoed by part of Dantes's revenge, she seizes the opportunity. Here she is with her, um, best friend, Mademoiselle Louise d'Armilly:
"Listen, Louise. I hate this life of the fashionable world, always ordered, measured, ruled, like our music-paper. What I have always wished for, desired, and coveted, is the life of an artist, free and independent, relying only on my own resources, and accountable only to myself. Remain here? What for?—that they may try, a month hence, to marry me again; and to whom?—M. Debray, perhaps, as it was once proposed. No, Louise, no! This evening's adventure will serve for my excuse. I did not seek one, I did not ask for one. God sends me this, and I hail it joyfully!"
"How strong and courageous you are!" said the fair, frail girl to her brunette companion.
"Did you not yet know me? Come, Louise, let us talk of our affairs. The post-chaise"—
"Was happily bought three days since."
"Have you had it sent where we are to go for it?"
"Here it is."
And Eugenie, with her usual precision, opened a printed paper, and read,—
"M. Leon d'Armilly, twenty years of age; profession, artist; hair black, eyes black; travelling with his sister."
"Capital! How did you get this passport?"
"When I went to ask M. de Monte Cristo for letters to the directors of the theatres at Rome and Naples, I expressed my fears of travelling as a woman; he perfectly understood them, and undertook to procure for me a man's passport, and two days after I received this, to which I have added with my own hand, 'travelling with his sister.'"
"Well," said Eugenie cheerfully, "we have then only to pack up our trunks; we shall start the evening of the signing of the contract, instead of the evening of the wedding—that is all."
"But consider the matter seriously, Eugenie!"
"Oh, I am done with considering! I am tired of hearing only of market reports, of the end of the month, of the rise and fall of Spanish funds, of Haitian bonds. Instead of that, Louise—do you understand?—air, liberty, melody of birds, plains of Lombardy, Venetian canals, Roman palaces, the Bay of Naples. How much have we, Louise?" The young girl to whom this question was addressed drew from an inlaid secretary a small portfolio with a lock, in which she counted twenty-three bank-notes.
"Twenty-three thousand francs," said she.
"And as much, at least, in pearls, diamonds, and jewels," said Eugenie. "We are rich. With forty-five thousand francs we can live like princesses for two years, and comfortably for four; but before six months—you with your music, and I with my voice—we shall double our capital. Come, you shall take charge of the money, I of the jewel-box; so that if one of us had the misfortune to lose her treasure, the other would still have hers left. Now, the portmanteau—let us make haste—the portmanteau!"
"Stop!" said Louise, going to listen at Madame Danglars' door.
"What do you fear?"
"That we may be discovered."
"The door is locked."
"They may tell us to open it."
"They may if they like, but we will not."
"You are a perfect Amazon, Eugenie!" And the two young girls began to heap into a trunk all the things they thought they should require. "There now," said Eugenie, "while I change my costume do you lock the portmanteau." Louise pressed with all the strength of her little hands on the top of the portmanteau. "But I cannot," said she; "I am not strong enough; do you shut it."
"Ah, you do well to ask," said Eugenie, laughing; "I forgot that I was Hercules, and you only the pale Omphale!" And the young girl, kneeling on the top, pressed the two parts of the portmanteau together, and Mademoiselle d'Armilly passed the bolt of the padlock through. When this was done, Eugenie opened a drawer, of which she kept the key, and took from it a wadded violet silk travelling cloak. "Here," said she, "you see I have thought of everything; with this cloak you will not be cold."
"Oh, I am never cold, you know! Besides, with these men's clothes"—
"Will you dress here?"
"Shall you have time?"
"Do not be uneasy, you little coward! All our servants are busy, discussing the grand affair. Besides, what is there astonishing, when you think of the grief I ought to be in, that I shut myself up?—tell me!"
"No, truly—you comfort me."
"Come and help me."
From the same drawer she took a man's complete costume, from the boots to the coat, and a provision of linen, where there was nothing superfluous, but every requisite. Then, with a promptitude which indicated that this was not the first time she had amused herself by adopting the garb of the opposite sex, Eugenie drew on the boots and pantaloons, tied her cravat, buttoned her waistcoat up to the throat, and put on a coat which admirably fitted her beautiful figure. "Oh, that is very good—indeed, it is very good!" said Louise, looking at her with admiration; "but that beautiful black hair, those magnificent braids, which made all the ladies sigh with envy,—will they go under a man's hat like the one I see down there?"
"You shall see," said Eugenie. And with her left hand seizing the thick mass, which her long fingers could scarcely grasp, she took in her right hand a pair of long scissors, and soon the steel met through the rich and splendid hair, which fell in a cluster at her feet as she leaned back to keep it from her coat. Then she grasped the front hair, which she also cut off, without expressing the least regret; on the contrary, her eyes sparkled with greater pleasure than usual under her ebony eyebrows. "Oh, the magnificent hair!" said Louise, with regret.
"And am I not a hundred times better thus?" cried Eugenie, smoothing the scattered curls of her hair, which had now quite a masculine appearance; "and do you not think me handsomer so?"
"Oh, you are beautiful—always beautiful!" cried Louise. "Now, where are you going?"
"To Brussels, if you like; it is the nearest frontier. We can go to Brussels, Liege, Aix-la-Chapelle; then up the Rhine to Strasburg. We will cross Switzerland, and go down into Italy by the Saint-Gothard. Will that do?"
"What are you looking at?"
"I am looking at you; indeed you are adorable like that! One would say you were carrying me off."
"And they would be right, pardieu!"
"Oh, I think you swore, Eugenie." And the two young girls, whom every one might have thought plunged in grief, the one on her own account, the other from interest in her friend, burst out laughing, as they cleared away every visible trace of the disorder which had naturally accompanied the preparations for their escape.
The dominant, forceful brunette and the adoring blonde. IT'S TOTALLY A XENA ALTFIC. Really, the crush there is so obvious, you want to tell 'em to get a room. And they do! We know this because Eugenie's ex-fiancee Andrea, a minor bad guy and a pawn in Dantes's scheme, runs away and hides at the same inn where they're shacked up. He asks for Room 3, which has its own exit, but is told it's taken by a young man and his sister. So he takes another room, and wakes up to see police closing in. He escapes to the roof, but the cops are on the way up, so he plays Santa Claus and tries to make his way down the one chimney that isn't issuing smoke.
"Well, my boys," said the brigadier, "the brigand must really have escaped early this morning; but we will send to the Villers-Coterets and Noyon roads, and search the forest, when we shall catch him, no doubt." The honorable functionary had scarcely expressed himself thus, in that intonation which is peculiar to brigadiers of the gendarmerie, when a loud scream, accompanied by the violent ringing of a bell, resounded through the court of the hotel. "Ah, what is that?" cried the brigadier.
"Some traveller seems impatient," said the host. "What number was it that rang?"
"Run, waiter!" At this moment the screams and ringing were redoubled. "Ah," said the brigadier, stopping the servant, "the person who is ringing appears to want something more than a waiter; we will attend upon him with a gendarme. Who occupies Number 3?"
"The little fellow who arrived last night in a post-chaise with his sister, and who asked for an apartment with two beds." The bell here rang for the third time, with another shriek of anguish.
"Follow me, Mr. Commissary!" said the brigadier; "tread in my steps."
"Wait an instant," said the host; "Number 3 has two staircases,—inside and outside."
"Good," said the brigadier. "I will take charge of the inside one. Are the carbines loaded?"
"Well, you guard the exterior, and if he attempts to fly, fire upon him; he must be a great criminal, from what the telegraph says."
The brigadier, followed by the commissary, disappeared by the inside staircase, accompanied by the noise which his assertions respecting Andrea had excited in the crowd. This is what had happened. Andrea had very cleverly managed to descend two-thirds of the chimney, but then his foot slipped, and notwithstanding his endeavors, he came into the room with more speed and noise than he intended. It would have signified little had the room been empty, but unfortunately it was occupied. Two ladies, sleeping in one bed, were awakened by the noise, and fixing their eyes upon the spot whence the sound proceeded, they saw a man. One of these ladies, the fair one, uttered those terrible shrieks which resounded through the house, while the other, rushing to the bell-rope, rang with all her strength. Andrea, as we can see, was surrounded by misfortune.
They asked for an apartment with two beds. And when the bad guy drops in, they're sharing one. Man, Alexandre Dumas was not even being subtle about it! It's right in the open, including the public reaction to their discovery:
The brigadier advanced to him, sword in hand. "Come, come," said Andrea, "sheathe your sword, my fine fellow; there is no occasion to make such a fuss, since I give myself up;" and he held out his hands to be manacled. The girls looked with horror upon this shameful metamorphosis, the man of the world shaking off his covering and appearing as a galley-slave. Andrea turned towards them, and with an impertinent smile asked,—"Have you any message for your father, Mademoiselle Danglars, for in all probability I shall return to Paris?"
Eugenie covered her face with her hands. "Oh, ho!" said Andrea, "you need not be ashamed, even though you did post after me. Was I not nearly your husband?"
And with this raillery Andrea went out, leaving the two girls a prey to their own feelings of shame, and to the comments of the crowd. An hour after they stepped into their calash, both dressed in feminine attire. The gate of the hotel had been closed to screen them from sight, but they were forced, when the door was open, to pass through a throng of curious glances and whispering voices. Eugenie closed her eyes; but though she could not see, she could hear, and the sneers of the crowd reached her in the carriage. "Oh, why is not the world a wilderness?" she exclaimed, throwing herself into the arms of Mademoiselle d'Armilly, her eyes sparkling with the same kind of rage which made Nero wish that the Roman world had but one neck, that he might sever it at a single blow. The next day they stopped at the Hotel de Flandre, at Brussels. The same evening Andrea was incarcerated in the Conciergerie.
And with that, Eugenie and Louise exit the story, alas. Despite this unfortunate episode, they made it to their intended destination, and I bet they had grand and glorious adventures.
(Somebody should totally write the fic where they get to the inn and realize wow, they're going to be sharing a room and WILL HAVE ACTUAL PRIVACY FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER. I bet Louise's pulse went up to 120 bpm.)
ETA: I just noticed! On Eugenie's fake passport, which Louise procured via the kindness of Monte Cristo, the description is Eugenie's -- dark hair, dark eyes, profession, artist -- but the name she's travelling under is Leon d'Armilly. *Louise has Eugenie take her name.* Awwwwwwwww.
I can only imagine the huge, knowing grin on the face of the Count of Monte Cristo.