Marrying a Count by Caroline F. Preston (pseudonym of Horatio Alger, Jr.)
Author: Alger, Horatio, 1832-1899.
Title: Marrying a Count.
In: Gleason's Literary Companion. Boston : F. Gleason. Vol. 6, no. 24 (June 17, 1865)
Format: 4 columns ; 28 cm.
Horatio Alger Collection.
Other Title: Gleason's Literary Companion
Location: AP 2 .L546a (Special Collections)
Optically scanned and encoded by Mark A. Williams
Horatio Alger Digital Serials Project, Northern llinois University Libraries
New York, Sept. l5th, 18â€”
Dearest Jane:â€”When we both left school, six months ago, little did I think that I should ever become allied to the nobility of whom you and I liked to read so well in novels. I can scarcely realize that in just one week from to-day I shall be a countess. I sometimes think it is all a dream. But it is all true. If you will be patient, which I know you won't, I'll tell you all about it.
You know we spent part of last summer at dear, delightful Saratoga. While there, I made the acquaintance of an elegant-looking young man with dark, wavy hair, and such a splendid moustache, curling at the ends just like Louis Napoleon's. After a while I found that he was the Count de Bordeaux. He talks English very well for a foreigner. Of course, as soon as I found that be was a noble, I felt rather diffident in his society, because of course, you know the European nobility are so much superior to us in every respect. I was afraid that I should make some great blunder in matters of etiquette. Indeed, after I had got a little acquainted with the count I mentioned as much; but he quickly told me that I need not be disturbedâ€”that he had seldom seen at the court of Tuileries, a lady so truly elegant in her manners, and that I reminded him very much of his cousin, the young Duchess of Toulouse. What a delightful compliment that was, wasn't it, Jane, dear? Some might have thought it flattery, but I assure you no one could be more in earnest than the count.
The count was telling me one day about his father's estates. One of themâ€”I forget the name of itâ€”is ten miles round, and has a chateau, containing five hundred rooms. How dreadfully expensive it must be to furnish them all! Then they have a grand hotel in Paris, situated on the Rue de Revelry (I believe that's the name, but am not quite sure, for I never took to French much at boarding-school; it would have been so different if I'd only known that I was to marry a count and reside there.)
When the count was telling me about his father's great estates, I felt as if pa's property was a mere nothing in comparison. He's worth about a hundred thousand, but I thought I'd better tell the count half a million, it sounds so much better. I told him also that I was the only daughterâ€”I didn't mention my five brothers. Why should I?
When I said that, the countâ€”and this shows how rich he isâ€”remarked, Ah yes, a nice little sum! It will be very good for pin-money.
But you will want to know all about the declaration. You must know that from the first, Alphonseâ€”did I mention that his name was Alphonse?â€”showed a great preference for my society, much to the disappointment of Carrie Peabody, who set her cap for him at once. But, of course, she stood no chance, for her complexion is poor. I discovered a couple of frecklesâ€”one on each side of her nose, the other day. When I sauntered out before breakfast, I was always sure to find the count somewhere near, and he would invariably join me.
At the hops he was sure to dance with me half the time. It made Carrie Peabody turn actually green with envy, I assure you, which of course was very pleasant to me.
So it went on till one morning we strayed into an arbor, when all at once Alphonse without any warning went down on his kneesâ€”on the damp grass too,â€”and with his eyes turned upward in such an affecting manner, implored me to be his. Of course I was very much overcome ; I hardly knew what to say. But I happened to remember how it was done in a play that I saw once, so I turned up my eyes too, and gently leaning forward said as tenderly as I could, "Thine, thine forever, dear Alphonse." With that he jumped to his feet, and clasping his hands, exclaimed, "O heavens! what rapture! She is minetoujours,â€”that is to say, always."
"Always, Alphonse," sighed I sweetly, and managed, for I had risen too, to fall into his arms. I closed my eyes on pretence of being faint, and my head reposed on his shoulder. Even in that brief moment, I noticed how beautifully his hair was scented. I wonder what kind of hair oil he uses. I must ask him.
There was one unlucky thing, though. While I was standing, half supported by Alphonse, who should come along but that hateful Carrie Peabody. I dare say she came out as a spy. When she saw us she turned fairly green with jealousy, and said with an odious sneer, "Oh, dear me, I really am afraid I'm intruding. If I had knownâ€”"
I had a great mind to tell her shewas intrudingâ€”hateful creature. However, dear Alphonse had so much presence of mind. He bowed politely and said "Mademoiselle Peabody, your friend is taken suddenly faint. It must be walking so far before breakfast."
"I wouldn't advise you to come out again so early," said the spiteful thing.
"Thank you," said I coldly. "It doesn't usually affect me so."
"How very fortunate the count happened to be here," she continued, trying to vex me.
"It was, indeed, said I coolly. "I don't know how I should have got along."
"Suppose we walk back to breakfast," said she.
Stay she would, though she might have known that her company wasn't wanted. So there was nothing for it but to go back. There is one comfort, however,â€”the count didn't offer her his other arm, so she was obliged to walk ahead by herself. It made her look sourer than ever.
When I told dear mamma about my offer, she was as pleased as I. It's something to be mother of a Count, you know. I shall delight to have mamma come over and visit me at my chateau. I don't know but I shall invite Carrie Peabody some time. I hate her like poison, but I know it will be so mortifying to her to see me in my grandeur, and be obliged to call me countess. I shall insist upon her calling me so, even if she is an old schoolfellow. What's the use of having a title if you're not going to be called by it.
By the way, the count insists on being married immediately. He says that business connected with his estates requires his presence in "la belle France." It seems rather sudden, but I have no doubt he is right. Under the circumstances, I think I ought to yield my consent, though I should have liked time to import my bridal dress from France. However, as I am going there so soon, it won't make much difference.
As to papa, I don't think he favors the count muchâ€”I'm sure I don't know why. But papa has such old fashioned ideas, you know. He actually says he would rather have me marry his book keeperâ€”a sober, steady young fellow enough, but without fashionâ€”than to marry the count. However, finding that my heart was set upon it, he made no further opposition He treats Alphonse civilly enough, but I can see that they are not comfortable in each other's society. You know father hasn't had these advantages which I have, and no doubt he feels much more at home with his book keeper than with the count. Still I think even he will be a little proud of mentioning his daughter as the Countess de Bordeaux to his companions. Poor father, I'm sorry he can't live in better style! Though we live comfortably, of course it is nothing to the style in which I shall live in France.
Good by, dearestâ€”if you were not so far off, I should ask you to come on to my wedding. But St. Louis is a long way from New York as I well know. I will send cards and a box of cake by express. You must write me when I am in foreign lands. In the gilded saloons of nobility, I shall still be
Ever your own Matilda.
New York, Sept. 23d.
Oh Jane :â€”if you only knew what a dreadful time I have had since I last wrote you on the 15th, you would surely compassionate me. How, how shall I breathe the dreadful news?
The count is a humbug! Instead of being a count, he is aâ€”â€”but hold ; I will tell you my story, if my lacerated feelings will permit.
You must know that Uncle James who lives in Chicago, had occasion to come to New York on business. Mamma wrote him that I was to be married, and to a French count, and requested him so to arrange his business that he might be present at the ceremony, as in consequence of my going abroad it was uncertain when we should meet again. As I was always something of a favorite with Uncle James, he did as requested, and luckily for me came just in the nick of time.
We were afraid at first he would not be in season. In fact the wedding morning had arrived, and everything was in readiness. The minister was present, and the ceremony was about to begin, when all at once the servant ushered in Uncle James.
"Ah ! just in time," said he heartily "So we are to lose you, are we? And where is the happy man?"
Uncle James," said I, "allow me to present you to the Count de Bordeaux."
" Uncle James, allow me to present to you the Count de Bordeaux."
But no sooner had uncle set eyes on the count, than he started back and exclaimed, "Do you call this fellow the count?"
"Uncle," said I, displeased, "I trust you will not forget your politeness."
"It's enough to make me take leave of my senses,â€”I know this gentleman."
"Indeed ! When did you make his acquaintance?"
"He has shaved me repeatedly."
At this the count turned pale and tried to leave the room, but uncle detained him.
"Ladies and gentlemen," said he, you will excuse me for stripping so fine a bird of his feathers; but the fact is, the Count de Bordeaux, as he calls himself, is no more nor less than a barber,â€”and a very good one too, I will give him credit for that. He has been employed until recently in the â€”â€” Hotel at Chicago."
You can't imagine the sensation this discovery made. I faintedâ€”or tried to. While they were picking me up, and attempting to bring me to, the count disappeared. Think what narrow escape I have had ! How could I ever have held up my head if I had actually married him''
Your miserable Matilda.