On Single Women

“What is your reason for this refusal, Eugenie? what reason do you assign?”

“My reason?” replied the young girl. “Well, it is not that the man is more ugly, more foolish, or more disagreeable than any other; no, M. Andrea Cavalcanti may appear to those who look at men’s faces and figures as a very good specimen of his kind. It is not, either, that my heart is less touched by him than any other; that would be a schoolgirl’s reason, which I consider quite beneath me. I actually love no one, sir; you know it, do you not? I do not then see why, without real necessity, I should encumber my life with a perpetual companion. Has not some sage said, `Nothing too much’? and another, `I carry all my effects with me’? I have been taught these two aphorisms in Latin and in Greek; one is, I believe, from Phaedrus, and the other from Bias. Well, my dear father, in the shipwreck of life — for life is an eternal shipwreck of our hopes — I cast into the sea my useless encumbrance, that is all, and I remain with my own will, disposed to live perfectly alone, and consequently perfectly free.”

“Unhappy girl, unhappy girl!” murmured Danglars, turning pale, for he knew from long experience the solidity of the obstacle he had so suddenly encountered.

“Unhappy girl,” replied Eugenie, “unhappy girl, do you say, sir? No, indeed; the exclamation appears quite theatrical and affected. Happy, on the contrary, for what am I in want of! The world calls me beautiful. It is something to be well received. I like a favorable reception; it expands the countenance, and those around me do not then appear so ugly. I possess a share of wit, and a certain relative sensibility, which enables me to draw from life in general, for the support of mine, all I meet with that is good, like the monkey who cracks the nut to get at its contents. I am rich, for you have one of the first fortunes in France. I am your only daughter, and you are not so exacting as the fathers of the Porte Saint-Martin and Gaiete, who disinherit their daughters for not giving them grandchildren. Besides, the provident law has deprived you of the power to disinherit me, at least entirely, as it has also of the power to compel me to marry Monsieur This or Monsieur That. And so — being, beautiful, witty, somewhat talented, as the comic operas say, and rich — and that is happiness, sir –why do you call me unhappy?”

[The Count of Monte Cristo, chapter 95, “Father and Daughter”]

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