The Count arrives, again paying a visit to Villefort and his wife. He finds them both dismayed at the idea that their daughter has been disinherited from 900,000 francs, but Villefort insists to his wife and the Count that the marriage between Valentine and Franz is to go on, and that to change it now would be to bring down rumor and scorn on Valentine’s name. Heloise notes that Noirtier, a wealthy man, is giving away money that could go to Edouard, who carries on the family name. But Villefort insists that the right course here is to ensure that Valentine and Franz marry. The Count asks why Villefort cares so much about this wedding, and Heloise notes that the D’Epinay family, who are Royalists, have had a long-standing dispute with the Noirtiers, who are Bonapartists, and that he hopes to bury this dispute with the marriage.
It is revealed why Villefort cares so much about the wedding of Franz and Valentine – he hopes to move beyond the hatreds of Royalists and Bonapartists that have existed in his family for some time. And indeed, these hatreds have existed in France for at least two generations, as the novel has demonstrated in other contexts. What was in France a problem of two different governments and approaches to democracy, becomes here a problem between two different families, which Villefort hopes to reconcile via his daughter’s marriage. Villefort has therefore taken one of the primary preoccupations of his professional life, and made it one of his personal and family life.
The Count agrees that this is the best course, then takes his leave from the Villeforts, saying that he is off to indulge a strange pastime of his—he is going to go observe a telegraph structure in Paris, a technology of which he is enamored. Before he leaves, he confirms that the Villeforts will be joining him that weekend in Auteuil, at the house of the former Saint-Merans family. Villefort expresses surprise and trepidation that the Count has bought this structure, as even his wife knows that Villefort never wanted anything to do with Auteuil. It seems clear that Villefort is somehow involved in the strange business of murder and mayhem recounted by Bertuccio some weeks ago to the Count. But Villefort swallows these objections and promises that he and his wife will be present that Saturday.
At various points in the novel, the Count will behave in a manner that leaves even the most perceptive and intuitive reader in the dust. It is difficult to determine why, exactly, the Count would suddenly need to go off and talk to a telegraph operator. But it is to the Count’s credit that he has crafted a persona so mysterious that he can say something like this to Villefort, and Villefort, though perhaps confused, will take it in stride. It is no stranger for the Count to go to the telegraph than it is for him to do a great deal of the other outlandish things he does in Parisian society.