The Baron Danglars comes to the Count’s home in Paris to meet with him about business matters regarding the Cavalcantis. The Count says that Abbe Busoni has just arrived in Paris, and that he has been meeting with him, excusing himself for being late for the Baron. The Baron complains that, in recent days, his fortune has taken a significant hit on the Spanish question, and the Count, mocking the Baron but pretending to sympathize with him, says that the Baron’s is a “third-class fortune” because it can be affected by fluctuations in the stock or bond markets, or by changes in and garbled messages on the telegraph wires. The Baron insists that he has plenty of money to survive more stock turbulence, but the Count isn’t so sure.
The Count uses his meeting with the Baron as another opportunity to bring Danglars down a peg. The Count’s revenge on Danglars, as revealed here and in ensuing chapters, will involve the slow erosion of his wealth and status, and the mockery of that erosion as it occurs. Danglars seems not to be surprised that the Count knows of his misfortune, and still appears to suspect that it is Lucien and his wife, and not the Count, who are involved in his losses. The Count also uses this as a chance to indicate just how well-preserved and safe his own fortune is, compared to Danglars’.
They turn to the Cavalcantis, with the Count insisting that that family comes from ancient money, that the Major has a great deal of wealth to his name, and that the Baron would be in a good position if he were to do business with Andrea as a “sound investment.” The Baron wonders, too, if a young lad like that might not be a good investment for his daughter, Eugenie, who does not want to marry Albert de Morcerf.
A second part of the Count’s plan regarding Danglars is revealed. The Count knows that Eugenie, Danglars’ daughter, does not wish to marry Albert, and the Count wants to do all he can to link Eugenie to an even more reprobate and unsatisfactory match than Albert – whose reputation he also plans to ruin, as he ruins Fernand’s. Thus the Count plants the seed of a union between Andrea/Benedetto and Eugenie.
When the Count asks whether the name of Morcerf is an ancient heraldry, the Baron admits to him that the Morcerf family “bought” its name with wealth acquired through a shady dealing with the Ali Pasha during the Greek wars, and that Fernand, Albert’s father, was nothing more than a fishmonger in Marseille. The Count says that this information about the Morcerf family could be of great use to the Baron, and he gives the Baron a name of a source in Greece to whom he can write in order to confirm this information about the Morcerfs’ wealth, which the Baron can use to blackmail Morcerf. With luck, the Baron says, he can force his daughter into marrying Andrea, whom he believes to be a better match than Albert. The Count is delighted at this.
The Count is so devilishly cunning that he uses one of Danglars’ old methods against him. As the reader might remember from the beginning of the novel, Danglars managed to convince Fernand to send the letter even as he pretended he wasn’t involved – that the act was somehow Fernand’s, and not Danglars’, ultimate responsibility. Here, although the Count wishes very much that Andrea and Eugenie be betrothed, he encourages Danglars to believe that this plan is his own, thus making this turn of the revenge plot all the more satisfying for the Count.