At the Office of the King’s Attorney.
Let us leave the banker driving his horses at their fullest speed, and follow Madame Danglars in her morning excursion. We have said that at half-past twelve o’clock Madame Danglars had ordered her horses, and had
left home in the carriage. She directed her course towards the Faubourg Saint Germain, went down the Rue Mazarine, and stopped at the Passage du Pont-Neuf. She descended, and went through the passage. She was very plainly dressed, as would be the case with a woman of taste walking in the morning. At the Rue Guenegaud she called a cab, and directed the driver to go to the Rue de Harlay. As soon as she was seated in
the vehicle, she drew from her pocket a very thick black veil, which she tied on to her straw bonnet. She then replaced the bonnet, and saw with pleasure, in a little pocket-mirror, that her white complexion and brilliant eyes were alone visible. The cab crossed the Pont-Neuf and entered the Rue de Harlay by the Place Dauphine;
the driver was paid as the door opened, and stepping lightly up the stairs Madame Danglars soon reached the
Salle des Pas-Perdus.
There was a great deal going on that morning, and many business-like persons at the Palais; business-like persons pay very little attention to women, and Madame Danglars crossed the hall without exciting any more
attention than any other woman calling upon her lawyer. There was a great press of people in M. de Villefort’s ante-chamber, but Madame Danglars had no occasion even to pronounce her name. The instant she appeared
the door-keeper rose, came to her, and asked her whether she was not the person with whom the procureur had made an appointment; and on her affirmative answer being given, he conducted her by a private passage to M.
de Villefort’s office. The magistrate was seated in an arm-chair, writing, with his back towards the door; he
did not move as he heard it open, and the door-keeper pronounce the words, “Walk in, madame,” and then
reclose it; but no sooner had the man’s footsteps ceased, than he started up, drew the bolts, closed the curtains, and examined every corner of the room. Then, when he had assured himself that he could neither be seen nor heard, and was consequently relieved of doubts, he said, — “Thanks, madame, — thanks for your punctuality;
“and he offered a chair to Madame Danglars, which she accepted, for her heart beat so violently that she felt nearly suffocated.
“It is a long time, madame,” said the procureur, describing a half-circle with his chair, so as to place himself exactly opposite to Madame Danglars, — “it is a long time since I had the pleasure of speaking alone with you, and I regret that we have only now met to enter upon a painful conversation.”
“Nevertheless, sir, you see I have answered your first appeal, although certainly the conversation must be much more painful for me than for you.” Villefort smiled bitterly.
“It is true, then,” he said, rather uttering his thoughts aloud than addressing his companion, — “it is true, then, that all our actions leave their traces — some sad, others bright — on our paths; it is true that every step in our lives is like the course of an insect on the sands; — it leaves its track! Alas, to many the path is traced by
“Sir,” said Madame Danglars, “you can feel for my emotion, can you not? Spare me, then, I beseech you.
When I look at this room, — whence so many guilty creatures have departed, trembling and ashamed, when I
look at that chair before which I now sit trembling and ashamed, — oh, it requires all my reason to convince
me that I am not a very guilty woman and you a menacing judge.” Villefort dropped his head and sighed. “And I,” he said, “I feel that my place is not in the judge’s seat, but on the prisoner’s stool.”
“You?” said Madame Danglars. “Yes, I.”
“I think, sir, you exaggerate your situation,” said Madame Danglars, whose beautiful eyes sparkled for a
moment. “The paths of which you were just speaking have been traced by all young men of ardent
imaginations. Besides the pleasure, there is always remorse from the indulgence of our passions, and, after all, what have you men to fear from all this? the world excuses, and notoriety ennobles you.”
“Madame,” replied Villefort, “you know that I am no hypocrite, or, at least, that I never deceive without a
reason. If my brow be severe, it is because many misfortunes have clouded it; if my heart be petrified, it is that
it might sustain the blows it has received. I was not so in my youth, I was not so on the night of the betrothal, when we were all seated around a table in the Rue du Cours at Marseilles. But since then everything has
changed in and about me; I am accustomed to brave difficulties, and, in the conflict to crush those who, by their own free will, or by chance, voluntarily or involuntarily, interfere with me in my career. It is generally
the case that what we most ardently desire is as ardently withheld from us by those who wish to obtain it, or from whom we attempt to snatch it. Thus, the greater number of a man’s errors come before him disguised under the specious form of necessity; then, after error has been committed in a moment of excitement, of
delirium, or of fear, we see that we might have avoided and escaped it. The means we might have used, which
we in our blindness could not see, then seem simple and easy, and we say, `Why did I not do this, instead of
that?’ Women, on the contrary, are rarely tormented with remorse; for the decision does not come from you, — your misfortunes are generally imposed upon you, and your faults the results of others’ crimes.”
“In any case, sir, you will allow,” replied Madame Danglars, “that, even if the fault were alone mine, I last night received a severe punishment for it.”
“Poor thing,” said Villefort, pressing her hand, “it was too severe for your strength, for you were twice overwhelmed, and yet” —
“Well, I must tell you. Collect all your courage, for you have not yet heard all.” “Ah,” exclaimed Madame Danglars, alarmed, “what is there more to hear?”
“You only look back to the past, and it is, indeed, bad enough. Well, picture to yourself a future more gloomy still — certainly frightful, perhaps sanguinary.” The baroness knew how calm Villefort naturally was, and his present excitement frightened her so much that she opened her mouth to scream, but the sound died in her
throat. “How has this terrible past been recalled?” cried Villefort; “how is it that it has escaped from the depths
of the tomb and the recesses of our hearts, where it was buried, to visit us now, like a phantom, whitening our cheeks and flushing our brows with shame?”
“Alas,” said Hermine, “doubtless it is chance.”
“Chance?” replied Villefort; “No, no, madame, there is no such thing as chance.”
“Oh, yes; has not a fatal chance revealed all this? Was it not by chance the Count of Monte Cristo bought that house? Was it not by chance he caused the earth to be dug up? Is it not by chance that the unfortunate child
was disinterred under the trees? — that poor innocent offspring of mine, which I never even kissed, but for whom I wept many, many tears. Ah, my heart clung to the count when he mentioned the dear spoil found beneath the flowers.”
“Well, no, madame, — this is the terrible news I have to tell you,” said Villefort in a hollow voice — “no,
nothing was found beneath the flowers; there was no child disinterred — no. You must not weep, no, you must not groan, you must tremble!”
“What can you mean?” asked Madame Danglars, shuddering.
“I mean that M. de Monte Cristo, digging underneath these trees, found neither skeleton nor chest, because neither of them was there!”
“Neither of them there?” repeated Madame Danglars, her staring, wide-open eyes expressing her alarm. “Neither of them there!” she again said, as though striving to impress herself with the meaning of the words
which escaped her.
“No,” said Villefort, burying his face in his hands, “no, a hundred times no!”
“Then you did not bury the poor child there, sir? Why did you deceive me? Where did you place it? tell me — where?”
“There! But listen to me — listen — and you will pity me who has for twenty years alone borne the heavy burden of grief I am about to reveal, without casting the least portion upon you.”
“Oh, you frighten me! But speak; I will listen.”
“You recollect that sad night, when you were half-expiring on that bed in the red damask room, while I, scarcely less agitated than you, awaited your delivery. The child was born, was given to me — motionless,
breathless, voiceless; we thought it dead.” Madame Danglars moved rapidly, as though she would spring from
her chair, but Villefort stopped, and clasped his hands as if to implore her attention. “We thought it dead,” he repeated; “I placed it in the chest, which was to take the place of a coffin; I descended to the garden, I dug a hole, and then flung it down in haste. Scarcely had I covered it with earth, when the arm of the Corsican was stretched towards me; I saw a shadow rise, and, at the same time, a flash of light. I felt pain; I wished to cry
out, but an icy shiver ran through my veins and stifled my voice; I fell lifeless, and fancied myself killed. Never shall I forget your sublime courage, when, having returned to consciousness, I dragged myself to the
foot of the stairs, and you, almost dying yourself, came to meet me. We were obliged to keep silent upon the dreadful catastrophe. You had the fortitude to regain the house, assisted by your nurse. A duel was the pretext
for my wound. Though we scarcely expected it, our secret remained in our own keeping alone. I was taken to
Versailles; for three months I struggled with death; at last, as I seemed to cling to life, I was ordered to the
South. Four men carried me from Paris to Chalons, walking six leagues a day; Madame de Villefort followed
the litter in her carriage. At Chalons I was put upon the Saone, thence I passed on to the Rhone, whence I
descended, merely with the current, to Arles; at Arles I was again placed on my litter, and continued my
journey to Marseilles. My recovery lasted six months. I never heard you mentioned, and I did not dare inquire
for you. When I returned to Paris, I learned that you, the widow of M. de Nargonne, had married M. Danglars.
“What was the subject of my thoughts from the time consciousness returned to me? Always the same — always the child’s corpse, coming every night in my dreams, rising from the earth, and hovering over the
grave with menacing look and gesture. I inquired immediately on my return to Paris; the house had not been inhabited since we left it, but it had just been let for nine years. I found the tenant. I pretended that I disliked
the idea that a house belonging to my wife’s father and mother should pass into the hands of strangers. I
offered to pay them for cancelling the lease; they demanded 6,000 francs. I would have given 10,000 — I
would have given 20,000. I had the money with me; I made the tenant sign the deed of resilition, and when I
had obtained what I so much wanted, I galloped to Auteuil.
“No one had entered the house since I had left it. It was five o’clock in the afternoon; I ascended into the red room, and waited for night. There all the thoughts which had disturbed me during my year of constant agony came back with double force. The Corsican, who had declared the vendetta against me, who had followed me from Nimes to Paris, who had hid himself in the garden, who had struck me, had seen me dig the grave, had
seen me inter the child, — he might become acquainted with your person, — nay, he might even then have
known it. Would he not one day make you pay for keeping this terrible secret? Would it not be a sweet revenge for him when he found that I had not died from the blow of his dagger? It was therefore necessary, before everything else, and at all risks, that I should cause all traces of the past to disappear — that I should
destroy every material vestige; too much reality would always remain in my recollection. It was for this I had annulled the lease — it was for this I had come — it was for this I was waiting. Night arrived; I allowed it to become quite dark. I was without a light in that room; when the wind shook all the doors, behind which I continually expected to see some spy concealed, I trembled. I seemed everywhere to hear your moans behind
me in the bed, and I dared not turn around. My heart beat so violently that I feared my wound would open. At length, one by one, all the noises in the neighborhood ceased. I understood that I had nothing to fear, that I should neither be seen nor heard, so I decided upon descending to the garden.
“Listen, Hermine; I consider myself as brave as most men, but when I drew from my breast the little key of
the staircase, which I had found in my coat — that little key we both used to cherish so much, which you wished to have fastened to a golden ring — when I opened the door, and saw the pale moon shedding a long stream of white light on the spiral staircase like a spectre, I leaned against the wall, and nearly shrieked. I
seemed to be going mad. At last I mastered my agitation. I descended the staircase step by step; the only thing
I could not conquer was a strange trembling in my knees. I grasped the railings; if I had relaxed my hold for a moment, I should have fallen. I reached the lower door. Outside this door a spade was placed against the wall;
I took it, and advanced towards the thicket. I had provided myself with a dark lantern. In the middle of the lawn I stopped to light it, then I continued my path.
“It was the end of November, all the verdure of the garden had disappeared, the trees were nothing more than skeletons with their long bony arms, and the dead leaves sounded on the gravel under my feet. My terror overcame me to such a degree as I approached the thicket, that I took a pistol from my pocket and armed
myself. I fancied continually that I saw the figure of the Corsican between the branches. I examined the thicket with my dark lantern; it was empty. I looked carefully around; I was indeed alone, — no noise
disturbed the silence but the owl, whose piercing cry seemed to be calling up the phantoms of the night. I tied
my lantern to a forked branch I had noticed a year before at the precise spot where I stopped to dig the hole.
“The grass had grown very thickly there during the summer, and when autumn arrived no one had been there
to mow it. Still one place where the grass was thin attracted my attention; it evidently was there I had turned
up the ground. I went to work. The hour, then, for which I had been waiting during the last year had at length arrived. How I worked, how I hoped, how I struck every piece of turf, thinking to find some resistance to my spade! But no, I found nothing, though I had made a hole twice as large as the first. I thought I had been deceived — had mistaken the spot. I turned around, I looked at the trees, I tried to recall the details which had struck me at the time. A cold, sharp wind whistled through the leafless branches, and yet the drops fell from
my forehead. I recollected that I was stabbed just as I was trampling the ground to fill up the hole; while doing
so I had leaned against a laburnum; behind me was an artificial rockery, intended to serve as a resting-place
for persons walking in the garden; in falling, my hand, relaxing its hold of the laburnum, felt the coldness of
the stone. On my right I saw the tree, behind me the rock. I stood in the same attitude, and threw myself down.
I rose, and again began digging and enlarging the hole; still I found nothing, nothing — the chest was no longer there!”
“The chest no longer there?” murmured Madame Danglars, choking with fear.
Think not I contented myself with this one effort,” continued Villefort. “No; I searched the whole thicket. I thought the assassin, having discovered the chest, and supposing it to be a treasure, had intended carrying it off, but, perceiving his error, had dug another hole, and deposited it there; but I could find nothing. Then the idea struck me that he had not taken these precautions, and had simply thrown it in a corner. In the last case I
must wait for daylight to renew my search. I remained the room and waited.”
When daylight dawned I went down again. My first visit was to the thicket. I hoped to find some traces which had escaped me in the darkness. I had turned up the earth over a surface of more than twenty feet square, and
a depth of two feet. A laborer would not have done in a day what occupied me an hour. But I could find nothing — absolutely nothing. Then I renewed the search. Supposing it had been thrown aside, it would
probably be on the path which led to the little gate; but this examination was as useless as the first, and with a bursting heart I returned to the thicket, which now contained no hope for me.”
“Oh,” cried Madame Danglars, “it was enough to drive you mad!”
“I hoped for a moment that it might,” said Villefort; “but that happiness was denied me. However, recovering my strength and my ideas, `Why,’ said I, `should that man have carried away the corpse?'”
“But you said,” replied Madame Danglars, “he would require it as a proof.”
“Ah, no, madame, that could not be. Dead bodies are not kept a year; they are shown to a magistrate, and the evidence is taken. Now, nothing of the kind has happened.”
“What then?” asked Hermine, trembling violently.
“Something more terrible, more fatal, more alarming for us — the child was, perhaps, alive, and the assassin may have saved it!”
Madame Danglars uttered a piercing cry, and, seizing Villefort’s hands, exclaimed, “My child was alive?” said she; “you buried my child alive? You were not certain my child was dead, and you buried it? Ah” —
Madame Danglars had risen, and stood before the procureur, whose hands she wrung in her feeble grasp. “I know not; I merely suppose so, as I might suppose anything else,” replied Villefort with a look so fixed, it indicated that his powerful mind was on the verge of despair and madness. “Ah, my child, my poor child!” cried the baroness, falling on her chair, and stifling her sobs in her handkerchief. Villefort, becoming somewhat reassured, perceived that to avert the maternal storm gathering over his head, he must inspire
Madame Danglars with the terror he felt. “You understand, then, that if it were so,” said he, rising in his turn, and approaching the baroness, to speak to her in a lower tone, “we are lost. This child lives, and some one
knows it lives — some one is in possession of our secret; and since Monte Cristo speaks before us of a child disinterred, when that child could not be found, it is he who is in possession of our secret.”
“Just God, avenging God!” murmured Madame Danglars. Villefort’s only answer was a stifled groan.
“But the child — the child, sir?” repeated the agitated mother.
“How I have searched for him,” replied Villefort, wringing his hands; “how I have called him in my long sleepless nights; how I have longed for royal wealth to purchase a million of secrets from a million of men, and to find mine among them! At last, one day, when for the hundredth time I took up my spade, I asked myself again and again what the Corsican could have done with the child. A child encumbers a fugitive; perhaps, on perceiving it was still alive, he had thrown it into the river.”
“Impossible!” cried Madame Danglars: “a man may murder another out of revenge, but he would not deliberately drown a child.”
“Perhaps,” continued Villefort, “he had put it in the foundling hospital.”
“Oh, yes, yes,” cried the baroness; “my child is there!”
“I ran to the hospital, and learned that the same night — the night of the 20th of September — a child had been brought there, wrapped in part of a fine linen napkin, purposely torn in half. This portion of the napkin was marked with half a baron’s crown, and the letter H.”
“Truly, truly,” said Madame Danglars, “all my linen is marked thus; Monsieur de Nargonne was a baronet, and my name is Hermine. Thank God, my child was not then dead!”
“No, it was not dead.”
“And you can tell me so without fearing to make me die of joy? Where is the child?” Villefort shrugged his shoulders. “Do I know?” said he; “and do you believe that if I knew I would relate to you all its trials and all
its adventures as would a dramatist or a novel writer? Alas, no, I know not. A woman, about six months after, came to claim it with the other half of the napkin. This woman gave all the requisite particulars, and it was intrusted to her.”
“But you should have inquired for the woman; you should have traced her.”
“And what do you think I did? I feigned a criminal process, and employed all the most acute bloodhounds and skilful agents in search of her. They traced her to Chalons, and there they lost her.”
“They lost her?”
“Yes, forever.” Madame Danglars had listened to this recital with a sigh, a tear, or a shriek for every detail. “And this is all?” said she; “and you stopped there?”
“Oh, no,” said Villefort; “I never ceased to search and to inquire. However, the last two or three years I had allowed myself some respite. But now I will begin with more perseverance and fury than ever, since fear
urges me, not my conscience.”
“But,” replied Madame Danglars, “the Count of Monte Cristo can know nothing, or he would not seek our society as he does.”
“Oh, the wickedness of man is very great,” said Villefort, “since it surpasses the goodness of God. Did you observe that man’s eyes while he was speaking to us?”
“But have you ever watched him carefully?”
“Doubtless he is capricious, but that is all; one thing alone struck me, — of all the exquisite things he placed before us, he touched nothing. I might have suspected he was poisoning us.”
“And you see you would have been deceived.” “Yes, doubtless.”
“But believe me, that man has other projects. For that reason I wished to see you, to speak to you, to warn you against every one, but especially against him. Tell me,” cried Villefort, fixing his eyes more steadfastly on her
than he had ever done before, “did you ever reveal to any one our connection?”
“Never, to any one.”
“You understand me,” replied Villefort, affectionately; “when I say any one, — pardon my urgency, — to any one living I mean?”
“Yes, yes, I understand very well,” ejaculated the baroness; “never, I swear to you.”
“Were you ever in the habit of writing in the evening what had transpired in the morning? Do you keep a journal?”
“No, my life has been passed in frivolity; I wish to forget it myself.” “Do you talk in your sleep?”
“I sleep soundly, like a child; do you not remember?” The color mounted to the baroness’s face, and Villefort turned awfully pale.
“It is true,” said he, in so low a tone that he could hardly be heard. “Well?” said the baroness.
“Well, I understand what I now have to do,” replied Villefort. “In less than one week from this time I will ascertain who this M. de Monte Cristo is, whence he comes, where he goes, and why he speaks in our
presence of children that have been disinterred in a garden.” Villefort pronounced these words with an accent which would have made the count shudder had he heard him. Then he pressed the hand the baroness
reluctantly gave him, and led her respectfully back to the door. Madame Danglars returned in another cab to
the passage, on the other side of which she found her carriage, and her coachman sleeping peacefully on his box while waiting for her.
A Summer Ball.
The same day during the interview between Madame Danglars and the procureur, a travelling-carriage entered
the Rue du Helder, passed through the gateway of No. 27, and stopped in the yard. In a moment the door was opened, and Madame de Morcerf alighted, leaning on her son’s arm. Albert soon left her, ordered his horses, and having arranged his toilet, drove to the Champs Elysees, to the house of Monte Cristo. The count received
him with his habitual smile. It was a strange thing that no one ever appeared to advance a step in that man’s favor. Those who would, as it were, force a passage to his heart, found an impassable barrier. Morcerf, who
ran towards him with open arms, was chilled as he drew near, in spite of the friendly smile, and simply held
out his hand. Monte Cristo shook it coldly, according to his invariable practice. “Here I am, dear count.” “Welcome home again.”
“I arrived an hour since.” “From Dieppe?”
“No, from Treport.” “Indeed?”
“And I have come at once to see you.”
“That is extremely kind of you,” said Monte Cristo with a tone of perfect indifference. “And what is the news?”
“You should not ask a stranger, a foreigner, for news.”
“I know it, but in asking for news, I mean, have you done anything for me?” “Had you commissioned me?” said Monte Cristo, feigning uneasiness.
“Come, come,” said Albert, “do not assume so much indifference. It is said, sympathy travels rapidly, and when at Treport, I felt the electric shock; you have either been working for me or thinking of me.”
“Possibly,” said Monte Cristo, “I have indeed thought of you, but the magnetic wire I was guiding acted, indeed, without my knowledge.”
“Indeed? Pray tell me how it happened?” “Willingly. M. Danglars dined with me.”
“I know it; to avoid meeting him, my mother and I left town.” “But he met here M. Andrea Cavalcanti.”
“Your Italian prince?”
“Not so fast; M. Andrea only calls himself count.”
“Calls himself, do you say?”
“Yes, calls himself.” “Is he not a count?”
“What can I know of him? He calls himself so. I, of course, give him the same title, and every one else does likewise.”
“What a strange man you are! What next? You say M. Danglars dined here?”
“Yes, with Count Cavalcanti, the marquis his father, Madame Danglars, M. and Madame de Villefort, — charming people, — M. Debray, Maximilian Morrel, and M. de Chateau-Renaud.”
“Did they speak of me?” “Not a word.”
“So much the worse.”
“Why so? I thought you wished them to forget you?”
“If they did not speak of me, I am sure they thought about me, and I am in despair.”
“How will that affect you, since Mademoiselle Danglars was not among the number here who thought of you? Truly, she might have thought of you at home.”
“I have no fear of that; or, if she did, it was only in the same way in which I think of her.” “Touching sympathy! So you hate each other?” said the count.
“Listen,” said Morcerf — “if Mademoiselle Danglars were disposed to take pity on my supposed martyrdom
on her account, and would dispense with all matrimonial formalities between our two families, I am ready to agree to the arrangement. In a word, Mademoiselle Danglars would make a charming mistress — but a wife — diable!”
“And this,” said Monte Cristo, “is your opinion of your intended spouse?”
“Yes; it is rather unkind, I acknowledge, but it is true. But as this dream cannot be realized, since
Mademoiselle Danglars must become my lawful wife, live perpetually with me, sing to me, compose verses
and music within ten paces of me, and that for my whole life, it frightens me. One may forsake a mistress, but
a wife, — good heavens! There she must always be; and to marry Mademoiselle Danglars would be awful.” “You are difficult to please, viscount.”
“Yes, for I often wish for what is impossible.” “What is that?”
“To find such a wife as my father found.” Monte Cristo turned pale, and looked at Albert, while playing with some magnificent pistols.
“Your father was fortunate, then?” said he.
“You know my opinion of my mother, count; look at her, — still beautiful, witty, more charming than ever.
For any other son to have stayed with his mother for four days at Treport, it would have been a condescension
or a martyrdom, while I return, more contented, more peaceful — shall I say more poetic! — than if I had taken
Queen Mab or Titania as my companion.”
“That is an overwhelming demonstration, and you would make every one vow to live a single life.”
“Such are my reasons for not liking to marry Mademoiselle Danglars. Have you ever noticed how much a
thing is heightened in value when we obtain possession of it? The diamond which glittered in the window at Marle’s or Fossin’s shines with more splendor when it is our own; but if we are compelled to acknowledge the superiority of another, and still must retain the one that is inferior, do you not know what we have to endure?”
“Worldling,” murmured the count.
“Thus I shall rejoice when Mademoiselle Eugenie perceives I am but a pitiful atom, with scarcely as many hundred thousand francs as she has millions.” Monte Cristo smiled. “One plan occurred to me,” continued Albert; “Franz likes all that is eccentric; I tried to make him fall in love with Mademoiselle Danglars; but in
spite of four letters, written in the most alluring style, he invariably answered: `My eccentricity may be great, but it will not make me break my promise.'”
“That is what I call devoted friendship, to recommend to another one whom you would not marry yourself.” Albert smiled. — “Apropos,” continued he, “Franz is coming soon, but it will not interest you; you dislike him,
“I?” said Monte Cristo; “my dear Viscount, how have you discovered that I did not like M. Franz! I like every one.”
“And you include me in the expression every one — many thanks!”
“Let us not mistake,” said Monte Cristo; “I love every one as God commands us to love our neighbor, as
Christians; but I thoroughly hate but a few. Let us return to M. Franz d’Epinay. Did you say he was coming?”
“Yes; summoned by M. de Villefort, who is apparently as anxious to get Mademoiselle Valentine married as
M. Danglars is to see Mademoiselle Eugenie settled. It must be a very irksome office to be the father of a grown-up daughter; it seems to make one feverish, and to raise one’s pulse to ninety beats a minute until the deed is done.”
“But M. d’Epinay, unlike you, bears his misfortune patiently.”
“Still more, he talks seriously about the matter, puts on a white tie, and speaks of his family. He entertains a very high opinion of M. and Madame de Villefort.”
“Which they deserve, do they not?”
“I believe they do. M. de Villefort has always passed for a severe but a just man.”
“There is, then, one,” said Monte Cristo, “whom you do not condemn like poor Danglars?” “Because I am not compelled to marry his daughter perhaps,” replied Albert, laughing.
“Indeed, my dear sir,” said Monte Cristo, “you are revoltingly foppish.”
“I foppish? how do you mean?”
“Yes; pray take a cigar, and cease to defend yourself, and to struggle to escape marrying Mademoiselle
Danglars. Let things take their course; perhaps you may not have to retract.” “Bah,” said Albert, staring.
“Doubtless, my dear viscount, you will not be taken by force; and seriously, do you wish to break off your engagement?”
“I would give a hundred thousand francs to be able to do so.”
“Then make yourself quite easy. M. Danglars would give double that sum to attain the same end.”
“Am I, indeed, so happy?” said Albert, who still could not prevent an almost imperceptible cloud passing across his brow. “But, my dear count, has M. Danglars any reason?”
“Ah, there is your proud and selfish nature. You would expose the self-love of another with a hatchet, but you shrink if your own is attacked with a needle.”
“But yet M. Danglars appeared” —
“Delighted with you, was he not? Well, he is a man of bad taste, and is still more enchanted with another. I
know not whom; look and judge for yourself.”
“Thank you, I understand. But my mother — no, not my mother; I mistake — my father intends giving a ball.”
“A ball at this season?”
“Summer balls are fashionable.”
“If they were not, the countess has only to wish it, and they would become so.”
“You are right; You know they are select affairs; those who remain in Paris in July must be true Parisians. Will you take charge of our invitation to Messieurs Cavalcanti?”
“When will it take place?” “On Saturday.”
“M. Cavalcanti’s father will be gone.”
“But the son will be here; will you invite young M. Cavalcanti?” “I do not know him, viscount.”
“You do not know him?”
“No, I never saw him until a few days since, and am not responsible for him.”
“But you receive him at your house?”
“That is another thing: he was recommended to me by a good abbe, who may be deceived. Give him a direct invitation, but do not ask me to present him. If he were afterwards to marry Mademoiselle Danglars, you
would accuse me of intrigue, and would be challenging me, — besides, I may not be there myself.” “Where?”
“At your ball.”
“Why should you not be there?” “Because you have not yet invited me.”
“But I come expressly for that purpose.”
“You are very kind, but I may be prevented.”
“If I tell you one thing, you will be so amiable as to set aside all impediments.” “Tell me what it is.”
“My mother begs you to come.”
“The Comtesse de Morcerf?” said Monte Cristo, starting.
“Ah, count,” said Albert, “I assure you Madame de Morcerf speaks freely to me, and if you have not felt those sympathetic fibres of which I spoke just now thrill within you, you must be entirely devoid of them, for during
the last four days we have spoken of no one else.” “You have talked of me?”
“Yes, that is the penalty of being a living puzzle!”
“Then I am also a puzzle to your mother? I should have thought her too reasonable to be led by imagination.”
“A problem, my dear count, for every one — for my mother as well as others; much studied, but not solved, you still remain an enigma, do not fear. My mother is only astonished that you remain so long unsolved. I believe, while the Countess G—- takes you for Lord Ruthven, my mother imagines you to be Cagliostro or
the Count Saint-Germain. The first opportunity you have, confirm her in her opinion; it will be easy for you,
as you have the philosophy of the one and the wit of the other.”
“I thank you for the warning,” said the count; “I shall endeavor to be prepared for all suppositions.” “You will, then, come on Saturday?”
“Yes, since Madame de Morcerf invites me.” “You are very kind.”
“Will M. Danglars be there?”
“He has already been invited by my father. We shall try to persuade the great d’Aguesseau,* M. de Villefort,
to come, but have not much hope of seeing him.” “`Never despair of anything,’ says the proverb.”
* Magistrate and orator of great eloquence — chancellor of France under Louis XV. “Do you dance, count?”
“Yes, you; it would not be astonishing.”
“That is very well before one is over forty. No, I do not dance, but I like to see others do so. Does Madame de
“Never; you can talk to her, she so delights in your conversation.” “Indeed?”
“Yes, truly; and I assure you. You are the only man of whom I have heard her speak with interest.” Albert rose and took his hat; the count conducted him to the door. “I have one thing to reproach myself with,” said he, stopping Albert on the steps. “What is it?”
“I have spoken to you indiscreetly about Danglars.”
“On the contrary, speak to me always in the same strain about him.”
“I am glad to be reassured on that point. Apropos, when do you aspect M. d’Epinay?” “Five or six days hence at the latest.”
“And when is he to be married?”
“Immediately on the arrival of M. and Madame de Saint-Meran.”
“Bring him to see me. Although you say I do not like him, I assure you I shall be happy to see him.”
“I will obey your orders, my lord.” “Good-by.”
“Until Saturday, when I may expect you, may I not?”
“Yes, I promised you.” The Count watched Albert, waving his hand to him. When he had mounted his
phaeton, Monte Cristo turned, and seeing Bertuccio, “What news?” said he. “She went to the Palais,” replied the steward.
“Did she stay long there?” “An hour and a half.”
“Did she return home?”
“Well, my dear Bertuccio,” said the count, “I now advise you to go in quest of the little estate I spoke to you
of in Normandy.” Bertuccio bowed, and as his wishes were in perfect harmony with the order he had received,
he started the same evening.
M. de Villefort kept the promise he had made to Madame Danglars, to endeavor to find out how the Count of Monte Cristo had discovered the history of the house at Auteuil. He wrote the same day for the required information to M. de Boville, who, from having been an inspector of prisons, was promoted to a high office in
the police; and the latter begged for two days time to ascertain exactly who would be most likely to give him full particulars. At the end of the second day M. de Villefort received the following note: —
“The person called the Count of Monte Cristo is an intimate acquaintance of Lord Wilmore, a rich foreigner, who is sometimes seen in Paris and who is there at this moment; he is also known to the Abbe Busoni, a
Sicilian priest, of high repute in the East, where he has done much good.”
M. de Villefort replied by ordering the strictest inquiries to be made respecting these two persons; his orders were executed, and the following evening he received these details: —
“The abbe, who was in Paris only for a month, inhabited a small two-storied house behind Saint-Sulpice; there were two rooms on each floor and he was the only tenant. The two lower rooms consisted of a dining-room,
with a table, chairs, and side-board of walnut, — and a wainscoted parlor, without ornaments, carpet, or timepiece. It was evident that the abbe limited himself to objects of strict necessity. He preferred to use the sitting-room upstairs, which was more library than parlor, and was furnished with theological books and
parchments, in which he delighted to bury himself for months at a time, according to his valet de chambre. His valet looked at the visitors through a sort of wicket; and if their faces were unknown to him or displeased him,
he replied that the abbe was not in Paris, an answer which satisfied most persons, because the abbe was
known to be a great traveller. Besides, whether at home or not, whether in Paris or Cairo, the abbe always left something to give away, which the valet distributed through this wicket in his master’s name. The other room near the library was a bedroom. A bed without curtains, four arm-chairs, and a couch, covered with yellow Utrecht velvet, composed, with a prie-Dieu, all its furniture. Lord Wilmore resided in Rue
Fontaine-Saint-George. He was one of those English tourists who consume a large fortune in travelling. He hired the apartment in which he lived furnished, passed only a few hours in the day there, and rarely slept there. One of his peculiarities was never to speak a word of French, which he however wrote with great facility.”
The day after this important information had been given to the king’s attorney, a man alighted from a carriage
at the corner of the Rue Ferou, and rapping at an olive-green door, asked if the Abbe Busoni were within. “No, he went out early this morning,” replied the valet.
“I might not always be content with that answer,” replied the visitor, “for I come from one to whom everyone must be at home. But have the kindness to give the Abbe Busoni” —
“I told you he was not at home,” repeated the valet. “Then on his return give him that card and this sealed paper. Will he be at home at eight o’clock this evening?”
“Doubtless, unless he is at work, which is the same as if he were out.”
“I will come again at that time,” replied the visitor, who then retired.
At the appointed hour the same man returned in the same carriage, which, instead of stopping this time at the end of the Rue Ferou, drove up to the green door. He knocked, and it opened immediately to admit him. From
the signs of respect the valet paid him, he saw that his note had produced a good effect. “Is the abbe at home?”
“Yes; he is at work in his library, but he expects you, sir,” replied the valet. The stranger ascended a rough
staircase, and before a table, illumined by a lamp whose light was concentrated by a large shade while the rest
of the apartment was in partial darkness, he perceived the abbe in a monk’s dress, with a cowl on his head such as was used by learned men of the Middle Ages. “Have I the honor of addressing the Abbe Busoni?” asked the visitor.
“Yes, sir,” replied the abbe; “and you are the person whom M. de Boville, formerly an inspector of prisons, sends to me from the prefect of police?”
“One of the agents appointed to secure the safety of Paris?”
“Yes, sir” replied the stranger with a slight hesitation, and blushing.
The abbe replaced the large spectacles, which covered not only his eyes but his temples, and sitting down motioned to his visitor to do the same. “I am at your service, sir,” said the abbe, with a marked Italian accent.
“The mission with which I am charged, sir,” replied the visitor, speaking with hesitation, “is a confidential one
on the part of him who fulfils it, and him by whom he is employed.” The abbe bowed. “Your probity,” replied
the stranger, “is so well known to the prefect that he wishes as a magistrate to ascertain from you some particulars connected with the public safety, to ascertain which I am deputed to see you. It is hoped that no ties of friendship or humane consideration will induce you to conceal the truth.”
“Provided, sir, the particulars you wish for do not interfere with my scruples or my conscience. I am a priest,
sir, and the secrets of confession, for instance, must remain between me and God, and not between me and human justice.”
“Do not alarm yourself, monsieur, we will duly respect your conscience.”
At this moment the abbe pressed down his side of the shade and so raised it on the other, throwing a bright light on the stranger’s face, while his own remained obscured. “Excuse me, abbe,” said the envoy of the prefect of the police, “but the light tries my eyes very much.” The abbe lowered the shade. “Now, sir, I am listening — go on.”
“I will come at once to the point. Do you know the Count of Monte Cristo?” “You mean Monsieur Zaccone, I presume?”
“Zaccone? — is not his name Monte Cristo?”
“Monte Cristo is the name of an estate, or, rather, of a rock, and not a family name.”
“Well, be it so — let us not dispute about words; and since M. de Monte Cristo and M. Zaccone are the same”
“Absolutely the same.”
“Let us speak of M. Zaccone.” “Agreed.”
“I asked you if you knew him?”
“Extremely well.” “Who is he?”
“The son of a rich shipbuilder in Malta.”
“I know that is the report; but, as you are aware, the police does not content itself with vague reports.” “However,” replied the abbe, with an affable smile, “when that report is in accordance with the truth,
everybody must believe it, the police as well as all the rest.” “Are you sure of what you assert?”
“What do you mean by that question?”
“Understand, sir, I do not in the least suspect your veracity; I ask if you are certain of it?”
“I knew his father, M. Zaccone.” “Ah, indeed?”
“And when a child I often played with the son in the timber-yards.” “But whence does he derive the title of count?”
“You are aware that may be bought.” “In Italy?”
“And his immense riches, whence does he procure them?” “They may not be so very great.”
“How much do you suppose he possesses?”
“From one hundred and fifty to two hundred thousand livres per annum.”
“That is reasonable,” said the visitor; “I have heard he had three or four millions.” “Two hundred thousand per annum would make four millions of capital.”
“But I was told he had four millions per annum?” “That is not probable.”
“Do you know this Island of Monte Cristo?”
“Certainly, every one who has come from Palermo, Naples, or Rome to France by sea must know it, since he
has passed close to it and must have seen it.”
“I am told it is a delightful place?” “It is a rock.”
“And why has the count bought a rock?”
“For the sake of being a count. In Italy one must have territorial possessions to be a count.” “You have, doubtless, heard the adventures of M. Zaccone’s youth?”
“The father’s?” “No, the son’s.”
“I know nothing certain; at that period of his life, I lost sight of my young comrade.” “Was he in the wars?”
“I think he entered the service.” “In what branch?”
“In the navy.”
“Are you not his confessor?”
“No, sir; I believe he is a Lutheran.” “A Lutheran?”
“I say, I believe such is the case, I do not affirm it; besides, liberty of conscience is established in France.”
“Doubtless, and we are not now inquiring into his creed, but his actions; in the name of the prefect of police, I
ask you what you know of him.
“He passes for a very charitable man. Our holy father, the pope, has made him a knight of Jesus Christ for the services he rendered to the Christians in the East; he has five or six rings as testimonials from Eastern
monarchs of his services.” “Does he wear them?”
“No, but he is proud of them; he is better pleased with rewards given to the benefactors of man than to his destroyers.”
“He is a Quaker then?”
“Exactly, he is a Quaker, with the exception of the peculiar dress.” “Has he any friends?”
“Yes, every one who knows him is his friend.”
“But has he any enemies?” “One only.”
“What is his name?” “Lord Wilmore.” “Where is he?”
“He is in Paris just now.”
“Can he give me any particulars?”
“Important ones; he was in India with Zaccone.” “Do you know his abode?”
“It’s somewhere in the Chaussee d’Antin; but I know neither the street nor the number.” “Are you at variance with the Englishman?”
“I love Zaccone, and he hates him; we are consequently not friends.”
“Do you think the Count of Monte Cristo had ever been in France before he made this visit to Paris?”
“To that question I can answer positively; no, sir, he had not, because he applied to me six months ago for the particulars he required, and as I did not know when I might again come to Paris, I recommended M.
Cavalcanti to him.” “Andrea?”
“No, Bartolomeo, his father.”
“Now, sir, I have but one question more to ask, and I charge you, in the name of honor, of humanity, and of religion, to answer me candidly.”
“What is it, sir?”
“Do you know with what design M. de Monte Cristo purchased a house at Auteuil?” “Certainly, for he told me.”
“What is it, sir?”
“To make a lunatic asylum of it, similar to that founded by the Count of Pisani at Palermo. Do you know about that institution?”
“I have heard of it.”
“It is a magnificent charity.” Having said this, the abbe bowed to imply he wished to pursue his studies. The
visitor either understood the abbe’s meaning, or had no more questions to ask; he arose, and the abbe accompanied him to the door. “You are a great almsgiver,” said the visitor, “and although you are said to be rich, I will venture to offer you something for your poor people; will you accept my offering?”
“I thank you, sir; I am only jealous in one thing, and that is that the relief I give should be entirely from my own resources.”
“My resolution, sir, is unchangeable, but you have only to search for yourself and you will find, alas, but too many objects upon whom to exercise your benevolence.” The abbe once more bowed as he opened the door,
the stranger bowed and took his leave, and the carriage conveyed him straight to the house of M. de Villefort.
An hour afterwards the carriage was again ordered, and this time it went to the Rue Fontaine-Saint-George, and stopped at No. 5, where Lord Wilmore lived. The stranger had written to Lord Wilmore, requesting an
interview, which the latter had fixed for ten o’clock. As the envoy of the prefect of police arrived ten minutes before ten, he was told that Lord Wilmore, who was precision and punctuality personified, was not yet come
in, but that he would be sure to return as the clock struck.
The visitor was introduced into the drawing-room, which was like all other furnished drawing-rooms. A
mantle-piece, with two modern Sevres vases, a timepiece representing Cupid with his bent bow, a mirror with
an engraving on each side — one representing Homer carrying his guide, the other, Belisarius begging — a grayish paper; red and black tapestry — such was the appearance of Lord Wilmore’s drawing-room. It was illuminated by lamps with ground-glass shades which gave only a feeble light, as if out of consideration for
the envoy’s weak sight. After ten minutes’ expectation the clock struck ten; at the fifth stroke the door opened and Lord Wilmore appeared. He was rather above the middle height, with thin reddish whiskers, light complexion and light hair, turning rather gray. He was dressed with all the English peculiarity, namely, in a
blue coat, with gilt buttons and high collar, in the fashion of 1811, a white kerseymere waistcoat, and nankeen pantaloons, three inches too short, but which were prevented by straps from slipping up to the knee. His first remark on entering was, — “You know, sir, I do not speak French?”
“I know you do not like to converse in our language,” replied the envoy. “But you may use it,” replied Lord
Wilmore; “I understand it.”
“And I,” replied the visitor, changing his idiom, “know enough of English to keep up the conversation. Do not put yourself to the slightest inconvenience.”
“Aw?” said Lord Wilmore, with that tone which is only known to natives of Great Britain.
The envoy presented his letter of introduction, which the latter read with English coolness, and having finished, — “I understand,” said he, “perfectly.”
Then began the questions, which were similar to those which had been addressed to the Abbe Busoni. But as Lord Wilmore, in the character of the count’s enemy, was less restrained in his answers, they were more numerous; he described the youth of Monte Cristo, who he said, at ten years of age, entered the service of one
of the petty sovereigns of India who make war on the English. It was there Wilmore had first met him and fought against him; and in that war Zaccone had been taken prisoner, sent to England, and consigned to the hulks, whence he had escaped by swimming. Then began his travels, his duels, his caprices; then the insurrection in Greece broke out, and he had served in the Grecian ranks. While in that service he had discovered a silver mine in the mountains of Thessaly, but he had been careful to conceal it from every one. After the battle of Navarino, when the Greek government was consolidated, he asked of King Otho a mining grant for that district, which was given him. Hence that immense fortune, which, in Lord Wilmore’s opinion,
possibly amounted to one or two millions per annum, — a precarious fortune, which might be momentarily
lost by the failure of the mine.
“But,” asked the visitor, “do you know why he came to France?”
“He is speculating in railways,” said Lord Wilmore, “and as he is an expert chemist and physicist, he has invented a new system of telegraphy, which he is seeking to bring to perfection.”
“How much does he spend yearly?” asked the prefect.
“Not more than five or six hundred thousand francs,” said Lord Wilmore; “he is a miser.” Hatred evidently inspired the Englishman, who, knowing no other reproach to bring on the count, accused him of avarice. “Do you know his house at Auteuil?”
“What do you know respecting it?”
“Do you wish to know why he bought it?” “Yes.”
“The count is a speculator, who will certainly ruin himself in experiments. He supposes there is in the neighborhood of the house he has bought a mineral spring equal to those at Bagneres, Luchon, and Cauterets.
He is going to turn his house into a Badhaus, as the Germans term it. He has already dug up all the garden two
or three times to find the famous spring, and, being unsuccessful, he will soon purchase all the contiguous houses. Now, as I dislike him, and hope his railway, his electric telegraph, or his search for baths, will ruin him, I am watching for his discomfiture, which must soon take place.”
“What was the cause of your quarrel?”
“When he was in England he seduced the wife of one of my friends.” “Why do you not seek revenge?”
“I have already fought three duels with him,” said the Englishman, “the first with the pistol, the second with the sword, and the third with the sabre.”
“And what was the result of those duels?”
“The first time, he broke my arm; the second, he wounded me in the breast; and the third time, made this large wound.” The Englishman turned down his shirt-collar, and showed a scar, whose redness proved it to be a
recent one. “So that, you see, there is a deadly feud between us.”
“But,” said the envoy, “you do not go about it in the right way to kill him, if I understand you correctly.”
“Aw?” said the Englishman, “I practice shooting every day, and every other day Grisier comes to my house.” This was all the visitor wished to ascertain, or, rather, all the Englishman appeared to know. The agent arose,
and having bowed to Lord Wilmore, who returned his salutation with the stiff politeness of the English, he retired. Lord Wilmore, having heard the door close after him, returned to his bedroom, where with one hand
he pulled off his light hair, his red whiskers, his false jaw, and his wound, to resume the black hair, dark
complexion, and pearly teeth of the Count of Monte Cristo. It was M. de Villefort, and not the prefect, who
returned to the house of M. de Villefort. The procureur felt more at ease, although he had learned nothing really satisfactory, and, for the first time since the dinner-party at Auteuil, he slept soundly.
It was in the warmest days of July, when in due course of time the Saturday arrived upon which the ball was
to take place at M. de Morcerf’s. It was ten o’clock at night; the branches of the great trees in the garden of the count’s house stood out boldly against the azure canopy of heaven, which was studded with golden stars, but where the last fleeting clouds of a vanishing storm yet lingered. From the apartments on the ground-floor
might be heard the sound of music, with the whirl of the waltz and galop, while brilliant streams of light
shone through the openings of the Venetian blinds. At this moment the garden was only occupied by about ten servants, who had just received orders from their mistress to prepare the supper, the serenity of the weather continuing to increase. Until now, it had been undecided whether the supper should take place in the
dining-room, or under a long tent erected on the lawn, but the beautiful blue sky, studded with stars, had
settled the question in favor of the lawn. The gardens were illuminated with colored lanterns, according to the Italian custom, and, as is usual in countries where the luxuries of the table — the rarest of all luxuries in their complete form — are well understood, the supper-table was loaded with wax-lights and flowers.
At the time the Countess of Morcerf returned to the rooms, after giving her orders, many guests were arriving, more attracted by the charming hospitality of the countess than by the distinguished position of the count; for, owing to the good taste of Mercedes, one was sure of finding some devices at her entertainment worthy of describing, or even copying in case of need. Madame Danglars, in whom the events we have related had
caused deep anxiety, had hesitated about going to Madame de Morcerf’s, when during the morning her
carriage happened to meet that of Villefort. The latter made a sign, and when the carriages had drawn close together, said, — “You are going to Madame de Morcerf’s, are you not?”
“No,” replied Madame Danglars, “I am too ill.”
“You are wrong,” replied Villefort, significantly; “it is important that you should be seen there.” “Do you think so?” asked the baroness.
“In that case I will go.” And the two carriages passed on towards their different destinations. Madame
Danglars therefore came, not only beautiful in person, but radiant with splendor; she entered by one door at
the time when Mercedes appeared at the door. The countess took Albert to meet Madame Danglars. He approached, paid her some well merited compliments on her toilet, and offered his arm to conduct her to a seat. Albert looked around him. “You are looking for my daughter?” said the baroness, smiling.
“I confess it,” replied Albert. “Could you have been so cruel as not to bring her?”
“Calm yourself. She has met Mademoiselle de Villefort, and has taken her arm; see, they are following us, both in white dresses, one with a bouquet of camellias, the other with one of myosotis. But tell me” —
“Well, what do you wish to know?”
“Will not the Count of Monte Cristo be here to-night?” “Seventeen!” replied Albert.
“What do you mean?”
“I only mean that the count seems the rage,” replied the viscount, smiling, “and that you are the seventeenth
person that has asked me the same question. The count is in fashion; I congratulate him upon it.” “And have you replied to every one as you have to me?”
“Ah, to be sure, I have not answered you; be satisfied, we shall have this `lion;’ we are among the privileged ones.”
“Were you at the opera yesterday?” “No.”
“He was there.”
“Ah, indeed? And did the eccentric person commit any new originality?”
“Can he be seen without doing so? Elssler was dancing in the `Diable Boiteux;’ the Greek princess was in ecstasies. After the cachucha he placed a magnificent ring on the stem of a bouquet, and threw it to the charming danseuse, who, in the third act, to do honor to the gift, reappeared with it on her finger. And the Greek princess, — will she be here?”
“No, you will be deprived of that pleasure; her position in the count’s establishment is not sufficiently understood.”
“Wait; leave me here, and go and speak to Madame de Villefort, who is trying to attract your attention.” Albert bowed to Madame Danglars, and advanced towards Madame de Villefort, whose lips opened as he
approached. “I wager anything,” said Albert, interrupting her, “that I know what you were about to say.”
“Well, what is it?”
“If I guess rightly, will you confess it?” “Yes.”
“On your honor?” “On my honor.”
“You were going to ask me if the Count of Monte Cristo had arrived, or was expected.”
“Not at all. It is not of him that I am now thinking. I was going to ask you if you had received any news of
Monsieur Franz.” “Yes, — yesterday.”
“What did he tell you?”
“That he was leaving at the same time as his letter.” “Well, now then, the count?”
“The count will come, of that you may be satisfied.”
“You know that he has another name besides Monte Cristo?” “No, I did not know it.”
“Monte Cristo is the name of an island, and he has a family name.”
“I never heard it.”
“Well, then, I am better informed than you; his name is Zaccone.” “It is possible.”
“He is a Maltese.” “That is also possible.
“The son of a shipowner.”
“Really, you should relate all this aloud, you would have the greatest success.”
“He served in India, discovered a mine in Thessaly, and comes to Paris to establish a mineral water-cure at
“Well, I’m sure,” said Morcerf, “this is indeed news! Am I allowed to repeat it?” “Yes, but cautiously, tell one thing at a time, and do not say I told you.”
“Because it is a secret just discovered.” “By whom?”
“Then the news originated” —
“At the prefect’s last night. Paris, you can understand, is astonished at the sight of such unusual splendor, and
the police have made inquiries.”
“Well, well! Nothing more is wanting than to arrest the count as a vagabond, on the pretext of his being too rich.”
“Indeed, that doubtless would have happened if his credentials had not been so favorable.” “Poor count! And is he aware of the danger he has been in?”
“I think not.”
“Then it will be but charitable to inform him. When he arrives, I will not fail to do so.”
Just then, a handsome young man, with bright eyes, black hair, and glossy mustache, respectfully bowed to
Madame de Villefort. Albert extended his hand. “Madame,” said Albert, “allow me to present to you M. Maximilian Morrel, captain of Spahis, one of our best, and, above all, of our bravest officers.”
“I have already had the pleasure of meeting this gentleman at Auteuil, at the house of the Count of Monte
Cristo,” replied Madame de Villefort, turning away with marked coldness of manner. This answer, and
especially the tone in which it was uttered, chilled the heart of poor Morrel. But a recompense was in store for him; turning around, he saw near the door a beautiful fair face, whose large blue eyes were, without any
marked expression, fixed upon him, while the bouquet of myosotis was gently raised to her lips.
The salutation was so well understood that Morrel, with the same expression in his eyes, placed his handkerchief to his mouth; and these two living statues, whose hearts beat so violently under their marble
aspect, separated from each other by the whole length of the room, forgot themselves for a moment, or rather forgot the world in their mutual contemplation. They might have remained much longer lost in one another, without any one noticing their abstraction. The Count of Monte Cristo had just entered.
We have already said that there was something in the count which attracted universal attention wherever he appeared. It was not the coat, unexceptional in its cut, though simple and unornamented; it was not the plain white waistcoat; it was not the trousers, that displayed the foot so perfectly formed — it was none of these
things that attracted the attention, — it was his pale complexion, his waving black hair, his calm and serene expression, his dark and melancholy eye, his mouth, chiselled with such marvellous delicacy, which so easily expressed such high disdain, — these were what fixed the attention of all upon him. Many men might have
been handsomer, but certainly there could be none whose appearance was more significant, if the expression may be used. Everything about the count seemed to have its meaning, for the constant habit of thought which
he had acquired had given an ease and vigor to the expression of his face, and even to the most trifling
gesture, scarcely to be understood. Yet the Parisian world is so strange, that even all this might not have won attention had there not been connected with it a mysterious story gilded by an immense fortune.
Meanwhile he advanced through the assemblage of guests under a battery of curious glances towards Madame
de Morcerf, who, standing before a mantle-piece ornamented with flowers, had seen his entrance in a looking-glass placed opposite the door, and was prepared to receive him. She turned towards him with a
serene smile just at the moment he was bowing to her. No doubt she fancied the count would speak to her, while on his side the count thought she was about to address him; but both remained silent, and after a mere bow, Monte Cristo directed his steps to Albert, who received him cordially. “Have you seen my mother?”
“I have just had the pleasure,” replied the count; “but I have not seen your father.” “See, he is down there, talking politics with that little group of great geniuses.”
“Indeed?” said Monte Cristo; “and so those gentlemen down there are men of great talent. I should not have guessed it. And for what kind of talent are they celebrated? You know there are different sorts.”
“That tall, harsh-looking man is very learned, he discovered, in the neighborhood of Rome, a kind of lizard
with a vertebra more than lizards usually have, and he immediately laid his discovery before the Institute. The thing was discussed for a long time, but finally decided in his favor. I can assure you the vertebra made a great noise in the learned world, and the gentleman, who was only a knight of the Legion of Honor, was made an officer.”
“Come,” said Monte Cristo, “this cross seems to me to be wisely awarded. I suppose, had he found another additional vertebra, they would have made him a commander.”
“Very likely,” said Albert.
“And who can that person be who has taken it into his head to wrap himself up in a blue coat embroidered with green?”
“Oh, that coat is not his own idea; it is the Republic’s, which deputed David* to devise a uniform for the
* Louis David, a famous French painter.
“Indeed?” said Monte Cristo; “so this gentleman is an Academician?” “Within the last week he has been made one of the learned assembly.” “And what is his especial talent?”
“His talent? I believe he thrusts pins through the heads of rabbits, he makes fowls eat madder, and punches the spinal marrow out of dogs with whalebone.”
“And he is made a member of the Academy of Sciences for this?” “No; of the French Academy.”
“But what has the French Academy to do with all this?” “I was going to tell you. It seems” —
“That his experiments have very considerably advanced the cause of science, doubtless?” “No; that his style of writing is very good.”
“This must be very flattering to the feelings of the rabbits into whose heads he has thrust pins, to the fowls whose bones he has dyed red, and to the dogs whose spinal marrow he has punched out?”
“And the other one?” demanded the count. “That one?”
“Yes, the third.”
“The one in the dark blue coat?” “Yes.”
“He is a colleague of the count, and one of the most active opponents to the idea of providing the Chamber of
Peers with a uniform. He was very successful upon that question. He stood badly with the Liberal papers, but
his noble opposition to the wishes of the court is now getting him into favor with the journalists. They talk of making him an ambassador.”
“And what are his claims to the peerage?”
“He has composed two or three comic operas, written four or five articles in the Siecle, and voted five or six
years on the ministerial side.”
“Bravo, Viscount,” said Monte Cristo, smiling; “you are a delightful cicerone. And now you will do me a favor, will you not?”
“What is it?”
“Do not introduce me to any of these gentlemen; and should they wish it, you will warn me.” Just then the count felt his arm pressed. He turned round; it was Danglars.
“Ah, is it you, baron?” said he.
“Why do you call me baron?” said Danglars; “you know that I care nothing for my title. I am not like you, viscount; you like your title, do you not?”
“Certainly,” replied Albert, “seeing that without my title I should be nothing; while you, sacrificing the baron, would still remain the millionaire.”
“Which seems to me the finest title under the royalty of July,” replied Danglars.
“Unfortunately,” said Monte Cristo, “one’s title to a millionaire does not last for life, like that of baron, peer of
France, or Academician; for example, the millionaires Franck & Poulmann, of Frankfort, who have just become bankrupts.”
“Indeed?” said Danglars, becoming pale.
“Yes; I received the news this evening by a courier. I had about a million in their hands, but, warned in time, I
withdrew it a month ago.”
“Ah, mon Dieu,” exclaimed Danglars, “they have drawn on me for 200,000 francs!” “Well, you can throw out the draft; their signature is worth five per cent.”
“Yes, but it is too late,” said Danglars, “I have honored their bills.” “Then,” said Monte Cristo, “here are 200,000 francs gone after” —
“Hush, do not mention these things,” said Danglars; then, approaching Monte Cristo, he added, “especially before young M. Cavalcanti;” after which he smiled, and turned towards the young man in question. Albert had left the count to speak to his mother, Danglars to converse with young Cavalcanti; Monte Cristo was for
an instant alone. Meanwhile the heat became excessive. The footmen were hastening through the rooms with waiters loaded with ices. Monte Cristo wiped the perspiration from his forehead, but drew back when the
waiter was presented to him; he took no refreshment. Madame de Morcerf did not lose sight of Monte Cristo;
she saw that he took nothing, and even noticed his gesture of refusal. “Albert,” she asked, “did you notice that?”
“That the count has never been willing to partake of food under the roof of M. de Morcerf.”
“Yes; but then he breakfasted with me — indeed, he made his first appearance in the world on that occasion.”
“But your house is not M. de Morcerf’s,” murmured Mercedes; “and since he has been here I have watched him.”
“Well, he has taken nothing yet.”
“The count is very temperate.” Mercedes smiled sadly. “Approach him,” said she, “and when the next waiter passes, insist upon his taking something.”
“But why, mother?”
“Just to please me, Albert,” said Mercedes. Albert kissed his mother’s hand, and drew near the count. Another salver passed, loaded like the preceding ones; she saw Albert attempt to persuade the count, but he obstinately refused. Albert rejoined his mother; she was very pale.
“Well,” said she, “you see he refuses?” “Yes; but why need this annoy you?”
“You know, Albert, women are singular creatures. I should like to have seen the count take something in my house, if only an ice. Perhaps he cannot reconcile himself to the French style of living, and might prefer something else.”
“Oh, no; I have seen him eat of everything in Italy; no doubt he does not feel inclined this evening.”
“And besides,” said the countess, “accustomed as he is to burning climates, possibly he does not feel the heat
as we do.”
“I do not think that, for he has complained of feeling almost suffocated, and asked why the Venetian blinds were not opened as well as the windows.”
“In a word,” said Mercedes, “it was a way of assuring me that his abstinence was intended.” And she left the room. A minute afterwards the blinds were thrown open, and through the jessamine and clematis that
overhung the window one could see the garden ornamented with lanterns, and the supper laid under the tent. Dancers, players, talkers, all uttered an exclamation of joy — every one inhaled with delight the breeze that
floated in. At the same time Mercedes reappeared, paler than before, but with that imperturbable expression of countenance which she sometimes wore. She went straight to the group of which her husband formed the
centre. “Do not detain those gentlemen here, count,” she said; “they would prefer, I should think, to breathe in
the garden rather than suffocate here, since they are not playing.”
“Ah,” said a gallant old general, who, in 1809, had sung “Partant pour la Syrie,” — “we will not go alone to the garden.”
“Then,” said Mercedes, “I will lead the way.” Turning towards Monte Cristo, she added, “count, will you oblige me with your arm?” The count almost staggered at these simple words; then he fixed his eyes on
Mercedes. It was only a momentary glance, but it seemed to the countess to have lasted for a century, so much was expressed in that one look. He offered his arm to the countess; she took it, or rather just touched it with
her little hand, and they together descended the steps, lined with rhododendrons and camellias. Behind them,
by another outlet, a group of about twenty persons rushed into the garden with loud exclamations of delight.
Bread and Salt.
Madame de Morcerf entered an archway of trees with her companion. It led through a grove of lindens to a conservatory.
“It was too warm in the room, was it not, count?” she asked.
“Yes, madame; and it was an excellent idea of yours to open the doors and the blinds.” As he ceased speaking,
the count felt the hand of Mercedes tremble. “But you,” he said, “with that light dress, and without anything to cover you but that gauze scarf, perhaps you feel cold?”
“Do you know where I am leading you?” said the countess, without replying to the question. “No, madame,” replied Monte Cristo; “but you see I make no resistance.”
“We are going to the greenhouse that you see at the other end of the grove.”
The count looked at Mercedes as if to interrogate her, but she continued to walk on in silence, and he refrained from speaking. They reached the building, ornamented with magnificent fruits, which ripen at the beginning
of July in the artificial temperature which takes the place of the sun, so frequently absent in our climate. The countess left the arm of Monte Cristo, and gathered a bunch of Muscatel grapes. “See, count,” she said, with a smile so sad in its expression that one could almost detect the tears on her eyelids — “see, our French grapes
are not to be compared, I know, with yours of Sicily and Cyprus, but you will make allowance for our northern sun.” The count bowed, but stepped back. “Do you refuse?” said Mercedes, in a tremulous voice. “Pray excuse me, madame,” replied Monte Cristo, “but I never eat Muscatel grapes.”
Mercedes let them fall, and sighed. A magnificent peach was hanging against an adjoining wall, ripened by
the same artificial heat. Mercedes drew near, and plucked the fruit. “Take this peach, then,” she said. The count again refused. “What, again?” she exclaimed, in so plaintive an accent that it seemed to stifle a sob; “really, you pain me.”
A long silence followed; the peach, like the grapes, fell to the ground. “Count,” added Mercedes with a supplicating glance, “there is a beautiful Arabian custom, which makes eternal friends of those who have together eaten bread and salt under the same roof.”
“I know it, madame,” replied the count; “but we are in France, and not in Arabia, and in France eternal friendships are as rare as the custom of dividing bread and salt with one another.”
“But,” said the countess, breathlessly, with her eyes fixed on Monte Cristo, whose arm she convulsively pressed with both hands, “we are friends, are we not?”
The count became pale as death, the blood rushed to his heart, and then again rising, dyed his cheeks with crimson; his eyes swam like those of a man suddenly dazzled. “Certainly, we are friends,” he replied; “why should we not be?” The answer was so little like the one Mercedes desired, that she turned away to give vent
to a sigh, which sounded more like a groan. “Thank you,” she said. And they walked on again. They went the whole length of the garden without uttering a word. “Sir,” suddenly exclaimed the countess, after their walk
had continued ten minutes in silence, “is it true that you have seen so much, travelled so far, and suffered so deeply?”
“I have suffered deeply, madame,” answered Monte Cristo.
“But now you are happy?”
“Doubtless,” replied the count, “since no one hears me complain.” “And your present happiness, has it softened your heart?”
“My present happiness equals my past misery,” said the count.
“Are you not married?” asked the countess. “I married?” exclaimed Monte Cristo, shuddering; “who could have told you so?”
“No one told me you were, but you have frequently been seen at the opera with a young and lovely woman.” “She is a slave whom I bought at Constantinople, madame, the daughter of a prince. I have adopted her as my
daughter, having no one else to love in the world.”
“You live alone, then?” “I do.”
“You have no sister — no son — no father?” “I have no one.”
“How can you exist thus without any one to attach you to life?”
“It is not my fault, madame. At Malta, I loved a young girl, was on the point of marrying her, when war came and carried me away. I thought she loved me well enough to wait for me, and even to remain faithful to my memory. When I returned she was married. This is the history of most men who have passed twenty years of
age. Perhaps my heart was weaker than the hearts of most men, and I suffered more than they would have done in my place; that is all.” The countess stopped for a moment, as if gasping for breath. “Yes,” she said, “and you have still preserved this love in your heart — one can only love once — and did you ever see her again?”
“I never returned to the country where she lived.” “To Malta?”
“She is, then, now at Malta?” “I think so.”
“And have you forgiven her for all she has made you suffer?” “Her, — yes.”
“But only her; do you then still hate those who separated you?”
“I hate them? Not at all; why should I?” The countess placed herself before Monte Cristo, still holding in her
hand a portion of the perfumed grapes. “Take some,” she said. “Madame, I never eat Muscatel grapes,” replied Monte Cristo, as if the subject had not been mentioned before. The countess dashed the grapes into the nearest thicket, with a gesture of despair. “Inflexible man!” she murmured. Monte Cristo remained as unmoved as if
the reproach had not been addressed to him. Albert at this moment ran in. “Oh, mother,” he exclaimed, “such a misfortune his happened!”
“What? What has happened?” asked the countess, as though awakening from a sleep to the realities of life; “did you say a misfortune? Indeed, I should expect misfortunes.”
“M. de Villefort is here.” “Well?”
“He comes to fetch his wife and daughter.” “Why so?”
“Because Madame de Saint-Meran is just arrived in Paris, bringing the news of M. de Saint-Meran’s death,
which took place on the first stage after he left Marseilles. Madame de Villefort, who was in very good spirits, would neither believe nor think of the misfortune, but Mademoiselle Valentine, at the first words, guessed the whole truth, notwithstanding all the precautions of her father; the blow struck her like a thunderbolt, and she
“And how was M. de Saint-Meran related to Mademoiselle de Villefort?” said the count.
“He was her grandfather on the mother’s side. He was coming here to hasten her marriage with Franz.” “Ah, indeed?”
“So Franz must wait. Why was not M. de Saint-Meran also grandfather to Mademoiselle Danglars?”
“Albert, Albert,” said Madame de Morcerf, in a tone of mild reproof, “what are you saying? Ah, count, he esteems you so highly, tell him that he has spoken amiss.” And she took two or three steps forward. Monte Cristo watched her with an air so thoughtful, and so full of affectionate admiration, that she turned back and grasped his hand; at the same time she seized that of her son, and joined them together.
“We are friends; are we not?” she asked.
“Oh, madame, I do not presume to call myself your friend, but at all times I am your most respectful servant.” The countess left with an indescribable pang in her heart, and before she had taken ten steps the count saw her
raise her handkerchief to her eyes. “Do not my mother and you agree?” asked Albert, astonished.
“On the contrary,” replied the count, “did you not hear her declare that we were friends?” They re-entered the drawing-room, which Valentine and Madame de Villefort had just quitted. It is perhaps needless to add that Morrel departed almost at the same time.
Madame de Saint-Meran.
A gloomy scene had indeed just passed at the house of M. de Villefort. After the ladies had departed for the ball, whither all the entreaties of Madame de Villefort had failed in persuading him to accompany them, the
procureur had shut himself up in his study, according to his custom, with a heap of papers calculated to alarm any one else, but which generally scarcely satisfied his inordinate desires. But this time the papers were a
mere matter of form. Villefort had secluded himself, not to study, but to reflect; and with the door locked and orders given that he should not be disturbed excepting for important business, he sat down in his arm-chair
and began to ponder over the events, the remembrance of which had during the last eight days filled his mind with so many gloomy thoughts and bitter recollections. Then, instead of plunging into the mass of documents piled before him, he opened the drawer of his desk. touched a spring, and drew out a parcel of cherished memoranda, amongst which he had carefully arranged, in characters only known to himself, the names of all those who, either in his political career, in money matters, at the bar, or in his mysterious love affairs, had become his enemies.
Their number was formidable, now that he had begun to fear, and yet these names, powerful though they
were, had often caused him to smile with the same kind of satisfaction experienced by a traveller who from
the summit of a mountain beholds at his feet the craggy eminences, the almost impassable paths, and the fearful chasms, through which he has so perilously climbed. When he had run over all these names in his memory, again read and studied them, commenting meanwhile upon his lists, he shook his head.
“No,” he murmured, “none of my enemies would have waited so patiently and laboriously for so long a space
of time, that they might now come and crush me with this secret. Sometimes, as Hamlet says —
`Foul deeds will rise, Tho’ all the earth o’erwhelm them to men’s eyes;’
but, like a phosphoric light, they rise but to mislead. The story has been told by the Corsican to some priest, who in his turn has repeated it. M. de Monte Cristo may have heard it, and to enlighten himself — but why should he wish to enlighten himself upon the subject?” asked Villefort, after a moment’s reflection, “what interest can this M. de Monte Cristo or M. Zaccone, — son of a shipowner of Malta, discoverer of a mine in Thessaly, now visiting Paris for the first time, — what interest, I say, can he take in discovering a gloomy, mysterious, and useless fact like this? However, among all the incoherent details given to me by the Abbe Busoni and by Lord Wilmore, by that friend and that enemy, one thing appears certain and clear in my
opinion — that in no period, in no case, in no circumstance, could there have been any contact between him and me.”
But Villefort uttered words which even he himself did not believe. He dreaded not so much the revelation, for
he could reply to or deny its truth; — he cared little for that mene, tekel, upharsin, which appeared suddenly in letters of blood upon the wall; — but what he was really anxious for was to discover whose hand had traced
them. While he was endeavoring to calm his fears, — and instead of dwelling upon the political future that had
so often been the subject of his ambitious dreams, was imagining a future limited to the enjoyments of home,
in fear of awakening the enemy that had so long slept, — the noise of a carriage sounded in the yard, then he heard the steps of an aged person ascending the stairs, followed by tears and lamentations, such as servants always give vent to when they wish to appear interested in their master’s grief. He drew back the bolt of his door, and almost directly an old lady entered, unannounced, carrying her shawl on her arm, and her bonnet in
her hand. The white hair was thrown back from her yellow forehead, and her eyes, already sunken by the furrows of age, now almost disappeared beneath the eyelids swollen with grief. “Oh, sir,” she said; “oh, sir, what a misfortune! I shall die of it; oh, yes, I shall certainly die of it!”
And then, falling upon the chair nearest the door, she burst into a paroxysm of sobs. The servants, standing in
the doorway, not daring to approach nearer, were looking at Noirtier’s old servant, who had heard the noise from his master’s room, and run there also, remaining behind the others. Villefort rose, and ran towards his mother-in-law, for it was she.
“Why, what can have happened?” he exclaimed, “what has thus disturbed you? Is M. de Saint-Meran with you?”
“M. de Saint-Meran is dead,” answered the old marchioness, without preface and without expression; she appeared to be stupefied. Villefort drew back, and clasping his hands together, exclaimed — “Dead! — so suddenly?”
“A week ago,” continued Madame de Saint-Meran, “we went out together in the carriage after dinner. M. de
Saint-Meran had been unwell for some days; still, the idea of seeing our dear Valentine again inspired him with courage, and notwithstanding his illness he would leave. At six leagues from Marseilles, after having eaten some of the lozenges he is accustomed to take, he fell into such a deep sleep, that it appeared to me
unnatural; still I hesitated to wake him, although I fancied that his face was flushed, and that the veins of his temples throbbed more violently than usual. However, as it became dark, and I could no longer see, I fell asleep; I was soon aroused by a piercing shriek, as from a person suffering in his dreams, and he suddenly threw his head back violently. I called the valet, I stopped the postilion, I spoke to M. de Saint-Meran, I
applied my smelling-salts; but all was over, and I arrived at Aix by the side of a corpse.” Villefort stood with
his mouth half open, quite stupefied. “Of course you sent for a doctor?”
“Immediately; but, as I have told you, it was too late.”
“Yes; but then he could tell of what complaint the poor marquis had died.” “Oh, yes, sir, he told me; it appears to have been an apoplectic stroke.”
“And what did you do then?”
“M. de Saint-Meran had always expressed a desire, in case his death happened during his absence from Paris, that his body might be brought to the family vault. I had him put into a leaden coffin, and I am preceding him
by a few days.”
“Oh, my poor mother,” said Villefort, “to have such duties to perform at your age after such a blow!”
“God has supported me through all; and then, my dear marquis, he would certainly have done everything for
me that I performed for him. It is true that since I left him, I seem to have lost my senses. I cannot cry; at my
age they say that we have no more tears, — still I think that when one is in trouble one should have the power
of weeping. Where is Valentine, sir? It is on her account I am here; I wish to see Valentine.” Villefort thought
it would be terrible to reply that Valentine was at a ball; so he only said that she had gone out with her
step-mother, and that she should be fetched. “This instant, sir — this instant, I beseech you!” said the old lady. Villefort placed the arm of Madame de Saint-Meran within his own, and conducted her to his apartment. “Rest yourself, mother,” he said.
The marchioness raised her head at this word, and beholding the man who so forcibly reminded her of her deeply-regretted child, who still lived for her in Valentine, she felt touched at the name of mother, and
bursting into tears, she fell on her knees before an arm-chair, where she buried her venerable head. Villefort
left her to the care of the women, while old Barrois ran, half-scared, to his master; for nothing frightens old
people so much as when death relaxes its vigilance over them for a moment in order to strike some other old
person. Then, while Madame de Saint-Meran remained on her knees, praying fervently, Villefort sent for a cab, and went himself to fetch his wife and daughter from Madame de Morcerf’s. He was so pale when he appeared at the door of the ball-room, that Valentine ran to him, saying —
“Oh, father, some misfortune has happened!”
“Your grandmamma has just arrived, Valentine,” said M. de Villefort.
“And grandpapa?” inquired the young girl, trembling with apprehension. M. de Villefort only replied by
offering his arm to his daughter. It was just in time, for Valentine’s head swam, and she staggered; Madame de Villefort instantly hastened to her assistance, and aided her husband in dragging her to the carriage, saying — “What a singular event! Who could have thought it? Ah, yes, it is indeed strange!” And the wretched family departed, leaving a cloud of sadness hanging over the rest of the evening. At the foot of the stairs, Valentine
found Barrois awaiting her.
“M. Noirtier wishes to see you to-night, he said, in an undertone.
“Tell him I will come when I leave my dear grandmamma,” she replied, feeling, with true delicacy, that the person to whom she could be of the most service just then was Madame de Saint-Meran. Valentine found her grandmother in bed; silent caresses, heartwrung sobs, broken sighs, burning tears, were all that passed in this
sad interview, while Madame de Villefort, leaning on her husband’s arm, maintained all outward forms of respect, at least towards the poor widow. She soon whispered to her husband, “I think it would be better for
me to retire, with your permission, for the sight of me appears still to afflict your mother-in-law.” Madame de Saint-Meran heard her. “Yes, yes,” she said softly to Valentine, “let her leave; but do you stay.” Madame de Villefort left, and Valentine remained alone beside the bed, for the procureur, overcome with astonishment at
the unexpected death, had followed his wife. Meanwhile, Barrois had returned for the first time to old Noirtier, who having heard the noise in the house, had, as we have said, sent his old servant to inquire the cause; on his return, his quick intelligent eye interrogated the messenger. “Alas, sir,” exclaimed Barrois, “a great misfortune has happened. Madame de Saint-Meran has arrived, and her husband is dead!”
M. de Saint-Meran and Noirtier had never been on strict terms of friendship; still, the death of one old man always considerably affects another. Noirtier let his head fall upon his chest, apparently overwhelmed and thoughtful; then he closed one eye, in token of inquiry. “Mademoiselle Valentine?” Noirtier nodded his head. “She is at the ball, as you know, since she came to say good-by to you in full dress.” Noirtier again closed his
left eye. “Do you wish to see her?” Noirtier again made an affirmative sign. “Well, they have gone to fetch her, no doubt, from Madame de Morcerf’s; I will await her return, and beg her to come up here. Is that what
you wish for?”
“Yes,” replied the invalid.
Barrois, therefore, as we have seen, watched for Valentine, and informed her of her grandfather’s wish. Consequently, Valentine came up to Noirtier, on leaving Madame de Saint-Meran, who in the midst of her grief had at last yielded to fatigue and fallen into a feverish sleep. Within reach of her hand they placed a
small table upon which stood a bottle of orangeade, her usual beverage, and a glass. Then, as we have said,
the young girl left the bedside to see M. Noirtier. Valentine kissed the old man, who looked at her with such tenderness that her eyes again filled with tears, whose sources he thought must be exhausted. The old
gentleman continued to dwell upon her with the same expression. “Yes, yes,” said Valentine, “you mean that I
have yet a kind grandfather left, do you not.” The old man intimated that such was his meaning. “Ah, yes, happily I have,” replied Valentine. “Without that, what would become of me?”
It was one o’clock in the morning. Barrois, who wished to go to bed himself, observed that after such sad
events every one stood in need of rest. Noirtier would not say that the only rest he needed was to see his child,
but wished her good-night, for grief and fatigue had made her appear quite ill. The next morning she found
her grandmother in bed; the fever had not abated, on the contrary her eyes glistened and she appeared to be suffering from violent nervous irritability. “Oh, dear grandmamma, are you worse?” exclaimed Valentine, perceiving all these signs of agitation.
“No, my child, no,” said Madame de Saint-Meran; “but I was impatiently waiting for your arrival, that I might send for your father.”
“My father?” inquired Valentine, uneasily.
“Yes, I wish to speak to him.” Valentine durst not oppose her grandmother’s wish, the cause of which she did
not know, and an instant afterwards Villefort entered. “Sir,” said Madame de Saint-Meran, without using any circumlocution, and as if fearing she had no time to lose, “you wrote to me concerning the marriage of this child?”
“Yes, madame,” replied Villefort, “it is not only projected but arranged.” “Your intended son-in-law is named M. Franz d’Epinay?”
“Is he not the son of General d’Epinay who was on our side, and who was assassinated some days before the usurper returned from the Island of Elba?”
“Does he not dislike the idea of marrying the granddaughter of a Jacobin?”
“Our civil dissensions are now happily extinguished, mother,” said Villefort; “M. d’Epinay was quite a child when his father died, he knows very little of M. Noirtier, and will meet him, if not with pleasure, at least with indifference.”
“Is it a suitable match?” “In every respect.”
“And the young man?”
“Is regarded with universal esteem.” “You approve of him?”
“He is one of the most well-bred young men I know.” During the whole of this conversation Valentine had remained silent. “Well, sir,” said Madame de Saint-Meran, after a few minutes’ reflection, “I must hasten the marriage, for I have but a short time to live.”
“You, madame?” “You, dear mamma?” exclaimed M. de Villefort and Valentine at the same time.
“I know what I am saying,” continued the marchioness; “I must hurry you, so that, as she has no mother, she may at least have a grandmother to bless her marriage. I am all that is left to her belonging to my poor Renee,
whom you have so soon forgotten, sir.”
“Ah, madame,” said Villefort, “you forget that I was obliged to give a mother to my child.”
“A stepmother is never a mother, sir. But this is not to the purpose, — our business concerns Valentine, let us leave the dead in peace.”
All this was said with such exceeding rapidity, that there was something in the conversation that seemed like the beginning of delirium.
“It shall be as you wish, madame,” said Villefort; “more especially since your wishes coincide with mine, and
as soon as M. d’Epinay arrives in Paris” —
“My dear grandmother,” interrupted Valentine, “consider decorum — the recent death. You would not have me marry under such sad auspices?”
“My child,” exclaimed the old lady sharply, “let us hear none of the conventional objections that deter weak minds from preparing for the future. I also was married at the death-bed of my mother, and certainly I have
not been less happy on that account.”
“Still that idea of death, madame,” said Villefort.
“Still? — Always! I tell you I am going to die — do you understand? Well, before dying, I wish to see my
son-in-law. I wish to tell him to make my child happy; I wish to read in his eyes whether he intends to obey me; — in fact, I will know him — I will!” continued the old lady, with a fearful expression, “that I may rise
from the depths of my grave to find him, if he should not fulfil his duty!”
“Madame,” said Villefort, “you must lay aside these exalted ideas, which almost assume the appearance of madness. The dead, once buried in their graves, rise no more.”
“And I tell you, sir, that you are mistaken. This night I have had a fearful sleep. It seemed as though my soul were already hovering over my body, my eyes, which I tried to open, closed against my will, and what will appear impossible above all to you, sir, I saw, with my eyes shut, in the spot where you are now standing, issuing from that corner where there is a door leading into Madame Villefort’s dressing-room — I saw, I tell
you, silently enter, a white figure.” Valentine screamed. “It was the fever that disturbed you, madame,” said
“Doubt, if you please, but I am sure of what I say. I saw a white figure, and as if to prevent my discrediting
the testimony of only one of my senses, I heard my glass removed — the same which is there now on the table.”
“Oh, dear mother, it was a dream.”
“So little was it a dream, that I stretched my hand towards the bell; but when I did so, the shade disappeared;
my maid then entered with a light.” “But she saw no one?”
“Phantoms are visible to those only who ought to see them. It was the soul of my husband! — Well, if my husband’s soul can come to me, why should not my soul reappear to guard my granddaughter? the tie is even more direct, it seems to me.”
“Oh, madame,” said Villefort, deeply affected, in spite of himself, “do not yield to those gloomy thoughts; you will long live with us, happy, loved, and honored, and we will make you forget” —
“Never, never, never,” said the marchioness. “when does M. d’Epinay return?”
“We expect him every moment.”
“It is well. As soon as he arrives inform me. We must be expeditious. And then I also wish to see a notary, that I may be assured that all our property returns to Valentine.”
“Ah, grandmamma,” murmured Valentine, pressing her lips on the burning brow, “do you wish to kill me? Oh, how feverish you are; we must not send for a notary, but for a doctor.”
“A doctor?” said she, shrugging her shoulders, “I am not ill; I am thirsty — that is all.” “What are you drinking, dear grandmamma?”
“The same as usual, my dear, my glass is there on the table — give it to me, Valentine.” Valentine poured the orangeade into a glass and gave it to her grandmother with a certain degree of dread, for it was the same glass
she fancied that had been touched by the spectre. The marchioness drained the glass at a single draught, and then turned on her pillow, repeating, — “The notary, the notary!”
M. de Villefort left the room, and Valentine seated herself at the bedside of her grandmother. The poor child appeared herself to require the doctor she had recommended to her aged relative. A bright spot burned in
either cheek, her respiration was short and difficult, and her pulse beat with feverish excitement. She was thinking of the despair of Maximilian, when he should be informed that Madame de Saint-Meran, instead of being an ally, was unconsciously acting as his enemy. More than once she thought of revealing all to her grandmother, and she would not have hesitated a moment, if Maximilian Morrel had been named Albert de Morcerf or Raoul de Chateau-Renaud; but Morrel was of plebeian extraction, and Valentine knew how the haughty Marquise de Saint-Meran despised all who were not noble. Her secret had each time been repressed when she was about to reveal it, by the sad conviction that it would be useless to do so; for, were it once discovered by her father and mother, all would be lost. Two hours passed thus; Madame de Saint-Meran was
in a feverish sleep, and the notary had arrived. Though his coming was announced in a very low tone, Madame de Saint-Meran arose from her pillow. “The notary!” she exclaimed, “let him come in.”
The notary, who was at the door, immediately entered. “Go, Valentine,” said Madame de Saint-Meran, “and leave me with this gentleman.”
“But, grandmamma” —
“Leave me — go!” The young girl kissed her grandmother, and left with her handkerchief to her eyes; at the door she found the valet de chambre, who told her that the doctor was waiting in the dining-room. Valentine
instantly ran down. The doctor was a friend of the family, and at the same time one of the cleverest men of the day, and very fond of Valentine, whose birth he had witnessed. He had himself a daughter about her age, but whose life was one continued source of anxiety and fear to him from her mother having been consumptive.
“Oh,” said Valentine, “we have been waiting for you with such impatience, dear M. d’Avrigny. But, first of
all, how are Madeleine and Antoinette?” Madeleine was the daughter of M. d’Avrigny, and Antoinette his niece. M. d’Avrigny smiled sadly. “Antoinette is very well,” he said, “and Madeleine tolerably so. But you sent for me, my dear child. It is not your father or Madame de Villefort who is ill. As for you, although we
doctors cannot divest our patients of nerves, I fancy you have no further need of me than to recommend you
not to allow your imagination to take too wide a field.” Valentine colored. M. d’Avrigny carried the science of divination almost to a miraculous extent, for he was one of the physicians who always work upon the body through the mind. “No,” she replied, “it is for my poor grandmother. You know the calamity that has
happened to us, do you not?”
“I know nothing.” said M. d’Avrigny.
“Alas,” said Valentine, restraining her tears, “my grandfather is dead.” “M. de Saint-Meran?”
“From an apoplectic stroke.”
“An apoplectic stroke?” repeated the doctor.
“Yes, and my poor grandmother fancies that her husband, whom she never left, has called her, and that she must go and join him. Oh, M. d’Avrigny, I beseech you, do something for her!”
“Where is she?”
“In her room with the notary.” “And M. Noirtier?”
“Just as he was, his mind perfectly clear, but the same incapability of moving or speaking.” “And the same love for you — eh, my dear child?”
“Yes,” said Valentine, “he was very fond of me.”
“Who does not love you?” Valentine smiled sadly. “What are your grandmother’s symptoms?”
“An extreme nervous excitement and a strangely agitated sleep; she fancied this morning in her sleep that her soul was hovering above her body, which she at the same time watched. It must have been delirium; she
fancies, too, that she saw a phantom enter her chamber and even heard the noise it made on touching her glass.”
“It is singular,” said the doctor; “I was not aware that Madame de Saint-Meran was subject to such hallucinations.”
“It is the first time I ever saw her in this condition,” said Valentine; “and this morning she frightened me so that I thought her mad; and my father, who you know is a strong-minded man, himself appeared deeply impressed.”
“We will go and see,” said the doctor; “what you tell me seems very strange.” The notary here descended, and
Valentine was informed that her grandmother was alone. “Go upstairs,” she said to the doctor. “And you?”
“Oh, I dare not — she forbade my sending for you; and, as you say, I am myself agitated, feverish and out of sorts. I will go and take a turn in the garden to recover myself.” The doctor pressed Valentine’s hand, and
while he visited her grandmother, she descended the steps. We need not say which portion of the garden was
her favorite walk. After remaining for a short time in the parterre surrounding the house, and gathering a rose
to place in her waist or hair, she turned into the dark avenue which led to the bench; then from the bench she
went to the gate. As usual, Valentine strolled for a short time among her flowers, but without gathering them. The mourning in her heart forbade her assuming this simple ornament, though she had not yet had time to put
on the outward semblance of woe. She then turned towards the avenue. As she advanced she fancied she heard
a voice speaking her name. She stopped astonished, then the voice reached her ear more distinctly, and she recognized it to be that of Maximilian.
It was, indeed, Maximilian Morrel, who had passed a wretched existence since the previous day. With the instinct peculiar to lovers he had anticipated after the return of Madame de Saint-Meran and the death of the
marquis, that something would occur at M. de Villefort’s in connection with his attachment for Valentine. His presentiments were realized, as we shall see, and his uneasy forebodings had goaded him pale and trembling
to the gate under the chestnut-trees. Valentine was ignorant of the cause of this sorrow and anxiety, and as it was not his accustomed hour for visiting her, she had gone to the spot simply by accident or perhaps through sympathy. Morrel called her, and she ran to the gate. “You here at this hour?” said she. “Yes, my poor girl,”
replied Morrel; “I come to bring and to hear bad tidings.”
“This is, indeed, a house of mourning,” said Valentine; “speak, Maximilian, although the cup of sorrow seems already full.”
“Dear Valentine,” said Morrel, endeavoring to conceal his own emotion, “listen, I entreat you; what I am about to say is very serious. When are you to be married?”
“I will tell you all,” said Valentine; “from you I have nothing to conceal. This morning the subject was introduced, and my dear grandmother, on whom I depended as my only support, not only declared herself favorable to it, but is so anxious for it, that they only await the arrival of M. d’Epinay, and the following day
the contract will be signed.” A deep sigh escaped the young man, who gazed long and mournfully at her he loved. “Alas,” replied he, “it is dreadful thus to hear my condemnation from your own lips. The sentence is passed, and, in a few hours, will be executed; it must be so, and I will not endeavor to prevent it. But, since
you say nothing remains but for M. d’Epinay to arrive that the contract may be signed, and the following day you will be his, to-morrow you will be engaged to M. d’Epinay, for he came this morning to Paris.” Valentine
uttered a cry.
“I was at the house of Monte Cristo an hour since,” said Morrel; “we were speaking, he of the sorrow your family had experienced, and I of your grief, when a carriage rolled into the court-yard. Never, till then, had I
placed any confidence in presentiments, but now I cannot help believing them, Valentine. At the sound of that carriage I shuddered; soon I heard steps on the staircase, which terrified me as much as the footsteps of the commander did Don Juan. The door at last opened; Albert de Morcerf entered first, and I began to hope my
fears were vain, when, after him, another young man advanced, and the count exclaimed — `Ah, here is the
Baron Franz d’Epinay!’ I summoned all my strength and courage to my support. Perhaps I turned pale and trembled, but certainly I smiled; and five minutes after I left, without having heard one word that had passed.”
“Poor Maximilian!” murmured Valentine.
“Valentine, the time has arrived when you must answer me. And remember my life depends on your answer. What do you intend doing?” Valentine held down her head; she was overwhelmed.
“Listen,” said Morrel; “it is not the first time you have contemplated our present position, which is a serious and urgent one; I do not think it is a moment to give way to useless sorrow; leave that for those who like to suffer at their leisure and indulge their grief in secret. There are such in the world, and God will doubtless reward them in heaven for their resignation on earth, but those who mean to contend must not lose one
precious moment, but must return immediately the blow which fortune strikes. Do you intend to struggle against our ill-fortune? Tell me, Valentine for it is that I came to know.”
Valentine trembled, and looked at him with amazement. The idea of resisting her father, her grandmother, and
all the family, had never occurred to her. “What do you say, Maximilian?” asked Valentine. “What do you
mean by a struggle? Oh, it would be a sacrilege. What? I resist my father’s order, and my dying grandmother’s
wish? Impossible!” Morrel started. “You are too noble not to understand me, and you understand me so well that you already yield, dear Maximilian. No, no; I shall need all my strength to struggle with myself and
support my grief in secret, as you say. But to grieve my father — to disturb my grandmother’s last moments — never!”
“You are right,” said Morrel, calmly.
“In what a tone you speak!” cried Valentine.
“I speak as one who admires you, mademoiselle.”
“Mademoiselle,” cried Valentine; “mademoiselle! Oh, selfish man, — he sees me in despair, and pretends he cannot understand me!”
“You mistake — I understand you perfectly. You will not oppose M. Villefort, you will not displease the marchioness, and to-morrow you will sign the contract which will bind you to your husband.”
“But, mon Dieu, tell me, how can I do otherwise?”
“Do not appeal to me, mademoiselle; I shall be a bad judge in such a case; my selfishness will blind me,”
replied Morrel, whose low voice and clinched hands announced his growing desperation. “What would you have proposed, Maximilian, had you found me willing to accede?”
“It is not for me to say.”
“You are wrong; you must advise me what to do.” “Do you seriously ask my advice, Valentine?”
“Certainly, dear Maximilian, for if it is good, I will follow it; you know my devotion to you.”
“Valentine,” said Morrel pushing aside a loose plank, “give me your hand in token of forgiveness of my
anger; my senses are confused, and during the last hour the most extravagant thoughts have passed through my brain. Oh, if you refuse my advice” —
“What do you advise?” said Valentine, raising her eyes to heaven and sighing. “I am free,” replied
Maximilian, “and rich enough to support you. I swear to make you my lawful wife before my lips even shall have approached your forehead.”
“You make me tremble!” said the young girl.
“Follow me,” said Morrel; “I will take you to my sister, who is worthy also to be yours. We will embark for Algiers, for England, for America, or, if your prefer it, retire to the country and only return to Paris when our friends have reconciled your family.” Valentine shook her head. “I feared it, Maximilian,” said she; “it is the counsel of a madman, and I should be more mad than you, did I not stop you at once with the word
“You will then submit to what fate decrees for you without even attempting to contend with it?” said Morrel sorrowfully. “Yes, — if I die!”
“Well, Valentine,” resumed Maximilian, “I can only say again that you are right. Truly, it is I who am mad,
and you prove to me that passion blinds the most well-meaning. I appreciate your calm reasoning. It is then understood that to-morrow you will be irrevocably promised to M. Franz d’Epinay, not only by that theatrical formality invented to heighten the effect of a comedy called the signature of the contract, but your own will?”
“Again you drive me to despair, Maximilian,” said Valentine, “again you plunge the dagger into the wound! What would you do, tell me, if your sister listened to such a proposition?”
“Mademoiselle,” replied Morrel with a bitter smile, “I am selfish — you have already said so — and as a selfish man I think not of what others would do in my situation, but of what I intend doing myself. I think only that I have known you not a whole year. From the day I first saw you, all my hopes of happiness have been in
securing your affection. One day you acknowledged that you loved me, and since that day my hope of future happiness has rested on obtaining you, for to gain you would be life to me. Now, I think no more; I say only
that fortune has turned against me — I had thought to gain heaven, and now I have lost it. It is an every-day occurrence for a gambler to lose not only what he possesses but also what he has not.” Morrel pronounced these words with perfect calmness; Valentine looked at him a moment with her large, scrutinizing eyes, endeavoring not to let Morrel discover the grief which struggled in her heart. “But, in a word, what are you going to do?” asked she.
“I am going to have the honor of taking my leave of you, mademoiselle, solemnly assuring you that I wish your life may be so calm, so happy, and so fully occupied, that there may be no place for me even in your memory.”
“Oh!” murmured Valentine.
“Adieu, Valentine, adieu!” said Morrel, bowing.
“Where are you going?” cried the young girl, extending her hand through the opening, and seizing Maximilian
by his coat, for she understood from her own agitated feelings that her lover’s calmness could not be real; “where are you going?”
“I am going, that I may not bring fresh trouble into your family: and to set an example which every honest and devoted man, situated as I am, may follow.”
“Before you leave me, tell me what you are going to do, Maximilian.” The young man smiled sorrowfully. “Speak, speak!” said Valentine; “I entreat you.”
“Has your resolution changed, Valentine?”
“It cannot change, unhappy man; you know it must not!” cried the young girl. “Then adieu, Valentine!” Valentine shook the gate with a strength of which she could not have been supposed to be possessed, as Morrel was going away, and passing both her hands through the opening, she clasped and wrung them. “I must know what you mean to do!” said she. “Where are you going?”
“Oh, fear not,” said Maximilian, stopping at a short distance, “I do not intend to render another man responsible for the rigorous fate reserved for me. Another might threaten to seek M. Franz, to provoke him, and to fight with him; all that would be folly. What has M. Franz to do with it? He saw me this morning for
the first time, and has already forgotten he has seen me. He did not even know I existed when it was arranged
by your two families that you should be united. I have no enmity against M. Franz, and promise you the punishment shall not fall on him.”
“On whom, then! — on me?”
“On you? Valentine! Oh, heaven forbid! Woman is sacred; the woman one loves is holy.”
“On yourself, then, unhappy man; on yourself?”
“I am the only guilty person, am I not?’ said Maximilian.
“Maximilian!” said Valentine, “Maximilian, come back, I entreat you!” He drew near with his sweet smile, and but for his paleness one might have thought him in his usual happy mood. “Listen, my dear, my adored Valentine,” said he in his melodious and grave tone; “those who, like us, have never had a thought for which
we need blush before the world, such may read each other’s hearts. I never was romantic, and am no melancholy hero. I imitate neither Manfred nor Anthony; but without words, protestations, or vows, my life
has entwined itself with yours; you leave me, and you are right in doing so, — I repeat it, you are right; but in losing you, I lose my life.
“The moment you leave me, Valentine, I am alone in the world. My sister is happily married; her husband is only my brother-in-law, that is, a man whom the ties of social life alone attach to me; no one then longer
needs my useless life. This is what I shall do; I will wait until the very moment you are married, for I will not lose the shadow of one of those unexpected chances which are sometimes reserved for us, since M. Franz
may, after all, die before that time, a thunderbolt may fall even on the altar as you approach it, — nothing appears impossible to one condemned to die, and miracles appear quite reasonable when his escape from death is concerned. I will, then, wait until the last moment, and when my misery is certain, irremediable, hopeless, I will write a confidential letter to my brother-in-law, another to the prefect of police, to acquaint them with my intention, and at the corner of some wood, on the brink of some abyss, on the bank of some
river, I will put an end to my existence, as certainly as I am the son of the most honest man who ever lived in
Valentine trembled convulsively; she loosened her hold of the gate, her arms fell by her side, and two large tears rolled down her cheeks. The young man stood before her, sorrowful and resolute. “Oh, for pity’s sake,” said she, “you will live, will you not?”
“No, on my honor,” said Maximilian; “but that will not affect you. You have done your duty, and your conscience will be at rest.” Valentine fell on her knees, and pressed her almost bursting heart. “Maximilian,” said she, “Maximilian, my friend, my brother on earth, my true husband in heaven, I entreat you, do as I do,
live in suffering; perhaps we may one day be united.” “Adieu, Valentine,” repeated Morrel.
“My God,” said Valentine, raising both her hands to heaven with a sublime expression, “I have done my utmost to remain a submissive daughter; I have begged, entreated, implored; he has regarded neither my
prayers, my entreaties, nor my tears. It is done,” cried she, willing away her tears, and resuming her firmness,
“I am resolved not to die of remorse, but rather of shame. Live, Maximilian, and I will be yours. Say when shall it be? Speak, command, I will obey.” Morrel, who had already gone some few steps away, again
returned, and pale with joy extended both hands towards Valentine through the opening. “Valentine,” said he, “dear Valentine, you must not speak thus — rather let me die. Why should I obtain you by violence, if our love
is mutual? Is it from mere humanity you bid me live? I would then rather die.”
“Truly,” murmured Valentine, “who on this earth cares for me, if he does not? Who has consoled me in my sorrow but he? On whom do my hopes rest? On whom does my bleeding heart repose? On him, on him,
always on him! Yes, you are right, Maximilian, I will follow you. I will leave the paternal home, I will give
up all. Oh, ungrateful girl that I am,” cried Valentine, sobbing, “I will give up all, even my dear old grandfather, whom I had nearly forgotten.”
“No,” said Maximilian, “you shall not leave him. M. Noirtier has evinced, you say, a kind feeling towards me.
Well, before you leave, tell him all; his consent would be your justification in God’s sight. As soon as we are married, he shall come and live with us, instead of one child, he shall have two. You have told me how you talk to him and how he answers you; I shall very soon learn that language by signs, Valentine, and I promise
you solemnly, that instead of despair, it is happiness that awaits us.”
“Oh, see, Maximilian, see the power you have over me, you almost make me believe you; and yet, what you
tell me is madness, for my father will curse me — he is inflexible — he will never pardon me. Now listen to
me, Maximilian; if by artifice, by entreaty, by accident — in short, if by any means I can delay this marriage, will you wait?”
“Yes, I promise you, as faithfully as you have promised me that this horrible marriage shall not take place, and that if you are dragged before a magistrate or a priest, you will refuse.”
“I promise you by all that is most sacred to me in the world, namely, by my mother.” “We will wait, then,” said Morrel.
“Yes, we will wait,” replied Valentine, who revived at these words; “there are so many things which may save unhappy beings such as we are.”
“I rely on you, Valentine,” said Morrel; “all you do will be well done; only if they disregard your prayers, if your father and Madame de Saint-Meran insist that M. d’Epinay should be called to-morrow to sign the contract” —
“Then you have my promise, Maximilian.” “Instead of signing” —
“I will go to you, and we will fly; but from this moment until then, let us not tempt providence, let us not see each other. It is a miracle, it is a providence that we have not been discovered. If we were surprised, if it were known that we met thus, we should have no further resource.”
“You are right, Valentine; but how shall I ascertain?” “From the notary, M. Deschamps.”
“I know him.”
“And for myself — I will write to you, depend on me. I dread this marriage, Maximilian, as much as you.”
“Thank you, my adored Valentine, thank you; that is enough. When once I know the hour, I will hasten to this spot, you can easily get over this fence with my assistance, a carriage will await us at the gate, in which you
will accompany me to my sister’s; there living, retired or mingling in society, as you wish, we shall be enabled
to use our power to resist oppression, and not suffer ourselves to be put to death like sheep, which only defend themselves by sighs.”
“Yes,” said Valentine, “I will now acknowledge you are right, Maximilian; and now are you satisfied with your betrothal?” said the young girl sorrowfully.
“My adored Valentine, words cannot express one half of my satisfaction.” Valentine had approached, or rather, had placed her lips so near the fence, that they nearly touched those of Morrel, which were pressed
against the other side of the cold and inexorable barrier. “Adieu, then, till we meet again,” said Valentine,
tearing herself away. “I shall hear from you?” “Yes.”
“Thanks, thanks, dear love, adieu!” The sound of a kiss was heard, and Valentine fled through the avenue. Morrel listened to catch the last sound of her dress brushing the branches, and of her footstep on the gravel,
then raised his eyes with an ineffable smile of thankfulness to heaven for being permitted to be thus loved, and then also disappeared. The young man returned home and waited all the evening and all the next day without getting any message. It was only on the following day, at about ten o’clock in the morning, as he was starting
to call on M. Deschamps, the notary, that he received from the postman a small billet, which he knew to be from Valentine, although he had not before seen her writing. It was to this effect: —
Tears, entreaties, prayers, have availed me nothing. Yesterday, for two hours, I was at the church of
Saint-Phillippe du Roule, and for two hours I prayed most fervently. Heaven is as inflexible as man, and the signature of the contract is fixed for this evening at nine o’clock. I have but one promise and but one heart to give; that promise is pledged to you, that heart is also yours. This evening, then, at a quarter to nine at the
Your betrothed, Valentine de Villefort.
P.S. — My poor grandmother gets worse and worse; yesterday her fever amounted to delirium; to-day her delirium is almost madness. You will be very kind to me, will you not, Morrel, to make me forget my sorrow
in leaving her thus? I think it is kept a secret from grandpapa Noirtier, that the contract is to be signed this evening.
Morrel went also to the notary, who confirmed the news that the contract was to be signed that evening. Then
he went to call on Monte Cristo and heard still more. Franz had been to announce the ceremony, and Madame
de Villefort had also written to beg the count to excuse her not inviting him; the death of M. de Saint-Meran and the dangerous illness of his widow would cast a gloom over the meeting which she would regret should
be shared by the count whom she wished every happiness. The day before Franz had been presented to
Madame de Saint-Meran, who had left her bed to receive him, but had been obliged to return to it immediately after. It is easy to suppose that Morrel’s agitation would not escape the count’s penetrating eye. Monte Cristo
was more affectionate than ever, — indeed, his manner was so kind that several times Morrel was on the point
of telling him all. But he recalled the promise he had made to Valentine, and kept his secret.
The young man read Valentine’s letter twenty times in the course of the day. It was her first, and on what an occasion! Each time he read it he renewed his vow to make her happy. How great is the power of a woman
who has made so courageous a resolution! What devotion does she deserve from him for whom she has sacrificed everything! How ought she really to be supremely loved! She becomes at once a queen and a wife, and it is impossible to thank and love her sufficiently. Morrel longed intensely for the moment when he
should hear Valentine say, “Here I am, Maximilian; come and help me.” He had arranged everything for her escape; two ladders were hidden in the clover-field; a cabriolet was ordered for Maximilian alone, without a servant, without lights; at the turning of the first street they would light the lamps, as it would be foolish to
attract the notice of the police by too many precautions. Occasionally he shuddered; he thought of the moment when, from the top of that wall, he should protect the descent of his dear Valentine, pressing in his arms for
the first time her of whom he had yet only kissed the delicate hand.
When the afternoon arrived and he felt that the hour was drawing near, he wished for solitude, his agitation
was extreme; a simple question from a friend would have irritated him. He shut himself in his room, and tried
to read, but his eye glanced over the page without understanding a word, and he threw away the book, and for
the second time sat down to sketch his plan, the ladders and the fence. At length the hour drew near. Never did
a man deeply in love allow the clocks to go on peacefully. Morrel tormented his so effectually that they struck eight at half-past six. He then said, “It is time to start; the signature was indeed fixed to take place at nine
o’clock, but perhaps Valentine will not wait for that.” Consequently, Morrel, having left the Rue Meslay at half-past eight by his timepiece, entered the clover-field while the clock of Saint-Phillippe du Roule was striking eight. The horse and cabriolet were concealed behind a small ruin, where Morrel had often waited.
The night gradually drew on, and the foliage in the garden assumed a deeper hue. Then Morrel came out from
his hiding-place with a beating heart, and looked through the small opening in the gate; there was yet no one
to be seen. The clock struck half-past eight, and still another half-hour was passed in waiting, while Morrel walked to and fro, and gazed more and more frequently through the opening. The garden became darker still,
but in the darkness he looked in vain for the white dress, and in the silence he vainly listened for the sound of footsteps. The house, which was discernible through the trees, remained in darkness, and gave no indication
that so important an event as the signature of a marriage-contract was going on. Morrel looked at his watch, which wanted a quarter to ten; but soon the same clock he had already heard strike two or three times rectified
the error by striking half-past nine.
This was already half an hour past the time Valentine had fixed. It was a terrible moment for the young man. The slightest rustling of the foliage, the least whistling of the wind, attracted his attention, and drew the perspiration to his brow; then he tremblingly fixed his ladder, and, not to lose a moment, placed his foot on
the first step. Amidst all these alternations of hope and fear, the clock struck ten. “It is impossible,” said
Maximilian, “that the signing of a contract should occupy so long a time without unexpected interruptions. I
have weighed all the chances, calculated the time required for all the forms; something must have happened.” And then he walked rapidly to and fro, and pressed his burning forehead against the fence. Had Valentine fainted? or had she been discovered and stopped in her flight? These were the only obstacles which appeared possible to the young man.
The idea that her strength had failed her in attempting to escape, and that she had fainted in one of the paths, was the one that most impressed itself upon his mind. “In that case,” said he, “I should lose her, and by my
own fault.” He dwelt on this idea for a moment, then it appeared reality. He even thought he could perceive something on the ground at a distance; he ventured to call, and it seemed to him that the wind wafted back an almost inarticulate sigh. At last the half-hour struck. It was impossible to wait longer, his temples throbbed violently, his eyes were growing dim; he passed one leg over the wall, and in a moment leaped down on the other side. He was on Villefort’s premises — had arrived there by scaling the wall. What might be the consequences? However, he had not ventured thus far to draw back. He followed a short distance close under
the wall, then crossed a path, hid entered a clump of trees. In a moment he had passed through them, and could see the house distinctly. Then Morrel saw that he had been right in believing that the house was not
illuminated. Instead of lights at every window, as is customary on days of ceremony, he saw only a gray mass, which was veiled also by a cloud, which at that moment obscured the moon’s feeble light. A light moved
rapidly from time to time past three windows of the second floor. These three windows were in Madame de Saint-Meran’s room. Another remained motionless behind some red curtains which were in Madame de Villefort’s bedroom. Morrel guessed all this. So many times, in order to follow Valentine in thought at every hour in the day, had he made her describe the whole house, that without having seen it he knew it all.
This darkness and silence alarmed Morrel still more than Valentine’s absence had done. Almost mad with grief, and determined to venture everything in order to see Valentine once more, and be certain of the misfortune he feared, Morrel gained the edge of the clump of trees, and was going to pass as quickly as possible through the flower-garden, when the sound of a voice, still at some distance, but which was borne upon the wind, reached him.
At this sound, as he was already partially exposed to view, he stepped back and concealed himself completely,
remaining perfectly motionless. He had formed his resolution. If it was Valentine alone, he would speak as
she passed; if she was accompanied, and he could not speak, still he should see her, and know that she was safe; if they were strangers, he would listen to their conversation, and might understand something of this hitherto incomprehensible mystery. The moon had just then escaped from behind the cloud which had concealed it, and Morrel saw Villefort come out upon the steps, followed by a gentleman in black. They descended, and advanced towards the clump of trees, and Morrel soon recognized the other gentleman as Doctor d’Avrigny.
The young man, seeing them approach, drew back mechanically, until he found himself stopped by a
sycamore-tree in the centre of the clump; there he was compelled to remain. Soon the two gentlemen stopped also.
“Ah, my dear doctor,” said the procureur, “heaven declares itself against my house! What a dreadful death — what a blow! Seek not to console me; alas, nothing can alleviate so great a sorrow — the wound is too deep
and too fresh! Dead, dead!” The cold sweat sprang to the young man’s brow, and his teeth chattered. Who
could be dead in that house, which Villefort himself had called accursed? “My dear M. de Villefort,” replied
the doctor, with a tone which redoubled the terror of the young man, “I have not led you here to console you;
on the contrary” —
“What can you mean?” asked the procureur, alarmed.
“I mean that behind the misfortune which has just happened to you, there is another, perhaps, still greater.” “Can it be possible?” murmured Villefort, clasping his hands. “What are you going to tell me?”
“Are we quite alone, my friend?”
“Yes, quite; but why all these precautions?”
“Because I have a terrible secret to communicate to you,” said the doctor. “Let us sit down.”
Villefort fell, rather than seated himself The doctor stood before him, with one hand placed on his shoulder. Morrel, horrified, supported his head with one hand, and with the other pressed his heart, lest its beatings should be heard. “Dead, dead!” repeated he within himself; and he felt as if he were also dying.
“Speak, doctor — I am listening,” said Villefort; “strike — I am prepared for everything!”
“Madame de Saint-Meran was, doubtless, advancing in years, but she enjoyed excellent health.” Morrel began again to breathe freely, which he had not done during the last ten minutes.
“Grief has consumed her,” said Villefort — “yes, grief, doctor! After living forty years with the marquis” —
“It is not grief, my dear Villefort,” said the doctor; “grief may kill, although it rarely does, and never in a day, never in an hour, never in ten minutes.” Villefort answered nothing, he simply raised his head, which had been cast down before, and looked at the doctor with amazement.
“Were you present during the last struggle?” asked M. d’Avrigny.
“I was,” replied the procureur; “you begged me not to leave.”
“Did you notice the symptoms of the disease to which Madame de Saint-Meran has fallen a victim?”
“I did. Madame de Saint-Meran had three successive attacks, at intervals of some minutes, each one more
serious than the former. When you arrived, Madame de Saint-Meran had already been panting for breath some minutes; she then had a fit, which I took to be simply a nervous attack, and it was only when I saw her raise herself in the bed, and her limbs and neck appear stiffened, that I became really alarmed. Then I understood
from your countenance there was more to fear than I had thought. This crisis past, I endeavored to catch your eye, but could not. You held her hand — you were feeling her pulse — and the second fit came on before you had turned towards me. This was more terrible than the first; the same nervous movements were repeated, and
the mouth contracted and turned purple.” “And at the third she expired.”
“At the end of the first attack I discovered symptoms of tetanus; you confirmed my opinion.” “Yes, before others,” replied the doctor; “but now we are alone” —
“What are you going to say? Oh, spare me!”
“That the symptoms of tetanus and poisoning by vegetable substances are the same.” M. de Villefort started from his seat, then in a moment fell down again, silent and motionless. Morrel knew not if he were dreaming
or awake. “Listen,” said the doctor; “I know the full importance of the statement I have just made, and the disposition of the man to whom I have made it.”
“Do you speak to me as a magistrate or as a friend?” asked Villefort.
“As a friend, and only as a friend, at this moment. The similarity in the symptoms of tetanus and poisoning by vegetable substances is so great, that were I obliged to affirm by oath what I have now stated, I should
hesitate; I therefore repeat to you, I speak not to a magistrate, but to a friend. And to that friend I say. `During
the three-quarters of an hour that the struggle continued, I watched the convulsions and the death of Madame
de Saint-Meran, and am thoroughly convinced that not only did her death proceed from poison, but I could also specify the poison.'”
“Can it be possible?”
“The symptoms are marked, do you see? — sleep broken by nervous spasms, excitation of the brain, torpor of
the nerve centres. Madame de Saint-Meran succumbed to a powerful dose of brucine or of strychnine, which
by some mistake, perhaps, has been given to her.” Villefort seized the doctor’s hand. “Oh, it is impossible,”
said he, “I must be dreaming! It is frightful to hear such things from such a man as you! Tell me, I entreat you, my dear doctor, that you may be deceived.”
“Doubtless I may, but” — “But?”
“But I do not think so.”
“Have pity on me doctor! So many dreadful things have happened to me lately that I am on the verge of madness.”
“Has any one besides me seen Madame de Saint-Meran?” “No.”
“Has anything been sent for from a chemist’s that I have not examined?”
“Had Madame de Saint-Meran any enemies?” “Not to my knowledge.”
“Would her death affect any one’s interest?”
“It could not indeed, my daughter is her only heiress — Valentine alone. Oh, if such a thought could present itself, I would stab myself to punish my heart for having for one instant harbored it.”
“Indeed, my dear friend,” said M. d’Avrigny, “I would not accuse any one; I speak only of an accident, you understand, — of a mistake, — but whether accident or mistake, the fact is there; it is on my conscience and compels me to speak aloud to you. Make inquiry.”
“Of whom? — how? — of what?”
“May not Barrois, the old servant, have made a mistake, and have given Madame de Saint-Meran a dose prepared for his master?”
“For my father?” “Yes.”
“But how could a dose prepared for M. Noirtier poison Madame de Saint-Meran?”
“Nothing is more simple. You know poisons become remedies in certain diseases, of which paralysis is one.
For instance, having tried every other remedy to restore movement and speech to M. Noirtier, I resolved to try one last means, and for three months I have been giving him brucine; so that in the last dose I ordered for him there were six grains. This quantity, which is perfectly safe to administer to the paralyzed frame of M.
Noirtier, which has become gradually accustomed to it, would be sufficient to kill another person.”
“My dear doctor, there is no communication between M. Noirtier’s apartment and that of Madame de
Saint-Meran, and Barrois never entered my mother-in-law’s room. In short, doctor although I know you to be
the most conscientious man in the world, and although I place the utmost reliance in you, I want, notwithstanding my conviction, to believe this axiom, errare humanum est.”
“Is there one of my brethren in whom you have equal confidence with myself?” “Why do you ask me that? — what do you wish?”
“Send for him; I will tell him what I have seen, and we will consult together, and examine the body.” “And you will find traces of poison?”
“No, I did not say of poison, but we can prove what was the state of the body; we shall discover the cause of
her sudden death, and we shall say, `Dear Villefort, if this thing has been caused by negligence, watch over your servants; if from hatred, watch your enemies.'”
“What do you propose to me, d’Avrigny?” said Villefort in despair; “so soon as another is admitted into our
secret, an inquest will become necessary; and an inquest in my house — impossible! Still,” continued the
procureur, looking at the doctor with uneasiness, “if you wish it — if you demand it, why then it shall be done. But, doctor, you see me already so grieved — how can I introduce into my house so much scandal, after so
much sorrow? My wife and my daughter would die of it! And I, doctor — you know a man does not arrive at
the post I occupy — one has not been king’s attorney twenty-five years without having amassed a tolerable number of enemies; mine are numerous. Let this affair be talked of, it will be a triumph for them, which will make them rejoice, and cover me with shame. Pardon me, doctor, these worldly ideas; were you a priest I
should not dare tell you that, but you are a man, and you know mankind. Doctor, pray recall your words; you have said nothing, have you?”
“My dear M. de Villefort,” replied the doctor, “my first duty is to humanity. I would have saved Madame de Saint-Meran, if science could have done it; but she is dead and my duty regards the living. Let us bury this terrible secret in the deepest recesses of our hearts; I am willing, if any one should suspect this, that my
silence on the subject should be imputed to my ignorance. Meanwhile, sir, watch always — watch carefully,
for perhaps the evil may not stop here. And when you have found the culprit, if you find him, I will say to you, `You are a magistrate, do as you will!'”
“I thank you, doctor,” said Villefort with indescribable joy; “I never had a better friend than you.” And, as if
he feared Doctor d’Avrigny would recall his promise, he hurried him towards the house.
When they were gone, Morrel ventured out from under the trees, and the moon shone upon his face, which
was so pale it might have been taken for that of a ghost. “I am manifestly protected in a most wonderful, but most terrible manner,” said he; “but Valentine, poor girl, how will she bear so much sorrow?”
As he thought thus, he looked alternately at the window with red curtains and the three windows with white curtains. The light had almost disappeared from the former; doubtless Madame de Villefort had just put out
her lamp, and the nightlamp alone reflected its dull light on the window. At the extremity of the building, on
the contrary, he saw one of the three windows open. A wax-light placed on the mantle-piece threw some of its pale rays without, and a shadow was seen for one moment on the balcony. Morrel shuddered; he thought he
heard a sob.
It cannot be wondered at that his mind, generally so courageous, but now disturbed by the two strongest human passions, love and fear, was weakened even to the indulgence of superstitious thoughts. Although it was impossible that Valentine should see him, hidden as he was, he thought he heard the shadow at the
window call him; his disturbed mind told him so. This double error became an irresistible reality, and by one
of the incomprehensible transports of youth, he bounded from his hiding-place, and with two strides, at the risk of being seen, at the risk of alarming Valentine, at the risk of being discovered by some exclamation
which might escape the young girl, he crossed the flower-garden, which by the light of the moon resembled a large white lake, and having passed the rows of orange-trees which extended in front of the house, he reached
the step, ran quickly up and pushed the door, which opened without offering any resistance. Valentine had not seen him. Her eyes, raised towards heaven, were watching a silvery cloud gliding over the azure, its form that
of a shadow mounting towards heaven. Her poetic and excited mind pictured it as the soul of her grandmother.
Meanwhile, Morrel had traversed the anteroom and found the staircase, which, being carpeted, prevented his approach being heard, and he had regained that degree of confidence that the presence of M. de Villefort even would not have alarmed him. He was quite prepared for any such encounter. He would at once approach Valentine’s father and acknowledge all, begging Villefort to pardon and sanction the love which united two
fond and loving hearts. Morrel was mad. Happily he did not meet any one. Now, especially, did he find the description Valentine had given of the interior of the house useful to him; he arrived safely at the top of the staircase, and while he was feeling his way, a sob indicated the direction he was to take. He turned back, a
door partly open enabled him to see his road, and to hear the voice of one in sorrow. He pushed the door open and entered. At the other end of the room, under a white sheet which covered it, lay the corpse, still more
alarming to Morrel since the account he had so unexpectedly overheard. By its side, on her knees, and with
her head buried in the cushion of an easy-chair, was Valentine, trembling and sobbing, her hands extended
above her head, clasped and stiff. She had turned from the window, which remained open, and was praying in accents that would have affected the most unfeeling; her words were rapid, incoherent, unintelligible, for the burning weight of grief almost stopped her utterance. The moon shining through the open blinds made the
lamp appear to burn paler, and cast a sepulchral hue over the whole scene. Morrel could not resist this; he was
not exemplary for piety, he was not easily impressed, but Valentine suffering, weeping, wringing her hands before him, was more than he could bear in silence. He sighed, and whispered a name, and the head bathed in tears and pressed on the velvet cushion of the chair — a head like that of a Magdalen by Correggio — was
raised and turned towards him. Valentine perceived him without betraying the least surprise. A heart overwhelmed with one great grief is insensible to minor emotions. Morrel held out his hand to her. Valentine,
as her only apology for not having met him, pointed to the corpse under the sheet, and began to sob again. Neither dared for some time to speak in that room. They hesitated to break the silence which death seemed to impose; at length Valentine ventured.
“My friend,” said she, “how came you here? Alas, I would say you are welcome, had not death opened the way for you into this house.”
“Valentine,” said Morrel with a trembling voice, “I had waited since half-past eight, and did not see you come;
I became uneasy, leaped the wall, found my way through the garden, when voices conversing about the fatal event” —
“What voices ?” asked Valentine. Morrel shuddered as he thought of the conversation of the doctor and M. de
Villefort, and he thought he could see through the sheet the extended hands, the stiff neck, and the purple lips. “Your servants,” said he, “who were repeating the whole of the sorrowful story; from them I learned it all.”
“But it was risking the failure of our plan to come up here, love.” “Forgive me,” replied Morrel; “I will go away.”
“No,” said Valentine, “you might meet some one; stay.” “But if any one should come here” —
The young girl shook her head. “No one will come,” said she; “do not fear, there is our safeguard,” pointing to
“But what has become of M. d’Epinay?” replied Morrel.
“M. Franz arrived to sign the contract just as my dear grandmother was dying.”
“Alas,” said Morrel with a feeling of selfish joy; for he thought this death would cause the wedding to be postponed indefinitely. “But what redoubles my sorrow,” continued the young girl, as if this feeling was to receive its immediate punishment, “is that the poor old lady, on her death-bed, requested that the marriage might take place as soon as possible; she also, thinking to protect me, was acting against me.”
“Hark!” said Morrel. They both listened; steps were distinctly heard in the corridor and on the stairs.
“It is my father, who has just left his study.”
“To accompany the doctor to the door,” added Morrel.
“How do you know it is the doctor?” asked Valentine, astonished.
“I imagined it must be,” said Morrel. Valentine looked at the young man; they heard the street door close, then
M. de Villefort locked the garden door, and returned up-stairs. He stopped a moment in the anteroom, as if hesitating whether to turn to his own apartment or into Madame de Saint-Meran’s; Morrel concealed himself behind a door; Valentine remained motionless, grief seeming to deprive her of all fear. M. de Villefort passed
on to his own room. “Now,” said Valentine, “you can neither go out by the front door nor by the garden.” Morrel looked at her with astonishment. “There is but one way left you that is safe,” said she; “it is through
my grandfather’s room.” She rose, “Come,” she added. — “Where?” asked Maximilian. “To my grandfather’s room.”
“I in M. Noirtier’s apartment?” “Yes.”
“Can you mean it, Valentine?”
“I have long wished it; he is my only remaining friend and we both need his help, — come.”
“Be careful, Valentine,” said Morrel, hesitating to comply with the young girl’s wishes; “I now see my error —
I acted like a madman in coming in here. Are you sure you are more reasonable?”
“Yes,” said Valentine; “and I have but one scruple, — that of leaving my dear grandmother’s remains, which I
had undertaken to watch.”
“Valentine,” said Morrel, “death is in itself sacred.”
“Yes,” said Valentine; “besides, it will not be for long.” She then crossed the corridor, and led the way down a narrow staircase to M. Noirtier’s room; Morrel followed her on tiptoe; at the door they found the old servant. “Barrois,” said Valentine, “shut the door, and let no one come in.” She passed first. Noirtier, seated in his
chair, and listening to every sound, was watching the door; he saw Valentine, and his eye brightened. There
was something grave and solemn in the approach of the young girl which struck the old man, and immediately
his bright eye began to interrogate. “Dear grandfather.” said she hurriedly, “you know poor grandmamma died
an hour since, and now I have no friend in the world but you.” His expressive eyes evinced the greatest tenderness. “To you alone, then, may I confide my sorrows and my hopes?” The paralytic motioned “Yes.” Valentine took Maximilian’s hand. “Look attentively, then, at this gentleman.” The old man fixed his scrutinizing gaze with slight astonishment on Morrel. “It is M. Maximilian Morrel,” said she; “the son of that good merchant of Marseilles, whom you doubtless recollect.”
“Yes,” said the old man. “He brings an irreproachable name, which Maximilian is likely to render glorious, since at thirty years of age he is a captain, an officer of the Legion of Honor.” The old man signified that he
recollected him. “Well, grandpapa,” said Valentine, kneeling before him, and pointing to Maximilian, “I love him, and will be only his; were I compelled to marry another, I would destroy myself.”
The eyes of the paralytic expressed a multitude of tumultuous thoughts. “You like M. Maximilian Morrel, do you not, grandpapa?” asked Valentine.
“And you will protect us, who are your children, against the will of my father?” — Noirtier cast an intelligent glance at Morrel, as if to say, “perhaps I may.” Maximilian understood him.
“Mademoiselle,” said he, “you have a sacred duty to fulfil in your deceased grandmother’s room, will you
allow me the honor of a few minutes’ conversation with M. Noirtier?”
“That is it,” said the old man’s eye. Then he looked anxiously at Valentine. “Do you fear he will not understand?”
“Oh, we have so often spoken of you, that he knows exactly how I talk to you.” Then turning to Maximilian, with an adorable smile; although shaded by sorrow, — “He knows everything I know,” said she.
Valentine arose, placed a chair for Morrel, requested Barrois not to admit any one, and having tenderly
embraced her grandfather, and sorrowfully taken leave of Morrel, she went away. To prove to Noirtier that he was in Valentine’s confidence and knew all their secrets, Morrel took the dictionary, a pen, and some paper,
and placed them all on a table where there was a light.
“But first,” said Morrel, “allow me, sir, to tell you who I am, how much I love Mademoiselle Valentine, and what are my designs respecting her.” Noirtier made a sign that he would listen.
It was an imposing sight to witness this old man, apparently a mere useless burden, becoming the sole protector, support, and adviser of the lovers who were both young, beautiful, and strong. His remarkably noble and austere expression struck Morrel, who began his story with trembling. He related the manner in which he had become acquainted with Valentine, and how he had loved her, and that Valentine, in her solitude and her misfortune, had accepted the offer of his devotion. He told him his birth, his position, his
fortune, and more than once, when he consulted the look of the paralytic, that look answered, “That is good, proceed.”
“And now,” said Morrel, when he had finished the first part of his recital, “now I have told you of my love and my hopes, may I inform you of my intentions?”
“Yes,” signified the old man.
“This was our resolution; a cabriolet was in waiting at the gate, in which I intended to carry off Valentine to my sister’s house, to marry her, and to wait respectfully M. de Villefort’s pardon.”
“No,” said Noirtier. “We must not do so?” “No.”
“You do not sanction our project?” “No.”
“There is another way,” said Morrel. The old man’s interrogative eye said, “What?”
“I will go,” continued Maximilian, “I will seek M. Franz d’Epinay — I am happy to be able to mention this in Mademoiselle de Villefort’s absence — and will conduct myself toward him so as to compel him to challenge me.” Noirtier’s look continued to interrogate. “You wish to know what I will do?”
“I will find him, as I told you. I will tell him the ties which bind me to Mademoiselle Valentine; if he be a sensible man, he will prove it by renouncing of his own accord the hand of his betrothed, and will secure my friendship, and love until death; if he refuse, either through interest or ridiculous pride, after I have proved to him that he would be forcing my wife from me, that Valentine loves me, and will have no other, I will fight
with him, give him every advantage, and I shall kill him, or he will kill me; if I am victorious, he will not marry Valentine, and if I die, I am very sure Valentine will not marry him.” Noirtier watched, with
indescribable pleasure, this noble and sincere countenance, on which every sentiment his tongue uttered was depicted, adding by the expression of his fine features all that coloring adds to a sound and faithful drawing. Still, when Morrel had finished, he shut his eyes several times, which was his manner of saying “No.”
“No?” said Morrel; “you disapprove of this second project, as you did of the first?”
“I do,” signified the old man.
“But what then must be done?” asked Morrel. “Madame de Saint-Meran’s last request was, that the marriage might not be delayed; must I let things take their course?” Noirtier did not move. “I understand,” said Morrel;
“I am to wait.” “Yes.”
“But delay may ruin our plan, sir,” replied the young man. “Alone, Valentine has no power; she will be compelled to submit. I am here almost miraculously, and can scarcely hope for so good an opportunity to
occur again. Believe me, there are only the two plans I have proposed to you; forgive my vanity, and tell me which you prefer. Do you authorize Mademoiselle Valentine to intrust herself to my honor?”
“Do you prefer I should seek M. d’Epinay?” “No.”
“Whence then will come the help we need — from chance?” resumed Morrel. “No.”
“From you?” “Yes.”
“You thoroughly understand me, sir? Pardon my eagerness, for my life depends on your answer. Will our help come from you?”
“You are sure of it?”
“Yes.” There was so much firmness in the look which gave this answer, no one could, at any rate, doubt his will, if they did his power. “Oh, thank you a thousand times! But how, unless a miracle should restore your speech, your gesture, your movement, how can you, chained to that arm-chair, dumb and motionless, oppose this marriage?” A smile lit up the old man’s face, a strange smile of the eyes in a paralyzed face. “Then I must
wait?” asked the young man.
“But the contract?” The same smile returned. “Will you assure me it shall not be signed?” “Yes,” said Noirtier.
“The contract shall not be signed!” cried Morrel. “Oh, pardon me, sir; I can scarcely realize so great a happiness. Will they not sign it?”
“No,” said the paralytic. Notwithstanding that assurance, Morrel still hesitated. This promise of an impotent
old man was so strange that, instead of being the result of the power of his will, it might emanate from enfeebled organs. Is it not natural that the madman, ignorant of his folly, should attempt things beyond his
power? The weak man talks of burdens he can raise, the timid of giants he can confront, the poor of treasures
he spends, the most humble peasant, in the height of his pride, calls himself Jupiter. Whether Noirtier understood the young man’s indecision, or whether he had not full confidence in his docility, he looked uneasily at him. “What do you wish, sir?” asked Morrel; “that I should renew my promise of remaining
tranquil?” Noirtier’s eye remained fixed and firm, as if to imply that a promise did not suffice; then it passed from his face to his hands.
“Shall I swear to you, sir?” asked Maximilian.
“Yes?” said the paralytic with the same solemnity. Morrel understood that the old man attached great importance to an oath. He extended his hand.
“I swear to you, on my honor,” said he, “to await your decision respecting the course I am to pursue with M. d’Epinay.”
“That is right,” said the old man.
“Now,” said Morrel, “do you wish me to retire?” “Yes.”
“Without seeing Mademoiselle Valentine?” “Yes.”
Morrel made a sign that he was ready to obey. “But,” said he, “first allow me to embrace you as your daughter
did just now.” Noirtier’s expression could not be understood. The young man pressed his lips on the same spot, on the old man’s forehead, where Valentine’s had been. Then he bowed a second time and retired. He
found outside the door the old servant, to whom Valentine had given directions. Morrel was conducted along
a dark passage, which led to a little door opening on the garden, soon found the spot where he had entered, with the assistance of the shrubs gained the top of the wall, and by his ladder was in an instant in the
clover-field where his cabriolet was still waiting for him. He got in it, and thoroughly wearied by so many emotions, arrived about midnight in the Rue Meslay, threw himself on his bed and slept soundly.
The Villefort Family Vault.
Two days after, a considerable crowd was assembled, towards ten o’clock in the morning, around the door of
M. de Villefort’s house, and a long file of mourning-coaches and private carriages extended along the Faubourg Saint-Honore and the Rue de la Pepiniere. Among them was one of a very singular form, which appeared to have come from a distance. It was a kind of covered wagon, painted black, and was one of the
first to arrive. Inquiry was made, and it was ascertained that, by a strange coincidence, this carriage contained
the corpse of the Marquis de Saint-Meran, and that those who had come thinking to attend one funeral would follow two. Their number was great. The Marquis de Saint-Meran, one of the most zealous and faithful dignitaries of Louis XVIII. and King Charles X., had preserved a great number of friends, and these, added to
the personages whom the usages of society gave Villefort a claim on, formed a considerable body.
Due information was given to the authorities, and permission obtained that the two funerals should take place
at the same time. A second hearse, decked with the same funereal pomp, was brought to M. de Villefort’s
door, and the coffin removed into it from the post-wagon. The two bodies were to be interred in the cemetery
of Pere-la-Chaise, where M. de Villefort had long since had a tomb prepared for the reception of his family.
The remains of poor Renee were already deposited there, and now, after ten years of separation, her father and mother were to be reunited with her. The Parisians, always curious, always affected by funereal display,
looked on with religious silence while the splendid procession accompanied to their last abode two of the number of the old aristocracy — the greatest protectors of commerce and sincere devotees to their principles.
In one of the mourning-coaches Beauchamp, Debray, and Chateau-Renaud were talking of the very sudden death of the marchioness. “I saw Madame de Saint-Meran only last year at Marseilles, when I was coming back from Algiers,” said Chateau-Renaud; “she looked like a woman destined to live to be a hundred years old, from her apparent sound health and great activity of mind and body. How old was she?”
“Franz assured me,” replied Albert, “that she was sixty-six years old. But she has not died of old age, but of grief; it appears that since the death of the marquis, which affected her very deeply, she has not completely recovered her reason.”
“But of what disease, then, did she die?” asked Debray.
“It is said to have been a congestion of the brain, or apoplexy, which is the same thing, is it not?” “Nearly.”
“It is difficult to believe that it was apoplexy,” said Beauchamp. “Madame de Saint-Meran, whom I once saw, was short, of slender form, and of a much more nervous than sanguine temperament; grief could hardly
produce apoplexy in such a constitution as that of Madame de Saint-Meran.”
“At any rate,” said Albert, “whatever disease or doctor may have killed her, M. de Villefort, or rather, Mademoiselle Valentine, — or, still rather, our friend Franz, inherits a magnificent fortune, amounting, I believe, to 80,000 livres per annum.”
“And this fortune will be doubled at the death of the old Jacobin, Noirtier.”
“That is a tenacious old grandfather,” said Beauchamp. “Tenacem propositi virum. I think he must have made
an agreement with death to outlive all his heirs, and he appears likely to succeed. He resembles the old Conventionalist of ’93, who said to Napoleon, in 1814, `You bend because your empire is a young stem, weakened by rapid growth. Take the Republic for a tutor; let us return with renewed strength to the
battle-field, and I promise you 500,000 soldiers, another Marengo, and a second Austerlitz. Ideas do not
become extinct, sire; they slumber sometimes, but only revive the stronger before they sleep entirely.’ Ideas
and men appeared the same to him. One thing only puzzles me, namely, how Franz d’Epinay will like a grandfather who cannot be separated from his wife. But where is Franz?”
“In the first carriage, with M. de Villefort, who considers him already as one of the family.”
Such was the conversation in almost all the carriages; these two sudden deaths, so quickly following each
other, astonished every one, but no one suspected the terrible secret which M. d’Avrigny had communicated,
in his nocturnal walk to M. de Villefort. They arrived in about an hour at the cemetery; the weather was mild,
but dull, and in harmony with the funeral ceremony. Among the groups which flocked towards the family
vault, Chateau-Renaud recognized Morrel, who had come alone in a cabriolet, and walked silently along the path bordered with yew-trees. “You here?” said Chateau-Renaud, passing his arms through the young
captain’s; “are you a friend of Villefort’s? How is it that I have never met you at his house?”
“I am no acquaintance of M. de Villefort’s.” answered Morrel, “but I was of Madame de Saint-Meran.” Albert came up to them at this moment with Franz.
“The time and place are but ill-suited for an introduction.” said Albert; “but we are not superstitious. M.
Morrel, allow me to present to you M. Franz d’Epinay, a delightful travelling companion, with whom I made
the tour of Italy. My dear Franz, M. Maximilian Morrel, an excellent friend I have acquired in your absence, and whose name you will hear me mention every time I make any allusion to affection, wit, or amiability.” Morrel hesitated for a moment; he feared it would be hypocritical to accost in a friendly manner the man
whom he was tacitly opposing, but his oath and the gravity of the circumstances recurred to his memory; he struggled to conceal his emotion and bowed to Franz. “Mademoiselle de Villefort is in deep sorrow, is she not?” said Debray to Franz.
“Extremely,” replied he; “she looked so pale this morning, I scarcely knew her.” These apparently simple words pierced Morrel to the heart. This man had seen Valentine, and spoken to her! The young and
high-spirited officer required all his strength of mind to resist breaking his oath. He took the arm of
Chateau-Renaud, and turned towards the vault, where the attendants had already placed the two coffins. “This
is a magnificent habitation,” said Beauchamp, looking towards the mausoleum; “a summer and winter palace. You will, in turn, enter it, my dear d’Epinay, for you will soon be numbered as one of the family. I, as a philosopher, should like a little country-house, a cottage down there under the trees, without so many
free-stones over my poor body. In dying, I will say to those around me what Voltaire wrote to Piron: `Eo rus, and all will be over.’ But come, Franz, take courage, your wife is an heiress.”
“Indeed, Beauchamp, you are unbearable. Politics has made you laugh at everything, and political men have made you disbelieve everything. But when you have the honor of associating with ordinary men, and the pleasure of leaving politics for a moment, try to find your affectionate heart, which you leave with your stick when you go to the Chamber.”
“But tell me,” said Beauchamp, “what is life? Is it not a hall in Death’s anteroom?”
“I am prejudiced against Beauchamp,” said Albert, drawing Franz away, and leaving the former to finish his philosophical dissertation with Debray. The Villefort vault formed a square of white stones, about twenty feet high; an interior partition separated the two families, and each apartment had its entrance door. Here were not,
as in other tombs, ignoble drawers, one above another, where thrift bestows its dead and labels them like specimens in a museum; all that was visible within the bronze gates was a gloomy-looking room, separated by
a wall from the vault itself. The two doors before mentioned were in the middle of this wall, and enclosed the
Villefort and Saint-Meran coffins. There grief might freely expend itself without being disturbed by the trifling loungers who came from a picnic party to visit Pere-la-Chaise, or by lovers who make it their rendezvous.
The two coffins were placed on trestles previously prepared for their reception in the right-hand crypt
belonging to the Saint-Meran family. Villefort, Franz, and a few near relatives alone entered the sanctuary.
As the religious ceremonies had all been performed at the door, and there was no address given, the party all separated; Chateau-Renaud, Albert, and Morrel, went one way, and Debray and Beauchamp the other. Franz remained with M. de Villefort; at the gate of the cemetery Morrel made an excuse to wait; he saw Franz and
M. de Villefort get into the same mourning coach, and thought this meeting forboded evil. He then returned to Paris, and although in the same carriage with Chateau-Renaud and Albert, he did not hear one word of their conversation. As Franz was about to take leave of M. de Villefort, “When shall I see you again?” said the
“At what time you please, sir,” replied Franz. “As soon as possible.”
“I am at your command, sir; shall we return together?” “If not unpleasant to you.”
“On the contrary, I shall feel much pleasure.” Thus, the future father and son-in-law stepped into the same carriage, and Morrel, seeing them pass, became uneasy. Villefort and Franz returned to the Faubourg
Saint-Honore. The procureur, without going to see either his wife or his daughter, went at once to his study, and, offering the young man a chair, — “M. d’Epinay,” said he, “allow me to remind you at this moment, — which is perhaps not so ill-chosen as at first sight may appear, for obedience to the wishes of the departed is
the first offering which should be made at their tomb, — allow me then to remind you of the wish expressed by
Madame de Saint-Meran on her death-bed, that Valentine’s wedding might not be deferred. You know the affairs of the deceased are in perfect order, and her will bequeaths to Valentine the entire property of the Saint-Meran family; the notary showed me the documents yesterday, which will enable us to draw up the
contract immediately. You may call on the notary, M. Deschamps, Place Beauveau, Faubourg Saint-Honore, and you have my authority to inspect those deeds.”
“Sir,” replied M. d’Epinay, “it is not, perhaps, the moment for Mademoiselle Valentine, who is in deep distress, to think of a husband; indeed, I fear” —
“Valentine will have no greater pleasure than that of fulfilling her grandmother’s last injunctions; there will be
no obstacle from that quarter, I assure you.”
“In that case,” replied Franz, “as I shall raise none, you may make arrangements when you please; I have pledged my word, and shall feel pleasure and happiness in adhering to it.”
“Then,” said Villefort, “nothing further is required. The contract was to have been signed three days since; we shall find it all ready, and can sign it to-day.”
“But the mourning?” said Franz, hesitating.
“Don’t be uneasy on that score,” replied Villefort; “no ceremony will be neglected in my house. Mademoiselle
de Villefort may retire during the prescribed three months to her estate of Saint-Meran; I say hers, for she inherits it to-day. There, after a few days, if you like, the civil marriage shall be celebrated without pomp or
ceremony. Madame de Saint-Meran wished her daughter should be married there. When that is over, you, sir, can return to Paris, while your wife passes the time of her mourning with her mother-in-law.”
“As you please, sir,” said Franz.
“Then,” replied M. de Villefort, “have the kindness to wait half an hour; Valentine shall come down into the
drawing-room. I will send for M. Deschamps; we will read and sign the contract before we separate, and this evening Madame de Villefort shall accompany Valentine to her estate, where we will rejoin them in a week.”
“Sir,” said Franz, “I have one request to make.” “What is it?”
“I wish Albert de Morcerf and Raoul de Chateau-Renaud to be present at this signature; you know they are my witnesses.”
“Half an hour will suffice to apprise them; will you go for them yourself, or shall you send?”
“I prefer going, sir.”
“I shall expect you, then, in half an hour, baron, and Valentine will be ready.” Franz bowed and left the room. Scarcely had the door closed, when M. de Villefort sent to tell Valentine to be ready in the drawing-room in
half an hour, as he expected the notary and M. d’Epinay and his witnesses. The news caused a great sensation throughout the house; Madame de Villefort would not believe it, and Valentine was thunderstruck. She looked around for help, and would have gone down to her grandfather’s room, but on the stairs she met M. de
Villefort, who took her arm and led her into the drawing-room. In the anteroom, Valentine met Barrois, and looked despairingly at the old servant. A moment later, Madame de Villefort entered the drawing-room with
her little Edward. It was evident that she had shared the grief of the family, for she was pale and looked fatigued. She sat down, took Edward on her knees, and from time to time pressed this child, on whom her affections appeared centred, almost convulsively to her bosom. Two carriages were soon heard to enter the court yard. One was the notary’s; the other, that of Franz and his friends. In a moment the whole party was assembled. Valentine was so pale one might trace the blue veins from her temples, round her eyes and down
her cheeks. Franz was deeply affected. Chateau-Renaud and Albert looked at each other with amazement; the ceremony which was just concluded had not appeared more sorrowful than did that which was about to begin. Madame de Villefort had placed herself in the shadow behind a velvet curtain, and as she constantly bent over
her child, it was difficult to read the expression of her face. M. de Villefort was, as usual, unmoved.
The notary, after having according to the customary method arranged the papers on the table, taken his place
in an armchair, and raised his spectacles, turned towards Franz:
“Are you M. Franz de Quesnel, baron d’Epinay?” asked he, although he knew it perfectly.
“Yes, sir,” replied Franz. The notary bowed. “I have, then, to inform you, sir, at the request of M. de Villefort, that your projected marriage with Mademoiselle de Villefort has changed the feeling of M. Noirtier towards
his grandchild, and that he disinherits her entirely of the fortune he would have left her. Let me hasten to add,”
continued he, “that the testator, having only the right to alienate a part of his fortune, and having alienated it all, the will will not bear scrutiny, and is declared null and void.”
“Yes.” said Villefort; “but I warn M. d’Epinay, that during my life-time my father’s will shall never be questioned, my position forbidding any doubt to be entertained.”
“Sir,” said Franz, “I regret much that such a question has been raised in the presence of Mademoiselle
Valentine; I have never inquired the amount of her fortune, which, however limited it may be, exceeds mine. My family has sought consideration in this alliance with M. de Villefort; all I seek is happiness.” Valentine imperceptibly thanked him, while two silent tears rolled down her cheeks. “Besides, sir,” said Villefort, addressing himself to his future son-in-law, “excepting the loss of a portion of your hopes, this unexpected
will need not personally wound you; M. Noirtier’s weakness of mind sufficiently explains it. It is not because
Mademoiselle Valentine is going to marry you that he is angry, but because she will marry, a union with any
other would have caused him the same sorrow. Old age is selfish, sir, and Mademoiselle de Villefort has been
a faithful companion to M. Noirtier, which she cannot be when she becomes the Baroness d’Epinay. My
father’s melancholy state prevents our speaking to him on any subjects, which the weakness of his mind would incapacitate him from understanding, and I am perfectly convinced that at the present time, although, he
knows that his granddaughter is going to be married, M. Noirtier has even forgotten the name of his intended grandson.” M. de Villefort had scarcely said this, when the door opened, and Barrois appeared.
“Gentlemen,” said he, in a tone strangely firm for a servant speaking to his masters under such solemn circumstances, — “gentlemen, M. Noirtier de Villefort wishes to speak immediately to M. Franz de Quesnel, baron d’Epinay;” he, as well as the notary, that there might be no mistake in the person, gave all his titles to
the bride-groom elect.
Villefort started, Madame de Villefort let her son slip from her knees, Valentine rose, pale and dumb as a statue. Albert and Chateau-Renaud exchanged a second look, more full of amazement than the first. The
notary looked at Villefort. “It is impossible,” said the procureur. “M. d’Epinay cannot leave the drawing-room
“It is at this moment,” replied Barrois with the same firmness, “that M. Noirtier, my master, wishes to speak
on important subjects to M. Franz d’Epinay.”
“Grandpapa Noirtier can speak now, then,” said Edward, with his habitual quickness. However, his remark did
not make Madame de Villefort even smile, so much was every mind engaged, and so solemn was the
situation. Astonishment was at its height. Something like a smile was perceptible on Madame de Villefort’s countenance. Valentine instinctively raised her eyes, as if to thank heaven.
“Pray go, Valentine,” said; M. de Villefort, “and see what this new fancy of your grandfather’s is.” Valentine rose quickly, and was hastening joyfully towards the door, when M. de Villefort altered his intention.
“Stop,” said he; “I will go with you.”
“Excuse me, sir,” said Franz, “since M. Noirtier sent for me, I am ready to attend to his wish; besides, I shall
be happy to pay my respects to him, not having yet had the honor of doing so.” “Pray, sir,” said Villefort with marked uneasiness, “do not disturb yourself.”
“Forgive me, sir,” said Franz in a resolute tone. “I would not lose this opportunity of proving to M. Noirtier how wrong it would be of him to encourage feelings of dislike to me, which I am determined to conquer,
whatever they may be, by my devotion.” And without listening to Villefort he arose, and followed Valentine, who was running down-stairs with the joy of a shipwrecked mariner who finds a rock to cling to. M. de
Villefort followed them. Chateau-Renaud and Morcerf exchanged a third look of still increasing wonder.
A Signed Statement.
Noirtier was prepared to receive them, dressed in black, and installed in his arm-chair. When the three persons
he expected had entered, he looked at the door, which his valet immediately closed.
“Listen,” whispered Villefort to Valentine, who could not conceal her joy; “if M. Noirtier wishes to
communicate anything which would delay your marriage, I forbid you to understand him.” Valentine blushed,
but did not answer. Villefort, approaching Noirtier — “Here is M. Franz d’Epinay,” said he; “you requested to
see him. We have all wished for this interview, and I trust it will convince you how ill-formed are your objections to Valentine’s marriage.”
Noirtier answered only by a look which made Villefort’s blood run cold. He motioned to Valentine to
approach. In a moment, thanks to her habit of conversing with her grandfather, she understood that he asked
for a key. Then his eye was fixed on the drawer of a small chest between the windows. She opened the
drawer, and found a key; and, understanding that was what he wanted, again watched his eyes, which turned toward an old secretary which had been neglected for many years and was supposed to contain nothing but useless documents. “Shall I open the secretary?” asked Valentine.
“Yes,” said the old man. “And the drawers?” “Yes.”
“Those at the side?” “No.”
“The middle one?”
“Yes.” Valentine opened it and drew out a bundle of papers. “Is that what you wish for?” asked she. “No.”
She took successively all the other papers out till the drawer was empty. “But there are no more,” said she. Noirtier’s eye was fixed on the dictionary. “Yes, I understand, grandfather,” said the young girl.
“He pointed to each letter of the alphabet. At the letter S the old man stopped her. She opened, and found the word “secret.”
“Ah, is there a secret spring?” said Valentine. “Yes,” said Noirtier.
“And who knows it?” Noirtier looked at the door where the servant had gone out. “Barrois?” said she. “Yes.”
“Shall I call him?”
Valentine went to the door, and called Barrois. Villefort’s impatience during this scene made the perspiration roll from his forehead, and Franz was stupefied. The old servant came. “Barrois,” said Valentine, “my
grandfather has told me to open that drawer in the secretary, but there is a secret spring in it, which you know
— will you open it?”
Barrois looked at the old man. “Obey,” said Noirtier’s intelligent eye. Barrois touched a spring, the false bottom came out, and they saw a bundle of papers tied with a black string.
“Is that what you wish for?” said Barrois. “Yes.”
“Shall I give these papers to M. de Villefort?” “No.”
“To Mademoiselle Valentine?” “No.”
“To M. Franz d’Epinay?” “Yes.”
Franz, astonished, advanced a step. “To me, sir?” said he.
“Yes.” Franz took them from Barrois and casting a glance at the cover, read: —
“`To be given, after my death, to General Durand, who shall bequeath the packet to his son, with an injunction
to preserve it as containing an important document.’
“Well, sir,” asked Franz, “what do you wish me to do with this paper?” “To preserve it, sealed up as it is, doubtless,” said the procureur.
“No,” replied Noirtier eagerly.
“Do you wish him to read it?” said Valentine.
“Yes,” replied the old man. “You understand, baron, my grandfather wishes you to read this paper,” said
“Then let us sit down,” said Villefort impatiently, “for it will take some time.”
“Sit down,” said the old man. Villefort took a chair, but Valentine remained standing by her father’s side, and
Franz before him, holding the mysterious paper in his hand. “Read,” said the old man. Franz untied it, and in the midst of the most profound silence read:
“`Extract from the Report of a meeting of the Bonapartist Club in the Rue Saint-Jacques, held February 5th,
Franz stopped. “February 5th, 1815!” said he; “it is the day my father was murdered.” Valentine and Villefort
were dumb; the eye of the old man alone seemed to say clearly, “Go on.”
“But it was on leaving this club,” said he, “my father disappeared.” Noirtier’s eye continued to say, “Read.” He resumed: —
“`The undersigned Louis Jacques Beaurepaire, lieutenant-colonel of artillery, Etienne Duchampy, general of brigade, and Claude Lecharpal, keeper of woods and forests, Declare, that on the 4th of February, a letter arrived from the Island of Elba, recommending to the kindness and the confidence of the Bonapartist Club, General Flavien de Quesnel, who having served the emperor from 1804 to 1814 was supposed to be devoted
to the interests of the Napoleon dynasty, notwithstanding the title of baron which Louis XVIII. had just granted to him with his estate of Epinay.
“`A note was in consequence addressed to General de Quesnel, begging him to be present at the meeting next day, the 5th. The note indicated neither the street nor the number of the house where the meeting was to be
held; it bore no signature, but it announced to the general that some one would call for him if he would be ready at nine o’clock. The meetings were always held from that time till midnight. At nine o’clock the president of the club presented himself; the general was ready, the president informed him that one of the conditions of his introduction was that he should be eternally ignorant of the place of meeting, and that he
would allow his eyes to be bandaged, swearing that he would not endeavor to take off the bandage. General de Quesnel accepted the condition, and promised on his honor not to seek to discover the road they took. The general’s carriage was ready, but the president told him it was impossible for him to use it, since it was useless
to blindfold the master if the coachman knew through what streets he went. “What must be done then?” asked
the general. — “I have my carriage here,” said the president.
“`”Have you, then, so much confidence in your servant that you can intrust him with a secret you will not allow me to know?”
“`”Our coachman is a member of the club,” said the president; “we shall be driven by a State-Councillor.” “`”Then we run another risk,” said the general, laughing, “that of being upset.” We insert this joke to prove
that the general was not in the least compelled to attend the meeting, but that he came willingly. When they
were seated in the carriage the president reminded the general of his promise to allow his eyes to be bandaged,
to which he made no opposition. On the road the president thought he saw the general make an attempt to
remove the handkerchief, and reminded him of his oath. “Sure enough,” said the general. The carriage stopped
at an alley leading out of the Rue Saint-Jacques. The general alighted, leaning on the arm of the president, of whose dignity he was not aware, considering him simply as a member of the club; they went through the
alley, mounted a flight of stairs, and entered the assembly-room.
“`”The deliberations had already begun. The members, apprised of the sort of presentation which was to be
made that evening, were all in attendance. When in the middle of the room the general was invited to remove
his bandage, he did so immediately, and was surprised to see so many well-known faces in a society of whose existence he had till then been ignorant. They questioned him as to his sentiments, but he contented himself
with answering, that the letters from the Island of Elba ought to have informed them'” —
Franz interrupted himself by saying, “My father was a royalist; they need not have asked his sentiments, which were well known.”
“And hence,” said Villefort, “arose my affection for your father, my dear M. Franz. Opinions held in common
are a ready bond of union.”
“Read again,” said the old man. Franz continued: —
“`The president then sought to make him speak more explicitly, but M. de Quesnel replied that he wished first
to know what they wanted with him. He was then informed of the contents of the letter from the Island of
Elba, in which he was recommended to the club as a man who would be likely to advance the interests of their party. One paragraph spoke of the return of Bonaparte and promised another letter and further details, on the arrival of the Pharaon belonging to the shipbuilder Morrel, of Marseilles, whose captain was entirely devoted
to the emperor. During all this time, the general, on whom they thought to have relied as on a brother, manifested evidently signs of discontent and repugnance. When the reading was finished, he remained silent, with knitted brows.
“`”Well,” asked the president, “what do you say to this letter, general?”
“`”I say that it is too soon after declaring myself for Louis XVIII. to break my vow in behalf of the
ex-emperor.” This answer was too clear to permit of any mistake as to his sentiments. “General,” said the president, “we acknowledge no King Louis XVIII., or an ex-emperor, but his majesty the emperor and king, driven from France, which is his kingdom, by violence and treason.”
“`”Excuse me, gentlemen,” said the general; “you may not acknowledge Louis XVIII., but I do, as he has made me a baron and a field-marshal, and I shall never forget that for these two titles I am indebted to his happy return to France.”
“`”Sir,” said the president, rising with gravity, “be careful what you say; your words clearly show us that they
are deceived concerning you in the Island of Elba, and have deceived us! The communication has been made
to you in consequence of the confidence placed in you, and which does you honor. Now we discover our
error; a title and promotion attach you to the government we wish to overturn. We will not constrain you to
help us; we enroll no one against his conscience, but we will compel you to act generously, even if you are not disposed to do so.”
“`”You would call acting generously, knowing your conspiracy and not informing against you, that is what I
should call becoming your accomplice. You see I am more candid than you.”‘”
“Ah, my father!” said Franz, interrupting himself. “I understand now why they murdered him.” Valentine
could not help casting one glance towards the young man, whose filial enthusiasm it was delightful to behold. Villefort walked to and fro behind them. Noirtier watched the expression of each one, and preserved his
dignified and commanding attitude. Franz returned to the manuscript, and continued: —
“`”Sir,” said the president, “you have been invited to join this assembly — you were not forced here; it was proposed to you to come blindfolded — you accepted. When you complied with this twofold request you well knew we did not wish to secure the throne of Louis XVIII., or we should not take so much care to avoid the vigilance of the police. It would be conceding too much to allow you to put on a mask to aid you in the
discovery of our secret, and then to remove it that you may ruin those who have confided in you. No, no, you must first say if you declare yourself for the king of a day who now reigns, or for his majesty the emperor.”
“`”I am a royalist,” replied the general; “I have taken the oath of allegiance to Louis XVIII., and I will adhere
to it.” These words were followed by a general murmur, and it was evident that several of the members were discussing the propriety of making the general repent of his rashness.
“`The president again arose, and having imposed silence, said, — “Sir, you are too serious and too sensible a man not to understand the consequences of our present situation, and your candor has already dictated to us
the conditions which remain for us to offer you.” The general, putting his hand on his sword, exclaimed, — “If you talk of honor, do not begin by disavowing its laws, and impose nothing by violence.”
“`”And you, sir,” continued the president, with a calmness still more terrible than the general’s anger, “I advise
you not to touch your sword.” The general looked around him with slight uneasiness; however he did not
yield, but calling up all his fortitude, said, — “I will not swear.”
“`”Then you must die,” replied the president calmly. M. d’Epinay became very pale; he looked round him a second time, several members of the club were whispering, and getting their arms from under their cloaks. “General,” said the president, “do not alarm yourself; you are among men of honor who will use every means
to convince you before resorting to the last extremity, but as you have said, you are among conspirators, you
are in possession of our secret, and you must restore it to us.” A significant silence followed these words, and
as the general did not reply, — “Close the doors,” said the president to the door-keeper.
“`The same deadly silence succeeded these words. Then the general advanced, and making a violent effort to control his feelings, — “I have a son,” said he, “and I ought to think of him, finding myself among assassins.”
“`”General,” said the chief of the assembly, “one man may insult fifty — it is the privilege of weakness. But he does wrong to use his privilege. Follow my advice, swear, and do not insult.” The general, again daunted by
the superiority of the chief, hesitated a moment; then advancing to the president’s desk, — “What is the form, said he.
“`”It is this: — `I swear by my honor not to reveal to any one what I have seen and heard on the 5th of
February, 1815, between nine and ten o’clock in the evening; and I plead guilty of death should I ever violate this oath.'” The general appeared to be affected by a nervous tremor, which prevented his answering for some moments; then, overcoming his manifest repugnance, he pronounced the required oath, but in so low a tone as
to be scarcely audible to the majority of the members, who insisted on his repeating it clearly and distinctly, which he did.
“`”Now am I at liberty to retire?” said the general. The president rose, appointed three members to accompany him, and got into the carriage with the general after bandaging his eyes. One of those three members was the coachman who had driven them there. The other members silently dispersed. “Where do you wish to be
taken?” asked the president. — “Anywhere out of your presence,” replied M. d’Epinay. “Beware, sir,” replied
the president, “you are no longer in the assembly, and have only to do with individuals; do not insult them unless you wish to be held responsible.” But instead of listening, M. d’Epinay went on, — “You are still as
brave in your carriage as in your assembly because you are still four against one.” The president stopped the coach. They were at that part of the Quai des Ormes where the steps lead down to the river. “Why do you stop here?” asked d’Epinay.
“`”Because, sir,” said the president, “you have insulted a man, and that man will not go one step farther without demanding honorable reparation.”
“`”Another method of assassination?” said the general, shrugging his shoulders.
“`”Make no noise, sir, unless you wish me to consider you as one of the men of whom you spoke just now as cowards, who take their weakness for a shield. You are alone, one alone shall answer you; you have a sword
by your side, I have one in my cane; you have no witness, one of these gentlemen will serve you. Now, if you please, remove your bandage.” The general tore the handkerchief from his eyes. “At last,” said he, “I shall
know with whom I have to do.” They opened the door and the four men alighted.'”
Franz again interrupted himself, and wiped the cold drops from his brow; there was something awful in hearing the son read aloud in trembling pallor these details of his father’s death, which had hitherto been a mystery. Valentine clasped her hands as if in prayer. Noirtier looked at Villefort with an almost sublime expression of contempt and pride. Franz continued: —
“`It was, as we said, the fifth of February. For three days the mercury had been five or six degrees below
freezing and the steps were covered with ice. The general was stout and tall, the president offered him the side
of the railing to assist him in getting down. The two witnesses followed. It was a dark night. The ground from
the steps to the river was covered with snow and hoarfrost, the water of the river looked black and deep. One
of the seconds went for a lantern in a coal-barge near, and by its light they examined the weapons. The president’s sword, which was simply, as he had said, one he carried in his cane, was five inches shorter than
the general’s, and had no guard. The general proposed to cast lots for the swords, but the president said it was
he who had given the provocation, and when he had given it he had supposed each would use his own arms. The witnesses endeavored to insist, but the president bade them be silent. The lantern was placed on the
ground, the two adversaries took their stations, and the duel began. The light made the two swords appear like flashes of lightning; as for the men, they were scarcely perceptible, the darkness was so great.
“`General d’Epinay passed for one of the best swordsmen in the army, but he was pressed so closely in the
onset that he missed his aim and fell. The witnesses thought he was dead, but his adversary, who knew he had
not struck him, offered him the assistance of his hand to rise. The circumstance irritated instead of calming the general, and he rushed on his adversary. But his opponent did not allow his guard to be broken. He received
him on his sword and three times the general drew back on finding himself too closely engaged, and then returned to the charge. At the third he fell again. They thought he slipped, as at first, and the witnesses, seeing
he did not move, approached and endeavored to raise him, but the one who passed his arm around the body found it was moistened with blood. The general, who had almost fainted, revived. “Ah,” said he, “they have sent some fencing-master to fight with me.” The president, without answering, approached the witness who
held the lantern, and raising his sleeve, showed him two wounds he had received in his arm; then opening his coat, and unbuttoning his waistcoat, displayed his side, pierced with a third wound. Still he had not even
uttered a sigh. General d’Epinay died five minutes after.'”
Franz read these last words in a voice so choked that they were hardly audible, and then stopped, passing his hand over his eyes as if to dispel a cloud; but after a moment’s silence, he continued: —
“`The president went up the steps, after pushing his sword into his cane; a track of blood on the snow marked
his course. He had scarcely arrived at the top when he heard a heavy splash in the water — it was the general’s body, which the witnesses had just thrown into the river after ascertaining that he was dead. The general fell, then, in a loyal duel, and not in ambush as it might have been reported. In proof of this we have signed this
paper to establish the truth of the facts, lest the moment should arrive when either of the actors in this terrible scene should be accused of premeditated murder or of infringement of the laws of honor.
“`Signed, Beaurepaire, Deschamps, and Lecharpal.'”
When Franz had finished reading this account, so dreadful for a son; when Valentine, pale with emotion, had wiped away a tear; when Villefort, trembling, and crouched in a corner, had endeavored to lessen the storm by supplicating glances at the implacable old man, — “Sir,” said d’Epinay to Noirtier, “since you are well
acquainted with all these details, which are attested by honorable signatures, — since you appear to take some interest in me, although you have only manifested it hitherto by causing me sorrow, refuse me not one final satisfaction — tell me the name of the president of the club, that I may at least know who killed my father.” Villefort mechanically felt for the handle of the door; Valentine, who understood sooner than anyone her grandfather’s answer, and who had often seen two scars upon his right arm, drew back a few steps. “Mademoiselle,” said Franz, turning towards Valentine, “unite your efforts with mine to find out the name of
the man who made me an orphan at two years of age.” Valentine remained dumb and motionless.
“Hold, sir,” said Villefort, “do not prolong this dreadful scene. The names have been purposely concealed; my father himself does not know who this president was, and if he knows, he cannot tell you; proper names are
not in the dictionary.”
“Oh, misery,” cried Franz: “the only hope which sustained me and enabled me to read to the end was that of
knowing, at least, the name of him who killed my father! Sir, sir,” cried he, turning to Noirtier, “do what you
can — make me understand in some way!” “Yes,” replied Noirtier.
“Oh, mademoiselle, — mademoiselle!” cried Franz, “your grandfather says he can indicate the person. Help
me, — lend me your assistance!” Noirtier looked at the dictionary. Franz took it with a nervous trembling, and repeated the letters of the alphabet successively, until he came to M. At that letter the old man signified “Yes.”
“M,” repeated Franz. The young man’s finger, glided over the words, but at each one Noirtier answered by a negative sign. Valentine hid her head between her hands. At length, Franz arrived at the word MYSELF.
“You?” cried Franz, whose hair stood on end; “you, M. Noirtier — you killed my father?”
“Yes!” replied Noirtier, fixing a majestic look on the young man. Franz fell powerless on a chair; Villefort opened the door and escaped, for the idea had entered his mind to stifle the little remaining life in the heart of this terrible old man.
Progress of Cavalcanti the Younger.
Meanwhile M. Cavalcanti the elder had returned to his service, not in the army of his majesty the Emperor of
Austria, but at the gaming-table of the baths of Lucca, of which he was one of the most assiduous courtiers.
He had spent every farthing that had been allowed for his journey as a reward for the majestic and solemn manner in which he had maintained his assumed character of father. M. Andrea at his departure inherited all
the papers which proved that he had indeed the honor of being the son of the Marquis Bartolomeo and the
Marchioness Oliva Corsinari. He was now fairly launched in that Parisian society which gives such ready
access to foreigners, and treats them, not as they really are, but as they wish to be considered. Besides, what is required of a young man in Paris? To speak its language tolerably, to make a good appearance, to be a good gamester, and to pay in cash. They are certainly less particular with a foreigner than with a Frenchman.
Andrea had, then, in a fortnight, attained a very fair position. He was called count, he was said to possess
50,000 livres per annum; and his father’s immense riches, buried in the quarries of Saravezza, were a constant theme. A learned man, before whom the last circumstance was mentioned as a fact, declared he had seen the quarries in question, which gave great weight to assertions hitherto somewhat doubtful, but which now
assumed the garb of reality.
Such was the state of society in Paris at the period we bring before our readers, when Monte Cristo went one evening to pay M. Danglars a visit. M. Danglars was out, but the count was asked to go and see the baroness, and he accepted the invitation. It was never without a nervous shudder, since the dinner at Auteuil, and the events which followed it, that Madame Danglars heard Monte Cristo’s name announced. If he did not come,
the painful sensation became most intense; if, on the contrary, he appeared, his noble countenance, his brilliant eyes, his amiability, his polite attention even towards Madame Danglars, soon dispelled every
impression of fear. It appeared impossible to the baroness that a man of such delightfully pleasing manners should entertain evil designs against her; besides, the most corrupt minds only suspect evil when it would answer some interested end — useless injury is repugnant to every mind. When Monte Cristo entered the boudoir, — to which we have already once introduced our readers, and where the baroness was examining some drawings, which her daughter passed to her after having looked at them with M. Cavalcanti, — his
presence soon produced its usual effect, and it was with smiles that the baroness received the count, although
she had been a little disconcerted at the announcement of his name. The latter took in the whole scene at a glance.
The baroness was partially reclining on a sofa, Eugenie sat near her, and Cavalcanti was standing. Cavalcanti, dressed in black, like one of Goethe’s heroes, with varnished shoes and white silk open-worked stockings,
passed a white and tolerably nice-looking hand through his light hair, and so displayed a sparkling diamond, that in spite of Monte Cristo’s advice the vain young man had been unable to resist putting on his little finger. This movement was accompanied by killing glances at Mademoiselle Danglars, and by sighs launched in the
same direction. Mademoiselle Danglars was still the same — cold, beautiful, and satirical. Not one of these glances, nor one sigh, was lost on her; they might have been said to fall on the shield of Minerva, which some philosophers assert protected sometimes the breast of Sappho. Eugenie bowed coldly to the count, and availed herself of the first moment when the conversation became earnest to escape to her study, whence very soon
two cheerful and noisy voices being heard in connection with occasional notes of the piano assured Monte Cristo that Mademoiselle Danglars preferred to his society and to that of M. Cavalcanti the company of Mademoiselle Louise d’Armilly, her singing teacher.
It was then, especially while conversing with Madame Danglars, and apparently absorbed by the charm of the conversation, that the count noticed M. Andrea Cavalcanti’s solicitude, his manner of listening to the music at
the door he dared not pass, and of manifesting his admiration. The banker soon returned. His first look was certainly directed towards Monte Cristo, but the second was for Andrea. As for his wife, he bowed to her, as some husbands do to their wives, but in a way that bachelors will never comprehend, until a very extensive
code is published on conjugal life.
“Have not the ladies invited you to join them at the piano?” said Danglars to Andrea. “Alas, no, sir,” replied Andrea with a sigh, still more remarkable than the former ones. Danglars immediately advanced towards the door and opened it.
The two young ladies were seen seated on the same chair, at the piano, accompanying themselves, each with one hand, a fancy to which they had accustomed themselves, and performed admirably. Mademoiselle d’Armilly, whom they then perceived through the open doorway, formed with Eugenie one of the tableaux vivants of which the Germans are so fond. She was somewhat beautiful, and exquisitely formed — a little
fairy-like figure, with large curls falling on her neck, which was rather too long, as Perugino sometimes makes
his Virgins, and her eyes dull from fatigue. She was said to have a weak chest, and like Antonia in the “Cremona Violin,” she would die one day while singing. Monte Cristo cast one rapid and curious glance round this sanctum; it was the first time he had ever seen Mademoiselle d’Armilly, of whom he had heard
much. “Well,” said the banker to his daughter, “are we then all to be excluded?” He then led the young man
into the study, and either by chance or manoeuvre the door was partially closed after Andrea, so that from the place where they sat neither the Count nor the baroness could see anything; but as the banker had
accompanied Andrea, Madame Danglars appeared to take no notice of it.
The count soon heard Andrea’s voice, singing a Corsican song, accompanied by the piano. While the count smiled at hearing this song, which made him lose sight of Andrea in the recollection of Benedetto, Madame Danglars was boasting to Monte Cristo of her husband’s strength of mind, who that very morning had lost
three or four hundred thousand francs by a failure at Milan. The praise was well deserved, for had not the count heard it from the baroness, or by one of those means by which he knew everything, the baron’s countenance would not have led him to suspect it. “Hem,” thought Monte Cristo, “he begins to conceal his losses; a month since he boasted of them.” Then aloud, — “Oh, madame, M. Danglars is so skilful, he will soon regain at the Bourse what he loses elsewhere.”
“I see that you participate in a prevalent error,” said Madame Danglars. “What is it?” said Monte Cristo. “That M. Danglars speculates, whereas he never does.”
“Truly, madame, I recollect M. Debray told me — apropos, what is become of him? I have seen nothing of him
the last three or four days.”
“Nor I,” said Madame Danglars; “but you began a sentence, sir, and did not finish.” “Which?”
“M. Debray had told you” —
“Ah, yes; he told me it was you who sacrificed to the demon of speculation.”
“I was once very fond of it, but I do not indulge now.”
“Then you are wrong, madame. Fortune is precarious; and if I were a woman and fate had made me a banker’s wife, whatever might be my confidence in my husband’s good fortune, still in speculation you know there is
great risk. Well, I would secure for myself a fortune independent of him, even if I acquired it by placing my interests in hands unknown to him.” Madame Danglars blushed, in spite of all her efforts. “Stay,” said Monte Cristo, as though he had not observed her confusion, “I have heard of a lucky hit that was made yesterday on
the Neapolitan bonds.”
“I have none — nor have I ever possessed any; but really we have talked long enough of money, count, we are
like two stockbrokers; have you heard how fate is persecuting the poor Villeforts?” “What has happened?” said the count, simulating total ignorance.
“You know the Marquis of Saint-Meran died a few days after he had set out on his journey to Paris, and the marchioness a few days after her arrival?”
“Yes,” said Monte Cristo, “I have heard that; but, as Claudius said to Hamlet, `it is a law of nature; their fathers died before them, and they mourned their loss; they will die before their children, who will, in their turn, grieve for them.'”
“But that is not all.” “Not all!”
“No; they were going to marry their daughter” — “To M. Franz d’Epinay. Is it broken off?”
“Yesterday morning, it appears, Franz declined the honor.” “Indeed? And is the reason known?”
“How extraordinary! And how does M. de Villefort bear it?”
“As usual. Like a philosopher.” Danglars returned at this moment alone. “Well,” said the baroness, “do you leave M. Cavalcanti with your daughter?”
“And Mademoiselle d’Armilly,” said the banker; “do you consider her no one?” Then, turning to Monte
Cristo, he said, “Prince Cavalcanti is a charming young man, is he not? But is he really a prince?”
“I will not answer for it,” said Monte Cristo. “His father was introduced to me as a marquis, so he ought to be
a count; but I do not think he has much claim to that title.”
“Why?” said the banker. “If he is a prince, he is wrong not to maintain his rank; I do not like any one to deny
“Oh, you are a thorough democrat,” said Monte Cristo, smiling.
“But do you see to what you are exposing yourself?” said the baroness. “If, perchance, M. de Morcerf came,
he would find M. Cavalcanti in that room, where he, the betrothed of Eugenie, has never been admitted.”
“You may well say, perchance,” replied the banker; “for he comes so seldom, it would seem only chance that brings him.”
“But should he come and find that young man with your daughter, he might be displeased.”
“He? You are mistaken. M. Albert would not do us the honor to be jealous; he does not like Eugenie sufficiently. Besides, I care not for his displeasure.”
“Still, situated as we are” —
“Yes, do you know how we are situated? At his mother’s ball he danced once with Eugenie, and M. Cavalcanti three times, and he took no notice of it.” The valet announced the Vicomte Albert de Morcerf. The baroness
rose hastily, and was going into the study, when Danglars stopped her. “Let her alone,” said he. She looked at him in amazement. Monte Cristo appeared to be unconscious of what passed. Albert entered, looking very handsome and in high spirits. He bowed politely to the baroness, familiarly to Danglars, and affectionately to Monte Cristo. Then turning to the baroness: “May I ask how Mademoiselle Danglars is?” said he.
“She is quite well,” replied Danglars quickly; “she is at the piano with M. Cavalcanti.” Albert retained his
calm and indifferent manner; he might feel perhaps annoyed, but he knew Monte Cristo’s eye was on him. “M. Cavalcanti has a fine tenor voice,” said he, “and Mademoiselle Eugenie a splendid soprano, and then she plays
the piano like Thalberg. The concert must be a delightful one.”
“They suit each other remarkably well,” said Danglars. Albert appeared not to notice this remark, which was, however, so rude that Madame Danglars blushed.
“I, too,” said the young man, “am a musician — at least, my masters used to tell me so; but it is strange that my voice never would suit any other, and a soprano less than any.” Danglars smiled, and seemed to say, “It is of
no consequence.” Then, hoping doubtless to effect his purpose, he said, — “The prince and my daughter were universally admired yesterday. You were not of the party, M. de Morcerf?”
“What prince?” asked Albert. “Prince Cavalcanti,” said Danglars, who persisted in giving the young man that title.
“Pardon me,” said Albert, “I was not aware that he was a prince. And Prince Cavalcanti sang with
Mademoiselle Eugenie yesterday? It must have been charming, indeed. I regret not having heard them. But I
was unable to accept your invitation, having promised to accompany my mother to a German concert given by
the Baroness of Chateau-Renaud.” This was followed by rather an awkward silence. “May I also be allowed,”
said Morcerf, “to pay my respects to Mademoiselle Danglars?” “Wait a moment,” said the banker, stopping
the young man; “do you hear that delightful cavatina? Ta, ta, ta, ti, ta, ti, ta, ta; it is charming, let them finish — one moment. Bravo, bravi, brava!” The banker was enthusiastic in his applause.
“Indeed,” said Albert, “it is exquisite; it is impossible to understand the music of his country better than Prince Cavalcanti does. You said prince, did you not? But he can easily become one, if he is not already; it is no uncommon thing in Italy. But to return to the charming musicians — you should give us a treat, Danglars,
without telling them there is a stranger. Ask them to sing one more song; it is so delightful to hear music in the distance, when the musicians are unrestrained by observation.”
Danglars was quite annoyed by the young man’s indifference. He took Monte Cristo aside. “What do you think of our lover?” said he.
“He appears cool. But, then your word is given.”
“Yes, doubtless I have promised to give my daughter to a man who loves her, but not to one who does not. See him there, cold as marble and proud like his father. If he were rich, if he had Cavalcanti’s fortune, that might be pardoned. Ma foi, I haven’t consulted my daughter; but if she has good taste” —
“Oh,” said Monte Cristo, “my fondness may blind me, but I assure you I consider Morcerf a charming young man who will render your daughter happy and will sooner or later attain a certain amount of distinction, and
his father’s position is good.”
“Hem,” said Danglars.
“Why do you doubt?”
“The past — that obscurity on the past.” “But that does not affect the son.”
“Now, I beg of you, don’t go off your head. It’s a month now that you have been thinking of this marriage, and you must see that it throws some responsibility on me, for it was at my house you met this young Cavalcanti, whom I do not really know at all.”
“But I do.”
“Have you made inquiry?”
“Is there any need of that! Does not his appearance speak for him? And he is very rich.”
“I am not so sure of that.”
“And yet you said he had money.” “Fifty thousand livres — a mere trifle.” “He is well educated.”
“Hem,” said Monte Cristo in his turn. “He is a musician.”
“So are all Italians.”
“Come, count, you do not do that young man justice.”
“Well, I acknowledge it annoys me, knowing your connection with the Morcerf family, to see him throw
himself in the way.” Danglars burst out laughing. “What a Puritan you are!” said he; “that happens every day.” “But you cannot break it off in this way; the Morcerfs are depending on this union.”
“Then let them explain themselves; you should give the father a hint, you are so intimate with the family.”
“I? — where the devil did you find out that?”
“At their ball; it was apparent enough. Why, did not the countess, the proud Mercedes, the disdainful
Catalane, who will scarcely open her lips to her oldest acquaintances, take your arm, lead you into the garden, into the private walks, and remain there for half an hour?”
“Ah, baron, baron,” said Albert, “you are not listening — what barbarism in a megalomaniac like you!”
“Oh, don’t worry about me, Sir Mocker,” said Danglars; then turning to the count he said, “but will you undertake to speak to the father?”
“Willingly, if you wish it.”
“But let it be done explicitly and positively. If he demands my daughter let him fix the day — declare his conditions; in short, let us either understand each other, or quarrel. You understand — no more delay.”
“Yes. sir, I will give my attention to the subject.”
“I do not say that I await with pleasure his decision, but I do await it. A banker must, you know, be a slave to
his promise.” And Danglars sighed as M. Cavalcanti had done half an hour before. “Bravi, bravo, brava!”
cried Morcerf, parodying the banker, as the selection came to an end. Danglars began to look suspiciously at Morcerf, when some one came and whispered a few words to him. “I shall soon return,” said the banker to Monte Cristo; “wait for me. I shall, perhaps, have something to say to you.” And he went out.
The baroness took advantage of her husband’s absence to push open the door of her daughter’s study, and M. Andrea, who was sitting before the piano with Mademoiselle Eugenie, started up like a jack-in-the-box. Albert bowed with a smile to Mademoiselle Danglars, who did not appear in the least disturbed, and returned his bow with her usual coolness. Cavalcanti was evidently embarrassed; he bowed to Morcerf, who replied with the
most impertinent look possible. Then Albert launched out in praise of Mademoiselle Danglars’ voice, and on
his regret, after what he had just heard, that he had been unable to be present the previous evening. Cavalcanti, being left alone, turned to Monte Cristo.
“Come,” said Madame Danglars, “leave music and compliments, and let us go and take tea.”
“Come, Louise,” said Mademoiselle Danglars to her friend. They passed into the next drawing-room, where
tea was prepared. Just as they were beginning, in the English fashion, to leave the spoons in their cups, the
door again opened and Danglars entered, visibly agitated. Monte Cristo observed it particularly, and by a look asked the banker for an explanation. “I have just received my courier from Greece,” said Danglars.
“Ah, yes,” said the count; “that was the reason of your running away from us.” “Yes.”
“How is King Otho getting on?” asked Albert in the most sprightly tone. Danglars cast another suspicious
look towards him without answering, and Monte Cristo turned away to conceal the expression of pity which passed over his features, but which was gone in a moment. “We shall go together, shall we not?” said Albert
to the count.
“If you like,” replied the latter. Albert could not understand the banker’s look, and turning to Monte Cristo, who understood it perfectly, — “Did you see,” said he, “how he looked at me?”
“Yes,” said the count; “but did you think there was anything particular in his look?” “Indeed, I did; and what does he mean by his news from Greece?”
“How can I tell you?”
“Because I imagine you have correspondents in that country.” Monte Cristo smiled significantly.
“Stop,” said Albert, “here he comes. I shall compliment Mademoiselle Danglars on her cameo, while the
father talks to you.”
“If you compliment her at all, let it be on her voice, at least,” said Monte Cristo. “No, every one would do that.”
“My dear viscount, you are dreadfully impertinent.” Albert advanced towards Eugenie, smiling. Meanwhile, Danglars, stooping to Monte Cristo’s ear, “Your advice was excellent,” said he; “there is a whole history connected with the names Fernand and Yanina.”
“Indeed?” said Monte Cristo.
“Yes, I will tell you all; but take away the young man; I cannot endure his presence.” “He is going with me. Shall I send the father to you?”
“Very well.” The count made a sign to Albert and they bowed to the ladies, and took their leave, Albert perfectly indifferent to Mademoiselle Danglars’ contempt, Monte Cristo reiterating his advice to Madame
Danglars on the prudence a banker’s wife should exercise in providing for the future. M. Cavalcanti remained master of the field.
Scarcely had the count’s horses cleared the angle of the boulevard, than Albert, turning towards the count, burst into a loud fit of laughter — much too loud in fact not to give the idea of its being rather forced and
unnatural. “Well,” said he, “I will ask you the same question which Charles IX. put to Catherine de Medicis, after the massacre of Saint Bartholomew, `How have I played my little part?'”
“To what do you allude?” asked Monte Cristo. “To the installation of my rival at M. Danglars’.” “What rival?”
“Ma foi, what rival? Why, your protege, M. Andrea Cavalcanti!”
“Ah, no joking, viscount, if you please; I do not patronize M. Andrea — at least, not as concerns M. Danglars.” “And you would be to blame for not assisting him, if the young man really needed your help in that quarter,
but, happily for me, he can dispense with it.” “What, do you think he is paying his addresses?”
“I am certain of it; his languishing looks and modulated tones when addressing Mademoiselle Danglars fully proclaim his intentions. He aspires to the hand of the proud Eugenie.”
“What does that signify, so long as they favor your suit?”
“But it is not the case, my dear count: on the contrary. I am repulsed on all sides.” “What!”
“It is so indeed; Mademoiselle Eugenie scarcely answers me, and Mademoiselle d’Armilly, her confidant, does not speak to me at all.”
“But the father has the greatest regard possible for you,” said Monte Cristo.
“He? Oh, no, he has plunged a thousand daggers into my heart, tragedy-weapons, I own, which instead of wounding sheathe their points in their own handles, but daggers which he nevertheless believed to be real and deadly.”
“Jealousy indicates affection.” “True; but I am not jealous.” “He is.”
“Of whom? — of Debray?” “No, of you.”
“Of me? I will engage to say that before a week is past the door will be closed against me.”
“You are mistaken, my dear viscount.” “Prove it to me.”
“Do you wish me to do so?” “Yes.”
“Well, I am charged with the commission of endeavoring to induce the Comte de Morcerf to make some definite arrangement with the baron.”
“By whom are you charged?” “By the baron himself.”
“Oh,” said Albert with all the cajolery of which he was capable. “You surely will not do that, my dear count?” “Certainly I shall, Albert, as I have promised to do it.”
“Well,” said Albert, with a sigh, “it seems you are determined to marry me.”
“I am determined to try and be on good terms with everybody, at all events,” said Monte Cristo. “But apropos
of Debray, how is it that I have not seen him lately at the baron’s house?” “There has been a misunderstanding.”
“What, with the baroness?” “No, with the baron.”
“Has he perceived anything?” “Ah, that is a good joke!”
“Do you think he suspects?” said Monte Cristo with charming artlessness. “Where have you come from, my dear count?” said Albert.
“From Congo, if you will.”
“It must be farther off than even that.”
“But what do I know of your Parisian husbands?”
“Oh, my dear count, husbands are pretty much the same everywhere; an individual husband of any country is
a pretty fair specimen of the whole race.”
“But then, what can have led to the quarrel between Danglars and Debray? They seemed to understand each other so well,” said Monte Cristo with renewed energy.
“Ah, now you are trying to penetrate into the mysteries of Isis, in which I am not initiated. When M. Andrea
Cavalcanti has become one of the family, you can ask him that question.” The carriage stopped. “Here we are,” said Monte Cristo; “it is only half-past ten o’clock, come in.”
“Certainly I will.”
“My carriage shall take you back.”
“No, thank you; I gave orders for my coupe to follow me.”
“There it is, then,” said Monte Cristo, as he stepped out of the carriage. They both went into the house; the drawing-room was lighted up — they went in there. “You will make tea for us, Baptistin,” said the count.
Baptistin left the room without waiting to answer, and in two seconds reappeared, bringing on a waiter all that
his master had ordered, ready prepared, and appearing to have sprung from the ground, like the repasts which
we read of in fairy tales. “Really, my dear count,” said Morcerf. “what I admire in you is, not so much your riches, for perhaps there are people even wealthier than yourself, nor is it only your wit, for Beaumarchais might have possessed as much, — but it is your manner of being served, without any questions, in a moment,
in a second; it is as if they guessed what you wanted by your manner of ringing, and made a point of keeping everything you can possibly desire in constant readiness.”
“What you say is perhaps true; they know my habits. For instance, you shall see; how do you wish to occupy yourself during tea-time?”
“Ma foi, I should like to smoke.”
Monte Cristo took the gong and struck it once. In about the space of a second a private door opened, and Ali appeared, bringing two chibouques filled with excellent latakia. “It is quite wonderful,” said Albert.
“Oh no, it is as simple as possible,” replied Monte Cristo. “Ali knows I generally smoke while I am taking my
tea or coffee; he has heard that I ordered tea, and he also knows that I brought you home with me; when I summoned him he naturally guessed the reason of my doing so, and as he comes from a country where hospitality is especially manifested through the medium of smoking, he naturally concludes that we shall smoke in company, and therefore brings two chibouques instead of one — and now the mystery is solved.”
“Certainly you give a most commonplace air to your explanation, but it is not the less true that you — Ah, but what do I hear?” and Morcerf inclined his head towards the door, through which sounds seemed to issue resembling those of a guitar.
“Ma foi, my dear viscount, you are fated to hear music this evening; you have only escaped from
Mademoiselle Danglars’ piano, to be attacked by Haidee’s guzla.”
“Haidee — what an adorable name! Are there, then, really women who bear the name of Haidee anywhere but
in Byron’s poems?”
“Certainly there are. Haidee is a very uncommon name in France, but is common enough in Albania and
Epirus; it is as it you said, for example, Chastity, Modesty, Innocence, — it is a kind of baptismal name, as you
Parisians call it.”
“Oh, that is charming,” said Albert, “how I should like to hear my countrywomen called Mademoiselle Goodness, Mademoiselle Silence, Mademoiselle Christian Charity! Only think, then, if Mademoiselle Danglars, instead of being called Claire-Marie-Eugenie, had been named Mademoiselle
Chastity-Modesty-Innocence Danglars; what a fine effect that would have produced on the announcement of
“Hush,” said the count, “do not joke in so loud a tone; Haidee may hear you, perhaps.” “And you think she would be angry?”
“No, certainly not,” said the count with a haughty expression. “She is very amiable, then, is she not?” said Albert.
“It is not to be called amiability, it is her duty; a slave does not dictate to a master.”
“Come; you are joking yourself now. Are there any more slaves to be had who bear this beautiful name?” “Undoubtedly.”
“Really, count, you do nothing, and have nothing like other people. The slave of the Count of Monte Cristo! Why, it is a rank of itself in France, and from the way in which you lavish money, it is a place that must be worth a hundred thousand francs a year.”
“A hundred thousand francs! The poor girl originally possessed much more than that; she was born to treasures in comparison with which those recorded in the `Thousand and One Nights’ would seem but poverty.”
“She must be a princess then.”
“You are right; and she is one of the greatest in her country too.”
“I thought so. But how did it happen that such a great princess became a slave?”
“How was it that Dionysius the Tyrant became a schoolmaster? The fortune of war, my dear viscount, — the caprice of fortune; that is the way in which these things are to be accounted for.”
“And is her name a secret?”
“As regards the generality of mankind it is; but not for you, my dear viscount, who are one of my most
intimate friends, and on whose silence I feel I may rely, if I consider it necessary to enjoin it — may I not do so?”
“Certainly; on my word of honor.”
“You know the history of the pasha of Yanina, do you not?”
“Of Ali Tepelini?* Oh, yes; it was in his service that my father made his fortune.” “True, I had forgotten that.”
* Ali Pasha, “The Lion,” was born at Tepelini, an Albanian village at the foot of the Klissoura Mountains, in
1741. By diplomacy and success in arms he became almost supreme ruler of Albania, Epirus, and adjacent territory. Having aroused the enmity of the Sultan, he was proscribed and put to death by treachery in 1822, at
the age of eighty. — Ed.
“Well, what is Haidee to Ali Tepelini?”
“Merely his daughter.”
“What? the daughter of Ali Pasha?”
“Of Ali Pasha and the beautiful Vasiliki.” “And your slave?”
“Ma foi, yes.”
“But how did she become so?”
“Why, simply from the circumstance of my having bought her one day, as I was passing through the market at
“Wonderful! Really, my dear count, you seem to throw a sort of magic influence over all in which you are concerned; when I listen to you, existence no longer seems reality, but a waking dream. Now, I am perhaps going to make an imprudent and thoughtless request, but” —
“But, since you go out with Haidee, and sometimes even take her to the opera” — “Well?”
“I think I may venture to ask you this favor.” “You may venture to ask me anything.”
“Well then, my dear count, present me to your princess.” “I will do so; but on two conditions.”
“I accept them at once.”
“The first is, that you will never tell any one that I have granted the interview.” “Very well,” said Albert, extending his hand; “I swear I will not.”
“The second is, that you will not tell her that your father ever served hers.”
“I give you my oath that I will not.”
“Enough, viscount; you will remember those two vows, will you not? But I know you to be a man of honor.” The count again struck the gong. Ali reappeared. “Tell Haidee,” said he, “that I will take coffee with her, and give her to understand that I desire permission to present one of my friends to her.” Ali bowed and left the
room. “Now, understand me,” said the count, “no direct questions, my dear Morcerf; if you wish to know anything, tell me, and I will ask her.”
“Agreed.” Ali reappeared for the third time, and drew back the tapestried hanging which concealed the door,
to signify to his master and Albert that they were at liberty to pass on. “Let us go in,” said Monte Cristo.
Albert passed his hand through his hair, and curled his mustache, then, having satisfied himself as to his personal appearance, followed the count into the room, the latter having previously resumed his hat and
gloves. Ali was stationed as a kind of advanced guard, and the door was kept by the three French attendants, commanded by Myrtho. Haidee was awaiting her visitors in the first room of her apartments, which was the drawing-room. Her large eyes were dilated with surprise and expectation, for it was the first time that any
man, except Monte Cristo, had been accorded an entrance into her presence. She was sitting on a sofa placed
in an angle of the room, with her legs crossed under her in the Eastern fashion, and seemed to have made for herself, as it were, a kind of nest in the rich Indian silks which enveloped her. Near her was the instrument on which she had just been playing; it was elegantly fashioned, and worthy of its mistress. On perceiving Monte Cristo, she arose and welcomed him with a smile peculiar to herself, expressive at once of the most implicit obedience and also of the deepest love. Monte Cristo advanced towards her and extended his hand, which she
as usual raised to her lips.
Albert had proceeded no farther than the door, where he remained rooted to the spot, being completely fascinated by the sight of such surpassing beauty, beheld as it was for the first time, and of which an inhabitant of more northern climes could form no adequate idea.
“Whom do you bring?” asked the young girl in Romaic, of Monte Cristo; “is it a friend, a brother, a simple acquaintance, or an enemy.”
“A friend,” said Monte Cristo in the same language. “What is his name?”
“Count Albert; it is the same man whom I rescued from the hands of the banditti at Rome.” “In what language would you like me to converse with him?”
Monte Cristo turned to Albert. “Do you know modern Greek,” asked he.
“Alas, no,” said Albert; “nor even ancient Greek, my dear count; never had Homer or Plato a more unworthy scholar than myself.”
“Then,” said Haidee, proving by her remark that she had quite understood Monte Cristo’s question and
Albert’s answer, “then I will speak either in French or Italian, if my lord so wills it.”
Monte Cristo reflected one instant. “You will speak in Italian,” said he. Then, turning towards Albert, — “It is
a pity you do not understand either ancient or modern Greek, both of which Haidee speaks so fluently; the
poor child will be obliged to talk to you in Italian, which will give you but a very false idea of her powers of conversation.” The count made a sign to Haidee to address his visitor. “Sir,” she said to Morcerf, “you are
most welcome as the friend of my lord and master.” This was said in excellent Tuscan, and with that soft Roman accent which makes the language of Dante as sonorous as that of Homer. Then, turning to Ali, she directed him to bring coffee and pipes, and when he had left the room to execute the orders of his young
mistress she beckoned Albert to approach nearer to her. Monte Cristo and Morcerf drew their seats towards a small table, on which were arranged music, drawings, and vases of flowers. Ali then entered bringing coffee and chibouques; as to M. Baptistin, this portion of the building was interdicted to him. Albert refused the pipe
which the Nubian offered him. “Oh, take it — take it,” said the count; “Haidee is almost as civilized as a Parisian; the smell of an Havana is disagreeable to her, but the tobacco of the East is a most delicious perfume, you know.”
Ali left the room. The cups of coffee were all prepared, with the addition of sugar, which had been brought for
Albert. Monte Cristo and Haidee took the beverage in the original Arabian manner, that is to say, without sugar. Haidee took the porcelain cup in her little slender fingers and conveyed it to her mouth with all the
innocent artlessness of a child when eating or drinking something which it likes. At this moment two women entered, bringing salvers filled with ices and sherbet, which they placed on two small tables appropriated to
that purpose. “My dear host, and you, signora,” said Albert, in Italian, “excuse my apparent stupidity. I am quite bewildered, and it is natural that it should be so. Here I am in the heart of Paris; but a moment ago I
heard the rumbling of the omnibuses and the tinkling of the bells of the lemonade-sellers, and now I feel as if I were suddenly transported to the East; not such as I have seen it, but such as my dreams have painted it. Oh, signora, if I could but speak Greek, your conversation, added to the fairy-scene which surrounds me, would furnish an evening of such delight as it would be impossible for me ever to forget.”
“I speak sufficient Italian to enable me to converse with you, sir,” said Haidee quietly; “and if you like what is
Eastern, I will do my best to secure the gratification of your tastes while you are here.” “On what subject shall I converse with her?” said Albert, in a low tone to Monte Cristo.
“Just what you please; you may speak of her country and of her youthful reminiscences, or if you like it better you can talk of Rome, Naples, or Florence.”
“Oh,” said Albert, “it is of no use to be in the company of a Greek if one converses just in the same style as with a Parisian; let me speak to her of the East.”
“Do so then, for of all themes which you could choose that will be the most agreeable to her taste.” Albert turned towards Haidee. “At what age did you leave Greece, signora?” asked he.
“I left it when I was but five years old,” replied Haidee. “And have you any recollection of your country?”
“When I shut my eyes and think, I seem to see it all again. The mind can see as well as the body. The body forgets sometimes — but the mind never forgets.”
“And how far back into the past do your recollections extend?”
“I could scarcely walk when my mother, who was called Vasiliki, which means royal,” said the young girl, tossing her head proudly, “took me by the hand, and after putting in our purse all the money we possessed, we went out, both covered with veils, to solicit alms for the prisoners, saying, `He who giveth to the poor lendeth
to the Lord.’ Then when our purse was full we returned to the palace, and without saying a word to my father,
we sent it to the convent, where it was divided amongst the prisoners.” “And how old were you at that time?”
“I was three years old,” said Haidee.
“Then you remember everything that went on about you from the time when you were three years old?” said
“Count,” said Albert, in a low tone to Monte Cristo, “do allow the signora to tell me something of her history. You prohibited my mentioning my father’s name to her, but perhaps she will allude to him of her own accord
in the course of the recital, and you have no idea how delighted I should be to hear our name pronounced by
such beautiful lips.” Monte Cristo turned to Haidee, and with an expression of countenance which
commanded her to pay the most implicit attention to his words, he said in Greek, — “Tell us the fate of your father; but neither the name of the traitor nor the treason.” Haidee sighed deeply, and a shade of sadness clouded her beautiful brow.
“What are you saying to her?” said Morcerf in an undertone.
“I again reminded her that you were a friend, and that she need not conceal anything from you.”
“Then,” said Albert, “this pious pilgrimage in behalf of the prisoners was your first remembrance; what is the next?”
“Oh, then I remember as if it were but yesterday sitting under the shade of some sycamore-trees, on the
borders of a lake, in the waters of which the trembling foliage was reflected as in a mirror. Under the oldest and thickest of these trees, reclining on cushions, sat my father; my mother was at his feet, and I, childlike, amused myself by playing with his long white beard which descended to his girdle, or with the diamond-hilt
of the scimitar attached to his girdle. Then from time to time there came to him an Albanian who said
something to which I paid no attention, but which he always answered in the same tone of voice, either `Kill,’
“It is very strange,” said Albert, “to hear such words proceed from the mouth of any one but an actress on the stage, and one needs constantly to be saying to one’s self, `This is no fiction, it is all reality,’ in order to
believe it. And how does France appear in your eyes, accustomed as they have been to gaze on such enchanted scenes?”
“I think it is a fine country,” said Haidee, “but I see France as it really is, because I look on it with the eyes of
a woman; whereas my own country, which I can only judge of from the impression produced on my childish mind, always seems enveloped in a vague atmosphere, which is luminous or otherwise, according as my remembrances of it are sad or joyous.”
“So young,” said Albert, forgetting at the moment the Count’s command that he should ask no questions of the slave herself, “is it possible that you can have known what suffering is except by name?”
Haidee turned her eyes towards Monte Cristo, who, making at the same time some imperceptible sign, murmured, — “Go on.”
“Nothing is ever so firmly impressed on the mind as the memory of our early childhood, and with the exception of the two scenes I have just described to you, all my earliest reminiscences are fraught with deepest sadness.”
“Speak, speak, signora,” said Albert, “I am listening with the most intense delight and interest to all you say.” Haidee answered his remark with a melancholy smile. “You wish me, then, to relate the history of my past
sorrows?” said she.
“I beg you to do so,” replied Albert.
“Well, I was but four years old when one night I was suddenly awakened by my mother. We were in the
palace of Yanina; she snatched me from the cushions on which I was sleeping, and on opening my eyes I saw hers filled with tears. She took me away without speaking. When I saw her weeping I began to cry too. `Hush,
child!’ said she. At other times in spite of maternal endearments or threats, I had with a child’s caprice been
accustomed to indulge my feelings of sorrow or anger by crying as much as I felt inclined; but on this
occasion there was an intonation of such extreme terror in my mother’s voice when she enjoined me to silence, that I ceased crying as soon as her command was given. She bore me rapidly away.
“I saw then that we were descending a large staircase; around us were all my mother’s servants carrying trunks, bags, ornaments, jewels, purses of gold, with which they were hurrying away in the greatest distraction.
“Behind the women came a guard of twenty men armed with long guns and pistols, and dressed in the
costume which the Greeks have assumed since they have again become a nation. You may imagine there was something startling and ominous,” said Haidee, shaking her head and turning pale at the mere remembrance of
the scene, “in this long file of slaves and women only half-aroused from sleep, or at least so they appeared to me, who was myself scarcely awake. Here and there on the walls of the staircase, were reflected gigantic shadows, which trembled in the flickering light of the pine-torches till they seemed to reach to the vaulted
“`Quick!’ said a voice at the end of the gallery. This voice made every one bow before it, resembling in its
effect the wind passing over a field of wheat, by its superior strength forcing every ear to yield obeisance. As
for me, it made me tremble. This voice was that of my father. He came last, clothed in his splendid robes and holding in his hand the carbine which your emperor presented him. He was leaning on the shoulder of his favorite Selim, and he drove us all before him, as a shepherd would his straggling flock. My father,” said
Haidee, raising her head, “was that illustrious man known in Europe under the name of Ali Tepelini, pasha of
Yanina, and before whom Turkey trembled.”
Albert, without knowing why, started on hearing these words pronounced with such a haughty and dignified accent; it appeared to him as if there was something supernaturally gloomy and terrible in the expression
which gleamed from the brilliant eyes of Haidee at this moment; she appeared like a Pythoness evoking a spectre, as she recalled to his mind the remembrance of the fearful death of this man, to the news of which all Europe had listened with horror. “Soon,” said Haidee, “we halted on our march, and found ourselves on the borders of a lake. My mother pressed me to her throbbing heart, and at the distance of a few paces I saw my father, who was glancing anxiously around. Four marble steps led down to the water’s edge, and below them
was a boat floating on the tide.
“From where we stood I could see in the middle of the lake a large blank mass; it was the kiosk to which we
were going. This kiosk appeared to me to be at a considerable distance, perhaps on account of the darkness of
the night, which prevented any object from being more than partially discerned. We stepped into the boat. I
remember well that the oars made no noise whatever in striking the water, and when I leaned over to ascertain
the cause I saw that they were muffled with the sashes of our Palikares.* Besides the rowers, the boat
contained only the women, my father, mother, Selim, and myself. The Palikares had remained on the shore of
the lake, ready to cover our retreat; they were kneeling on the lowest of the marble steps, and in that manner intended making a rampart of the three others, in case of pursuit. Our bark flew before the wind. `Why does
the boat go so fast?’ asked I of my mother.
* Greek militiamen in the war for independence. — Ed.
“`Silence, child! Hush, we are flying!’ I did not understand. Why should my father fly? — he, the all-powerful
— he, before whom others were accustomed to fly — he, who had taken for his device, `They hate me; then they fear me!’ It was, indeed, a flight which my father was trying to effect. I have been told since that the garrison of the castle of Yanina, fatigued with long service” —
Here Haidee cast a significant glance at Monte Cristo, whose eyes had been riveted on her countenance during
the whole course of her narrative. The young girl then continued, speaking slowly, like a person who is either
inventing or suppressing some feature of the history which he is relating. “You were saying, signora,” said
Albert, who was paying the most implicit attention to the recital, “that the garrison of Yanina, fatigued with long service” —
“Had treated with the Serasker* Koorshid, who had been sent by the sultan to gain possession of the person of
my father; it was then that Ali Tepelini — after having sent to the sultan a French officer in whom he reposed great confidence — resolved to retire to the asylum which he had long before prepared for himself, and which
he called kataphygion, or the refuge.”
“And this officer,” asked Albert, “do you remember his name, signora?” Monte Cristo exchanged a rapid
glance with the young girl, which was quite unperceived by Albert. “No,” said she, “I do not remember it just
at this moment; but if it should occur to me presently, I will tell you.” Albert was on the point of pronouncing
his father’s name, when Monte Cristo gently held up his finger in token of reproach; the young man recollected his promise, and was silent.
* A Turkish pasha in command of the troops of a province. — Ed.
“It was towards this kiosk that we were rowing. A ground-floor, ornamented with arabesques, bathing its
terraces in the water, and another floor, looking on the lake, was all which was visible to the eye. But beneath
the ground-floor, stretching out into the island, was a large subterranean cavern, to which my mother, myself, and the women were conducted. In this place were together 60,000 pouches and 200 barrels; the pouches contained 25,000,000 of money in gold, and the barrels were filled with 30,000 pounds of gunpowder.
“Near the barrels stood Selim, my father’s favorite, whom I mentioned to you just now. He stood watch day
and night with a lance provided with a lighted slowmatch in his hand, and he had orders to blow up everything
— kiosk, guards, women, gold, and Ali Tepelini himself — at the first signal given by my father. I remember
well that the slaves, convinced of the precarious tenure on which they held their lives, passed whole days and nights in praying, crying, and groaning. As for me, I can never forget the pale complexion and black eyes of
the young soldier, and whenever the angel of death summons me to another world, I am quite sure I shall recognize Selim. I cannot tell you how long we remained in this state; at that period I did not even know what time meant. Sometimes, but very rarely, my father summoned me and my mother to the terrace of the palace; these were hours of recreation for me, as I never saw anything in the dismal cavern but the gloomy
countenances of the slaves and Selim’s fiery lance. My father was endeavoring to pierce with his eager looks
the remotest verge of the horizon, examining attentively every black speck which appeared on the lake, while
my mother, reclining by his side, rested her head on his shoulder, and I played at his feet, admiring everything
I saw with that unsophisticated innocence of childhood which throws a charm round objects insignificant in themselves, but which in its eyes are invested with the greatest importance. The heights of Pindus towered above us; the castle of Yanina rose white and angular from the blue waters of the lake, and the immense
masses of black vegetation which, viewed in the distance, gave the idea of lichens clinging to the rocks, were
in reality gigantic fir-trees and myrtles.
“One morning my father sent for us; my mother had been crying all the night, and was very wretched; we
found the pasha calm, but paler than usual. `Take courage, Vasiliki,’ said he; `to-day arrives the firman of the master, and my fate will be decided. If my pardon be complete, we shall return triumphant to Yanina; if the
news be inauspicious, we must fly this night.’ — `But supposing our enemy should not allow us to do so?’ said
my mother. `Oh, make yourself easy on that head,’ said Ali, smiling; `Selim and his flaming lance will settle that matter. They would be glad to see me dead, but they would not like themselves to die with me.’
“My mother only answered by sighs to consolations which she knew did not come from my father’s heart. She prepared the iced water which he was in the habit of constantly drinking, — for since his sojourn at the kiosk
he had been parched by the most violent fever, — after which she anointed his white beard with perfumed oil, and lighted his chibouque, which he sometimes smoked for hours together, quietly watching the wreaths of
vapor that ascended in spiral clouds and gradually melted away in the surrounding atmosphere. Presently he
made such a sudden movement that I was paralyzed with fear. Then, without taking his eyes from the object which had first attracted his attention, he asked for his telescope. My mother gave it him. and as she did so, looked whiter than the marble against which she leaned. I saw my father’s hand tremble. `A boat! — two! — three!’ murmured my, father; — `four!’ He then arose, seizing his arms and priming his pistols. `Vasiliki,’ said
he to my mother, trembling perceptibly, `the instant approaches which will decide everything. In the space of half an hour we shall know the emperor’s answer. Go into the cavern with Haidee.’ — `I will not quit you,’ said
Vasiliki; `if you die, my lord, I will die with you.’ — `Go to Selim!’ cried my father. `Adieu, my lord,’ murmured my mother, determining quietly to await the approach of death. `Take away Vasiliki!’ said my father to his Palikares.
“As for me, I had been forgotten in the general confusion; I ran toward Ali Tepelini; he saw me hold out my arms to him, and he stooped down and pressed my forehead with his lips. Oh, how distinctly I remember that kiss! — it was the last he ever gave me, and I feel as if it were still warm on my forehead. On descending, we saw through the lattice-work several boats which were gradually becoming more distinct to our view. At first
they appeared like black specks, and now they looked like birds skimming the surface of the waves. During this time, in the kiosk at my father’s feet, were seated twenty Palikares, concealed from view by an angle of
the wall and watching with eager eyes the arrival of the boats. They were armed with their long guns inlaid with mother-of-pearl and silver, and cartridges in great numbers were lying scattered on the floor. My father looked at his watch, and paced up and down with a countenance expressive of the greatest anguish. This was
the scene which presented itself to my view as I quitted my father after that last kiss. My mother and I
traversed the gloomy passage leading to the cavern. Selim was still at his post, and smiled sadly on us as we entered. We fetched our cushions from the other end of the cavern, and sat down by Selim. In great dangers
the devoted ones cling to each other; and, young as I was, I quite understood that some imminent danger was hanging over our heads.”
Albert had often heard — not from his father, for he never spoke on the subject, but from strangers — the description of the last moments of the vizier of Yanina; he had read different accounts of his death, but the
story seemed to acquire fresh meaning from the voice and expression of the young girl, and her sympathetic accent and the melancholy expression of her countenance at once charmed and horrified him. As to Haidee,
these terrible reminiscences seemed to have overpowered her for a moment, for she ceased speaking, her head leaning on her hand like a beautiful flower bowing beneath the violence of the storm; and her eyes gazing on vacancy indicated that she was mentally contemplating the green summit of the Pindus and the blue waters of
the lake of Yanina, which, like a magic mirror, seemed to reflect the sombre picture which she sketched. Monte Cristo looked at her with an indescribable expression of interest and pity.
“Go on,” said the count in the Romaic language.
Haidee looked up abruptly, as if the sonorous tones of Monte Cristo’s voice had awakened her from a dream;
and she resumed her narrative. “It was about four o’clock in the afternoon, and although the day was brilliant
out-of-doors, we were enveloped in the gloomy darkness of the cavern. One single, solitary light was burning there, and it appeared like a star set in a heaven of blackness; it was Selim’s flaming lance. My mother was a Christian, and she prayed. Selim repeated from time to time the sacred words: `God is great!’ However, my mother had still some hope. As she was coming down, she thought she recognized the French officer who had been sent to Constantinople, and in whom my father placed so much confidence; for he knew that all the
soldiers of the French emperor were naturally noble and generous. She advanced some steps towards the
staircase, and listened. `They are approaching,’ said she; `perhaps they bring us peace and liberty!’ — `What do you fear, Vasiliki?’ said Selim, in a voice at once so gentle and yet so proud. `If they do not bring us peace, we will give them war; if they do not bring life, we will give them death.’ And he renewed the flame of his lance
with a gesture which made one think of Dionysus of Crete.* But I, being only a little child, was terrified by this undaunted courage, which appeared to me both ferocious and senseless, and I recoiled with horror from
the idea of the frightful death amidst fire and flames which probably awaited us.
* The god of fruitfulness in Grecian mythology. In Crete he was supposed to be slain in winter with the decay
of vegetation and to revive in the spring. Haidee’s learned reference is to the behavior of an actor in the
Dionysian festivals. — Ed.
“My mother experienced the same sensations, for I felt her tremble. `Mamma, mamma,’ said I, `are we really
to be killed?’ And at the sound of my voice the slaves redoubled their cries and prayers and lamentations. `My child,’ said Vasiliki, `may God preserve you from ever wishing for that death which to-day you so much
dread!’ Then, whispering to Selim, she asked what were her master’s orders. `If he send me his poniard, it will signify that the emperor’s intentions are not favorable, and I am to set fire to the powder; if, on the contrary,
he send me his ring, it will be a sign that the emperor pardons him, and I am to extinguish the match and leave
the magazine untouched.’ — `My friend,’ said my mother, `when your master’s orders arrive, if it is the poniard which he sends, instead of despatching us by that horrible death which we both so much dread, you will mercifully kill us with this same poniard, will you not?’ — `Yes, Vasiliki,’ replied Selim tranquilly.
“Suddenly we heard loud cries; and, listening, discerned that they were cries of joy. The name of the French officer who had been sent to Constantinople resounded on all sides amongst our Palikares; it was evident that
he brought the answer of the emperor, and that it was favorable.”
“And do you not remember the Frenchman’s name?” said Morcerf, quite ready to aid the memory of the narrator. Monte Cristo made a sign to him to be silent.
“I do not recollect it,” said Haidee.
“The noise increased; steps were heard approaching nearer and nearer: they were descending the steps leading
to the cavern. Selim made ready his lance. Soon a figure appeared in the gray twilight at the entrance of the
cave, formed by the reflection of the few rays of daylight which had found their way into this gloomy retreat.
`Who are you?’ cried Selim. `But whoever you may be, I charge you not to advance another step.’ — `Long live the emperor!’ said the figure. `He grants a full pardon to the Vizier Ali, and not only gives him his life,
but restores to him his fortune and his possessions.’ My mother uttered a cry of joy, and clasped me to her bosom. `Stop,’ said Selim, seeing that she was about to go out; `you see I have not yet received the ring,’ —
`True,’ said my mother. And she fell on her knees, at the same time holding me up towards heaven, as if she desired, while praying to God in my behalf, to raise me actually to his presence.”
And for the second time Haidee stopped, overcome by such violent emotion that the perspiration stood upon
her pale brow, and her stifled voice seemed hardly able to find utterance, so parched and dry were her throat
and lips. Monte Cristo poured a little iced water into a glass, and presented it to her, saying with a mildness in which was also a shade of command, — “Courage.”
Haidee dried her eyes, and continued: “By this time our eyes, habituated to the darkness, had recognized the messenger of the pasha, — it was a friend. Selim had also recognized him, but the brave young man only acknowledged one duty, which was to obey. `In whose name do you come?’ said he to him. `I come in the
name of our master, Ali Tepelini.’ — `If you come from Ali himself,’ said Selim, `you know what you were charged to remit to me?’ — `Yes,’ said the messenger, `and I bring you his ring.’ At these words he raised his
hand above his head, to show the token; but it was too far off, and there was not light enough to enable Selim, where he was standing, to distinguish and recognize the object presented to his view. `I do not see what you
have in your hand,’ said Selim. `Approach then,’ said the messenger, `or I will come nearer to you, if you prefer it.’ — `I will agree to neither one nor the other,’ replied the young soldier; `place the object which I
desire to see in the ray of light which shines there, and retire while I examine it.’ — `Be it so,’ said the envoy;
and he retired, after having first deposited the token agreed on in the place pointed out to him by Selim.
“Oh, how our hearts palpitated; for it did, indeed, seem to be a ring which was placed there. But was it my father’s ring? that was the question. Selim, still holding in his hand the lighted match, walked towards the
opening in the cavern, and, aided by the faint light which streamed in through the mouth of the cave, picked
up the token.
“`It is well,’ said he, kissing it; `it is my master’s ring!’ And throwing the match on the ground, he trampled on
it and extinguished it. The messenger uttered a cry of joy and clapped his hands. At this signal four soldiers of
the Serasker Koorshid suddenly appeared, and Selim fell, pierced by five blows. Each man had stabbed him separately, and, intoxicated by their crime, though still pale with fear, they sought all over the cavern to discover if there was any fear of fire, after which they amused themselves by rolling on the bags of gold. At this moment my mother seized me in her arms, and hurrying noiselessly along numerous turnings and
windings known only to ourselves, she arrived at a private staircase of the kiosk, where was a scene of frightful tumult and confusion. The lower rooms were entirely filled with Koorshid’s troops; that is to say,
with our enemies. Just as my mother was on the point of pushing open a small door, we heard the voice of the pasha sounding in a loud and threatening tone. My mother applied her eye to the crack between the boards; I luckily found a small opening which afforded me a view of the apartment and what was passing within. `What
do you want?’ said my father to some people who were holding a paper inscribed with characters of gold.
`What we want,’ replied one, `is to communicate to you the will of his highness. Do you see this firman?’ — `I
do,’ said my father. `Well, read it; he demands your head.’
“My father answered with a loud laugh, which was more frightful than even threats would have been, and he had not ceased when two reports of a pistol were heard; he had fired them himself, and had killed two men. The Palikares, who were prostrated at my father’s feet, now sprang up and fired, and the room was filled with
fire and smoke. At the same instant the firing began on the other side, and the balls penetrated the boards all round us. Oh, how noble did the grand vizier my father look at that moment, in the midst of the flying bullets,
his scimitar in his hand, and his face blackened with the powder of his enemies! and how he terrified them, even then, and made them fly before him! `Selim, Selim!’ cried he, `guardian of the fire, do your duty!’ —
`Selim is dead,’ replied a voice which seemed to come from the depths of the earth, `and you are lost, Ali!’ At
the same moment an explosion was heard, and the flooring of the room in which my father was sitting was suddenly torn up and shivered to atoms — the troops were firing from underneath. Three or four Palikares fell with their bodies literally ploughed with wounds.
“My father howled aloud, plunged his fingers into the holes which the balls had made, and tore up one of the planks entire. But immediately through this opening twenty more shots were fired, and the flame, rushing up like fire from the crater of a volcano, soon reached the tapestry, which it quickly devoured. In the midst of all
this frightful tumult and these terrific cries, two reports, fearfully distinct, followed by two shrieks more heartrending than all, froze me with terror. These two shots had mortally wounded my father, and it was he who had given utterance to these frightful cries. However, he remained standing, clinging to a window. My mother tried to force the door, that she might go and die with him, but it was fastened on the inside. All
around him were lying the Palikares, writhing in convulsive agonies, while two or three who were only slightly wounded were trying to escape by springing from the windows. At this crisis the whole flooring suddenly gave way. my father fell on one knee, and at the same moment twenty hands were thrust forth,
armed with sabres, pistols, and poniards — twenty blows were instantaneously directed against one man, and
my father disappeared in a whirlwind of fire and smoke kindled by these demons, and which seemed like hell itself opening beneath his feet. I felt myself fall to the ground, my mother had fainted.”
Haidee’s arms fell by her side, and she uttered a deep groan, at the same time looking towards the count as if
to ask if he were satisfied with her obedience to his commands. Monte Cristo arose and approached her, took
her hand, and said to her in Romaic, “Calm yourself, my dear child, and take courage in remembering that there is a God who will punish traitors.”
“It is a frightful story, count,” said Albert, terrified at the paleness of Haidee’s countenance, “and I reproach myself now for having been so cruel and thoughtless in my request.”
“Oh, it is nothing,” said Monte Cristo. Then, patting the young girl on the head, he continued, “Haidee is very
courageous, and she sometimes even finds consolation in the recital of her misfortunes.”
“Because, my lord,” said Haidee eagerly, “my miseries recall to me the remembrance of your goodness.”
Albert looked at her with curiosity, for she had not yet related what he most desired to know, — how she had become the slave of the count. Haidee saw at a glance the same expression pervading the countenances of her two auditors; she exclaimed, `When my mother recovered her senses we were before the serasker. `Kill,’ said
she, `but spare the honor of the widow of Ali.’ — `It is not to me to whom you must address yourself,’ said
“`To whom, then?’ — `To your new master.’ “`Who and where is he?’ — `He is here.’
“And Koorshid pointed out one who had more than any contributed to the death of my father,” said Haidee, in
a tone of chastened anger. “Then,” said Albert, “you became the property of this man?”
“No,” replied Haidee, “he did not dare to keep us, so we were sold to some slave-merchants who were going
to Constantinople. We traversed Greece, and arrived half dead at the imperial gates. They were surrounded by
a crowd of people, who opened a way for us to pass, when suddenly my mother, having looked closely at an object which was attracting their attention, uttered a piercing cry and fell to the ground, pointing as she did so
to a head which was placed over the gates, and beneath which were inscribed these words:
“`This is the head of Ali Tepelini Pasha of Yanina.’ I cried bitterly, and tried to raise my mother from the
earth, but she was dead! I was taken to the slave-market, and was purchased by a rich Armenian. He caused
me to be instructed, gave me masters, and when I was thirteen years of age he sold me to the Sultan
“Of whom I bought her,” said Monte Cristo, “as I told you, Albert, with the emerald which formed a match to
the one I had made into a box for the purpose of holding my hashish pills.”
“Oh, you are good, you are great, my lord!” said Haidee, kissing the count’s hand, “and I am very fortunate in belonging to such a master!” Albert remained quite bewildered with all that he had seen and heard. “Come,
finish your cup of coffee,” said Monte Cristo; “the history is ended.”
We hear From Yanina.
If Valentine could have seen the trembling step and agitated countenance of Franz when he quitted the chamber of M. Noirtier, even she would have been constrained to pity him. Villefort had only just given utterance to a few incoherent sentences, and then retired to his study, where he received about two hours afterwards the following letter: —
“After all the disclosures which were made this morning, M. Noirtier de Villefort must see the utter impossibility of any alliance being formed between his family and that of M. Franz d’Epinay. M. d’Epinay must say that he is shocked and astonished that M. de Villefort, who appeared to be aware of all the circumstances detailed this morning, should not have anticipated him in this announcement.”
No one who had seen the magistrate at this moment, so thoroughly unnerved by the recent inauspicious combination of circumstances, would have supposed for an instant that he had anticipated the annoyance; although it certainly never had occurred to him that his father would carry candor, or rather rudeness, so far as
to relate such a history. And in justice to Villefort, it must be understood that M. Noirtier, who never cared for
the opinion of his son on any subject, had always omitted to explain the affair to Villefort, so that he had all
his life entertained the belief that General de Quesnel, or the Baron d’Epinay, as he was alternately styled, according as the speaker wished to identify him by his own family name, or by the title which had been conferred on him, fell the victim of assassination, and not that he was killed fairly in a duel. This harsh letter, coming as it did from a man generally so polite and respectful, struck a mortal blow at the pride of Villefort.
Hardly had he read the letter, when his wife entered. The sudden departure of Franz, after being summoned by
M. Noirtier, had so much astonished every one, that the position of Madame de Villefort, left alone with the notary and the witnesses, became every moment more embarrassing. Determined to bear it no longer, she
arose and left the room; saying she would go and make some inquiries into the cause of his sudden disappearance.
M. de Villefort’s communications on the subject were very limited and concise; he told her, in fact, that an explanation had taken place between M. Noirtier, M. d’Epinay, and himself, and that the marriage of
Valentine and Franz would consequently be broken off. This was an awkward and unpleasant thing to have to report to those who were awaiting her return in the chamber of her father-in-law. She therefore contented
herself with saying that M. Noirtier having at the commencement of the discussion been attacked by a sort of apoplectic fit, the affair would necessarily be deferred for some days longer. This news, false as it was
following so singularly in the train of the two similar misfortunes which had so recently occurred, evidently astonished the auditors, and they retired without a word. During this time Valentine, at once terrified and happy, after having embraced and thanked the feeble old man for thus breaking with a single blow the chain
which she had been accustomed to consider as irrefragable, asked leave to retire to her own room, in order to recover her composure. Noirtier looked the permission which she solicited. But instead of going to her own
room, Valentine, having once gained her liberty, entered the gallery, and, opening a small door at the end of it. found herself at once in the garden.
In the midst of all the strange events which had crowded one on the other, an indefinable sentiment of dread
had taken possession of Valentine’s mind. She expected every moment that she should see Morrel appear, pale and trembling, to forbid the signing of the contract, like the Laird of Ravenswood in “The Bride of Lammermoor.” It was high time for her to make her appearance at the gate, for Maximilian had long awaited
her coming. He had half guessed what was going on when he saw Franz quit the cemetery with M. de
Villefort. He followed M. d’Epinay, saw him enter, afterwards go out, and then re-enter with Albert and
Chateau-Renaud. He had no longer any doubts as to the nature of the conference; he therefore quickly went to
the gate in the clover-patch, prepared to hear the result of the proceedings, and very certain that Valentine would hasten to him the first moment she should be set at liberty. He was not mistaken; peering through the
crevices of the wooden partition, he soon discovered the young girl, who cast aside all her usual precautions
and walked at once to the barrier. The first glance which Maximilian directed towards her entirely reassured him, and the first words she spoke made his heart bound with delight.
“We are saved!” said Valentine. “Saved?” repeated Morrel, not being able to conceive such intense happiness; “by whom?”
“By my grandfather. Oh, Morrel, pray love him for all his goodness to us!” Morrel swore to love him with all
his soul; and at that moment he could safely promise to do so, for he felt as though it were not enough to love him merely as a friend or even as a father. “But tell me, Valentine, how has it all been effected? What strange means has he used to compass this blessed end?”
Valentine was on the point of relating all that had passed, but she suddenly remembered that in doing so she must reveal a terrible secret which concerned others as well as her grandfather, and she said, “At some future time I will tell you all about it.”
“But when will that be?” “When I am your wife.”
The conversation had now turned upon a topic so pleasing to Morrel, that he was ready to accede to anything that Valentine thought fit to propose, and he likewise felt that a piece of intelligence such as he just heard
ought to be more than sufficient to content him for one day. However, he would not leave without the promise
of seeing Valentine again the next night. Valentine promised all that Morrel required of her, and certainly it was less difficult now for her to believe that she should marry Maximilian than it was an hour ago to assure herself that she should not marry Franz. During the time occupied by the interview we have just detailed,
Madame de Villefort had gone to visit M. Noirtier. The old man looked at her with that stern and forbidding expression with which he was accustomed to receive her.
“Sir,” said she, “it is superfluous for me to tell you that Valentine’s marriage is broken off, since it was here that the affair was concluded.” Noirtier’s countenance remained immovable. “But one thing I can tell you, of
which I do not think you are aware; that is, that I have always been opposed to this marriage, and that the contract was entered into entirely without my consent or approbation.” Noirtier regarded his daughter-in-law with the look of a man desiring an explanation. “Now that this marriage, which I know you so much disliked,
is done away with, I come to you on an errand which neither M. de Villefort nor Valentine could consistently undertake.” Noirtier’s eyes demanded the nature of her mission. “I come to entreat you, sir,” continued
Madame de Villefort, “as the only one who has the right of doing so, inasmuch as I am the only one who will receive no personal benefit from the transaction, — I come to entreat you to restore, not your love, for that she
has always possessed, but to restore your fortune to your granddaughter.”
There was a doubtful expression in Noirtier’s eyes; he was evidently trying to discover the motive of this proceeding, and he could not succeed in doing so. “May I hope, sir,” said Madame de Villefort, “that your intentions accord with my request?” Noirtier made a sign that they did. “In that case, sir,” rejoined Madame de Villefort, “I will leave you overwhelmed with gratitude and happiness at your prompt acquiescence to my wishes.” She then bowed to M. Noirtier and retired.
The next day M. Noirtier sent for the notary; the first will was torn up and a second made, in which he left the whole of his fortune to Valentine, on condition that she should never be separated from him. It was then
generally reported that Mademoiselle de Villefort, the heiress of the marquis and marchioness of Saint-Meran, had regained the good graces of her grandfather, and that she would ultimately be in possession of an income
of 300,000 livres.
While all the proceedings relative to the dissolution of the marriage-contract were being carried on at the
house of M. de Villefort, Monte Cristo had paid his visit to the Count of Morcerf, who, in order to lose no time in responding to M. Danglars’ wishes, and at the same time to pay all due deference to his position in
society, donned his uniform of lieutenant-general, which he ornamented with all his crosses, and thus attired, ordered his finest horses and drove to the Rue de la Chausse d’Antin.
Danglars was balancing his monthly accounts, and it was perhaps not the most favorable moment for finding him in his best humor. At the first sight of his old friend, Danglars assumed his majestic air, and settled
himself in his easy-chair. Morcerf, usually so stiff and formal, accosted the banker in an affable and smiling manner, and, feeling sure that the overture he was about make would be well received, he did not consider it necessary to adopt any manoeuvres in order to gain his end, but went at once straight to the point.
“Well, baron,” said he, “here I am at last; some time has elapsed since our plans were formed, and they are not
yet executed.” Morcerf paused at these words, quietly waiting till the cloud should have dispersed which had gathered on the brow of Danglars, and which he attributed to his silence; but, on the contrary, to his great surprise, it grew darker and darker. “To what do you allude, monsieur?” said Danglars; as if he were trying in vain to guess at the possible meaning of the general’s words.
“Ah,” said Morcerf, “I see you are a stickler for forms, my dear sir, and you would remind me that the ceremonial rites should not be omitted. Ma foi, I beg your pardon, but as I have but one son, and it is the first time I have ever thought of marrying him, I am still serving my apprenticeship, you know; come, I will
reform.” And Morcerf with a forced smile arose, and, making a low bow to M. Danglars, said: “Baron, I have
the honor of asking of you the hand of Mademoiselle Eugenie Danglars for my son, the Vicomte Albert de
But Danglars, instead of receiving this address in the favorable manner which Morcerf had expected, knit his brow, and without inviting the count, who was still standing, to take a seat. he said: “Monsieur, it will be necessary to reflect before I give you an answer.”
“To reflect?” said Morcerf, more and more astonished; “have you not had enough time for reflection during the eight years which have elapsed since this marriage was first discussed between us?”
“Count,” said the banker, “things are constantly occurring in the world to induce us to lay aside our most established opinions, or at all events to cause us to remodel them according to the change of circumstances, which may have placed affairs in a totally different light to that in which we at first viewed them.”
“I do not understand you, baron,” said Morcerf.
“What I mean to say is this, sir, — that during the last fortnight unforeseen circumstances have occurred” — “Excuse me,” said Morcerf, “but is it a play we are acting?”
“Yes, for it is like one; pray let us come more to the point, and endeavor thoroughly to understand each other.” “That is quite my desire.”
“You have seen M. de Monte Cristo have you not?”
“I see him very often,” said Danglars, drawing himself up; “he is a particular friend of mine.”
“Well, in one of your late conversations with him, you said that I appeared to be forgetful and irresolute
concerning this marriage, did you not?” “I did say so.”
“Well, here I am, proving at once that I am really neither the one nor the other, by entreating you to keep your promise on that score.”
Danglars did not answer. “Have you so soon changed your mind,” added Morcerf, “or have you only provoked
my request that you may have the pleasure of seeing me humbled?” Danglars, seeing that if he continued the conversation in the same tone in which he had begun it, the whole thing might turn out to his own
disadvantage, turned to Morcerf, and said: “Count, you must doubtless be surprised at my reserve, and I assure you it costs me much to act in such a manner towards you; but, believe me when I say that imperative
necessity has imposed the painful task upon me.”
“These are all so many empty words, my dear sir,” said Morcerf: “they might satisfy a new acquaintance, but
the Comte de Morcerf does not rank in that list; and when a man like him comes to another, recalls to him his plighted word, and this man fails to redeem the pledge, he has at least a right to exact from him a good reason
for so doing.” Danglars was a coward, but did not wish to appear so; he was piqued at the tone which Morcerf had just assumed. “I am not without a good reason for my conduct,” replied the banker.
“What do you mean to say?”
“I mean to say that I have a good reason, but that it is difficult to explain.”
“You must be aware, at all events, that it is impossible for me to understand motives before they are explained
to me; but one thing at least is clear, which is, that you decline allying yourself with my family.” “No, sir,” said Danglars; “I merely suspend my decision, that is all.”
“And do you really flatter yourself that I shall yield to all your caprices, and quietly and humbly await the time of again being received into your good graces?”
“Then, count, if you will not wait, we must look upon these projects as if they had never been entertained.” The count bit his lips till the blood almost started, to prevent the ebullition of anger which his proud and irritable temper scarcely allowed him to restrain; understanding, however, that in the present state of things
the laugh would decidedly be against him, he turned from the door, towards which he had been directing his steps, and again confronted the banker. A cloud settled on his brow, evincing decided anxiety and uneasiness, instead of the expression of offended pride which had lately reigned there. “My dear Danglars,” said Morcerf, “we have been acquainted for many years, and consequently we ought to make some allowance for each
other’s failings. You owe me an explanation, and really it is but fair that I should know what circumstance has occurred to deprive my son of your favor.”
“It is from no personal ill-feeling towards the viscount, that is all I can say, sir,” replied Danglars, who resumed his insolent manner as soon as he perceived that Morcerf was a little softened and calmed down.
“And towards whom do you bear this personal ill-feeling, then?” said Morcerf, turning pale with anger. The expression of the count’s face had not remained unperceived by the banker; he fixed on him a look of greater assurance than before, and said: “You may, perhaps, be better satisfied that I should not go farther into particulars.”
A tremor of suppressed rage shook the whole frame of the count, and making a violent effort over himself, he said: “I have a right to insist on your giving me an explanation. Is it Madame de Morcerf who has displeased
you? Is it my fortune which you find insufficient? Is it because my opinions differ from yours?”
“Nothing of the kind, sir,” replied Danglars: “if such had been the case, I only should have been to blame, inasmuch as I was aware of all these things when I made the engagement. No, do not seek any longer to discover the reason. I really am quite ashamed to have been the cause of your undergoing such severe
self-examination; let us drop the subject, and adopt the middle course of delay, which implies neither a
rupture nor an engagement. Ma foi, there is no hurry. My daughter is only seventeen years old, and your son twenty-one. While we wait, time will be progressing, events will succeed each other; things which in the
evening look dark and obscure, appear but too clearly in the light of morning, and sometimes the utterance of one word, or the lapse of a single day, will reveal the most cruel calumnies.”
“Calumnies, did you say, sir?” cried Morcerf, turning livid with rage. “Does any one dare to slander me?” “Monsieur, I told you that I considered it best to avoid all explanation.”
“Then, sir, I am patiently to submit to your refusal?”
“Yes, sir, although I assure you the refusal is as painful for me to give as it is for you to receive, for I had reckoned on the honor of your alliance, and the breaking off of a marriage contract always injures the lady more than the gentleman.”
“Enough, sir,” said Morcerf, “we will speak no more on the subject.” And clutching his gloves in anger, he left
the apartment. Danglars observed that during the whole conversation Morcerf had never once dared to ask if it was on his own account that Danglars recalled his word. That evening he had a long conference with several friends; and M. Cavalcanti, who had remained in the drawing-room with the ladies, was the last to leave the banker’s house.
The next morning, as soon as he awoke, Danglars asked for the newspapers; they were brought to him; he laid aside three or four, and at last fixed on the Impartial, the paper of which Beauchamp was the chief editor. He hastily tore off the cover, opened the journal with nervous precipitation, passed contemptuously over the Paris jottings, and arriving at the miscellaneous intelligence, stopped with a malicious smile, at a paragraph headed “We hear from Yanina.” “Very good,” observed Danglars, after having read the paragraph; “here is a little
article on Colonel Fernand, which, if I am not mistaken, would render the explanation which the Comte de
Morcerf required of me perfectly unnecessary.”
At the same moment, that is, at nine o’clock in the morning, Albert de Morcerf, dressed in a black coat
buttoned up to his chin, might have been seen walking with a quick and agitated step in the direction of Monte Cristo’s house in the Champs Elysees. When he presented himself at the gate the porter informed him that the Count had gone out about half an hour previously. “Did he take Baptistin with him?”
“No, my lord.”
“Call him, then; I wish to speak to him.” The concierge went to seek the valet de chambre, and returned with him in an instant.
“My good friend,” said Albert, “I beg pardon for my intrusion, but I was anxious to know from your own mouth if your master was really out or not.”
“He is really out, sir,” replied Baptistin. “Out, even to me?”
“I know how happy my master always is to receive the vicomte,” said Baptistin; “and I should therefore never
think of including him in any general order.”
“You are right; and now I wish to see him on an affair of great importance. Do you think it will be long before
he comes in?”
“No, I think not, for he ordered his breakfast at ten o’clock.”
“Well, I will go and take a turn in the Champs Elysees, and at ten o’clock I will return here; meanwhile, if the count should come in, will you beg him not to go out again without seeing me?”
“You may depend on my doing so, sir,” said Baptistin.
Albert left the cab in which he had come at the count’s door, intending to take a turn on foot. As he was
passing the Allee des Veuves, he thought he saw the count’s horses standing at Gosset’s shooting-gallery; he approached, and soon recognized the coachman. “Is the count shooting in the gallery?” said Morcerf.
“Yes, sir,” replied the coachman. While he was speaking, Albert had heard the report of two or three
pistol-shots. He entered, and on his way met the waiter. “Excuse me, my lord,” said the lad; “but will you have
the kindness to wait a moment?”
“What for, Philip?” asked Albert, who, being a constant visitor there, did not understand this opposition to his entrance.
“Because the person who is now in the gallery prefers being alone, and never practices in the presence of any one.”
“Not even before you, Philip? Then who loads his pistol?” “His servant.”
“A Nubian?” “A negro.”
“It is he, then.”
“Do you know this gentleman?”
“Yes, and I am come to look for him; he is a friend of mine.”
“Oh, that is quite another thing, then. I will go immediately and inform him of your arrival.” And Philip, urged
by his own curiosity, entered the gallery; a second afterwards, Monte Cristo appeared on the threshold. “I ask your pardon, my dear count,” said Albert, “for following you here, and I must first tell you that it was not the fault of your servants that I did so; I alone am to blame for the indiscretion. I went to your house, and they
told me you were out, but that they expected you home at ten o’clock to breakfast. I was walking about in order to pass away the time till ten o’clock, when I caught sight of your carriage and horses.”
“What you have just said induces me to hope that you intend breakfasting with me.”
“No, thank you, I am thinking of other things besides breakfast just now; perhaps we may take that meal at a later hour and in worse company.”
“What on earth are you talking of?”
“I am to fight to-day.” “For what?”
“I am going to fight” —
“Yes, I understand that, but what is the quarrel? People fight for all sorts of reasons, you know.”-
“I fight in the cause of honor.” “Ah, that is something serious.”
“So serious, that I come to beg you to render me a service.” “What is it?”
“To be my second.”
“That is a serious matter, and we will not discuss it here; let us speak of nothing till we get home. Ali, bring
me some water.” The count turned up his sleeves, and passed into the little vestibule where the gentlemen
were accustomed to wash their hands after shooting. “Come in, my lord,” said Philip in a low tone, “and I will show you something droll.” Morcerf entered, and in place of the usual target, he saw some playing-cards fixed against the wall. At a distance Albert thought it was a complete suit, for he counted from the ace to the ten.
“Ah, ha,” said Albert, “I see you were preparing for a game of cards.” “No,” said the count, “I was making a suit.”
“How?” said Albert.
“Those are really aces and twos which you see, but my shots have turned them into threes, fives, sevens, eights, nines, and tens.” Albert approached. In fact, the bullets had actually pierced the cards in the exact
places which the painted signs would otherwise have occupied, the lines and distances being as regularly kept
as if they had been ruled with pencil. “Diable,” said Morcerf.
“What would you have, my dear viscount?” said Monte Cristo, wiping his hands on the towel which Ali had brought him; “I must occupy my leisure moments in some way or other. But come, I am waiting for you.”
Both men entered Monte Cristo’s carriage, which in the course of a few minutes deposited them safely at No.
30. Monte Cristo took Albert into his study, and pointing to a seat, placed another for himself. “Now let us talk the matter over quietly,” said the count.
“You see I am perfectly composed,” said Albert. “With whom are you going to fight?”
“With Beauchamp.” “One of your friends!”
“Of course; it is always with friends that one fights.”
“I suppose you have some cause of quarrel?”
“What has he done to you?”
“There appeared in his journal last night — but wait, and read for yourself.” And Albert handed over the paper
to the count, who read as follows: —
“A correspondent at Yanina informs us of a fact of which until now we had remained in ignorance. The castle which formed the protection of the town was given up to the Turks by a French officer named Fernand, in
whom the grand vizier, Ali Tepelini, had reposed the greatest confidence.” “Well,” said Monte Cristo, “what do you see in that to annoy you?”
“What do I see in it?”
“Yes; what does it signify to you if the castle of Yanina was given up by a French officer?”
“It signifies to my father, the Count of Morcerf, whose Christian name is Fernand!” “Did your father serve under Ali Pasha?”
“Yes; that is to say, he fought for the independence of the Greeks, and hence arises the calumny.” “Oh, my dear viscount, do talk reason!”
“I do not desire to do otherwise.”
“Now, just tell me who the devil should know in France that the officer Fernand and the Count of Morcerf are one and the same person? and who cares now about Yanina, which was taken as long ago as the year 1822 or
“That just shows the meanness of this slander. They have allowed all this time to elapse, and then all of a
sudden rake up events which have been forgotten to furnish materials for scandal, in order to tarnish the lustre
of our high position. I inherit my father’s name, and I do not choose that the shadow of disgrace should darken
it. I am going to Beauchamp, in whose journal this paragraph appears, and I shall insist on his retracting the assertion before two witnesses.”
“Beauchamp will never retract.” “Then he must fight.”
“No he will not, for he will tell you, what is very true, that perhaps there were fifty officers in the Greek army bearing the same name.”
“We will fight, nevertheless. I will efface that blot on my father’s character. My father, who was such a brave soldier, whose career was so brilliant” —
“Oh, well, he will add, `We are warranted in believing that this Fernand is not the illustrious Count of
Morcerf, who also bears the same Christian name.'”
“I am determined not to be content with anything short of an entire retractation.”
“And you intend to make him do it in the presence of two witnesses, do you?” “Yes.”
“You do wrong.”
“Which means, I suppose, that you refuse the service which I asked of you?”
“You know my theory regarding duels; I told you my opinion on that subject, if you remember, when we were
“Nevertheless, my dear count, I found you this morning engaged in an occupation but little consistent with the notions you profess to entertain.”
“Because, my dear fellow, you understand one must never be eccentric. If one’s lot is cast among fools, it is necessary to study folly. I shall perhaps find myself one day called out by some harebrained scamp, who has
no more real cause of quarrel with me than you have with Beauchamp; he may take me to task for some
foolish trifle or other, he will bring his witnesses, or will insult me in some public place, and I am expected to kill him for all that.”
“You admit that you would fight, then? Well, if so, why do you object to my doing so?”
“I do not say that you ought not to fight, I only say that a duel is a serious thing, and ought not to be undertaken without due reflection.”
“Did he reflect before he insulted my father?”
“If he spoke hastily, and owns that he did so, you ought to be satisfied.” “Ah, my dear count, you are far too indulgent.”
“And you are far too exacting. Supposing, for instance, and do not be angry at what I am going to say” — “Well.”
“Supposing the assertion to be really true?”
“A son ought not to submit to such a stain on his father’s honor.”
“Ma foi, we live in times when there is much to which we must submit.” “That is precisely the fault of the age.”
“And do you undertake to reform it?”
“Yes, as far as I am personally concerned.”
“Well, you the?? indeed exacting, my dear fellow!” “Yes, I own it.”
“Are you quite impervious to good advice?”
“Not when it comes from a friend.” “And do you account me that title?” “Certainly I do.”
“Well, then, before going to Beauchamp with your witnesses, seek further information on the subject.” “From whom?”
“Why, what can be the use of mixing a woman up in the affair? — what can she do in it?”
“She can declare to you, for example, that your father had no hand whatever in the defeat and death of the vizier; or if by chance he had, indeed, the misfortune to” —
“I have told you, my dear count, that I would not for one moment admit of such a proposition.” “You reject this means of information, then?”
“I do — most decidedly.”
“Then let me offer one more word of advice.” “Do so, then, but let it be the last.”
“You do not wish to hear it, perhaps?” “On the contrary, I request it.”
“Do not take any witnesses with you when you go to Beauchamp — visit him alone.” “That would be contrary to all custom.”
“Your case is not an ordinary one.”
“And what is your reason for advising me to go alone?”
“Because then the affair will rest between you and Beauchamp.” “Explain yourself.”
“I will do so. If Beauchamp be disposed to retract, you ought at least to give him the opportunity of doing it of
his own free will, — the satisfaction to you will be the same. If, on the contrary, he refuses to do so, it will then
be quite time enough to admit two strangers into your secret.” “They will not be strangers, they will be friends.”
“Ah, but the friends of to-day are the enemies of to-morrow; Beauchamp, for instance.”
“So you recommend” —
“I recommend you to be prudent.”
“Then you advise me to go alone to Beauchamp?”
“I do, and I will tell you why. When you wish to obtain some concession from a man’s self-love, you must avoid even the appearance of wishing to wound it.”
“I believe you are right.” “I am glad of it.”
“Then I will go alone.”
“Go; but you would do better still by not going at all.” “That is impossible.”
“Do so, then; it will be a wiser plan than the first which you proposed.”
“But if, in spite of all my precautions, I am at last obliged to fight, will you not be my second?”
“My dear viscount,” said Monte Cristo gravely, “you must have seen before to-day that at all times and in all places I have been at your disposal, but the service which you have just demanded of me is one which it is out
of my power to render you.” “Why?”
“Perhaps you may know at some future period, and in the mean time I request you to excuse my declining to put you in possession of my reasons.”
“Well, I will have Franz and Chateau-Renaud; they will be the very men for it.” “Do so, then.”
“But if I do fight, you will surely not object to giving me a lesson or two in shooting and fencing?” “That, too, is impossible.”
“What a singular being you are! — you will not interfere in anything.” “You are right — that is the principle on which I wish to act.”
“We will say no more about it, then. Good-by, count.” Morcerf took his hat, and left the room. He found his carriage at the door, and doing his utmost to restrain his anger he went at once to find Beauchamp, who was in
his office. It was a gloomy, dusty-looking apartment, such as journalists’ offices have always been from time immemorial. The servant announced M. Albert de Morcerf. Beauchamp repeated the name to himself, as
though he could scarcely believe that he had heard aright, and then gave orders for him to be admitted. Albert entered. Beauchamp uttered an exclamation of surprise on seeing his friend leap over and trample under foot
all the newspapers which were strewed about the room. “This way, this way, my dear Albert!” said he, holding out his hand to the young man. “Are you out of your senses, or do you come peaceably to take
breakfast with me? Try and find a seat — there is one by that geranium, which is the only thing in the room to
remind me that there are other leaves in the world besides leaves of paper.” “Beauchamp,” said Albert, “it is of your journal that I come to speak.” “Indeed? What do you wish to say about it?”
“I desire that a statement contained in it should be rectified.” “To what do you refer? But pray sit down.”
“Thank you,” said Albert, with a cold and formal bow.
“Will you now have the kindness to explain the nature of the statement which has displeased you?” “An announcement has been made which implicates the honor of a member of my family.”
“What is it?” said Beauchamp, much surprised; “surely you must be mistaken.” “The story sent you from Yanina.”
“Yes; really you appear to be totally ignorant of the cause which brings me here.”
“Such is really the case, I assure you, upon my honor! Baptiste, give me yesterday’s paper,” cried Beauchamp. “Here, I have brought mine with me,” replied Albert.
Beauchamp took the paper, and read the article to which Albert pointed in an undertone. “You see it is a
serious annoyance,” said Morcerf, when Beauchamp had finished the perusal of the paragraph. “Is the officer referred to a relation of yours, then?” demanded the journalist.
“Yes,” said Albert, blushing.
“Well, what do you wish me to do for you?” said Beauchamp mildly.
“My dear Beauchamp, I wish you to contradict this statement.” Beauchamp looked at Albert with a benevolent expression.
“Come,” said he, “this matter will want a good deal of talking over; a retractation is always a serious thing, you know. Sit down, and I will read it again.” Albert resumed his seat, and Beauchamp read, with more attention than at first, the lines denounced by his friend. “Well,” said Albert in a determined tone, “you see that your paper his insulted a member of my family, and I insist on a retractation being made.”
“You insist?” “Yes, I insist.”
“Permit me to remind you that you are not in the Chamber, my dear Viscount.”
“Nor do I wish to be there,” replied the young man, rising. “I repeat that I am determined to have the
announcement of yesterday contradicted. You have known me long enough,” continued Albert, biting his lips
convulsively, for he saw that Beauchamp’s anger was beginning to rise, — “you have been my friend, and therefore sufficiently intimate with me to be aware that I am likely to maintain my resolution on this point.”
“If I have been your friend, Morcerf, your present manner of speaking would almost lead me to forget that I
ever bore that title. But wait a moment, do not let us get angry, or at least not yet. You are irritated and vexed
— tell me how this Fernand is related to you?”
“He is merely my father,” said Albert — “M. Fernand Mondego, Count of Morcerf, an old soldier who has fought in twenty battles and whose honorable scars they would denounce as badges of disgrace.”
“Is it your father?” said Beauchamp; “that is quite another thing. Then can well understand your indignation,
my dear Albert. I will look at it again;” and he read the paragraph for the third time, laying a stress on each word as he proceeded. “But the paper nowhere identifies this Fernand with your father.”
“No; but the connection will be seen by others, and therefore I will have the article contradicted.” At the
words “I will,” Beauchamp steadily raised his eyes to Albert’s countenance, and then as gradually lowering
them, he remained thoughtful for a few moments. “You will retract this assertion, will you not, Beauchamp?”
said Albert with increased though stifled anger. “Yes,” replied Beauchamp.
“Immediately?” said Albert.
“When I am convinced that the statement is false.” “What?”
“The thing is worth looking into, and I will take pains to investigate the matter thoroughly.”
“But what is there to investigate, sir?” said Albert, enraged beyond measure at Beauchamp’s last remark. “If you do not believe that it is my father, say so immediately; and if, on the contrary, you believe it to be him, state your reasons for doing so.” Beauchamp looked at Albert with the smile which was so peculiar to him,
and which in its numerous modifications served to express every varied emotion of his mind. “Sir,” replied he,
“if you came to me with the idea of demanding satisfaction, you should have gone at once to the point, and not have entertained me with the idle conversation to which I have been patiently listening for the last half hour.
Am I to put this construction on your visit?”
“Yes, if you will not consent to retract that infamous calumny.”
“Wait a moment — no threats, if you please, M. Fernand Mondego, Vicomte de Morcerf; I never allow them from my enemies, and therefore shall not put up with them from my friends. You insist on my contradicting
the article relating to General Fernand, an article with which, I assure you on my word of honor, I had nothing whatever to do?”
“Yes, I insist on it,” said Albert, whose mind was beginning to get bewildered with the excitement of his feelings.
“And if I refuse to retract, you wish to fight, do you?” said Beauchamp in a calm tone. “Yes,” replied Albert, raising his voice.
“Well,” said Beauchamp, “here is my answer, my dear sir. The article was not inserted by me — I was not even
aware of it; but you have, by the step you have taken, called my attention to the paragraph in question, and it will remain until it shall be either contradicted or confirmed by some one who has a right to do so.”
“Sir,” said Albert, rising, “I will do myself the honor of sending my seconds to you, and you will be kind enough to arrange with them the place of meeting and the weapons.”
“Certainly, my dear sir.”
“And this evening, if you please, or to-morrow at the latest, we will meet.”
“No, no, I will be on the ground at the proper time; but in my opinion (and I have a right to dictate the preliminaries, as it is I who have received the provocation) — in my opinion the time ought not to be yet. I
know you to be well skilled in the management of the sword, while I am only moderately so; I know, too, that you are a good marksman — there we are about equal. I know that a duel between us two would be a serious affair, because you are brave, and I am brave also. I do not therefore wish either to kill you, or to be killed
myself without a cause. Now, I am going to put a question to you, and one very much to the purpose too. Do you insist on this retractation so far as to kill me if I do not make it, although I have repeated more than once,
and affirmed on my honor, that I was ignorant of the thing with which you charge me, and although I still declare that it is impossible for any one but you to recognize the Count of Morcerf under the name of Fernand?”
“I maintain my original resolution.”
“Very well, my dear sir; then I consent to cut throats with you. But I require three weeks’ preparation; at the end of that time I shall come and say to you, `The assertion is false, and I retract it,’ or `The assertion is true,’ when I shall immediately draw the sword from its sheath, or the pistols from the case, whichever you please.”
“Three weeks!” cried Albert; “they will pass as slowly as three centuries when I am all the time suffering dishonor.”
“Had you continued to remain on amicable terms with me, I should have said, `Patience, my friend;’ but you have constituted yourself my enemy, therefore I say, `What does that signify to me, sir?'”
“Well, let it be three weeks then,” said Morcerf; “but remember, at the expiration of that time no delay or subterfuge will justify you in” —
“M. Albert de Morcerf,” said Beauchamp, rising in his turn, “I cannot throw you out of window for three
weeks — that is to say, for twenty-four days to come — nor have you any right to split my skull open till that
time has elapsed. To-day is the 29th of August; the 21st of September will, therefore, be the conclusion of the term agreed on, and till that time arrives — and it is the advice of a gentleman which I am about to give you —
till then we will refrain from growling and barking like two dogs chained within sight of each other.” When he had concluded his speech, Beauchamp bowed coldly to Albert, turned his back upon him, and went to the
Albert vented his anger on a pile of newspapers, which he sent flying all over the office by switching them violently with his stick; after which ebullition he departed — not, however, without walking several times to
the door of the press-room, as if he had half a mind to enter. While Albert was lashing the front of his carriage
in the same manner that he had the newspapers which were the innocent agents of his discomfiture, as he was crossing the barrier he perceived Morrel, who was walking with a quick step and a bright eye. He was passing
the Chinese Baths, and appeared to have come from the direction of the Porte Saint-Martin, and to be going towards the Madeleine. “Ah,” said Morcerf, “there goes a happy man!” And it so happened Albert was not
mistaken in his opinion.
Morrel was, in fact, very happy. M. Noirtier had just sent for him, and he was in such haste to know the
reason of his doing so that he had not stopped to take a cab, placing infinitely more dependence on his own two legs than on the four legs of a cab-horse. He had therefore set off at a furious rate from the Rue Meslay, and was hastening with rapid strides in the direction of the Faubourg Saint-Honore. Morrel advanced with a firm, manly tread, and poor Barrois followed him as he best might. Morrel was only thirty-one, Barrois was sixty years of age; Morrel was deeply in love, and Barrois was dying with heat and exertion. These two men, thus opposed in age and interests, resembled two parts of a triangle, presenting the extremes of separation, yet nevertheless possessing their point of union. This point of union was Noirtier, and it was he who had just sent
for Morrel, with the request that the latter would lose no time in coming to him — a command which Morrel obeyed to the letter, to the great discomfiture of Barrois. On arriving at the house, Morrel was not even out of breath, for love lends wings to our desires; but Barrois, who had long forgotten what it was to love, was sorely fatigued by the expedition he had been constrained to use.
The old servant introduced Morrel by a private entrance, closed the door of the study, and soon the rustling of
a dress announced the arrival of Valentine. She looked marvellously beautiful in her deep mourning dress, and
Morrel experienced such intense delight in gazing upon her that he felt as if he could almost have dispensed with the conversation of her grandfather. But the easy-chair of the old man was heard rolling along the floor, and he soon made his appearance in the room. Noirtier acknowledged by a look of extreme kindness and benevolence the thanks which Morrel lavished on him for his timely intervention on behalf of Valentine and
himself — an intervention which had saved them from despair. Morrel then cast on the invalid an interrogative look as to the new favor which he designed to bestow on him. Valentine was sitting at a little distance from
them, timidly awaiting the moment when she should be obliged to speak. Noirtier fixed his eyes on her. “Am I
to say what you told me?” asked Valentine. Noirtier made a sign that she was to do so.
“Monsieur Morrel,” said Valentine to the young man, who was regarding her with the most intense interest,
“my grandfather, M. Noirtier, had a thousand things to say, which he told me three days ago; and now, he has sent for you, that I may repeat them to you. I will repeat them, then; and since he has chosen me as his interpreter, I will be faithful to the trust, and will not alter a word of his intentions.”
“Oh, I am listening with the greatest impatience,” replied the young man; “speak, I beg of you.” Valentine cast down her eyes; this was a good omen for Morrel, for he knew that nothing but happiness could have the
power of thus overcoming Valentine. “My grandfather intends leaving this house,” said she, “and Barrois is looking out suitable apartments for him in another.”
“But you, Mademoiselle de Villefort, — you, who are necessary to M. Noirtier’s happiness” —
“I?” interrupted Valentine; “I shall not leave my grandfather, — that is an understood thing between us. My apartment will be close to his. Now, M. de Villefort must either give his consent to this plan or his refusal; in
the first case, I shall leave directly, and in the second, I shall wait till I am of age, which will be in about ten months. Then I shall be free, I shall have an independent fortune, and” —
“And what?” demanded Morrel.
“And with my grandfather’s consent I shall fulfil the promise which I have made you.” Valentine pronounced these last few words in such a low tone, that nothing but Morrel’s intense interest in what she was saying
could have enabled him to hear them. “Have I not explained your wishes, grandpapa?” said Valentine,
addressing Noirtier. “Yes,” looked the old man. — “Once under my grandfather’s roof, M. Morrel can visit me
in the presence of my good and worthy protector, if we still feel that the union we contemplated will be likely
to insure our future comfort and happiness; in that case I shall expect M. Morrel to come and claim me at my
own hands. But, alas, I have heard it said that hearts inflamed by obstacles to their desire grew cold in time of security; I trust we shall never find it so in our experience!”
“Oh,” cried Morrel, almost tempted to throw himself on his knees before Noirtier and Valentine, and to adore them as two superior beings, “what have I ever done in my life to merit such unbounded happiness?”
“Until that time,” continued the young girl in a calm and self-possessed tone of voice, “we will conform to circumstances, and be guided by the wishes of our friends, so long as those wishes do not tend finally to separate us; in a word, and I repeat it, because it expresses all I wish to convey, — we will wait.”
“And I swear to make all the sacrifices which this word imposes, sir,” said Morrel, “not only with resignation, but with cheerfulness.”
“Therefore,” continued Valentine, looking playfully at Maximilian, “no more inconsiderate actions — no more rash projects; for you surely would not wish to compromise one who from this day regards herself as destined, honorably and happily, to bear your name?”
Morrel looked obedience to her commands. Noirtier regarded the lovers with a look of ineffable tenderness, while Barrois, who had remained in the room in the character of a man privileged to know everything that passed, smiled on the youthful couple as he wiped the perspiration from his bald forehead. “How hot you
look, my good Barrois,” said Valentine.
“Ah, I have been running very fast, mademoiselle, but I must do M. Morrel the justice to say that he ran still faster.” Noirtier directed their attention to a waiter, on which was placed a decanter containing lemonade and a glass. The decanter was nearly full, with the exception of a little, which had been already drunk by M.
“Come, Barrois,” said the young girl, “take some of this lemonade; I see you are coveting a good draught of it.”
“The fact is, mademoiselle,” said Barrois, “I am dying with thirst, and since you are so kind as to offer it me, I
cannot say I should at all object to drinking your health in a glass of it.”
“Take some, then, and come back immediately.” Barrois took away the waiter, and hardly was he outside the door, which in his haste he forgot to shut, than they saw him throw back his head and empty to the very dregs
the glass which Valentine had filled. Valentine and Morrel were exchanging their adieux in the presence of
Noirtier when a ring was heard at the door-bell. It was the signal of a visit. Valentine looked at her watch.
“It is past noon,” said she, “and to-day is Saturday; I dare say it is the doctor, grandpapa.” Noirtier looked his conviction that she was right in her supposition. “He will come in here, and M. Morrel had better go, — do you
not think so, grandpapa?” “Yes,” signed the old man.
“Barrois,” cried Valentine, “Barrois!”
“I am coming, mademoiselle,” replied he. “Barrois will open the door for you,” said Valentine, addressing
Morrel. “And now remember one thing, Monsieur Officer, that my grandfather commands you not to take any rash or ill-advised step which would be likely to compromise our happiness.”
“I promised him to wait,” replied Morrel; “and I will wait.”
At this moment Barrois entered. “Who rang?” asked Valentine.
“Doctor d’Avrigny,” said Barrois, staggering as if he would fall.
“What is the matter, Barrois?” said Valentine. The old man did not answer, but looked at his master with wild staring eyes, while with his cramped hand he grasped a piece of furniture to enable him to stand upright. “He
is going to fall!” cried Morrel. The rigors which had attacked Barrois gradually increased, the features of the
face became quite altered, and the convulsive movement of the muscles appeared to indicate the approach of a most serious nervous disorder. Noirtier, seeing Barrois in this pitiable condition, showed by his looks all the various emotions of sorrow and sympathy which can animate the heart of man. Barrois made some steps
towards his master.
“Ah, sir,” said he, “tell me what is the matter with me. I am suffering — I cannot see. A thousand fiery darts
are piercing my brain. Ah, don’t touch me, pray don’t.” By this time his haggard eyes had the appearance of being ready to start from their sockets; his head fell back, and the lower extremities of the body began to
stiffen. Valentine uttered a cry of horror; Morrel took her in his arms, as if to defend her from some unknown danger. “M. d’Avrigny, M. d’Avrigny,” cried she, in a stifled voice. “Help, help!” Barrois turned round and
with a great effort stumbled a few steps, then fell at the feet of Noirtier, and resting his hand on the knee of the invalid, exclaimed, “My master, my good master!” At this moment M. de Villefort, attracted by the noise, appeared on the threshold. Morrel relaxed his hold of Valentine, and retreating to a distant corner of the room remained half hidden behind a curtain. Pale as if he had been gazing on a serpent, he fixed his terrified eye on
the agonized sufferer.
Noirtier, burning with impatience and terror, was in despair at his utter inability to help his old domestic,
whom he regarded more in the light of a friend than a servant. One might by the fearful swelling of the veins
of his forehead and the contraction of the muscles round the eye, trace the terrible conflict which was going on between the living energetic mind and the inanimate and helpless body. Barrois, his features convulsed, his
eyes suffused with blood, and his head thrown back, was lying at full length, beating the floor with his hands, while his legs had become so stiff, that they looked as if they would break rather than bend. A slight
appearance of foam was visible around the mouth, and he breathed painfully, and with extreme difficulty.
Villefort seemed stupefied with astonishment, and remained gazing intently on the scene before him without uttering a word. He had not seen Morrel. After a moment of dumb contemplation, during which his face
became pale and his hair seemed to stand on end, he sprang towards the door, crying out, “Doctor, doctor!
come instantly, pray come!”
“Madame, madame!” cried Valentine, calling her step-mother, and running up-stairs to meet her; “come quick, quick! — and bring your bottle of smelling-salts with you.”
“What is the matter?” said Madame de Villefort in a harsh and constrained tone. “Oh, come, come!”
“But where is the doctor?” exclaimed Villefort; “where is he?” Madame de Villefort now deliberately descended the staircase. In one hand she held her handkerchief, with which she appeared to be wiping her face, and in the other a bottle of English smelling-salts. Her first look on entering the room was at Noirtier,
whose face, independent of the emotion which such a scene could not fail of producing, proclaimed him to be
in possession of his usual health; her second glance was at the dying man. She turned pale, and her eye passed quickly from the servant and rested on the master.
“In the name of heaven, madame,” said Villefort, “where is the doctor? He was with you just now. You see this is a fit of apoplexy, and he might be saved if he could but be bled!”
“Has he eaten anything lately?” asked Madame de Villefort, eluding her husband’s question. “Madame,”
replied Valentine, “he has not even breakfasted. He has been running very fast on an errand with which my grandfather charged him, and when he returned, took nothing but a glass of lemonade.”
“Ah,” said Madame de Villefort, “why did he not take wine? Lemonade was a very bad thing for him.” “Grandpapa’s bottle of lemonade was standing just by his side; poor Barrois was very thirsty, and was
thankful to drink anything he could find.” Madame de Villefort started. Noirtier looked at her with a glance of
the most profound scrutiny. “He has such a short neck,” said she. “Madame,” said Villefort, “I ask where is M. d’Avrigny? In God’s name answer me!”
“He is with Edward, who is not quite well,” replied Madame de Villefort, no longer being able to avoid answering.
Villefort rushed up-stairs to fetch him. “Take this,” said Madame de Villefort, giving her smelling-bottle to
Valentine. “They will, no doubt, bleed him; therefore I will retire, for I cannot endure the sight of blood;” and
she followed her husband up-stairs. Morrel now emerged from his hiding-place, where he had remained quite unperceived, so great had been the general confusion. “Go away as quick as you can, Maximilian,” said Valentine, “and stay till I send for you. Go.”
Morrel looked towards Noirtier for permission to retire. The old man, who had preserved all his usual
coolness, made a sign to him to do so. The young man pressed Valentine’s hand to his lips, and then left the
house by a back staircase. At the same moment that he quitted the room, Villefort and the doctor entered by an opposite door. Barrois was now showing signs of returning consciousness. The crisis seemed past, a low
moaning was heard, and he raised himself on one knee. D’Avrigny and Villefort laid him on a couch. “What
do you prescribe, doctor?” demanded Villefort. “Give me some water and ether. You have some in the house, have you not?”
“Send for some oil of turpentine and tartar emetic.”
Villefort immediately despatched a messenger. “And now let every one retire.” “Must I go too?” asked Valentine timidly.
“Yes, mademoiselle, you especially,” replied the doctor abruptly.
Valentine looked at M. d’Avrigny with astonishment, kissed her grandfather on the forehead, and left the
room. The doctor closed the door after her with a gloomy air. “Look, look, doctor,” said Villefort, “he is quite coming round again; I really do not think, after all, it is anything of consequence.” M. d’Avrigny answered by
a melancholy smile. “How do you feel, Barrois?” asked he. “A little better, sir.” “Will you drink some of this ether and water?”
“I will try; but don’t touch me.” “Why not?”
“Because I feel that if you were only to touch me with the tip of your finger the fit would return.” “Drink.”
Barrois took the glass, and, raising it to his purple lips, took about half of the liquid offered him. “Where do
you suffer?” asked the doctor.
“Everywhere. I feel cramps over my whole body.”
“Do you find any dazzling sensation before the eyes?” “Yes.”
“Any noise in the ears?” “Frightful.”
“When did you first feel that?” “Just now.”
“Yes, like a clap of thunder.”
“Did you feel nothing of it yesterday or the day before?” “Nothing.”
“No drowsiness?” “None.”
“What have you eaten to-day?”
“I have eaten nothing; I only drank a glass of my master’s lemonade — that’s all;” and Barrois turned towards
Noirtier, who, immovably fixed in his arm-chair, was contemplating this terrible scene without allowing a word or a movement to escape him.
“Where is this lemonade?” asked the doctor eagerly. “Down-stairs in the decanter.”
“Whereabouts downstairs?” “In the kitchen.”
“Shall I go and fetch it, doctor?” inquired Villefort.
“No, stay here and try to make Barrois drink the rest of this glass of ether and water. I will go myself and fetch
the lemonade.” D’Avrigny bounded towards the door, flew down the back staircase, and almost knocked down
Madame de Villefort, in his haste, who was herself going down to the kitchen. She cried out, but d’Avrigny paid no attention to her; possessed with but one idea, he cleared the last four steps with a bound, and rushed into the kitchen, where he saw the decanter about three parts empty still standing on the waiter, where it had been left. He darted upon it as an eagle would seize upon its prey. Panting with loss of breath, he returned to
the room he had just left. Madame de Villefort was slowly ascending the steps which led to her room. “Is this
the decanter you spoke of?” asked d’Avrigny.
“Is this the same lemonade of which you partook?” “I believe so.”
“What did it taste like?” “It had a bitter taste.”
The doctor poured some drops of the lemonade into the palm of his hand, put his lips to it, and after having rinsed his mouth as a man does when he is tasting wine, he spat the liquor into the fireplace.
“It is no doubt the same,” said he. “Did you drink some too, M. Noirtier?” “Yes.”
“And did you also discover a bitter taste?” “Yes.”
“Oh, doctor,” cried Barrois, “the fit is coming on again. Oh, do something for me.” The doctor flew to his patient. “That emetic, Villefort — see if it is coming.” Villefort sprang into the passage, exclaiming, “The emetic! the emetic! — is it come yet?” No one answered. The most profound terror reigned throughout the house. “If I had anything by means of which I could inflate the lungs,” said d’Avrigny, looking around him, “perhaps I might prevent suffocation. But there is nothing which would do — nothing!” “Oh, sir,” cried
Barrois, “are you going to let me die without help? Oh, I am dying! Oh, save me!”
“A pen, a pen!” said the doctor. There was one lying on the table; he endeavored to introduce it into the mouth
of the patient, who, in the midst of his convulsions, was making vain attempts to vomit; but the jaws were so clinched that the pen could not pass them. This second attack was much more violent than the first, and he had slipped from the couch to the ground, where he was writhing in agony. The doctor left him in this paroxysm, knowing that he could do nothing to alleviate it, and, going up to Noirtier, said abruptly, “How do you find yourself? — well?”
“Have you any weight on the chest; or does your stomach feel light and comfortable — eh?” “Yes.”
“Then you feel pretty much as you generally do after you have had the dose which I am accustomed to give you every Sunday?”
“Did Barrois make your lemonade?” “Yes.”
“Was it you who asked him to drink some of it?”
“Was it M. de Villefort?” “No.”
“It was your granddaughter, then, was it not?”
“Yes.” A groan from Barrois, accompanied by a yawn which seemed to crack the very jawbones, attracted the attention of M. d’Avrigny; he left M. Noirtier, and returned to the sick man. “Barrois,” said the doctor, “can
you speak?” Barrois muttered a few unintelligible words. “Try and make an effort to do so, my good man.”
said d’Avrigny. Barrois reopened his bloodshot eyes. “Who made the lemonade?”
“Did you bring it to your master directly it was made?” “No.”
“You left it somewhere, then, in the meantime?”
“Yes; I left it in the pantry, because I was called away.” “Who brought it into this room, then?”
“Mademoiselle Valentine.” D’Avrigny struck his forehead with his hand. “Gracious heaven,” exclaimed he. “Doctor, doctor!” cried Barrois, who felt another fit coming.
“Will they never bring that emetic?” asked the doctor.
“Here is a glass with one already prepared,” said Villefort, entering the room. “Who prepared it?”
“The chemist who came here with me.”
“Drink it,” said the doctor to Barrois. “Impossible, doctor; it is too late; my throat is closing up. I am choking! Oh, my heart! Ah, my head! — Oh, what agony! — Shall I suffer like this long?”
“No, no, friend,” replied the doctor, “you will soon cease to suffer.”
“Ah, I understand you,” said the unhappy man. “My God, have mercy upon me!” and, uttering a fearful cry, Barrois fell back as if he had been struck by lightning. D’Avrigny put his hand to his heart, and placed a glass before his lips.
“Well?” said Villefort. “Go to the kitchen and get me some syrup of violets.” Villefort went immediately. “Do
not be alarmed, M. Noirtier,” said d’Avrigny; “I am going to take my patient into the next room to bleed him;
this sort of attack is very frightful to witness.”
And taking Barrois under the arms, he dragged him into an adjoining room; but almost immediately he returned to fetch the lemonade. Noirtier closed lids right eye. “You want Valentine, do you not? I will tell
them to send her to you.” Villefort returned, and d’Avrigny met him in the passage. “Well, how is he now?”
asked he. “Come in here,” said d’Avrigny, and he took him into the chamber where the sick man lay. “Is he still in a fit?” said the procureur.
“He is dead.”
Villefort drew back a few steps, and, clasping his hands, exclaimed, with real amazement and sympathy, “Dead? — and so soon too!”
“Yes, it is very soon,” said the doctor, looking at the corpse before him; “but that ought not to astonish you; Monsieur and Madame de Saint-Meran died as soon. People die very suddenly in your house, M. de
“What?” cried the magistrate, with an accent of horror and consternation, “are you still harping on that terrible idea?”
“Still, sir; and I shall always do so,” replied d’Avrigny, “for it has never for one instant ceased to retain possession of my mind; and that you may be quite sure I am not mistaken this time, listen well to what I am going to say, M. de Villefort.” The magistrate trembled convulsively. “There is a poison which destroys life almost without leaving any perceptible traces. I know it well; I have studied it in all its forms and in the
effects which it produces. I recognized the presence of this poison in the case of poor Barrois as well as in that
of Madame de Saint-Meran. There is a way of detecting its presence. It restores the blue color of litmus-paper reddened by an acid, and it turns syrup of violets green. We have no litmus-paper, but, see, here they come
with the syrup of violets.”
The doctor was right; steps were heard in the passage. M. d’Avrigny opened the door, and took from the hands
of the chambermaid a cup which contained two or three spoonfuls of the syrup, he then carefully closed the door. “Look,” said he to the procureur, whose heart beat so loudly that it might almost be heard, “here is in
this cup some syrup of violets, and this decanter contains the remainder of the lemonade of which M. Noirtier and Barrois partook. If the lemonade be pure and inoffensive, the syrup will retain its color; if, on the
contrary, the lemonade be drugged with poison, the syrup will become green. Look closely!”
The doctor then slowly poured some drops of the lemonade from the decanter into the cup, and in an instant a light cloudy sediment began to form at the bottom of the cup; this sediment first took a blue shade, then from
the color of sapphire it passed to that of opal, and from opal to emerald. Arrived at this last hue, it changed no more. The result of the experiment left no doubt whatever on the mind.
“The unfortunate Barrois has been poisoned,” said d’Avrigny, “and I will maintain this assertion before God and man.” Villefort said nothing, but he clasped his hands, opened his haggard eyes, and, overcome with his
emotion, sank into a chair.
M. D’Avrigny soon restored the magistrate to consciousness, who had looked like a second corpse in that chamber of death. “Oh, death is in my house!” cried Villefort.
“Say, rather, crime!” replied the doctor.
“M. d’Avrigny,” cried Villefort, “I cannot tell you all I feel at this moment, — terror, grief, madness.”
“Yes,” said M. d’Avrigny, with an imposing calmness, “but I think it is now time to act. I think it is time to stop this torrent of mortality. I can no longer bear to be in possession of these secrets without the hope of
seeing the victims and society generally revenged.” Villefort cast a gloomy look around him. “In my house,”
murmured he, “in my house!”
“Come, magistrate,” said M. d’Avrigny, “show yourself a man; as an interpreter of the law, do honor to your profession by sacrificing your selfish interests to it.”
“You make me shudder, doctor. Do you talk of a sacrifice?” “I do.”
“Do you then suspect any one?”
“I suspect no one; death raps at your door — it enters — it goes, not blindfolded, but circumspectly, from room
to room. Well, I follow its course, I track its passage; I adopt the wisdom of the ancients, and feel my way, for
my friendship for your family and my respect for you are as a twofold bandage over my eyes; well” — “Oh, speak, speak, doctor; I shall have courage.”
“Well, sir, you have in your establishment, or in your family, perhaps, one of the frightful monstrosities of which each century produces only one. Locusta and Agrippina, living at the same time, were an exception,
and proved the determination of providence to effect the entire ruin of the Roman empire, sullied by so many crimes. Brunehilde and Fredegonde were the results of the painful struggle of civilization in its infancy, when man was learning to control mind, were it even by an emissary from the realms of darkness. All these women
had been, or were, beautiful. The same flower of innocence had flourished, or was still flourishing, on their brow, that is seen on the brow of the culprit in your house.” Villefort shrieked, clasped his hands, and looked
at the doctor with a supplicating air. But the latter went on without pity: — “`Seek whom the crime will profit,’ says an axiom of jurisprudence.”
“Doctor,” cried Villefort, “alas, doctor, how often has man’s justice been deceived by those fatal words. I
know not why, but I feel that this crime” —
“You acknowledge, then, the existence of the crime?”
“Yes, I see too plainly that it does exist. But it seems that it is intended to affect me personally. I fear an attack myself, after all these disasters.”
“Oh, man,” murmured d’Avrigny, “the most selfish of all animals, the most personal of all creatures, who
believes the earth turns, the sun shines, and death strikes for him alone, — an ant cursing God from the top of a
blade of grass! And have those who have lost their lives lost nothing? — M. de Saint-Meran, Madame de
Saint-Meran, M. Noirtier” — “How? M. Noirtier?”
“Yes; think you it was the poor servant’s life was coveted? No, no; like Shakespeare’s `Polonius,’ he died for another. It was Noirtier the lemonade was intended for — it is Noirtier, logically speaking, who drank it. The other drank it only by accident, and, although Barrois is dead, it was Noirtier whose death was wished for.”
“But why did it not kill my father?”
“I told you one evening in the garden after Madame de Saint-Meran’s death — because his system is
accustomed to that very poison, and the dose was trifling to him, which would be fatal to another; because no one knows, not even the assassin, that, for the last twelve months, I have given M. Noirtier brucine for his paralytic affection, while the assassin is not ignorant, for he has proved that brucine is a violent poison.”
“Oh, have pity — have pity!” murmured Villefort, wringing his hands. “Follow the culprit’s steps; he first kills M. de Saint-Meran” —
“I would swear to it; what I heard of his symptoms agrees too well with what I have seen in the other cases.” Villefort ceased to contend; he only groaned. “He first kills M. de Saint-Meran,” repeated the doctor, “then Madame de Saint-Meran, — a double fortune to inherit.” Villefort wiped the perspiration from his forehead. “Listen attentively.”
“Alas,” stammered Villefort, “I do not lose a single word.”
“M. Noirtier,” resumed M. d’Avrigny in the same pitiless tone, — “M. Noirtier had once made a will against you — against your family — in favor of the poor, in fact; M. Noirtier is spared, because nothing is expected from him. But he has no sooner destroyed his first will and made a second, than, for fear he should make a third, he is struck down. The will was made the day before yesterday, I believe; you see there has been no
“Oh, mercy, M. d’Avrigny!”
“No mercy, sir! The physician has a sacred mission on earth; and to fulfil it he begins at the source of life, and goes down to the mysterious darkness of the tomb. When crime has been committed, and God, doubtless in
anger, turns away his face, it is for the physician to bring the culprit to justice.” “Have mercy on my child, sir,” murmured Villefort.
“You see it is yourself who have first named her — you, her father.”
“Have pity on Valentine! Listen — it is impossible! I would as willingly accuse myself! Valentine, whose heart is pure as a diamond or a lily.”
“No pity, procureur; the crime is fragrant. Mademoiselle herself packed all the medicines which were sent to
M. de Saint-Meran; and M. de Saint-Meran is dead. Mademoiselle de Villefort prepared all the cooling draughts which Madame de Saint-Meran took, and Madame de Saint-Meran is dead. Mademoiselle de Villefort took from the hands of Barrois, who was sent out, the lemonade which M. Noirtier had every
morning, and he has escaped by a miracle. Mademoiselle de Villefort is the culprit — she is the poisoner! To
you, as the king’s attorney, I denounce Mademoiselle de Villefort, do your duty.”
“Doctor, I resist no longer — I can no longer defend myself — I believe you; but, for pity’s sake, spare my life, my honor!”
“M. de Villefort,” replied the doctor, with increased vehemence, “there are occasions when I dispense with all foolish human circumspection. If your daughter had committed only one crime, and I saw her meditating
another, I would say `Warn her, punish her, let her pass the remainder of her life in a convent, weeping and praying.’ If she had committed two crimes, I would say, `Here, M. de Villefort, is a poison that the prisoner is
not acquainted with, — one that has no known antidote, quick as thought, rapid as lightning, mortal as the thunderbolt; give her that poison, recommending her soul to God, and save your honor and your life, for it is yours she aims at; and I can picture her approaching your pillow with her hypocritical smiles and her sweet exhortations. Woe to you, M. de Villefort, if you do not strike first!’ This is what I would say had she only
killed two persons but she has seen three deaths, — has contemplated three murdered persons, — has knelt by three corpses! To the scaffold with the poisoner — to the scaffold! Do you talk of your honor? Do what I tell you, and immortality awaits you!”
Villefort fell on his knees. “Listen,” said he; “I have not the strength of mind you have, or rather that which you would not have, if instead of my daughter Valentine your daughter Madeleine were concerned.” The doctor turned pale. “Doctor, every son of woman is born to suffer and to die; I am content to suffer and to await death.”
“Beware,” said M. d’Avrigny, “it may come slowly; you will see it approach after having struck your father, your wife, perhaps your son.”
Villefort, suffocating, pressed the doctor’s arm. “Listen,” cried he; “pity me — help me! No, my daughter is not guilty. If you drag us both before a tribunal I will still say, `No, my daughter is not guilty; — there is no crime
in my house. I will not acknowledge a crime in my house; for when crime enters a dwelling, it is like death —
it does not come alone.’ Listen. What does it signify to you if I am murdered? Are you my friend? Are you a man? Have you a heart? No, you are a physician! Well, I tell you I will not drag my daughter before a
tribunal, and give her up to the executioner! The bare idea would kill me — would drive me like a madman to
dig my heart out with my finger-nails! And if you were mistaken, doctor — if it were not my daughter — if I should come one day, pale as a spectre, and say to you, `Assassin, you have killed my child!’ — hold — if that should happen, although I am a Christian, M. d’Avrigny, I should kill myself.”
“Well,” said the doctor, after a moment’s silence, “I will wait.” Villefort looked at him as if he had doubted his words. “Only,” continued M. d’Avrigny, with a slow and solemn tone, “if any one falls ill in your house, if
you feel yourself attacked, do not send for me, for I will come no more. I will consent to share this dreadful secret with you, but I will not allow shame and remorse to grow and increase in my conscience, as crime and misery will in your house.”
“Then you abandon me, doctor?”
“Yes, for I can follow you no farther, and I only stop at the foot of the scaffold. Some further discovery will
be made, which will bring this dreadful tragedy to a close. Adieu.”
“I entreat you, doctor!”
“All the horrors that disturb my thoughts make your house odious and fatal. Adieu, sir.”
“One word — one single word more, doctor! You go, leaving me in all the horror of my situation, after
increasing it by what you have revealed to me. But what will be reported of the sudden death of the poor old
“True,” said M. d’Avrigny; “we will return.” The doctor went out first, followed by M. de Villefort. The terrified servants were on the stairs and in the passage where the doctor would pass. “Sir,” said d’Avrigny to
Villefort, so loud that all might hear, “poor Barrois has led too sedentary a life of late; accustomed formerly to ride on horseback, or in the carriage, to the four corners of Europe, the monotonous walk around that
arm-chair has killed him — his blood has thickened. He was stout, had a short, thick neck; he was attacked
with apoplexy, and I was called in too late. By the way,” added he in a low tone, “take care to throw away that cup of syrup of violets in the ashes.”
The doctor, without shaking hands with Villefort, without adding a word to what he had said, went out, amid
the tears and lamentations of the whole household. The same evening all Villefort’s servants, who had assembled in the kitchen, and had a long consultation, came to tell Madame de Villefort that they wished to leave. No entreaty, no proposition of increased wages, could induce them to remain; to every argument they replied, “We must go, for death is in this house.” They all left, in spite of prayers and entreaties, testifying
their regret at leaving so good a master and mistress, and especially Mademoiselle Valentine, so good, so
kind, and so gentle. Villefort looked at Valentine as they said this. She was in tears, and, strange as it was, in spite of the emotions he felt at the sight of these tears, he looked also at Madame de Villefort, and it appeared
to him as if a slight gloomy smile had passed over her thin lips, like a meteor seen passing inauspiciously between two clouds in a stormy sky.
The Room of the Retired Baker.
The evening of the day on which the Count of Morcerf had left Danglars’ house with feelings of shame and anger at the rejection of the projected alliance, M. Andrea Cavalcanti, with curled hair, mustaches in perfect order, and white gloves which fitted admirably, had entered the courtyard of the banker’s house in La
Chaussee d’Antin. He had not been more than ten minutes in the drawing-room before he drew Danglars aside into the recess of a bow-window, and, after an ingenious preamble, related to him all his anxieties and cares
since his noble father’s departure. He acknowledged the extreme kindness which had been shown him by the banker’s family, in which he had been received as a son, and where, besides, his warmest affections had found
an object on which to centre in Mademoiselle Danglars. Danglars listened with the most profound attention;
he had expected this declaration for the last two or three days, and when at last it came his eyes glistened as much as they had lowered on listening to Morcerf. He would not, however, yield immediately to the young man’s request, but made a few conscientious objections. “Are you not rather young, M. Andrea, to think of marrying?”
“I think not, sir,” replied M. Cavalcanti; “in Italy the nobility generally marry young. Life is so uncertain, that
we ought to secure happiness while it is within our reach.”
“Well, sir,” said Danglars, “in case your proposals, which do me honor, are accepted by my wife and daughter,
by whom shall the preliminary arrangements be settled? So important a negotiation should, I think, be conducted by the respective fathers of the young people.”
“Sir, my father is a man of great foresight and prudence. Thinking that I might wish to settle in France, he left
me at his departure, together with the papers establishing my identity, a letter promising, if he approved of my choice, 150,000 livres per annum from the day I was married. So far as I can judge, I suppose this to be a
quarter of my father’s revenue.”
“I,” said Danglars, “have always intended giving my daughter 500,000 francs as her dowry; she is, besides, my sole heiress.”
“All would then be easily arranged if the baroness and her daughter are willing. We should command an
annuity of 175,000 livres. Supposing, also, I should persuade the marquis to give me my capital, which is not likely, but still is possible, we would place these two or three millions in your hands, whose talent might make
it realize ten per cent.”
“I never give more than four per cent, and generally only three and a half; but to my son-in-law I would give five, and we would share the profit.”
“Very good, father-in-law,” said Cavalcanti, yielding to his low-born nature, which would escape sometimes through the aristocratic gloss with which he sought to conceal it. Correcting himself immediately, he said, “Excuse me, sir; hope alone makes me almost mad, — what will not reality do?”
“But,” said Danglars, — who, on his part, did not perceive how soon the conversation, which was at first disinterested, was turning to a business transaction, — “there is, doubtless, a part of your fortune your father could not refuse you?”
“Which?” asked the young man.
“That you inherit from your mother.”
“Truly, from my mother, Leonora Corsinari.”
“How much may it amount to?”
“Indeed, sir,” said Andrea, “I assure you I have never given the subject a thought, but I suppose it must have
been at least two millions.” Danglars felt as much overcome with joy as the miser who finds a lost treasure, or
as the shipwrecked mariner who feels himself on solid ground instead of in the abyss which he expected would swallow him up.
“Well, sir,” said Andrea, bowing to the banker respectfully, “may I hope?”
“You may not only hope,” said Danglars, “but consider it a settled thing, if no obstacle arises on your part.”
“I am, indeed, rejoiced,” said Andrea.
“But,” said Danglars thoughtfully, “how is it that your patron, M. de Monte Cristo, did not make his proposal
for you?” Andrea blushed imperceptibly. “I have just left the count, sir,” said he; “he is, doubtless, a delightful man but inconceivably peculiar in his ideas. He esteems me highly. He even told me he had not the slightest doubt that my father would give me the capital instead of the interest of my property. He has promised to use
his influence to obtain it for me; but he also declared that he never had taken on himself the responsibility of making proposals for another, and he never would. I must, however, do him the justice to add that he assured
me if ever he had regretted the repugnance he felt to such a step it was on this occasion, because he thought
the projected union would be a happy and suitable one. Besides, if he will do nothing officially, he will answer any questions you propose to him. And now,” continued he, with one of his most charming smiles, “having finished talking to the father-in-law, I must address myself to the banker.”
“And what may you have to say to him?” said Danglars, laughing in his turn.
“That the day after to-morrow I shall have to draw upon you for about four thousand francs; but the count, expecting my bachelor’s revenue could not suffice for the coming month’s outlay, has offered me a draft for twenty thousand francs. It bears his signature, as you see, which is all-sufficient.”
“Bring me a million such as that,” said Danglars, “I shall be well pleased,” putting the draft in his pocket. “Fix your own hour for to-morrow, and my cashier shall call on you with a check for eighty thousand francs.”
“At ten o’clock then, if you please; I should like it early, as I am going into the country to-morrow.” “Very well, at ten o’clock; you are still at the Hotel des Princes?”
The following morning, with the banker’s usual punctuality, the eighty thousand francs were placed in the
young man’s hands as he was on the point of starting, after having left two hundred francs for Caderousse. He went out chiefly to avoid this dangerous enemy, and returned as late as possible in the evening. But scarcely
had be stepped out of his carriage when the porter met him with a parcel in his hand. “Sir,” said he, “that man has been here.”
“What man?” said Andrea carelessly, apparently forgetting him whom he but too well recollected. “Him to whom your excellency pays that little annuity.”
“Oh,” said Andrea, “my father’s old servant. Well, you gave him the two hundred francs I had left for him?”
“Yes, your excellency.” Andrea had expressed a wish to be thus addressed. “But,” continued the porter, “he
would not take them.” Andrea turned pale, but as it was dark his pallor was not perceptible. “What? he would not take them?” said he with slight emotion.
“No, he wished to speak to your excellency; I told him you were gone out, and after some dispute he believed
me and gave me this letter, which he had brought with him already sealed.”
“Give it me,” said Andrea, and he read by the light of his carriage-lamp, — “You know where I live; I expect you tomorrow morning at nine o’clock.”
Andrea examined it carefully, to ascertain if the letter had been opened, or if any indiscreet eyes had seen its contents; but it was so carefully folded, that no one could have read it, and the seal was perfect. “Very well,” said he. “Poor man, he is a worthy creature.” He left the porter to ponder on these words, not knowing which most to admire, the master or the servant. “Take out the horses quickly, and come up to me,” said Andrea to
his groom. In two seconds the young man had reached his room and burnt Caderousse’s letter. The servant entered just as he had finished. “You are about my height, Pierre,” said he.
“I have that honor, your excellency.” “You had a new livery yesterday?” “Yes, sir.”
“I have an engagement with a pretty little girl for this evening, and do not wish to be known; lend me your
livery till to-morrow. I may sleep, perhaps, at an inn.” Pierre obeyed. Five minutes after, Andrea left the hotel, completely disguised, took a cabriolet, and ordered the driver to take him to the Cheval Rouge, at Picpus. The next morning he left that inn as he had left the Hotel des Princes, without being noticed, walked down the Faubourg St. Antoine, along the boulevard to Rue Menilmontant, and stopping at the door of the third house
on the left looked for some one of whom to make inquiry in the porter’s absence. “For whom are you looking, my fine fellow?” asked the fruiteress on the opposite side.
“Monsieur Pailletin, if you please, my good woman,” replied Andrea. “A retired baker?” asked the fruiteress.
“He lives at the end of the yard, on the left, on the third story.” Andrea went as she directed him, and on the third floor he found a hare’s paw, which, by the hasty ringing of the bell, it was evident he pulled with considerable ill-temper. A moment after Caderousse’s face appeared at the grating in the door. “Ah, you are punctual,” said he, as he drew back the door.
“Confound you and your punctuality!” said Andrea, throwing himself into a chair in a manner which implied that he would rather have flung it at the head of his host.
“Come, come, my little fellow, don’t be angry. See, I have thought about you — look at the good breakfast we
are going to have; nothing but what you are fond of.” Andrea, indeed, inhaled the scent of something cooking which was not unwelcome to him, hungry as he was; it was that mixture of fat and garlic peculiar to
provincial kitchens of an inferior order, added to that of dried fish, and above all, the pungent smell of musk
and cloves. These odors escaped from two deep dishes which were covered and placed on a stove, and from a copper pan placed in an old iron pot. In an adjoining room Andrea saw also a tolerably clean table prepared
for two, two bottles of wine sealed, the one with green, the other with yellow, a supply of brandy in a
decanter, and a measure of fruit in a cabbage-leaf, cleverly arranged on an earthenware plate.
“What do you think of it, my little fellow?” said Caderousse. “Ay, that smells good! You know I used to be a famous cook; do you recollect how you used to lick your fingers? You were among the first who tasted any of
my dishes, and I think you relished them tolerably.” While speaking, Caderousse went on peeling a fresh supply of onions.
“But,” said Andrea, ill-temperedly, “by my faith, if it was only to breakfast with you, that you disturbed me, I
wish the devil had taken you!”
“My boy,” said Caderousse sententiously, “one can talk while eating. And then, you ungrateful being, you are
not pleased to see an old friend? I am weeping with joy.” He was truly crying, but it would have been difficult
to say whether joy or the onions produced the greatest effect on the lachrymal glands of the old inn-keeper of
the Pont-du-Gard. “Hold your tongue, hypocrite,” said Andrea; “you love me!”
“Yes, I do, or may the devil take me. I know it is a weakness,” said Caderousse, “but it overpowers me.” “And yet it has not prevented your sending for me to play me some trick.”
“Come,” said Caderousse, wiping his large knife on his apron, “if I did not like you, do you think I should endure the wretched life you lead me? Think for a moment. You have your servant’s clothes on — you therefore keep a servant; I have none, and am obliged to prepare my own meals. You abuse my cookery because you dine at the table d’hote of the Hotel des Princes, or the Cafe de Paris. Well, I too could keep a
servant; I too could have a tilbury; I too could dine where I like; but why do I not? Because I would not annoy
my little Benedetto. Come, just acknowledge that I could, eh?” This address was accompanied by a look
which was by no means difficult to understand. “Well,” said Andrea, “admitting your love, why do you want me to breakfast with you?”
“That I may have the pleasure of seeing you, my little fellow.”
“What is the use of seeing me after we have made all our arrangements?”
“Eh, dear friend,” said Caderousse, “are wills ever made without codicils? But you first came to breakfast, did you not? Well, sit down, and let us begin with these pilchards, and this fresh butter; which I have put on some vine-leaves to please you, wicked one. Ah, yes; you look at my room, my four straw chairs, my images, three francs each. But what do you expect? This is not the Hotel des Princes.”
“Come, you are growing discontented, you are no longer happy; you, who only wish to live like a retired baker.” Caderousse sighed. “Well, what have you to say? you have seen your dream realized.”
“I can still say it is a dream; a retired baker, my poor Benedetto, is rich — he has an annuity.” “Well, you have an annuity.”
“Yes, since I bring you your two hundred francs.” Caderousse shrugged his shoulders. “It is humiliating,” said
he, “thus to receive money given grudgingly, —an uncertain supply which may soon fail. You see I am obliged to economize, in case your prosperity should cease. Well, my friend, fortune is inconstant, as the chaplain of the regiment said. I know your prosperity is great, you rascal; you are to marry the daughter of Danglars.”
“What? of Danglars?”
“Yes, to be sure; must I say Baron Danglars? I might as well say Count Benedetto. He was an old friend of
mine and if he had not so bad a memory he ought to invite me to your wedding, seeing he came to mine. Yes, yes, to mine; gad, he was not so proud then, — he was an under-clerk to the good M. Morrel. I have dined
many times with him and the Count of Morcerf, so you see I have some high connections and were I to cultivate them a little, we might meet in the same drawing-rooms.”
“Come, your jealousy represents everything to you in the wrong light.”
“That is all very fine, Benedetto mio, but I know what I am saying. Perhaps I may one day put on my best coat, and presenting myself at the great gate, introduce myself. Meanwhile let us sit down and eat.”
Caderousse set the example and attacked the breakfast with good appetite, praising each dish he set before his visitor. The latter seemed to have resigned himself; he drew the corks, and partook largely of the fish with the garlic and fat. “Ah, mate,” said Caderousse, “you are getting on better terms with your old landlord!”
“Faith, yes,” replied Andrea, whose hunger prevailed over every other feeling. “So you like it, you rogue?”
“So much that I wonder how a man who can cook thus can complain of hard living.” “Do you see,” said Caderousse, “all my happiness is marred by one thought?”
“What is that?”
“That I am dependent on another, I who have always gained my own livelihood honestly.” “Do not let that disturb you, I have enough for two.”
“No, truly; you may believe me if you will; at the end of every month I am tormented by remorse.” “Good Caderousse!”
“So much so, that yesterday I would not take the two hundred francs.” “Yes, you wished to speak to me; but was it indeed remorse, tell me?”
“True remorse; and, besides, an idea had struck me.” Andrea shuddered; he always did so at Caderousse’s ideas. “It is miserable — do you see? — always to wait till the end of the month. — “Oh,” said Andrea philosophically, determined to watch his companion narrowly, “does not life pass in waiting? Do I, for instance, fare better? Well, I wait patiently, do I not?”
“Yes; because instead of expecting two hundred wretched francs, you expect five or six thousand, perhaps ten, perhaps even twelve, for you take care not to let any one know the utmost. Down there, you always had little presents and Christmas-boxes which you tried to hide from your poor friend Caderousse. Fortunately he is a cunning fellow, that friend Caderousse.”
“There you are beginning again to ramble, to talk again and again of the past! But what is the use of teasing me with going all over that again?”
“Ah, you are only one and twenty, and can forget the past; I am fifty, and am obliged to recollect it. But let us
return to business.”
“I was going to say, if I were in your place” — “Well.”
“I would realize” —
“How would you realize?”
“I would ask for six months’ in advance, under pretence of being able to purchase a farm, then with my six months I would decamp.”
“Well, well,” said Andrea, “that isn’t a bad idea.”
“My dear friend,” said Caderousse, “eat of my bread, and take my advice; you will be none the worse off, physically or morally.”
“But,” said Andrea, “why do you not act on the advice you gave me? Why do you not realize a six months’, a year’s advance even, and retire to Brussels? Instead of living the retired baker, you might live as a bankrupt, using his privileges; that would be very good.”
“But how the devil would you have me retire on twelve hundred francs?”
“Ah, Caderousse,” said Andrea, “how covetous you are! Two months ago you were dying with hunger.”
“The appetite grows by what it feeds on,” said Caderousse, grinning and showing his teeth, like a monkey laughing or a tiger growling. “And,” added he, biting off with his large white teeth an enormous mouthful of bread, “I have formed a plan.” Caderousse’s plans alarmed Andrea still more than his ideas; ideas were but the germ, the plan was reality. “Let me see your plan; I dare say it is a pretty one.”
“Why not? Who formed the plan by which we left the establishment of M —- ! eh? was it not I? and it was no bad one I believe, since here we are!”
“I do not say,” replied Andrea, “that you never make a good one; but let us see your plan.”
“Well,” pursued Caderousse, “can you without expending one sou, put me in the way of getting fifteen
thousand francs? No, fifteen thousand are not enough, — I cannot again become an honest man with less than thirty thousand francs.”
“No,” replied Andrea, dryly, “no, I cannot.”
“I do not think you understand me,” replied Caderousse, calmly; “I said without your laying out a sou.”
“Do you want me to commit a robbery, to spoil all my good fortune — and yours with mine — and both of us
to be dragged down there again?”
“It would make very little difference to me,” said Caderousse, “if I were retaken, I am a poor creature to live alone, and sometimes pine for my old comrades; not like you, heartless creature, who would be glad never to
see them again.” Andrea did more than tremble this time, he turned pale.
“Come, Caderousse, no nonsense!” said he.
“Don’t alarm yourself, my little Benedetto, but just point out to me some means of gaining those thirty thousand francs without your assistance, and I will contrive it.”
“Well, I’ll see — I’ll try to contrive some way,” said Andrea.
“Meanwhile you will raise my monthly allowance to five hundred francs, my little fellow? I have a fancy, and mean to get a housekeeper.”
“Well, you shall have your five hundred francs,” said Andrea; “but it is very hard for me, my poor Caderousse
— you take advantage” —
“Bah,” said Caderousse, “when you have access to countless stores.” One would have said Andrea anticipated
his companion’s words, so did his eye flash like lightning, but it was but for a moment. “True,” he replied, “and my protector is very kind.”
“That dear protector,” said Caderousse; “and how much does he give you monthly?” “Five thousand francs.”
“As many thousands as you give me hundreds! Truly, it is only bastards who are thus fortunate. Five thousand francs per month! What the devil can you do with all that?”
“Oh, it is no trouble to spend that; and I am like you, I want capital.” “Capital? — yes — I understand — every one would like capital.”
“Well, and I shall get it.”
“Who will give it to you — your prince?”
“Yes, my prince. But unfortunately I must wait.” “You must wait for what?” asked Caderousse. “For his death.”
“The death of your prince?” “Yes.”
“Because he has made his will in my favor.” “Indeed?”
“On my honor.” “For how much?”
“For five hundred thousand.”
“Only that? It’s little enough.” “But so it is.”
“No it cannot be!”
“Are you my friend, Caderousse?” “Yes, in life or death.”
“Well, I will tell you a secret.” “What is it?”
“But remember” —
“Ah, pardieu, mute as a carp.”
“Well, I think” — Andrea stopped and looked around. “You think? Do not fear; pardieu, we are alone.”
“I think I have discovered my father.” “Your true father?”
“Not old Cavalcanti?”
“No, for he has gone again; the true one, as you say.” “And that father is” —
“Well, Caderousse, it is Monte Cristo.” “Bah!”
“Yes, you understand, that explains all. He cannot acknowledge me openly, it appears, but he does it through
M. Cavalcanti, and gives him fifty thousand francs for it.”
“Fifty thousand francs for being your father? I would have done it for half that, for twenty thousand, for fifteen thousand; why did you not think of me, ungrateful man?”
“Did I know anything about it, when it was all done when I was down there?” “Ah, truly? And you say that by his will” —
“He leaves me five hundred thousand livres.”
“Are you sure of it?”
“He showed it me; but that is not all — there is a codicil, as I said just now.” “Probably.”
“And in that codicil he acknowledges me.”
“Oh, the good father, the brave father, the very honest father!” said Caderousse, twirling a plate in the air between his two hands.
“Now say if I conceal anything from you?”
“No, and your confidence makes you honorable in my opinion; and your princely father, is he rich, very rich?” “Yes, he is that; he does not himself know the amount of his fortune.”
“Is it possible?”
“It is evident enough to me, who am always at his house. The other day a banker’s clerk brought him fifty thousand francs in a portfolio about the size of your plate; yesterday his banker brought him a hundred thousand francs in gold.” Caderousse was filled with wonder; the young man’s words sounded to him like metal, and he thought he could hear the rushing of cascades of louis. “And you go into that house?” cried he briskly.
“When I like.”
Caderousse was thoughtful for a moment. It was easy to perceive he was revolving some unfortunate idea in
his mind. Then suddenly, — “How I should like to see all that,” cried he; “how beautiful it must be!”
“It is, in fact, magnificent,” said Andrea.
“And does he not live in the Champs-Elysees?” “Yes, No. 30.”
“Ah,” said Caderousse, “No. 30.”
“Yes, a fine house standing alone, between a court-yard and a garden, — you must know it.”
“Possibly; but it is not the exterior I care for, it is the interior. What beautiful furniture there must be in it!” “Have you ever seen the Tuileries?”
“Well, it surpasses that.”
“It must be worth one’s while to stoop, Andrea, when that good M. Monte Cristo lets fall his purse.”
“It is not worth while to wait for that,” said Andrea; “money is as plentiful in that house as fruit in an orchard.”
“But you should take me there one day with you.”
“How can I? On what plea?”
“You are right; but you have made my mouth water. I must absolutely see it; I shall find a way.” “No nonsense, Caderousse!”
“I will offer myself as floor-polisher.” “The rooms are all carpeted.”
“Well, then, I must be contented to imagine it.” “That is the best plan, believe me.”
“Try, at least, to give me an idea of what it is.” “How can I?”
“Nothing is easier. Is it large?” “Middling.”
“How is it arranged?”
“Faith, I should require pen, ink, and paper to make a plan.”
“They are all here,” said Caderousse, briskly. He fetched from an old secretary a sheet of white paper and pen and ink. “Here,” said Caderousse, “draw me all that on the paper, my boy.” Andrea took the pen with an
imperceptible smile and began. “The house, as I said, is between the court and the garden; in this way, do you see?” Andrea drew the garden, the court and the house.
“Not more than eight or ten feet.”
“That is not prudent,” said Caderousse.
“In the court are orange-trees in pots, turf, and clumps of flowers.” “And no steel-traps?”
“Are on either side of the gate, which you see there.” And Andrea continued his plan. “Let us see the ground floor,” said Caderousse.
“On the ground-floor, dining-room, two drawing-rooms, billiard-room, staircase in the hall, and a little back
“Magnificent windows, so beautiful, so large, that I believe a man of your size should pass through each frame.”
“Why the devil have they any stairs with such windows?” “Luxury has everything.”
“Yes, but they are never used. That Count of Monte Cristo is an original, who loves to look at the sky even at night.”
“And where do the servants sleep?”
“Oh, they have a house to themselves. Picture to yourself a pretty coach-house at the right-hand side where
the ladders are kept. Well, over that coach-house are the servants’ rooms, with bells corresponding with the different apartments.”
“Ah, diable — bells did you say?” “What do you mean?”
“Oh. nothing! I only say they cost a load of money to hang, and what is the use of them, I should like to know?”
“There used to be a dog let loose in the yard at night, but it has been taken to the house at Auteuil, to that you went to, you know.”
“I was saying to him only yesterday, `You are imprudent, Monsieur Count; for when you go to Auteuil and
take your servants the house is left unprotected.’ Well,’ said he, `what next?’ `Well, next, some day you will be robbed.'”
“What did he answer?”
“He quietly said, `What do I care if I am?'” “Andrea, he has some secretary with a spring.” “How do you know?”
“Yes, which catches the thief in a trap and plays a tune. I was told there were such at the last exhibition.” “He has simply a mahogany secretary, in which the key is always kept.”
“And he is not robbed?”
“No; his servants are all devoted to him.”
“There ought to be some money in that secretary?” “There may be. No one knows what there is.”
“And where is it?” “On the first floor.”
“Sketch me the plan of that floor, as you have done of the ground floor, my boy.”
“That is very simple.” Andrea took the pen. “On the first story, do you see, there is the anteroom and the drawing-room; to the right of the drawing-room, a library and a study; to the left, a bedroom and a
dressing-room. The famous secretary is in the dressing-room.” “Is there a window in the dressing-room?”
“Two, — one here and one there.” Andrea sketched two windows in the room, which formed an angle on the plan, and appeared as a small square added to the rectangle of the bedroom. Caderousse became thoughtful. “Does he often go to Auteuil?” added he.
“Two or three times a week. To-morrow, for instance, he is going to spend the day and night there.” “Are you sure of it?”
“He has invited me to dine there.”
“There’s a life for you,” said Caderousse; “a town house and a country house.” “That is what it is to be rich.”
“And shall you dine there?” “Probably.”
“When you dine there, do you sleep there?”
“If I like; I am at home there.” Caderousse looked at the young man, as if to get at the truth from the bottom of
his heart. But Andrea drew a cigar-case from his pocket, took a havana, quietly lit it, and began smoking. “When do you want your twelve hundred francs?” said he to Caderousse.
“Now, if you have them.” Andrea took five and twenty louis from his pocket. “Yellow boys?” said Caderousse; “no, I thank you.”
“Oh, you despise them.”
“On the contrary, I esteem them, but will not have them.” “You can change them, idiot; gold is worth five sous.”
“Exactly; and he who changes them will follow friend Caderousse, lay hands on him, and demand what
farmers pay him their rent in gold. No nonsense, my good fellow; silver simply, round coins with the head of some monarch or other on them. Anybody may possess a five-franc piece.”
“But do you suppose I carry five hundred francs about with me? I should want a porter.” “Well, leave them with your porter; he is to be trusted. I will call for them.”
“No, to-morrow; I shall not have time to day.”
“Well, to-morrow I will leave them when I go to Auteuil.” “May I depend on it?”
“Because I shall secure my housekeeper on the strength of it.”
“Now see here, will that be all? Eh? And will you not torment me any more?”
“Never.” Caderousse had become so gloomy that Andrea feared he should be obliged to notice the change. He redoubled his gayety and carelessness. “How sprightly you are,” said Caderousse; “One would say you were already in possession of your property.”
“No, unfortunately; but when I do obtain it” — “Well?”
“I shall remember old friends, I can tell you that.” “Yes, since you have such a good memory.”
“What do you want? It looks as if you were trying to fleece me?”
“I? What an idea! I, who am going to give you another piece of good advice.” “What is it?”
“To leave behind you the diamond you have on your finger. We shall both get into trouble. You will ruin both yourself and me by your folly.”
“How so?” said Andrea.
“How? You put on a livery, you disguise yourself as a servant, and yet keep a diamond on your finger worth four or five thousand francs.”
“You guess well.”
“I know something of diamonds; I have had some.”
“You do well to boast of it,” said Andrea, who, without becoming angry, as Caderousse feared, at this new
extortion, quietly resigned the ring. Caderousse looked so closely at it that Andrea well knew that he was examining to see if all the edges were perfect.
“It is a false diamond,” said Caderousse. “You are joking now,” replied Andrea.
“Do not be angry, we can try it.” Caderousse went to the window, touched the glass with it, and found it would cut.
“Confiteor,” said Caderousse, putting the diamond on his little finger; “I was mistaken; but those thieves of jewellers imitate so well that it is no longer worth while to rob a jeweller’s shop — it is another branch of industry paralyzed.”
“Have you finished?” said Andrea, — “do you want anything more? — will you have my waistcoat or my hat? Make free, now you have begun.”
“No; you are, after all, a good companion; I will not detain you, and will try to cure myself of my ambition.” “But take care the same thing does not happen to you in selling the diamond you feared with the gold.”
“I shall not sell it — do not fear.”
“Not at least till the day after to-morrow,” thought the young man.
“Happy rogue,” said Caderousse; “you are going to find your servants, your horses, your carriage, and your betrothed!”
“Yes,” said Andrea.
“Well, I hope you will make a handsome wedding-present the day you marry Mademoiselle Danglars.”
“I have already told you it is a fancy you have taken in your head.” “What fortune has she?”
“But I tell you” —
“A million?” Andrea shrugged his shoulders.
“Let it be a million,” said Caderousse; “you can never have so much as I wish you.” “Thank you,” said the young man.
“Oh, I wish it you with all my heart!” added Caderousse with his hoarse laugh. “Stop, let me show you the way.”
“It is not worth while.” “Yes, it is.”
“Because there is a little secret, a precaution I thought it desirable to take, one of Huret & Fitchet’s locks, revised and improved by Gaspard Caderousse; I will manufacture you a similar one when you are a capitalist.”
“Thank you,” said Andrea; “I will let you know a week beforehand.” They parted. Caderousse remained on
the landing until he had not only seen Andrea go down the three stories, but also cross the court. Then he returned hastily, shut his door carefully, and began to study, like a clever architect, the plan Andrea had left him.
“Dear Benedetto,” said he, “I think he will not be sorry to inherit his fortune, and he who hastens the day when he can touch his five hundred thousand will not be his worst friend.”
The day following that on which the conversation we have related took place, the Count of Monte Cristo set
out for Auteuil, accompanied by Ali and several attendants, and also taking with him some horses whose qualities he was desirous of ascertaining. He was induced to undertake this journey, of which the day before
he had not even thought and which had not occurred to Andrea either, by the arrival of Bertuccio from Normandy with intelligence respecting the house and sloop. The house was ready, and the sloop which had arrived a week before lay at anchor in a small creek with her crew of six men, who had observed all the requisite formalities and were ready again to put to sea.
The count praised Bertuccio’s zeal, and ordered him to prepare for a speedy departure, as his stay in France would not be prolonged more than a month. “Now,” said he, “I may require to go in one night from Paris to Treport; let eight fresh horses be in readiness on the road, which will enable me to go fifty leagues in ten hours.”
“Your highness had already expressed that wish,” said Bertuccio, “and the horses are ready. I have bought
them, and stationed them myself at the most desirable posts, that is, in villages, where no one generally stops.”
“That’s well,” said Monte Cristo; “I remain here a day or two — arrange accordingly.” As Bertuccio was leaving the room to give the requisite orders, Baptistin opened the door: he held a letter on a silver waiter.
“What are you doing here?” asked the count, seeing him covered with dust; “I did not send for you, I think?” Baptistin, without answering, approached the count, and presented the letter. “Important and urgent,” said he.
The count opened the letter, and read: —
“M. de Monte Cristo is apprised that this night a man will enter his house in the Champs-Elysees with the intention of carrying off some papers supposed to be in the secretary in the dressing-room. The count’s
well-known courage will render unnecessary the aid of the police, whose interference might seriously affect him who sends this advice. The count, by any opening from the bedroom, or by concealing himself in the
dressing-room, would be able to defend his property himself. Many attendants or apparent precautions would prevent the villain from the attempt, and M. de Monte Cristo would lose the opportunity of discovering an
enemy whom chance has revealed to him who now sends this warning to the count, — a warning he might not
be able to send another time, if this first attempt should fail and another be made.”
The count’s first idea was that this was an artifice — a gross deception, to draw his attention from a minor danger in order to expose him to a greater. He was on the point of sending the letter to the commissary of
police, notwithstanding the advice of his anonymous friend, or perhaps because of that advice, when suddenly
the idea occurred to him that it might be some personal enemy, whom he alone should recognize and over whom, if such were the case, he alone would gain any advantage, as Fiesco* had done over the Moor who would have killed him. We know the Count’s vigorous and daring mind, denying anything to be impossible,
with that energy which marks the great man. From his past life, from his resolution to shrink from nothing, the count had acquired an inconceivable relish for the contests in which he had engaged, sometimes against
nature, that is to say, against God, and sometimes against the world, that is, against the devil.
* The Genoese conspirator.
“They do not want my papers,” said Monte Cristo, “they want to kill me; they are no robbers, but assassins. I
will not allow the prefect of police to interfere with my private affairs. I am rich enough, forsooth, to
distribute his authority on this occasion.” The count recalled Baptistin, who had left the room after delivering
the letter. “Return to Paris,” said he; “assemble the servants who remain there. I want all my household at
“But will no one remain in the house, my lord?” asked Baptistin. “Yes, the porter.”
“My lord will remember that the lodge is at a distance from the house.” “Well?”
“The house might be stripped without his hearing the least noise.” “By whom?”
“You are a fool, M. Baptistin. Thieves might strip the house — it would annoy me less than to be disobeyed.” Baptistin bowed.
“You understand me?” said the count. “Bring your comrades here, one and all; but let everything remain as usual, only close the shutters of the ground floor.”
“And those of the second floor?”
“You know they are never closed. Go!”
The count signified his intention of dining alone, and that no one but Ali should attend him. Having dined with his usual tranquillity and moderation, the count, making a signal to Ali to follow him, went out by the side-gate and on reaching the Bois de Boulogne turned, apparently without design towards Paris and at
twilight; found himself opposite his house in the Champs-Elysees. All was dark; one solitary, feeble light was burning in the porter’s lodge, about forty paces distant from the house, as Baptistin had said. Monte Cristo
leaned against a tree, and with that scrutinizing glance which was so rarely deceived, looked up and down the avenue, examined the passers-by, and carefully looked down the neighboring streets, to see that no one was concealed. Ten minutes passed thus, and he was convinced that no one was watching him. He hastened to the side-door with Ali, entered hurriedly, and by the servants’ staircase, of which he had the key, gained his
bedroom without opening or disarranging a single curtain, without even the porter having the slightest suspicion that the house, which he supposed empty, contained its chief occupant.
Arrived in his bedroom, the count motioned to Ali to stop; then he passed into the dressing-room, which he examined. Everything appeared as usual — the precious secretary in its place, and the key in the secretary. He double locked it, took the key, returned to the bedroom door, removed the double staple of the bolt, and went
in. Meanwhile Ali had procured the arms the count required — namely, a short carbine and a pair of
double-barrelled pistols, with which as sure an aim might be taken as with a single-barrelled one. Thus armed,
the count held the lives of five men in his hands. It was about half-past nine. The count and Ali ate in haste a crust of bread and drank a glass of Spanish wine; then Monte Cristo slipped aside one of the movable panels, which enabled him to see into the adjoining room. He had within his reach his pistols and carbine, and Ali, standing near him, held one of the small Arabian hatchets, whose form has not varied since the Crusades.
Through one of the windows of the bedroom, on a line with that in the dressing-room, the count could see into
Two hours passed thus. It was intensely dark; still Ali, thanks to his wild nature, and the count, thanks
doubtless to his long confinement, could distinguish in the darkness the slightest movement of the trees. The
little light in the lodge had long been extinct. It might be expected that the attack, if indeed an attack was projected, would be made from the staircase of the ground floor, and not from a window; in Monte Cristo’s opinion, the villains sought his life, not his money. It would be his bedroom they would attack, and they must reach it by the back staircase, or by the window in the dressing-room. The clock of the Invalides struck a
quarter to twelve; the west wind bore on its moistened gusts the doleful vibration of the three strokes.
As the last stroke died away, the count thought he heard a slight noise in the dressing-room; this first sound,
or rather this first grinding, was followed by a second, then a third; at the fourth, the count knew what to expect. A firm and well-practised hand was engaged in cutting the four sides of a pane of glass with a
diamond. The count felt his heart beat more rapidly. Inured as men may be to danger, forewarned as they may
be of peril, they understand, by the fluttering of the heart and the shuddering of the frame, the enormous difference between a dream and a reality, between the project and the execution. However, Monte Cristo only made a sign to apprise Ali, who, understanding that danger was approaching from the other side, drew nearer
to his master. Monte Cristo was eager to ascertain the strength and number of his enemies.
The window whence the noise proceeded was opposite the opening by which the count could see into the
dressing-room. He fixed his eyes on that window — he distinguished a shadow in the darkness; then one of the panes became quite opaque, as if a sheet of paper were stuck on the outside, then the square cracked without falling. Through the opening an arm was passed to find the fastening, then a second; the window turned on its hinges, and a man entered. He was alone.
“That’s a daring rascal,” whispered the count.
At that moment Ali touched him slightly on the shoulder. He turned; Ali pointed to the window of the room in which they were, facing the street. “I see!” said he, “there are two of them; one does the work while the other stands guard.” He made a sign to Ali not to lose sight of the man in the street, and turned to the one in the
The glass-cutter had entered, and was feeling his way, his arms stretched out before him. At last he appeared
to have made himself familiar with his surroundings. There were two doors; he bolted them both.
When he drew near to the bedroom door, Monte Cristo expected that he was coming in, and raised one of his pistols; but he simply heard the sound of the bolts sliding in their copper rings. It was only a precaution. The nocturnal visitor, ignorant of the fact that the count had removed the staples, might now think himself at
home, and pursue his purpose with full security. Alone and free to act as he wished, the man then drew from
his pocket something which the count could not discern, placed it on a stand, then went straight to the secretary, felt the lock, and contrary to his expectation found that the key was missing. But the glass-cutter was a prudent man who had provided for all emergencies. The count soon heard the rattling of a bunch of
skeleton keys, such as the locksmith brings when called to force a lock, and which thieves call nightingales, doubtless from the music of their nightly song when they grind against the bolt. “Ah, ha,” whispered Monte Cristo with a smile of disappointment, “he is only a thief.”
But the man in the dark could not find the right key. He reached the instrument he had placed on the stand, touched a spring, and immediately a pale light, just bright enough to render objects distinct, was reflected on
his hands and countenance. “By heavens,” exclaimed Monte Cristo, starting back, “it is” —
Ali raised his hatchet. “Don’t stir,” whispered Monte Cristo, “and put down your hatchet; we shall require no arms.” Then he added some words in a low tone, for the exclamation which surprise had drawn from the
count, faint as it had been, had startled the man who remained in the pose of the old knife-grinder. It was an
order the count had just given, for immediately Ali went noiselessly, and returned, bearing a black dress and a three-cornered hat. Meanwhile Monte Cristo had rapidly taken off his great-coat, waistcoat, and shirt, and one
might distinguish by the glimmering through the open panel that he wore a pliant tunic of steel mail, of which
the last in France, where daggers are no longer dreaded, was worn by King Louis XVI., who feared the dagger
at his breast, and whose head was cleft with a hatchet. The tunic soon disappeared under a long cassock, as
did his hair under a priest’s wig; the three-cornered hat over this effectually transformed the count into an abbe.
The man, hearing nothing more, stood erect, and while Monte Cristo was completing his disguise had advanced straight to the secretary, whose lock was beginning to crack under his nightingale.
“Try again,” whispered the count, who depended on the secret spring, which was unknown to the picklock,
clever as he might be — “try again, you have a few minutes’ work there.” And he advanced to the window. The man whom he had seen seated on a fence had got down, and was still pacing the street; but, strange as it
appeared, he cared not for those who might pass from the avenue of the Champs-Elysees or by the Faubourg
St. Honore; his attention was engrossed with what was passing at the count’s, and his only aim appeared to be
to discern every movement in the dressing-room.
Monte Cristo suddenly struck his finger on his forehead and a smile passed over his lips; then drawing near to
Ali, he whispered, —
“Remain here, concealed in the dark, and whatever noise you hear, whatever passes, only come in or show yourself if I call you.” Ali bowed in token of strict obedience. Monte Cristo then drew a lighted taper from a closet, and when the thief was deeply engaged with his lock, silently opened the door, taking care that the
light should shine directly on his face. The door opened so quietly that the thief heard no sound; but, to his astonishment, the room was suddenly illuminated. He turned.
“Ah, good-evening, my dear M. Caderousse,” said Monte Cristo; “what are you doing here, at such an hour?” “The Abbe Busoni!” exclaimed Caderousse; and, not knowing how this strange apparition could have entered
when he had bolted the doors, he let fall his bunch of keys, and remained motionless and stupefied. The count
placed himself between Caderousse and the window, thus cutting off from the thief his only chance of retreat. “The Abbe Busoni!” repeated Caderousse, fixing his haggard gaze on the count.
“Yes, undoubtedly, the Abbe Busoni himself,” replied Monte Cristo. “And I am very glad you recognize me, dear M. Caderousse; it proves you have a good memory, for it must be about ten years since we last met.”
This calmness of Busoni, combined with his irony and boldness, staggered Caderousse. “The abbe, the abbe!” murmured he, clinching his fists, and his teeth chattering.
“So you would rob the Count of Monte Cristo?” continued the false abbe.
“Reverend sir,” murmured Caderousse, seeking to regain the window, which the count pitilessly blocked — “reverend sir, I don’t know — believe me — I take my oath” —
“A pane of glass out,” continued the count, “a dark lantern, a bunch of false keys, a secretary half forced — it
is tolerably evident” —
Caderousse was choking; he looked around for some corner to hide in, some way of escape. “Come, come,” continued the count, “I see you are still the same, — an assassin.”
“Reverend sir, since you know everything, you know it was not I — it was La Carconte; that was proved at the trial, since I was only condemned to the galleys.”
“Is your time, then, expired, since I find you in a fair way to return there?”
“No, reverend sir; I have been liberated by some one.” “That some one has done society a great kindness.” “Ah,” said Caderousse, “I had promised” —
“And you are breaking your promise!” interrupted Monte Cristo. “Alas, yes!” said Caderousse very uneasily.
“A bad relapse, that will lead you, if I mistake not, to the Place de Greve. So much the worse, so much the worse — diavolo, as they say in my country.”
“Reverend sir, I am impelled” — “Every criminal says the same thing.” “Poverty” —
“Pshaw!” said Busoni disdainfully; “poverty may make a man beg, steal a loaf of bread at a baker’s door, but
not cause him to open a secretary in a house supposed to be inhabited. And when the jeweller Johannes had just paid you 40,000 francs for the diamond I had given you, and you killed him to get the diamond and the money both, was that also poverty?”
“Pardon, reverend sir,” said Caderousse; “you have saved my life once, save me again!” “That is but poor encouragement.”
“Are you alone, reverend sir, or have you there soldiers ready to seize me?”
“I am alone,” said the abbe, “and I will again have pity on you, and will let you escape, at the risk of the fresh miseries my weakness may lead to, if you tell me the truth.”
“Ah, reverend sir,” cried Caderousse, clasping his hands, and drawing nearer to Monte Cristo, “I may indeed say you are my deliverer!”
“You mean to say you have been freed from confinement?” “Yes, that is true, reverend sir.”
“Who was your liberator?” “An Englishman.”
“What was his name?” “Lord Wilmore.”
“I know him; I shall know if you lie.”
“Ah, reverend sir, I tell you the simple truth.”
“Was this Englishman protecting you?”
“No, not me, but a young Corsican, my companion.” “What was this young Corsican’s name?”
“Is that his Christian name?”
“He had no other; he was a foundling.” “Then this young man escaped with you?” “He did.”
“In what way?”
“We were working at St. Mandrier, near Toulon. Do you know St. Mandrier?”
“In the hour of rest, between noon and one o’clock” —
“Galley-slaves having a nap after dinner! We may well pity the poor fellows!” said the abbe. “Nay,” said Caderousse, “one can’t always work — one is not a dog.”
“So much the better for the dogs,” said Monte Cristo.
“While the rest slept, then, we went away a short distance; we severed our fetters with a file the Englishman had given us, and swam away.”
“And what is become of this Benedetto?” “I don’t know.”
“You ought to know.”
“No, in truth; we parted at Hyeres.” And, to give more weight to his protestation, Caderousse advanced another step towards the abbe, who remained motionless in his place, as calm as ever, and pursuing his interrogation. “You lie,” said the Abbe Busoni, with a tone of irresistible authority.
“You lie! This man is still your friend, and you, perhaps, make use of him as your accomplice.” “Oh, reverend sir!”
“Since you left Toulon what have you lived on? Answer me!”
“On what I could get.”
“You lie,” repeated the abbe a third time, with a still more imperative tone. Caderousse, terrified, looked at the count. “You have lived on the money he has given you.”
“True,” said Caderousse; “Benedetto has become the son of a great lord.” “How can he be the son of a great lord?”
“A natural son.”
“And what is that great lord’s name?”
“The Count of Monte Cristo, the very same in whose house we are.” “Benedetto the count’s son?” replied Monte Cristo, astonished in his turn.
“Well, I should think so, since the count has found him a false father — since the count gives him four thousand francs a month, and leaves him 500,000 francs in his will.”
“Ah, yes,” said the factitious abbe, who began to understand; “and what name does the young man bear meanwhile?”
“Is it, then, that young man whom my friend the Count of Monte Cristo has received into his house, and who
is going to marry Mademoiselle Danglars?” “Exactly.”
“And you suffer that, you wretch — you, who know his life and his crime?” “Why should I stand in a comrade’s way?” said Caderousse.
“You are right; it is not you who should apprise M. Danglars, it is I.” “Do not do so, reverend sir.”
“Because you would bring us to ruin.”
“And you think that to save such villains as you I will become an abettor of their plot, an accomplice in their crimes?”
“Reverend sir,” said Caderousse, drawing still nearer. “I will expose all.”
“To M. Danglars.”
“By heaven!” cried Caderousse, drawing from his waistcoat an open knife, and striking the count in the breast,
“you shall disclose nothing, reverend sir!” To Caderousse’s great astonishment, the knife, instead of piercing
the count’s breast, flew back blunted. At the same moment the count seized with his left hand the assassin’s wrist, and wrung it with such strength that the knife fell from his stiffened fingers, and Caderousse uttered a
cry of pain. But the count, disregarding his cry, continued to wring the bandit’s wrist, until, his arm being dislocated, he fell first on his knees, then flat on the floor. The count then placed his foot on his head, saying,
“I know not what restrains me from crushing thy skull, rascal.”
“Ah, mercy — mercy!” cried Caderousse. The count withdrew his foot. “Rise!” said he. Caderousse rose. “What a wrist you have, reverend sir!” said Caderousse. stroking his arm, all bruised by the fleshy pincers
which had held it; “what a wrist!”
“Silence! God gives me strength to overcome a wild beast like you; in the name of that God I act, — remember that, wretch, — and to spare thee at this moment is still serving him.”
“Oh!” said Caderousse, groaning with pain.
“Take this pen and paper, and write what I dictate.” “I don’t know how to write, reverend sir.”
“You lie! Take this pen, and write!” Caderousse, awed by the superior power of the abbe, sat down and wrote:
Sir, — The man whom you are receiving at your house, and to whom you intend to marry your daughter, is a felon who escaped with me from confinement at Toulon. He was No. 59, and I No. 58. He was called Benedetto, but he is ignorant of his real name, having never known his parents.
“Sign it!” continued the count. “But would you ruin me?”
“If I sought your ruin, fool, I should drag you to the first guard-house; besides, when that note is delivered, in
all probability you will have no more to fear. Sign it, then!”
Caderousse signed it. “The address, `To monsieur the Baron Danglars, banker, Rue de la Chaussee d’Antin.'” Caderousse wrote the address. The abbe took the note. “Now,” said he, “that suffices — begone!”
“The way you came.”
“You wish me to get out at that window?” “You got in very well.”
“Oh, you have some design against me, reverend sir.” “Idiot! what design can I have?”
“Why, then, not let me out by the door?”
“What would be the advantage of waking the porter?” —
“Ah, reverend sir, tell me, do you wish me dead?” “I wish what God wills.”
“But swear that you will not strike me as I go down.” “Cowardly fool!”
“What do you intend doing with me?”
“I ask you what can I do? I have tried to make you a happy man, and you have turned out a murderer.” “Oh, monsieur,” said Caderousse, “make one more attempt — try me once more!”
“I will,” said the count. “Listen — you know if I may be relied on.” “Yes,” said Caderousse.
“If you arrive safely at home” —
“What have I to fear, except from you?”
“If you reach your home safely, leave Paris, leave France, and wherever you may be, so long as you conduct yourself well, I will send you a small annuity; for, if you return home safely, then” —
“Then?” asked Caderousse, shuddering.
“Then I shall believe God has forgiven you, and I will forgive you too.”
“As true as I am a Christian,” stammered Caderousse, “you will make me die of fright!” “Now begone,” said the count, pointing to the window.
Caderousse, scarcely yet relying on this promise, put his legs out of the window and stood on the ladder. “Now go down,” said the abbe, folding his arms. Understanding he had nothing more to fear from him, Caderousse began to go down. Then the count brought the taper to the window, that it might be seen in the Champs-Elysees that a man was getting out of the window while another held a light.
“What are you doing, reverend sir? Suppose a watchman should pass?” And he blew out the light. He then descended, but it was only when he felt his foot touch the ground that he was satisfied of his safety.
Monte Cristo returned to his bedroom, and, glancing rapidly from the garden to the street, he saw first
Caderousse, who after walking to the end of the garden, fixed his ladder against the wall at a different part
from where he came in. The count then looking over into the street, saw the man who appeared to be waiting
run in the same direction, and place himself against the angle of the wall where Caderousse would come over. Caderousse climbed the ladder slowly, and looked over the coping to see if the street was quiet. No one could
be seen or heard. The clock of the Invalides struck one. Then Caderousse sat astride the coping, and drawing
up his ladder passed it over the wall; then he began to descend, or rather to slide down by the two stanchions, which he did with an ease which proved how accustomed he was to the exercise. But, once started, he could
not stop. In vain did he see a man start from the shadow when he was halfway down — in vain did he see an
arm raised as he touched the ground. Before he could defend himself that arm struck him so violently in the
back that he let go the ladder, crying, “Help!” A second blow struck him almost immediately in the side, and
he fell, calling, “Help, murder!” Then, as he rolled on the ground, his adversary seized him by the hair, and struck him a third blow in the chest. This time Caderousse endeavored to call again, but he could only utter a groan, and he shuddered as the blood flowed from his three wounds. The assassin, finding that he no longer cried out, lifted his head up by the hair; his eyes were closed, and the mouth was distorted. The murderer, supposing him dead, let fall his head and disappeared. Then Caderousse, feeling that he was leaving him,
raised himself on his elbow, and with a dying voice cried with great effort, “Murder! I am dying! Help, reverend sir, — help!”
This mournful appeal pierced the darkness. The door of the back-staircase opened, then the side-gate of the garden, and Ali and his master were on the spot with lights.
The Hand of God.
Caderousse continued to call piteously, “Help, reverend sir, help!” “What is the matter?” asked Monte Cristo.
“Help,” cried Caderousse; “I am murdered!” “We are here; — take courage.”
“Ah, it’s all over! You are come too late — you are come to see me die. What blows, what blood!” He fainted.
Ali and his master conveyed the wounded man into a room. Monte Cristo motioned to Ali to undress him, and
he then examined his dreadful wounds. “My God!” he exclaimed, “thy vengeance is sometimes delayed, but only that it may fall the more effectually.” Ali looked at his master for further instructions. “Bring here
immediately the king’s attorney, M. de Villefort, who lives in the Faubourg St. Honore. As you pass the lodge, wake the porter, and send him for a surgeon.” Ali obeyed, leaving the abbe alone with Caderousse, who had
not yet revived.
When the wretched man again opened his eyes, the count looked at him with a mournful expression of pity, and his lips moved as if in prayer. “A surgeon, reverend sir — a surgeon!” said Caderousse.
“I have sent for one,” replied the abbe.
“I know he cannot save my life, but he may strengthen me to give my evidence.” “Against whom?”
“Against my murderer.” “Did you recognize him?” “Yes; it was Benedetto.” “The young Corsican?” “Himself.”
“Yes. After giving me the plan of this house, doubtless hoping I should kill the count and he thus become his heir, or that the count would kill me and I should be out of his way, he waylaid me, and has murdered me.”
“I have also sent for the procureur.”
“He will not come in time; I feel my life fast ebbing.”
“Wait a moment,” said Monte Cristo. He left the room, and returned in five minutes with a phial. The dying man’s eyes were all the time riveted on the door, through which he hoped succor would arrive. “Hasten, reverend sir, hasten! I shall faint again!” Monte Cristo approached, and dropped on his purple lips three or
four drops of the contents of the phial. Caderousse drew a deep breath. “Oh,” said he, “that is life to me; more,
“Two drops more would kill you,” replied the abbe.
“Oh, send for some one to whom I can denounce the wretch!” “Shall I write your deposition? You can sign it.”
“Yes yes,” said Caderousse; and his eyes glistened at the thought of this posthumous revenge. Monte Cristo wrote: —
“I die, murdered by the Corsican Benedetto, my comrade in the galleys at Toulouse, No. 59.” “Quick, quick!” said Caderousse, “or I shall be unable to sign it.”
Monte Cristo gave the pen to Caderousse, who collected all his strength, signed it, and fell back on his bed, saying: “You will relate all the rest, reverend sir; you will say he calls himself Andrea Cavalcanti. He lodges
at the Hotel des Princes. Oh, I am dying!” He again fainted. The abbe made him smell the contents of the phial, and he again opened his eyes. His desire for revenge had not forsaken him.
“Ah, you will tell all I have said, will you not, reverend sir?” “Yes, and much more.”
“What more will you say?”
“I will say he had doubtless given you the plan of this house, in the hope the count would kill you. I will say, likewise, he had apprised the count, by a note, of your intention, and, the count being absent, I read the note
and sat up to await you.”
“And he will be guillotined, will be not?” said Caderousse. “Promise me that, and I will die with that hope.”
“I will say,” continued the count, “that he followed and watched you the whole time, and when he saw you leave the house, ran to the angle of the wall to conceal himself.”
“Did you see all that?”
“Remember my words: `If you return home safely, I shall believe God has forgiven you, and I will forgive you also.'”
“And you did not warn me!” cried Caderousse, raising himself on his elbows. “You knew I should be killed on leaving this house, and did not warn me!”
“No; for I saw God’s justice placed in the hands of Benedetto, and should have thought it sacrilege to oppose the designs of providence.”
“God’s justice! Speak not of it, reverend sir. If God were just, you know how many would be punished who now escape.”
“Patience,” said the abbe, in a tone which made the dying man shudder; “have patience!” Caderousse looked
at him with amazement. “Besides,” said the abbe, “God is merciful to all, as he has been to you; he is first a father, then a judge.”
“Do you then believe in God?” said Caderousse.
“Had I been so unhappy as not to believe in him until now,” said Monte Cristo, “I must believe on seeing you.” Caderousse raised his clinched hands towards heaven.
“Listen,” said the abbe, extending his hand over the wounded man, as if to command him to believe; “this is what the God in whom, on your death-bed, you refuse to believe, has done for you — he gave you health,
strength, regular employment, even friends — a life, in fact, which a man might enjoy with a calm conscience. Instead of improving these gifts, rarely granted so abundantly, this has been your course — you have given yourself up to sloth and drunkenness, and in a fit of intoxication have ruined your best friend.”
“Help!” cried Caderousse; “I require a surgeon, not a priest; perhaps I am not mortally wounded — I may not die; perhaps they can yet save my life.”
“Your wounds are so far mortal that, without the three drops I gave you, you would now be dead. Listen, then.”
“Ah,” murmured Caderousse, “what a strange priest you are; you drive the dying to despair, instead of consoling them.”
“Listen,” continued the abbe. “When you had betrayed your friend God began not to strike, but to warn you. Poverty overtook you. You had already passed half your life in coveting that which you might have honorably acquired; and already you contemplated crime under the excuse of want, when God worked a miracle in your behalf, sending you, by my hands, a fortune — brilliant, indeed, for you, who had never possessed any. But
this unexpected, unhoped-for, unheard-of fortune sufficed you no longer when you once possessed it; you wished to double it, and how? — by a murder! You succeeded, and then God snatched it from you, and brought you to justice.”
“It was not I who wished to kill the Jew,” said Caderousse; “it was La Carconte.”
“Yes,” said Monte Cristo, “and God, — I cannot say in justice, for his justice would have slain you, — but God,
in his mercy, spared your life.”
“Pardieu, to transport me for life, how merciful!”
“You thought it a mercy then, miserable wretch! The coward who feared death rejoiced at perpetual disgrace;
for like all galley-slaves, you said, `I may escape from prison, I cannot from the grave.’ And you said truly;
the way was opened for you unexpectedly. An Englishman visited Toulon, who had vowed to rescue two men from infamy, and his choice fell on you and your companion. You received a second fortune, money and tranquillity were restored to you, and you, who had been condemned to a felon’s life, might live as other men. Then, wretched creature, then you tempted God a third time. `I have not enough,’ you said, when you had
more than you before possessed, and you committed a third crime, without reason, without excuse. God is wearied; he has punished you.” Caderousse was fast sinking. “Give me drink,” said he: “I thirst — I burn!” Monte Cristo gave him a glass of water. “And yet that villain, Benedetto, will escape!”
“No one, I tell you, will escape; Benedetto will be punished.”
“Then, you, too, will be punished, for you did not do your duty as a priest — you should have prevented
Benedetto from killing me.”
“I?” said the count, with a smile which petrified the dying man, “when you had just broken your knife against
the coat of mail which protected my breast! Yet perhaps if I had found you humble and penitent, I might have
prevented Benedetto from killing you; but I found you proud and blood-thirsty, and I left you in the hands of
“I do not believe there is a God,” howled Caderousse; “you do not believe it; you lie — you lie!”
“Silence,” said the abbe; “you will force the last drop of blood from your veins. What! you do not believe in
God when he is striking you dead? you will not believe in him, who requires but a prayer, a word, a tear, and
he will forgive? God, who might have directed the assassin’s dagger so as to end your career in a moment, has given you this quarter of an hour for repentance. Reflect, then, wretched man, and repent.”
“No,” said Caderousse, “no; I will not repent. There is no God; there is no providence — all comes by chance.”
“There is a providence; there is a God,” said Monte Cristo, “of whom you are a striking proof, as you lie in utter despair, denying him, while I stand before you, rich, happy, safe and entreating that God in whom you endeavor not to believe, while in your heart you still believe in him.”
“But who are you, then?” asked Caderousse, fixing his dying eyes on the count. “Look well at me!” said
Monte Cristo, putting the light near his face. “Well, the abbe — the Abbe Busoni.” Monte Cristo took off the
wig which disfigured him, and let fall his black hair, which added so much to the beauty of his pallid features. “Oh?” said Caderousse, thunderstruck, “but for that black hair, I should say you were the Englishman, Lord Wilmore.”
“I am neither the Abbe Busoni nor Lord Wilmore,” said Monte Cristo; “think again, — do you not recollect me?” Those was a magic effect in the count’s words, which once more revived the exhausted powers of the miserable man. “Yes, indeed,” said he; “I think I have seen you and known you formerly.”
“Yes, Caderousse, you have seen me; you knew me once.”
“Who, then, are you? and why, if you knew me, do you let me die?”
“Because nothing can save you; your wounds are mortal. Had it been possible to save you, I should have considered it another proof of God’s mercy, and I would again have endeavored to restore you, I swear by my father’s tomb.”
“By your father’s tomb!” said Caderousse, supported by a supernatural power, and half-raising himself to see more distinctly the man who had just taken the oath which all men hold sacred; “who, then, are you?” The
count had watched the approach of death. He knew this was the last struggle. He approached the dying man,
and, leaning over him with a calm and melancholy look, he whispered, “I am — I am” — And his almost closed lips uttered a name so low that the count himself appeared afraid to hear it. Caderousse, who had raised
himself on his knees, and stretched out his arm, tried to draw back, then clasping his hands, and raising them with a desperate effort, “O my God, my God!” said he, “pardon me for having denied thee; thou dost exist,
thou art indeed man’s father in heaven, and his judge on earth. My God, my Lord, I have long despised thee! Pardon me, my God; receive me, O my Lord!” Caderousse sighed deeply, and fell back with a groan. The
blood no longer flowed from his wounds. He was dead.
“One!” said the count mysteriously, his eyes fixed on the corpse, disfigured by so awful a death. Ten minutes afterwards the surgeon and the procureur arrived, the one accompanied by the porter, the other by Ali, and
were received by the Abbe Busoni, who was praying by the side of the corpse.
The daring attempt to rob the count was the topic of conversation throughout Paris for the next fortnight. The dying man had signed a deposition declaring Benedetto to be the assassin. The police had orders to make the strictest search for the murderer. Caderousse’s knife, dark lantern, bunch of keys, and clothing, excepting the waistcoat, which could not be found, were deposited at the registry; the corpse was conveyed to the morgue.
The count told every one that this adventure had happened during his absence at Auteuil, and that he only knew what was related by the Abbe Busoni, who that evening, by mere chance, had requested to pass the night in his house, to examine some valuable books in his library. Bertuccio alone turned pale whenever Benedetto’s name was mentioned in his presence, but there was no reason why any one should notice his
doing so. Villefort, being called on to prove the crime, was preparing his brief with the same ardor that he was accustomed to exercise when required to speak in criminal cases.
But three weeks had already passed, and the most diligent search had been unsuccessful; the attempted
robbery and the murder of the robber by his comrade were almost forgotten in anticipation of the approaching marriage of Mademoiselle Danglars to the Count Andrea Cavalcanti. It was expected that this wedding would shortly take place, as the young man was received at the banker’s as the betrothed. Letters had been
despatched to M. Cavalcanti, as the count’s father, who highly approved of the union, regretted his inability to leave Parma at that time, and promised a wedding gift of a hundred and fifty thousand livres. It was agreed
that the three millions should be intrusted to Danglars to invest; some persons had warned the young man of
the circumstances of his future father-in-law, who had of late sustained repeated losses; but with sublime disinterestedness and confidence the young man refused to listen, or to express a single doubt to the baron. The baron adored Count Andrea Cavalcanti: not so Mademoiselle Eugenie Danglars. With an instinctive
hatred of matrimony, she suffered Andrea’s attentions in order to get rid of Morcerf; but when Andrea urged
his suit, she betrayed an entire dislike to him. The baron might possibly have perceived it, but, attributing it to
a caprice, feigned ignorance.
The delay demanded by Beauchamp had nearly expired. Morcerf appreciated the advice of Monte Cristo to let things die away of their own accord. No one had taken up the remark about the general, and no one had recognized in the officer who betrayed the castle of Yanina the noble count in the House of Peers. Albert, however felt no less insulted; the few lines which had irritated him were certainly intended as an insult.
Besides, the manner in which Beauchamp had closed the conference left a bitter recollection in his heart. He cherished the thought of the duel, hoping to conceal its true cause even from his seconds. Beauchamp had not been seen since the day he visited Albert, and those of whom the latter inquired always told him he was out on
a journey which would detain him some days. Where he was no one knew.
One morning Albert was awakened by his valet de chambre, who announced Beauchamp. Albert rubbed his eyes, ordered his servant to introduce him into the small smoking-room on the ground-floor, dressed himself quickly, and went down. He found Beauchamp pacing the room; on perceiving him Beauchamp stopped.
“Your arrival here, without waiting my visit at your house to-day, looks well, sir,” said Albert. “Tell me, may
I shake hands with you, saying, `Beauchamp, acknowledge you have injured me, and retain my friendship,’ or must I simply propose to you a choice of arms?”
“Albert,” said Beauchamp, with a look of sorrow which stupefied the young man, “let us first sit down and talk.”
“Rather, sir, before we sit down, I must demand your answer.”
“Albert,” said the journalist, “these are questions which it is difficult to answer.”
“I will facilitate it by repeating the question, `Will you, or will you not, retract?'”
“Morcerf, it is not enough to answer `yes’ or `no’ to questions which concern the honor, the social interest, and
the life of such a man as Lieutenant-general the Count of Morcerf, peer of France.” “What must then be done?”
“What I have done, Albert. I reasoned thus — money, time, and fatigue are nothing compared with the reputation and interests of a whole family; probabilities will not suffice, only facts will justify a deadly
combat with a friend. If I strike with the sword, or discharge the contents of a pistol at man with whom, for
three years, I have been on terms of intimacy, I must, at least, know why I do so; I must meet him with a heart
at ease, and that quiet conscience which a man needs when his own arm must save his life.” “Well,” said Morcerf, impatiently, “what does all this mean?”
“It means that I have just returned from Yanina.” “From Yanina?”
“Here is my passport; examine the visa — Geneva, Milan, Venice, Trieste, Delvino, Yanina. Will you believe
the government of a republic, a kingdom, and an empire?” Albert cast his eyes on the passport, then raised them in astonishment to Beauchamp. “You have been to Yanina?” said he.
“Albert, had you been a stranger, a foreigner, a simple lord, like that Englishman who came to demand satisfaction three or four months since, and whom I killed to get rid of, I should not have taken this trouble;
but I thought this mark of consideration due to you. I took a week to go, another to return, four days of quarantine, and forty-eight hours to stay there; that makes three weeks. I returned last night, and here I am.”
“What circumlocution! How long you are before you tell me what I most wish to know?” “Because, in truth, Albert” —
“You hesitate?” “Yes, — I fear.”
“You fear to acknowledge that your correspondent his deceived you? Oh, no self-love, Beauchamp. Acknowledge it, Beauchamp; your courage cannot be doubted.”
“Not so,” murmured the journalist; “on the contrary” —
Albert turned frightfully pale; he endeavored to speak, but the words died on his lips. “My friend,” said
Beauchamp, in the most affectionate tone, “I should gladly make an apology; but, alas,” — “But what?”
“The paragraph was correct, my friend.”
“What? That French officer” —
“Yes.” “Fernand?” “Yes.”
“The traitor who surrendered the castle of the man in whose service he was” —
“Pardon me, my friend, that man was your father!” Albert advanced furiously towards Beauchamp, but the latter restrained him more by a mild look than by his extended hand.
“My friend,” said he, “here is a proof of it.”
Albert opened the paper, it was an attestation of four notable inhabitants of Yanina, proving that Colonel
Fernand Mondego, in the service of Ali Tepelini, had surrendered the castle for two million crowns. The signatures were perfectly legal. Albert tottered and fell overpowered in a chair. It could no longer be doubted;
the family name was fully given. After a moment’s mournful silence, his heart overflowed, and he gave way to
a flood of tears. Beauchamp, who had watched with sincere pity the young man’s paroxysm of grief,
approached him. “Now, Albert,” said he, “you understand me — do you not? I wished to see all, and to judge
of everything for myself, hoping the explanation would be in your father’s favor, and that I might do him
justice. But, on the contrary, the particulars which are given prove that Fernand Mondego, raised by Ali Pasha
to the rank of governor-general, is no other than Count Fernand of Morcerf; then, recollecting the honor you had done me, in admitting me to your friendship, I hastened to you.”
Albert, still extended on the chair, covered his face with both hands, as if to prevent the light from reaching him. “I hastened to you,” continued Beauchamp, “to tell you, Albert, that in this changing age, the faults of a
father cannot revert upon his children. Few have passed through this revolutionary period, in the midst of
which we were born, without some stain of infamy or blood to soil the uniform of the soldier, or the gown of
the magistrate. Now I have these proofs, Albert, and I am in your confidence, no human power can force me
to a duel which your own conscience would reproach you with as criminal, but I come to offer you what you can no longer demand of me. Do you wish these proofs, these attestations, which I alone possess, to be
destroyed? Do you wish this frightful secret to remain with us? Confided to me, it shall never escape my lips;
say, Albert, my friend, do you wish it?”
Albert threw himself on Beauchamp’s neck. “Ah, noble fellow!” cried he. “Take these,” said Beauchamp, presenting the papers to Albert.
Albert seized them with a convulsive hand, tore them in pieces, and trembling lest the least vestige should escape and one day appear to confront him, he approached the wax-light, always kept burning for cigars, and burned every fragment. “Dear, excellent friend,” murmured Albert, still burning the papers.
“Let all be forgotten as a sorrowful dream,” said Beauchamp; “let it vanish as the last sparks from the blackened paper, and disappear as the smoke from those silent ashes.”
“Yes, yes,” said Albert, “and may there remain only the eternal friendship which I promised to my deliverer, which shall be transmitted to our children’s children, and shall always remind me that I owe my life and the honor of my name to you, — for had this been known, oh, Beauchamp, I should have destroyed myself; or, —
no, my poor mother! I could not have killed her by the same blow, — I should have fled from my country.”
“Dear Albert,” said Beauchamp. But this sudden and factitious joy soon forsook the young man, and was
succeeded by a still greater grief.
“Well,” said Beauchamp, “what still oppresses you, my friend?”
“I am broken-hearted,” said Albert. “Listen, Beauchamp! I cannot thus, in a moment relinquish the respect, the confidence, and pride with which a father’s untarnished name inspires a son. Oh, Beauchamp, Beauchamp,
how shall I now approach mine? Shall I draw back my forehead from his embrace, or withhold my hand from his? I am the most wretched of men. Ah, my mother, my poor mother!” said Albert, gazing through his tears
at his mother’s portrait; “if you know this, how much must you suffer!” “Come,” said Beauchamp, taking both his hands, “take courage, my friend.”
“But how came that first note to be inserted in your journal? Some unknown enemy — an invisible foe — has done this.”
“The more must you fortify yourself, Albert. Let no trace of emotion be visible on your countenance, bear
your grief as the cloud bears within it ruin and death — a fatal secret, known only when the storm bursts. Go, my friend, reserve your strength for the moment when the crash shall come.”
“You think, then, all is not over yet?” said Albert, horror-stricken.
“I think nothing, my friend; but all things are possible. By the way” — “What?” said Albert, seeing that Beauchamp hesitated.
“Are you going to marry Mademoiselle Danglars?” “Why do you ask me now?”
“Because the rupture or fulfilment of this engagement is connected with the person of whom we were speaking.”
“How?” said Albert, whose brow reddened; “you think M. Danglars” —
“I ask you only how your engagement stands? Pray put no construction on my words I do not mean they should convey, and give them no undue weight.”
“No.” said Albert, “the engagement is broken off.”
“Well,” said Beauchamp. Then, seeing the young man was about to relapse into melancholy, “Let us go out, Albert,” said he; “a ride in the wood in the phaeton, or on horseback, will refresh you; we will then return to breakfast, and you shall attend to your affairs, and I to mine.”
“Willingly,” said Albert; “but let us walk. I think a little exertion would do me good.” The two friends walked
out on the fortress. When arrived at the Madeleine, — “Since we are out,” said Beauchamp, “let us call on M.
de Monte Cristo; he is admirably adapted to revive one’s spirits, because he never interrogates, and in my opinion those who ask no questions are the best comforters.”
“Gladly,” said Albert; “I love him — let us call.”
Monte Cristo uttered a joyful exclamation on seeing the young men together. “Ah, ha!” said he, “I hope all is over, explained and settled.”
“Yes,” said Beauchamp; “the absurd reports have died away, and should they be renewed, I would be the first
to oppose them; so let us speak no more of it.”
“Albert will tell you,” replied the count “that I gave him the same advice. Look,” added he. “I am finishing the most execrable morning’s work.”
“What is it?” said Albert; “arranging your papers, apparently.”
“My papers, thank God, no, — my papers are all in capital order, because I have none; but M. Cavalcanti’s.” “M. Cavalcanti’s?” asked Beauchamp.
“Yes; do you not know that this is a young man whom the count is introducing?” said Morcerf.
“Let us not misunderstand each other,” replied Monte Cristo; “I introduce no one, and certainly not M. Cavalcanti.”
“And who,” said Albert with a forced smile, “is to marry Mademoiselle Danglars instead of me, which grieves
“What? Cavalcanti is going to marry Mademoiselle Danglars?” asked Beauchamp.
“Certainly; do you come from the end of the world?” said Monte Cristo; “you, a journalist, the husband of renown? It is the talk of all Paris.”
“And you, count, have made this match?” asked Beauchamp.
“I? Silence, purveyor of gossip, do not spread that report. I make a match? No, you do not know me; I have done all in my power to oppose it.”
“Ah, I understand,” said Beauchamp, “on our friend Albert’s account.”
“On my account?” said the young man; “oh, no, indeed, the count will do me the justice to assert that I have,
on the contrary, always entreated him to break off my engagement, and happily it is ended. The count pretends I have not him to thank; — so be it — I will erect an altar Deo ignoto.”
“Listen,” said Monte Cristo; “I have had little to do with it, for I am at variance both with the father-in-law
and the young man; there is only Mademoiselle Eugenie, who appears but little charmed with the thoughts of matrimony, and who, seeing how little I was disposed to persuade her to renounce her dear liberty, retains any affection for me.”
“And do you say this wedding is at hand?”
“Oh, yes, in spite of all I could say. I do not know the young man; he is said to be of good family and rich, but
I never trust to vague assertions. I have warned M. Danglars of it till I am tired, but he is fascinated with his
Luccanese. I have even informed him of a circumstance I consider very serious; the young man was either
charmed by his nurse, stolen by gypsies, or lost by his tutor, I scarcely know which. But I do know his father lost sight of him for more than ten years; what he did during these ten years, God only knows. Well, all that
was useless. They have commissioned me to write to the major to demand papers, and here they are. I send them, but like Pilate — washing my hands.”
“And what does Mademoiselle d’Armilly say to you for robbing her of her pupil?”
“Oh, well, I don’t know; but I understand that she is going to Italy. Madame Danglars asked me for letters of recommendation for the impresari; I gave her a few lines for the director of the Valle Theatre, who is under some obligation to me. But what is the matter, Albert? you look dull; are you, after all, unconsciously in love with Mademoiselle Eugenie?”
“I am not aware of it,” said Albert, smiling sorrowfully. Beauchamp turned to look at some paintings. “But,”
continued Monte Cristo, “you are not in your usual spirits?” “I have a dreadful headache,” said Albert.
“Well, my dear viscount,” said Monte Cristo, “I have an infallible remedy to propose to you.” “What is that?” asked the young man.
“Indeed?” said Albert.
“Yes; and as I am just now excessively annoyed, I shall go from home. Shall we go together?” “You annoyed, count?” said Beauchamp; “and by what?”
“Ah, you think very lightly of it; I should like to see you with a brief preparing in your house.” “What brief?”
“The one M. de Villefort is preparing against my amiable assassin — some brigand escaped from the gallows apparently.”
“True,” said Beauchamp; “I saw it in the paper. Who is this Caderousse?”
“Some provincial, it appears. M. de Villefort heard of him at Marseilles, and M. Danglars recollects having seen him. Consequently, the procureur is very active in the affair, and the prefect of police very much
interested; and, thanks to that interest, for which I am very grateful, they send me all the robbers of Paris and
the neighborhood, under pretence of their being Caderousse’s murderers, so that in three months, if this
continue, every robber and assassin in France will have the plan of my house at his fingers’ end. I am resolved
to desert them and go to some remote corner of the earth, and shall be happy if you will accompany me, viscount.”
“Then it is settled?” “Yes, but where?”
“I have told you, where the air is pure, where every sound soothes, where one is sure to be humbled, however
proud may be his nature. I love that humiliation, I, who am master of the universe, as was Augustus.” “But where are you really going?”
“To sea, viscount; you know I am a sailor. I was rocked when an infant in the arms of old ocean, and on the bosom of the beautiful Amphitrite; I have sported with the green mantle of the one and the azure robe of the other; I love the sea as a mistress, and pine if I do not often see her.”
“Let us go, count.” “To sea?”
“You accept my proposal?” “I do.”
“Well, Viscount, there will be in my court-yard this evening a good travelling britzka, with four post-horses,
in which one may rest as in a bed. M. Beauchamp, it holds four very well, will you accompany us?” “Thank you, I have just returned from sea.”
“What? you have been to sea?”
“Yes; I have just made a little excursion to the Borromean Islands.”*
* Lake Maggiore.
“What of that? come with us,” said Albert.
“No, dear Morcerf; you know I only refuse when the thing is impossible. Besides, it is important,” added he in
a low tone, “that I should remain in Paris just now to watch the paper.”
“Ah, you are a good and an excellent friend,” said Albert; “yes, you are right; watch, watch, Beauchamp, and
try to discover the enemy who made this disclosure.” Albert and Beauchamp parted, the last pressure of their hands expressing what their tongues could not before a stranger.
“Beauchamp is a worthy fellow,” said Monte Cristo, when the journalist was gone; “is he not, Albert?”
“Yes, and a sincere friend; I love him devotedly. But now we are alone, — although it is immaterial to me, — where are we going?”
“Into Normandy, if you like.”
“Delightful; shall we be quite retired? have no society, no neighbors?”
“Our companions will be riding-horses, dogs to hunt with, and a fishing-boat.”
“Exactly what I wish for; I will apprise my mother of my intention, and return to you.”
“But shall you be allowed to go into Normandy?”
“I may go where I please.”
“Yes, I am aware you may go alone, since I once met you in Italy — but to accompany the mysterious Monte
“You forget, count, that I have often told you of the deep interest my mother takes in you.”
“`Woman is fickle.’ said Francis I.; `woman is like a wave of the sea,’ said Shakespeare; both the great king and the great poet ought to have known woman’s nature well.”
“Woman’s, yes; my mother is not woman, but a woman.”
“As I am only a humble foreigner, you must pardon me if I do not understand all the subtle refinements of your language.”
“What I mean to say is, that my mother is not quick to give her confidence, but when she does she never changes.”
“Ah, yes, indeed,” said Monte Cristo with a sigh; “and do you think she is in the least interested in me?”
“I repeat it, you must really be a very strange and superior man, for my mother is so absorbed by the interest you have excited, that when I am with her she speaks of no one else.”
“And does she try to make you dislike me?”
“On the contrary, she often says, `Morcerf, I believe the count has a noble nature; try to gain his esteem.'” “Indeed?” said Monte Cristo, sighing.
“You see, then,” said Albert, “that instead of opposing, she will encourage me.” “Adieu, then, until five o’clock; be punctual, and we shall arrive at twelve or one.” “At Treport?”
“Yes; or in the neighborhood.”
“But can we travel forty-eight leagues in eight hours?” “Easily,” said Monte Cristo.
“You are certainly a prodigy; you will soon not only surpass the railway, which would not be very difficult in
France, but even the telegraph.”
“But, viscount, since we cannot perform the journey in less than seven or eight hours, do not keep me waiting.”
“Do not fear, I have little to prepare.” Monte Cristo smiled as he nodded to Albert, then remained a moment absorbed in deep meditation. But passing his hand across his forehead as if to dispel his revery, he rang the bell twice and Bertuccio entered. “Bertuccio,” said he, “I intend going this evening to Normandy, instead of
to-morrow or the next day. You will have sufficient time before five o’clock; despatch a messenger to apprise
the grooms at the first station. M. de Morcerf will accompany me.” Bertuccio obeyed and despatched a courier
to Pontoise to say the travelling-carriage would arrive at six o’clock. From Pontoise another express was sent
to the next stage, and in six hours all the horses stationed on the road were ready. Before his departure, the count went to Haidee’s apartments, told her his intention, and resigned everything to her care. Albert was punctual. The journey soon became interesting from its rapidity, of which Morcerf had formed no previous idea. “Truly,” said Monte Cristo, “with your posthorses going at the rate of two leagues an hour, and that absurd law that one traveller shall not pass another without permission, so that an invalid or ill-tempered traveller may detain those who are well and active, it is impossible to move; I escape this annoyance by travelling with my own postilion and horses; do I not, Ali?”
The count put his head out of the window and whistled, and the horses appeared to fly. The carriage rolled
with a thundering noise over the pavement, and every one turned to notice the dazzling meteor. Ali, smiling, repeated the sound, grasped the reins with a firm hand, and spurred his horses, whose beautiful manes floated
in the breeze. This child of the desert was in his element, and with his black face and sparkling eyes appeared,
in the cloud of dust he raised, like the genius of the simoom and the god of the hurricane. “I never knew till
now the delight of speed,” said Morcerf, and the last cloud disappeared from his brow; “but where the devil do you get such horses? Are they made to order?”
“Precisely,” said the count; “six years since I bought a horse in Hungary remarkable for its swiftness. The thirty-two that we shall use to-night are its progeny; they are all entirely black, with the exception of a star upon the forehead.”
“That is perfectly admirable; but what do you do, count, with all these horses?” “You see, I travel with them.”
“But you are not always travelling.”
“When I no longer require them, Bertuccio will sell them, and he expects to realize thirty or forty thousand francs by the sale.”
“But no monarch in Europe will be wealthy enough to purchase them.”
“Then he will sell them to some Eastern vizier, who will empty his coffers to purchase them, and refill them
by applying the bastinado to his subjects.” “Count, may I suggest one idea to you?” “Certainly.”
“It is that, next to you, Bertuccio must be the richest gentleman in Europe.” “You are mistaken, viscount; I believe he has not a franc in his possession.”
“Then he must be a wonder. My dear count, if you tell me many more marvellous things, I warn you I shall not believe them.”
“I countenance nothing that is marvellous, M. Albert. Tell me, why does a steward rob his master?” “Because, I suppose, it is his nature to do so, for the love of robbing.”
“You are mistaken; it is because he has a wife and family, and ambitious desires for himself and them. Also
because he is not sure of always retaining his situation, and wishes to provide for the future. Now, M.
Bertuccio is alone in the world; he uses my property without accounting for the use he makes of it; he is sure never to leave my service.”
“Because I should never get a better.” “Probabilities are deceptive.”
“But I deal in certainties; he is the best servant over whom one has the power of life and death.” “Do you possess that right over Bertuccio?”
There are words which close a conversation with an iron door; such was the count’s “yes.” The whole journey was performed with equal rapidity; the thirty-two horses, dispersed over seven stages, brought them to their destination in eight hours. At midnight they arrived at the gate of a beautiful park. The porter was in
attendance; he had been apprised by the groom of the last stage of the count’s approach. At half past two in the morning Morcerf was conducted to his apartments, where a bath and supper were prepared. The servant who
had travelled at the back of the carriage waited on him; Baptistin, who rode in front, attended the count. Albert bathed, took his supper, and went to bed. All night he was lulled by the melancholy noise of the surf. On
rising, he went to his window, which opened on a terrace, having the sea in front, and at the back a pretty park bounded by a small forest. In a creek lay a little sloop, with a narrow keel and high masts, bearing on its flag
the Monte Cristo arms which were a mountain on a sea azure, with a cross gules on the shield. Around the schooner lay a number of small fishing-boats belonging to the fishermen of the neighboring village, like
humble subjects awaiting orders from their queen. There, as in every spot where Monte Cristo stopped, if but
for two days, luxury abounded and life went on with the utmost ease.
Albert found in his anteroom two guns, with all the accoutrements for hunting; a lofty room on the
ground-floor containing all the ingenious instruments the English — eminent in piscatory pursuits, since they
are patient and sluggish — have invented for fishing. The day passed in pursuing those exercises in which Monte Cristo excelled. They killed a dozen pheasants in the park, as many trout in the stream, dined in a summer-house overlooking the ocean, and took tea in the library.
Towards the evening of the third day. Albert, completely exhausted with the exercise which invigorated
Monte Cristo, was sleeping in an arm-chair near the window, while the count was designing with his architect
the plan of a conservatory in his house, when the sound of a horse at full speed on the high road made Albert look up. He was disagreeably surprised to see his own valet de chambre, whom he had not brought, that he might not inconvenience Monte Cristo.
“Florentin here!” cried he, starting up; “is my mother ill?” And he hastened to the door. Monte Cristo watched and saw him approach the valet, who drew a small sealed parcel from his pocket, containing a newspaper and
a letter. “From whom is this?” said he eagerly. “From M. Beauchamp,” replied Florentin. “Did he send you?”
“Yes, sir; he sent for me to his house, gave me money for my journey, procured a horse, and made me promise not to stop till I had reached you, I have come in fifteen hours.”
Albert opened the letter with fear, uttered a shriek on reading the first line, and seized the paper. His sight was
dimmed, his legs sank under him, and he would have fallen had not Florentin supported him.
“Poor young man,” said Monte Cristo in a low voice; “it is then true that the sin of the father shall fall on the children to the third and fourth generation.” Meanwhile Albert had revived, and, continuing to read, he threw back his head, saying, “Florentin, is your horse fit to return immediately?”
“It is a poor lame post-horse.”
“In what state was the house when you left?”
“All was quiet, but on returning from M. Beauchamp’s, I found madame in tears: she had sent for me to know when you would return. I told her my orders from M. Beauchamp; she first extended her arms to prevent me,
but after a moment’s reflection, `Yes, go, Florentin,’ said she, `and may he come quickly.'”
“Yes, my mother,” said Albert, “I will return, and woe to the infamous wretch! But first of all I must get there.”
He went back to the room where he had left Monte Cristo. Five minutes had sufficed to make a complete transformation in his appearance. His voice had become rough and hoarse; his face was furrowed with
wrinkles; his eyes burned under the blue-veined lids, and he tottered like a drunken man. “Count,” said he, “I
thank you for your hospitality, which I would gladly have enjoyed longer; but I must return to Paris.” “What has happened?”
“A great misfortune, more important to me than life. Don’t question me, I beg of you, but lend me a horse.”
“My stables are at your command, viscount; but you will kill yourself by riding on horseback. Take a post-chaise or a carriage.”
“No, it would delay me, and I need the fatigue you warn me of; it will do me good.” Albert reeled as if he had been shot, and fell on a chair near the door. Monte Cristo did not see this second manifestation of physical exhaustion; he was at the window, calling, “Ali, a horse for M. de Morcerf — quick! he is in a hurry!” These words restored Albert; he darted from the room, followed by the count. “Thank you!” cried he, throwing
himself on his horse. “Return as soon as you can, Florentin. Must I use any password to procure a horse?”
“Only dismount; another will be immediately saddled.” Albert hesitated a moment. “You may think my departure strange and foolish,” said the young man; “you do not know how a paragraph in a newspaper may exasperate one. Read that,” said he, “when I am gone, that you may not be witness of my anger.”
While the count picked up the paper he put spurs to his horse, which leaped in astonishment at such an unusual stimulus, and shot away with the rapidity of an arrow. The count watched him with a feeling of compassion, and when he had completely disappeared, read as follows: —
“The French officer in the service of Ali Pasha of Yanina alluded to three weeks since in the Impartial, who
not only surrendered the castle of Yanina, but sold his benefactor to the Turks, styled himself truly at that time
Fernand, as our esteemed contemporary states; but he has since added to his Christian name a title of nobility and a family name. He now calls himself the Count of Morcerf, and ranks among the peers.”
Thus the terrible secret, which Beauchamp had so generously destroyed, appeared again like an armed phantom; and another paper, deriving its information from some malicious source, had published two days after Albert’s departure for Normandy the few lines which had rendered the unfortunate young man almost
At eight o’clock in the morning Albert had arrived at Beauchamp’s door. The valet de chambre had received orders to usher him in at once. Beauchamp was in his bath. “Here I am,” said Albert.
“Well, my poor friend,” replied Beauchamp, “I expected you.”
“I need not say I think you are too faithful and too kind to have spoken of that painful circumstance. Your having sent for me is another proof of your affection. So, without losing time, tell me, have you the slightest idea whence this terrible blow proceeds?”
“I think I have some clew.”
“But first tell me all the particulars of this shameful plot.” Beauchamp proceeded to relate to the young man, who was overwhelmed with shame and grief, the following facts. Two days previously, the article had
appeared in another paper besides the Impartial, and, what was more serious, one that was well known as a government paper. Beauchamp was breakfasting when he read the paragraph. He sent immediately for a cabriolet, and hastened to the publisher’s office. Although professing diametrically opposite principles from those of the editor of the other paper, Beauchamp — as it sometimes, we may say often, happens — was his intimate friend. The editor was reading, with apparent delight, a leading article in the same paper on
beet-sugar, probably a composition of his own.
“Ah, pardieu,” said Beauchamp, “with the paper in your hand, my friend, I need not tell you the cause of my visit.”
“Are you interested in the sugar question?” asked the editor of the ministerial paper.
“No,” replied Beauchamp, “I have not considered the question; a totally different subject interests me.” “What is it?”
“The article relative to Morcerf.” “Indeed? Is it not a curious affair?”
“So curious, that I think you are running a great risk of a prosecution for defamation of character.”
“Not at all; we have received with the information all the requisite proofs, and we are quite sure M. de
Morcerf will not raise his voice against us; besides, it is rendering a service to one’s country to denounce these wretched criminals who are unworthy of the honor bestowed on them.” Beauchamp was thunderstruck. “Who, then, has so correctly informed you?” asked he; “for my paper, which gave the first information on the
subject, has been obliged to stop for want of proof; and yet we are more interested than you in exposing M. de
Morcerf, as he is a peer of France, and we are of the opposition.”
“Oh, that is very simple; we have not sought to scandalize. This news was brought to us. A man arrived yesterday from Yanina, bringing a formidable array of documents; and when we hesitated to publish the accusatory article, he told us it should be inserted in some other paper.”
Beauchamp understood that nothing remained but to submit, and left the office to despatch a courier to
Morcerf. But he had been unable to send to Albert the following particulars, as the events had transpired after
the messenger’s departure; namely, that the same day a great agitation was manifest in the House of Peers
among the usually calm members of that dignified assembly. Every one had arrived almost before the usual
hour, and was conversing on the melancholy event which was to attract the attention of the public towards one
of their most illustrious colleagues. Some were perusing the article, others making comments and recalling circumstances which substantiated the charges still more. The Count of Morcerf was no favorite with his colleagues. Like all upstarts, he had had recourse to a great deal of haughtiness to maintain his position. The
true nobility laughed at him, the talented repelled him, and the honorable instinctively despised him. He was,
in fact, in the unhappy position of the victim marked for sacrifice; the finger of God once pointed at him, every one was prepared to raise the hue and cry.
The Count of Morcerf alone was ignorant of the news. He did not take in the paper containing the defamatory article, and had passed the morning in writing letters and in trying a horse. He arrived at his usual hour, with a proud look and insolent demeanor; he alighted, passed through the corridors, and entered the house without observing the hesitation of the door-keepers or the coolness of his colleagues. Business had already been
going on for half an hour when he entered. Every one held the accusing paper, but, as usual, no one liked to take upon himself the responsibility of the attack. At length an honorable peer, Morcerf’s acknowledged enemy, ascended the tribune with that solemnity which announced that the expected moment had arrived.
There was an impressive silence; Morcerf alone knew not why such profound attention was given to an orator who was not always listened to with so much complacency. The count did not notice the introduction, in
which the speaker announced that his communication would be of that vital importance that it demanded the undivided attention of the House; but at the mention of Yanina and Colonel Fernand, he turned so frightfully pale that every member shuddered and fixed his eyes upon him. Moral wounds have this peculiarity, — they may be hidden, but they never close; always painful, always ready to bleed when touched, they remain fresh
and open in the heart.
The article having been read during the painful hush that followed, a universal shudder pervaded the
assembly. and immediately the closest attention was given to the orator as he resumed his remarks. He stated
his scruples and the difficulties of the case; it was the honor of M. de Morcerf, and that of the whole House,
he proposed to defend, by provoking a debate on personal questions, which are always such painful themes of discussion. He concluded by calling for an investigation, which might dispose of the calumnious report before
it had time to spread, and restore M. de Morcerf to the position he had long held in public opinion. Morcerf
was so completely overwhelmed by this great and unexpected calamity that he could scarcely stammer a few words as he looked around on the assembly. This timidity, which might proceed from the astonishment of innocence as well as the shame of guilt, conciliated some in his favor; for men who are truly generous are always ready to compassionate when the misfortune of their enemy surpasses the limits of their hatred.
The president put it to the vote, and it was decided that the investigation should take place. The count was asked what time he required to prepare his defence. Morcerf’s courage had revived when he found himself
alive after this horrible blow. “My lords,” answered he, “it is not by time I could repel the attack made on me
by enemies unknown to me, and, doubtless, hidden in obscurity; it is immediately, and by a thunderbolt, that I must repel the flash of lightning which, for a moment, startled me. Oh, that I could, instead of taking up this defence, shed my last drop of blood to prove to my noble colleagues that I am their equal in worth.” These
words made a favorable impression on behalf of the accused. “I demand, then, that the examination shall take place as soon as possible, and I will furnish the house with all necessary information.”
“What day do you fix?” asked the president.
“To-day I am at your service,” replied the count. The president rang the bell. “Does the House approve that the examination should take place to-day?”
“Yes,” was the unanimous answer.
A committee of twelve members was chosen to examine the proofs brought forward by Morcerf. The
investigation would begin at eight o’clock that evening in the committee-room, and if postponement were necessary, the proceedings would be resumed each evening at the same hour. Morcerf asked leave to retire; he had to collect the documents he had long been preparing against this storm, which his sagacity had foreseen.
Albert listened, trembling now with hope, then with anger, and then again with shame, for from Beauchamp’s confidence he knew his father was guilty, and he asked himself how, since he was guilty, he could prove his innocence. Beauchamp hesitated to continue his narrative. “What next?” asked Albert.
“What next? My friend, you impose a painful task on me. Must you know all?” “Absolutely; and rather from your lips than another’s.”
“Muster up all your courage, then, for never have you required it more.” Albert passed his hand over his forehead, as if to try his strength, as a man who is preparing to defend his life proves his shield and bends his sword. He thought himself strong enough, for he mistook fever for energy. “Go on,” said he.
“The evening arrived; all Paris was in expectation. Many said your father had only to show himself to crush
the charge against him; many others said he would not appear; while some asserted that they had seen him
start for Brussels; and others went to the police-office to inquire if he had taken out a passport. I used all my influence with one of the committee, a young peer of my acquaintance, to get admission to one of the
galleries. He called for me at seven o’clock, and, before any one had arrived, asked one of the door-keepers to place me in a box. I was concealed by a column, and might witness the whole of the terrible scene which was about to take place. At eight o’clock all were in their places, and M. de Morcerf entered at the last stroke. He held some papers in his hand; his countenance was calm, and his step firm, and he was dressed with great care
in his military uniform, which was buttoned completely up to the chin. His presence produced a good effect. The committee was made up of Liberals, several of whom came forward to shake hands with him.”
Albert felt his heart bursting at these particulars, but gratitude mingled with his sorrow: he would gladly have embraced those who had given his father this proof of esteem at a moment when his honor was so powerfully attacked. “At this moment one of the door-keepers brought in a letter for the president. `You are at liberty to speak, M. de Morcerf,’ said the president, as he unsealed the letter; and the count began his defence, I assure you, Albert, in a most eloquent and skilful manner. He produced documents proving that the Vizier of Yanina
had up to the last moment honored him with his entire confidence, since he had interested him with a negotiation of life and death with the emperor. He produced the ring, his mark of authority, with which Ali
Pasha generally sealed his letters, and which the latter had given him, that he might, on his return at any hour
of the day or night, gain access to the presence, even in the harem. Unfortunately, the negotiation failed, and when he returned to defend his benefactor, he was dead. `But,’ said the count, `so great was Ali Pasha’s confidence, that on his death-bed he resigned his favorite mistress and her daughter to my care.'” Albert
started on hearing these words; the history of Haidee recurred to him, and he remembered what she had said
of that message and the ring, and the manner in which she had been sold and made a slave. “And what effect
did this discourse produce?” anxiously inquired Albert. “I acknowledge it affected me, and, indeed, all the committee also,” said Beauchamp.
“Meanwhile, the president carelessly opened the letter which had been brought to him; but the first lines aroused his attention; he read them again and again, and fixing his eyes on M. de Morcerf, `Count,’ said he,
`you have said that the Vizier of Yanina confided his wife and daughter to your care?’ — `Yes, sir,’ replied Morcerf; `but in that, like all the rest, misfortune pursued me. On my return, Vasiliki and her daughter Haidee had disappeared.’ — `Did you know them?’ — `My intimacy with the pasha and his unlimited confidence had gained me an introduction to them, and I had seen them above twenty times.’
“`Have you any idea what became of them?’ — `Yes, sir; I heard they had fallen victims to their sorrow, and,
perhaps, to their poverty. I was not rich; my life was in constant danger; I could not seek them, to my great
regret.’ The president frowned imperceptibly. `Gentlemen,’ said he, `you have heard the Comte de Morcerf’s defence. Can you, sir, produce any witnesses to the truth of what you have asserted?’ — `Alas, no, monsieur,’ replied the count; `all those who surrounded the vizier, or who knew me at his court, are either dead or gone away, I know not where. I believe that I alone, of all my countrymen, survived that dreadful war. I have only
the letters of Ali Tepelini, which I have placed before you; the ring, a token of his good-will, which is here; and, lastly, the most convincing proof I can offer, after an anonymous attack, and that is the absence of any witness against my veracity and the purity of my military life.’ A murmur of approbation ran through the assembly; and at this moment, Albert, had nothing more transpired, your father’s cause had been gained. It
only remained to put it to the vote, when the president resumed: `Gentlemen and you, monsieur, — you will
not be displeased, I presume, to listen to one who calls himself a very important witness, and who has just presented himself. He is, doubtless, come to prove the perfect innocence of our colleague. Here is a letter I
have just received on the subject; shall it be read, or shall it be passed over? and shall we take no notice of this incident?’ M. de Morcerf turned pale, and clinched his hands on the papers he held. The committee decided to hear the letter; the count was thoughtful and silent. The president read: —
“`Mr. President, — I can furnish the committee of inquiry into the conduct of the Lieutenant-General the Count
of Morcerf in Epirus and in Macedonia with important particulars.’
“The president paused, and the count turned pale. The president looked at his auditors. `Proceed,’ was heard
on all sides. The president resumed: —
“`I was on the spot at the death of Ali Pasha. I was present during his last moments. I know what is become of
Vasiliki and Haidee. I am at the command of the committee, and even claim the honor of being heard. I shall
be in the lobby when this note is delivered to you.’
“`And who is this witness, or rather this enemy?’ asked the count, in a tone in which there was a visible alteration. `We shall know, sir,’ replied the president. `Is the committee willing to hear this witness?’ — `Yes, yes,’ they all said at once. The door-keeper was called. `Is there any one in the lobby?’ said the president.
“`Yes, sir.’ — `Who is it?’ — `A woman, accompanied by a servant.’ Every one looked at his neighbor. `Bring
her in,’ said the president. Five minutes after the door-keeper again appeared; all eyes were fixed on the door, and I,” said Beauchamp, “shared the general expectation and anxiety. Behind the door-keeper walked a
woman enveloped in a large veil, which completely concealed her. It was evident, from her figure and the perfumes she had about her, that she was young and fastidious in her tastes, but that was all. The president requested her to throw aside her veil, and it was then seen that she was dressed in the Grecian costume, and was remarkably beautiful.”
“Ah,” said Albert, “it was she.” “Who?”
“Who told you that?”
“Alas, I guess it. But go on, Beauchamp. You see I am calm and strong. And yet we must be drawing near the disclosure.”
“M. de Morcerf,” continued Beauchamp, “looked at this woman with surprise and terror. Her lips were about
to pass his sentence of life or death. To the committee the adventure was so extraordinary and curious, that the interest they had felt for the count’s safety became now quite a secondary matter. The president himself
advanced to place a seat for the young lady; but she declined availing herself of it. As for the count, he had
fallen on his chair; it was evident that his legs refused to support him.
“`Madame,’ said the president, `you have engaged to furnish the committee with some important particulars respecting the affair at Yanina, and you have stated that you were an eyewitness of the event.’ — `I was,
indeed,’ said the stranger, with a tone of sweet melancholy, and with the sonorous voice peculiar to the East.
“`But allow me to say that you must have been very young then.’ — `I was four years old; but as those events deeply concerned me, not a single detail has escaped my memory.’ — `In what manner could these events concern you? and who are you, that they should have made so deep an impression on you?’ — `On them depended my father’s life,’ replied she. `I am Haidee, the daughter of Ali Tepelini, pasha of Yanina, and of Vasiliki, his beloved wife.’
“The blush of mingled pride and modesty which suddenly suffused the cheeks of the young woman, the brilliancy of her eye, and her highly important communication, produced an indescribable effect on the assembly. As for the count, he could not have been more overwhelmed if a thunderbolt had fallen at his feet and opened an immense gulf before him. `Madame,’ replied the president, bowing with profound respect,
`allow me to ask one question; it shall be the last: Can you prove the authenticity of what you have now
stated?’ — `I can, sir,’ said Haidee, drawing from under her veil a satin satchel highly perfumed; `for here is the register of my birth, signed by my father and his principal officers, and that of my baptism, my father having consented to my being brought up in my mother’s faith, — this latter has been sealed by the grand primate of Macedonia and Epirus; and lastly (and perhaps the most important), the record of the sale of my person and
that of my mother to the Armenian merchant El-Kobbir, by the French officer, who, in his infamous bargain
with the Porte, had reserved as his part of the booty the wife and daughter of his benefactor, whom he sold for
the sum of four hundred thousand francs.’ A greenish pallor spread over the count’s cheeks, and his eyes
became bloodshot at these terrible imputations, which were listened to by the assembly with ominous silence.
“Haidee, still calm, but with a calmness more dreadful than the anger of another would have been, handed to
the president the record of her sale, written in Arabic. It had been supposed some of the papers might be in the
Arabian, Romaic, or Turkish language, and the interpreter of the House was in attendance. One of the noble peers, who was familiar with the Arabic language, having studied it during the famous Egyptian campaign, followed with his eye as the translator read aloud: —
“`I, El-Kobbir, a slave-merchant, and purveyor of the harem of his highness, acknowledge having received for transmission to the sublime emperor, from the French lord, the Count of Monte Cristo, an emerald valued at
eight hundred thousand francs; as the ransom of a young Christian slave of eleven years of age, named Haidee, the acknowledged daughter of the late lord Ali Tepelini, pasha of Yanina, and of Vasiliki, his favorite; she having been sold to me seven years previously, with her mother, who had died on arriving at
Constantinople, by a French colonel in the service of the Vizier Ali Tepelini, named Fernand Mondego. The above-mentioned purchase was made on his highness’s account, whose mandate I had, for the sum of four hundred thousand francs.
“`Given at Constantinople, by authority of his highness, in the year 1247 of the Hegira. “`Signed El-Kobbir.’
“`That this record should have all due authority, it shall bear the imperial seal, which the vendor is bound to have affixed to it.’
“Near the merchant’s signature there was, indeed, the seal of the sublime emperor. A dreadful silence followed
the reading of this document; the count could only stare, and his gaze, fixed as if unconsciously on Haidee, seemed one of fire and blood. `Madame,’ said the president, `may reference be made to the Count of Monte
Cristo, who is now, I believe, in Paris?’ — `Sir,’ replied Haidee, `the Count of Monte Cristo, my foster-father,
has been in Normandy the last three days.’
“`Who, then, has counselled you to take this step, one for which the court is deeply indebted to you, and
which is perfectly natural, considering your birth and your misfortunes?’ — `Sir,’ replied Haidee, `I have been
led to take this step from a feeling of respect and grief. Although a Christian, may God forgive me, I have always sought to revenge my illustrious father. Since I set my foot in France, and knew the traitor lived in
Paris, I have watched carefully. I live retired in the house of my noble protector, but I do it from choice. I love retirement and silence, because I can live with my thoughts and recollections of past days. But the Count of
Monte Cristo surrounds me with every paternal care, and I am ignorant of nothing which passes in the world. I learn all in the silence of my apartments, — for instance, I see all the newspapers, every periodical, as well as every new piece of music; and by thus watching the course of the life of others, I learned what had transpired
this morning in the House of Peers, and what was to take place this evening; then I wrote.’
“`Then,’ remarked the president, `the Count of Monte Cristo knows nothing of your present proceedings?’ —
`He is quite unaware of them, and I have but one fear, which is that he should disapprove of what I have done. But it is a glorious day for me,’ continued the young girl, raising her ardent gaze to heaven, `that on which I
find at last an opportunity of avenging my father!’
“The count had not uttered one word the whole of this time. His colleagues looked at him, and doubtless pitied
his prospects, blighted under the perfumed breath of a woman. His misery was depicted in sinister lines on his countenance. `M. de Morcerf,’ said the president, `do you recognize this lady as the daughter of Ali Tepelini, pasha of Yanina?’ — `No,’ said Morcerf, attempting to rise, `it is a base plot, contrived by my enemies.’
Haidee, whose eyes had been fixed on the door, as if expecting some one, turned hastily, and, seeing the count standing, shrieked, `You do not know me?’ said she. `Well, I fortunately recognize you! You are Fernand Mondego, the French officer who led the troops of my noble father! It is you who surrendered the castle of Yanina! It is you who, sent by him to Constantinople, to treat with the emperor for the life or death of your benefactor, brought back a false mandate granting full pardon! It is you who, with that mandate, obtained the pasha’s ring, which gave you authority over Selim, the fire-keeper! It is you who stabbed Selim. It is you who
sold us, my mother and me, to the merchant, El-Kobbir! Assassin, assassin, assassin, you have still on your brow your master’s blood! Look, gentlemen, all!’
“These words had been pronounced with such enthusiasm and evident truth, that every eye was fixed on the count’s forehead, and he himself passed his hand across it, as if he felt Ali’s blood still lingering there. `You positively recognize M. de Morcerf as the officer, Fernand Mondego?’ — `Indeed I do!’ cried Haidee. `Oh, my mother, it was you who said, “You were free, you had a beloved father, you were destined to be almost a
queen. Look well at that man; it is he who raised your father’s head on the point of a spear; it is he who sold
us; it is he who forsook us! Look well at his right hand, on which he has a large wound; if you forgot his features, you would know him by that hand, into which fell, one by one, the gold pieces of the merchant
El-Kobbir!” I know him! Ah, let him say now if he does not recognize me!’ Each word fell like a dagger on
Morcerf, and deprived him of a portion of his energy; as she uttered the last, he hid his mutilated hand hastily
in his bosom, and fell back on his seat, overwhelmed by wretchedness and despair. This scene completely changed the opinion of the assembly respecting the accused count.
“`Count of Morcerf,’ said the president, `do not allow yourself to be cast down; answer. The justice of the
court is supreme and impartial as that of God; it will not suffer you to be trampled on by your enemies without giving you an opportunity of defending yourself. Shall further inquiries be made? Shall two members of the House be sent to Yanina? Speak!’ Morcerf did not reply. Then all the members looked at each other with
terror. They knew the count’s energetic and violent temper; it must be, indeed, a dreadful blow which would deprive him of courage to defend himself. They expected that his stupefied silence would be followed by a
fiery outburst. `Well,’ asked the president, `what is your decision?’
“`I have no reply to make,’ said the count in a low tone.
“`Has the daughter of Ali Tepelini spoken the truth?’ said the president. `Is she, then, the terrible witness to whose charge you dare not plead “Not guilty”? Have you really committed the crimes of which you are
accused?’ The count looked around him with an expression which might have softened tigers, but which could
not disarm his judges. Then he raised his eyes towards the ceiling, but withdrew then, immediately, as if he feared the roof would open and reveal to his distressed view that second tribunal called heaven, and that other judge named God. Then, with a hasty movement, he tore open his coat, which seemed to stifle him, and flew from the room like a madman; his footstep was heard one moment in the corridor, then the rattling of his
carriage-wheels as he was driven rapidly away. `Gentlemen,’ said the president, when silence was restored, `is
the Count of Morcerf convicted of felony, treason, and conduct unbecoming a member of this House?’ —
`Yes,’ replied all the members of the committee of inquiry with a unanimous voice.
“Haidee had remained until the close of the meeting. She heard the count’s sentence pronounced without betraying an expression of joy or pity; then drawing her veil over her face she bowed majestically to the councillors, and left with that dignified step which Virgil attributes to his goddesses.”
“Then,” continued Beauchamp, “I took advantage of the silence and the darkness to leave the house without being seen. The usher who had introduced me was waiting for me at the door, and he conducted me through
the corridors to a private entrance opening into the Rue de Vaugirard. I left with mingled feelings of sorrow and delight. Excuse me, Albert, — sorrow on your account, and delight with that noble girl, thus pursuing paternal vengeance. Yes, Albert, from whatever source the blow may have proceeded — it may be from an
enemy, but that enemy is only the agent of providence.” Albert held his head between his hands; he raised his face, red with shame and bathed in tears, and seizing Beauchamp’s arm, “My friend,” said he, “my life is
ended. I cannot calmly say with you, `Providence has struck the blow;’ but I must discover who pursues me with this hatred, and when I have found him I shall kill him, or he will kill me. I rely on your friendship to assist me, Beauchamp, if contempt has not banished it from your heart.”
“Contempt, my friend? How does this misfortune affect you? No, happily that unjust prejudice is forgotten which made the son responsible for the father’s actions. Review your life, Albert; although it is only just beginning, did a lovely summer’s day ever dawn with greater purity than has marked the commencement of your career? No, Albert, take my advice. You are young and rich — leave Paris — all is soon forgotten in this great Babylon of excitement and changing tastes. You will return after three or four years with a Russian princess for a bride, and no one will think more of what occurred yesterday than if it had happened sixteen
“Thank you, my dear Beauchamp, thank you for the excellent feeling which prompts your advice; but it
cannot be. I have told you my wish, or rather my determination. You understand that, interested as I am in this affair, I cannot see it in the same light as you do. What appears to you to emanate from a celestial source,
seems to me to proceed from one far less pure. Providence appears to me to have no share in this affair; and happily so, for instead of the invisible, impalpable agent of celestial rewards and punishments, I shall find one both palpable and visible, on whom I shall revenge myself, I assure you, for all I have suffered during the last month. Now, I repeat, Beauchamp, I wish to return to human and material existence, and if you are still the
friend you profess to be, help me to discover the hand that struck the blow.”
“Be it so,” said Beauchamp; “if you must have me descend to earth, I submit; and if you will seek your
enemy, I will assist you, and I will engage to find him, my honor being almost as deeply interested as yours.”
“Well, then, you understand, Beauchamp, that we begin our search immediately. Each moment’s delay is an eternity for me. The calumniator is not yet punished, and he may hope that he will not be; but, on my honor, it
he thinks so, he deceives himself.” “Well, listen, Morcerf.”
“Ah, Beauchamp, I see you know something already; you will restore me to life.”
“I do not say there is any truth in what I am going to tell you, but it is, at least, a ray of light in a dark night; by following it we may, perhaps, discover something more certain.”
“Tell me; satisfy my impatience.”
“Well, I will tell you what I did not like to mention on my return from Yanina.” “Say on.”
“I went, of course, to the chief banker of the town to make inquiries. At the first word, before I had even
mentioned your father’s name” —
“`Ah,’ said he. `I guess what brings you here.’ “`How, and why?’
“`Because a fortnight since I was questioned on the same subject.’ “`By whom?’ — `By a Paris banker, my correspondent.’
“`Whose name is’ — “`Danglars.'”
“He!” cried Albert; “yes, it is indeed he who has so long pursued my father with jealous hatred. He, the man
who would be popular, cannot forgive the Count of Morcerf for being created a peer; and this marriage broken
off without a reason being assigned — yes, it is all from the same cause.”
“Make inquiries, Albert, but do not be angry without reason; make inquiries, and if it be true” — “Oh, yes, if it be true,” cried the young man, “he shall pay me all I have suffered.”
“Beware, Morcerf, he is already an old man.”
“I will respect his age as he has respected the honor of my family; if my father had offended him, why did he not attack him personally? Oh, no, he was afraid to encounter him face to face.”
“I do not condemn you, Albert; I only restrain you. Act prudently.”
“Oh, do not fear; besides, you will accompany me. Beauchamp, solemn transactions should be sanctioned by a witness. Before this day closes, if M. Danglars is guilty, he shall cease to live, or I shall die. Pardieu,
Beauchamp, mine shall be a splendid funeral!”
“When such resolutions are made, Albert, they should be promptly executed. Do you wish to go to M.
Danglars? Let us go immediately.” They sent for a cabriolet. On entering the banker’s mansion, they perceived
the phaeton and servant of M. Andrea Cavalcanti. “Ah, parbleu, that’s good,” said Albert, with a gloomy tone.
“If M. Danglars will not fight with me, I will kill his son-in-law; Cavalcanti will certainly fight.” The servant announced the young man; but the banker, recollecting what had transpired the day before, did not wish him admitted. It was, however, too late; Albert had followed the footman, and, hearing the order given, forced the door open, and followed by Beauchamp found himself in the banker’s study. “Sir,” cried the latter, “am I no longer at liberty to receive whom I choose in my house? You appear to forget yourself sadly.”
“No, sir,” said Albert, coldly; “there are circumstances in which one cannot, except through cowardice, — I
offer you that refuge, — refuse to admit certain persons at least.” “What is your errand, then, with me, sir?”
“I mean,” said Albert, drawing near, and without apparently noticing Cavalcanti, who stood with his back
towards the fireplace — “I mean to propose a meeting in some retired corner where no one will interrupt us for
ten minutes; that will be sufficient — where two men having met, one of them will remain on the ground.” Danglars turned pale; Cavalcanti moved a step forward, and Albert turned towards him. “And you, too,” said
he, “come, if you like, monsieur; you have a claim, being almost one of the family, and I will give as many
rendezvous of that kind as I can find persons willing to accept them.” Cavalcanti looked at Danglars with a stupefied air, and the latter, making an effort, arose and stepped between the two young men. Albert’s attack
on Andrea had placed him on a different footing, and he hoped this visit had another cause than that he had at first supposed.
“Indeed, sir,” said he to Albert, “if you are come to quarrel with this gentleman because I have preferred him
to you, I shall resign the case to the king’s attorney.”
“You mistake, sir,” said Morcerf with a gloomy smile; “I am not referring in the least to matrimony, and I
only addressed myself to M. Cavalcanti because he appeared disposed to interfere between us. In one respect you are right, for I am ready to quarrel with every one to-day; but you have the first claim, M. Danglars.”
“Sir,” replied Danglars, pale with anger and fear, “I warn you, when I have the misfortune to meet with a mad dog, I kill it; and far from thinking myself guilty of a crime, I believe I do society a kindness. Now, if you are mad and try to bite me, I will kill you without pity. Is it my fault that your father has dishonored himself?”
“Yes, miserable wretch!” cried Morcerf, “it is your fault.” Danglars retreated a few steps. “My fault?” said he; “you must be mad! What do I know of the Grecian affair? Have I travelled in that country? Did I advise your father to sell the castle of Yanina — to betray” —
“Silence!” said Albert, with a thundering voice. “No; it is not you who have directly made this exposure and brought this sorrow on us, but you hypocritically provoked it.”
“Yes; you! How came it known?”
“I suppose you read it in the paper in the account from Yanina?” “Who wrote to Yanina?”
“Yes. Who wrote for particulars concerning my father?” “I imagine any one may write to Yanina.”
“But one person only wrote!” “One only?”
“Yes; and that was you!”
“I, doubtless, wrote. It appears to me that when about to marry your daughter to a young man, it is right to make some inquiries respecting his family; it is not only a right, but a duty.”
“You wrote, sir, knowing what answer you would receive.”
“I, indeed? I assure you,” cried Danglars, with a confidence and security proceeding less from fear than from
the interest he really felt for the young man, “I solemnly declare to you, that I should never have thought of writing to Yanina, did I know anything of Ali Pasha’s misfortunes.”
“Who, then, urged you to write? Tell me.”
“Pardieu, it was the most simple thing in the world. I was speaking of your father’s past history. I said the origin of his fortune remained obscure. The person to whom I addressed my scruples asked me where your father had acquired his property? I answered, `In Greece.’ — `Then,’ said he, `write to Yanina.'”
“And who thus advised you?”
“No other than your friend, Monte Cristo.”
“The Count of Monte Cristo told you to write to Yanina?”
“Yes; and I wrote, and will show you my correspondence, if you like.” Albert and Beauchamp looked at each other. “Sir,” said Beauchamp, who had not yet spoken, “you appear to accuse the count, who is absent from
Paris at this moment, and cannot justify himself.”
“I accuse no one, sir,” said Danglars; “I relate, and I will repeat before the count what I have said to you.” “Does the count know what answer you received?”
“Yes; I showed it to him.”
“Did he know my father’s Christian name was Fernand, and his family name Mondego?”
“Yes, I had told him that long since, and I did only what any other would have done in my circumstances, and perhaps less. When, the day after the arrival of this answer, your father came by the advice of Monte Cristo to
ask my daughter’s hand for you, I decidedly refused him, but without any explanation or exposure. In short,
why should I have any more to do with the affair? How did the honor or disgrace of M. de Morcerf affect me?
It neither increased nor decreased my income.”
Albert felt the blood mounting to his brow; there was no doubt upon the subject. Danglars defended himself with the baseness, but at the same time with the assurance, of a man who speaks the truth, at least in part, if
not wholly — not for conscience’ sake, but through fear. Besides, what was Morcerf seeking? It was not whether Danglars or Monte Cristo was more or less guilty; it was a man who would answer for the offence,
whether trifling or serious; it was a man who would fight, and it was evident Danglars would not fight. And,
in addition to this, everything forgotten or unperceived before presented itself now to his recollection. Monte Cristo knew everything, as he had bought the daughter of Ali Pasha; and, knowing everything, he had advised Danglars to write to Yanina. The answer known, he had yielded to Albert’s wish to be introduced to Haidee,
and allowed the conversation to turn on the death of Ali, and had not opposed Haidee’s recital (but having, doubtless, warned the young girl, in the few Romaic words he spoke to her, not to implicate Morcerf’s father). Besides, had he not begged of Morcerf not to mention his father’s name before Haidee? Lastly, he had taken Albert to Normandy when he knew the final blow was near. There could be no doubt that all had been
calculated and previously arranged; Monte Cristo then was in league with his father’s enemies. Albert took
Beauchamp aside, and communicated these ideas to him.
“You are right,” said the latter; “M. Danglars has only been a secondary agent in this sad affair, and it is of M.
de Monte Cristo that you must demand an explanation.” Albert turned. “Sir,” said he to Danglars, “understand that I do not take a final leave of you; I must ascertain if your insinuations are just, and am going now to
inquire of the Count of Monte Cristo.” He bowed to the banker, and went out with Beauchamp, without appearing to notice Cavalcanti. Danglars accompanied him to the door, where he again assured Albert that no motive of personal hatred had influenced him against the Count of Morcerf.